Friday, July 31, 2009

Fabbo Friday and VELVET PEARS

I love books. All sorts of books, fiction and non-fiction. Books are my friends, it is true. I always feel slightly sad when I visit someone and there are no books in their house.

My Little Brick, by contrast, is busting at the seams with books. Here's a recent purchase I'm totally smitten with. Velvet Pears by Susan Southam is a dream to peruse as the photography is so stunning. It details the journey of a young woman setting up a home for herself and her family over the years in Australia.

As well as jaw-droopingly beautiful images of this process and her exquisite gardens (oh her gypsy caravan, be still my heart!), Susan embellishes Velvet Pears with family recipes, hints and anecdotes. The chocolate cake recipe is divine (my family love that one!).

It is a wonderful book to dip into when you feel like a hit of beauty and the presentation is a beautiful artwork in itself. Lush, inspiring and celebratory of life and home. If this book was hundreds of dollars, I'd still think it a bargain!

Enjoy your weekend. It is very sunny in Sydney so I'll try to get some painting done tomorrow. The paint the old kitchen table kind, not the easel masterpiece kind, alas.

I also added a photograph (talking about lush and beautiful) of Cheryl Barker as Manon in her Paris scene costume. She really looks like something from a fairytale, doesn't she? That dress was spectacular!

Hope your weekend is fun, fun fun and filled with beautiful books and creative dreams. xx

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.”

Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday - A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

I rarely go out these days. I'm often so exhausted that a good night to me is a chapter of a book, a few rows of knitting, a cocoa and then bed with my hot water bottle under one arm. However every so often the Scribe drags me out to the Opera House to see a lovely ballet or Opera or Artschool Annie drags me to the pictures. Last night the Scribe and I were lucky enough to watch Opera Australia perform Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.

I always love a night at the Opera House. It never fails to thrill me to be inside that iconic building and rub shoulders with the fabulous, wealthy, interesting and cultured people of Sydney. The long line for the ladies is always worth peeking at shoes, handbags and stylish hairstyles. And hoping somehow just being there will mean that style will transfer to me. Last night we were two rows away from Geoffrey Robertson. Celebrity spotting is also one of my favourite things to do there. Even Daisy at four has been to see the Nutcracker at the Opera House. I would love to see every child in Australia receive a free pass to a blockbuster Opera House show. It would change many lives I'm sure!

The performance was like a fairytale, a lovely opera to see in a Hans Christian Andersen-inspired week. Plot wise, Manon doesn't make a lot of sense but there are some gorgeous scenes in Paris with a weird little bunch of dancing teachers. Manon herself isn't a likeable heroine as, say, Madame Butterfly, and you don't tend to feel a lot of emotion in the death scenes for her but it's still lovely, lovely, lovely. And Cheryl Barker who played Manon is always divine.

So my idea of a good night out is either the movies with Artschool Annie or the Opera House with the Scribe for a big blockbuster opera or ballet.

What's your idea of a good night out? Do you like culture or a packed pub with some fabbo band? Are you a cinema person or do you prefer to stay home and play Scrabble? I'd love to hear what you like to do on the nights you go out!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

I have many memories from my idyllic early childhood in the exotic tropical splendour of Papua New Guinea. One of the more pleasant is of a beautiful blonde lady (who looked like a fairytale princess) reading to me in bed at night from my large volume of treasured Hans Christian Andersen fairytales. Even now, so many years later, I can still recall her melodic, soft voice as she began one of my favourite openings of them all, from The Little Mermaid.

'Far out in the wide sea – where the water is blue as the loveliest cornflower, and clear as the purest crystal, where it is so deep that very many church towers must be heaped upon one another, in order to reach from the lowest depth to the surface above – dwell the mer-people.'

Who was this woman? Mystery surrounds her as my parents cannot recall her although think she may be the European girlfriend of the scientist next door who collected pythons and bird-eating spiders. I prefer to think she was some Danish fairy who nourished my young tale-peddler imagination with her lovely voice and face.

Hans’ story is every bit as poignant and beautiful as his own writings. Son of a poor cobbler, he was born in Odense, Denmark. His entire family lived in one room. Hans rose to the heights of success in his own lifetime. An intelligent, tortured, serious writer who never felt truly part of the society he moved in and who from an early age was regarded as being physically unattractive, he's a powerful reminder that as artists we're not bound by poverty, fashion, self-image or society. He turned his pain and isolation into lasting works of genius with tales such as The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen and The Fir Tree amongst many others.

And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let us bow our heads to the glory of Hans Christian Andersen who has delighted generations of adults and children with his tales. May his determination, courage, intelligence and beauty inspire our week in our creative pursuits!

'I seize on an idea for grown-ups and then tell the story to the little ones, always remembering that Father and Mother often listen, and you must give them something for their minds.'

Hans Christian Andersen

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Made This!

This is a little show and tell project that Pip from Meet Me at Mikes! is running. To be in the running to win a copy of her fabbo book, Meet Me at Mike's we have to post something we made. As I have only recently started knitting again, it might be a bit much to expect people to want to look at the few rows I've managed to do (let's not mention the crochet) However this is a study I did at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney which inspired my first book Circle of Nine. I was just playing around but quite a few of the images began to haunt me including the myth of Persephone Rising. I began to write the images out and a entire series of books set between the world of Eronth and the Blue Mountains in Australia began to emerge. The books are based on myth and fairy tales but it was at COFA that the characters first emerged.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm having a lovely sunny Friday at home with Daisy. I actually feel a bit sad that our break together has come to an end. Last night I saw the Coco Chanel movie with Artschool Annie. It was much better than I had expected! It made me feel like bobbing my hair, starving myself, wearing men's clothes and smoking pensively in a corner when it was over. I may do a Blog about it next week and our silly faux pas there.

Today I thought it was time I finally passed along my Lovely Blog Awards that Sharon from Bookish Blonde presented me with a few weeks ago. Because there is hundreds of Blogs I love and I've made so many recent wonderful Blogging friends it is really impossible to choose - and so I've decided to go back in time to the oldest Blogs that I've followed. The five below are my favourite Blogs that I've followed for years. They are a variety of styles and content - but one thing they have in common is that they are all lovely and have enriched my creative spirit. My Five 'Oldies but Goodies' are:

1/ Vicki from FRENCH ESSENCE - A legend in the Blogging world, Vicki's book My French Life is one of my favourites. Her blog never fails to delight and inspire with snippets from her wonderful life in France. Vicki is not only stylish but incredibly beautifully mannered and always makes time for more humble Blogs with a kind comment. Whether she is talking about shoes, old cinemas, olives, French movies, life with her family her posts never fail to enlighten and enrich your world. I await her second book with great anticipation.

2/ Carla from CARLA LOVES PHOTOGRAPHY - An Australian girl who pursued her dreams in Italy and wrote the beautiful Italian Joy. Carla Coulson's books are all divine. I also love Paris Tango and it was Carla who photographed My French Life for Vicki Archer. Now living in Paris, Carla updates her Blog with snippets of her incredible life and adventures and you will never fail to be inspired when you visit this lovely Australian.

3/ Allison from MY COZY HOME - I have followed Allison as she recounts her domestic adventures in her cozy American home that she shares with her picture perfect family for years. I love her little Evy! Allison and I share a love of Cath Kidston, England and mysteries and I always feel as if I've visited a friend when I pop over to her cozy, adorable house! Thanks Allison for always being as charming, cozy and gorgeous as you are!

4/ Willow from LIFE AT WILLOW MANOR - Another American who records fascinating snippets on a variety of topics from her incredibly popular Blog, Life at Willow Manor. How I envy Willow her beautiful manor! Yes, even her ghost! This is an informative, uplifting Blog that runs the gauntlet from Willow's recipes, latest ghost sighting, beautiful poetry and musings on an incredible variety of topics. Willow never fails to entertain and instruct and has a most disturbing resemblance to Johnny Depp! (Actually I think more Juliette Binoche but Willow claims Johnny!)

And last but no means least

Justine Picardie from JUSTINE PICARDIE. I share a great love of Daphne du Maurier with Justine and I always find when I visit Justine's Blog that she never fails to move, entertain and inform me. Justine is a beautifully eloquent, elegant writer and this is one Blog that I've been awoken to new passions and discovered other writers thanks to Justine. I eagerly await her forthcoming biography of Coco Chanel as the ever stylish Justine will do full justice I'm sure to Coco. Thank you Justine for sharing so much of yourself and your talent through your Blog.

And there you have my Five Oldies But Goodies. Five Blogs that I've been following the longest. Through their separate efforts they have awakened me to the power of Blogging. I hope you may have found a new friend amongst my Five.

Enjoy your weekend. We have two five-year birthday parties this weekend and chores around the house that badly need doing. Wishing you a weekend of family, fun and creative pursuits aplenty. xx

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday - Leuralla the vintage toy museum

It's week two of the school holidays and Daisy and I have had the most splendid time! Daisy has said she wants to stay home and relax and that suits me fine! So we've had plenty of time to do craft, read books together and just BE. Heavenly.

Last Friday we did a family trip to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Leura is a picture-postcard mountain town where I once lived for over a year. Part of my fantasy trilogy Circle Of Nine is set there. I love the mountains and it was glorious to return after so long in the city. We visited a vintage toy museum housed in Leuralla, a sublime pre-WW1 house with the spectacular Blue Mountains as a backdrop. If you love vintage toys this museum is a must-see. It is the southern hemisphere's largest vintage toy collection from the early 1900s to present day, crammed with Noddies, old dolls, puzzle games, children's books, railway trains, Barbies, shabby old teddies and a thousand other delights. I think Daisy thought she had died and gone to heaven! I was just as excited as my daughter and it really was the most perfect way to spend a day in the mountains. The mansion also has the most beautiful gardens and even an old railway station set up with original fittings. In the gardens I stumbled across an item that set me thinking of a perfect novel idea, something you would never in a million years expect to find there. I love a mystery, and I suspect I may have found another book idea that I want to pursue very much. So many ideas, such little time! The photos of the museum actually resemble our lounge-room at the moment.

After the museum we walked back to Leura village and I drove everybody MAD wanting to buy every second house I came across. The photo of Daisy with the rabbits is a house I fell seriously in love with. It's on the market for over a million. Those bunnies don't come cheap but I'd love to live in a house with bunnies guarding it! Then we went to a lovely cafe and had some glorious potato wedges with sour cream and the best egg and bacon rolls you could ever imagine washed down with terrific mountain coffee. Sadly it was time for the long scenic train trip back down the mountains. It was a bit miserable to arrive in Sydney peak hour as tired and weary commuters made their way home.

I do long for a tree change to the mountains. It would be glorious to live in the chilly, pure mountain air and grow vegetables and lovely flowers and live in Leura village again. Except of course for the bushfires. Of course I'd have to have the bunny house.

That night the strangest thing happened. I kept getting quite frightened every time I thought about the toy museum, although I hadn't been creeped out all when we were actually there. It seemed a rather sad and almost terrible place that night. 'It's so unloved there. The toys are so unloved. The house is so unloved’ - it was like a refrain in my mind. I remembered all the pouting, sad and almost resentful faces of toys with no children to play with them. Thousands of tiny faces glaring through glass cases. The house that had seemed such delightful fun in daytime now seemed lonely and eerie.

It reminded me of my current book Poets Cottage, where there is a haunting, although not in a normal sense - rather a terrible memory lingering in a house. I am a believer in such things. My Blog friend, Kate from What Kate Did Next has a gorgeous post, Ghosts on her terrific writing Blog. Skip over and have a read! By a spooky coincidence we both Blogged about Kate Bush this week too!

Hope the rest of your week is filled with loads of creative ideas, jolly fun and the spirits that surround you are of the benevolent kind. xx

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and KATE BUSH

I wish Kate Bush had been part of my mother's group. She'd be the coolest person to talk to and I'm sure we'd have hit it off and spent a lot of time discussing creativity, parenting, ghosts, the Brontes, graveyards, baby formulas, vegetarian food and enjoyed scouring op-shops together and watching our children play in parks.

I say this because somewhere in the UK Kate is living a normal life raising her son, Bertie, and doing all the normal motherly things. In her latest brilliant double-album, Aerial ,she sings tender homage to laundry chores and to Bertie. I love this album so much! It was worth the long years of anticipation wondering if she would ever record again.

The first time I saw Kate I was watching Countdown on a Sunday night, probably with my beans on toast on my lap, when THAT MUSIC STARTED. And there she was - red dress, huge eyes, reaching arms – witchy evocative other-worldly Kate singing that incredible Wuthering Heights song which eerily seemed to encapture the spirit of the book. I fell instantly in love as I choked on my beans, as did millions around the globe, and it seemed impossible that one so young could have written such an incredible piece.

I love Kate for many reasons. She's not like a modern pop star courting media attention. She's content to live a normal life and create her genius quietly. She put her career on hold to bring up Bertie and concentrate on being a mother. She proves that sometimes quality is better than quantity. Each album, although unmistakably 'Kate', is an evolution.

She shows us that age isn't a barrier to creativity. A schoolgirl can pen Wuthering Heights whilst the more mature woman pens brilliant odes to washing, motherhood, death of a parent and quieter reflections that are totally original and critically acclaimed as masterpieces. In a world of the bland, the copied, the narcissistic needy, Kate reminds us that not every performer is about fame bottled to reflect their own insecure vanity. Some artists are more concerned about the work. I adore the surreal nature of her albums. Only Kate would sing so lovingly about washing and include Rolf Harris playing didgeridoo.

In a recent interview she said that having Bertie changed her creative process totally. Before she was used to fourteen hour stretches in her studio but motherhood meant she was only able to work in short patches over the years and sometimes not at all. But this was good for her creativity as it forced her into situations where she had to step back from it. She is a great reminder to all of us who feel frustrated trying to raise families and work in the 'real world' that we can afford to slow down and pace ourselves.

And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday, let us celebrate the wild, eccentric, haunting genius of Kate Bush! May her original, striking songs inspire our own creative efforts this week.

· Her subjects come tripping from library shelves, television and cinema screens and musty books of fairy tales, the stuff that dreams are made of. She spins tunes that haunt, twist and turn the mind, triggering long forgotten moods. Listening intently to her albums is an experience akin to having a lucid and feverish dream. Jungian symbols of youth, innocence, spiritual escape and the dark, feminine realm abound. Ghosts haunt the black vinyl grooves... But it's not all brooding intensity. There are jokes, too...

Sue Hudson

· For the last 12 years, I've felt really privileged to be living such a normal life. It's so a part of who I am. It's so important to me to do the washing, do the Hoovering. Friends of mine in the business don't know how dishwashers work. For me, that's frightening. I want to be in a position where I can function as a human being. Even more so now where you've got this sort of truly silly preoccupation with celebrities. Just because somebody's been in an ad on TV, so what? Who gives a toss?

· Kate Bush

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fabbo Friday - The Magic Faraway Tree

Seeing as this was Enid week, I couldn't resist showing you my daughter's favourite copy of The Magic Faraway Tree. It really does have beautiful illustrations in it and although a little later than the versions I normally like to collect, it's a beautiful copy. When we get to the end she always wants us to start again which is such a homage to Enid.
Totally knackered tonight as we have just returned from a very long day in the Blue Mountains where we visited a gorgeous vintage toy museum. I'll probably Blog about this next week as it was such a special place. I did have good intentions of posting my 5 Lovely Blog awards tonight but it looks as if I'll have to do that over the weekend. We had a splendid day in the mountains. As usual I want to sell up and move to a little mountain cottage with a fairy-tale garden. I picked up every real-estate guide in Leura. The air is so wonderful and icy in the mountains! It was quite flattening to arrive back in Sydney to peak hour commuters.
Hope your weekend is totally fabbo. We have another child's birthday party and yet another painter coming early tomorrow. Busy as happy buzzing bees! Stay jolly, creative and may every second of your weekend be as magical as an Enid Blyton story. xx

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretty, Crafty Peppermint

One of the good things about the Blog world is that you find loads of information easily missed when you're writing at home. I hadn’t heard of Peppermint magazine until the Blogs began singing its praises, and Frankie is another I found through the online community.

I'm normally a fan of the UK mags: Red, British Vogue, Country Life are my favourites. In Australia, I love Inside Out and Country Style.

Peppermint is Australia's first eco fashion mag. It’s pretty fabbo and worth a mention. The paper, fashions spreads, crafty articles are all beautiful. The current issue is particularly impressive with the lovely Rhiannon Leifheit as its cover girl (and inside).

Rhiannon hosts one of my favourite vintage fashion Blogs, Liebmarlene Vintage, where she includes fascinating snippets of her life in Atlanta as well as her love of silent films and movie stars.

And the best thing of all about Peppermint? It donates 35 cents of every issue sold to Friends of the Earth. Definitely a magazine worth investing in!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chit-Chat Wednesday - STICKY-BEAK TWIT

I am a sticky-beak, it's true. I'm the sort of person that, if I visit you, I love nothing more than to go through your photo albums (and even the albums of people I don't know). Perhaps that is part of my fascination with the art of story-telling, studying other human beings and their reactions to events in their lives. I'm sure all writers have a touch of sticky-beakness in them.

MySpace and Facebook were perfect vehicles for a sticky-beak such as myself where I could browse total stranger's lives. Or at least the lives they chose to portray on their sites.

I'd always promised myself I'd never join Twitter. I was already overloaded with social networking sites but this week I succumbed and I blame Kirstie Allsopp for this lapse in judgment.

I'm rather a fan of Kirstie. The lovely image above of her I swiped from the Shed UK Blog. Her shed inspired my shed. She seems to be everything I'm not. So practical, capable and fearless when it comes to real-estate and house matters. So crafty and domestic. When I read a recent article in the on-line Times that Kirstie was a big user of Twitter and was recommending it to people in place of Facebook and MySpace it was too much for this sticky-beak to resist.

And so I joined Twitter to follow Ms Allsop and was so pleased to see that she was tweeting she was off to Ikea. Aha! We did have something in common. We were both talking about Ikea in the same week!

Then I couldn't resist searching for Johnny Depp, noting he had something like 48,000 followers. I didn't add him, as much as the sticky-beak within hungered. I couldn't really see Johnny tweeting away out there. I figure he's much too cool to bother with such things. Is some little geek guy in the States pretending he's Johnny whilst 48,000 followers hang on every tweet? Why Johnny would be tweeting about Susan Boyle makes it even more difficult to believe. Just call me a sticky-beak sceptic.

I've yet to work out the mystery of Twitter. I thought it would be simple and in some ways it does seem cleaner and less cluttered than Facebook or MySpace.

I admire the Scribe because he's so far resisted having any social networking at all. He's watched me with a mixture of pity and amusement as gradually I've added one thing after another.

I cannot believe that we're nearly through one week of the school holidays already. Daisy and I have been having a lovely time at home doing craft, baking, making huge messes and reading Enid Blyton.

She has told me she doesn't want to go anywhere, she wants to stay home and 'relax'. That suits me fine. However, not much editing done this week, alas. The school holidays are always so difficult with writing. I can only grab snatches throughout the day. Today I'm waiting on the floorboards man to arrive to discuss stains and quotes.

Hope your week is a brilliant one and if you are on Twitter please follow me! My profile is looking quite dismal next to Kirstie’s.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and ENID BLYTON

It never fails to warm the cockles of my heart when I read those 'ten books that influenced me' columns and see so many writers from a wide spectrum of genres cite Enid Blyton as their early inspiration.

I can still recall being a small child in Papua New Guinea, holding an Enid Blyton book in my hand, trembling with excitement as I stared at the incomprehensible scribbles and markings. I knew if I mastered reading I would be privy to the magic this book promised.

After my blue-and-red readers I progressed to Enid and what a universe of joy and magic she led me to. I still enjoy her books and have the great satisfaction of introducing my daughter to her works. Indeed, Enid is the first author I have seen my daughter weep when we reach the end of the chapter, begging, and screaming for 'one more, just one more!'

No higher accolade for a storyteller!

Through Daisy I’ve gained an appreciation of Noddy, The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair that I didn't have when younger. But I’ve never liked the Mr Twiddle books!

My personal favourites were the mystery books. Famous Five would make my heart race faster when I held their hardcovers, ready to begin a new adventure. Nearly every female I know wanted to be George, but I loved Anne - so sensible and her dresses were great! I also enjoyed Secret Seven and adored the boarding school stories, St Clare's and Malory Towers. I desperately wished I had been christened Angela (a boarding school type of name in my opinion) and could go to boarding school and eat such delicious sounding food as anchovy paste toast and cream buns in midnight suppers. It was a world far removed from my own Tasmanian midlands upbringing.

Re-reading the books again, I'm struck by how similar they are to the Rowling books with their spells, exploding toffee shocks and schools of enchantment. But Enid was there first, chanelling all her glorious tales long before Harry Potter madness.

Librarians may have banned her, but when Daisy visits libraries she's often disappointed at the choices where animals take major roles in books - or when the books have 'worthy' subjects such as dealing with the loss of a parent or having gays as parents. Daisy wants simply stories about children - preferably children eating loads of junk food and having wild adventures without their parents. Parents in the books are simply there to pack the hampers with chocolate cake, egg sandwiches and lashings of ginger-beer.

Enid understood this longing in a child's heart for stories of their own tribe because she too craved stories about children when she was a child. I hunt down vintage copies for our collection as I don't like the rewritten versions. No doubt my mother threw out a lot of my old books which I'm now recollecting.

I'm also a member of The Enid Blyton Society and receive their journal three times a year. My appreciation of Enid has only grown over the years rather than dimmed. When I'm feeling low, a read of St Clare's or Malory Towers and I often pick up again.

Thanks to Enid, I believe that rabbits do live in cozy homes under tree roots. She gave me magic in my childhood as I hungered for smugglers, secret passages, tea-parties with fairies, jolly japes on deserted islands, purses with coins that kept coming and all washed down with lashings of ginger beer. She also gave me a great love of England. I still thrill when I see her books that I loved so much as a child.

And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let us take inspiration from the storyteller who knew how to capture generations of children and adults with her spell-binding, non-pretentious joyous tales. Let us celebrate Enid Blyton! For more about this very complex, talented, child-like woman, you can do no better than Barbara Stoney's biography, a fascinating read about the artist behind the tales.

"Dear heart
And soul of a child,
Sing on!"

Enid Blyton

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fabbo Friday - THE GAP

Mention the Gap to most Sydneysiders and one word will most likely come to mind. Suicide. The Gap is Sydney's notorious cliff where every year roughly about fifty people choose to terminate their life.

Yet when you walk around this spectacular ocean cliff, as we did last weekend to attend a friend's birthday party in nearby Vaucluse, it seems impossible to believe such a tranquil spot could have such a dark taint to its beauty.

In 1857, the Dunbar, a spectacular three-masted Blackwall frigate, had left England with many locals from the colony on board returning to Sydney. The ship had the great misfortune of wrecking at the Gap; all but one on board drowned. 121 people died on that doomed journey.

It's easy to imagine the horror of the crowds that gathered the following morning to witness the terrible sight of the corpses, many naked and mutilated by sharks, piling up on the rocks and shore.

The victims of this tragic shipwreck are buried in St Stephens graveyard near where we live in the inner-city. The Dunbar anchor is still on permanent display near the Gap itself.

Aside from historical tragedy, the Gap was also in the headlines in 2007, when Charmaine Dragun, a young TV newsreader, threw herself from the cliff top after her depression medication had been changed.

And in 1995, beautiful model Caroline Byrne was cruelly murdered by being thrown off the Gap. This case had a cast of characters that was jaw-dropping in its flamboyance and notoriety - indeed an instance of true life being far more outrageous than any fiction.

Standing in the Sydney winter sunshine, watching joggers, tourists and dogs being walked, it's still easy to feel chilled by what these people went through in their final few minutes.

As beautiful as Watsons Bay is, I'm not sure I’d want to live too near the Gap. There's something about the energy of the place that makes you feel slightly wary.

I hope your weekend is fabbo. We've got a painter coming on Saturday for a quote for our cottage, ballet class and hopefully some time to read the weekend papers. xxx

Our elders used to tell us that all holy sites are endowed with ancient wisdom. These centres have innate powers.

Joseph Bael

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chit-Chat Wednesday- An Award and NAIDOC

Hello! Thanks for popping in to visit. Busy, busy, busy in the Little Brick House. I'm editing Poets Cottage and that's going well. No real clangers yet with timelines etc. My agent is waiting on the next lot of chapters to check it's hanging together and I haven't strayed off track.

News Flash! Tale Peddler has won an award! The very sassy Sharon, from bookish blonde, has presented me with the Lovely Blog Award. I'm extremely chuffed as I've seen this award in Blogworld and would think 'one day when I have my Blog tidied up - I might win one of those’.

Well, that day has come early, so thank you very much Sharon! I always get a lot of wisdom, laughs and inspiration from my bookish blonde. She's pretty fab so don't forget to visit her - and tell her Tale Peddler sent you if you leave a comment!

She's also left me with the almost impossible task of presenting five of my lovely Blogs with the same award. We all know this is almost IMPOSSIBLE as there's so many thousands of terrific, inspiring Blogs out there. I love them all! Not only writing and arty Blogs but house-interior Blogs, parenting Blogs, vintage fashion Blogs. So it's very difficult. Do you give the award to a hugely popular successful Blog which gets massive hits and you love? Or - do you pass the baton to a smaller Blog that receives fewer hits but you also love? Will I lose Blogging friends if they don't get the award passed to them? I'll need to reflect before I award the chosen five. I take it all seriously you see!

But really seriously, that's one thing I love about the Blogging community - that there is a community. You don't get to sit on an award and thrust your Blogging chest out proudly with it pinned. You have to share the love and joy around. So watch this space for my recipients.

I've just returned from my daughter's preschool where they've been celebrating NAIDOC week, a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their culture (NAIDOC stands for National Aboriginal & Islander Day Observance Committee).

Today the school hosted a morning tea where we were fortunate to have an Aboriginal Elder, Auntie Fay, as their special guest. The children performed two dances for her that they had been practising where they took the parts of various animals: kookaburra, wombat etc,

I couldn't help reflecting as I watched their excited faces how different schools are now to my day. When I was at school, Aborigines just simply weren't mentioned. Captain Cook discovered Australia and that was that! I certainly never thought to ponder who was there first.

I've been very impressed by the schools in the inner-city (and my country friends tell me it's the same in their areas) where prior to any major event at the school the indigenous owners of the land are thanked and blessed.

As I said to Auntie Fay, "This is a new world filled with a different race of children. It can only result in a more united Australia to receive such an education from an early age."

When I told Auntie Fay of my education (with no mention of Aborigines) she said she wasn't even told she was Aboriginal at school. She had no idea of her true blood.

I felt very privileged to have met this woman and only wish her early schooling had been different.

On a recent Open Day at a local kindergarten, the headmaster welcomed the parents by saying; "We do not see this new beginning as your child is starting school, but rather the entire family is starting school with us."

I continue to learn new things through my child's preschool. Every morning as I rush from one activity to the next, I silently acknowledge the Gadigal (traditional owners of the area where I live). It's a good practice, I believe, to acknowledge the elders of the land. After I do this I seem to see with slightly more clarity than I did previously.

As much as I criticise some of the modern ways of parenting and education at times, NAIDOC week alone is proof to me that through the education of our children there is hope for a more united Australia.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Hope all is jolly and creative in your world. xx
image from flickr

Monday, July 6, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and JEAN COCTEAU

Yesterday was the birthday of the great French poet Jean Cocteau. I always think Jean Cocteau is responsible for Daisy's conception as it was during my first date with the Scribe (Jean Cocteau's brilliant adaptation of the fairytale Beauty & The Beast: La Belle et la Bete) that I realised a man with such a choice in films would have to be the father of my child!

Both the Scribe and I have loved Jean Cocteau for many years. We've seen several of his movies repeatedly: Blood of a Poet, Orpheus and The Testament of Orpheus amongst others.

When we travelled to the South of France, of course we had to visit the lovely chapel with the Cocteau murals at one of my favourite sea-fishing villages, Villefranche sur Mer, and also the Jean Cocteau Museum at Menton. Above my desk are two large framed prints from this museum. One is of Cocteau the Master with wigs attached to his back, two large white eyes and looking rather dapper in a suit despite all of that. The other is of a man/horse figure, a very Cocteau image.

Although he was definitely multi-talented and worked across a variety of artistic fields such as filmmaking, Cocteau always saw himself as a poet and insisted everything he did was poetry. Despite limited budgets, the creativity and scope of his movies is dazzling. In my opinion, he's far superior to most modern-day filmmakers with their massive budgets.

His life wasn't a charmed one on a personal level. His father committed suicide when he was around nine. Another young lover died suddenly and Cocteau spent a lot of years addicted to opium.
But he was friends with a charmed circle that included Coco Chanel, Picasso, Jean Marais and Colette amongst others. He died of a heart-attack at 74, after hearing of the death of one of his friends, Edith Piaf.

He was dazzling, witty, elegant, beautiful and had the heart and soul of a child to create his profound works.

And so on the day after his birthday, for my Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty, Monday post let us bow our heads to the genius of Jean Cocteau. May his dazzling originality and poetic brilliance inspire us this week to aim higher and be as original as we can in our artistic efforts.

I met a young man of nineteen or twenty, who at that time vibrated with all the youth of the world. This was Jean Cocteau, then a passionately imaginative youth to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundations of the Heavenly City.

Edith Wharton in A Backward Glance (1934), p. 28

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Ed Wood

"Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams? - Orson Welles.

Writing about Tim Burton earlier this week reminded me of how much I love his film Ed Wood. When it first came out the Scribe and I saw it countless times, and then we had to watch all of Ed's films. There are so many things I love about Tim's portrayal of Ed Wood.

There’s the incredible optimism of Ed when nobody around him shared in his vision. As Tim has said in interviews, "Ed approached his product as if he was writing Citizen Kane. Which is something we should do when we're creating.”

Writing genre fiction as I do, it's easy to be derided by more 'literary' types who consider it beneath them - but I've always been a bit Ed Wood in my approach to my craft.

A lesser director than Tim might have been tempted to make Ed a purely comical figure. Tim has spoken in interviews about how his film shows the other side of the Hollywood dream of making it big. He's interested in the people at the bottom of the food chain. He's even claimed to be haunted by the memories of seeing people who had tried to make the Hollywood dream and failed. They're like living ghosts to him and their memory has a raw beauty and poignancy. That's why this movie has so much power in my opinion.

I think there's also a personal side: both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (who plays Ed) have spoken about their loss of faith in the system of filmmaking and how Ed Wood's ability to see the silver lining of everything helped to rejuvenate their visions.

And so if you're feeling a bit lost in your artistic pursuits; if you feel the dream has passed you by - then do yourself a favour and watch Ed Wood. Ed's eternal, surreal optimism is something we can all aspire to.

Enjoy your weekend. It's a busy one for me. Two birthday parties, ballet and my normal 'real job.'

Thanks to all the good wishes for Ikea. The trip has been postponed for this week but watch this space!

[Ed is on the phone with Mr. Feldman at Warner Brothers Studios.]
Ed Wood: So — we gonna be working together? [pauses to listen] Really? Worst film you ever saw. Well, my next one will be better. Hello. Hello?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chit-Chat Wednesday - My Lady Gaga


Thanks for popping in. It's seriously scary how fast this week has flown! I've been editing Poets Cottage and working on another short story which I just finished on deadline.

Daisy and I have been battling every morning before preschool. She's now reached the stage where she loves to pick her own clothes.

This would be great if she didn't channel Lady Gaga. I can cope with the fairy tutus and the 'clothes-that-are-far-too-good' for a messy preschool. But I can't cope with her wanting to wear her knickers with gumboots alone on a freezing winter's day or summer shorts and sandals.

My daughter doesn't feel the cold and every morning is a battle-ground in Little Brick Cottage! To add to the challenge she's set herself, she's decided days should be 'theme coloured'. So we have 'pink day', 'green day' and 'red day.' She looks for everything to be coordinated with that colour. Socks, hair-ribbons, cardigans etc. It's a nightmare.

Some days I look forward to 'big school' when she'll have a uniform and I won't have to go through the daily morning tussles as we battle it out for her choice of outfit.

House-wise, the Scribe is busy organising a trip to Ikea which is a major event as WE HAVE NEVER BEEN TO IKEA. This probably makes us freaks in the inner-city where so many people are in small houses that need storage.

I've always resisted Ikea but we do need floor to ceiling bookcases so to Ikea we will go! There's only so many vintage suitcases you can use to store things before you begin to drown!

Back to my edit. Hope your week is a jolly one and you're having loads of creative fun. xx