Tag Archives: artgeo

Hidden Treasures and Tiny Revelations…

7th September 2011

It’s a beautiful day out there, and it feels as if spring is truly upon us.  Little blue birds are singing their hearts out in my garden, and the sun is shining with a hint of summer on its breath.  I walk towards the café but it looks like a war zone there.   Security fencing, cages, street closures, huge trucks and heavy machinery, security guards blocking what’s left of the foot paths……they are demolishing the old police station and courtrooms on the opposite side of the street, so the ground is shaking and the dust is flying… Definitely not the energy of the café on the outside….

BUT!     

I walk on in through the “cages” and into the café and feel that “aaah” feeling…that gentle lift and settling of my being as the energy of the café and the smiles of those therein, reach out to welcome me.   Here it is.   Home!   The feeling never changes.   From the oven wafts the smell of a quiche and croutons baking and there’s soup simmering on the stove.   The cake cabinet is, if possible, even more extravagantly exciting than ever before.   The colours and textures defy belief!

“Heidi went wild!” says Brenda with a smile, and I can see that Heidi has not only been baking again, but like everything else in this café, she has been expressing herself in the most artistic way.

Banana and honey cake with honeycomb shards…

 

         Chocolate spiral torte    

Salted caramel and vanilla baked cheesecake

Dare I say more…?

But wait, there IS more on the second shelf!!!

 

Victoria sponge, and Banoffee pie (Banana – Toffee pie)

And much much more…

Sigh….

The poems and notes from the tables are waiting for me…

This one perfectly summed up my entrance to the tearooms this morning!!

 

I sprinted along at the double,

‘Cos the street was littered with rubble

But the coffee was hot,

And the smile that I got

Made the trip to your shop worth the trouble!

(Liz)

It may not be so simple tomorrow as the workers inform the gallery managers that the street required digging right up to the front wall, which means NO front entrance!   Where the footpath is will be a bulldozer and if they don’t dig carefully,  possibly a fountain!  The gallery managers suggest closure of the gallery and tearooms, but that just does not seem feasible. 

There are staff members who require hours and need to be paid, as Brenda says, there are meals being planned and confections already prepared for this week, and so the Café should remain open for business, with just a more adventurous path inwards for those daring enough to come find the heart of the building!

 

Stumbling down the street,

Climbing sand piles and rocks,

With jackhammers and diggers

Hurling aftershocks.

Avoiding trucks and blockades,

Past fences and gates

With detours to wind through

And negotiate.

Fall in through the door

Breathe a sigh of relief

You’ve conquered the outer

For what lies beneath.

Here in the tearooms

A whole new landscape

An oasis of calm

A tranquil escape

The coffee is hot

The cakes are divine

The smiles are embracing

The kindness sublime.

They say all good things

Are worth the effort or wait,

And it’s never more true

Than in this café.

In Brenda’s words, it’s the agony and the ecstasy today… making decisions for the café that are fair to all.  After much discussion,  Brenda decides to close the café to the public tomorrow but to use that time to complete other jobs here – repolish the floor, rearrange furniture, pack up wholesale items that will no longer be for sale (all those beautiful old teapots and crockery), and for her and Heidi to make a start on the Christmas cakes….. (aaargh…there’s that word…”Christmas”… it’s starting to creep into vocabulary around town, I guess it’s only a matter of weeks and the reality will appear on shop shelves and displays….and start ringing through the supermarket speakers and repelling us from shops quicker than any security guard).

The containers of all the dried fruit come out and the mass production of this season’s gift begins.

“’scuse me” says Brenda, after a while of mixing … “I’m just off to get some whiskey”   We all laugh and someone says “time her!” 

But she comes right back with several bottles of the “good drop”…

The giant containers of fruit glisten with colour and texture, as they get combined, and the bracing smell of whiskey arises as the bottles are poured into the mix.    I wonder if there will be any sixpences added to these puddings in the making.   I feel inspired to go home and plan my own traditional Christmas puddings and cakes.

 

I dropped in to post a letter,

But they said I had it wrong,

It no longer was a post office,

The post master – he had gone.

So I sat a while and had a think

Then a cup of tea and scone

(Caz)

 

 

 

A lovely place to stop for afternoon tea!

China cups and teapot and beautiful cakes to see!

You have created a nice teashop!

So when we’re back again with our friends

In we’ll pop!

Thanks!

(Colleen )

 

 

The coffee’s nice

The tea is sweet

And this is a

Great place to meet.

(Joan)

 

Indeed it is!

 

 

 

One cup… or two …

A pot of tea

Carefully brewed.

Wait three minutes

Then sip it slow…

Somehow life looks better

Over the rim of a teacup.

(Jacinta Matrenza, Mandurah)

 

 

That’s a wonderful truth!   How many of us have memories of visiting a parent or older friend at various times of our life, when we have sadness or pain, and being given a hot cup of tea to help ease our troubles while we talk, or just sit quietly.   I know some very special people whose first line of support is to “put the kettle on”.   Don’t you?

We talk between us about the healing power of the hot beverage.   From a hot chocolate for our children at night, to a cup of tea with our parents…. Many women are the makers of the “cuppa’.   But what of the joys we get when someone else makes that cup of tea for us ….?

Brenda recalls the joy of someone else making her afternoon tea, just as I remember that feeling when after a tiring week of caring for my family, I visit a friend who lets me sit down while she makes me a coffee.   It’s a simple but much valued gift.   And it is part of the charm of the tearooms too.   It’s the “giving” and the “caring” behind every cup that makes this place so very special.    

I think the longer I am in the café, the more I get to see and hear.   The “behind the scenes” is very enlightening…. You do gain such enormous respect for business owners in the hospitality industry.   And empathy too.   I helped Brenda one cold, dark evening when she was here alone, to pack up and carry in all the tables and chairs on the verandah… folding cloths, putting away plants, decorations, sugar bowls – the furniture was heavy and I even worked up a sweat.   And Brenda does this every night and puts the furniture out every morning… along with the decision making, the precision baking and prep work for the day’s fare.  Not to mention her care and support for her staff.   Again I think of the expression “labour of love” and know it to be true.

Now, back to my garden and little blue things….I made an interesting discovery last week.   I think I have mentioned that my blue wren family consists of Blue Boy, the male, and his “Henny” the female, and a young female from their last nesting season (last summer).    I’ve learned that even when the blue males lose their feathers and appear to be the same colouring as the females, you can tell them apart because the female wrens have orange coloured skin around their eyes, on their legs, and their beak colour is orange.  The males have black or very dark skin in these places.

Last week I was watching my wrens play in the garden when I walked outside.   The young “female” would sit on the branch when the father bird flew up and open her beak and hold that pose.   My initial thoughts were “Hey, you’re not a baby any more, what’s with the “feed me” attitude!”  

But then the little one landed on my hand and I got a surprise.  “Her” beak and legs and skin colouring had darkened like the male bird, even though “she” still had a grey plumage like her Mother.   

Now, that really got me wondering “Was ‘she’ a ‘he’??”   Then I realized that would explain the open beak display she was giving the male bird.   Like with baby foals, or young horses, who open and close their mouths as a sign of respect for an older or more superior horse in the herd, this was a sign of respect towards an older, more superior bird.   And that would make sense that the juvenile wren was showing “respect” towards the dominant male bird in the family.

The next day after making this observation, when the young bird landed on my hand, I noticed tiny flecks of brilliant blue emerging from the soft grey feathers, the beginnings of a spring plumage.   “She” was a “He” !!    It was no great discovery compared to events in the rest of the world, but for me, it was just momentous!   As  the days went by, the blue became more and more noticeable, as did the relationship woes between youngster and father.   The male wren would chase the little one away at any point where I was interacting with them, and the juvenile wren would make the “open beak” respect sign at him, or fly away and hide.    But he did not go far and still would come out when the coast was clear to land on my hand as he had done in the past.   I felt a bit sorry for him, with his spotty, scruffy, half grown coat, he looked kinda disreputable, and a bit “down on his luck” especially when the older Blue Boy chased him away.    At one point, when “Little Blue” as I called him was on my hand, “Blue boy” flew in with such a vengeance and chased him so blindly that they both flew into the side of my head.   Talk about the dangers of befriending blue wrens!!!

What was however, quite inspirational, was to watch the young Blue wren realize he had a song.   He would sit alone on a branch and throw his head back and burst forth into the most powerful song.   It really was the most amazing thing to witness and hear!   Over a few days, his song became loud and clear in my garden and I loved hearing him sing his presence and his heart into the world.  

I was really happy to think I now had TWO Blue boys in my garden that would respond to my presence and the camera, even if they did not much like each other.    I tried to seek “Little Blue” out quietly and give him so treats, so he would not be driven completely away.   The irony was not lost on me though, that even if my original Blue Boy would drive this little fellow away, there would come a time when the tables would turn, and this young male would become the king of the garden and chase his old Father bird away.    I guess that made me sad, even though it was simply “nature”.

So there they were, not caring that days might be numbered, or positions lost, or that the world was full of crisis, pain, wars, debt and chaos, they just felt their own song rise up in their hearts and let it out to the world for no other reason than that they were alive, and they could sing.   And do you know?  I believe the world is a better place for each and every note they freely put out there….. with no thought or expectation of anything except the joy of expressing their place in existence.

And so it is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Spidery, Bribery and Corruption…

31st August 2011

It seemed like many forces were trying to prevent me from leaving home this morning to come into the Café.   My children laughed and exclaimed as we walked out the front door “Look at this Mum!”

A very ambitious spider had spun huge lines of web across the garden path, back and forth from a tree, to the gate, and across to the garden.   There was no intricate web, just these “do not cross” lines of strong white web, that glistened and sparkled with dew drops in the early morning.   The clever thing had even strung them over to my car and locked that down.    If the web had been striped with red it would have looked like a crime scene or danger zone!

We had to laugh at the ingenuity of it ….I wonder if she thought she would stop anyone leaving and feast slowly on us all before we could escape!  We saw no sign of the spider responsible, but I can only imagine it was a big one!

Nature is so fascinating.   When I walk on these early winter mornings, the webs adorn fences and trees and bushes like many precious jewels, glistening with the raindrops or dew.   It seems like at certain times of the years, the bush and native areas, as well as farm fences are literally splattered with diamonds and pearls……  I love winter!

In at the café, the verandah is empty due to the street works, it looks very quiet, but don’t let that fool you!   A room in the art gallery has been set up so café patrons can sit inside and continue to enjoy the food and beverages away from the dust and noise of the renovations outside.  And the green couch is still there too.

 

 

If of thy worldly goods thou art bereft,

And in thy slender store two loaves alone are left,

Sell one, and with the dole,

By (sic) hyacinths to feed they soul.

For Brenda – Welcome Back

(from Sarah Roisin and Ianto)

 

Treats For Two

 I came in for a bite to eat.

I looked around and chose two seats.

It was a special day for her and I,

To sit and chat and enjoy some pie.

She is a special girl to me,

She is my daughter, now you see!!

 

(Now I can relate to this lovely image….)

Sometimes we just get the most random lines left on the notepads and yet, they are always thought provoking, if not interesting…

 

All have sinned

And NICE too….

 

 

I wonder if the sin involved eating too much?  (smiles)

 

 

 

Don’t be afraid to try something new…

Amateurs built the ark –

But professionals built the Titanic!

 

 

For quite some time now, I have been wanting to generate some interest in Haiku here at the café.  The Haiku is one of my favourite genres of poetry – to me they are like an exquisite, polished jewel… a tiny cameo image of a personal gift from the natural world, or from our own journey through it.

 

 

the sun gently rests

a warm hand on my  shoulder.

I am not alone

 

 

 

 

 

 

These eyes filled with clouds

‘Til the sadness overflowed

and began to rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little blue bird

sings till the sky shatters and

lets his heart fly free

 

 

 

 

My children love Wednesdays, and coming to the café after school to meet me.   They love sitting at the table and having a cake of their choice brought to them on a pure white plate with a flower beside it and a bowl of cream on the side.   Maya’s favourite is the Pear Frangipani, Sol’s is the Chocolate Brownie.   Their newest favourite is Brenda’s Chocolate and Beetroot cake.  I will vouch for that – it is to die for!

Their eyes glaze over as they eat. 

“Please Mum, ask for the recipe” they say, wiping their mouths.  But I inform them that a good cook or baker does not share their special recipes, and this is never more true than here at the Cafe.   Brenda’s recipes are priceless and precious, and can only be “tasted”, never seen. 

But the cake is so good it not only inspires a loss of table manners (the plates just HAD to be licked!   Ahem!) but also a bit of bribery and corruption.

“Offer her money” says my son.  “Bribe her for the recipe for Chocolate cake!”

“Distract her!” says my daughter….. “You distract her Mum, while I sneak up and steal the recipe!”

Brenda and I fall apart laughing.   Good luck with that kids!   The recipe remains private and confidential and any more of that behaviour and you do time in the gaol cells!   This is an old courthouse and police station you know!   LOL


Owls and Interesting Lives …

24th August, 2011

As you go through life – there will always be something interesting happening!    So says one lady in the tearooms today and I could not help but agree.   She had an earring stuck against the side of her face, unable to remove it without the assistance of a jeweler.  (A small earring would not have been a problem obviously but this was an elaborate sculptured piece that looked pretty sharp!) She had put it in this morning, as she had been doing for many years,  the only difference being that she did it in a rush and the catch got jammed.   So she stood at the counter laughing about her embarrassment and sharing a smile with the staff and customers.   

There definitely is always something happening in the Tearooms!   And hopefully something that if not interesting, can at least be turned into laughter and a humorous story to share.   These days there is a constant stream of events turning life on its edges, in one way or another.  Don’t you agree?  Some are sad, some are painful, some are stressful, most are very confronting…..  while some are very exciting.  As you go through life, how invigorating it is to have interesting things happen….  Things that change the way you think or feel, things that challenge you to alter your perceptions, to change what you do every day, events which may not be cataclysmic, may not be bad, or even good, but simply interesting and thought provoking.  Be honest!  It’s better to have a little of the unexpected, the inspiring, the challenging,  even the disturbing, than become stagnant, bored, steeped in the mundane, colourless monotony of “a rut” !    I definitely prefer life to be interesting, don’t you?   And even if you think your life is uninteresting, perhaps all you need is a fresh set of eyes and a good long look around.  You might just find that spark of interest where you have been overlooking for years!

It’s business as usual at the Café this week.  Everyone is home from their well earned breaks, and back in the kitchen cooking up delightful treats and planning the new spring menu. 

Well, ALMOST business as usual!  Outside in the street, things are heating up with workers tearing the road apart in readiness for the new cultural precinct.   The old bitumen is being cut and removed to be replaced by cobblestone paving as part of an upgrade that will see the street outside the café become a hub of activity and entertainment.   New light poles are already in place, and the old buildings across the road are being deconstructed as I write.   In the future the street can be closed off for public performances and events, or used as a general mall when required.   Future festivals and events in this town will certainly benefit from the changed appearance and energy of the street and cultural surrounds.  It will be a major improvement for the art galleries and the tearooms and the general feel of the area.

So today there is heavy machinery outside the old windows, they are digging up the old bitumen road, and removing paving.  There are jackhammers and power tools grating on the ears and shattering the peaceful feeling of the tearooms.   The sounds are juxtaposed against the old world music trying hard to be heard in the café…. Somehow it reminds me of the old movies of the war era, where the forties music plays relentlessly over radios while the planes are bombing the streets outside…. There seems something unsettling about such a juxtaposition of the sweet human sentiments and monotonous melody of music against the background of potential death and destruction.  It isn’t easy chilling out today, but everyone knows it’s not permanent, not life threatening (I hope!) and is certainly for good cause.  

I think you can overcome most annoyances or grievances if you can find the bright side of the situation, or see a bigger picture.  Brenda has the most beautifully simple way to handle such things.   With the calm and wisdom befitting a Buddhist monk she faces a constant stream of all nature of events and people with their own share of issues, many of whom turn their issues against the staff or Brenda herself.   She deals with such matters that would annoy, upset or enrage other people, in the most admirable way.

“Compassion” she says with a zen like smile.
“Enormous amounts of compassion and when all else fails – a good belly laugh!”

For me, if things get too much, I try to make something different happen…. Remove myself from the rut and go somewhere out of the ordinary, or where I can be reminded that life is not all about stress and hardship or people and their issues, but simply LIFE.

  Last week, I took such a drive down to Margaret River to Eagles Heritage, to meet up with a little friend of mine.   Echo the Barn Owl is, as the name suggests, a Barn Owl, and the most quaint and lovely little fellow you could ever hope to meet.   He and his carer/handler Nancy were doing the free flight display and talk at Eagles Heritage, and as I have photographed Echo many times over the past few years, I thought I would visit the raptor sanctuary and catch up with them both again.

I always enjoy being out in nature and seeing wildlife, and even though many of the raptors at Eagles Heritage are in cages, they are only there for a reason.   They have either been rescued after illness or injury, in which case they are cared for and then carefully released back into the wild, or if their injuries would place their lives at risk if released, they are cared for indefinitely.  In some cases, where they become accustomed to handling and human presence, they can become ambassadors and education birds, used to promote the care, preservation and wellbeing of not just raptors but all wildlife.    Any birds that spend the whole of their lives in cages are only there because to be free would spell certain death for them.   

Judging by the stories of, and the actual birds themselves, that return once released, to visit, show off babies or mates, or cadge a free feed during a flight display, they do appreciate their caregivers and their lives in proximity to humans, and certainly do not forget.  

Some birds have been born in captivity, from parents who live at the park or at one of the other raptor centres or zoos aroundAustralia.   Birds bred in captivity are supposedly not allowed to be released back into the wild, for environmental and health reasons.   During my visit I got to meet one such baby – a lesser sooty owlet.   As yet unnamed, this tiny, fluffy baby was hatched from an egg produced by the two lesser sooty owls at the raptor park, and was being raised by humans.    All eyes and beak, he was almost grotesque, looking more like a little vulture than an owl, yet like the ugly duckling, it would only be a matter of time before he was a magnificent bird, though an owl not a swan.  

Speaking of magnificent, I also got to see one of the baby owl’s older siblings from a previous hatching – a female lesser sooty called Chip. She was the most exquisite bird – with pure white plumage.   She put on a display of aggression towards me as I looked into her enclosure, and it seemed as if she was afraid, so I backed away feeling rather sad for disturbing her.  However I was told by her carer that she was not at all bothered by humans, as she had been hand-reared, and was perfectly friendly – her only issue was that she was annoyed at being transferred to the raptor park enclosure after a life in a human household and had become a grumpy bum!  

Echo was his usual charismatic self, sitting up proudly for the free flight talk, allowing people to photograph him, or hold him on a gloved arm, all the while looking around with great interest, or staring rather intently at the speaker box over our heads, and attempting to fly at it.  (It turns out that the box was emitting a humming sound that we could not detect, but he could.)   Many times during the talk he directed his gaze intensely at the roof above our heads and made as if to attack.   It gave me a bit of an idea of how it might feel to be a mouse on the ground with an owl scouting above.   The intensity of the eyes in the seconds before he took flight was something to see!

I always enjoy meeting the people and birds at Eagles Heritage.  Immersing myself in a place that honours and cares for wildlife, and our magnificent Australian raptors, where people are doing good rather than harm and endeavoring to make a difference on this planet, is one of the uplifting and interesting things I can do to turn a bad day into a good one!

So what do you do at times like this?


More Blue Birds and a short Break…

3rd August 2011

It seems the blue bird theme continues to fly through my café poet days.

Following on from last week, I play Christina Perri’s album “Lovestrong” ( she really is a talented young woman, so take a listen for yourself) and her song “Bluebird” catches my attention.    My daughter tells me this is her favourite song because it reminds her of “Blue”…

 

 

How the hell does a broken heart
Get back together when it’s torn apart
Teach itself to start
Beating again

This little Bluebird came looking for you
Said that I hadn’t seen you in quite some time
This little Bluebird, she came looking again
I said we weren’t even friends she could have you

Don’t you think it was hard?
I didn’t even say that you died
But it wouldn’t have been such a lie
Cuz’ then I started to cry
This little Bluebird sure won’t give it a rest
She swears that she may be better than all the rest
I said no-ohhhh
You’ve got it all wrong
If he was something special, I wouldn’t have this song


This little bluebird don’t come ’round here anymore
So I went looking for her
And I found…
You.

 

Then a visitor at the café sits down and shares a story with me from her journal.   The journal is an exquisite treasure, a gift to her from a friend, hand made paper bound in a cleverly crafted, layered cover with a citrine inset.   It is a work of art.  From it’s much loved pages flow words of great meaning and heartfelt memories. 

She opens the journal to a page and there in her own hand is the poem “Bluebird of Happiness” – a quote given to her by her Mother and lovingly written in her special book.   I feel the synchronicity of blue birds winging their way through my day yet again… reminding me of the simple joys of living…  And touching not only myself but so many others with their magic.

 This small book of treasures, belonging to my friend, inspires me.   What a beautiful way to collect and keep the memories and moments that come to us along the way.    These short cameo stories and poems, even one line inspirations, form a collection that speaks not only of the depths of the person who holds the book, but also those who she has been inspired by.   I want to have such a book, instead of losing my one liners and memories on various slips of paper and old dog eared exercise books.    Perhaps for me, the most difficult thing would be to limit those inspirations to just one line or one page!   Or even one book!

 

Homely touches are inspiring to me

Chipped pretty teacups

Worn wooden edges

Mismatched fabric pieces

These things touch the heart.

(Katie)

Warm,  cosy atmosphere,

Tasty food

Relaxing environment.

Lovely experience

(Kay, Melbourne)

 

 

 

Mosaics
I really like the mosaics. 
I think there (sic) really cool!
Miah (age eight)
I love the food too!

 

 

The Old Post Office and Tearooms,

What a great find,

The staff and décor’s simply sublime,

Savouries and cakes are to die for

Wanting us to return for more and more

(Jenn)

Try-Lingual
Travel

Work for the driver

Especially francaise

Even harder when

He’s lost ‘is way.

 

Filthy four letter words in Oz –

VERY

HARD

WORK

(signed: a well know Greek woman)

 

 

 

Tannin waters running in sunlight

Cascading over river rocks

Glistening like flame

Mahogany gemstones

Suspended under water

Watching the river’s journey to the sea.

(Trish)

 

 

Here we sit brokenhearted

Paid a penny…

But had great coffee.

 

(I am glad about that!)

This is the last week for the Café for a short while.   The Staff are taking a break, and so the tearooms will be closed for two weeks.  I think I will have withdrawals!!

 

I will have to take my café musings back to the birds and the bush, where I always found the space in the past … there just won’t be coffee and cake and good conversation!

And instead of snippets of inspiration from the table tops, I will have to find it in the fresh rain washed air and the song of native birds.

To change the world,

You have to be part of the change…

 

 and so it is ….


Birthdays, Blue Birds and Kindness …

27th July 2011

I walk into the café this morning to bouquets of flowers on the shelves.   There is a birthday in the house!  And this is a very special birthday – Brenda’s 50th.   Yet it is as always, “business” as usual.  Brenda says she would not wish to spend her birthday anywhere else but here in the place that is such an expression of her own self.    Except we all know this place is not about business, but pure hospitality and the delivery of good things – service, food, conversation, comfort and even kindness.  

Let’s just think about the power of kindness because it is so important to me, and I believe tends to make a difference in the lives of both the giver and receiver.

There are many who pass through these rooms, or sit at these tables, who are here in some way to find comfort, whether in the form of a place to read the paper, share a meal with friends, or a quiet space to just indulge in the simple pleasure of a cup of tea or a slice of cake.   Several conversations this week have centred around the theme of how we all seem to put on brave faces, and muster up courage to hide away our pain and miseries behind smiles or even humour,  we work hard not to crack and let our supposed “weakness” (read “humanity”) show, and yet the quickest way through those walls or facades, is a simple act of kindness .  

How often have you been battling though some personal trauma, tragedy or stressful time, thinking you are coping very well, and then someone says a kind word, or offers you a small gift, or, in our case, Brenda delivers that hot drink, with a plate of cake and a single rose carefully placed on the napkin?   And the tears break free and fall?   I know only too well what that is like.

These past few weeks I have felt the weight of life’s sorrows upon those near and dear to me, with so many tragedies and difficult circumstances rising up to challenge them.   I have one friend who lost not only one beloved parent but both, a week apart.   I have another who is suffering from a terrible illness that causes great pain and there is no cure;  several other close friends have recently lost their life partners, including my younger sister, and yet another friend is struggling to break free of an abusive relationship and rescue herself and her children.  And that is just in my immediate circle, without even mentioning the world of friends I connect with online and whose own life stories are at times so poignant, heartbreaking, even tragic.   Even in my own life, I have my own share of hardships to deal with, not the least of which is a debilitating and very painful chronic illness  and a deep sense of isolation.   I know that these small moments of pleasure we allow ourselves, are the medicine our souls long for and when we give ourselves permission to take a break from the pain and sadness, and savour the tiny precious moments of what IS good in life, no matter how fleeting, then we open the door to healing and future happiness.    We all deserve this much!   And we must not wait for others to bring it to us on a plate, these are things we can give ourselves.

 

In my case, I won’t bore you with details of suffering, but suffice to say, no matter what kind of day I am having, even when I can barely walk at all, I only have to go outside into my garden and there awaits the best medicine anyone could ask for.   Not only do I have fresh air, wide open spaces and trees, nature and bird song, I have something particularly unique.  I live in the country, miles from main roads and with state forest all around.   In my garden, I have some wild fairy wrens (Blue Wrens) who have made their home here.   And who have, it seems, adopted ME, as their friend.

Now it is quite ironic for me, that as a photographer, I have spent years, stalking these brilliant little blue birds, struggling to get close enough for even one shot that wasn’t blurry, or that had the “tail end” of a bird flying from the frame, and I truly did despair of ever getting a good “blue wren” photo.

Then three years ago that all changed.   People who are familiar with Blue Wrens (or “Splendid Fairy Wrens”) will know that they can be very cheeky and friendly, especially if they get used to humans feeding them.   I have always chosen NOT to feed wild birds where I live as I am a cat lover and have always had several cats.   So over time, I noticed this one little male wren (it is the males of the species who get the brilliant blue plumage) who constantly hopped around my garden and flew up to land at my feet, or sat in the bush close to me, singing.   He was more friendly than any of the wrens I have ever seen around here, and so I called him “Blue Boy”  (yes, very original, I know) and proceeded to talk to him whenever I saw him.  As time went by, this little bird seemed to know I would not hurt him, and would fly up to my doorstep and call out to me, or fly in and land next to me when I was outside in the garden.  

Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, and I held out my hand and he flew in and sat on it, just very briefly, but “we had contact!”     The next time I saw him, I took out a few plain biscuit crumbs (low sugar) and offered him.  And he landed on my hand and ate, with his little claws gripping my finger, like the tiny hands of a child holding onto a parent.    I was rapt!

 

Over the past three years, this little bird has succeeded in introducing me to his mate “Henny Wrenny” and many of his babies.   At first Henny was very nervous and would not come close, but as time passed, she became very bold, especially at nesting time, and would knock him off my hand to come and have some treats!   Bossy little bird!    At times I have had this pair with up to three babies before me, entertaining and filling me with pure delight.

The little wrens are very watchful.   Even when they are eating, only two will eat, and one watches.   Then they alternate.   They watch the sky, for larger birds, who all seem to be a threat to these tiny avians (kookaburras, hawks, butcher birds and eagles are notorious predators), and they scan the ground for lizards and snakes, cats and dogs, and other threats.   They have different alarm calls for different animals and I have come to recognize most of them.   Their warning for a snake is the most intense and unmistakable.   They have warned me of a snake approaching my yard on a number of occasions.

 

When their babies first fly from the nest, they are quite helpless and clumsy.   One parent will stay with them and watch while the other flies for food.  It is a constant task to bring food to nestlings or fledglings, they are bottomless pits!   At times like this, the little parent birds love me offering a few crumbs, but I do not need to worry about harming their health with “human diet” as they never just eat biscuit crumbs, but stop and fetch a few bugs in between the crumbs, as if knowing a balance diet is good for them!   (Now if only to teach my kids the same thing!)

Knowing how watchful the wrens are, I have been touched by their deep trust in me.   One day while out photographing the babies, both parent birds disappeared, leaving me spying on the babies as they hopped and fluttered in a pile of branches.   This was very unusual as I know that only one parent bird would fly away at a time.   After quite a break, both “Blue” and “Henny” returned, with their feathers all wet, and proceeded to shake, flutter, and fluff on the fence rail.  They had been off for a bird bath while I babysat the little ones!!!  

It was so funny!  (and of course, their antics while grooming, were yet another source of amusement, especially when I could catch the action with my camera!)

 

 

 

 

 

So now I have as many blue wren photos as I can handle.  

Every day, my little blue friend greets me and sings his heart out for me.   It is the most precious gift, and so very healing.

So I give Brenda a blue wren image for her birthday –  This simple photo of a little blue bird, awakes a memory, a poem, and line by line, the words flowed, bringing with them a rush of feelings.  She smiles as she quotes Gerard Manley Hopkins “Spring” :

Spring

NOTHING is so beautiful as spring—

  When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
  Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
  The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
  The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
 
What is all this juice and all this joy?
  A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
  Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
  Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

So for my little blue bird – a connection to this poem, where Hopkins’ little thrush sing upon a background of sky – “descending blue;  that blue is all in a rush…”   which pretty much describes my own little friends in colour and character, if not in species.

 

And synchronicity being as it is, this poem was left at the Café for me during the week…

 

 

 

Pretty little blue wren

Cheeky as can be,

Hopping here and there,

Performing just for me.

 

I wonder if you realize

Just how cute you are,

With your vivid blue colours

Pretty as a flower.

 

You like to hide in bushes

And flit across the ground

And when you sing your happy song

It’s such a lovely sound.

 

A bird that’s so endearing,

Would be very hard to find.

When I think of Australian bush,

You are on my mind.

 

 

(I believe I can thank Rosalie for this gem.  Rosalie, you really summed up the character of the little fairy wrens and it made me smile, so thank you!)

 

 

 

I have a few more treasures from the table tops at the Café….

“Whatever it is,

It always looks better in the morning”

(A Schutts)

 

 

(I smiled reading this one, guess they have never seen me in the morning! LOL)

 

 

 

And this beautiful piece from Bec Larsen (Perth)…

Nightfall

Sweeping roads fade away into the darkness

Drunken Saturday night lights left behind

Soaked days of glutony, indulgence, lust,

Eat, Pray, Love, for the love of wine,

New experiences, spontaneous, new faces,

Winding bus dissects the countryside

Glass after glass after glass

To escape the reality.

 

Winding roads revisited,

Life begins again.

 

(Thank you Bec, this evokes so many images and memories for me, I feel the stories peeking through the lines of this one.   Smiles…)

 

 

I will close with another pearl of wisdom…

 

 

“It’s not your aptitude

But your attitude

That determines

Your altitude”

 

 

And so it is …

 

 

 

 


Jumping for Joy

20th July 2011

 Colour, style and sheer flirtatiousness leap from the glass cake cabinet this morning,  entertaining my senses.

“The fridge is literally jumping out of its skin for joy!”  says Brenda with a smile.

It is a day of divine culinary joy, that’s for sure – a momentary break in the rapid, harsh and chaotic dance of life.   The peaceful atmosphere of the Café, a peace that at first seems impossible amidst the constant activity in the tiny kitchen and the chatter and lunch time rush;  seems to permeate and linger in each and every person.   I do not wish to go home from this place.  I doubt any one does.  The business owner loves being here too, and it shows!  This place is an extension of who she is, like a living room she invites friends into to enjoy her hospitality.

I can come here with a heavy heart, or a lot on my mind, yet somewhere in the hours that pass, and the gentle atmosphere of this place, it evaporates.   I walk away feeling like I have had a holiday from the world. 

 

Amidst the excitement in the cake cabinet, are some tarts most worthy of a photo.  (Can you feel me smiling as I say this!)   They not only provoke attention and tempt the senses, they are works of art.   Heidi has been baking again.   Light, melt in the mouth pastry contains layers of peanut brittle, caramel and ganache.   On top of the dark chocolate are little red hearts made of chocolate.   I have to try one, but when I go to eat it, I honestly don’t know where to start.  It is like putting something as vibrant as “Moulin Rouge” on a plate!   I wait to see if this little creation will dance the “Can Can” for me.

“How is it?” asks Heidi, and I have trouble replying.  Each mouthful is a sensory experience and I can’t talk, I just have to sit there allow the magic to work.   You have to taste these creations,   to truly understand!

 

 

From the weight of a song,

To the scent of lost childhood,

Unfolds these wings of nostalgia,

A warm glow of feeling

Sweet upon the lips,

Unleashing

A thousand precious memories;

Sugar coated delicacy

Conveys the heart of she

Whose hands tenderly fold intent;

Love dissolves in glory

Within the longing mouth

And flies off in search of adventure

In the waiting heart.

 

 

Some crumbs and smiles from the table tops this week …

When Irish eyes are smiling…

For an Irish girl serving…

 

 

 

 

I’m smiling because….

I’m your sister!

And laughing because

You can’t do anything

About it!!!

(To my big sister Sylvia, from your adopted sister Pam xxx)

 

 

 

How can you improve on perfection?

Service is warm and friendly,

And the “blarney” keeps flowing and is acceptable,

Food and beverages outstanding!

Nola

 

 

 

“Feels like home

–      lovely people”

Sometimes you don’t need to say very much.   Too many words would spoil the mood.   Simply put – “feels like home” is all that is required, yet in those few words are lifetimes of memories of what “home” really is…  Or how it feels to be “home”.    How that word evokes so many different meanings and memories for each person who uses it?  

How many songs, poems and sayings can you think of that have been inspired by the meaning of the word “home”?

“Home is where the heart is”

 

“Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home”

 

Where ever we’re together that’s my home”

 

 

 

My thoughts are this …

 

Home is a place you arrive at when you simply learn to love yourself.


Unfolding Stories and Creativity

13th July 2011

Raspberry Frangipani Tart

It is very difficult being in the Old Tearooms today …. I am faced with such a dilemma …. how on Earth do I make a choice from the mouthwatering offerings in the cake cabinet!!!

Heidi has been baking this week.  There in pride of place on the top shelf are the fruits of her labour.   Raspberry Pear Marsala Crumble,  Raspberry Frangipani Tarts and Orange and Poppyseed tart (with orange syrup), nestled beside the Carrot Cake, Quiches and Breakfast tarts.   I want to try them all!  How can I write about them unless I know what they taste like?  What a tough job…. (smiles)  Oh well – someone’s got to do it!

Pear Raspberry Masala Crumble

I go with the Breakfast tart, a delightfully light filo pastry tart containing spring onions, sweet potato, and bacon (among other things) and topped with a perfect egg.  Warmed up, it’s light and savoury delivery certainly hit the spot!  As for the Frangipani tarts, all I can say is “melt in the mouth”!!   The pastry so light, the flavour so immaculate and delicate…..  it’s almost a shame to weigh it down with that dollop of fresh cream!  I said…”Almost!”

I hear Brenda announce to a customer “For today’s soup we have roasted sweet potato, ginger and carrot soup topped with cashew nut cream” and on a chill winter’s day, that too makes my senses drool!

Brenda is smiling big time today.  She is the first to admit that although she is an accomplished baker of just about anything delicious, she has never managed to bake a quiche that she was happy with.  No matter which recipe she tried, none would turn out to her satisfaction.   In fact she had resigned herself to never being able to turn out a quality quiche for her café.   Until today….  In a spirit of generosity that is very rare amongst professional bakers and cooks, the owner of a local restaurant shared his quiche recipe with Brenda.  She tells me this is a really big deal, a HUGE deal….. Chefs just do not share recipes!   But she had openly confessed to him, that she was unable to cook a good quiche and he had shared his knowledge with her.   And (drum roll please) she was about to cut it before our eyes.   I am happy to say, it looked divine (I can’t say I tasted it, but those who did gave it the definite thumbs up!) and even better, Brenda, her own harshest critic, was truly satisfied with the result as well!   She admitted to feeling genuine joy in this simple achievement – for her, like so many of us, finding that spark of creativity in daily life puts everything in perspective, it’s a thread that weaves its way through our daily lives but is often overlooked or lost by all the other matters we have to deal with.   In Brenda’s words,  “I lose myself in the busy-ness but I find myself in my creativity.”  A truth that is simple, but profound.

 

Stories continue to play out around us in these old rooms.  Families and couples come in, stay a while, and almost reluctantly leave.   Alone at a table, one woman sits staring into her tea.   She looks unsettled, even downright miserable.  She is waiting for a phone call from the vet.   Her beloved dog is very ill, and is currently undergoing exploratory surgery to diagnose the problem.   But because this is an older dog, the prognosis is not looking good.    The phone rings, and the woman jumps, as do we all, knowing that she is waiting on this call.   We hear her say “It is for the best” and chokes out instructions for her dog to be allowed to pass away under anaesthetic.    As her tears fall, there is not a dry eye in the room, as Brenda and Heidi behind the counter, as well as myself, witness the grief.   We know the pain of loving our fur friends, the dogs, and cats and other creatures that share our lives and are as much a part of us as our children or parents or friends.    There are hugs, there are tears, it is a sad moment in the café, but hopefully the kindness surrounding her at this moment helps ease the pain a little.   “It is the final act of love” declares Brenda.   And we reassure this woman that she has indeed done the right thing by her beautiful dog, even though her heart is breaking and she feels like a limb has been torn away.    “Let them go knowing they are loved” I think to myself, a lesson I have had thrust on me far too many times in my own life…..   “If they have known love, their lives are justified and they will live on in our hearts”.  

But still, the pain of loss is palpable.

The most amazing story unfolds as two women come in for coffee and a chat and take it to the green couch.   They are old school friends….and have known each other for almost forty years, but one lives locally, and the other has flown in from Byron Bay after being away for over thirty years.   They have not seen each other in nearly five years, so the conversation flows as freely as the coffee,  rich with tales of children, grandchildren, parents, and lives that wander not only around the country but also the world, and yet return to swap stories on the old couch by the fire.

But what is truly incredible is this – when the eastern states friend, for the purpose of this story, we’ll call her Jani, enters the old Courthouse Gallery, her eyes are wide and she exclaims with a grin that this is indeed, a blast from the past.  

“The last time I was in this room, it was before the Magistrate, who was sitting up there behind that bench” she exclaims, pointing to the Judge’s bench.   “I was in the box down here” she says, pointing to the witness stand.  

“Are you serious?” asks her local friend “That must have been a very long time ago – the police department and gaol cells ceased operations in this building in 1976!”

Jani went on to share her story.   She was only eleven, and had been caught shoplifting “a 22 cent chocolate bar from Killerby’s”.  

“Ha!” she says… “The same block of chocolate costs over four dollars these days!”   The policeman had brought her here to stand before the Magistrate, who in turn, had ordered her to be locked up in the gaol cells for a period of time as punishment .

Jani described how terrified she was – “the smell was awful, the worst smell of urine and other stuff, and I was afraid to sit down or touch anything because of the germs!  IT was horrible!”   She walked down to the old exercise yard and said “this is where they locked me, but it didn’t look or feel as nice as this!” 

(The exercise yard is now clean, and whitewashed, no longer used as a toilet, and has a skylight and roof over the top, instead of being open to the weather – it has been revamped and is now the art studio for local artist Celia Clare and certainly has a whole different energy to it.)  All that remains as testimony to the lives that were put on hold in that small room and the sorry history of the building, is the original door leading out to the courtyard, which remains marked with the graffiti – a little sign of the past history of these four walls)

 

“The walls were all scratched and carved with names and comments and dates – there was not a space left unmarked” she says.   “But I never stole anything again” she said, with a grin “that experience certainly scared me off doing that kind of thing ever again!” 

Exercise Yard Door

There were quite a few giggles about it, but the most astonishing thought I have is this ….. can you imagine this happening today?  Seriously?   Just imagine the furore, if a police officer took a young person caught shoplifting, especially a girl,  before a magistrate (without a lawyer or parent) and then, locked her in a gaol cell where there were men in neighbouring cells?  Just to give her a fright!  The political, legal and moral fallout would be immense!!!   And yet, ironically, this experience DID the trick and certainly cured one young woman of any desire to break the law again.    Somehow the thought occurs to me that it’s a shame this same treatment can’t be applied to some of the young offenders out there today !!!

So for Jani, it was a full circle moment where she got to relive a childhood experience but in a building completely transformed from the one of her youth, and certainly happier, “cleaner” times….

I have some real treasures to share today, from our talented café patrons….. many have been held over from other weeks and saved for the right moment to bring them out!

This one, titled “A New Anthem for Australia” – enjoy with a smile.

 

Australians all love Aunty Joyce,

For she is forty three.

She cooks her food in olive oil,

And drinks her Bushells Tea.

 

Her lounge is filled with useless junk,

It’s scattered everywhere.

She goes to town by bus each day

And never pays her fare!

(David Magnus   24-6-2011)

 

 

 

I wish I was a glow worm

‘Coz glow worms are not glum,

How can you be miserable

When the sun shines out your bum!

 

 

 

 

I wanted to show my wife who was in charge,

So I gave her a mirror…

(Roger   15-6-2011)

 

 

From humour to emotion…

 

 

 

 

Angels are near

Can you feel them there?

Do you believe

That they really care?

They come close

When you’re feeling blue,

Singing their heavenly

Song for you.

They will always

Be nearby

To comfort you

When you cry.

So close your eyes

And rest awhile,

The angels like

To see you smile!

 

 

 

I once had a farm in Africa…

However it all came to grief

Because…

We saw Busselton

And

Lived happily ever after!

(1-6-2011)

 

 

 

And you with your fortresses ray, in the coldness of time.

Doing nothing more, than watching it all pass you by.

Sure it’s easier than being any kind of investment in life,

Find your money, find your home,

There’s nothing more to being alive.

–      Kim Churchill

(Tayla Van  11-6-2011)

 

 

I’d rather sit on a pumpkin

Than be crowded on a velvet cushion

(Stampmax)

 

 

Angel Dream

Golden threads like a sparkling stream

Wander through my angel dream.

Are the threads in the wings so fair?

Or might them be the angel’s hair?

It matters not, they intertwine

These threads of gold in my dream sublime.

So go to sleep my child so fair

With your angel eyes and your angel hair,

And drift away on angel wings,

Dreaming your dreams while the angel sings.

(Rosalie)

 

Orange and Poppyseed Cheesecake

“Somewhere over the rainbow…..” plays gently through the rooms…

Somewhere loved ones run free from earthly pain and challenges, and spirits smile, while tears fall on Earth and we watch our lives turn in cycles, coming back to nudge us into sharing our stories, twisting and folding back to reveal those enduring threads of creativity and heart.

It is good to be back…. This place does indeed “feel like home, to me”…..   I see the smiles, I breathe in the warmth and aromas of good food, I feel the heat of the fire and hear its soft crackle above the old songs playing on the radio…   I have time today, for me… I have all the time in the world and it feels good.    Does it get any better than this?

View from the Verandah