Today’s theme is a curious one for me. We don’t use the word closet in Australia except to speak of someone with secret habits. We store our clothes in a wardrobe. Since I’m at the beach for the weekend and I have no access to mine, I thought of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and that magical piece of furniture that one can step through to find a land of dreams and terrors. If I could step through my clothes and the back of my wardrobe, I would come out into this land:
I was walking here this afternoon. It was about 5 pm and the sun had finally shone for the first time today. The water clarity and temperature, the warmth of the sun after yet another cool summer day (global cooling), the absence of people, the eternal rolling of the waves; all of it is perfect. These beaches on the south coast of New South Wales make me VERY happy.
3rd Feb: My son and his fiancée just ordered their wedding rings from a country in the other hemisphere. The new way of shopping. I’m still getting my head around this.
4th Feb: When leaving to walk the dog, the couple in the Housing flats called out: ‘How are ya?’ This is the first time any of the tenants have voluntarily spoken to me.
5th Feb: Bought an antique chair for my son’s fiancée. I saw swirls etched into the seat, but she showed me they were hearts.
6th Feb: I just bought fabric from a country in the other hemisphere. Never say never.
7th Feb: Translating a passage about a dying abbot, I paused for a moment to search for a song online for background music, and found several covers done by Amy Winehouse. I wouldn’t have let her into my personal space, but when I played her version of Billie Holiday’s ‘There is no greater love’ all the grimness of the abbot’s death was forgotten. I never learn to never say never.
There’s no real sun in my city today. Just clouds. So I searched through my father’s poetry book; here’s the beginning of a poem about the merciless sun that Australians often live under. The poem is attributed to M.A.N., 1941; the illustration is by Ron Bruce.
This is my mother, drawn by my father. Years ago, I took it out of his sketch book and had it framed, and now it sits beside my desk. I often focus on the round buttons and the round brooch on her dress.
The sketchbook dates from about 1942/43. This portrait is a very close likeness, as once observed by a visitor who saw the drawing and then a photo of Mum at about the same age.
This morning at 10 am it was about 25 degrees, blue skies, perfect. I was here at this small church with some of my family. That’s my husband in the spearmint green shirt.
I pointed my camera at the tree and a bit of sky, and found the sun shining straight onto my camera, so it’s glary at the top. As it is in life.
Today I’ve been to three places, my small camera tucked in my hand, looking for the right stranger, someone doing something I wanted to remember. I discovered an underground bookshop of uncatalogued books, and in a side nook, a café and a musician. He was the right stranger.
He sang a song I didn’t know: The Spider Song (Or Somewhere in the car) by Pat Drummond. I’ve just found the lyrics online as well as the stranger’s name. Fred Pilcher. Now I know who he is but he doesn’t know me. I’m the stranger.
The lyrics are a good read: http://www.patdrummond.net/Lyrics/Laughter/Somewhere_In_The_Car.html
29th Jan – My son and his fiancée showed us a circle of firs in a park, a green cathedral, where they will get married. If it doesn’t rain.
30th Jan – Tonight, just after falling asleep, I woke screaming. A large heavy painting had fallen off the wall behind my bed and slipped down behind a chair.
31st Jan – A woman in the Housing flats opposite my window just bought one heaped-up ice-cream cone from the Mr Whippy van. She’s holding it out for 5 children from the neighbourhood who take licks in turns.
1st Feb – I crossed the line today to congratulate another couple in the flats on the birth of their baby. They were gracious, grateful and clean-mouthed.
2nd Feb – A short walk from my house, in a small university run by the Dominican Order, monastic buildings enclose a round cloister and a garden, in which I found rose beds and a sign: No Smoking in the Rose Garden.
With my hands I’m typing what you are reading. With them I write letters and stories that you will not read. I can even add calligraphic flourishes. I can cook, drive, ride a bike because I have hands.
But I can’t play an instrument.
For twenty years I’ve taken my sons to piano and guitar lessons, and now I hear live music in my home. How rich my life is because their hands play instruments.
I thank my son for playing This old love by Lior so I could photograph him. I could listen to him for hours.
2nd Feb: Words
I found this photo in the war album. I had to play with the levels because the words were barely visible in the original 2″ x 3″ photo, and I was amazed when I darkened it and saw what was written on this huge sign. It’s derived from Winston Churchill’s London broadcast on 22nd June 1941, following Germany’s invasion of Russia.
I don’t know where this building is, though it’s probably in north Africa. The album contains photos taken in 1941/42.
Here’s the original photo, untouched-up: