Sunday, April 25, 2010


There’s no mistaking the face of beauty.

It’s a flame tree in changing light; blue opal wedged in rock. It’s the perfectly formed ears of a newborn; the tired and contented amble of men returning to community after the experience of initiation.

But primarily, it‘s the face of woman.

It’s her eyes, eyes that unwaveringly meet you, that say I see you, I hear you, I empathize with you, I meet you in your struggle, I meet you in your triumph.

It’s her tranquillity, the way she sits in silence with you, without fidgeting, distraction or discomfort listening to your every word.

It’s her recognition that duty must be abandoned in order to support your loneliness and grief.

It’s the audacity of her fierce wrath, a wrath that must be expressed when justice is denied, truth mocked, or her honour smeared.

It’s the sleeplessness she endures, the resilience and strength she musters for the sake of the children.

It’s the humble vision and wisdom she upholds that one day war will cease and harmony will return to the people of this vulnerable earth.

Rarely is it acknowledged however.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On flirting

I’m of the sanguine/melancholic personality temperament. This means I’m an extrovert, the perfect person to invite to a party, randomly seeking and thriving on spontaneous acts of communication with strangers, or alternatively, in the quiet solitude, sadly wading through the fetid pond of tragedy and cruelty. I’ve developed a fondness for both.

Extroversion is often mistaken for flirtation. Regardless of the difference however, I’m a natural. Some of the lesser evolved amongst us consider flirting shameful, a come-on, a threat to the natural (relational) order of things. From my point of view, the reality is very different; there’s nothing remotely sexual about it. I see it as engaging in the art of interpersonal communication, exploring the links that connect us, the differences, similarities. The primary thing that interests and excites me, besides my kids and writing of course, is people. How they think, feel, act. I’m thankful therefore for my Italian-ness, as flirting, a noble tradition in the land of my ancestors, and akin to running a bath, is something I do well, and enjoy. And it’s not hard. Really! I’ve thought about running classes in it! You’ve just got to be a bit expressive, show who you are through your face, accentuate the positive, and be interested. Ask questions. Men love it, love to talk about themselves. So do women of course but women are far more adept at conversation than men. I see flirting as an opportunity to practise confidence, self-assuredness. God knows we need that kind of medicine much as we need breath. When you live alone in the boondocks and listen to the sound of your own voice 24/7, a continent of space and time and silence between you and your twin, the social butterfly, one’s melancholic tendencies can’t resist the opportunity to swing violently between self-deprecation and turbulent emotion. Keeping the drama on the page is a useful technique in redirection, but despite my practises to quieten this lumpy terrain, eliminating the negative can be hard work. Needless to say, when I pop on a frock and venture out of the hills, I pop out of my self-centred maudlinism and into the space that encompasses others, that invites dialogue, that craves their knowledge and stories. It’s an elixir, the wheels that turn this woman’s lot into a fortunate life.

Sooner or later my well-honed skill is going to attract somebody strong enough, open to be challenged enough, charismatic enough, or interesting/interested enough to make flirting a thing of the past. Or will it?

Lessons in the art of flirting offered for a reasonable exchange.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This (avocado-inspired) Burringbar life

Other than the fact that the word Burringbar means ‘an implement of war’ or ‘long boomerang’ in Aboriginal mythology, I know precious little about the history nor habitants of my new surrounds. Given my aversion to war however, this association strikes me as rather ominous, a cause to worry even, and I’m damned if I need that, since my motivation for being here, according to the oath I penned a couple of months ago and which I’ve pasted in super large, middle-aged-vision-challenged text on my wall, is to devote 7 hours per day, 5 days a week to the process of writing, researching and reading. This requires commitment and discipline, so listen to me demons, there’s no seat in the house for war around here!

But regardless of whatever someone else’s version of Burringbar means, it’s time for the inventory of what brings me pleasure in this haven I’ve chosen as my inspiration.

Directly outside the window where I sit, two large avocado trees stand, impressively dignified and heavy with fruit, acting as constant reminders of the abundant nature of this thing called life, and when they fall, which they’ve taken to doing half hourly, it sounds like the exacting cut of an axe on a seasoned log (an aural prompt for winter perhaps?). This veritable mountain of creative dip - a dash of lime, a liberal sprinkling of cumin, some crushed garlic, and a lot of mashed avo - guacamole - is poised for invention, if only I had the time or inclination. Beyond the trees rests, wait for it, the avocado-shaped pool whose slimy walls career at 45 degrees from its rim into the centre making entry akin to a visit to Wet ‘n Wild, and exit something of a comedy routine. Mandarin, grapefruit, orange and lime trees overhanging the driveway stoop precariously under the weight of their crop and knock their way into the panels of my guilt each time I move the car. All that marmalade and juice, going to waste! Glossy black cockatoos and currawong carol and screech across the skies while Gladys and Gloria hen and their numerous cousins, wander the perimeter of the property occasionally engaging in a friendly banter with Travis the terrier and occasionally tormenting the octogenarian caretaker’s prize horses. Quack and her entourage skim across the surface of the dam, zigzagging their merry tracks through the green algae (mmm Peking Duck … where’s the gun?) while the bottom pond is awash with lilypads and teeming with the happy symphony of resident croak.

I’m living in botanical zoo heaven. I can hear myself think, I can feel myself feel, and I have the space to finally witness my every action without distraction. Methinks the likelihood of the occurrence of any conflict around here is destined to be merely a manifestation of my beastly mind!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Missing you

Signs of life and death proliferate, and those I hold dear are far away.

Spirited are the sugar snap pea seeds I planted a week ago, delicately but robustly pushing their way free of the soil and straw in the raised garden bed, their vulnerable white stems supporting tiny leaves which seem to tenuously defy the challenging dark clouds racing across the eastern sky. Meanwhile, rotting avocadoes, brown and cracked like soil that has endured decades of drought, are scattered randomly throughout the decaying leaf matter under the mossy gnarled trunk that supported their nurturance.

In a parallel universe, my best friend Sal sits in discomfort in her home across the Arafura sea waiting anxiously for news on the state of health of her beloved who has returned to Australia for tests. Pia weeps through our skype connection, floundering through the depression that has plagued her since her difficult transition back to the first world after the profound experience of community development work in India. Listening to their fears and uncertainties I feel a moon away from the companionship I so yearn to provide. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t take flight and land on the door of these dilemmas as my car has a potential cracked head and awaits its own diagnosis. What an interesting symbolic reminder of my need to stay put, to extend the hand of empathy and comfort from my new home on the Burringbar range and practise, with grace and humility, the traditions that cultivate the strength required to be a rock.

This melancholic moment.