Somewhere in Queanbeyan, two young children sit astride their bicycles. Surrounded by enormous dahlias and oriental lilies, Miss 4 is shouting across the yard to Mr 5- ‘I don’t want your virgin, I want my own virgin.’
For the edification of the neighbourhood, their argument concerned the lyrics of a song that Mr 5 had recently mastered. Miss 4 preferred the version she learned from Mamma. Mr 5 shouted back ‘I go to school. You are only 4. I KNOW the words. It goes like this: Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques; door in view, door in view; someone let him in; someone let him in; ding dong dang, ding dong dang.’
‘The winds of God are always blowing but you must set the sails’ (Anon)
Shortly before Christmas, I was informed that I was not among finalists for a design competition I had entered to celebrate the Centenary of Canberra. For this competition (that consumed months of research, design and liaison), I organised a new collaboration of artisans in Tasmania and the ACT. We were all excited about the prospective launch of a new product that showcased all our skills.
I received no explanation for the blandly stated rejection. It was hardest for me to let the others down, especially without the judge’s explanation. I explored proceeding outside the competition parameters. Some of my contacts had moved on and predictions of ‘Eurogeddon’ worsened my prospects in the retail industry. Ultimately I let the product go… at least until the trade winds blow more favourably.
‘Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life’ (Mark Twain)
A friend I hadn’t seen for 8 years, popped in over Christmas and we caught up some years with easy familiarity. It turned out I had been listening to a radio reading of a book she had been meaning to send me. Even after 4 weeks, the Singapore orchids she gave me are still enlivening our dinner table. She later sent me that book and I have been enjoying snatching moments to read it over tea and occasionally to the children. Later, another of my friends dropped in and we shared a homegrown home cooked lunch. I made her some new clips as a gift for her friends' children. I plan to make more of these and take them to market.
‘Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.’ (Oscar Wilde)
On the day I learned that another museum buyer was not interested in taking on my work, I also achieved a goal I nursed for 10 years. That is to grow and plait my own onions- ‘a la Toscana’ (Tuscan-style). I harvested and plaited up 6 fragrant bunches. As I mulled over new disappointments, the eldest of all our new chooks began to feed from my hand. That was ample compensation.
Out in the yard, the beans and trombone zucchini are thriving. The choko has enveloped the fence and is lustily advancing on the plumcott tree. Our plums and apricots have finished, having made their way into cordials, jams and iceblocks. The cool weather since Christmas has only afforded us a small handful of tomatoes. The cucumbers are enjoying the shade of the sunflowers but the sunflowers are attracting more cockatoos. One morning, these rascals turned their attention to our apples. They littered the ground with pieces of Granny Smith in pursuit of a paltry sum of apple seeds!
‘Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.’ (Thomas Huxley)
All around me in the marketplace, I encounter inverted value. Being in the business of convincing others about the value of my handiwork compared with other products, the question of value often confronts me. Curious juxtapositions emerge...
In preparation for the new school year, I brought home a 48-page exercise book. It cost 5 cents. Reaching for the top shelf in a fluorescent lit, air-conditioned aisle jingling with ‘golden oldies’, it struck me that there had been an error. Somewhere there had been an error! Think of the decades-old trees that make the pulp for the paper; the fossil fuels that drive the machines that cut them down in seconds; the wage earning workers that build the machines that apply the ink to every page; the mine that gives up its ore to make the metal to make the staples that bind the book; the navigators that bring the crates of books from China to Australian shores; and the drivers and shelf stackers that keep the aisles full… and all this cost me 5 cents.
The very night before I listened to a radio program in which an old lady described a letter she had found in her attic. It was written by one of her relatives to another relative overseas. Simply to preserve the then scarce paper, the author of the letter had written first in one direction. They then rotated the page 90 degrees and wrote across the letter. She wondered at its legibility, evidently with a deep respect…
See you around!