I remember the moment I saw this verse in a calligrapher’s studio. Some friends were, at that period, busy making money, buying possessions and reading books about getting rich. The verse made complete sense and I bought a framed version immediately. Recently, a German calligrapher, a pen friend, asked me to send him a handwritten verse, so I picked this one to write out for him. Here’s my practice version of what I sent:
I have over the years tried to teach myself to read music, play the guitar and the piano. I can never remember what the written musical notes mean, I hate hitting wrong keys or plucking the wrong string, I hate my incompetency. Neither my brain nor my fingers want to do it and I refuse to try again. Yet, blessed beyond my dreams, I have sons who can play pieces like Beethoven’s Sonata Quasi una Fantasia, which I more easily remember as Moonlight Sonata.
Here’s Luke at his piano yesterday:
13th Feb – Realised today that some people won’t read blogs. Even if they’re writers.
14th Feb – In my bed tonight I’m hearing, from the room in front of me, one son teaching himself a new song, singing and playing on his guitar erratically, and from the room behind, recorded heavy metal music played by another son on his computer.
15th Feb – At the National Library this morning I drove around for 15 minutes before finding a park. I was there to read a hard-to-find book, but the spaces were all filled by tourists come to look at exhibitions.
16th Feb – Editing an article about a Melbourne coffee shop, I hesitated at the term café latte. English-speaking coffee namers seem to prefer the French word café, not caffè as it is in Italian, and latte from Italian but not au lait from French. French coffee in Italian milk.
17th Feb – Met a woman who met a man online. She has just arrived in Australia to live with him. He’s a vegetarian minimalist. She likes meat and furniture.
A bit of research on Google revealed that this ad for Abbots Lager was painted near Tobruk, Libya, in January 1941 by the 6th Division of the Australian Army. (‘Journey to Tobruk: John Murray – Bushman, Soldier, Survivor’ by Louise Austin).
My father wrote under the photo: ‘Australian beer is best’.
This clock tower is in Beirut. The caption my father wrote under the photo gave the town of Tripoli as the tower’s home, but a search for it on Google images showed me where it really is. It was built in 1934 and survived the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s. Four new clock faces with Roman numerals have replaced the faces you see here. The tower is no longer encircled by concrete, but flower beds.
The Australian troops trained in Palestine on their way to Egypt and Libya. In the war album there are a number of photographs from Lebanon, indicating they must have had rec leave in Beirut.
I received a few gifts on the weekend. One of them was this candle holder from one of my sons. The candle is also new. I took several shots of it burning: lights on, lights off, flash on, flash off, a compact digital camera, a larger DSLR. This photo is with the latter, lights on, flash off. I couldn’t hold the small camera steady enough and ended up with blurry candles. The DSLR shutter was quicker so the image isn’t bad.
The candle was about twice this height when I began shooting it…
In the old sketchbooks there are four drawings of reclining women on the phone. They all resemble women from Vargas’s calendars. This one is influenced by Orientalism and is the best of the four.
This drawing is from one of my father’s sketch books. You’ll see that the woman in his heart thought bubble is not my mother (see entry for 7th February). Perhaps she’s the woman who was posing in the art class. Perhaps she’s the generic woman that every soldier thinks about in the desert, standing next to a cactus, holding a very big gun.
8th Feb – A neighbour working on an old Jag removed the muffler and took it for a test drive. He roared it round a corner where a woman was pushing a pram. She jumped back a few feet.
9th Feb – I drove in a storm today for the first time in years. Doesn’t rain much here.
10th Feb – A friend who does no gardening, not even pot plants, showed me four full buckets of peaches from trees in her back yard.
11th Feb – Driving from Queanbeyan to the coast, there’s a strip of several kilometres where people nail teddy bears and other stuffed toys to trees. It’s hard to stop for photos because it’s a highway, but I did capture one crucified teddy:
12th Feb – My son who has no cameras who is engaged to a photographer with many cameras gave me for my birthday a disposable camera.
So many of the photos we took on the weekend are studies in blue. This one shows that blue does not always mean down. When you’re beside blue water, under a blue sky, in front of a blue lamp post, and it’s your birthday, blue means up.