'The purpose – where I start – is the idea of use.
It is not recycling, it’s reuse...'
Ok. Here is our Christmas Tree for 2013...
I can't quite express the level of delight creating this tree has brought me - firstly there is the joy in the act of making something with ones own hands; but for me that satisfaction has been met by the added knowledge that everything decorating this tree has been either made at, or sourced from around our home; requiring no financial outlay whatsoever. Each item on the tree already plays a role in our lives, has a story, and is appreciated and loved - meaning that when the festive season reaches its inevitable end that these same objects are able to seamlessly merge back to their former purpose, rather than languishing in storage for another year, or worse, being discarded.
I created this tree from wood scraps sourced from the Freshwater tip-shop for $5.00 in total. A rumble through the Poets' toy box revealed numerous decorative opportunities in the form of plastic animals and a ballerina in need of a new home.
I filled Baubles with photographs I have taken of local landscapes we love, and more farmyard friends.
Stars, hearts and circles were cut with great enthusiasm from Sculpy using play dough cookie-cutters and the Poet's eager hands. Glitter glue was later globbed on with equal enthusiasm!
Vintage French lace and ribbon found in my sewing box has filled the role of tinsel, and last year's lights are thankfully still working and not in need of replacing...
and Dante's chalk board has been 'borrowed' for the next few weeks to get the Christmas message out to guests.
... and at the base of the tree are our Christmas Stockings hand made by the amazing Kristen Tennyson [who is taking orders for these incredible keepsakes] - you can see more of her wonderful work here].
One of many standing ovations Cohen received during the 3.5 hour show...
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again
(William Shakespeare - The Tempest III.ii.130–138).
Last night I joined a number of privileged people treading this fair earth who have had the fortune to spend an evening with Leonard Cohen.
I pinched myself when I first heard that Cohen, at 79 years of age was not only touring Australia again; but that this time - by some wondrous twist of fate - that my home town of Cairns was to be one of the few locations where he would perform. Finally a life long dream of mine, to see Cohen perform live, was to be realised...
The 'Old Ideas' tour performance in Cairns last night shone forth with mastery, delivered with a generous dose of gratitude and humility. Cohen's voice and stage presence utterly contradicted his age and nothing about this performance in fact seemed 'old'. Songs Cohen must have performed a thousand times or more, such as Who by Fire were sung with such passion, panache and presence that one felt the intimacy and immediacy of every word and note.
The ensemble supporting Leonard was an utterly inspired selection of some of the most outstanding musicians the world can collate, and the combination of their sensibilities with Cohen's left me feeling so elated it was almost too much... This was an evening with musicians at the very top of their game, and with every new song that brought delight, came the knowledge that one was one step closer to the dream's end...
And so it is that today I have found myself in a post LC fog - humming any number of tunes - knowing that the combination of musicians brought together for this series of concerts with Cohen was utterly inspired. I found myself trawling the internet to find clips from other 'Old Ideas' performances with the same ensemble as last night's show, in an attempt to relive and share some of the experience. Thankfully modern technology has indulged me...
Below are five songs that stood out for me last night as highlights, but in saying that - every song shone. What has impressed me has been to listen to each of these songs today and to be able to again experience something of the magic so abundant in the air last night...
For those who have not had the opportunity to experience this incredible collection of people coming together to share such a gift, and for those who were there and who long to hear such 'sounds and sweet airs' again - enjoy...
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
[Mary Oliver - Wild Geese]
While Oliver's Wild Geese do not frequent my little pocket of the world, there is a cry 'harsh and exciting' that awakens my senses whenever I have the fortune and mindfulness to hear. Red-tailed Black Cockatoos oft decorate the sky above with their distinctive black silhouettes; filling the air with a primordial cawing, so distinctive I cannot help but divert them my attention and gratitude.
Today these impossibly slow moving forms [that somehow maintain flight; contradicting their lackadaisical wing speed], were striking against a sky that spoke of storms. Soon the 'clear pebbles of rain' arrived in abundance and I delighted in immersing myself in a landscape transformed by moisture, as sky merged with land, and forms dissolved, shifted, and reformed, as thunder echoed from every available surface...
Struck by the beauty of it all - and after such a harsh time, so welcome a contrast... I found myself not just delighting, but dancing in the rain to the sounds of an imaginary piano accordian, vaudeville style, as the poets splashed in puddles;
Rain Dogs all...
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world...
The delicate scent of the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow's carried in the breeze... Over the last few weeks these flowers have decorated the garden - a visual reminder of life's ephemerality... Often their presence has been accompanied in my mind by the distinctive sound of The Velvet Underground and Nico's melancholic refrain All Tomorrow's Parties...
This morning I woke to hear on the radio that Lou Reed is no more... Hopefully the legacy of his extraordinary creative output will continue to weave its way through our lives indefinitely - leaving us all the richer for it...
After 'discovering' The Velvet Underground and Reed's solo releases The Blue Mask and Transformer as an art student, a friend introduced me to his collaboration with John Cale, Songs for Drella - a reflection and a confessional about their lives and times amidst Andy Warhol and The Factory... I played it on vinyl, on high rotation; so taken by Reed and Cale's unflinching reflections - that in fifteen songs became a succinct and intensely personal musical autobiography of a time that was both prolific and volatile...
In the decades since first hearing these songs, this album has become part of my own history. Revisiting it today I am met with my own memories and stories, the scent of coffee and spent cigarettes, Melbourne streets after summer rain...
Hello It's Me was always my favourite track on the album; because to me this song encapsulated the difficultly of the relationship between Reed and Warhol - the admiration and the resentment, the ideal and the reality, gratitude and regret... it was an song that came years after Reed and Warhol had parted ways, penned after Warhol had died; where Reed tries to put The Factory daemons to rest - to make peace with that part of his past...
Here is the link to Reed and Cale's incredible performance of this song live, with the lyrics below...
Hello It's Me
Words and music: Lou Reed & John Cale
Andy it's me, haven't seen you in a while I wished I talked to you more when you were alive I thought you were self-assured when you acted shy Hello it's me I really miss you, I really miss your mind I haven't heard ideas like that in such a long, long time I loved to watch you draw and watch you paint But when I saw you last I turned away
When Billy Name was sick and locked up in his room You asked me for some speed, I though it was for you I'm sorry that I doubted your good heart Things always seem to end before they start
Hello it's me, that was a great gallery show Your cow wallpaper and your floating silver pillows I wish I paid more attention when they laughed at you Hello it's me
"Pop goes pop artist," the headline said "Is shooting a put-on, is Warhol really dead?" You get less time for stealing a car I remember thinking as I heard my own record in a bar
They really hated you, now all that's changed But I have some resentments that can never be unmade You hit me where it hurt I didn't laugh Your Diaries are not a worthy epitaph
Oh well now Andy - guess we've got to go I hope some way somehow you like this little show I know it's late in coming but it's the only way I know Hello it's me - goodnight Andy... Goodbye, Andy
The Passionfruits are flowering again in abundance, their perfume and nectar attracting any number of insects and birds, and their beauty ever demanding the attention of my eye and my camera...
Passion flowers... I first fell for the drama of Maud as a child and I do not care to argue that Tennyson is not a cool poet on whom to direct ones affections... He was my first poetic love, and Maud, his gothic romantic botanical drama that unfolds with perfect rhythm and meter continues to move me, decades after I first read it ...