Monthly Archives: June 2011

Revealing Artists and Storytellers…

29th June 2011

White Chocolate and Strawberry Cheesecake

I had a discussion with friends recently about what is art and who is an artist.    It amazes me when some people say “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body” and yet they are so skilled at creating landscaped gardens full of visual delights or productive patches of vegetables, fruit and herbs.   Or, they produce mouthwatering meals and exquisite culinary delights for their family and friends because they enjoy doing so  …  or decorate a house in the most eye catching manner,  turning it into the most inviting “home”.   These people are indeed artists though they might not realize it.  They are expressing themselves in creative form, letting their soul colour their lives in a visual, tangible way that is uniquely their own. 

All humans have a creative side….we just express it in different ways…. some people are creative in less obvious ways, they use creativity to solve problems, or to fix or build things.   Some are creative in the manner they conduct their relationships……. or deal with life……or care for their loved ones…..I genuinely believe that living is in itself, an artform!   To deny that part of self that is an artist, is to deny our human-ness  AND our spirit.  Creativity goes hand in hand with soul.  

A person’s “art” is as multi dimensional as their soul….. and like an extension of self, should be ever changing, growing, evolving, transcending… so next time you think you don’t have a creative bone in your body, think again.   Every cell of your being is a creative student, every strand of your DNA is a creative master… and its up to you to let them explore and connect your inner and outer worlds.

The café is small and quirky, but also very warm, personal and inviting.   It is an extension of the woman who created it.    Brenda tells me she loves being here and it shows!   She is an artist in every sense of the word –  in her love and care for her staff, for those she welcomes into her “artspace”, and in what she offers the world.    I always feel so deeply appreciative of the energy and humanity that touches me when I am sitting in the café.

Art for Sale in the Tearooms

The stories come and go, along with their people.    It seems that so many countless stories unfurl into view at these café tables.    Small glimpses of ongoing journeys too grand to describe here, but enough to inspire are left behind like crumbs, on the tables.  Sometimes these exist in memory only; a few words overheard, or energy drifting in the air, and sometimes in written words in the little notepads on the tables.    These precious fragments hide greater stories, which are largely hidden, denied, or on the way to being lost forever.  

On the sunny verandah, an older woman shares her family history with a friend.    She has traced her ancestors back to the first settlers on board the ship with Governor Stirling, landing at Rockingham, Western Australia.   The stories she tells are stitched with hardship and yet rich with fascination for lives in a whole different world.   The same woman has been an integral part of the local repertory club since it’s very early years, and quietly admits to being the costume designer and creator for all of those early productions.   She speaks of all the outfits she has made and kept, now stored (hopefully) for others to appreciate and use.   A vision of rows of hats, and shirts, and dresses, a parade of colour and style and texture, springs to mind with a hint of the scent of naphthalene and dust.  In her collection of memories is a set of all the programs from every repertory production or play that has been staged since the theatre’s foundation.   Except one.   She admits that there is one from those early years, that eludes her.    But what an amazing set of memorabilia that must be.   Even I feel a desire to interrupt and ask “please may I see them?”   Perhaps the one that is missing is yet a story in itself, and deserves a blank page in it’s honour?    At one point this woman wonders if her children or grandchildren will be interested in the stories she has gathered from the past, but feels perhaps they will not.   A look of resigned sadness seems to pass over her face.   But I know that even if one generation might overlook the importance of her memories, there will always, always, be another who will be deeply grateful and excited to discover and relive them. 

The stories of the now might seem insignificant and hardly worth preserving, but to future generations, they will be sources of not only fascination and intrigue, but reminders, lessons and images that portray the reality of these times.

At a table in the corner sit a man and woman, chatting animatedly at times over their cups of tea, at other times lapsing into awkward silence.   What is their story?   Could it be, that this is a first meeting, dare I say it, a “blind date”?    That someone has initiated the exchange of phone numbers, and these two are now meeting for the first time in a comfortable environment such as the café, to get to know each other better?   They spend hours, and numerous cups, and eventually stand, shake hands in an amiable way, and walk away.   I wonder what stories and thoughts will unfold as they leave the café and go back to their own respective worlds.

On the green couch, and surrounds, there is much activity –  a gathering of customers who at first look like business people, holding a meeting over coffee, with laptops and folders open before them, but a closer inspection shows an aura of creativity and flair that indicates these people are in the art or entertainment industry, perhaps discussing an upcoming film festival or event.  Something very exciting maybe arising from this gathering at the café! 

Brenda, Caitlin and Rhys, are rushing back and forth with cups of tea and coffee, and trays of freshly prepared food.    They have a café full of customers, but also a volunteer in the courtroom gallery requiring a meal, the managers of the gallery across the road have ordered lunch, and there’s a regular group meeting in the adjoining artrooms that has to be catered for.   There is a flurry of activity, but the smiles never wane, and are as always genuine.

On the table tops, a pile of note pages flutter.   Here are the little treasures from the café visitors for this week and I eagerly read them to grasp the little stories scribed therein.


One cannot find happiness – it is not lost.

It is within all of us waiting to be let loose.

(Catherine F)



Delighted to see the tearooms up and running again –

we missed visiting.

Part of the country experience

(“The Perth Trio”)




Once I heard an angel

Talking just for me.

Telling me how happy

My life can really be.

If I let the past fade away

And live each day anew,

Focus on the pleasant things,

That is what to do.

When you wake up every morning

Be thankful for that day,

And let a smile, a look, a kiss,

Chase your tears away.





Cup cakes and roses

Are my memories of

Coffee in the

Old post office tea rooms.

(Molly and Brian)



Somewhere along life’s journey,

You may be lucky to find,

Someone who is just for you,

A soulmate, warm and kind.


When you least expect it,

He may suddenly be there,

A friendly smile, a certain look,

He will really care.


At first it might be friendship,

But then out of the blue,

You will realize

That love is there for you.


Artworks For Sale at Cafe



I think it is evident that love and friendly smiles are just some of the gifts on offer at the tearooms this week…. It seems there is always something for everyone, most of all the incentive to reveal the inner artist or storyteller ….. and where others are acknowledging their creativity, there is always constant inspiration for those around them……





 Little bits and pieces of humanity on show;

A museum to the memory of all we did not know;

A tribute to our blindness and simple lack of trust;

Behind a two way mirror, past visions turn to dust.

Did we not reach out far enough?  Did we all fail to try?

Or simply turn our heads when spirit tried to catch our eye.

Messages remain unanswered.   The lines have all gone down.

The past has broken free to haunt the cities and the towns.

On pedestals the arrogant are tarnished like their pride;

Showcases full of guilt and shame just cannot be denied.

Cobwebs of fear weave patterns, across decaying pasts,

And ‘dust to dust’ becomes the chant of those whose memory lasts.

The signposts that we did not see, now take pride of place,

A warning to the future of another human race.

The wrong direction taken, or eyes that could not see?

An attitude that went astray, or warped philosophy?

Too many faces turned away from truth beneath our feet,

As the gold gets swept out with the dirt into an empty street.

Why does the past catch up with us, and haunt us here and now?

And the wisdom of the hindsight gods forces us to bow.

Somewhere between the questions and the answers is the space

Where the view both ways is clear with understanding’s grace.

Be still and walk the quiet aisles and pay your humble dues,

And listen to the patient guide whose wisdom speaks to you.

The effigies and epitaphs have lessons in the gloom

As beams of light dance through the dust of the teaching room.

Ghosts might talk, the dead might rise, the stories will unfold,

Who can tell where we went wrong, if the secrets are not told.

Beware the plague of ignorance that lingers from the past

And haunts the ruins of today, from behind the looking glass.

Like in a nightmare, those of us, who care to, wander through,

And shiver with the knowledge, the sense of deja’ vu.

History repeats, and herein the lesson lies,

The mistakes aren’t there for nothing, they make us realize

Where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and what has always been –

Respect the past for leading us, to where the future must begin.

(wendy slee)

Reality and Inspiration

22nd June 2011

I had an argument this morning with someone about reality.

How on earth can you argue about that?  You might wonder! 

 He said that reality is the same for everyone, that’s why it’s called reality….   It is real.  Take for example, a black wall.  It is a black wall.  According to my friend, that’s the reality.  How you see this wall – as a massive, dominating presence in the eyes of a child, something insurmountable and imposing, or through the eyes of an adult, merely an annoyance or something not so tall or imposing, perhaps easily scaled if you could be bothered …well that depends on your perspective.  How you see this wall –  as a threat, as a block, as something that stops you going somewhere or moving forward, or as a security, a guardian that keeps the world out and your loved ones safely enclosed, or even as a potential blank canvas to be inscribed with art or graffiti….well that’s just an individual thing.   It does not change the reality that the wall is a wall.   A very big black one.

Well I disagree.   That wall can be seen in as many different ways as there are eyes to see it.   So reality is not objective, not concrete.  (Or even bricks and mortar if we are talking about walls)   It is subjective, ever changing, diverse, infinite, shifting elusively between one mind and another, one viewpoint or another…..

My friend describes reality literally as a black wall.  That indeed is something you run smack into, it stops you dead in your tracks by the sheer undeniable, immovable actuality of it’s presence before you.  That is reality.

I see reality different.

OF course!

Reality is like the ocean.  It is constantly moving, shifting either subtly or with great force and motion, but it is still there, it is still the ocean.   It appears differently to every single person who views it and we all stand at a different place on the shore gazing out over it.  Some like to just look and not think, some like to ponder it.  Others like to dip their feet in or even immerse themselves fully and explore the depths.   Some question it, others take it for granted.  The ocean, like reality, is all things to all people.   And it holds for each of us, a different truth.

Perhaps the ocean was the scene of the biggest fright of your life, a near drowning, or the terror of a shark attack, or a haunted place that stole the life of someone dear to you.   That would be a totally different element to the ocean that holds the cherished summer memories of childhood, or an unforgettable holiday, or the playground of first loves, or the serenity of a days fishing or surfing…..perhaps you have never seen the ocean, only read about it or imagined it in your dreams, and yet it is the same ocean.   Reality is like that.  It is as infinite as the senses that behold it or the memories that encapsulate it.  

To some it is a beautiful view.  To others a livelihood.  To some it is a supply of food for the family or simply a place to bathe and cool down at the end of the day.   Our reality, our ocean is not a simple matter – it is not singular and unchanging, but one that is forever moving and rolling and reflecting the heavens above and the earth below, and yet even so, it is still the ocean.   And always will be.   And like the ocean, our reality holds the sum of all thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences that emanate from its presence in our life. 

Reality to you might be that black wall – something immovable and inflexible that you slam into, something that stops you from your path, even hurts you if you try to move through it.   

I still prefer reality to be like the ocean.

So if reality is the ocean, constantly in motion, are we then the shore that stands defiantly immovable in the face of it? Is it reality that ebbs and flows around us, constantly there, constantly surrounding, touching and prompting us, attempting to make us one?  Or are we the ocean and reality is the shore, and we spend our existence touching, tasting or beating it relentlessly to mould it to be what we desire, hope or believe it to be?  Like an intimate dance between two halves of a greater whole?   Such is the elusive nature of reality that I suspect it is both, the ocean and the shore, 

Today, reality in the Old Post Office Tearooms is an ever changing flow of people with many hidden depths and agendas but a single appreciation of warmth, company and good food and drinks.


Here we sit,

Sandy and self,

souls apart…

not noticing we are joined around our table by

souls of the past,

who make us welcome.


(Yvonne Bishop, Sandra Nelson 15 june 2011)



I do believe someone just gave a nod to Mary and the souls of her era…  I wonder if she enjoyed sharing around the table of today…




Winter Solstice 2011


You can always have coffee and cake

but it’s special when you are with a

lovely group of women

eating something delicious

and not feeling guilty!


(the NOW Women of Bsn TAFE)


“Is everyone happy” says Brenda to a table of ladies enjoying a sociable get together over “high tea”.   And the responses were totally affirmative.  After several hours where the buzz and vibe of a table of happy people filled the room, there was a reluctant scrape of chairs and clatter of empty dishes and the group began to leave.    

“Thank you for looking after us” they all chorused to Brenda and Caitlyn and the good vibes filled the room long after they had left.

It was a great way to diffuse the energy of a previously difficult customer.   The reality of the hospitality industry is that you will get the whole range of humanity come to your door to be served.  Here at the tearooms, it is no different.  There will always be a critic, or someone who is looking for something you will never be able to deliver.   Or someone who is simply having a bad day (or week, or life) and wants to shoulder it off onto someone else.  

At times like this, the girls have their own way of dealing with it.  No fuss.  No words.  No arguments.   Out comes the “naughty cup” and the customer who is causing the mischief gets their tea or coffee served in the “naughty cup” much to the delight of the staff and those in the know.   The customer remains oblivious that the joke is on them, while the staff can go about their business feeling a little justified and with a smile to alleviate the ill feeling.   I think it’s a lovely way of handling things when the “going gets rough” at the little café…. And it has brought about many smiles along the way.  

Sometimes that person sitting alone in the corner gives off vibes so cold and dense that it would take more than a knife to cut the air around them.   It is a sad situation especially when people like this really do need a little kindness, but have apparently blocked themselves from receiving it.   If ever there was a place that could heal or uplift or open a heart, it is Brenda’s little place of loving food and beverages. No matter how strong and resilient you are, it is never possible to let people’s moods slide off all the time, there are occasions when the negative energy sticks.   Even in such a happy, warm place as this café.    But a special little cup has a way of balancing things out, bringing back a smile and evoking the sense of fun and humour that makes the world, indeed go round!

It seems the customers are onto it!   …if the little notepads are any testimony to the thoughts in the tearooms…

“People are just about as happy as they allow themselves to be”

(Abraham Lincoln)


“Life is not about waiting for the sunshine,

It’s about learning to dance in the rain…”




I have often wondered why we keep coming back to Busso.

It is probably because it reminds me of my early days in Midland where I was born.  The quiet, smallness and slow pace of life here is something that I was used to in those early days.

We cling to memories don’t we?

(Kevin James  2011)


One of the most amazing “realities” of being here at the café is that people are so willing or so compelled to share their thoughts, dreams or feelings on an anonymous notepad.  It becomes like a symbolic reaching out across time as words and meaning are shared without expectation beyond the present moment in the writer’s life.  I hope to immortalize these moments by publishing them here.

Interesting and inspiring women have left words for us this past week ……and yes, I was inspired….

In my mind and heart,

I am a poet,

A silent poet

In intensity of feeling,

Hearing the inner activity

Listening to the music of others,

Sweet, melodic,


Moved by the movement…


(Marion  22 June 2011)






Angels are close as you go through each day

They are watching as you pray

They understand what you’re going through

And they want to bring some joy to you.

So walk in the forest,

Run on the sand,

Take in the beauty

Of this wonderful land.

Nature is healing,

Be amongst it each day,

And soon you will feel

The pain go away.




I know there were a few tears inspired by this one for the staff at the café.    Thank you Rosalie…

and thank you to every one who takes the time to share with us…

Life, Death and Tragic Music…

15th June 2011

Well so much for the best laid plans……the universe apparently hijacked my journal.

My blog was all there on a thumb drive from the Wednesday at the cafe, and then, disappeared!  

So I tell myself “Let that be a lesson to you.”  Save onto the computer as well as the little thumb drive!   Ironically, it’s the first time I ever worked completely off (or onto) a thumbdrive, but was trying to be more portable (and clever!) about working between the laptop at the café and my pc at home and having lots of half completed files spread between them.   Guess being too clever can be a problem as well.   (smiles)

Maybe it disappeared into the cracks of the green couch, or between floorboards, or…. Maybe Mary disapproved of my thoughts for that week….and removed the whole drive.  I had been immersed in deep thoughts about death and dying, so maybe the missing blog is but a gentle hint that I was on the wrong track with my thoughts. 

A death in our immediate family has left me pondering the subject, the elusive nature of life and the mystery of the spirit and life beyond.   I have my beliefs formed over many decades of listening and seeing beyond the physical, of realizing there is more to just about everything in life (and death), than meets the eye.    Mary certainly would agree with me on that, and then some.   After all, beyond the Hollywood definition of ghosts, it really is about energy, and the connections between the soul and the source, and the souls’ journey through space and time…. These energy bonds are not so much about haunting a building but communicating and connecting with people from the other side, just as a radio transmitter connects via radio waves to the various receivers.   I have felt this time after time, but most recently in the past few weeks.  Within hours of the shock passing of someone who had been in my life, and my family’s life, for a very long time, I stood on the verandah of his home, in the early hours of the morning, still reeling with the chaos of such a sudden ending.   I felt the night wind in my face, and the roar of the ocean in my ears.   “Where are you?” I asked quietly, from the depths of my confusion and turmoil to the serenity of the universe.

“I am everywhere” came the reply.   And so I believed.

At the funeral of my brother in law, I was moved by the turnout of people from so many different demographics.   As I sat there, feeling the deep shock and numbness of unexpected loss all around me, and supporting the loved ones beside me, I could not help but be moved by the sight of all these people – REAL people – who had come together to honour this humble, seemingly ordinary man who had touched their lives in countless ways.   In all the tears, the broken faces and shuffling footsteps, an image arose, strong and true, that I was witnessing something more, a lesson to consider. 

How do we measure the success of a life?  What marks or heralds us as having a successful life?   Is it the physical good looks or beauty we have displayed?  Is it in the power we have attained, or the wealth and riches we have acquired?  Is it even in the work we have done or the fame and glory we might have been granted?   No.   The answer was there before me – the sign of a truly great life – was in this gathering of REAL people whose lives had been touched by one man’s journey, a life that had inspired them in some way – great or small, or given them something that they could take away with them and cherish for the rest of their lives, be it stories, smiles, laughter, tears and memories.  It was who he was, the human essence of self, that in living, had created in others a seed of shared humanity that would see him continue to “be”, even though he was no longer physically there.  So in that moment I too felt inspired that perhaps all any of us had to aspire to in this life, was simply to be a good person, to love and BE OURSELVES, and to share kindness, laughter, tears and stories with those who touched upon our lives.    And leave behind us a trail of our humanity.    It was for me, a beautiful experience to see a life so truly acknowledged that more than tears, the day became about laughter and appreciation and a celebration of the humble man who was no longer with us in the physical sense.   As we went on to share a meal and drinks at a local hotel, the symbolism of a wake also seemed so powerful – like the waves behind a powerful boat – one life moved away from us at a speed we could not keep up with, and the love and laughter, tears, stories and memories rose and surged, racing along behind his passing like a guard of honour and love.

Of course, I had spent a good part of that Wednesday in the café  sharing bad jokes with staff and customers about the music playing in the tearooms.  That could also have offended someone “out there” – the spirit of fifties music perhaps?   And that too, may have caused my journal to disappear….

“Hoop de doo, hoop de doo, I hear a polka and my troubles are through!”   What can I say?   The music of Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney…… classics from my parent’s era drift around the tearooms constantly.  Most times it is background music but every now and then it seems to burst through to the conscious mind, demanding attention, and either has you cringing, laughing or singing along.  

“It’s tragic!” says Brenda with a straight face that hides a tongue in cheek smile behind the words.   “This music is tragic”….and we all burst out laughing.   It’s so old and yet quaint that somehow it brings forth smiles, or comments like “… I remember that music from……” or  “What movie was that in?”  … or the staff burst into song at odd moments along with the old tunes.  But somehow it seems to fit the old world feel of the Tearooms.  It is “vintage!”  I can almost hear the scratchy sound of an old wireless radio crackling in the corner and expect to hear the ABC/BBC news erupting in sober tones between songs……

And in keeping with the music, some classic pearls from the café patrons…..

Roses are red

Violets are purple.

Sugar is sweet,

And so is maple surple.


Mary had a little lamb

Its fleece was black as soot,

And into Mary’s home made jam

His sooty foot he put….


(My lovely Grandma Daisy taught me this – Daisy Riley 1899-1995)

Ps  I just can’t write the one my Dad taught me!!!



(why not Celia?  LOL)


 Ahh – that brought back wonderful memories for me of my own Grandmother from the same era, who also shared that particular poem, and many others that were such fun to myself and the other grandkids.   It does make me wonder now we have, or will one day have, our own grandchildren, just what poems and jokes will we leave with them?

Here I will add one that my Grandmother and also my Dad used to tell us when we were little…..

“The lightning flashed,

The thunder roared

And all the world was shaken.

The little pig

Curled up his tail,

And ran to save his bacon”



More inspirations and thoughts from our Café patrons over the week…

When you’re sitting by the sea

There’s nothing like a cup of tea

A cosy fire, a luscious cake,

With poetry does me happy make.

(Mary  9th June 2011)

Ps why don’t you advertise your poetry sessions at Tom Collins House in Swanbourne,Perth?

What a wonderful café!

First vintage clothing

And now a vintage tearoom!




“In the beginning God made man – after that there were a lot of mistakes.”

(Dan:  9th June in the year of our lord 2011)


Hah! Dan…and I thought that first one was the draft only before He perfected the plan.  LOL

There once were three girls going campin’

They had their boots ready for trampin’

They packed up the car,

They were goin’ so far,

Lots of eatin’ and walkin’ and snorklin’!!


(17th June 2011 lunch break during final shopping day for a BIG five week trip up North)


Hey Girls…..that sounds like a dream trip.  Hope you have fun and drop back into the Café to share some stories upon your return!


After 18 years cancer has sprouted anew.

Now it has a companion on the other eyelid.

I am resting after the biopsies.

Resting until I need to arrange

for new eyelids, cancer free,

and have some more creative priorities.


Friendly women’s chat,

All I hear is the burble,

Business instructions – close by –

This is when I paid the wages –

Paid on Monday.

The student makes notes.

Did you just circle that?

I did.

Before me is the circle

Of coffee foam with a

Curvy leaf drawn…



It never fails to move me at the very human stories that pass through the tearooms … the stories on their way somewhere that simply pause to take in a bit more of life amid a little self kindness over a cup of tea or coffee.   To the person who sat pondering these things, I wish I could have shared that circle with you, but I see that you are a poet and appreciator of the little things that make up the grandness of life.  I wish you wellbeing and more gentle moments of self reflection and indulgence at the tearooms…..


Ahh!  Here I sit as I gaze with witless renoun (sic)

Thereupon the traffic as it glides past the window,

Window to the soul,

Soul of life.


Gazing at the eagles,

The eagle eyed parrot,

Hovering, gliding,

Muffin with knife,

Sand beach,

Glazed turkey.

Here I sit,

Afore I continue on my journey…

(T Ronald  9th June 2011)



Aaah indeed.  Those precious moments of self reflection, just sitting in the moment and watching life unfold around you, with your self at the heart, a silent witness … all in the comfort of a loving energy filled space like this little café.    We should all make ourselves do such things on a regular basis so that we get to know our own life better and appreciate our place in it with greater acceptance.

I know I do.   (smiles)

A Plate of Courage and Passion

Art in the Kitchen

8th June 2011

You simply cannot walk past the cake display here at the Tearooms without stopping to stare, or perhaps I should say ….gaze.   (and gaze longingly at that)   It views like a work of art.   Indeed, in keeping with the surrounding art gallery, the cabinet is like an extension of the exhibition space, full of colour, texture and beautiful creations.   It is a mini gallery all on its own.     

Local baker’s apprentice “Simon” (who has recently won an “Apprentice of the Year” award) is the artist behind some of these amazing culinary masterpieces.   Like Brenda, he makes these cakes from scratch with only the finest ingredients and methods….not a trace of premix or packet elements that you can find in your regular bakery food.   This is the real deal! 

Teamed up with the goodness and delight of Brenda’s own baking – all home made with love and natural ingredients – I defy anyone not to pause and appreciate, if not salivate over, the beautiful culinary artworks. 

I felt compelled to buy a piece of Neapolitan Cake, tempted by the layers of custard, pink and vanilla sponge, with cream and chocolate highlights, all wrapped in layers of diagonally striped pink and white sponge.   It wasn’t easy choice with the chocolate mousse cake sitting there with it’s delicate “angel wings” of chocolate adorning the top….and the rich and tasty “everyone’s favourite”  – carrot cake, begging me to try a slice.   Of course, in the stillness, I imagined Mary sitting there before me – what if I offered this cake to her?  Would she frown on my thoughts and share her own?

“You don’t have it so bad, do you?” she says.   “Do you have any idea how foreign this all looks to me?  The closest we had to bakery delights was simple home made bread, hot and crusty and tough as boots, baked in whatever oven space we could put together.  Usually without butter.   And cake, if it existed was heavy enough to slow down a bullock team.   There was no cream sponge, no chocolate wafer topping and unless you were the gentry, no cake forks!  I hope you are not going to sit there and complain about life in front of me!”

Edible Artwork

I felt sympathy.   After all, as I explain, I live on a farm where my parents, grandparents and great grandparents had worked hard to establish a life from the bush, during group settlement.   All around me, in my father’s museum, and in my parents’ photos and stories, were reminders of the painstaking labour and hardship that helped forge the “easy life” we now have.     I do have a sense of the harshness and unforgiving nature of life in this area back then.  Hands on was the name of the game.  Everything was carved or dug,  shaped or cut, or stitched or built by hand.   

As I think of this, Mary holds out her hands to me.  Chapped, scarred, toughened with calluses and lines – she waves them with a sense of sadness, and yet weary pride.   No soft skin or painted, manicured nails here.  It is hands like hers that built the foundations of, yes, this easy life we now lead.  It is hands like hers that made the sacrifices so that ours can do other things.   As I look at her hands, I feel the chill, the water constantly cold, the long hours of washing heavy clothes in tubs of water with a hard block of soap, the redness and soreness of hands never still or dry.   I feel the pain of blisters and calluses, the weight of the shovel, the axe, the heavy tools, the carting, chopping, dragging and lifting, the digging and ploughing to grow even the most basic of foods, the sheer hard labour that was the only way to make any kind of existence.   I smell the aroma of leather and horses and damp earth and the Australian bush.

“Yes” she says, nodding.    “The young people today have no idea.   Now everything is done with machines, or gadgets, you have electricity and cars and computers, you can buy things in shops instead of having to make every single item you require, and you have time free from the chores of survival to just enjoy life.   Like here in the tearooms…”

I paused in the quiet to appreciate these thoughts, and simply be grateful for how easy my life was in comparison.   Sometimes we get caught up in our own problems and believing life is tough, but if we were to be forced back in time, to have all our modern facilities removed, we might be shocked at how lost we would be…   And unable to cope with the sheer necessity for long and arduous hours of labour to achieve even the most basic of existences.   Even two power blackouts recently, one for seven hours, and one for nearly twenty hours, left me feeling rather hopeless and useless where everyday living was concerned. I know I would not have cut it back in Mary’s day.  I offered up silent thanks to my ancestors for all of their dedication and persistence and my sympathy to those like Mary who could not even begin to imagine the luxuries that we now enjoy.

“You’re trying to make me fat!!!” I hear someone exclaim from the counter, and sure enough customers, are standing before the cake cabinet, about to order, and faced with a difficult choice.    “Not that I need any help with that!” laughs one lady as she happily makes her selection.

Seems like a similar theme of appreciation is expressed by most customers, as the notepads on the table will testify ….

“Scones and Tea


English and


(by a “Local”)


“Came all the way from Switzerland

For your Bannoffee Pie!

Can’t wait to try it again.

Yum!   Inet

See you next in 2012”


“Mmmm a few words…

But what can you say

About a place you feel so at home,

You could just sit, relax,

And just enjoy this wonderful day”

Thanks     Andrew


“My wife and I have travelled from Tassie.

We love your town, inspired by the warm hospitality!

Will return again someday.

Enjoyed the 2km wharf and of course the “Goose” café.

Kindest regards

Geoff and Therese Marshall

Ps:  wonderful soup!





We also received some “real” poetry…


“There was a man from Leeds

Who ate a packet of seeds.

In less than an hour,

His head was a flower

And his legs were a garden of weeds.”




A little boost for the café poet’s morale (hey…thank you Ms R…..!)


There once was a lady called Wendy,

She used to be sporty and bendy,

Don’t hold that against her,

Coz now she’s a fabulous photographer.

She captures your heart,

With her fabulous art.

And so we’ll never forget our Wendy   J  “



And some special philosophy to inspire your thoughts…


“Live a good life,

Spend some time helping others,

Love your wife, children and siblings,

Be proud of yourself.

Never hurt anyone.

Remember, life has an expiration date.”

(Ross, Nannup)


“Don’t look ahead,

Don’t look behind,

Be where you are now,

In the moment”

(Phil Maynes, Eungella, NSW)

ps would have liked to stay in the moment of the chocolate cake!

(Anne Maynes)


“Perfection lies on the edge of darkness”

(anonymous   8th June 2011)

It was another busy day at the Café – customers flowing in to treat themselves or find that special something they were searching for whether it was sustenance, courage or inspiration.   “Chocolate cake for courage, for ‘gravitas’ ” said Brenda, dishing up a moist and succulent slice on a plate beside a crimson rose and a bowl of whipped cream.   Only here could you receive a plate of courage and passion so beautifully presented. 

It was a rich and rewarding day for me, having conversations with the most interesting people – shared stories that I could take away and treasure…discussing everything from local history and detecting buried treasures,  boatbuilding and manual labour in Eritrea, to literary gems that endure for no reason other than their poetic effect upon our own memories – Oh the joys of a “good blowout on tripe and onions”  (Thanks Val!!)   Life is like that in such a place as the Old Post Office Tearooms.

Folding Truth


Folding Truth

I read between the lines
And glimpse the many colours that are shadowed within,
So hard to fold one’s truth
Into such tiny places.
But that is the way life’s laundry gets placed,
The sunshine folded into sheets
And stored within lines for a rainy tomorrow.
Minute corners of comfort
Protrude between the lines of our story
Year after year after year.

Today, I pull the blanket of truth
From its hidden place
And shake out its many folds,
Unfurling its colours to the wind,
Airing the frays and tears in the
Interwoven threads of a soul’s journey.
I spread it on the Earth,
A multi-coloured landscape
A resting place to come home to
A place to lay a weary body.
I take the well worn edges and draw its
Heavy warmth around my trembling shoulders.
Fingers feel the softness and touch with tenderness
That which is constant.
Like a child enswathed, hidden and safe,
I fold myself in the comfort of truth
And close my eyes.

There are wide spaces between the lines now
And I glimpsed the tattered edges
Of your truth hiding there.
It is time for you to take out your blanket
Caress with love its tears and frays,
Wrap it around your shoulders
To keep the cold at bay.

Is it possible
That we can appreciate the beauty of another’s blanket?
In the dark night of our journey
When the lines drift free with no space in between,
Can we feel the warmth and wonder
In the folds of each other’s truth.


(Wendy Slee)

Where’s Winter and a Whisper or Two…

Wednesday 1st June 2011

How Can This Be Winter!

 Well a pinch and a punch – first day of Winter is upon us, and in our part of the state, it appeared as if we would get a winter’s day, but no, it was still quite sunny, warm and lovely.   Can’t complain, but it is quite unseasonal!   So I will leave thoughts of open fires and hot soup for another day.

Last week, while taking photos of the delicious food created by Brenda and her lovely crew here, I thought that sharing images of mouthwatering dishes on the table before me each Wednesday, might give you the wrong impression ….. why, you might be lead to believe that my day revolved around what I was eating or drinking rather than anything I might write or share!    (Having said that, if you have ever visited the Tearooms, you would understand anyone’s delight and obsession with the food served there – it truly is all made with love)   So I thought a few white lies might be in order (ahem) and that I would share images of dishes that were ordered for a “friend”.

So I sat there pondering the person on the other side of the table to me…. whoever they might be.   And in that space I realized there was potential for the presence of someone quite special, someone who had been in the Café and gallery all along.  This someone had made their presence felt in the past in no uncertain terms, and was most likely sitting there quietly watching me hog the favoured spot on the green couch while consuming cake and coffee and pretending to be writing poetry.

Passageway Past the Cells

If you have not guessed where this is leading, the old historic courthouse and gaol cells have a lingering energy, like most old places from the past, steeped in conflict, unwritten stories and untold secrets.  When alone in the main gallery, you get a sense of hierarchies of humanity, of lives in the balance of the judicial system through time, of self righteousness, and men wielding the law and their own judgments over others.  When you stand in the gaol cells and let the silence bear down on you, there is strong feeling of despair at a loss of power and freedom denied,  a cry at the unfairness of life; you sense if anything that there was also a great deal of injustice felt in this part of the building, with many layers of anger, outrage and rebellion etched into these walls along with that sadness and hopelessness. reflections

 There are echoes.  There are whispers, if you allow yourself to listen.   Is it your imagination?  Or just the leaves dancing on the roof?  

If you walk alone through the old rooms, and down the narrow passageway to the gaol cells, you will feel a chill, quite possibly even get goosebumps – a sure sign that you may not be alone at all.  

Cell Number 4

What is it about cell number four?  

 Who knocked the teapot off the Café shelf in broad daylight when nobody was anywhere near?  

 Or hurled a small item across the room with no reasonable explanation?  

Staff at the complex call her “Mary” for want of a better name, and so I will refer to this special guest as Mary unless told otherwise.  

So this morning before leaving home, I spoke with a friend about my intention of having morning tea with an invisible friend and perhaps trying to involve this unseen person in my weekly written musings.    I had a chuckle at how such an “out there” idea would be received, and said something like “I am sure Mary will show her presence to me at some point – there may even be a bit of a crash or bang in the building today, just so I know.”    Then I rushed to get ready and head to town, and caught up in more tangible matters, forgot that conversation.  

Until….. I got to ArtGeo,  walked in the door, and spied Heidi, one of the lovely volunteers at the Courthouse Gallery.    As I said “good morning” to her, there was a crash from across the room and several pieces of the jewellery in a glass display case fell down.   Earrings and necklaces came crashing off their holders and display stands.  

For.    No.    Apparent.    Reason. 

…Nobody there that we could see. … 

 Or No Body…

“That has never happened before” said Heidi as we got over the shock and walked over to see.    Several necklaces and earrings were laying on the shelf as if suddenly dropped there.  I realized then, that “someone” was simply letting me know that my arrival and greeting had been noted.  Maybe she was looking for something nice to wear for her morning tea with me!  And so it was, that I smiled and looked forward to what the day would hold.

The Main Courtroom Gallery

There were a bundle of little pages from the table notepads….displaying nothing short of an amusing array of thoughts from the characters who have passed through the Tearooms this week!

Some comments read like fragments of a Visitor’s Book….

“Very nice”   (Kath and Hazel)

“Service also lovely”



“Lovely end to our Busselton holiday.

Love it here!”

(Cec and Sheila)


And from some who savoured the Ploughman’s lunch, the scrumptious passionfruit sponge and Brenda’s delightful stories….


“How refreshing and delightful this is!

Love to all…”

(Heather and George, Melbourne)


Some gems were inspired by what lay on the table before them….

“Chocolate cake,

Chocolate cake,

Smooth and round and luscious,

Sitting gleaming,

Waiting for the boys

To come home.

Boys are home!

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake,

Crumbs all forlorn,

Scattered on the table.

Boys gone out to play!”

(Anne Thomas, May 2011)

(Hah!  I bet most parents can relate to that one!   *smiles*)

While some were inspired by the history beneath their feet …

“In 1892 my ancestor walked these boards as the local Police Sergeant”
Val McDonald  97522552


But what captured my attention was that there were some real funloving visitors in the Tearooms at some point, as they left behind quite a bit of mischievous evidence in the notepads…. 

Here are a few corkers….

“We are a couple of Brits

Who’ve got big tits,

Who’s having fun

In the sun…

Having a cup of tea

So we can have a wee….” (tee hee?)

“Lots of love”

Di from Windsor, England


“There once was a group of friends

Who came to Busselton for the weekend.

They had a lot to drink

And then kicked up quite a stink”


See?  Everyone’s a poet! 

And though I can’t help but wonder “What would Mary think of that!” –   I’ll have what they’re having!




Silence speaks, in volumes that ripple their thick base notes across the surface of my heart.

In silence swims the essence of memory, a slippery persistent fish, nibbling nerve endings of raw, familiar sorrows.

Silence rains with the gentle patter of teardrops against the windows of my dreams.

Oh, silence, too heavy to bear, so cruel a curse, the weapon of choice for a fearful soul. Silence, the sound of fear and woundedness, it cringes in the shadows, and torments itself.

Silence trembles waiting in the doorway, afraid to take that next small step, a limbic dance between then and now.

Silence, the humbling voice of truth, echoes across self deception, and is heard in the cold glassy voice of mirrors past and present, mirrors I have known and loved. self consciously reflecting what it hurts too much to hear.

Silence is the vacuum, a pulsing void of the unknown waiting to become known. Listen… as silence speaks, It is the language of the dead whispering secrets across the veil, icy words to remind and haunt, elusive answers dangling between unspoken lines.

Silence speaks in sameness, in difference,

Silence stands alone without keys to break its own code, an insurmountable wall, a deafening presence. Yet Silence at its worst cannot survive without the spirit of another to shine light into its darkness and kiss meaning onto its cold lips.

But silence has its sunset and sunrise.
It is the falling sun, and the awakening moon.
Silence holds a music of its own,
It dances in the light
And rings with hope,
Like birdsong in the dark hours
Before dawn.

Silence is a gift,
A healing touch…
A solace to the mind;
The herald of the now.

An affirmation of distance,
Invisible hands that push away,
Yet in a change of heart
A beckoning of souls,
The drawing near
Of intimacy,
A holy communion.

Silence bristles with passion,
The connecting force
That vibrates the chords
Between two hearts,
A living entity,
Rich with meaning.

Silence with soul, breathes
The song of the living,
The turn of the seasons,
The waiting breath for a baby’s cry,
The resting place for a body
Whose being walks another plane.

Silence holds power.
The Master musician knows.
In that instant between two notes
The silence dwells,
Defines their diversity and
Enhances the beauty of their union.

Silence is the tide
Between all islands,
A portent of emotion,
The song of the heavens,
And the swell of the heart,
Silence, whose connecting force
Tunes the keys of all instruments,
Lives, and its unsung harmony endures
Beyond life’s symphony, through the final curtain fall.

 (wendy slee)