Cutting And Growing.

[my photo: Remnants of Summer grapes lingered into Winter.]

Pruning the grapevines, through sunset, into dark. Finishing because there’s no more light to distinguish the dark grey vine bark from the shadows.

It all connects me back to my dad. The way he made use of that time of the day.

Pruning for fruit growth next year. Pruning for shape, for future direction.

Working on something right now, that you will only see the desired results for in six months’ time, or longer.

Yes there is a result right now. Clearing off the wood that has gone to sleep. Neatening the plant back to it’s strongest branches.

But it’s really all about that planning ahead. Where do you want it to be, next year, the year after that? Shaping with a future direction in mind. Not a specific goal so much as, assisting it into a better framework of future.

And isn’t that what we want with our own life? Making little adjustments now, a trim here, leave that little growth there to strengthen and bloom. I like to think that is what I only ever try to do with myself.

Yet in total honesty, mistakes are made. We cut off too much over here, we let that dead wood linger over there, we become “straggly” and misshapen. And then it takes some hard decisions, some drastic changes, to put ourselves back on the track that we really want.

Hey, that’s okay.

We all need to learn how best to care for ourselves.

And at some point, many of us will be very happy with what we see has, and continues to, grow.

But it is not “All or Nothing”. There is space to be happy with the growth over here, while still working out how best to deal with that branch over there.

Seasons come and go.

They always have and will continue to do so, for everyone. What remains important is this living thing that you look after.

Your core, what and who you choose to be.

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Need some pruning advice, or have a thought to contribute? Leave a few words below.

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There is No Silence.

  Poem illustrated using a photograph by Marah Weston.

I hear the world around me
The radio on
Traffic outside
A rabbit hopping into the litter tray in the laundry
Another rabbit munching on fresh vegetables under the coffee table
The kitchen clock ticking away, a metronome to my life
And I hear other experiences
The tuned static deep in my ears, ever-present tinnitus.
The almost silent but perceptible negativity, self-criticism, in my brain.
With my eyes closed, thoughts of today swirl around
Do I keep pushing into the day?
Do I curl up in bed again and rest this weary body?
Trying to avoid the inevitable pain of my life.

Creative Advice Tips.

So today I read this amazing inspirational list of advice for artists written by the amazing Allison Marie.

All her words are so timely for me and manage to hit the mark with a current concern in my life.

I was also inspired to have a go at some Hand Lettering by a good friend’s recent post.

So tonight while I was at a meeting, I drew this:

 
I like that this effort has revived my interest in pen work. Thanks {A}.

What do you think?  

When did you last have a go at hand lettering something?  

A Statement, A Question, A Response.

 

THE VANISHING
You disappear
and I don’t know how to reach you
I don’t know what to say
to open up the connection
that I need to feel
I need something more real
than the everyday
when you hide away.

NO TRUST, NO LOVE
Why do you fear
not meeting my expectations?
Why do you fear
a failure in my eyes?
Have I not shown you
enough love over twenty years?
Don’t you trust me
to love you no matter what?
I want to keep loving you
But I can’t love half a person;
That half I love even more
That you keep hidden away.

PROLOGUE
This is me reaching out
This is me trying to connect with you
through all my discomfort and anxiety
This is me being as honest as I can
This is me hoping you understand
This is me hoping communication works
Because if it doesn’t
If you can’t open up
and reach back with your entire soul
I will continue as I am
Feeling little from you
So making up my own feelings
from my hurt and despair.

Learning and Remembering.

I feel good today, proud of myself. And my Dad would have been proud of me as well. So today I was wearing the 35 year old t-shirt that I silk-screen-printed for him during a primary school camp. At the time I also made a much smaller blue one for myself. That wore thin years ago and was recently sewn into a patchwork quilt by my Mum. This t-shirt in the photo was given back to me by Dad a few years ago, in a very simple but touching gesture. He no longer fitted into it and was wondering if I would like it “back”. 

When I wear this shirt, I think of better times. Of childhood fun camps, of a good Dad before he was knocked off his motorbike by a drunk driver, suffering brain & body damage in the process that eventually led to the break up of our family.

Today I finally received the opportunity to take my firearms licence training course. Firearm safety is taken very seriously in Australia. So there is a day of training in all aspects of shooting. How guns work, Personal safety, Ethical hunting, Legal requirements, General shooting knowledge. There are two theory tests during the day and then two practical tests. I might say I passed with flying colours.

I listened intently and soaked up all the new information, and asked question about unclear areas, just like I used to in school. So I scored 25/25 on both theory tests, very happy about that. Then later in the day we had the practical tests.

First was firing a .22 rimfire rifle at a target 50m away. The goal was to have a cluster of 10 shots within a circle the same diameter as the black centre. Due to these guns being used constantly for training, the sights may not be accurate and may be misaligned high, low, left, right, or a combination of those. So all that is expected is a close grouping anywhere on the target. Other than one of my first two shots out to the right, I grouped the other nine within a half diameter of the circle. I call that very good consistency. Keep in mind that the last time I fired a rifle I was about 10 during one of our family camping trips into the outback. 

Second range test was firing a shotgun at 20m. Something I have never done before! First I had to pick up the shotgun, close the breach and take a firing stance. Perhaps I was practically applying all that I read and heard today, and perhaps distant memories of my father instructing my older brothers came back to me, but I took a perfect stance, leaning towards my front leg and keeping my outer elbow up for stability. 

Then a single cartridge is loaded, to get the hang of firing. I aimed the barrel at the first of five metal “rabbits”, and fired. The recoil ammount surprised me, but my aim was true and down went the first target. Not bad for a beginner! 

Next the two side-by side chambers are both loaded for the second and third shots. I decide to just keep working along the line of targets from left to right. Second and third targets go down cleanly. The instructor mentions that the centre target is a little stiffer than the others and needs to be hit dead-centre to knock it over. I saw plenty of other people miss or only edge some of the targets. 

Once more the gun is loaded with two more cartridges and I prepare to fire in my own time. Number four and number five targets go down. A perfect score! The passing requirement was to knock over three of the five targets.

So now I know what the recoil kick of a shotgun feels like. I’m sure that my shoulder won’t be bruised tomorrow, all the body support of the gun was correct.

Getting home after six hours of training, I felt very tired. All that concentration and focus I put into the day certainly paid off.

Know that an Australian license holder goes through very thorough training. There are strong deterrents in fines of up to $75,000 and 5 years in jail for any firearm offences or hunting offences. And if accused the onus is on you to prove your innocence. Conviction of any firearm or hunting offences will also likely result in permanent revoking of your shooting license and confiscation of all your firearms. Because human life is so valuable, the legal deterrents are very strong.

No doubt some of you have different opinions of shooting or different experiences with firearms depending on which country you are in. I am against animal cruelty. Most of the hunting in Australia is of feral animals. Rabbits, foxes, wild cats, goats, and pigs have all been introduced during white settlement and pose serious threat to all of our native wildlife and plants. My intention is to have my license purely to inherit a few firearms from my Dad’s collection. With as much of their history and sentimental value to my father as I can understand.

I wish he was still around. I know he would have been proud of me. He would have humbly congratulated me and given some gentle reminders about safety and skill. I won’t go around bragging, this will stay here on a somewhat-private wordpress post. That is how my Dad would have wanted it and I understand why.

I wish we could have gone shooting together, now that I understand how significant that activity was to him. All I have now are the memories. But going through this process has given me a better appreciation of him, and that is more valuable than anything else right now.

All That Mattered.


[ I decided to have a go at illuminating the text of this poem I wrote. In the end I scanned my two drafts drawn with artist fine-tip felt pen on paper and made adjustments on my computer. Then coloured the background using a phone image app. Happy with the final result, mostly hand work and a little computer finishing off. ]

Original text.

A Dream of Touch.

I want touch to be common
and of the particular moment.

I want touch to come with a special look from you deep into my eyes.

I want touch to come out of nowhere
and surprise me with its warm connection.

I want you to respond to my touch
to reflect back the love I freely give.

I want to watch the sunlight dance
between our touching hands.

I want to investigate touch;
to start from nothing
test the shortest fingertip contact
feel the electricity of connection
let it grow as we discuss what is happening what we feel, what we imagine
let it end for now, or let it consume us.

I want touch to be a language
both a living conversation
and a silent communicator between us.

I want touch to be a healer,
a joiner, a comfort

I want touch to be excitement
I want touch to be reassurance

And if darkness keeps us from touching
I want us both to understand
and find the words to fill in for touch.

I want you to feel my touch
and for me to feel your touch
like the only link keeping us alive.

I want touch to be a daily reminder
of the wonder of life
and the wonder of us.

Silver Linings – Day 32.

Ice and snow is not something that happens here. We get excited when it’s cold enough to rain with hail once or twice during winter. Sub-zero temperatures are unheard of. Our experiences are mostly of drought and temperatures in the mid 40s Celsius.

So when a friend mentioned she had spare tickets to a pop-up ice-skating rink on Sunday I opted in for a unique experience.

Catching the tram into the city, I thought back to when I last skated. 25 years ago at a big indoor rink on the edge of town.

But this was different. A marquee setup on the grass alongside the small river that runs through town. Some fire barrels, warm drinks and a few outdoor games while you are waiting. The marquee was enclosed with clear panels so it still felt quite open. And inside, a portable ice rink roughly 6×12 metres. Not big, but we were early and got out on the ice straight away before the hoards of parents and children started trickling in.

First thing I noticed was that I hadn’t forgotten how to skate, in my self-taught-by-watching-others style anyway. Starting, stopping, turning, all easy, just like riding a bicycle!

Fun music playing, a predominance of early Michael Jackson songs. I just enjoyed myself thoroughly. Certain that I had a big smile on my face the whole time.

As more and more people got onto the ice, negotiating around the more cautious skaters became fun. Picking one of the experienced skaters and trying to keep up with them.

And after a while, I noticed mostly everyone was having a fun time as well. All I could hear was laughter and happy voices. What a great little atmosphere. People laughing at partners falling. Children eyes wide with wonder. Adults joyfully helping children skate. Even beginners hanging onto their penguin stands gliding along and enjoying themselves. Children falling over in front of me – stop and help them up with a smile, see them smile back.

Sunday I had a magical experience. The more I think back to it, the more joy I feel.

Now I know that one day I must skate in an outside natural skate arena, at night, maybe with a glass of champagne in one hand. And have some lessons, learn to skate better and skate backwards. New goals, fresh inspiring ideas, future thoughts!


What are your ice skating experiences?
What was the last magical experience you had?