Picture this!

14025650Image:  Mapio.net

Built in the art deco style, this movie theatre was the heart of social life in my hometown for those who loved Hollywood movies.  My mother, of course, was an avid fan of the glitz and glamour.  My father adored Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  My mother had American pen pals who sent her packages of magazines, from memory, Photoplay and Silver Screen.  She would pour over them before her afternoon siesta.  She never parted with a single magazine.

Empire Talkies was also a place where many teens experienced their first kiss.  You knew who was on a date when you saw them choose the back row.  Upstairs was even more private with individual booths.  I can remember the twentysomethings avoiding the younger crowd’s gaze when coming down the stairs!  The movie would be shown all week.  Western cowboy movies were always a big hit, so was any movie with Elvis in it.

My sister was a huge fan of The Beatles.  When they came to India my parents had to keep close watch on her because they thought she would take off to try and meet them in the far north!  When the movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ was released she pleaded with the manager to give her one of the movie posters which she cherished.  She watched the movie all week for every session.  I think he only relented to get rid of her!

I, too, love movies but unlike my mother, I’m a fan of only a few Hollywood movies.  My favourite picture of all time is Babette’s Feast.  A movie of generosity of spirit.  I love it more each time I watch it.  Sitting on a blanket under stars watching movies with pizza and wine during the Perth Festival is a fond memory with a friend.  Days I would love to experience again.

The beautiful movie theatre no longer exists.  Built by a prominent Bollywood acting family considered ‘acting royalty’, it is a crumbled ruin.  It saddens me to know this.  Many a teenage love story would start with “Remember when we went to Empire ….”.  The building may have been crushed by time, hopefully, memories last longer.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Ragtag Daily Prompt:  Picture

Ah! April!


April is a month of celebration in my family.  We have two family birthdays, including mine, and I have several friends who celebrate a birthday this month too.  Three of whom celebrate a birthday on the same day as me.

I also got married in April.  I’m grateful I met my husband and we had a family.  We also enjoy a good relationship and have been able to co-parent without drama.  He is a good father to our children and they love and respect him.  I still appreciate his humor, at least, most of the time!  One cannot ask for more.

I survived a major traffic accident in April, many years ago, and given a new lease on life.  It is something I have written about in another post because it changed my life in many ways.  Years later, when it gets cooler, my movements are slower when I recall the accident in pain.  The upside is I was given a financial compensation that helped me buy my first home in the days when it was almost unheard of for a single woman to get a mortgage.

April is often a month of chocolates! What’s not to love about this!

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, April may signal spring.  For us in the Southern Hemisphere, it is autumn.  A time to look forward to the new.

Easter often comes around in April.  For those who celebrate Easter, it is a time to experience reflection, renewal and hope.

It starts getting cooler in the Southern Hemisphere around this time of year.  I always seem to feel the first chill in the Wheatbelt where the horizon hides nothing and space takes charge.  I know how beautiful it can be at dawn and I rug up and head out to get a photograph or two.  It is a time when I practice what I preach.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


This track, leads somewhere

DSCN6067.jpgIn all my travels around this large State, the most enjoyable drives have been on this track.  Off the highway, north of Broome in the north of Western Australia is Cape Leveque Road, some 90 kms of bone crunching, corrugated, unsealed road.  It is impassable in the ‘wet’ season when it floods.  The remote communities in this region have to stock up or have supplies brought in by sea or small aircraft.  Most of the drive is silent because of the violent jolting.  Wear white, at your peril!

There are a surprising number of feral cats in this area unfortunately.  At night, their eyes glow in the dark roadside.  I’m sure they must be a nuisance to native animals.  I’ve also seen wild donkeys and wild horses known as brumbies in the region.  This is not a road for novice drivers.

There is a pearl farm in the region at Cygnet Bay, family owned for over 70 years.  It’s a lovely place to stay and visit.  The pearls are beautiful as they are pricey.  One can also stay at Kooljaman, not far from Cygnet Bay.  Be warned, the area is ‘rustic’.  Our room did not even have a lock!

There are other areas of interests for tourists here but the journey deters them.  Unfortunately, there are plans to seal this road to increase tourism.  I’m in the camp that views this with disappointment and with a degree of selfishness.  The impact of tourism in this region is a concern, but on the other hand, it gives the communities something positive.

The rough track was the best part of the journey.  I’ve learned to see life that way too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to FOWC:  Track

Pelican power

DSCN9055.jpgMy trip to Esperance was a whirl.  The flight in was rough and as we jostled along into descent I calmed my nerves by thinking about Lake Windabout.  ‘

The flight was late coming in and there was only a short window of light before dusk.  I headed to the lake from the airport to a find about a dozen pelicans.  The water was pewter in fading light.  The pelicans, a beautiful contrast.

I like reading about the symbolism of birds.  I thought is was interesting that the only birds I saw this time (other than persistent photo bombing seagulls), were pelicans.

Pelicans are collaborative birds who work to the other’s strengths and skills.  They herd fish and share the bounty.

It’s interesting because at the end of a challenging two day clinic, a colleague sent me a TED talk link.  We both work well together.  And, we do because we work collaboratively.  There’s strength in this, another symbolic feature of a pelican.

Interestingly, my business slogan is:  “Working collaboratively, works best”.

If the pelicans were there to ‘speak’ to me symbolically.  All I can say is, copy that!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



In the aftermath …

DSCN6209 2.JPG

A life
like a heartbeat, or a pulse
gathers momentum
crosses the line
that no longer divides
the power
that unstoppable equalizer
flattens without discrimination
leaving an indelible mark
And, in the aftermath
a message, recycled
what does not kill
makes you stronger,
With love
Cyclone Michael

a dawn bird

In response to Ragtag Daily Prompt:  cyclone


It’s time …

I knew it was not going to be a good trip to the Goldfields.  I left my camera home and took too many files with me instead.  And, I was right.

The TV and phones were still knocked out at the hotel … some three weeks since my last trip.  The hotel has changed management and it would appear the size of their meals, too.  The main, the only meal I ordered, appeared to have lost more weight than me, and appeared as an entree.  The vegetable stack, felt like I did … appearing on the plate horizontal.  There were two sachets, TWO sachets of coffee, when I needed more to work through late.  At 11 pm I found the water bottle is $6 in the mini bar.  Grrrr!

I’m off again today and then will be home for two weeks.  When working for oneself, taking time off is an expensive option.  But, I’ve visited more than 40 sites since the beginning of the year.  It’s time to smell the roses.thumb_IMG_3026_1024.jpgTaking time off has been a necessity.  My son gets married early May.  The last minute preparations for a simple wedding has gone into overdrive.  The young couple are doing it their way.  There will be no conventional wedding cake, I’m told, because, apparently, no one eats cake these days.  But, there will be a token one baked by the bride.  The bride bought her dress at a vintage shop, unpicked it and has created her own dress.  She is a talented seamstress and I’m looking forward to seeing her in it.  There will be singles and couples and the plus ones (I’ve just discovered a new concept – polyamorous relationship) at the reception.

Dr T and I got married under the gum tree in our front yard.  It was the second time ever I had worn a sari but he wanted to see me in one again.  If you don’t know much about a sari, it is around 6 yards long and traditionally worn as one piece.  Dr T loved the thought of ‘unravelling’!  The sari was beautiful.  A lustrous creamy South Indian silk with a red and gold border.  The incongruity of my wedding attire under a gum tree!  But it was my wedding and I loved every moment of it.  During our vows, the couple next door was shushing their children while unloading their car of groceries.  We had only 10 guests and enjoyed a BBQ after.  (My sister had a sit down wedding dinner for 800!).  Dr T and I had lived together for some years before that and it was just a formality for us.  There was no honeymoon.  We went back to work on Monday.

I wanted something different for my son.   When they said they planned a high tea reception, I envisioned an elegant high tea with canopied ceiling, fresh flowers, etc, etc.  And I admit, I went through a phase when my inner mother-of-the-groom-zilla started to make an appearance.  Finally my ever patient son said to me quite simply, “we want to do it our way, the best gift you can give us, is to be happy for us on the day”.  What I wanted and what the young people wanted was worlds apart.  So I graciously stepped out of the picture and asked him to send me the bill but with a caveat … I insisted no short cuts with the food so they have agreed to a caterer.  They are not a couple who wastes money and have been incredibly resourceful.  They have not broken the bank … yet.

Back in a few …

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Hungry, for life

thumb_IMG_1112_1024.jpgThis is Kooljaman (aka Cape Leveque) about 200 kms north of Broome in the far north of Western Australia.  The sea and sky are the bluest blue and the dust, the pindan dirt, is red.  It is stunning country.

I first went to the Kimberley region for work in 2012.  I had heard how beautiful it was so I bought my first DSLR camera.  And, that’s where the love affair with photography started.

I saw the environment around me in ways I hadn’t seen before.  The clouds had texture, the dirt had colour.  I was blinded to this before.

I became hungry for life.  Prior to this, I was living … barely … after the death of a friend.  I was productive, successful in what I was doing, raising children to navigate life, on the surface, all was well.  But, my creativity shut down.  I could not write.  There was  nowhere inside, I could go.  I did not have hunger, the kind that comes from the deepest recesses of one’s being.  It’s difficult to explain, unless you have experienced it.

The camera changed this in a profound way.  Now, the best thing about this hunger is, it never goes away.  There is no satiety.  The appetite increases with each click I take.thumb_IMG_4479_1024.jpgI awaken to sunrise from my bed when I wake in Narrogin.  I prop myself up and wait for this moment.  It never fails to delight.thumb_IMG_2581_1024.jpg
And the bark of the ‘leopard tree’ in the parking lot of the hotel in Bunbury, gives me pause when I’m unloading/loading up the car.thumb_IMG_3542_1024.jpg
The telltale signs of where the tide has been has made me accept transiency for the joy of the moment.thumb_IMG_1733_1024.jpg
Flying into Broome, never fails to take my breath away.

I no longer window shop life.  I live it.  I experience it.  May you do, too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The Shared Space

The perfumed nightly ritual
on cinnamon limbs
remained in the morning air
ylang ylang, bergamot, patchouli
geranium, rose, citrus, too
like music, they were notes, she once said
he was still learning them
when she left too soon, again
in her absence, they flooded his senses
and from the cacophony
he smiled at the dissonance
that resounds when different worlds collide
so he lay there a moment longer
where she had once been with him.

a dawn bird

Before they met …

She was seated across the Friday din
watched him take a thirsty swig
coiled around the stubbie
his fingers, lean and slim
the stubborn red dirt
tattooed under nails,
with surgical precision
His shoulders broad,
with a hint of casualness
two buttons undone at chest
sleeves rolled up, uneven
blue green veins mapped on skin
He caught her glance
balanced it
until the fuse was lit
then he scanned into memory
a treasure chest, to be raided privately
the miscellany, the incongruity of her presence
seated silently, ignoring all
He observed her intermittently
as fingers skimmed keys like a breeze
he took it all in
there was nothing to misread
no gold, no diamonds,
just a single pearl clasped in silver,
in the hollow of her neck
like a third eye, it signalled
for her, there was no one else there, but him

a dawn bird


Autumn in the Wheatbelt

I decided to leave a bit earlier for Merredin, hoping to get there before dark but, roadworks and a big convoy of road trains for part of the journey slowed me down considerably.  I am so done with roadworks!

It struck me yesterday how nervous I used to be overtaking one of those big trucks even when there was an overtaking lane.  I would never overtake on a country road at any other time.  I’ve learnt to trust these drivers.  They know they hold up traffic and help out other motorists.  Seated high in their rigs they have a good view what’s in the distance.  I’ve learnt their helpful signals, two clicks of an indicator means pass or clicks on the opposite side, means get back in lane.  If there’s no traffic a thank you wave gets a quick high beam.  Communication between strangers who will never meet.DSCN9007.jpgFor the stretch between Cunderdin and Kellerberrin there was just one truck ahead of me. The sun was seated at the horizon.  It was going to be dark soon.  I just had to stop and take a picture.  I love those skies in the Wheatbelt!DSCN9011
I spent a few moments resting.  It was peaceful with sheep in the paddock.  With occasional traffic, it was the silence of solitude that I love so much.

My visit went well.  I’ve been asked to do another talk in six months, so I guess that went well too.

I decided to come home after work instead of spending another night there.  It’s a 3.5 hour journey and I knew it would be dark for some of the way but I would be closer to the city and street lights.  As luck would have it I got delayed at work, and I had already checked out.  I had no option but drive home.  By the time I got to Kellerberrin, there was haze from burn off and dust from winds.  Visibility was poor but the sunset was spectacular.  A massive blood red sun that seemed to get bigger as it slipped from view.  I just could not find a safe enough spot to take a picture so I just experienced the moment instead.

Although the weather has been warmer for autumn, the landscape is welcoming a cooler change around the Wheatbelt.DSCN8987.jpg
There are chocolate shards peeling off gum trees in Narrogin.
This trunk was so tactile.  You could feel the life of this big tree in every ripple and indentation.  It made me think, one can never say they are alone when they are with trees.  They are a silent presence in my moments of solitude.  They are a perfect partner for me!DSCN8983.jpg
The fallen gum nuts created moments of still life photography of what once was, and still is, beautiful.  They made me watch my footsteps and walk mindfully.  A teaching moment here, too.DSCN9017.jpg
Outside my chalet window, the textures and colours of a young tree, distracted me.  Who could blame me?

I’m home where I’m also happy.  The major renovations are done.  I need to get the painting sorted.  The colours will come from nature’s palette.  I’m starting to embrace this house as my home.  I can envisage what I want with clarity.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Laundry day

This is an early memory of childhood.

Every Tuesday my mother would sit in the front room, an area we called the verandah because of its latticed ‘windows’.  She would sit with a pad and pen and tick off a list.  Sheets, pillowslips, shirts, pants, school uniforms with the pleats neatly pressed.  The edges sharp enough to slash silk.  The linen was whiter than white, crisp and lightly starched.  We always had way too much linen.  My mother would insist the sheets were changed twice a day.  The afternoon siesta was mandatory for all.  And, sheets had to be white, the coolest she thought for hot Indian summers.  The clothing was discreetly marked in a corner with indelible ink. The ironing was done in an iron iron!  It had a top that flipped back, filled with coal and then used on the clothes.  No electricity!  There were no sprays or softeners.  Clothes were hammered over rocks and yet never ruined.

The elderly woman would arrive with her grandson.  He rode alongside her with the laundry box strapped to his bike.  She would sit silently as my mother would go through the clothes that were returned, ticking off her list.  When my mother finished, the elderly woman would sniff her disdain at the need for inventory.

We never lost a piece of clothing.  Ever.

As I write this, the memory of laundry day is vivid.  The child in me also remembers the dirty laundry.

My relationship with my mother was fraught with struggle. Those who knew and loved her and enjoyed her largesse would tut tut at my indiscretion airing this piece of dirty laundry.

The sadness for me is that my father died when I was young.  He never got to see me as an adult.  My mother did.  And, through the lens of disappointment.

If we had to do it all over again, it would be a rewind of the past.  She would still be who she was.  I would still be me.  And, I’m okay with that.  I know my father would be okay with that too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Cue from a cormorant

We had some rain last night and it is still grey outdoors.  I have a long drive East to the Wheatbelt today and I’ve been checking on the weather reports periodically.  I dislike driving through a storm cell there.  They can be intense.

I realised this morning I’m supposed to give a talk tomorrow and it slipped off my radar.  I’ll have to wing it.  I’m done with stats and will go with facts instead.  How am I this calm about it?!  I’ll have hours in the car to put it together in my mind, I keep telling myself.  The subject is something I’m passionate about, so the task ahead is restraint, not overkill.  DSCN6797.jpgPublic speaking is a fear experienced by most.  As a student, it made my knees go weak, my throat dry and my voice, even softer.  I recall the first presentation I made in my undergraduate years to a full class.  At the time I worked at the university too and asked Security if I could access the lecture room over the weekend.  I stood in an empty room and was in a state of panic over the thought of it being filled with people.  I thought of strategies to overcome this.  I was using a behavioural strategy to some degree (exposure) but the trigger was visual.  So I decided to give the talk without wearing my contacts and told the audience I could not see beyond the first three rows, so if they had a question, they would have to call out instead of raising their hand.  It worked a treat!  I gave my talk without a stumble and went on to present a paper at a conference in Washington DC before I graduated, not that I’m clever, I was passionate about my research.  I ended up walking away from it after I graduated.

Passion is good if it lights a fire that doesn’t consume.  That work was consuming me.  It was in every corner of my home.  One day I started collecting all my journals and paperwork and placed them in the middle of the lounge room.  I watched it for a few days and then decided, like one does, this relationship is not going to work.  It took courage to do this.  Doesn’t it always to end something?  I had invested nearly ten years of my life in this.  But, something had to give.

Since then I’ve learned how to exercise restraint.  I’ve learnt how to practice including all views and finding a common ground.  It is the art of win-win.  I’m still a novice at this and tomorrow I’ll need the practice.

Tomorrow I’ll take my cue from a cormorant.  I love how they spread their wings as soon as they get wet, a ‘come all ye faithful’ pose without a flock.  An inclusive gesture for a solitary bird.

I know what I have to say tomorrow may not fall on ears that are receptive.  My views may not align with theirs.  But, I do know I can make the offer, the gesture, even if it is an audience of one.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

A Birthday Reflection


I’ll be celebrating a significant birthday this month.  It seems to be giving me pause for many reasons.  I would love to write about it but the words just don’t seem to reflect how I’m feeling. Maybe I’ll write about it at a later date.  At times like this, I reach for the work of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I found this poem that seems to articulate how I feel.

Bare Tree
Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another’s fire may glow,
a harp on which another’s passion, blow.

The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there’s nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.

Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (www.poemhunter.com)

Yes, “so fragile and so fearless have I grown” is a double edged sword that is increasingly a burden too heavy, sums it up for me today.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird