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.
It was a toss-up tonight between two photos that suited the theme of ‘ready’. One was of my father and his mates in the training camp, ready and waiting to be sent to the Middle East. And there was this one of an Egyptian kitchen hand bearing about 50 plates with more behind him, ready to serve all the extra patrons. His hands have a firm grip on his load…
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.
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.
For a couple of years I’ve had a small copy of this painting on my wall. It reminds me of one of the photo challenges for January: Launch. On this last day of January, I want to show it to you. It’s a blogging analogy. On 1st January I started this blog, lifting off in colourful company. Some float with me, some observe from solid ground.
The hot air balloon launched at the Chateau de la Muette was the first untethered manned flight. It was invented by the Montgolfier brothers; thus, in French, it’s called a montgolfière. The painting above is part of the National Library collection here in Canberra.
24th Jan – A visitor arrived at the Housing flats but, before getting out of his car, was assailed by a tenant spewing the loudest tirade of abuse yet heard in this street. It was about money paid as maintenance for her 2 granddaughters – $50 a week. Her vocabulary was quickly exhausted, so for about 10 minutes she repeated two obscene words several times in each sentence.
25th Jan – I noticed when I knock on a door gently to wake someone, only the knuckle of my middle finger does the knocking.
26th Jan – A manuscript appraiser suggested I break up my translated text using a dinkus.
It’s a tiny design dividing otherwise undivided text. I like this one.
And below, here’s one in place.
Dinkus in ‘Almost French’ by Sarah Turnbull
27th Jan – My breakfast-on-the-deck was better than usual: I saw a possum curled up in a corner of the roof guttering. Turned out she was hiding something…
28th Jan – As I drove onto the bridge to cross the lake, I had to slow for 15 horses and riders and a black and white sheepdog in my lane.