Day three of the birthday festival

I had a joyful birthday lunch last year at Patina, Customs House. Unfortunately, my mood beforehand was decidedly maudlin, resulting in the following self reflective poem.

Expectations, unheard, unwritten, not agreed, lead to disappointment. Frustration from despondency could result in an outpouring or inner turmoil. Assumptions can conflict create or do secrets forge, limiting authenticity. Living as a liar may rebellion incite or self-loathing and self-destruction result.

This year, I decided to take control of myself; to celebrate the end and beginning of a new birth year with close my husband and close friends.

We turned up at GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to see the European Masters exhibition on loan from the Met, New York on Thursday. The thought of queuing for one hour did not rock my boat so we headed for a great lunch at Julius Pizzeria followed by sundowner drinks at the Terrace Rooftop Bar.

The photograph above shows the view of the city looking northeast from the Terrace towards the city, across the Brisbane River.

On Friday our tastebuds were treated to an exquisite six course degustation lunch including, seven amuse bouches and matching wines. Next we went to Maya Mexican rooftop restaurant and bar for cocktails, gorgeous nibbles, socialising and dancing.

The picture above taken from Maya shows the city on the right and a neon looking outline of the Storey Bridge left of centre.

Today we rest. Plans will form or not, as the day progresses.

Tomorrow I will enter my 58th year.

Creative gardening solution

The orientation, overshadowing, and patio roof provide a welcome respite from the searing Queensland sun in Summer.

Our compact courtyard is challenging when it comes to choosing plants. Areas receiving photosynthesis fuel in Spring and Summer are ignored during Autumn and Winter.

The raised bed next to the spa is on its fourth bout of planting. Fingers crossed the golden cane palms will flourish with agaves and mother-in-law’s tongues.

We have run out of ground space, resulting in the need for creative alternatives. The distance between the six feet high fence and the neighbour’s house is just wide enough to accommodate the depth of a self-watering trough.

So far these pretties are enjoying a daily slot of sunshine.

Sunburnt goth

I live in a country with an overhead continent sized hole in the ozone layer and one of the highest incidents of skin cancer in the World. Moving to the Sunshine State of Queensland three years ago has increased the chance of skin damage.

As I inherited moles from my parents, it is recommended, I should get my skin checked annually. Thankfully at a recent going over, I was given the all clear.

An early DNA test revealed my paternal heritage hails from Northern Europe while my maternal Romani ancestors migrated from the northern Mediterranean region to the UK.

Up until around age 12, growing up in England, meant happily playing in the sun sans sunscreen. Turning red was an accepted step to a ‘healthy’ colour. It appears my Caucasian flesh pigmentation is influenced more from the northern rather than the southern realms.

During the heatwave of 1976, while caravanning in Barmouth, Wales, I learned a painful lesson. Running around topless resulted in the most excruciatingly painful sunburn imaginable. It was too sore to even have fabric next to my skin. I slept on my front, lathered in calamine lotion.

Once home, I enjoyed an unhealthy fascination with peeling great sheets of dead skin from my body.

Freckles across my upper back and shoulders are a constant reminder of that day.

With age, I have found liberally applied factor 50+ protection allows my porcelain hued complexion to gradually morph to a honey glow.

The bizarre thing is, from early on, I sought to seek out darkness rather than the light. Maybe it was rebellion against a Christian upbringing. I hungrily devoured texts laden with the macarbre, vampires, devils, witches, fortune telling, the Tarot, dreams, ghosts, and Victorian gothic romanticism. If I had been more worldly wise and less concerned with what I assumed people thought of me, I would have embraced the goth culture of the 1980s. This may even have led to finding ways to link with the eastern Germanic tribes of the same name.

A career path into hospitality reaffirmed the need to hide my identity and fit into the expected ‘norm’. Perhaps, pursuing art studies should have provided a safe space for discovering my inner self and self-expression.

In some ways my stifled authenticity has stunted my development. Labelling myself a neo pagan in my forties, I indulged my interest in the occult. I read as much as I could, learned to invoke natural energies to enhance spell work and tried to understand the hidden meaning of symbolism. The launch of this blog coincided with the conclusion of my mystical journeying.

It is now, in my late fifties, I feel comfortable and safe enough to explore my inner goth. A Brisbane Pride March and Fair Day, scheduled for yesterday has been postponed due the risk of COVID community transmission. I was gearing up to launch my goth in facial expression at these events. This would have come as a surprise to my companions.

The photograph above captures a shaky handed and hasty first attempt at the makeup. I didn’t wait long enough for the primer and foundation to dry and managed to poke myself in the eye with the mascara brush.

I haven’t worked out what to do with my beard. Maybe purple-black glitter; glam goth.

Spring 2021

Spring has so far been a joy to experience. The suburban streetscape is budding with the promise of growth, encouraged by warmer daytime temperatures. Today’s blue sky and sunshine is forecasted to achieve 29oC.

While southeast Queensland’s Winter temperatures could not be described as harsh, we have limited our time sitting rugged up in the courtyard.

Our modest tropical resort themed outdoor area is slowly evolving. It now boasts a three person spa heated to 35oC. To the left golden cane palms, mother-in-law tongues, and agaves provide a focal point to rest our eyes. Behind stands a stylised skateboarder panel, supporting variegated jasmine. The almost daily post workday dip was well worth braving the cooler temperatures, over the last few weeks.

This moment’s easy Sunday feeling is enhanced by a powder puff aroma from lemongrass and lavender incense sticks. Pale grey smoke lazily floats around our feet and ankles before wafting up; nostril tickling.

Acceptance

Lately, I’ve been mulling over the concept of acceptance in contributing to happiness.

For me, conscious and unconscious resistance can lead to spending more money than we have and overindulgence in the hip widening and liver damaging luxuries of life.

The resulting feelings of frustration, anger, shame, blame, guilt, self-loathing, and self-doubt are overwhelming.

Ruminating on the past while agonising over the consequences of my actions, results in a harsh reality. Appropriately described in the idiom, ‘you’ve made your bed, now lie on it.’ A mantra I frequently use to beat myself with.

Sometimes, being dissatisfied with my current lot, I can be impatient in getting to where I believe we are striving to be. Dangerous territory, being built on a vague assumption and an indeterminate plan.

Frenzied discombobulated highly tiring brain activity follows. This green tinted lens lessens my appreciation of what we have in our relationship, friends and family, home life, home location and surrounds, lifestyle, work balance, safety, and freedom.

I have found refusing to accept our situation significantly impacts my mental resilience. Compounding incidents hasten a downward spiralling mood. The only way out is for me to provide myself permission to embrace the present and take time to enjoy what is now, not what was, or may be.

CMW

Our Contemporary Mobile Workfore (CMW) policy allows employees to work from home five days out of ten.

One of the conditions for lockdown week two not happening, wearing of masks at work for two weeks even if one can socially distance. My role includes a reasonable amount of time on the telephone.

The CMW rules have been relaxed for two weeks. I have opted to continue to work from home. One week down, one to go.

The above picture is a memory from a lunch time walk last month. Shadows at play from the glass porch at the north eastern doorway of the gothic revival Cathedral of St. Stephen.

Lockdown week 1

Pre-lockdown memory, juxtaposition, cathedral of St. Stephen

It started shortly after my last post, Not in lockdown . Delta variant attempting to run havoc through the antipodes, detected in Brisbane.

Apart from the initial lockdown last year, Queensland has been largely spared from long lockdowns. Victoria and now New South Wales are shouldering the burden.

What a frustrating working from home week!

Monday
The cloud based telephony software was upgraded. The adjusted functionality resulted in me missing a huge number of calls during my 2.75 hours of loop time.

The GP called us in early for the second Pfizer vaccination. I took an hour off work.

Tuesday
After working for about two hours, flu symptoms started. No more work for me today. By the evening a fever was making me feel decidedly uncomfortable.

Wednesday
Feeling 80% of my usual self, I spent the day catching up on unfinished work until the database went down around 3:30 pm.

Thursday
A reasonably productive day.

Friday
A fault in the Woolloongabba national broadband node resulted in an Internet outage of about one hour before lunch time. This resulted in no phone, email, Teams or database access.

We will find out on Sunday if the lockdown is being extended.

Not in lockdown

I awoke knowing I had to attend a local pathology lab before working from home. Google maps to confirmed an opening time of 6:30 am.

The hot shower resulted in a centrally heated glow emananating through my body. Do I need a coat? Surely I will be okay in shorts and tee. Unknowing if I needed to be fasting or not, I headed out without a coffee.

The cooling 13oC air enveloped my body on exiting. After a couple of minutes, I had to head back for my face mask.

Upon arriving at the clinic, a man was on his way out, four people were seated, and there were four chairs to spare. I sat nearest the entrance. At this point I was far from awake. Why then had I sat next to a source of blasting music? First thought was, a television, no a radio. For a fraction of a second I considered moving seat. After all it would have gone unnoticed to my peers; absorbed by their phones.

The bespectacled used head stowage and push forward methods to escape the irritation of fogged up lenses. While playing word puzzles, solitaire, and Woodoku, I chose to do the on and off, repeat motion.

I made a mental note of the people in front of me. An unnecessary waste of brain power as we all had handed over referral forms to the mufti clad nurse. She was keeping them and us in strict chronological order.

Between patients, the waiting room was treated to melodious stereo as the nurse sang along.

Eventually, I allowed myself to be pointed into the collection room. Robotically settling into the wide throne like chair with wide arm caps. The identity checking and arm choice over, I ‘scooted’ over to the left. The tourniquet attached, fist clenched, ‘you’ll feel a sharp sting’.

A few minutes passed, gaze averted, lulled by the occasional soft popping and scraping noises of the tubes being swapped over. I was jolted from trying not to think about the ache developing in my arm by the nurse. ‘Oh, are you okay? I drifted off there. A mini meditation’, she said.

Commencing the five minutes walk home, I reflected on the sparse number of cars, the sunshine delivering tepid warmth, and how fortunate we are not being in lockdown.

Daylight phantom

There stands an old gum tree, it’s immense;
Next to land, ringed by a solid fence.
Embedded in the trunk very deep,
Black metal cashbox, safely to keep.

Behind a bench, a slight figure forms,
Drawn face, cold grey eyes begin to warm.
‘The grip, scrumpox, burns, warts, sores, or chills?
I’ve tonics, lotions, pills for all ills!’

‘Cure’s on hand for aches, pains, blisters, gout.
Best int’all land,’ voice raises to shout.
‘Tinctures, potions, ointments, aplenty.
Discount to you when buying twenty.’

On emaciated frame hangs down,
A tattered and faded teal plaid gown.
‘Hark my words, come on over’, she sings.
Meanwhile, an unseen bell faintly rings.

A visual echo of eons ago
Of wise woman’s travelling, healing show.
Demise foretold at birth by a seer,
Jealous fakes will spake lies about here.

She’ll die unwed, two score years and ten.
Deed to be done by ignorant men,
Committed to burn without a trial.
People to watch come many a mile.

The solemn gloom filled day came to pass.
Remains interred below the scorched grass.
Mage’s cashbox lay in restless sleep.
‘Til life from death, a tree grew to keep.

Townsfolk give the woman, widest berth.
‘No place for phantoms on this green earth!’
Together, moon, sun shine; Winter sky.
Apparition fades at death knell’s lie.

There stands an old gum tree, it’s immense;
Next to land, ringed by a solid fence.
Embedded in the trunk very deep,
Black metal cashbox, mem’ries to keep.

The above is the second and final draft of last week’s post Black metal cashbox poem.

Black metal cashbox

There stands an old gum tree, it’s immense;
Next to land ringed by a solid fence.
Embedded in the trunk very deep,
Black metal cashbox, safely to keep.

Behind a bench, a slight figure forms,
Drawn face, cold grey eyes begin to warm.
‘The grip, scrumpox, burns, warts, sores, or chills?
I’ve tonics, lotions, pills for all ills!’

‘Cure’s on hand for aches, pains, blisters, gout.
Best int’all land,’ voice raises to shout.
‘Tinctures, potions, ointments, aplenty.
Discount to you when buying twenty.’

On emaciated frame hangs down,
A tattered and faded teal plaid gown.
‘Hark my words, come on over’, she sings.
Meanwhile, an unseen bell faintly rings.

Townsfolk give the woman, widest berth.
‘No place for phantoms on this green earth’.
Together, Moon, Sun shine; Winter sky.
Apparition fades at death knell’s sound.

There stands an old gum tree, it’s immense;
Next to land ringed by a solid fence.
Embedded in the trunk very deep,
Black metal cashbox, safely to keep.