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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

30 Days of Happiness - Day 26

Happiness is...

A playdate with friends.

Isn't this photograph fantastic? It really captures how natural children are and how unselfconscious. I wish I was that unselfconscious. I wonder what causes us to lose that wonderful gift of not taking ourselves so seriously?

I didn't take any photos of my own today but we took some video footage. It was so cute to see little Lana and Lily playing, sharing and chatting away to each other. I have no idea what they were saying but it seemed very interesting.

I got a chance to catch up with two of my close witchypoo girlfriends and to eat cake, so that's just got to be good.

Happiness is NOT:
Getting what must be my sixth cold for the year. Yah boo sucks.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 25

Happiness is...

A hubby on holiday at home.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Strange Days

It's been a strange weekend. The Hubble began his two week vacation with a phone call from his mother informing him that her brother (his uncle) had died in the night and that their planned skiing trip for his birthday was cancelled.

Tony was an alcoholic and everyone had kind of been resigned to his eventual fate for a long time. He died peacefully in the night, apparently in his sleep and now his family are trying to deal with the autopsy, their mother's grief - poor Norn is obviously devastated, and the preparation of a funeral and a house clearing.

I think that what saddened me the most about Tony's death was that he was a very clever man, full of promise and humour. He was even a gifted athlete in his college days. So how did it ever come to this? How did his addiction get hold of him so powerfully that he didn't even want to try to come out of it? His life ended so ignominiously. He died unable to see the beauty in the world or to see any hope - all he could see was unending misery and so chose to drown that misery in bottle after bottle of wine. His addiction caused so much suffering to his family. Hubble's mum supported him financially (for at least 10 years) and took him backwards and forwards to the hospital when he fell out if his wheelchair and broke his leg last summer. I feel also for Norn, his mother. To watch your baby, a child you cherished and tried to raise well, disappear into oblivion day after day, must have been heartbreaking for her. How did one child do so well and the other not? It was obviously not to do with the amount of nurturing he received. So what drives a person to this level of addiction? It just all seems so pointless. It made me hold my Lily-bean close to my heart and whisper into her ear that she must try to remember why she is here, the purpose she came into this life to carry out and never die with her music still in her, like Tony.

So, the Angel of Grief visits our family and causing suffering to people we love. We mourn the loss of all the potential that Tony possessed and we grieve that his only legacy to those he left behind was his alcoholism. Such is the nature of addiction.

Goddess bless you Tony - may you find peace and rest after this long dark journey. We send you love - may it light the way back home for you.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 24

Happiness is...

A hail storm on a cold winters afternoon. Not snow but as close as I'm likely to get in the Nongs.

It is also red liquorice, peanut m&m's, hot sweet tea and a roaring fire in the hearth. I know - I'm a creature of habit, fire, chocolate and tea on winter evenings are my idea of heaven.

Happiness is also storms...

If I was going to have another name, it might well be Storm. It's being born on the cusp of both darkly sexual Scorpio and sunny, smiley Saggitarius that does it - making me impossibly temperamental.

Stormy Sea by Khalid Almasoud on Flickr

Storm on Murano Venice by vgm8383

I want to go back to Venice again. Italy on the whole calls to me in quite a persistent way, as if it wants me to sell me something.

Sea Storm by Taipan2007 on Flickr
Can't you just see the alien ships in this one?

Storm in Brazil Rodrigo_Rosse on Flickr

This photo is quite beautiful. In the middle top bit of the cloud, I swear I can see some kind of angelic or godlike face. It sort of reminds me of Zeus from Jason and the Argonauts. The whole cloud formation is a bit like a Divine being stretching out its wings to let the light of its heart shine out into the world. Just lovely.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

30 Days of Happiness - Day 23

Happiness is...

Thinking about my other lives:

In the Artists Way we are asked to imagine 5 other lives we would like to live.

Mine are:


Photograph by Tim Hartridge
Priestess at Delphi (John Collier)


Venus of Willendorf

The one and only Kate Bush (of course)

Clare Bowdith

Lisa Gerrard (from Dead Can Dance)

Witchye Shoppe Owner
I always imagined it as part apothecary and part occult shop in the style of Gile's shop from Buffy, however these shops conjure (no pun intended!) the feel that I would go for.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 22

Happiness is...

Women I admire. Strong, talented and self-assured women who won't die with their music still in them.

The gorgeous Cate Blanchett - my favourite actress ever.

Kate Bush who only gets better as she gets older.

Soulful Joni Mitchell - a woman with so much heart that it hurts.

Emma Thompson - who I would like to be if I were less neurotic and more pragmatic. Funny as all get out too!

30 Days of Happiness - Day 21

Happiness is...

The many faces of Lily.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

30 Days of Happiness - Day 20

Happiness is...

My local Art Gallery's Aboriginal Art Exhibition - Burrinja Gallery in Upwey

Bush Medicine by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria lived in Utopia, NT and was a Medicine Woman.

This was my absolute favourite picture. It felt alive with spirit - there was a definite sense of movement inside the painting and I was very drawn to it. It may not translate well here because I had to take a picture with flash but it looks like millions of tiny white feathers. Not what you would expect of traditional aboriginal art at all. Brilliant.

Kunarlaku - Spirit Woman by Eva Nganjmirra from Arnem Land, NT

Just such a powerful creatress figure. Spirit Woman indeed!

Fish & Leaves by Lin Onos

Sorry that its so hard to see. The lights glared off the canvas a bit but it really is stunning up close. So beautiful and such a wonderful sense of depth in the water. Really extraordinary.

Happiness is also doing my last show for 3MDR. I had fun. On the spur of the moment I picked up a local artist, Gabby, at the gallery today whose beautiful exhibition was on the journey of pregnancy and motherhood and is officially opening on Sunday 27th July. It's well worth going to see and I was in love with some of her rubenesque sculpture.

I also had a major score at a local Op shop, so really, all in all, it was a VERY good day.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 19

Happiness is...

The Red Shoes...

my darling daughter the poser and...

playtime at the mall.

It is also successfully trying a new recipe. Hurrah!
The dish is Orecchiette with Salmon and Vodka

2 x Atlantic Salmon Fillets (250g each), skin and bones removed
1/4 cup of Vodka
2 Lemons, juiced and zest finely grated
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
400g Orecchiette
1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
200g Ricotta, crumbled
1/2 cup of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180C fan forced (200C conventional)
Place salmon in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the vodka, the juice and the zest of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to let the flavours develop. Cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes for medium or until cooked to your liking. Allow salmon to cool slightly, then flake into chunks and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until al dente. About 1-2 minutes before past is done, add peas. Drain pasta and peas an dplace in a large bowl. Add a little olive oil to lightly coat. Add ricotta, herbs, remaining lemon juice and zest and a drizzle of olive oil and gently combine. Add salmon and season. Serve immediately.

If you have any juice still left in the pot after cooking the salmon, include it as we found the salmon really soaked up all the juices even after cooking.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 18

Happiness is...

Birdwatching over a baby cino and a hot chocolate at The Kallista Tea Rooms in Kallista and...

My daughters sense of humour.

30 Days of Happiness - Days 16 & 17

Happiness is...

A clean house, if only for an hour or two!

And a mooch about in Marysville even though it rained the whole time we were there and everywhere was closing.

We did meet the most gorgeous Venezuelan family who have only been in the country 6-months. Mum- Carolina, Dad - Carlos, Brother to Carolina (I'm guessing) Miguel and two kids, Sandiago who was about 10 and Sophia who was 20 months. And can I just say....Miguel... be still my beating heart! He made Antonio Banderas look like an uggo. He was just BEAU-TI-FUL. I so have a thing about Latin American men. Oh, that accent and those big dreamy chocolate eyes. (Sorry Hubble!).

Their little boy, Sandiago was utterly gorgeous - all big brown eyes and such wonderful expressiveness in his speech, so captivating and so going to be a heartbreaker when he's older. He didn't speak any English when he arrived in the country and now, 6-months on, he speaks it with absolute fluency. Kids are such amazing creatures - there adaptability astounds me. Sophia was just all smiles and friendliness. We had a chat about being expats and about this and that and I thought to myself how lovely it would be to have such colourful, friendly people as neighbours. A lovely experience all round.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Deeds and Mystical Musings

Sensuality by Franz Von Stuck

Well yes indeed, what a night that was. You have to watch these Hills folk you know - very strange bunch indeed. All nudie celebrations and sword swinging by the light of a full moon.

I will attempt to explain the nefarious dealings that led to me tottering up a very dark, wet road in spike heeled boots at around 8pm on a Friday night, clutching a tupperware box (Shriek! Noooo!) full of filo pastry morsels. Y'see the thing is, I'm a...well, a.... sort of.... oh, you know... broomsticks, candles, incense, open fires, full moons... that sort of thing. Or at least that is what I was.
I have met a couple of fine women up here since I moved into my hilltop retreat and have, over the course of several slices of cake and many cups of coffee, gotten to know them well enough to have them invite me to a party to celebrate the Autumn Equinox (most excellent) and then this - a full moon ritual in a dedicated temple space with other folk of the same inclinations. So, being the sort of gal that likes to experience most things at least once before running screaming in the other direction, I invited my two friends and, dressed for the occasion, off we trotted.

Not owning any robes and not being willing to expose flesh to strangers, we had opted for to wear clothing and had made the effort to find something that we didn't wear in our general life to preserve the sense of the otherwordly. My dress was long, black, a bit low cut (first outing for the girls since Beanie) and a tiny bit disco (it had silver sequins on for gawds sake!) - it did however remind me slightly of the grecian style of priestess garb and so I felt like I looked the part of genuine seeker of mysteries gifts. We also had to learn a dedication to the Old Gods of our choice. Being unable to remember my own name most of the time, I chose to wing it by the seat of my almost combusting pants and make something up on the spot.
So, in true ritualistic fashion we were ushered into the space, given the five fold kiss (lovely) and welcomed as Goddess into the candlit space. The ritual itself (called Awaken the Fire Within) was beautifully dramatic and powerful to watch and be a part of. Especially the Priestess invoking Hecate before a flaming cauldron - very MacBeth.

Cauldron of Dreams

It went for quite a while and I was literally dripping with sweat and quite tempted to disrobe just to cool down. It was a really amazing experience to be a part of and I'm very glad that I went but it only highlighted to me that I am not, any longer, sure of exactly where my spiritual path is taking me.

I have been on this particular path for such a long, long time that there is a reasonable level of fear about leaving the familiarity of it behind in order to break new ground, especially as I have no idea of where I'm going or what sort of ground it will be. I have slowly come to the realisation that my spiritual nature is demanding something else of me. I want some kind of direct experience of Divinity, of 'the Beloved'. Indeed it is because of this quiet but very incessant nudging, I have been meditating morning and night for nearly 4 weeks now. I am almost at the end of my self imposed 30 day trial of the Japa meditation and it has been nice though largely unremarkable, at least so far. However the ritual, though marvellous and, for me at least, part of a long held dream to be a part of a live working coven, did not touch me as deeply as I had wished. I didn't have a really deep connection to what was happening around me and, though my dedication was real enough, I felt always like I was only partly in my body and therefore in the ritual. My dedication was on the spur of the moment but was to 'the Beloved' - the Divine that sometimes manifests itself as Goddess or God but is not limited to that form. The Universal Divinity that guards and guides all life and its higher purpose - it is to that that I made my dedication, because I no longer know if I am to walk in the realm of the Goddess or if it is time to move away and apart and into the unknown once again.

Hekate by William Blake

My biggest bugbear with paganism and witchcraft in general has always been the insufferable egos that are attracted to this type of work. In my experience it is always the twin pillars of power and sex that really knock people off their spiritual journey and never more so than in this type of work. There was one person there whose energy I found absolutely abhorrent. The kind of energy that makes your skin crawl because it is so clammy and so darkly sexually charged in a really unhealthy, obsessive way. This guy is one of those guys that believes its his right and privilege as a pagan to screw anything that moves and its all about ego. I had the exact same reaction to him the first time I met him (with his pregnant girlfriend)and, oddly enough, so did the three other women who were with me at the event. He wanders about like a giant erection looking for a space to invade and I just didn't want to be around him. I have no problem with people doing whatever they want to with other consenting adults, as long as I don't have to watch or have my energy body probed by it. So, this was an annoying and slightly offputting part of the nights events, I guess this is all part of lifes rich tapestry. But as I was saying, this is the kind of thing that has always had me avoiding things like Pagans in the Pub and group gatherings and festivals. (I also don't like being wet and cold - been there and done that thanks).

So, I find myself thinking about my path, investigating the experiences I have had and trying to decide where to go next. I do not rule out attending another ritual just to see if there is more of a sense of connection for me and because I am endlessly curious about everything that spirit puts in my path. I just feel that there is something missing for me. Some connection to power, to Spirit that is just not here yet and it is this indefinable something that I am truly seeking. I long to feel that connection to the Beloved of which Rumi speaks in his achingly beautiful poetry. I guess I'll just have to keep on trucking and not be afraid to let go of my goddessy water wings if the changing tides demand it of me. i will always be drawn to witchypooness and my witchypoo friends - these things run too deep in me and I hope that whatever path my spirit leads me on will not separate me from these wonderful women in my life. I will always have a love of 'Darksome Nights and Shining Moons' and I will always try to live in harmony with the changing seasons but something needs to change and I am open to the new way unfolding before me. It will take courage but I will follow the signs just as I did to get to here.

As Carl Jung (roughly) says 'what is true for a man in the morning of his life by evening will have become a lie.' I guess I'm just sorting my truths out.

30 Days of Happiness - Day 16

Happiness is...

Celebrating the Full Moon

with a room full of nekked strangers...

dancing around a flaming Cauldron invoking Hecate...

Well, that was my Friday night. How was yours?

Friday, July 18, 2008

30 Days of Happiness - Day 15

Happiness is...

Going to my first live gig in 14 years and...

being seduced by the beautiful voice and warm nature of the gorgeous Clare Bowditch.

Love, love, love this woman!

I have to say that it was with some nervousness that I approached my first gig in a very, long time. I didn't have to travel far for it thankfully as Ruby's is just down the street from our house! The night didn't get off to a very good start with Ruby's being extremely disorganised. Our tickets said the gig began at 8pm. Ruby's however didn't open their doors until well after that and that meant a small crowd of very cold, increasingly pissed off people were kept waiting outside freezing their nads off. I was not a happy bunny.

When the staff finally appeared from inside, they spent the next 30 minutes of our time setting up the lights and the till for the door. Again, not a great start. They didn't even apologise for the delay which I thought was arrogant and in very bad form. There is no excuse for keeping people waiting especially on a really cold night.

Once we got in the support band still didn't come on for another hour and a half. They weren't good. Sorry Hot Little Hands but you need to decide on a sound and then make it your own. It was an uninteresting support act and I was singularly unimpressed (and let's not forget here that I have been the mad woman at the front of the amateur gig night screaming encouragement to my beloved musician boyfriend on more than one occasion, so I'm not exactly a harsh critic of performance here!). The sound levels were pretty shocking too I have to say. Not sure how much experience the guy had on the sound deck but I've been to Panto that sounded better.

Finally, the glorious Clare made her casual entrance. We almost didn't know she was on (again, sort out the sound guys!). She then took off her faux fur shrug and popped her lovely green case down and began to have a little chat with the audience. I immediately warmed to her. I mean, I adore her music but this lass is funny! She was relaxed and engaging and very, very watchable. And when the voice finally appeared.... ahhhhhh. What bliss. One of the more memorable moments was when she forgot the lyrics to Oranges and invited a member of the audience to come up on stage and sing it with her. Enter Caitlin, a lovely 18-year old girl (with a huge amount of courage), who knew every single word of the song but was, unfortunately, completely tone deaf! The crowd were very supportive and it was a lovely, if very funny, moment. Clare tried valiently to pitch her harmonies in with this voice that literally went from one end of the scale to the other in mere seconds. Second most memorable moment was when she broke out her Casio (from the late 70's) and did a sort of improvised memory wander back to the days of her youth complete with casio backup effects - I can't remember the names of the different effects but there was a definite Bosanova beat in there at one point. Very funny.

I was left wanting more and with an even higher opinion of her amazing voice than I was when I arrived and that, to me, is the definition of a good live performance.
I enjoyed every minute of it and it was, in the end, a great introduction back to the live music scene. Having said that, it would have to be an extraordinary performer to lure me back to Ruby's any time soon. Big disappointment for such a well known live gig venue.

I'm off to download her latest album The Moon Looked On from ITunes!

30 Days of Happiness - Day 14

Happiness is...

Painting with my Beanie for the very first time...

pure genius in the making.
Now if I could just get her to stop eating the paints...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

30 Days of Happiness - Day 13

Happiness is...

a beautiful view of the ocean... ominously dark clouds notwithstanding.

It wasn't quite as dark as it looks, it was only about 4pm but it was quite a moody vista. I do miss the sea.

Yes, we found a lemon.

It was gorgeous child's first day at the beach since summer! Don't you just love the new hat.

Mum, get this monkey off my back! (Not when that monkey is the only thing standing between you and the surf missy!)

Shortly after this photo was taken, she fell in a sea puddle and got very, very wet. Bad Monkey, Smack Paws.