Weekly photography Challenge: Chaos

I’m in the process of moving 15 years accumulation of art supplies from the sunroom studio out to the shed studio, inspired by an increasingly mobile and curious grandchild to remove all those interesting and possibly hazardous things from her sight and reach. This process has produced plenty of chaos for this weeks photography challenge!

I found the Martha Beck quote scrawled on an index card, appropriately, amidst the chaos of the old order.

Meanwhile, in the garden, a much more pleasant version of chaos. I read a quote somewhere from a children’s book writer who said that a good story needs a balance of “chaos and control”, and I firmly believe the same rule applies to gardens!

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Friday Poem:Spread My Wings

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It is 21 years this week since I sat down on an ugly-but-practical brown couch and watched a Rage TV special – Nirvana Unplugged in New York. I’d heard of the band, I knew how the singer died, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also true – that record changed my life.

I wrote this poem during the following year, expressing frustration with the constraints of my ordinary life. Nirvana fans might notice the influence of “Sappy”, but there’s a dash of Hank Williams in there, too.

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This jar is far too small.
There is no room for my wings;
There is no room to fly;
I want to spread my wings.

I’m not a moonbeam in your jar;
I’m not a pretty toy;
I need to move, I need to breathe;
I want to spread my wings.

These air holes are too small.
You must not smother me;
I want to take the air,
I want to spread my wings.

Let me loose, what’s the use
Of keeping me in here.
I might not fly away,
But I want to spread my wingsa-collage-2

One of the things I did as I escaped from the jar of proper lady-like behaviour, was to stick anything that appealed to me on my wall. Nowadays, that’s an “Inspiration Board”, but twenty years ago, it was weirdly adolescent for a forty-year old woman with 5 kids…At some point, the collection came down, and was upcycled into a series of collages, of which this is one. There’s an apt quote on there-

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”

Walter Anderson.

I also got rid of the brown couch, and as much other ugly-but -practical-with-kids brownness out of my house, and started surrounding myself with things that I actually liked.

After ordering and waiting patiently for “Nirvana Unplugged in New York (on cassette), I expanded my music collection, my library and my stash of art supplies. I now have the Melvins “Gluey Porch Treatments”, and  I’m reading  Bessel Van der Kolk’s ” The Body keeps The Score”, about the ongoing effects of trauma. When Micheal Azzerad asked Kurt, “Is your’s a sad story?” , he hesitated, and said “…No…”, going on to say that the events of his childhood were commonplace, which, unfortunately, they are. But it is a sad story, they are all sad stories, which Dr Van Der Kolk and his colleagues are learning to address with proper treatment – too late for Kurt, but there’s hope for another generation to have more than numbness – they will be able to spread their wings.

Creativity: Party Guest Book

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I’ve got a birthday not far off – one of those landmark ones, and I’m having a party…A book for guests to sign as a memento is fairly standard on these occasions, and being an artist, I made my own.

It’s quite simple, with only one signature. The pages are 110gsm cartridge paper, and the cover is repurposed card with the printed magenta card glued over it. The cover design is a variation on the cover of the invite ‘zine I made, and I used the same orange thread to stitch the booklet together.

I couldn’t just leave it at that, of course! One of the pages already had this quote on it – an alternative verse of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. Since it’s a birthday party, and there will be cake, and my guests are invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style (there will be cliches) the words seem oddly appropriate. So I added a cake.

I’d bought a packet of pretty scrapbooky sheets, so I added some of those. Where I liked both sides, I hinged them with washi tape. When only one side fitted my theme, I stuck them down, again with washi tape. I picked two designs to use, a pretty one, and a punkier one. In the back, I put a copy of the invitation, and an old envelope to put some photos of the night in later. Camera and balloon stickers from Kikki K illustrate its purpose. I also put in a peony stamp, which I coloured with watercolours, and my Peace Love Empathy rainbow heart design.

I hope that the scattering of interesting inserts, stickers and drawings removes the terrible White Page anathema, and that the fact that something is already there will encourage my guests to be more adventurous in adding their names for me to remember the occasion.

Friday Poem: Running Wild/Climbing

I had nothing in mind for this week’s poem post – it’s been busy around here, what with the Festival King and his various duties – but the Daily Post prompt caught my eye with the mention of American poet, Mary Oliver. I only discovered her work recently, when three separate references to her seemed like the Universe making a suggestion.evening light

So, I read the prompt, and thought…what poem have I written that would answer, opened a notebook, and there it was, a poem about finding my place in the world. Serendipitous synchronicity!

I’ve waited so long to make this journey:
Holding back, stayed by the family circle,
Not ready to leave the safe familiar;
But now I am impelled to climb and climb.

It’s a long way up, and steep and slippery,
But I will make it if I just keep on.
The path is marked with pointers showing me the way,
That give me comfort and confirm my choice.
If I grow weary and stumble and lose my way,
My guide just waits to lead me on again.

My reason says it’s crazy to go climbing,
But my heart knows it is true and it must be.
My spirit grows and opens up within me,
And when I reach the top, I will be free.poster wall 2

One of the pointers on my path away from being the Good Girl was reading Women Who Run With The Wolves, amongst other dangerously freeing and eye-opening books. So off I went spiritually, on a big adventure, in search of my own kind, which led at last to writing a blog…

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I’m turning 60(!) in a few months, and the “Punk’s not dead” poster is for my party.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Extra-ordinary Creativity

Albert Einstein — ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’

Whether something is ordinary or extraordinary just depends on your point of view, and that is the theme of the photography challenge for this week.

While my husband was performing his extraordinary duties as the Golden Gateway Festival King (I know!), attending a variety concert in the iconic Ararat Performing Arts Centre, I spent a few hours at my friend Wilma’s open garden event. She seems to have endless energy and a great imagination when it comes to incorporating interesting…junk…into her sprawling garden. She puts ordinary things to extraordinarily creative use – this is not all of them, just a sample!

The vignette near the cottage window is so elegant – but then there’s the enormous spider on the gate…I think the arrangement of objects on the yellow chair is the work of her great-grandson – clearly an artist in the making!

There were also (extra)ordinary flowers, such as this glorious yellow bearded iris.IMG_6346

Friday Poem: Birthday Obituary

I was eight-and-a-half when my sister was born. There were two brothers in between, so it was good to have another girl around. I remember Mum sneaking into my room in the middle of the night to kiss me goodbye when she went to the hospital. After school the next day, I came home to  a kitchen that was strangely clean and tidy (Mum was never into ‘housekeeping’ – we had skinks living on one of the benches for a while, and she put them there…). My maternal Grandma, and Dad’s Step-Mum occupied the space, having spent the day cleaning and reorganising while Mum was safely out of the way.

In 1964, babies were kept away from’germs’ and relatives for as long as possible, so we kids didn’t get to cuddle her the way my kids held their siblings within 24 hours of birth. She was safe behind glass, in a crib that was tilted slightly so she could be seen.

It’s her birthday again in a couple of days. She would have been 51, which I can’t really imagine, because she was only 27 the last time I saw her – in the same hospital as where I saw her first.DSCF5120 (Large)

 

I remember the pink and white bundle behind the glass,
I remember my sister at my mother’s breast;
I remember the last time I saw her, too.
Her head, bald from chemo, tied with a scarf;
Her dangly earrings, her grey-goose eyes
That were almost empty,
But she squeezed my hand
As I drank her face for the last time here.

I remember the first time I saw her, and the last;
And in all the years since she left,
I have learned to miss her less.
But I have only dreamed of her once,
When we climbed a hill together
And I planned to cook a meal.anniv5

I don’t seem to have a ‘baby’ photo of her – there are hundreds of Juniper, but times, and cameras, have changed. This photo was taken when we were on holiday at the coast – Dad never wore shorts any other time! I’m guessing Merrilyn was two-and-a-bit, and not happy about being sat on the bonnet, for some reason. I vaguely remember the photo being taken – it’s around 50 years ago  (groan).DSCF5121 (Large)

I made this quilt as a memento of her – there’s an outline portrait of her as I last saw her in the quilting. The quote is of Kurt Cobain, and a good summary of my sister’s approach to life and art.