Change only ever happens forever

20200113_092253 (002)

Dusk is approaching in all its hues of greys and blues, tinged in the palest of peaches and apricot blooms. In the gloom is the speckling of orange blossoms that twinkle as the signifying promise of the new.

Wisping clouds and heavy snowfall swill over mountain peaks, for a merging of line and lust as dusk grows ever darker. A quiet deriding veils in to blowing winds that howl and wail. It’s the ominous warning of what’s to come.

In the dusking light, the dark looms in anxious wait, pondering how big the risk, how big the devastation and change it will ejaculate.

And from its miraging wait, it powers in, muscling in force of fear and dread of the unseen, a don’t-mess-with-me brash. It brings the formidable, the trembling and spinning. Snow squalls and fireball blizzards, lashing in pitting and pelting on the whim of the wind. Rain and hail and snow and ice, fire and spark, together they become the one gale of gusting force.

It’s here. Inescapable. Darkness void of any light, blinded in a flogging fog and smoking smog.

And yet in the dark, is where it happens; in the dark is where the greatest of us is born. Big and small, great and tall, it can linger fearful and bashful, or screech promiscuous in cockatiel call.

Any which way it comes, it comes for one and all.

Whether bumbling through the blurring of fire-balling winds, or hopping and skipping over rocks, embers and charred out remains littering ice and sleet, it comes with a taunt in gnarling roar over mountains spiked in slivering soar.

Over ravines and avalanches of ashen valleys, it comes unceremoniously, it comes blatantly broad.

In the dash of ill health or dire of loss, as a swoop and swing of the axe, a shatter of a broken heart, life drained to an end.

The crush, the smash, the raze of the driest of tinder box, it comes in blasts of blacks and blings, in shearing calamity. It’s the change that must come for any hint of the bloom of the new.

It’s always the way, always comes with a distress and pain, loss and dire bleak, a crushing despair.

But then, when breath seems lost and all is resigned to the helpless, in it comes, the pale lime green that springs to the new, of growth and awe of wow that distinguishes from the dead and dread.

From nothing, it comes. It’s a change that’s blinding and radiating, quivering and heartbreakingly so.

It comes in the glint of an eye, a cheeky wry, the smile that always warms.

It comes in the heart warming that halts the tear drop, catches it from falling to a nothing bed.

It comes in a spirit that can never be seen, until there is dread.

It comes as change. Towering, cataclysmic change, for transformation and rebirth.

There’s a poignancy that comes with it: an acceptance to ride with the bumps and never hold stiff, to relax into the slip and flow, ease into the darkness as life’s constant correction, where nothing and everything is one and the same.

All that is, is now. All that is, is hope in the dark.

All that exists is an instinct to live in a way that is living for each.

Breathe into it, a way will always be shown, even in the midst of nothing and nowhere, desolation, destruction and despair. A diffused light will guide the way.

It’s in that last moment of the darkness that comes the dawn of the new and it’s in the new that a nourishment grows beyond that can be understood in the dark.

That’s the lesson of the dark, to do and be, to feel the dread for the birth of the new.

Slide over the jagged and pitted and accept them as part of the passage to the new, hold steady in those gailing winds for that’s where that pale lime green will sprout again once the wind has blown through, and orange blossoms can anchor and grow for a new.

Deny that and deny the chance for a bounty and beauty of expression not experienced before. Trust that to happen. Have hope in the despair of change.

Slip into the darkness, trust in the diffused light guiding the way.

It will take time to regenerate, to ease into the new. No matter how daunting the mountain to climb or trying the loss, when all has been quashed to dull and null, change will inevitably come for the chance at the new.

Find the hope and courage in the change blazing through, for change only ever happens forever.

 

Farm Reflections: Gratitude

20191224_123600 (002).jpg

It seems fitting that finishing off my PhD research should come with a last Farm Reflection. I only wrote a few over the three years of the research and perhaps should’ve written more, but this last reflection is a most important one.

A dear friend sent me this quote when I began my research and told me to stick it on my wall in my office, knowing what only a few knew at the time, of the turbulent change occurring in my life. And so I did, stuck it right above my computer monitor so I could see it daily, or at least every time I looked up.

Part of me dismissed the quote though, as being some new age saying. I believed that hard, tough change could never be gorgeous at the end. Change was happening all around me and I found it anything but gorgeous. But I did realise fairly quickly that part of the change I had to make was to loosen my noose of independence and stop believing I could do everything myself. I had always been the solver of problems and issues in my ‘other’ work, and I was a mother working inside and outside of the home. I knew nothing other than being Ms Independent.

Undertaking research meant I didn’t have answers: the whole point of research was to find them. It meant I had to ask questions, and ask people those questions to find those answers; that meant asking for their help.

20191224_123630 (002)

Interestingly and without realising, I’d put the quote beside another quote on my wall, about giving things a try. If ever I was being ‘told’, this was it: “Give it a try” whispered the heart. So with much effort, I began to ask the questions, and ask people to take time out of their day to help me. It was a tough mountain to climb.

Three years later, I have no idea how many people I have asked for help. Hundreds of people, I guess. And people have responded most generously, spending hours talking to me, sharing photos and other memorabilia, helping me to piece together the puzzle of the social history of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. My family and friends, supporting me to the finish, even when I had to disappear into a cave over the last six months to write up findings and finish by Christmas.

I’ve been able to write over 100 years of social history into a book and have enough material to write two more books at least. I don’t have any publishing details as yet, however I will share them when I do have them.

Even in the last weeks, after I finished my thesis and handed it in to the university for examination, people are still helping me to create a picture of the cricket team that formed on the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm in 1897, before the Metro Farm football team. Information on the cricket has been scarce until recently, but is now starting to form. It will most definitely feature in the second book.

The thing is, without the generosity of so many people giving their time and being patient to chat with me, even when I may have been a pest with a constant stream of questions and being pedantic with details, the work would not have been completed. It’s like there exists this band of pixie helpers who are invisible until I ask a question and then out they fly, from everywhere.

Generosity comes with kindness, and a willingness to help. The world can’t have enough of the stuff. Kindness and generosity are incredibly humbling too. I’ve often been blown away by people’s willingness to help and their patience and grace in doing so. It has inspired me to make the research count and that what is captured, is authentic and real. The harder I worked and the more questions I asked, the more obvious it became that documenting the social history of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm was important to many.

The act of giving is so selfless, so sincere, warming and nourishing, and then to receive it …. it melts my heart, makes me gooey putty in anybody’s hands. Had I known this sooner, I would have learnt to ask for help a long time ago. In fact, if I could bottle it, I would. But I wouldn’t sell it. It’s too precious to sell. I’d give it away.

So, my public announcement here: my eternal and sincerest of most precious thanks to everyone connected to this research — the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm community, their families and friends; my university research team, family and friends; my special HDR writing group and fellow PhDers; organisations, the media, politicians, everyone involved that has supported me and the research, and who has an interest in the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm and its social history.

Thank you. Without you, we would not have captured a truly significant part of Melbourne’s history. We would not have been able to document the first social history of its kind of the community behind the making of one of Australia’s most important civic works projects in the 1890s and into the 1900s. And away from the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm, the work gives a new understanding of communities living isolated from broader society. The findings can be applied to any isolated community.

I’m most grateful for the time you’ve given me. It has been an honour working with you. You generosity and kindness has overwhelmed me at times, and inspired me.

I can vouch for change being hard and messy, but oh so, so gorgeous at the end.

20191224_123455 (002)

I should add that the two quotes sit next to another quote on my wall, about life being too short to not just go for it and never regretting anything that makes you smile. Life’s too short for regret. And we all want to be happy. Life is all a learning.

And so on that note, I’m taking a break to explore and hopefully see the northern lights in the arctic circle.

Happy new year and I hope 2020 flares exceptionally for you.

 

 

 

NOTES

These Farm Reflections come from a PhD research project investigating a community that grew after the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was founded in 1891 to treat Melbourne’s sewage at Werribee. As Melbourne grew, so did the work force to manage the treatment of the sewage, and a community of workers and their families grew to live on the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. The population peaked to over 500 in the 1950s. The last family moved off the main part of the sewerage farm in 1984, while a few employees and their families lived on the boundary of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm into the 1990s. However they lived as part of the main Werribee community.

The plant continues to treat Melbourne’s sewage and is now known as Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant.

For more information on the research project, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MetropolitanSewerageFarm

If you’d like to read other Farm Reflections, they can be found here:

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-the-hickeys

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-beryl

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-a-faraway-land

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-the-migrant-camp

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/melbung-smellee-welly-high

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/lands-faraway

 

 

 

 

 

Faraway lands

Death and Life, 1910-15 — Klimt

Death and Life, 1910-15 — Gustav Klimt

Tennis courts may be covered over and croquet lawns may have disappeared beneath overgrowth upon overgrowth, but the football pavilion still stands and dalliances within them and by the workshops nearby continue. No-one sees us, although some sense our presence.

The oval where football and cricket were once played still exists, even if smothered in a dense, undulating cover of green with goal posts standing on command at each end, said to serve the dual purpose of ventilation through their tops for pipes running below the ground’s surface. The reservoir is gone, the church and schools too. No abode or home exists or gardens well tendered or the cows that came with homes for milking. All are gone. In physicality, that is.

In the sublime of the underworld in this living ghost town of lands faraway, many breathe beneath the earth from where they once stood. Archaeologically, a sleeping beauty awaits her Prince Charming awakening.

Cheers to a life, wistful of lands faraway, in an honouring that’s grounding, appreciating and trusting, in the extremes of the harsh to the supremes of the magnificent, the challenging and enchanting, all collected and padlocked in a tiny box of hearts and souls as jewels protected within, of the most precious … the jewel of the crown is life on lands faraway.

A town of living ghosts in a life at honey speed, a calm and peace unwavering in the howl of withering leaves. Crested cockatoos streaming between trees of bare, shrilling whistles of a time unmoved. Ghosts of yesterday dance in sleeping ruins, among flying spiders’ webs glistening in the glory of the day, and families playing and living in a vast back yard of lands faraway.

The physical is fading. Drains where pumpkins once entwined the trunks of fruiting plum trees are now barren, date palms and cypress trees, pies at the football and beer behind the goals, whiskey at half time, the intrigue of the water tank, cream lilies and milk coffee, cows for milking .… they’re all dissolving, vanishing in lands faraway.

Yet it’s not gone, not this life in a ghost town oozing more spirited than the Mona Lisa, not even in the veil of isolation where mosquitoes gorge on the intoxicating imbue of twinkling dew and fat of fog. Of stockmen pulling up under apricot and apple trees for juicy sampling, of cannon balls in the swimming pool, sneaky peeks into the change rooms and bolting after stealing knickers … I’ll get you! Playing cards into the morning and raising money for those in need, men and women’s football … credit to the gals. Cricket, tennis and croquet, swimming in a land faraway.

Hinged in a haunting of melancholy is a place that once thrived, where homes of yesterday sleep in their tombs and ashes of those gone fly as a rising phoenix, beguiling ghosts to rejoice in their century old tales of yesterday. Wood chopped for the stove and to heat the copper, feeding the pigs and milking the cows, churning the cream and butter to a one-two, a chasse in the Pride of Erin. Listen and you’ll hear it, as a lifelong gloating gilded in gold dust, a rose of gold of never-ending that connects souls over lifetimes. This space of breath is a vast expanse of clarity, a bounty of beauty in perfect imperfection.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, a life at honey speed, wistful of what’s to come with lands faraway.

The air below thins, chokes in an asphyxiating exodus. All families and kin are gone, all have left, all homes disappeared. The hall sleeps peacefully by the swimming pool, two hearts beating as one, and all working in the old office have moved into a new building full of modernity. We follow them, our escapades above their beavering. Some look up at us and smile, wonder if we’re there.

All is gone. All jewels fall from crowns, eventually.

Up here, we gather by the day in blissing glee, more illuminous by the week with the lost and disconnected on a quest for this place of no place. They know where the warmth is and seek it out – the little boy falling into a street drain, the weather presenter disappearing with her belongings, and the man of discontent who flees in an alcohol infused bender, to suicide by the river. They’re all here, even those that chose to leave the planet in the years of turbulent demise of this land faraway are here, lost in their own cloud but intrinsically weaved into the fabric of this dignified and honouring place, rejoicing in the pleasure as above and so below.

Jewels may fall from crowns, but they never fail to sparkle in the brilliance of the most brilliant, multi-faceted gems. Whether in a white yellow, green or rose of gold setting, they shine a forever shine.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, in a life at honey speed, of a house and two cows and a land faraway.

 

Intimacy.

An-Invitation-To-The-Intimate, Paul Bond

An Invitation To The Intimate, Paul Bond

The wipe of lipstick from the man you’ve just kissed, or who refuses the wipe to publicly parade his delight in the dalliance,

The time graced between two siblings to sit on a sunny afternoon and chat without boundary or brass and be in the deity of the day,

And the late-night message from a colleague you adore working with, giving you a last crumb of information that’s vital to your work …

Acts of intimacy are more than those shared between two people indulging in sex, no matter how sensual, passionate or lustful. It isn’t only within the tantalising kiss and touch in pulsing pep and pizzazz, teetering on the tips of goose bumps upon goose bumps. While wonderful and glorious and erogenously insatiable, intimacy is more than that. Much more.

Intimacy is in the sharing of toast in the tranquil of sunshine reflecting off aquamarine seas, and the chasing after your lunch partner’s napkin that’s blown onto the floor.

It’s in that ultimate kiss where the son smacks purposeful lips on his mother’s forehead, a symbol of protection and guardianship, and in her flicking through his shine and tangle of mess and curls for no reason other than him being close by. Because she can.

It’s in the exchange of clasped hands where skin on skin is silky soft as polished surfaces sliding surreptitiously, smoothed from any tiny ridges and valley patterns that may beetle from fingers and palms.

Intimacy is the powerful exchange between friends over late night text after a long, long day, in the knowing that they have your back. Always. It’s in the familiarity and friendship, affinity and affection.

Intimacy is at its most striking when a parent must carry a sick adult-son whose death is imminent, and the son giving in to his need for dependent care.

That deep intimacy when stripped bare, exposes vulnerability, as a heart skinned to its core. It’s in the unconditional exchange that comes on the tail of desire to give, to protect beyond every conceivable boundary.

But that poses a risk and to some, it’s a huge peril they can’t overcome or see as the waiting monster ready to latch onto their feet and drag them well down into the depths of despair. Opening up and being vulnerable to the intimacy unlocks a siphoning window to being hurt, undoubtedly, because it’s allowing a freedom to feel and connect with others.

As with most things, stepping back to see what’s what, smelling the roses if you like or watching the severed tops of an old olive tree hacked back with a chainsaw to a few thick limbs coming off the smooth, grey trunk, stark of olives and foliage, watching it bask in the autumn sun as if reaching for nourishment of its new growth. Taking that pause to reflect … it’s one of the graces we’re gifted with that we sometimes forget we have.  

Appreciation. Introspection, being honest and grateful for days so full of everything, even if the everything is clogged in feelings of despair or memories that bleed from shattered hearts as rain blanketing in thundering storms. Intimacy if it’s permitted, allows for a debauchery of vulnerability that can ripple into forever as the most glorious, fabulous and wonderful,

As the most intricate spider’s web laced in early morning dew,

And the first flush of begonias hanging as fleshy flowers like little chandeliers, in all shades of the artist’s palette.

The key is to be open to it, allow the intimacy to stream in. Accept the risk, for the rewards are immeasurable.

 

            Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly.

            Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.

                                                                                    ~Mark Twain.

To all the gorgeous men in my life

Michelangelo-David-700x816

Michelangelo’s ‘David’ (1501–04)

I was propositioned over the last couple of weeks. Twice. They came on two separate occasions from two very alluring men, within a week of one another and half an hour of meeting me. There was a moment in both exchanges where I almost pinched myself to be sure I wasn’t in some kind of twilight zone.

Very quickly though, that ambiguity cleared to an incredible sadness for both men. To me, they were missing out on the chance to experience that real satiation of connected intimacy. Maybe they’d been hurt in the past or they were unable to feel at that level for some emotional torment, or maybe they simply wanted to have sex and felt intimacy that way. It didn’t matter why they propositioned me, what struck was the sadness I felt for them.

Everyone to their own, it’s just not my thing. I wasn’t judging, not even when one of the men looked at me at one point in puppy dog eyes as he spoke about his family battles. That tipped me into something even deeper than sadness, where the twilight zone had become more dispirited and distorted than a twilight zone could be. Poor man, was all I could think, using his despair to gain sex. My parting words to him came with a gentle pat on the back. ‘Be kind to yourself.’

You have to wonder sometimes how life works when a third man I met soon after, put things into perspective. It sounds like I meet men all the time and I do, but it’s mostly through my work. That may be because of the industry I work in, of sewage and engineers and tertiary education, or the work I do away from writing around strategy and project development.

This third man spoke about recently being out with a woman and within a brief time of meeting her, she propositioned him. He threw his hands in the air too and we laughed. He commented that not all men want quick sex. Touché.

He was a lovely man, with great emotional empathy, and he got me thinking about all the wonderful men in my life.

My three beautiful and sensitive sons, even when we’re in occasional battle, whose hearts can openly bleed when they see me in occasional distress and whose hearts dance at my every success. The intelligent, caring and giving men I work so closely with and where without them and my sons, I wouldn’t be exploring sewerage town communities around the world and nearing completion of a PhD that will include a novel shedding light on what it’s like to live on a sewerage farm. They push me to answer questions I’d not thought of and encourage me to reach outside my boundaries with such care and compassion, ready to help me up if I fall.

The men in my family and circle of friends, who love and accept me for all my quirkiness, who never judge me or complain that they don’t see enough of me and are there for me whenever I may need them. The men I meet in all my work, my colleagues and conversationalists alike, allowing for stimulating and fruitful exchanges.

Even my two propositioning men have beauty in them, as do all the men that have been part of the challenges in my life. They have given me the opportunity to experience a dichotomy of life and learn those sometimes-hard lessons. They’ve given me the chance to learn about me.

Cheers to all the men in my life, and to my women too, for all the gorgeousness you give.

The Nannu kiss

20170729_180125 (2)

There’s this kiss that’s the purest of kisses. I’m not sure whether I can describe it or do justice to its nuance of power. It’s greater than any other kiss I’ve known, the epitome of all kisses: moreish without being delicious, deeper than lust and desire crocheted in the intricacy of passion, leather and lace.

I was lucky to have one smack-banged on me recently from a most beautiful soul, a compassionate man who personifies gorgeous that oozes from his insides out.

I’ve only had a few in the past 20 years, since my grandfather died. I can count them on one hand. My grandfather was a strict man, an ex-army troop sergeant in World War 2 for the British Army Royal Engineers, although he was Maltese. He saw a thing or two with Malta being the most bombed allied country during the War. Forty years on and he would bark orders as though he was still in the army. Us grandchildren, 16 of us, would smirk when we heard them as they were directed at anyone but particularly at our parents and as children, we revelled in our parents being told off! We’d receive his orders occasionally, like if we were washing up incorrectly or cleaning up after a meal in a way that he thought he wasn’t right. He’d direct us to do it his way in his sergeant tone.

But his orders to us were different, they didn’t contain the serious undertones so distinct in his orders to others and even when they did, we knew we could disobey them. When we did, he’d have a little grumble then quickly break into a little laugh and invariably, end in one of his kisses. I call them the Nannu kiss and Nannu would kiss us in this way anytime, not just when we disobeyed his orders. It was his signature kiss.

The few I’ve received since his death have come from a gentle giant of a man who I consider an older brother. I’m the eldest of my siblings and so to have this older brother figure is comforting. His kiss normally comes with a hello or how are you. It could be that he kisses me in this way simply because he is almost a foot taller than me and the practicality of giving the kiss is because of his height.

But I don’t think that’s the case, not when I feel such care and a sense of protection in the Nannu kiss. It’s a strange feeling, that of protection, because it’s not as if I’m in any danger. The kiss though, conveys such kindness and respect, and that everything is okay, no matter what. It’s a reassurance that I’m safe, that someone ‘has my back’ and I can rely on them.

Timing is everything and the Nannu kiss I received from my gorgeous man this week came at the most perfect time, if ever there is such a thing as the perfect. It came with lashings of care, compassion and grace and allowed me the humility to lean into his grounding and know that no matter what, he’s there and I’m okay. It came with the reassurance that he’ll be beside me in the patience of the most enlightened of monks and while he may not be able to stick any broken pieces together for me, he’ll help search for every shard that may have ricocheted into the ethers and catch them if they fall while I glue them together. His nurturing strength is deeply rooted in solid poise, so that anything can be achieved. The Nannu kiss is unwavering.

I hope you get to experience the Nannu kiss in your lifetime and when you do, be sure to draw in all the tenderness that it’s given with. Feel that kiss when it’s coddled, caked or caressed onto your forehead, suck in every minuscule of its giving and feel it spread from the top of your head into every part of your body. Breathe in that cherish of the exchange for it will give you the strength to accomplish even the most difficult of despairs.

And if you’re lucky enough to witness a Nannu kiss being planted on someone’s forehead, observe the lowering of the giver’s eyes, the warmth in their smile before they pucker their lips to kiss the forehead of the lucky receiver, whose head is almost bowed in anticipation of the gift. Watch the receiver tuck into the chest of the giver, their body giving into the comfort of the steady foundation. Appreciate the vulnerability in the kiss being received, and the humility with which it’s given.

The Nannu kiss is the embodiment of love stripped bare. It can empower to achieve and accomplish anything, even the perceived insurmountable. Christmas or not, Nannu kiss or not, the gift of unconditional reassurance and boundless strength is something we’re all worthy of receiving. And giving.

 

You know

0be032b126f22dbf6bb213bc71283264--heart-painting-heart-print

RobinLK Studios, Creative by Discovery

Some things you just know, without understanding or reasoning. They just are.

From that first breath we’re privileged with, the gasp that comes from the longest silence, you know there is something greater than any understanding can reveal.

It’s a look. A smell. A touch that melts a hundred hardened hearts and can prompt the unfurling of the first delicate petal from the centre of a tightly bound rose. It unleashes an unimaginable, a vast infinite beyond comprehension.

It’s when time is nothing and growth is everything, when nothing can morph into everything and everything can become entirety. That first breath tells all. Is all. The first step, the first word spoken. It’s when a teenager admires a parent’s bravery, and that other teenager rises to speak her mind in forthright candour and with a strength you wish all people had.

In that, is a knowing that can’t be explained. It’s something that stirs deep within the youngest of people and oldest of souls, and prompts action when no action may be wanted. It comes on impulse voicing care and concern, as a surprise savvy loaded in activism that inspires and binds to accomplish more.

As the croon of tyre on bitumen can hum into daydreams of what was yesterday and what’s to come tomorrow, mumbles onto foreign lands can feel so familiar. To start over or return, it can be the same and one, as is the knowing and not knowing and catching a whiff to follow your nose when there is no scent.

It knows. As sure as the sun rises each morning and sets each night, even when it hovers in a haze of pink and orange to dance on a horizon and never really set or rise, you know. Deep in your centre, it calls. Even when a kick in the gut strikes in the dim of dark to seethe in swells and spits of molten lava, or the broken of heartache that has no end, in all its fragmented fracture, it knows what to do. It understands what is.

When a touch can send quivers into a rabid fever, when luminous and incandescent eyes of blue, green or brown pine unwavering into you, whether human, canine, feline or other living creature, you know. No matter where you are, what you’re doing or for how long.

It’s there in the last breath in a long line of breaths, bellying out as a knowing in one’s core of all that is. That knowing of instinct, you know it, even when you don’t know it.

And yet the simplest action for all of us is to listen. Hear that call, hear that knowing of instinct. It can flutter in the flap of a butterfly wing, or a bam-shazam punch of tungsten tough.

Stop. Breathe. Listen in silence.

What it is that we know, is in the pits of no end. Hone in on that knowing for in its centre, is the sound of love. Touch it. Stroke it. Gaze upon it. Taste it and smell it. Devour it. That’s all we need to know.

%d bloggers like this: