Monday, December 21, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Savings or Credit?

I am in our local supermarket, rushing as you do. Pinched faces. A bag of oranges and chicken necks. People pushing trollies, arguing with their children, talking on mobiles with rapt in-attention. I am in the very long queue studying trashy magazines. Rice crackers and rice milk.
For one glorious second, I glimpse behind the masks of all the shoppers to see the child within every shopping adult. Cat food and watermelon. The child that glories in the magic of Christmas. "Savings or credit?" the cashier asks.
A beautiful salesgirl in a store confides to me in a tear-filled voice that she has never enjoyed Christmas. Has always felt betrayed since she first discovered presents from 'Santa' under her mother's bed. "I still believe. I still believe," I whisper in her ear. I hope she hears me.
I believe goodness is rewarded. But it is wise to choose savings over credit.
I'm going to take a short break to enjoy the coming festivities and think about Tale Pedder's future direction. I shall be still reading your Blogs. Thank you for following me, commenting or lurking. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and Holy Christmas.
Stay safe. Play nice.
I love this photo of me and my daughter above. You can see the light in both our eyes if you look closely. May your light within your eyes glow more brightly this Christmas and the following year. That is my wish for you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fabbo Friday and A Wasted Ticket

Wags the dog is flying over our heads on a trapeze. Before us in garish technicolour are acrobats, jugglers, ballerinas, a gyrating purple octopus, a Skinny Santa, a spinning dinosaur and four men in colourful skivvies. Murray, the red Wiggle, is suspended in the air playing his guitar whilst thousands of twinkling lights surround him.

We are seated in the 'Hot Potato' seats. I am directly behind the tallest man in the world and his son who insists on standing on his seat for most of the concert. The father has not stopped taking photographs of his son. 'Smile! Camera!' The father continually orders. As he is badgering his son to pose, Wags has swooped over the crowd again, Sam Wiggle has just passed us running through the crowd and both father and son have totally missed all the madness caught up in capturing the moment .

When he is not being photographed by his father, his mother is videotaping him. The couple spend the entire concert photographing their child from every angle. Looking at the shots they have taken and working out different angles to take next.

And of course, they all have missed the concert that they have seemingly captured on their camera.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and my Christmas Play list

I am feeling rather blubbery today. It is my daughter's final day at preschool and emotions have been running high at her school.
I love the school and her teachers and consider ourselves blessed that Daisy was given a place there. I love the light that speckles across the playground area, the way the Aboriginal Cadigal people are acknowledged at the school. I love how I am welcome to pop in throughout the day if I wish.
'Big school' is looming and my daughter is wildly enthusiastic about going but I look back on that lovely light filled preschool with regret for her that the creative freedom she enjoyed is about to end.
Don't you think they should pay teachers a bucket more than what they get? It's such an important job, and a great teacher can shape a child's life so much for the better.
One thought consoling me is that two teachers from Daisy's preschool are a part of my bookclub so I'll see them in the future. They operate the preschool very much from the heart and when I see the tears certain teachers try to hold back it's obvious how fortunate Daisy was to have gone there.
To cheer myself up I'm posting my favourite Christmas carol singers and albums that I dig out every year. I do love a good Christmas carol and will blub quite happily to Oh Come All Ye Faithful or Silent Night.
One of our very favourite carols albums is traditional, by the Kings College Cambridge Choir. But I also love the Mediaeval Baebes at Christmas with their lovely fairytaleish voices. I love tracks like Gaudete and The Coventry Carol from their Christmas album Mistletoe and Wine. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash are also two favourites. And I can't wait to listen to Bob Dylan's new Christmas album.
If I had to pick a favourite carol it would be Oh Come All Ye Faithful - such a joyous tune. I truly wish I had more time to listen to carols. So much to do and I still haven't done my cards...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and My Holy Trilogy

We have started spinning towards Christmas and everything is becoming blurred and slightly tense as we race to compete all our tasks.
People in the city streets look tired and snap like crocodiles if you go too near their path. It is dangerous to enter stores as you suddenly begin to want to buy gifts for everybody you have ever met, including the nice old man you've spoken to once or twice in the park.
I do love this time of year however, despite all the madness. Three people I always find inspiring at Christmas time are Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Kirstie Allsopp. It wouldn't be Christmas for me without a Jamie Oliver DVD to show me how to stuff a turkey, Nigella for just being wonderful Nigella and for looking so glam and being so witty as she stuffs her turkey and I'm so excited as Kirstie's homemade Christmas show starts on Lifestyle channel in Australia tonight.
I only wish we had got this sooner as she recommends people avoid the big retails stores selling tacky, trashy stuff and make all your gifts. I can’t imagine having the time to make anything - I'm still trying to find a spare fifteen minutes to do Christmas cards. But I love the thought that one day I'll be organized like Kirstie, Nigella or Jamie. I'll have their beautiful homes, enormous trees and pull Christmas off with style, wit and ease. Love Kirstie. Love her style, her beautiful Devon home and her common-sense. And so three cheers for Kirstie, Jamie and Nigella. They're my holy trilogy of Christmas hope and possibilities for Christmas futures.
And now I must try to get time to write a few cards.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Gingerlilly tea

Don't you think these images are lovely? I do. I know that a lot of the Blogs talk about her work but I can't stop thinking about her photos today. She's whimsical, English, fairy-tale and retro. Totally fabulous! I want to buy her washing print to inspire me as I do the ironing. This week we had to cull from over a hundred prints and paintings we had, but I am sorely tempted.
Enjoy your weekend and thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and The Magic Hat Bookclub

I started a bookclub!
Yes a real and honest bookclub where people meet and discuss books. At first I thought people mightn't be interested or I’d only get a few along but the reverse was true. More than enough people were as keen as mustard.
I played around with the idea of joining an online bookclub, but for ages I had fantasies about living in a country village and starting a bookclub. Finally I thought, 'start one where you are!'
We have a great venue - Better Read than Dead bookshop in Newtown have kindly given us a room.
The first meeting was the other night and I was terribly nervous. It's one thing to come up with these ideas but I realised I had teachers, academics and book club experts coming along and I knew nothing about running a bookclub. Of course I didn't have to worry. The women present were all lovely and although not all of them knew each other, it only took minutes before they were all chatting away as if they were old friends.
The book we had selected for the first meeting was 'The Time Traveller's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger. It made for a lively and stimulating discussion.
We called ourselves The Magic Hat bookclub as the books we are reading for future meetings are pulled from my magic hat.
As the official Magic Hat Bookclub Facebook forum states:
It is a bookclub for fab bookworms who love words, glamour and magic hats.
I do think bookclubs are a lovely thing to do. One friend I invited said, 'No way. I don't do groups and life is too short to read books dictated by others.' I do see her point but I disagree. I think when you read outside your comfort zone you discover incredible treasures that enhance your life. I attend crime writer Tara Moss's Literary Salon. Through her salons I read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Monkey Mask by Dorothy Porter - two books I never would have thought would interest me but I loved both of them so much!
Tara's Salon also inspired me to start my own bookclub as her events are very glamorous, stimulating and fabbo but I realised I knew many fabbo people as well and I don't see them as often as I would like due to the fact we all live such busy lives.
My neighbour and pal are also starting a craft group which also has a large number of people wanting to come along. I do love the idea of forming these community groups of women in inner-city areas where we can meet to learn crafting skills or discuss books. It is the always inspiring Pip Lincolne from Meet Me at Mikes! who also got me thinking about bookclubs and crafting groups as she had achieved so much with her Brown Owls in Melbourne.
How about you? Are you a person who loves group and community meetings? Do tell, I'd love to hear. xx

Monday, December 7, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and My Cousin Dimity

Today I didn't feel like my usual inspiring Monday post. The hot weather in Sydney seems to have zapped my brain and I could barely move, let alone think. I had my ballet class this morning and it was like being in HELL. I've had three lessons so far and the tin man is still rusty as the tin man was three lessons ago. My ballet teacher told me about one of her latest students who is in her eighties. Can you imagine? She can't do the jumps but she does pretty much everything else. I'm willing to bet that she's more flexible than I am at the barre. One of the other students had her adorable baby daughter who was running around in her nappy as we sweated it out. I watched that child bending and moving to the music and had to sadly admit she was even more flexible than I am.
However, I am a sucker for torture and punishment and so no doubt I will be back next week trying vainly to do an arabesque as I contort myself into impossible positions.
My mother told me tonight on the phone about my third cousin ( I'll call her Dimity) Anyway, Dimity has long been an inspirational figure in our house. She's in her eighties and beautifully groomed and styled on a quite modest pension. She spends her free time doing beauty treatments for women who have been through chemotherapy for cancer. Dimity is eighty-four (oops, gave her age away there) For the last few months she's been sneaking out of the house on Sundays telling people she's going to church and she's been actually going to karate classes. She is working her way up through her belts.
I'll think of Dimity when I'm standing at the barre feeling like a total pants fool next week. It's never too late and you're never to old to have a bash or make a pants fool of yourself.
Enjoy your week.
Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them - Richard Bach

all images courtesy of weheartit

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Wild Blood

A fab movie I saw on World Movies last week was Wild Blood, released in Italy 2008 as Sanguepazzo. It is the true story of Luisa Feradia, 1914-1945, an Italian actress who graduated from supporting roles to more featured parts in the late 1930's because of her beauty. Luisa became involved with Osvaldo Valenti, a famous actor who was linked with several Fascists. He was arrested with a pregnant Luisa and both were executed on the street without trial. Luisa was 31 when she was shot.

Monica Bellucci portrays Luisa. The character Luisa comes from nowhere, she has no idea of how to eat or behave, and has to be groomed by the studio heads. Osvaldo is played extremely well by Luca Zingaretti. These are not the most likeable of characters at times, especially Osvaldo, but you cannot help feeling some degree of sympathy for them when a pregnant Luisa is shot.

Monica as you can imagine looks divine and the costumes and jewellery she wears are all jaw-dropping. I think Bellucci has to be the most beautiful woman actress on screen of this time. She reminds me of a modern day Sophia Loren. She is a welcome change to the trend of stick-thin, haughty looking actresses that seem so favoured. I loved all the sets of this movie. I don't know a lot about Italian films of the 30's and 40's and so it was an interesting film for that alone. It is gritty and disturbing in places but a movie I would watch again. It seems strange that since its premiere at Cannes in 2008, there has been little heard of this movie. At least not in Australia
Enjoy your weekend and thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chit-Chat Wednesday and Dollhouse Blues

I'd like to live inside my daughter's dollhouse
drinking endless cups of gingery tea
composing spidery fairytales in thumb-sized books
to read to my daughter when she played with me
all my problems would be miniature
and fit on a china saucer and plate
in a world that's flowery, cozy, and pink
I could daydream amongst my doll friends
and have ample time to be and think

all images courtesy of weheartit

Monday, November 30, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Gold Sneakers

When I grow old, I want to have a face like any of the three women above. A face lit with the flames of creativity. Breathe their essence in.
That is beauty. Truth and spirit. And a slash of red lipstick doesn't hurt!
I used to see an old woman in the city streets. She wore her white hair in a top knot. Her face was filled with sweet smile lines. She was always dressed beautifully and on her feet she wore bright gold sneakers. She was cute and she knew it.
My Botox will be writing, art and fairytales. I want to grow old with a smile on my face and gold sneakers on my feet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Fab Swimsuits and Time

I'm not a fan of summer. But I am slightly consoled by my new Prue Trollope bathing suit. I've never suited modern swimsuits and have always had to buy vintage bathers to look half-way decent. At times I did tend to look a bit like Grandma on the beach but that was okay. Then I discovered my lovely swimming suit from Prue Trollope's online shop. It is everything she claims it is: the perfect cozzi. Mine is the black version of the one above. I think I'll also buy this red one. When my Pink Princess friend came to Sydney recently she visited Prue's shop and like me fell in love with the bathers once she had tried them on. And so don't say I never share the good stuff with you. If your body type isn't suited to modern day sizing, then here is the costume that will change your life and summer!
Enjoy your weekend. It has been so stifling hot in Sydney. I can barely breathe in the inner-city and think longingly of cool water, parasols, a ride in the Snow Queen's chariot into cool dark nights.
Time is flying away from me. It is terrifying. The days are spinning me around and every time I look at my daughter I get a shock at the little girl who has replaced the baby. Time is speeding towards Christmas. So much to be done!
May you hold time this weekend and make every second precious and appreciate the unique beauty in your theatre of life.
Thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and The Ballet Class

There was a time in my life when I would have baulked at the thought I would be the shortest and dumpiest in any class. But with age comes fearlessness re what others may think. And so this Monday I survived my first adult ballet class.
I was awfully proud of myself as this group has been dancing all year together and were rather professional. It was surprising to me how well I was able to follow some steps (yes, even twirls and spins). The teacher said, 'You catch on quickly, Jo' and the class applauded. Probably more in relief that there was something dumpy and hopeless amongst them!
Lest you think me a total braggart let me quickly say that I was even more pants at the stretching at the barre work than I could have ever imagined. I was like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. In fact, I got myself stuck on the barre whilst my teacher pushed, pulled and screamed encouragement, breaking both my hips and pelvis so that I could be more flexible in the following lesson.
I was terribly stiff from years of sitting hunched over a laptop. I left the class 'floating on air', as they say, but the following day I woke up in agony. My muscles had suddenly realised they were alive and weren't happy about the fact.
I shall return next week if I can find the strength to walk there.
And yes, that is me above as a young ballerina in Lae, New Guinea. How I wish my legs were as shapely as that now! Still, it was my Inspiration post about the lovely Juliette Binoche that spurred me on. If she can take up dancing in her forties then it's good enough for me!
Hope your week is going well. I am still unpacking boxes and living in chaos and clutter. Renovation is such a slow and horrid business. xx

Monday, November 23, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and 'Poets Cottage' inspiration

This week I thought you might be interested to see a few images that inspired my current book in progress, 'Poets Cottage'.
On our last trip to my home state of Tasmania, we treated ourselves to a week in the sea-fishing village of Stanley, renting the historic Captain's Cottage. I'm a big lover of sea-fishing villages and Stanley in many ways is like entering an Enid Blyton book. The town is filled with historic cottages, dramatic seascapes and a large gothic cemetery by the sea. The magnificent Regency-style mansion Highfield has thousands of tales brewing inside it, including a very tragic story of the daughter of the original owners, who was killed when her pet dog dragged her into a fence while leading her around in her toy buggy. And I fell in love with a beautiful Georgian-style house that looks a little like the Bronte parsonage.
My book 'Poets Cottage' was born as I chatted to locals and walked the beach. All the visual elements surrounding me, sheep grazing in cemeteries, cottage-style gardens, the ocean, large houses filled with screams of grief, ghosts that wouldn't rest. Family secrets. Tasmanian devils. Bohemia. Sea-changes. The 1930s. A town where crime never happens... until it does.
My characters were so vivid it was as if they materialized and introduced themselves. And the theme of the book – family secrets and lies, memory and truth – was always there.
The book came quickly. The first draft flowed easily and my agent was happy with the chapters. I’m now working through another draft. I hope you enjoy these few early holiday inspiration shots that inspired Poets Cottage. I shall post some more inspiration photos next week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fabbo Friday and French Flicks, Kirsty, Donovan and Santa's Magic Cave

We braved the searing Sydney temperatures to visit Santa today in his Magic Cave and admire the annual David Jones window display. And so I could get fitted for ballet slippers (gulp, I'm getting serious here).
It always makes me feel a little more in the Christmassy spirit to see those singing pinecones and Manger scenes. This will be a very busy weekend with more work on the house, ballet and swimming.
My lovely neighbour and friend leant me the wonderful French movie happily ever after to watch. Have you seen it? She knew I’d be interested as Johnny Depp makes a cameo appearance. It is a really charming movie and Charlotte Gainsbourg is beautiful. So slim and so much like Serge and Jane, her fab Mamma and Papa. The only defect of this movie is that Johnny's part is so small. What you see in this picture is about it. But as usual, he plays the role superbly.
On the topic of fab parents, RED magazine for October featured the King and Queen of fab, Donovan Leitch and Kirsty Hume, with their lovely daughter Violet, in a gorgeous fashion spread. And also the fab UK writer Sadie Jones (of The Outcast fame) in her home. For the benefit of overseas readers, October RED has just arrived in Australia. I don't buy the air-freight magazines as they are so expensive.
RED Magazine, spanking new ballet slippers, French films, Johnny Depp are all soothing to the soul when you've been inside Santa's Magic Cave.
I hope your weekend is filled with magic, beauty and the odd singing pinecone. Thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and Damn right I'm a ballet mum!

I was chit-chatting with a mother during an outing at a local park and I mentioned my daughter took ballet classes. The effect on the mother was startling and instantaneous. She pulled her neck out like a swan and hissed in a disgusted voice: "I can't believe you're one of THOSE ballet mums."
I saw myself through her eyes, dragging a little girl to classes filled with pampered children in pink spangly costumes being put through their paces to be a STAR whilst I waited in the wings, screaming encouragement, pulling my hair out when my daughter faltered with tears in her eyes, begging to go play in the sand-pit.
Of course all this is nonsense. I studied ballet at a very basic level when I was young. I firmly believe ballet or dance studies encourages discipline, teamwork, co-ordination, self-esteem and a sense of achievement.
My daughter occasionally grumbles at having to get out of bed early on a Saturday, but always loves seeing her friends in her dance class. We have one of the best ballet teachers I could imagine. She is adored by many and is a firm disciplinarian of the old school but with a heart of gold. I am grateful my daughter has received the chance to train under her for a period of time. When my very ill father and mother travelled to visit us, our lovely ballet teacher broke her rule and permitted them to view the class and treated them like royalty. My parents also fell under her spell and often refer to their brief meeting with her.
I’ve observed how well my daughter has begun to carry herself. She is very tall and I know the ballet is helping her posture. In fact, I’m going to sign up myself for a series of Adult beginner classes in the hope of losing some weight and improving my dire posture. I am still amused by the shocked expressions on the Scribe's and Daisy's face when I announced this. It is time to set our dancing expert a real challenge.
Yes, damn right I'm a ballet mum and proud to be one!

all images taken from we heart it

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and MAYA DEREN

It was the Scribe who first introduced me to the avant garde filmaker Maya Deren. Maya is a bit of a legend and when I was at art school I was totally smitten by her surreal, trancelike film Meshes of the Afternoon.
Like Jean Cocteau, who I've previously written about as an enormous inspiration and influence, Maya managed to make brilliantly innovative, challenging dreamlike short films on a shoe-string budget. She is quoted as attacking Hollywood by saying, "I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick." She also said Hollywood "was a major obstacle to the definition and development of motion pictures as a creative fine-art form."
Her Meshes of the Afternoon is hailed as one of the most influential avant-garde films in America. Other works of Maya's include At Land, Ritual in Transfigured Time and The Very Eye of Night. Maya was a tireless self-promoter and distributor of her own work and toured America doing lectures.
Later in her life, Maya became interested in Voodoun and travelled to Haiti where she filmed and participated in many rituals. Joseph Campbell edited her work for Divine Horseman: The Living Gods of Haiti.
Sadly, Maya died very young at 44 from a brain haemorrhage. The following is a plot summary from Meshes of the Afternoon. It will give you an idea of the dreamy, surreal rhythm to Maya's work. The source of this plot summary is to be found HERE
A solitary flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a phone off the hook: discordant images a woman sees as she comes home. She naps and, perhaps, dreams. She sees a hooded figure going down the driveway. The knife is on the stair, then in her bed. The hooded figure puts the flower on her bed then disappears. The woman sees it all happen again. Downstairs, she naps, this time in a chair. She awakes to see a man going upstairs with the flower. He puts it on the bed. The knife is handy. Can these dream-like sequences end happily? A mirror breaks, the man enters the house again. Will he find her? Written by
And what more could I possibly ask as an artist than that your most precious visions, however rare, assume sometimes the forms of my images. - Maya Deren
portrait of Maya image source: