The 1/4 Pounding

The ¼ Pounding, a play about friendship, expectations and the quarter life crisis, had a sell-out season in Wellington, a four star run at Adelaide Fringe 2012 and received rave reviews. Last night, I was happily able to attend its Victorian premiere performance for Melbourne Fringe at Revolt Melbourne Artspace.

The venue itself is super cool and eclectic, the staff friendly and the service brilliant. I arrived with friends an hour early and reclined in soft leather couches while the band played cheesy lounge music and the crowds drifted in and out. When the show started we sat in the front row and braced ourselves for shared memories and revelations. We were not to be disappointed.

The play begins in the excitement of youth. We follow the loves, losses, trials and tribulations of Rachel and Julie, friends who embark on the journey of starting out together. They’ve just finished uni and are ready to take on the world. There’s career and travel, love and babies to look forward to. Laughs abounded and poignancy shone. From the high falutin’ aspirations to the dead end jobs, the excitement of the big OE (going overseas) to the dead-end jobs OE, the belief in ‘the one’ true love and babies galore to speed-dating and the desperate belief in fortune-tellers, The ¼ Pounding resonates.

Mel Dodge and Nicola Colson give superb performances, morphing into character seamlessly, with an honesty and hilarity that draws the audience in. A two woman show with minimal props, the script is given room to shine. In exploring the ups and downs of friendship and the highs and lows of life, Dodge and Colson bounce and reflect off one another in a way that delights, leaving us with the message that sometimes life has a way of choosing for you, so relax and enjoy the ride.

Whether you have the quarter life crisis to look forward to, are in the thick of it, or remember it well, you won’t want to miss The ¼ Pounding.

Playing at Revolt Melbourne – Theatrette until the 14th of October at 10pm, excepting Sunday which is at 8pm.

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Nanna’s Place

First, the elevator. The long ride up in the stench of piss and stale cigarettes. The grey metal clunking back to reveal the paint-chipped door of Nanna’s.

Mum’s hair long and thick swinging before us as she knocks. Nanna, grey curls and wheezing breath, in the door before us. A round table with four chairs, brown plastic placemat before each. A bench like a window looking into the kitchen. Orange curtains. Home-made sausage rolls baking in the oven, boiled-meat scent swampimg the cramped quarters.

On the left the living room, always in darkness with TV flickering. Dougie sitting before it. For years we thought Dougie was just another word for Grandpa, turns out it was just his name. He was my Nan’s boyfriend and father to none. But he remained our Dougie. I heard of his death many years after hers, how he died alone. I think a couple of us went to his funeral, not me but a couple of them made it.

Go straight through the dining area and into the kitchen, turn left at the second door and you reach a small hallway. I slipped there and hit my head on the wooden frame of the door; vision blood-soaked and reddened, twenty-five stitches right in the middle of my forehead. My cousin did the same thing in the same place a couple of months later. There was a mat, see, so when you ran down the hallway and landed at the end it would slip right out from under you. Nan got rid of it after the second time.

The kid’s room is first on the left, then Nanna’s room, at the end a sewing room and on the right a bathroom. Nanna died in the kid’s room. She had an asthma attack. They say she went there to be closer to her grandchildren. I was nine and thought I’d killed her because she’d hit me on my last vist and it had exhausted her. Children! We are so sure we are the centre of the universe.

***

Nanna lived in the commission flats. An overriding sense of depression clouds my memories of that place.

She had a brother, messed up from the war. She used to slap him upside the head all the time. He’d just sit there, food dribbled chin. He scared us with his vacancy and his constant wet smile.

I remember raspberry tarts and raspberry cordial and raspberry jam. She’d say I’d turn into a raspberry if I wasn’t careful.

She fought with Mum and Dad all the time. Said they weren’t fit. Mum said Nanna was an alcoholic. That’s why Mum doesn’t drink.

***

We used to love it when she gave us money to go to the commission shop and buy mixed lollies. Half-cent lollies.

We’d go over to Prahran swimming pool and spend the whole day there with our cousins. Just us, no adults nagging. Lips stained red by icy-poles. Afterward we’d take the elevator up, up to her apartment and soak in a warm bath. Then sit beside her on the couch with her aged hands entwined in our water-logged fingers.

I got two black eyes from a girl half my size in the playground at the base of the stairs. We knew her as Googie. She was king shit of the commission play areas. She told me she could see my undies while I was standing on the swing, swaying back and forth, minding my own business. All I said was at least I had some on. Girls like that don’t take nicely to talk like that. I think I was six.

There was a forbidden stairwell. Where a man was known to play with himself and watch kids. We would dare each other to run past. Double-dare. Go up the staircase. I dare you. No, you do it. The call of the darkness of that stairwell was a constant black whisper. From the slide in the playground you could see its shadows beckoning us across the way. We had our own mysterious ways of learning life lessons when we were young. The way we’d torture each other with our fears, egging each other on to yet more foolishness.

I can’t remember ever seeing Nanna outside of the dimness of those high-rise walls. We would run wild with our cousins who lived in commission flats across the way and around the corner. They were so much tougher than us, little flower-children that we were. We wouldn’t come home till dinner. Then bath-time and warm in clean pyjamas we’d sit by her side watching TV or reading stories.

Nanna was warm and soft when she hugged you and she smelt of jasmine. Looking back now I think she was trying to make up for something with us, something she missed in raising her own kids.

***

I hated those flats. I hated the way Nanna talked to my parents. She scared me when she spoke of taking us away from them. How she could be so nice and then turn so mean in the same breath. But I loved my Nanna. I loved her cooking. I loved that she loved me. I often imagine her surrounded by crayoned drawings, gasping for breath. I hope being close to us, her grandchildren, helped her…somehow.

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Jane Austen is Dead, long live Jane Austen

Jane Austen is Dead, a one-woman show performed by actor Mel Dodge, has been running at the Owl and the Pussycat for the past week and a half, and with only four performances to go I took myself off to see what all the fuss was about.

Upon arrival at the venue I was struck by its quirkiness, from the creepy marionette behind the bar to the skeleton reclining in the stairwell to the upright piano, above which a blackboard offered us the Mr Darcy cocktail. Would that I could have partaken of this but alas, it was a lemonade night for me. The friendly bartender did, however, offer a slice of lime stating that ‘lime makes everything better’ (it’s true, it does!). Turns out, it was just the right touch of optimism for the show to follow.

The closeness of the performance area was the perfect setting for an evening with Austen. The scene was set all in white, with shelves filled with curiosities, a bar upon which stood a posy of white orchids and a portrait of Austen watching over all.

From the moment Dodge entered the room by candlelight till she snuffed the candle in the final act, I was transported into the life of Sophie, a thirty-something Austen-obsessed bar-proprietress. With her ex marrying the next day, Sophie is contemplating a lifetime of searching for Mr Darcy. While taken on a whirlwind journey through her encounters with modern day Mister’s Willoughby, Wickham, Bingley and Collins, we are regaled with her misadventures in the dating world. From RSVP to blind dates and meeting someone at the pub; from first kisses, to one night stands, adultery, and long-term partners; Dodge’s masterful character changes through both sexes are hilarious and a sign of the consummate artist.

The range Dodge portrays is extraordinary, from Sophie to her employee, Mary, a naiveté in love, torturing herself over texting and Facebook stalking after one date: ‘if he doesn’t text me soon he’s going to lose me…Maybe he’s dead?’ From Theresa the barfly – who had me in hysterics, to the drunken bride’s words of wisdom to her bridesmaid regarding ‘the seven steps of desperation.’ You will find yourself spluttering with laughter, often.

But perhaps most telling in this wonderful piece is that beneath all the humour and the glimpses of self-recognition you may find in certain tales, there is poignancy and an honesty that shines through. And what I departed with, after all the laughs had died down, was a sense of being comfortable with oneself. Of never settling for less than what you truly want and deserve. And hopefully, all you truly want will be found within.

Sophie said it best when she quoted Austen close to the end, ‘Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.’

Jane Austen is Dead is playing at The Owl and the Pussycat, Friday 18-Saturday 19 at 7pm; and Sunday 20 at 3pm.  For those single women still searching for Mr Darcy and those who aren’t, for those married or settled, for those men wanting some insight into a women’s mind or just a hearty chuckle, this show is for all. Don’t miss it!

http://www.owlandcat.com.au/janeausten.html

Posted in jane austen, jane austen is dead, review, the owl and the pussycat, theatre | Leave a comment

Clunes Booktown Festival Part 1

I had the good fortune of being able to attend Clunes Booktown Festival this weekend past. We took off around 8am on our mini road trip across Victoria. I’d been a little late as I’d forgotten to pack music and had to turn back and get some, one must not attempt a road trip without tunes. However, having not caught up for some time we chattered all the way there and the music stayed in its particularly furry blue cover (a remnant of Felix’ younger days). The time passed quickly, with a brief stop to admire the tumbling haystacks that took our fancy.

Hay bales leaning every which way.

 Upon arrival, we found that the campground was situated in prime position for the festival and that we were the only ones roughing it (there were many a caravan and campervan, even a bus, but no tents). We set up tent immediately and then took off to see the sights. First up, a spot of morning tea. A chai latte with pistachio & dark chocolate cookie went down a treat and we sat ensconced in white plastic chairs, taking in the stalls and people while the Creswick Brass Band played ‘Hey Jude.’

Puppeteer takes a break.

Taking a stroll along the book stalls, rummaging through box after box of treasures, I bought three books in the first ten minutes. David Malouf’s ‘Johnno’, a beautiful old copy of George Elliot’s ‘Adam Bede’ with illustrations, and a quirky little number published in 1953 titled ‘Bedside Humour’ by Howard Stackman. With chapters such as ‘Browsing in Bed,’ ‘Beds in Motion,’ ‘Strange Bedfellows’ and ‘Bed of Reason’, and having opened it to an Oscar Wilde anecdote, I felt it a necessary purchase. Who knows, it may be awful but won’t each page be an adventure? 😉

Books! Who’d have thunk it?

The first event we attended was ‘Writing Self, Writing Family’ with Anna Goldsworthy and Alice Pung. Alice spoke of her latest book ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ – about her father, Cambodia, China and Melbourne; and her first, ‘Unpolished Gem’- on growing up in the Western Suburbs. I was struck by the difference in which she handled both of these novels and am intrigued to read them in the future when I have time to read novels of my own choice again. She was very down to earth and spoke with humour and grace. Anna also spoke with honesty on family and her memoir ‘Piano Lesson’s’ (more on Anna in Part 2). Though the fire alarm went off in the café next door every couple of minutes, and the constant murmur of festival-goers hobnobbing beyond the wide open doors never subsided, the room was filled with a comfortable laughter and sharing of stories.

Hay bale maze for the kiddies and any of the young-at-heart.

We had to leave during question time and dash off to grab lunch before the next event, ‘Behind the Shock Machine – did science go too far?’, started. The Turkish gozlemes were worth the wait and we shared two plates between us (one pumpkin and onion; the other, spinach, feta and mushroom) both with a drizzle of lemon and yogurt. We dipped and devoured as the speakers readied and then finally delved into The Milgrim Experiment. Lynne Malcom chaired while Gina Perry and Justin Oakley gave us their thoughts. This event went for an hour and a half and covered so much ground that it is probably worthy of a separate blog entry. Suffice to say, it was truly fascinating (particularly the revelation of the Milgrim experiments held at La-Trobe in the 70s) and I will be purchasing a copy of Gina’s ‘Behind the Shock Machine’ at a later date.

Lunchtime crowds. Punch and Judy.

Earlier in the day we had attempted to book a table for dinner at the local pub but found they were booked out. So after another stroll through town, visiting the gorgeous Wesley Bluestone Church and the Town Hall (the inside of which I adored with its mural across the back wall and high windows shining shafts of dusty light upon books and more books), and buying a scarf for $1 from the local op-shop (I may not have packed appropriately for the weather), we got in the car and drove the 30 odd kilometres to Maryborough. We found a local pub, ordered a vegie burger and a chicken parma and observed the local fauna in their natural habitat. We drove back in the pitch black that is a country road. There really is something wonderful about hurtling down the road entombed in a rattling beast in the depths of darkness. It’s where dreams come.

A drink at the local before bed.

We turned in early and slept fitfully in the freezing night. I highly recommend booking accommodation in advance if you wish for comfort. In any case, it was nice to wake to the fresh cold air and ready ourselves for another day of festivities. Who am I kidding? It was cold, so very cold, and I had no asthma pump and wheezed my way around and the yoga mat I’d brought to sleep on turned into a glacier during the night. But that days activities did entice.

More on Sunday’s adventures next time.

xxx

Posted in Clunes Booktown Festival, reading, writing | 7 Comments

Instagram and Instaburb

Well, the most exciting thing to happen to me in awhile and I forgot to post about it.

Some time ago I found out I’d made it through as a finalist in the Instagram challenge, Instaburb. Run by Michael Baranovic (@mishobaranovic) and Oliver Lang (@oggsie) – two mobile photographers whom I respect and admire (their work is stunning) – in October 2011, Instaburb was a challenge that sought to capture the beauty of suburbia.

I was stoked to hear that I was a finalist (I’m @jext by the way):

There were to be 50 finalists who would all get their shots printed in a beautiful book created by Blurb and also a one night exhibition in Melbourne and then Sydney to launch it. The 10 winners would receive a copy of the book.

So the months went by and I got stuck into studying, no longer could I roam the city streets or take day trips searching for light and that perfect shot. Instead, stuck to my computer and too much time in my mind. The life of the writer. Balance is nice, I’m working on it.

The launch draws near and I RSVP to the event, looking forward to seeing all the fabulous shots displayed and to get my hands on the book. But alas, I was unable to make it due to – a family situation I think I’ll call it. I sighed, I even moped a little, and waited for the info on how to purchase a copy.

But lo and behold, suddenly my phone lights up with a message from Instagram. What’s this? Another image I wasn’t even aware had made the final cut was one of the ten winners. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Or just watched on, as my family did, while I jumped and whooped like a banshee.

There’s my shot, from Truganina. And for those of you thinking, Trugawhatta? It’s between Laverton and Werribee, there’s a prison there. This is the pony club, deserted and lonely on a week day, on the weekends it’s full of life and laughter.

So that’s my story, sorry for tooting my own horn ( as you can see, I’m trying to use as many cliche phrases as possible), but sometimes it just has to be done. 🙂

If you’re on Instagram, follow @mishobaranovic and @oggsie. You won’t regret it, their work is striking. You can also check out http://mishobaranovic.tumblr.com/ and, if you are interested, the book at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3075172 .

Enjoy!

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Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Australia Day: twisted truths and silenced voices

The windows shudder as hands pound rhythmically on the cool surface. More bodies press in together. The words ‘shame’ and ‘racist’ chanted between each beat. A solid tune starts emerging as the people continue in anger, in pain. Past the smooth dark reflection of the windows, a crowd of nervous smiles, Abbott smug, Gillard unruffled. Hands are held high with a myriad of mobile devices filming, photographing, recording. And still they keep beating against the glass wall, calling for justice, wanting to be heard.

Australia Day 2012, also the 40th Anniversary of the Tent Embassy, erupted into a display of the inherent racism hidden within our society. Through the words of Abbott inciting angry protest at the Lobby Restaurant in Canberra; the subsequent reactionary behaviour of the security detail; the political manipulations; and misrepresentation by media we are shown the true face of stifled growth regarding reconciliation. These events bring to light how little society knows about the Aboriginal Embassy, its history and importance, and those from all walks of life who attended the weekend commemoration. And sadly, the hype surrounding the events of 26th January take from the real issues and problems at hand and what the Embassy represents.

On that same date in 1972, four Aboriginal men – Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Coorey – set up camp on the lawns of Old Parliament House. Earlier that month Prime Minister William ‘Billy’ McMahon had announced his policy to lease land back to the Aboriginal people, instead of granting land rights. This prompted the young men to travel to Canberra and set up the Embassy. Their objectives then, and now, were: sovereignty, land rights, a treaty and self-determination. They held a tent conference with Federal Opposition Leader, Gough Whitlam, in which they presented their five-point plan for land rights:

‘1) Control of the Northern Territory as a State within the Commonwealth of Australia; the parliament in the NT to be predominantly Aboriginal with the title and mining rights to all land within the Territory;

2) Legal title and mining rights to all other presently existing reserve lands and settlements throughout Australia;

3) The preservation of all sacred sites throughout Australia;

4) Legal title and mining rights to areas in and around all Australian capital cities; and

5) Compensation monies for lands not returnable to take the form of a down payment of six billion dollars and an annual percentage of the gross national income’ (Newfong, J 1972).

Whitlam responded that a Labor Government would reverse the controversial land rights policy, address the issue of a properly representative body in the Northern Territory and a protection of sacred sites.

Close to six months later federal police (by order of McMahon) knocked down the Embassy while those inside their tents slept, resulting in violent clashes between police and protestors and the closing down of the Embassy for a short time. The Embassy existed in some form at various locations around Canberra until 1992 when it took up permanent residency on the lawns of Old Parliament. The photo of the four men sitting outside Parliament all those years ago in ’72, with a placard made from the words ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ written on an open manila folder and tied with safety pins and shoelaces to an umbrella for shelter, went global. It was a powerful image of the displaced and a most successful protest that forced the Aboriginal plight into mainstream media, worldwide.

We arrived at the Embassy on the Wednesday, the night before Australia Day 2012. It was our first visit and in searching for the Embassy we travelled up the hill to Parliament, passing the gated and security-covered enclave for that night’s Australia Day celebrations, and came back down the hill to old Parliament where a scattering of tents greeted us. Smoke drifted from the Sacred Fire as we made our way to the chai tent in search of an Elder to seek permission for our stay. We were welcomed and set up camp as the sun slowly set and six jet planes flew overhead performing daredevil tricks just above the tree-line to the roar of the appreciative crowd up the hill. In the night we had our tea by the light of other’s fires and fell asleep to the strumming of guitars and the humming of voices.

Settling in for the night.

When we woke, somewhat refreshed aside from the 2am cries of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’ as the partygoers from up the hill headed home, we collected our hats and sunscreen and took off by foot to the meeting point in central Canberra for the forthcoming march. The atmosphere when we arrived was comfortable, a sense of family as one greeted a long unseen face with pleasure, and anticipation. There was heartfelt anger and loss through spoken word, traditional dance and didgeridoo. We marched through the city streets, over the bridge and up the hill to Parliament. The usual catchphrases were called and repeated. People were smiling, meeting new people, learning from one another. We arrived back at the Embassy for the smoking ceremony then sat on the lawns to hear the stories of the people and the Elders: those that began the Embassy forty years before and their ongoing battle to be heard, those from the younger generation who spoke with anger of the continuing deafness of Australian society and their feelings of enforced muteness when really they’re screaming to be heard. This was when Barbara Shaw spoke, was interrupted and then broke the news of Abbott’s words and whereabouts.

Clouds loom as Barbara Shaw speaks.

Much has been made of Abbott’s comments on the day, the way in which they were transferred to Barbara Shaw, and the disparity between what she was told and what was actually said. All we saw was her incredulous look as someone spoke to her, she asked the person to repeat themselves, and then informed us that Abbott had just made a statement that it was time for the Embassy to be pulled down and he was over at the Lobby Restaurant, near the rose garden. Regardless of what was said and what was passed on, some focus needs to be put on what Abbott did say:

‘Look, I can understand why the Tent Embassy was set up all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. We had the proposal which is currently for national consideration to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution. I think the Indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian’ (Abbott, T 2012).

Now aside from the incredible condescension and inaccuracy of that last sentence, Abbott seems to not recognise how very little the Aboriginal people feel has been achieved since first setting up  camp. As Chris Graham states in his article, ‘The tent embassy: fact v fiction, black v white’, ‘the Tent Embassy was set up “all those years ago” because Aboriginal people were demanding national land rights, a treaty and sovereignty. Call me a cynic, but last time I checked, there is still no treaty, still no national land rights, and still no recognition of sovereignty’ (Graham, C 2012 http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/02/15/the-tent-embassy-fact-v-fiction-black-v-white/ ). Not to mention new issues such as the racially discriminatory Northern Territory intervention, black deaths in custody, or the dismantling of bilingual education. Tony Abbott either knew exactly what the repercussions of his comment would be, which is reprehensible, or he really was clueless, which is incompetent.

On arrival at the lobby we were met with three ineffectual security guards who were swept aside within seconds. ‘Come out and say it to our face, Tony!’ was the first call, and then the beating on windows and rhythmic chanting of ‘shame’ and ‘racist’. There were those who stood back recording, such as myself; there were people standing on tables and chairs, on the street. An Elder wound his way through the crowd, informing others that the police were on their way with teargas, it was okay to leave. I stood back from the main crowd and so saw the first wave of riot police arrive, the sinister sliding on of leather gloves, hands behind backs resting on batons. The dogs. From the first it was clear that it was overkill, they were brutish. The scene plastered around the world, of the Prime Minister falling as she was rushed away to a waiting vehicle, was entirely at the hands of those supposed to protect her. Not one person would have harmed either Gillard or Abbott – sure, it was an angry crowd seeking to be heard, but in no way was it a ‘riot’. Once both dignitaries had left the building the police turned on the crowd. There were some officers who remained calm but there were those who didn’t and they were pumped up and hyper. An elderly lady was shoved into a flower bed, a young woman lifted from her feet and thrown aside; there was a viciousness in the eyes of the ‘protector’, a spittle-flecked chin. The riot police had their ‘riot’, but it was all of their own making. The elders started moving amongst the crowd, telling us all to head back to the campsite. And all of this was recorded by mobile phone and media, all of it.

Confrontation.

But what did mainstream media report? A ‘violent riot’ on behalf of the protestors, a distraught Gillard leaning heavily on her bodyguard, a lost shoe, a bewildered Abbott (who has fought tirelessly to understand the Aboriginal plight), and a burning flag. Comments filled with racial hatred went unchecked on major websites. Alongside pages of outrage titled ‘Tent Embassy Furore’, The Canberra Times printed a story proclaiming that ‘…our study has revealed that indigenous adolescents are, on average, as happy with their lives as the general Australian population…’ (Soch, P 2012, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/aboriginal-teens-score-high-in-test-for-happiness-20120127-1t779.html), a fascinating turnaround from five pages before where the front cover showed a young Indigenous girl burning the Australian flag. Her words and actions that day did not appear ‘happy’, here was a girl representative of today’s Aboriginal youth shouting her anger and feelings of disempowerment to the world. The thirty-second news grabs that the media flourishes in no way represent the actual happenings at grassroots level.

So, the windows shuddered and the voices called to be heard on that day. The dark reflections of white faces peered back out at them. The message got distorted but was certainly heard. Not one crack appeared in the panes, no shattering of glass walls shedding light on that moment. Just the continuing chanting of a people, faceless and marginalised, yearning for equality.

Smoking Ceremony.

Posted in aboriginal tent embassy, australia day, mobile photography, photography | 4 Comments

Illness, insomnia and the Easter weekend

A week of illness and insomnia has passed me by leaving in it’s trace vague memories of awkward interactions and babbling incoherence. Most enjoyable was the school term ending and having some time to spend with my boy before he head off to his Dad’s for a week.

We spent Good Friday setting up camp in the backyard and then took Scout for some much needed exercise at Altona Dog Beach.

Felix and Scout

The evening was spent tent bound with wild winds lashing at the flimsy material. A spattering of hail; a flickering light; a howling from a banshee grandma outside; stirred up fears of the unknown making snuggling under the doona all the nicer. We played a round of Rummikub, and settled in with hot chocolates to tell each other made-up stories of ghosts, goblins, snot and poo. We fell asleep three to the bed, Felix’ arms wrapped around Scout and mine around Felix.

Saturday morning was spent searching for hidden chocolate joy until his Dad picked him up. Sunday morning I woke early and restless. So I took off in the wee hours for a drive out Ballan way, in search of light and adventure. After heading down the Western Fwy,  which even in the early-hour scarcity of traffic still carried hooligans hurtling down its length, I arrived in the still sleepy town and first visited the Old Ballan Cemetery. Not much to see, but peaceful and quiet, the cows in the paddock beyond more took my fancy. The friskiness of the calves as they ran pell mell gave me some measure of joy and I sat awhile, letting my mind drift.

I then took off to Mt Egerton, it was still before 9am and I thought if there was any chance of a coffee and newspaper at a cafe on Easter Sunday I would have to wait until at least after 9, the drive was short and filled with yellow fields and brown dirt where sheep blended like chameleons amongst rocky outcrops. An occasional cow looked upon the road with its mournful eye.

Yellow fields

The greenness of Mt Egerton was lush and the morning light filtered softly across the small town.

Mt Egerton

I stayed awhile, had a little chat with a couple of horses (promised I’d bring apples next time), walked a bit, sat down and read some Blake. Lovely really is the only right word for it and I decided, on the spot, that I would call and arrange to stay at Dom’s place nearby for a couple of days this week and write. Idyllic writing country this.

I got back in the old red beast that is my car and my confidante on these journeys of mine and took back to Ballan, hoping for that coffee. A lone chimney caught my eye and so I stopped and wandered some more.

Lone chimney

I do love the colours of this country. Light was elusive on my Sunday morning drive and tricky to capture. But the ease within, the quiet solitude solaced, was enough.

By the lone chimney

Of course, when I arrived in Ballan no coffee was to be had. The main street was teeming with early morning church-goers and I drove past watching them in their Sunday best. All those lives, each one of them the star of their own story, passing by.

I got back on the freeway and headed toward home, the light now shining through in fitful bursts across the asphalt, toward an an evening of hijinks with my larrikin nephews and nursing a restful heart.

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