I have a square white ceramic pot
of chives and a long terra cotta coloured pot of gota cola. Both plants are
thriving from all the hot sunshine interspersed with heavy rain. So is the
plant in the small round white ceramic pot. I am pleased to see them flourishing.
I feel a responsibility to Karen and Manfred who gave me these precious gifts
when they went travelling. I must keep them all alive to show my appreciation.
And indeed I do appreciate. I thought I would quickly use up the chives but
they keep growing back long and strong. There is always more to add to my
salad. And the gota cola is wildly abundant. I know I must have only three
leaves a day to help my memory. I could feed the whole town!
The inside of the glass is still wet. Only a few moments ago someone was drinking from it. The crossword has been started. A small red pen is lying beside it with the top off. There is a crumpled tissue further along the table. The electric fan is going full pelt.
Another exercise in writing as someone else. These are what I imagine her thoughts would be if she could come to visit.
So much clutter. She's still got her Christmas cards up. Those couches
are nice. The cushions don't match. I remember that table. What a beautiful picture. Oh, that's the one from the cover of
Andrew's book. It's quite a spacious unit, really, nice for Housing Department.
At least she's comfortable. I like the open plan but I wonder why she has to
have her office in the living room. It's not what I'd like for myself, but it
seems to suit her. I wouldn't like to have to go up and down those front steps
too often. But I'm glad she's got those good rails in the bathroom, to hang on
to; I feel more secure. I wish she'd get rid of those big fake flowers. She says they have
sentimental value. I think they look silly. I wish she'd at least put them in
another room. She looks well, I will say that.
Written as Helena, volunteer. (We are asked to write as
someone else, real or fictional. )
I was standing by the counter, sorting some bits and pieces. Stan was sitting behind it, ready to take people's money. But there were only the two of us in there. It was nearly 4 o'clock.
This woman came in. She had white hair and a bright pink T-shirt,
and she was wearing lots of rings and pendants.
She picked up one of the long rolls of shiny paper in the big
basket next to the counter.
'A moon calendar,' I said.
'Of course,' she replied, with a grin. '$7.50. It's been the
same price for years.'
'I didn't know that,' I said. 'We just volunteer here sometimes.'
And that was the start of it. Somehow I found myself telling her
all about us and our interests and worries. She really listened.
I found out she had a bit of a walk back to her car. I wrapped
her calendar in two plastic bags (recycled) with a rubber band around them, in
case it rained.
I told her we were moving house, and what a job it was to pack
all our books. She told us she couldn't help herself when it came to buying
books, despite having embraced e-books, because the second-hand shops kept
offering treasures for next to nothing. Her home was overflowing with books, she said.
She showed me the one she was carrying.
'I wasn't going to get anything today, but I was passing the
Salvos and there was this gem for a dollar. What can you do?'
'We've got some second-hand books here for a dollar each,' I said. She hesitated, then went to have a look. She picked one up,
flicked through the pages, and tucked it under her arm. 'Damn!' she said to herself.
She picked up another, turned it over, opened it and read a bit,
and hung on to that one too. 'Damn!' she said softly again. Then she came over to the
counter and bought them both.
I found another plastic bag for them and the one she already had.
(Not such a small stone this time — but we were asked to do a written 'still life' and this seems to be where it belongs.)
What you can’t see is
the scent. Exquisite scent! We all know what roses smell like; we can recall in memory
the fragrance of the darkest red rose or the sweetest pink. This is different.
It’s that smell with something else blended in, almost like a manufactured
perfume — a touch of the exotic, a heady scent that, if it went a fraction
further, would be too sweet. But it doesn’t and it isn’t; it’s perfect.
What you can see is
the shapely purple vase,mulberry
purple, transparent but dimly so. What you can see is the single rose it holds — the
cluster of bright green leaves spreading over the brim; the slender inch of
stem; and then the bloom: white, edged with red. It’s a tiny rose, open but not
voluptuous, not profuse. You can still see the etched edge of every petal, and
the dark spaces nestling between. The red — more plum than mulberry in this
case — is only at the back of the flower, edging the outer petals. A jam stain ... some freshly shed blood already getting old, its red deepening. Darkening.
The white is more like
What you can’t see is
that the glass vase is slippery, cool. The round bulge below the rim is
symmetrical, hard. Just below it is the place to grasp, and when I do it
feels satisfying to my hand: just the right circumference, just the right
What you can see is
that the inverted cone of the glass then flares out to a wider base. You can
see that the rose is already slightly old, and that it will probably be one of
those which shrinks gradually in, going back to a bud shape again, only
wrinkled — rather than one of those blowsy ones from which the petals drop.
What you can’t see is
that this was a gift from a friend, who shared with me her birthday roses (and
also her birthday cake, but there is nothing left of that). Her name is Angela,
and she is a good angel.
I also made a picture, though not in paint — and gained a new respect for the careful way in which still life paintings, which look so spontaneous, must be posed. Even the wonderful ones by Margaret Olley, whose studio — lovingly recreated in the Tweed River Art Gallery — appears to be in such random chaos.
I stepped outside my back door and a big butterfly, white wings
edged in orange, brown and lacy black, rose from the jade bush and danced in
front of me, fluttering from one side of the small yard to the other, circling
back, and back again, zooming right in close to my face, but not in a
threatening way; it felt friendly. It felt like a display. After a little while
I pulled my phone from my pocket and tried to take a photo — snap, snap, snap,
chasing the butterfly with the phone, never quick enough to catch it in one
spot before it had flitted to the next. It never stopped, just kept on dancing,
pirouetting, its big wings dipping and flowing. At length I thought I'd check
to see if I had captured it in any photos. I looked down at the screen, away
from it. No, of course I had notgot it. When I looked back up, it had quietly gone. Over the fence and
away, as soon as I stopped paying attention.
Closer examination of the snaps revealed that I had caught it a few times — but in flight, blurry or only half there. In reality it looked exactly like a beautiful, well-formed butterfly, not these strange forms. (These are extreme crops, miniscule sections of photos that at first did not seem to include it, and then only as tiny spots.)
He’s a creature of habit and ritual, this old cat. He likes his nightly
smooch in front of the telly. Tonight I am not watching. He sprawls on the
coffee table and cries out. He sounds as if he wants food or to be let out the
door, but it’s neither of those things. He is not at the food bowl. He is not
at the door. He doesn’t stop calling until I get up from my computer, walk
over, reach down and scratch behind his ears and under his chin; until I tell
him what a good and beautiful fellow he is; until I butt heads with him gently;
until I fetch the comb and remove his excess fur. ’I could weave it into a rug,’
I tell him. He purrs.
These flowers are called sun jewels, little yellow cups on the
ends of long leafy stems. They respond to the sun, opening on sunny days and
closing in dark or rain. They are growing too long for the tiny pot I put them
In weeks ago when I first got them. Would they make good ground cover? Perhaps
not; they reach up as if stretching towards the light.
Just a few, first thing in the morning, on the kitchen floor. My old black cat is not too old to catch the extra supper I denied him. Feathers in shades of grey, in two sizes, some underlined in white. Some tiny blobs, also, of grey fluff. No corpse, no entrails, no blood. I remonstrate weakly and fetch the brush and pan. He looks at me bold-faced; it's time for breakfast.
I light a candle to write by -- to make, for writing, a sacred space. The candle is white, tinged with shades of purple, variegated, swirling. There's a tear-shaped swirl at the bottom, three parallel arcs at the top. In between are stipples, gradations, and meandering flame-like lines. There are changes of colour from top to bottom, through blue to hot pink. The actual flame appears to be stretching, elongating, reaching up. For several days, huge fires have been burning in the Adelaide Hills.
I'm doing another 'mindful writing' course offered by Satya and Kaspa, just because their courses are such nice things to do from time to time. This one is called Finding Your Way Home. For no reason except whimsy, I decided to make this first small stone of the course a series of American Sentences, a Western form of haiku devised by Allen Ginsberg (17 syllables each).