Monday, December 31, 2012

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Stuck willingly at home, as I am almost always New Year's Eve, kiltless and snowless, tuned in to the ABC's broadcast of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I can only offer up to you tonight a remembrance of Scotland, that place far up north and thus, symbolically for me, from here in our exhausting heat, a heaven of a longed for sort.
Seeming to live, as I do, in the past, or in an interpretation of a benign past, I have been reading this Scottish snippet by Katharine Stewart, her memoir of a move out of London to south-west of Inverness, published in 1960.
Husband, wife and child were brave enough not only to set out on a new enterprise in land unknown, but to tackle a new/old life long before hippies made it cool. "The last thing we wanted to do was to run away from life."
But I digress, or regress or progress. Above is a view from another book I've lately found, Western Highlands, by the photographer Arthur Gardner. Was it seen  by Katharine Stewart? More or less.
'Cloudscape from Strontian" blows up gently, full of light, as I hope the New Year will for all of us.
It is looking aged now, as I am myself. Published as long ago as 1947 as one of 'The Face of Britain Series' by B. T. Batsford Ltd., it was one of any number of new ventures designed to resuscitate a stained and battered culture.
You can see that it meant alot to someone, who meant alot to that someone.
We would all do well to be looking out on a view like this. Myself, I have a window open so the cigarette smoke can escape, as I hope all the nasty demons that afflicted this planet in 2012 will do.  
And then, maybe, there'll be somewhere for a snooze, somewhere to know we're' safe, where nothing untoward will intervene. 
'Loch Long,' just a photograph, but to me, a signal of home. I am forever swimming in the light flooding around me, as I hope I am forever swimming nearer towards my home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


SOME of you may have had a normal Christmas...but then you cannot be acquainted with PSYCHOPATHS, as I am, darling...
Pity then, poor Faisal, who has been obliged to endure the most histrionic of inter-relationships, right here in front of his face, as if he had no - what do you call it - no sense of self-preservation or dignity? Yes I, who barely nudged his way out of a lunatic asylum loft apartment re-converted factory space, hands fulls of bulging designer bags and bits of lunch left over from a way-too excessive menu, thanks to the assistance of a map-less geriatric taxi-driver, to a home, here in the outer suburbs where simply NOBODY lives. And I it was who crawled home without reindeer, away from a situation unspeakably discomforting...
Santa is a woman, or my niece is growing snow here in summer, from out of her upper lip, can you believe it?
Or would it be preferable to believe this, a supposed nephew, so struck by Christmas spirit, he has lost all sense of hairstyling and has become a simple parody of his photographer's imagination, or mine?
You may very well be caroling tonight,you n your snowy and lofty alpine villages, but SOME of us must sit at our computer-screens, wan with anxiety, desperate to know if we will make it through to a day without such - forgive me darling - WEIRD - relatives?  Spooky? I just call it fate, or Christmas.
It was all going to be so simple, wasn't it, Zara?
There were going to be some pixies and some fluffy stuff, but nothing WRONG was going to go on, was it? I sat there, and I waited, out in the sunshine, for hours on end, for lunch to appear, attempting to photograph the nearby rooftops and the struggling pot-plants at my feet.
How very fortunate I was, then, to meet up with my little Christmas brother, this moose, who said to me, on behalf of various psychopaths and bad-hair survivors including the balding ones who may look like me, I am supposed to have been relating to: "mate, you gotta believe or you'd go mental".

Monday, December 24, 2012

l'amour divin

"The soul is aglow" because of one man's faith, trust and humility.
Some time ago my brother-in-law came back from Paris with the book pictured above, and gave it to me. I forget where I found the crucifix. The rosemary comes from my garden. The book is 'L'ame embrassee de l'amour divin', published in 1812.
I don't know where the world's going, but I do know that Jesus Christ gave his life to Almighty God for the redemption of humanity. And that is why I'm alive today, and writing this. Having been influenced by Islam, I'm aware that the Prophet Muhammad revered Christ's place as his forbear.
It isn't all really an issue about who did what when, but about the fact our lives have an origin far deeper than is normally acknowledged.
Officially, some of us celebrate that fact tomorrow. I would be happy to open my heart to any human being who is brave enough and gentle enough to stake their future in a world that promises harmony and a just resolution of all conflict.
May peace reign throughout this world.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tin Tacks

Gerald Duckworth published Dawn Macleod's A Book of Herbs in 1968. If you remember, I'd done a post about Dawn Macleod, and the garden she worked on at Inverewe in Scotland in the 1950s, a little while ago. It was only by chance I found this lovely old book, also by her, the other day.
Herbs, as anything else we imbibe, can be an influence. Clove carnations ( Dianthus caryophyllus ) "burned themselves into my imagination", the author writes. DM had read a poem written by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor, composed while on the Western Front in 1917, in which he remembered these flowers.
"Recently," Dawn Macleod writes, "after forty years of faithful readership, I came into personal contact with my poet..."
"Not only was he unaware of my youthful attachment, but, as a man of striking honesty, he seemed incapable of uttering false or careless words in order to be pleasant."
"Had those carnations, in some mysterious fashion known only to themselves, initiated a mutual kinship between two characters...?"
She continues: "Some say that the Dianthus symbolizes 'the heart's pure affection'; others, 'faithfulness'; the red carnation is singled out by one as 'an emblem of talent'.
Poets tell us much, or nothing. Above, a painting by Harry Wilson, 'West of Nallama near Tocumwal NSW', a long way north of Melbourne, given to me for my recent birthday. I have tried to hunt him down, this painter, working in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, but have been able to find out nothing about him. How come I am being suggested a road forward ( -let it not be bleak- )? 
'The heart's pure affection' can face a sky without answers. A stumbling block is what I am on at present, where any move can be wrong, but where it seems a move has to be made.
I will not make a move then.  
"The syrup" of the Clove Carnation "strengthens the heart, refresheth the vital spirits and is a good cordiall in feavers, expelling the poyson and fury of...disease."

I have none of that syrup on hand, unfortunately, though the cinnamon scent is one I recall easily. A 'mutual kinship' is something I've always felt was valuable, but it's a reality about which I can say nothing.
I can say though, that a red carnation is what I hope may be delivered to all those I love out there, whether they are reading, speaking or keeping their peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gloria in excelsis Deo

It is for Him, this thing called Christmas. I wonder if I could ever give back to Him what He has given me. That is hardly likely.  
I am a clown. All the world, as we know it, shall disappear. I want to be able to give back to Him this trust I've been given. So, here, from out of the volition, vulgarity and vanity I call my self, it is for Him, I offer this, a present for someone I care for...
I'm hoping she is thrilled. We are all cloaked, are we not, in layers of unreality? This Christmas, I pray, these layers may be removed from us, gently but clearly and forever.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gardens = Some Sort of Saintliness

The St Kilda Botanical Gardens are a little distance from home, but today I needed to move. I was especially struck by this arrangement of pots, and the kiln/chimney in the background. Apologies for the recurring bleached light.
Established on 16 acres in 1859, the gardens were once then part of Melbourne's most glorious suburb. Having gone through a process of dilapidation during the 20th century, St Kilda has begun to return to a clear semblance of its former self. Above, a Chilean date palm, planted 1900.
I can't say they're the most beautiful or original I've visited, but I loved wandering through its diverse spaces. There are, apparently, 810 mature tree specimens, which isn't so bad, given that 16 acres is alot of real estate, and a garden's seasons are sometimes up and sometimes down.
You can enter through one of several gates, designed and built by David Wood of 'Bent Metal' and installed in 2010. "Victorian" seems to be a characteristic that can come back to live with us, not one that folds itself away too far to get near to.
I was struck by the Victorian foundation, a foundation that can be quickly lost as time works its way across it.
NOT Victorian, this seat, but doesn't it seem to fit, among the tendrils and the leafiness, the leaning branches?
I liked seeing arrangements like this, not too deliberate, not too careless.
A corner is devoted to the re-construction of indigenous habitat as it would have been. The Red Gums  ( Eucalyptus camaldulensis ) are magnificent, to me. I'd rather not live without them in my world.
Nor could the possums given a home in this nest-box, in the arms of one of them.
There was, though, a conservatory to visit, hot and damp and quiet.
A boardwalk takes you over pools of water. I saw one or two others, one with a couple of doggies, taking their stroll, here in this safe house, where greenness and an alive peace reign.
Outside of here, a playground and vegetable garden get volunteers and locals involved with the betterment of our planet. These gardens appear to me to have many uses...I am sure the industrious Victorians who founded it would applaud.
Above, a water garden, serving as it does as a filter for various outflows, but acting as an approximation of a natural formation, and lending to its visitors thus, a tranquility.
Tranquility can be conveyed too through space. Above, Aloe barberae, specimens of which I have at home, thanks to the kindness of William Martin of 'Wigandia'.
I had to take a shot of this West Australian flowering gum ( Corymbia ficifolia ), so exuberant, despite or because of the challenging conditions in which it has evolved.
I like a garden that lets me slip in, that doesn't want me to have to try too hard. And I like one that has a roughness, or a readiness. During its 'downfall,' after WW2 through to the 1980s, St Kilda became Melbourne's red light district, it's mansions cut up into lodgings, its streets colourfully perilous.
It hardly looks perilous now. Living as I do now in an outer suburb, I felt embraced to come back here, to an inner suburb, ageing gracefully.
My last shot is this, an old bird-bath/water fountain, left to its own devices. That is something I like, restoration, yes, but a restoration that keeps things humble. I too, prefer to be left to my own devices, to be allowed to be able to stand as I am, to age gracefully, to have some sort of dignified presence within the shifting world and its many branches.

Friday, December 14, 2012


No, we don't have cloud berries or boysenberries or ripe rosy raspberries down here in The Lucky Country, here now towards the Solstice, if we ever do.
There are reddish things, here and there, and bits that glitter and look sort of good, or that look like bits of metallurgy gone wrong, with some bits of red curtain thing stuck behind them.
There is silveriness and jubilation. I miss the idea of a Christmas that's snowy and cold. Here, the sun glitters and most of us let our propriety go somewhere where it will fit, wherever that might be, Mr Claus.
Christmas, this bit of the planet, means time away, time out, time to do nothing, except muck around. That's where I excel.
What on Earth, has this to do with Christmassy things? Exactly. You almost wouldn't know it was Christmas here, except everyone says it is. This is only a new picture I wanted to share, nothing red and green and saintly at all.
Feeling I'd let the team down, I got out there this evening and constructed a very humble sort of Christmas wreath for the front door. The embarrassingly ordinary front door.
I know some of you live on vast country estates, with hounds galloping in their hordes, and international personalities fronting up for various liveried entertainments under bespoke canopies. Unfortunately, I do not. Loving gum leaves, sort of gushing out roughly... is my way of saying Willkommen, welcome, even if the grey-mauve is just a little bit daggy.
 I might as well include this rather hazy shot of a bit of a tea-pot, as looking like a bit of Christmas.
It's been drizzling all day, a lovely, refreshing rain, wetting everything that had got burnt and worn out. The feel of the ground and the grass, with all the unknown things there crawling around, has been marvellous. Forgive me, I slip into my pyjamas at dusk and prefer to live in them than in any other costume, including the Santa one.
My lovely girl, Zara, has been snoozing tonight, but asked to be let out with her lamb bone in-mouth. Here, she waits for me, while I dag around, making photos. I don't know how kosher or PC this is, but Christmas is a feeling I reckon we should all have every day, not just when the calendar tells us to.