Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ode to the ANZACs


Brothers and uncles, grandparents and gads

Babes to their mamas, and lovers and dads

With trust and honor they served our shore

Naivety and courage their distinguishing lore


When the fighting was done and they all returned home

The welcome was short, yet the life-time long

For the horrors of combat are enclosed in the mind

And the memories live on, the triggers grind


‘It’s bullshit’ he’d say with loaded expression

downing a claret to anaesthetize his depression

‘The glorification of war is demonstrably mad’

he reminded us yearly, which just made me sad


I was fine all morning till the bugle was played

At the market where all the fresh fruit is displayed

The diggers were two in their medals and stripes

And the tears flowed freely, for suffering, for hype



Lest we forget


Monday, April 21, 2014

A seamstress' Rite of Passage

I sew, therefore I am! Said nobody ever. The functionality of my sewing machines is what I love, although I think I’d still prefer a motorbike. At least you can go places. 

Lately I’ve been sewing again. After a long spell. Because I couldn’t get a job. I didn’t want any of them, but that’s irrelevant. Here’s what I’ve been making. They're made from old woolen blankets.
And they're for sale!

In the early years I’d take up the hems on my dresses to within a millimetre of my arse, whilst fiercely guarding the bedroom door lest mum discover my shameless pursuits. As much as possible I endured, but avoided her silent, grievous look. This was the late 60s and besides, I was told I had good legs. Despite having knock-knees, pidgeon toes and wearing orthopaedic shoes as a child! In the 70s I made most of my work clothes, fancy three piece pin-stripe suits, lace and linen ensembles, backless satin evening dresses. The latter I christened one night on the way home from the Hofbrauhaus in the Dandenongs by throwing up all over it, only hours after finishing it. Classy! In Alexandria, in Egypt in the early 80s I meticulously hand sewed a red gathered skirt to distract myself from shitting water a hundred times a day whilst nursing myself through an acute bout of amoebic dysentry. A few years later, when Phil and I lost our first child, Carla, at birth, I made dozens of tiny white night-dresses for SIDS babies. Carla’s little nightie that I found recently, after a very long time, made me sad. I made our later kids’ clothes, dinosaur and cat suits, but generally I just draped them like rubber mannequins in whatever happened to be my textile fetish at the time. There’s been wedding dresses, bronze chiffon ones, and black emo ones, and period costume for stage and film including an impressive (impressively large) ostrich-skin codpiece. As wardrobe mistress for one of Juliet Lamont’s first documentary short films, The Players, I relished the opportunity to dress two prostitutes. Corsets and stilettos. Now we're talking! 

Mostly though, I’ve undermined my inner needleworker. A combo of mediocre self-esteem, combined with a general belief that every woman sewed, didn’t they, like learning to set the table during home economics at school, or having to check in at the clinic for a Pap smear every so often. You just didn’t talk about it, did you? Well, you mightn’t! 

Anyhow, after a long 40+ year initiation, I’ve grown up, and bought two industrial machines. I’ve grown up to the extent that I’ve even put a dollar value on my capacity to thread a needle (does this needle actually HAVE a fucking hole, and if so, WHERE?) from the right direction. I’m seriously expensive (but I trade ... seeds, vegetables, overseas trips), and I’m worth it!
Here's my new housemates.
This is Bess. She’s named in honor of my maternal grandma who taught me to sew with patience and skill, and the heady smell of Craven A and burnt white toast. Thanks for the life-long nicotine habit Grandma! Bess is the older of the two machines, and when I look at her, she inspires a direct memory link to my old 70s stamping ground, Northcote. All grey, sinister, resilient and dependable. She’s my straight stitcher, and she rocks!
And here's Sissy. Color, sass and subversion are her hallmarks and she represents my paternal nana. She's everything Italian and the woman I credit with my passion for international textiles and cultural difference. Home was Villa Bereguardo, in Diamond Creek, and now that I think of it, her rolling hills, lemon-scented gums and deep valleys symbolize my own personal rite of passage, from young girl to young woman. My humming overlocker.

I think I'm going to like my new job. It’s practical and social. And sexy! I get to put my arms around strangers waists. And between their legs. This is as good as it gets.
Open for Business