it adds up to a splendid Sunday morning

Posted on Updated on

Sunday morning was sunny
+
I spent Saturday food shopping & cooking while the G.O. was at work
+
We had breakfast food but the kitchen was clean…
+
We had to get in the car to go out later
+
The idea of a café breakfast didn’t appeal
=
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is one of a kind happening near us on a Sunday, a long walk or a short drive from our apartment. We park a little distance away at Enmore Park and stroll the few blocks to the entrance of Addison Rd Community Centre where the market shares its location with Reverse Garbage, The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre and eclectic community groups.

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is a diverse, vibrant, busy event where you can browse, shop and eat. We do all three, in that order. As I usually do food shopping on a Saturday at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, our forays to Marrickville Markets are pleasantly recreational, we pick up extras & impulse buys, and delicious breakfasts we eat casually perched watching the heterogeneous throng. The G.O. inevitably opts for a Country Fresh lamb roll, while I amuse myself perusing the multicultural, vegetarian, vegan, traditional offerings before, this time, deciding on an Egyptian breakfast from Fritter House.

 

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets are on Sunday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, located at Addison Rd Community Centre, 142 Addison Rd Marrickville, NSW Australia.

the community cat

Posted on

Soossie Cat WordPress collageWhile we pragmatically left Taylors Arm Soossie Cat to her independent devices but in the care of LHS neighbour following our June stay she hadn’t not been on our minds. Upon arrival at our house for a late August break, I first checked for her… and then her verandah igloo which showed leafy, twiggy, furry indications of having been inhabited. The G.O. checked the shed, and Soossie Cat’s bed there had also been slept in.

Our first sight of Soossie Cat was somewhat later as she perched on LHS neighbour’s kitchen windowsill having exited via the opening. LHS neighbour also appeared, assuring us all was well with our “community cat”… she’s gorgeous, I love her.  Plus Soossie Cat suspected of being pregnant before definitely was now, the assignation between LHS neighbour’s grey cat and Soossie Cat being witnessed. LHS also assured us although she wasn’t keeping one for herself she’d easily find homes for the kittens… hmmm, I’d bet money at least one kitten stays to replace the black & white cat which died in June.

Soossie Cat’s arrival coincided with the peace & order that comes after we’ve unpacked & cleaned. Thus we could pay full attention and respond in a timely fashion to her request for dinner, and she could eat it in peace as is her preference.

That settled, Soossie Cat did too. Except for brief expeditions around the yard, next door to keep up her usual dining routine, and apparently rat catching evidenced by the 2 rodent [wedding?] gifts deposited under the G.O.’s ute, Soossie Cat remained in and around the house. If warm she would range around the sunny spots on the verandah but the weather tended to drizzly and cool so she amused herself accompanying the G.O. as he lit or stoked the fire. Then she slept in various locations and positions around it. For variety she reacquainted herself with the inside amenities; no bed or pillow on top or underneath escaped her reconnaissance.

Generally wherever we were Soossie Cat wasn’t far away, happy for company, to check out the contents of a cup or glass and taste whatever we were eating. On our last night she moved from the fire to the rug near our bedroom door. I deposited her on the bed and she remained quiet at the foot between us, with only one midnight lap around our heads before re-settling until the G.O.’s early morning bathroom visit. When we later emerged she was asleep in the chair on the verandah outside our bedroom door.

Soossie Cat ordinarily has a healthy appetite but pregnant it is colossal… as are her farts… oh dear. On the morning we were returning to the city as we went to drive out, Soossie Cat was back over the fence with LHS neighbour, who I felt it only fair as I was saying farewell to warn that as Soossie Cat had eaten all the tinned cat food on hand her breakfast had been a large-ish can of tuna in springwater and leftover half of a boiled egg…

Note: We’re cat lovers who believe we aren’t currently in a position to provide a suitable home environment to a cat either at our tiny Sydney apartment or our part-time house at Taylors Arm, but wear the invisible sign that attracts cats. We’ve sadly and responsibly twice surrendered kittens to organisations which can find them homes, and we provide what care we are able for city independent living cats we encounter. Soossie Cat although quite domesticated with us, and now LHS neighbour, is somewhat an independent living cat. We believe up until last year she resided among an excess of cats and small dogs at a quite undomesticated house up the road. When the house burned down Soossie Cat approached our house in proximity of LHS neighbour’s cats, and decided to remain. Soossie Cat is terrified of the G.O.’s ute when it is running [ as opposed to my cat Jack who in his day waited at the gate for car rides up to the house, and regarded vet visits as a social outing ]. We bear in mind vet care and spaying are necessary, however being caged and driven to town to be handled by strangers will be also be traumatic for Soossie Cat. We’ll attempt it in due course…

Better together

Posted on Updated on

For our honeymoon we enjoyed the gift to ourselves of quiet days. Content with our own company and simple pleasures we spent time walking, sitting by the fire or in the sun… and fitting new handlebars to the motorcycle.

The traditional third glitch was suspected at the official signing but confirmed days later as we learned the misspelling of a name on the Certificate of Marriage is of much lesser importance than a beautiful moment.

Later in the week bearing offerings of wedding cake we made visits to parents, children & grandchildren to joyfully announce our elopement and private nuptials, and telephone calls to my sisters.

For an even-playing field announcement to our wider circle we mailed postcards featuring our favourite beach wedding snapshot and the happy news to our Christmas card list of family and friends. And of course, later a Facebook update and pic.

Interestingly, amongst the congratulatory responses there were a couple of expressions of the shocked surprise kind. Regarding our unmarried status, we’d said more times than I think we realised “we’re happy as we are”, and our own sentiments were reflected at us.

It made us realise we two people simultaneously sensibly aware & needlessly afraid of our marital histories repeating, discounting the power of long-term friendship and love, had almost convinced ourselves (and others) that “happy as we are” was all we were worthy of.

What an opportunity for enrichment we would have lost had we not pursued the conversation that stemmed from the arguing-disagreeing semantics on the topic of nuptial how-to. From the moment we decided we could and would get married, a barely perceptible veil of armour dissolved. As if gaining permission, we became even more kind, gentler and appreciative in our expanded capacity for happiness.

The talented Stefano from Arte Oro Jewellery transformed our may-as-well-be rings into wedding rings.
The talented Stefano from Arte Oro Jewellery transformed our may-as-well-be rings into wedding rings.

Let these be your desires
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Kahlil Gibran

 

* Better Together, Jack Johnson youtube 

We did – it our way.

Posted on

The eve of our wedding day was a graced by a rainbow in the valley. One of us tried to rest. One of us baked a wedding cake: red velvet slab with white chocolate ganache. Neither pursuit was without its challenge: Soossie Cat tried to help with the nap; and the G.O.’s warning of an unsecured container meant just the edge of the [un-iced] cake hit the floor.

Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.
Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.

Our wedding day dawned drizzly, heavy rain escorted us from Taylors Arm to Coffs Harbour and the first glitch occurred; an amorous, distracted pigeon accidentally collided with the ute as we were driving en route.

Prior to the ceremony we needed breakfast, and flowers for the wedding bouquet. We took care of both at Pansabella Providores at Coffs Central, and the second glitch; a watch chain caught on a button was kindly & quickly repaired by a conveniently located jeweller. Sheltered from the rain in a covered car park I created a wedding bouquet from a bunch of freshly delivered ranunculus and anemones.

We created a wedding bouquet from a bunch ranunculus and anemones.
Wedding bouquet created from a bunch of ranunculus and anemones.

Due to a quiet word with the Lord by the G.O. (and possibly the inadvertent sacrifice of an unfortunate pigeon) the weather over Diggers Beach cleared to sunny in the half hour before 11 am. Our rainbow coloured umbrella that clearly horrified the photographer’s assistant-wife wasn’t required.

The ceremony was performed by celebrant Ken incorporating his words, our Kahlil Gibran poems and simple vows. Our chosen music melded with the sounds of the ocean in the background. Attired in favourite clothes (rather than our best) and much-loved hand-me-down jewellery, in the interests of photographic styling we adopted the suggestion we remove our glasses, making everything a blur, figuratively and literally, except each other.

Afterwards we cooperated with our photographer, Stephen and his assistant-wife Lisa (aka our witnesses) for a short session recording the special event for posterity. We also took a few informal happy snaps of our own. And, when the proceedings were concluded we celebrated by walking the length of Diggers Beach.

Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia
Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

Then, with a thought to absent family we called by to place some wedding bouquet at grandparents May & Vince’s headstone, and went on to enjoy lunch in the sun, a celebratory glass of Boomerang Bay chardonnay and a XXXX beer at the Ocean View Hotel at Urunga. Before returning to Taylors Arm for our honeymoon we paused to place the remainder of the wedding bouquet at grandparents Roy & Muriel’s headstone, and visited the headstone of Ollie & Vin the original owners of our house. Our final stop was to snip wild roadside plum blossoms for wedding cake adornment.

At home the cake and Soossie Cat awaited. In the last light of the day, we set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake accompanied by well-earned cups of coffee.

We set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake.
Pretty tablecloth, crockery, and wedding cake.

Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Kahlil Gibran

semantics & romantics

Posted on Updated on

The G.O. and I recently returned from a week away. Our original holiday plan was a road trip to Queensland to catch up with long distance family & friends, and celebrate what we consider our tenth anniversary; of our first kiss.

With nine days up our sleeve and anniversary mid-week we plotted the trip back, forth, reversed, stopped and decided to spend a quiet week at our house enjoying the best of Taylors Arm; sunny verandah, chilly evenings, starry skies and the wood fire.

However… there’s always a however… a parallel conversation, begun at my youngest sister’s wedding in May, was happening also. I can still visualise our trio standing unsuspecting in the sunshine looking over the bay witnessing the ceremony in front of us: the partner of my other-bridesmaid sister; the G.O.; and myself. The G.O. and my sister’s partner were joking as men do at such events “you’re next “   “you are “… until the G.O. uttered the words “not us, we argue about it “.

The opportunity to pursue the conversation stalled as at that moment the ceremony was over and we were required to participate in official weddingy things. At the bridal bouquet & garter throwing point of the reception when invited to participate the G.O. and I both flashed the may-as-well-be rings we were wearing on our left hands, forestalling the customary urging to line up with the singles. Later we sailed under the radar of the attentions of my uncles who after a few drinks amused themselves ascertaining the matrimonial intentions of the younger unmarried couples of the family.

But with the following dawn… well, a little later as we sipped tea on our balcony looking over Port Stephens, came the reckoning. It was a rocky start to part 2 of the conversation as I had taken exception to the G.O.’s statement of the previous day and enough time to mull it over. Bewildered “but we do argue about it ”  he persisted “there’s no way we’d want all this ” waving his arms to dismiss the recent accoutrements of traditional family-friends nuptials.

Aha, the G.O.’s unconventional semantics strike again. Argue about  meant disagree with. It was as plain as chalk and cheese… one of his favourite pronouncements. And it opened a conversational door we had previously shut many times with the mutual declaration “we’re happy as we are “. Which led to me, because I’m the one with a desk, computer, telephone and time, exploring possibilities.

Sydney Registry Office – $401 or $507 depending on what time/day of the week, and both the intending bride and groom must visit the Registry prior during business hours to lodge a Notice of Marriage, and provide their own witnesses: too clinical – too expensive – too hard.

Knowing we’d be heading north in August, I investigated further options, thinking we might do it at Coffs Harbour courthouse, as we’d be in Coffs in June to lodge the NOM. But my Google search for the courthouse details came up with something interesting, Loving Images Wedding Photography who advertised:

“Elope to Beautiful Coffs Harbour,
With a Romantic Elopement Package…

Imagine having your stress free, intimate wedding ceremony, all for under $1000…
for your Celebrant, Wedding Ceremony, Photographer and Witnesses”

I called. They were available on our anniversary.

Just Married, Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia
Just Married, Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

 

 

a breath of yesteryear

Posted on Updated on

Once again nose to the scent of a family history trail, I was looking for names, dates and places but what I found was so much better: the opportunity to spend some time, in a fashion, with the G.O.’s Pop Mac.

Apparently there’s been family history research done on the G.O.’s mother’s paternal family side but I’ve never seen the fruits of it. Possibly I haven’t asked the right questions of the right person at the right time. Regardless, I like doing my own snooping research. Curious, I Googled the G.O.’s grandfather’s name and got not what I was looking for but more than I’d bargained.

The G.O. and I were pleased, and a little surprised, to come across a published version of his grandfather Roy Mackaway’s (1912-1994) work “Nulla Nulla”. The G.O. tells me he sat with his Pop for many hours as he one-finger-typed poems and stories. Roy always wanted them to be formally published. We have a copy of an early version of this work, and now a hardcopy for the G.O. and e-book for me of Jan Hawkins’ “Around the Campfire” 2013 published version.

I could give Nulla Nulla nothing less than 5 stars in my Goodreads review. “A time capsule of entertaining, amusing… sometimes poignant and hilarious… stories and poems. The author has a lively turn of phrase and is a talented storyteller and poet.” Lively turn of phrase may be understating it. I made the mistake of reading “The Pickle Bottle Poultice” on a crowded train. It describes Roy’s wife treating a boil on his “goat”  in the manner prescribed by his Grandpa. “The [dreaded] pickle poultice is short for pickle poultice murder…”

“… My Grandpa, he’s dead and gone now,
may the angels bless his soul.
For he’s the only man this side of hell,
that’s got a Grandson with two bum holes”

Wikipedia describes a nulla nulla (aka waddy) as “an Australian Aboriginal war club… A waddy is a heavy club constructed of carved timber. Waddies have been used in hand to hand combat, and were capable of splitting a shield, and killing or stunning prey. In addition to this they could be employed as a projectile as well as used to make fire and make ochre.”

Pop Mac adopted this name for his writing. In his words “Nulla Nulla is a stick, with a great knob on one end. One of its uses is when a young aboriginal lad was beginning to feel a bit lonely and he reckoned he needed a wife, he would wait until the middle of the day when it was a bit hot and he would sneak up to the water hole where all the young girls from other tribes would be having a swim. He would pick the best and spring on her like a greyhound with a bull-ant under his tail and if she gave any trouble he gave her a slight tap on the noggin’ with his nulla, throw her over his shoulder and head back to his tribe. In this way they were married.”

As well as being published, Nulla Nulla : a collection of Australian prose & poems by Cecil Roy Mackaway is held in the National Library of Australia and State Library of Queensland collection.

I’ve been distracted from my intended family history research but I will get back to it. There’s a wealth of clues in the book.

Often dipping into Goodreads quotes looking for tried & true words in the form of quotes to supplement my own literary efforts, I was thrilled and a little bemused to read the following of Roy’s recorded by Goodreads for posterity.

“Just Fat and Cuddly
There’s Aunty, just out of bed, looking a little glum and gloomy,
but I tell you mate, she’s put on weight as her frocks ain’t nice and roomy.
I’ll send her west where there ain’t no pests, where frogs all croak for water,
and I tell you mate she’ll loose the weight and once again she’ll be a corker.
I’m now heading back to my mountain shack, this only if I get the time,
for things won’t go well, she’ll give me hell, when she reads this little rhyme.”
― Cecil Roy Mackaway, Nulla Nulla (Around the Campfire Book 7) Cecil R Mackaway (Author), Eric S Hawkins (Illustrator), Jan Hawkins (Photographer)

The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words "Nulla Nulla" signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.
The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words “Nulla Nulla” signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.

A glimpse into the book is available via Amazon, one of the options for purchasing it.

Nulla Nulla

a collection of Australian Prose and Poems

by Cecil Roy Mackaway

published by Jan Hawkins

As noted by the publisher, Jan Hawkins:

“Cecil Roy Mackaway grew up in the Hunter Valley* north of Sydney, touched by a time now passed. Fresh from the influenced of a family with a convict colonial history he witnessed a world, seen from a unique view. His stories and poems bring to life the Australian colonial era and life lived from the Bushman’s perspective. Not always politically correct in today’s society, he none the less brings a richness and variety to our history and the tale of life as it was lived in the bush in a era now gone.”

“The Author gave the copyright to this collection of prose and poems into my care some years ago, to be published in time. I found the writing so delightful and entertaining that I have published it now for the general public. I invite you to step back into colonial Australia, into a time now passed and see the world through the eyes of someone who enjoyed the adventure of life and the living of it.

These works have been presented as originally written with minimal editing, preserving the vernacular and prose of the era passed where possible, which may be seen in the use of italics. The terms used in the past may not be appropriate if used in the discourse of the present day. If these terms are likely to offend please so not read this book. Neither the Author or Publisher intends to offend.

In publishing these works I would like to introduce Cecil Roy Mackaway, a friend, a relative and an inspiring writer and poet.”

The anthology begins…

“A Breath of Yesteryear

From the Memoirs of

Cecil Roy Mackaway

I was born in 1912 and reared at Dyers Crossing on the Wallamba River in New South Wales, Australia. My Grandmother was the daughter of a young Englishman, he was sent out to the colonies by his family for colonial experience like so many young men from England. It is believed however that he was murdered on the gold field at Bendigo…”

And includes…

“Old Cobbers

I sit alone in my mountain home with a pencil in my hand,

tryin’ to think of a line or two, for my cobbers down on the Strand.

They’re rushing here and rushing there as life is just one way,

and they forget their mates up bush, that they knew in another day.

So life goes on and years pass by, where’s it getting you in the end?

A cripple from rush and strife, or slightly ’round the bend. So I’ll sit up here and write good cheer for them mates down in the Strand,

and tell them about the fish I caught and latest about the brand.

Perhaps they will think of me whilst strolling in the Strand.”

* Dyers Crossing is correctly located in the Wallamba Valley near Nabiac on the Mid North Coast.

where there’s a will there’s a way

Posted on

At our previous [much-loved & still missed after 3 years] apartment we had not a lot of space but conducive enough environment at least to grow a few pots of culinary herbs, and flowers.

Our current apartment features generous balcony space with sunny north-east aspect but overlooks a city train line, the ballast dust from which means nothing survives other than succulents, and hardy geraniums that have few flowers but which I maintain as it appears the leaves are a desirable food source for caterpillars… that the native Noisy Miner birds enjoy… every thing has to eat.

Hardy city apartment balcony potted garden… train line in the background

During last month’s necessities trip to the supermarket I spotted a Jamie’s Garden Mini Green House for kids on sale for $5.  The G.O. watched with amusement as I spent a fun Sunday morning hour assembling it, applying stickers and planting way too many seeds onto the coir matt. My logic was the roof of the greenhouse would keep out the nasty ballast. And sure enough, within days there were tiny sprouts of green.

It started with Jamie's Garden... and wouldn't have been right without stickers
It started with Jamie’s Garden… and wouldn’t have been right without stickers

Of course, this success this wasn’t sufficient so running with it I purchased one, then another, big clear plastic storage tub with lid that I employed the G.O. to cut flaps in… I’m banned from very sharp implements due to my cack-handedness. I assembled odd containers and potting mix, added seeds to finally create a modest, but oh so gratifying to a frustrated gardener, productive edible space.

Tubs planted with pots of watercress, basil, rocket, mixed herbs, spinach, parsley, cress and coriander

The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee

moving a mountain with a teaspoon

Posted on Updated on

The sombre latter days of winter preceding the brighter busy-ness spring heralds provide me an opportunity to take stock of our life and progress moving it from city to country. After consideration, I pronounce it satisfactory. We’re getting better at living well in our quest for a simple life. Although it’s not perfect, fortunately we have chosen wisely many aspects we find good in the everydayness of.

Broome vs Sydney
Sydney vs Broome

Comforting when contemplating my sister’s escape from Melbourne’s chilliness to take a break in the Northern Territory, first stop Broome, one of my favourite places, then onto Darwin and Kakadu following a similar route the G.O. and I took a few [too many] years ago over a comparable fortnight period. A timeframe the G.O. and I decided was too short, too exhausting to ever again contemplate. I experienced a few pangs of Kimberley region holiday envy, and got on with Sydney day-to-day life.

I’ve been spending days at my desk glued to the computer screen reviewing documents to a tight deadline, which after I’d rapidly laboured though a thousand or so, the deadline stretched… Notwithstanding I was captive and working I was at least sat in the sun drinking pots of tea and nibbling consoling muffins, so I considered those worse off than me. That would be the G.O. whose unpleasantly cold, windy and dusty construction site environment I wouldn’t survive half an hour in, let alone his 50 hour working week.

Sydney Soossie Cat dining in the dark
Sydney Soossie Cat dining in the dark

The G.O. and I were planning our own late winter escape of a week-long road trip to Queensland but dissecting the time-distance continuum it was pronounced implausible, and shelved [yet again] in favour of a week of attending to a little business, and as much R&R as possible sitting in the sun or by the fire at Taylors Arm.

It’s a change of plan that if she hasn’t sensibly decamped to reside with LHS neighbour our Taylors Arm independent living Claytons Soossie Cat will approve of no doubt, as it will facilitate her access to the inside amenities.

In the meantime our latest Sydney independent living Soossie Cat has after a year of ad hoc beneficence become sufficiently familiar to intercept the G.O. on his evening smoke-stroll, somehow understanding when she does it causes me to appear with not one but two tubs of cat food to feed her hungry self.

We’re impatient to be off on our longer term adventures both at Taylors Arm, and travelling further afield. Consolingly though, we see our forbearance transforming our dreams and plans into the landscape of our future. We’ve recently moved a couple of big [metaphorical] hills but the process requires more industry until the exciting stage is practically and sensibly within reach.

Our basic tools:

pay bills.

buy what we need to live well but not extravagantly.

save money.

ask do we need it now, can we do it differently?

wait.

Simple… Although it took us a while to feel like we were balancing it well enough. It’s not flawless. Sometimes time & energy is short. External factors are encountered. But the more we live, eat and spend ethically, sustainably, enjoyably, prudently; the less effort it takes to live, eat and spend ethically, sustainably, enjoyably, prudently… makes sense, huh.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 1/4 percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” ― Dr. Seuss

Taking advantage of the embryonic interim we are assimilating much of the lifestyle we aspire to. Once we attain it, carefully considering the best use of our resources will be a necessity. But now it has the correlating benefit of furthering our efforts.

It truly is a mountain of a process, and depending what perspective we’re viewing it from sometimes it’s hard to see progress.  At the end it will all come together quickly, and things will get busy and scary… because scary accounts for the other 1 and 1/4 percent in Dr Seuss’s math.

Cash is king

Posted on

Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time with another man. The G.O. doesn’t mind, he’s a fan too… of The Man in Black: Johnny Cash.

It started with a book – Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn, my book club’s selection earlier this year I purchased despite being a weighty paperback tome knowing the G.O. would enjoy it also, but the size of which was practically daunting to lug for daily commute reading time on the train.

“In this, the definitive biography of an American legend, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical superstar. Johnny Cash’s extraordinary career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age 69, that resulted in the brave, moving “Hurt” video.

As music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed both Cash and his wife June Carter just months before their deaths. Drawing upon a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer’s inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply human portrait of a towering figure in country music, a seminal influence in rock, and an icon of American popular culture. Hilburn’s reporting shows the astonishing highs and deep lows that marked the journey of a man of great faith and humbling addiction who throughout his life strove to use his music to lift people’s spirits.”

The heft of the book was soon immaterial as engrossed I read it every spare minute I had. At the end, sad to put it down, I gave it 5 stars: “Wonderfully absorbing. I had no idea I would become so captivated by Johnny Cash as his story is told by Robert Hilburn. This book doesn’t simply convey details, it makes you care and takes you along for the incredible ride. To enhance the experience listen to some Johnny Cash as you go through the book; the later Rick Rubin albums beginning with American Recordings as well as Johnny Cash’s earlier music.”

We already had a few Johnny Cash albums in our collection including the more recent American IV – The Man comes Around; American V – A Hundred Highways; and American VI Ain’t No Grave, which I have to confess at first I didn’t appreciate and languished in a cupboard. But, reading Robert Hilburn’s biography set me off on a shopping mission for classic recordings such as Folsom Prison and The Essential Johnny Cash plus the earlier of the Rick Rubin produced albums: American Recordings; Unchained (American II); and American III – Solitary Man.

Just after the book went back on the shelf awaiting the opportunity for the G.O. to read it I noticed a promo for The Man in Black – The Johnny Cash Story, a show at the Sydney Opera House for which I had tried unsuccessfully to get tickets during its previous tours.

“The Helpmann Award winning The Man in Black… Starring Tex Perkins, this is two hours of Johnny Cash’s magnificent music interwoven with the story of his rise to stardom, his fight for survival and his eventual redemption.

IMG_20140720_160739With his driving freight-train chords, steel-eyed intensity and a voice as dark as the night, the legendary Johnny Cash revolutionised music. The show explores his relationships – with hardened prisoners to the beautiful June Carter and lots in between. Johnny Cash was dealt a very tough hand, early in life, but through his music and dedication, he became a legend throughout the world.

Tex Perkins, one of the most electrifying front men of Australian rock ‘n’ roll, brings the hard-living country legend to life, and is joined on stage by Rachael Tidd and The Tennessee Four.

Enjoy Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down, Get Rhythm, A Boy Named Sue, Hey Porter and over a dozen more hits.”

The weather was chilly last Friday night when we went but the show was brilliant, Tex Perkins doing an amazing account of The Man in Black, and the wintry late evening trip home well worth braving for the experience. I couldn’t really say a favourite song but “Hurt” originally recorded by the Nine Inch Nails and later covered by Johnny Cash was powerful. Over the weekend the G.O. and I both were still humming the tunes.

He was an extraordinary man.

“The Master of Life’s been good to me. He has given me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat. He has given me life and joy where others saw oblivion. He has given new purposes to live for. New services to render and old wounds to heal. Life and love go on. Let the music play.” Johnny Cash

 

people power II – putting your name on it…

Posted on Updated on

Does putting your name and signature to a cause make a difference? I believe so…

My email in-box is evidence of my affection for causes, populated as it is with emails from change.org, care2 petition site and GetUp requesting my virtual signature.

It started at home and simply enough with the change.org petition to RailCorp NSW: Erect a noise barrier wall along the St Peters rail corridor. Initially my support was speculative, not envisaging my armchair warrior stance could accomplish much. But there have been tangible results, evidenced by the weekend track-work taking place within sight of our balcony and a resultant reduction in noise.

And then today change.org and the media announced what is to me a real and groundbreaking victory both for the issue (which has been ongoing) and online petition supporters.

People-power win after Sydney teacher Paula Orbea launches petition against ‘misogynistic and degrading slogans’ on Wicked Campers vans. In this instance: in every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once…

street art_Macdonaldtown Train Station, Sydney NSW Australia
Wicked Campers were otherwise but people power won

“WICKED Campers* have agreed to clean up sexist or misogynistic slogans from their fleet of vans after a public outcry this week…
The company has today issued an apology and committed to reviewing and removing offensive marketing from all of its campervans in the next six months.
Paula Orbea, the Sydney school teacher who started the 110,000-strong change.org petition against Wicked Campers, says it’s a stunning people-power victory against sexism, with the result coming just four days after she started the petition.
In an email from Wicked Campers received by Paula, she says the company has offered a personal apology and has now removed the sexist slogan Paula’s daughter saw.”

Work in progress:
Roseanne is facing a lifetime in prison because of her disability. Stop the neglect.
There’s been “incredible progress on freeing Roseanne. Locked up in prison indefinitely because of her disability, without being guilty of a crime – your signatures have helped convince the NT Government to start moving to free her.”

There are still good old paper petitions doing the rounds as well. Earlier this week a colleague sought my signature on a petition opposing “More than two dozen specialist women’s shelters could be forced to close in metropolitan Sydney as the New South Wales government finalises a major reform into homeless services funding.”

Good news:
In April 2013 I became a member of Lock the Nambucca Valley, created to oppose Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd mining exploration for gold and antimony mining in the Nambucca Valley… just up the road from our house at Taylors Arm, detailed in the post dead waters.

In June 2014 came the good news
“Precious Metals Resources has relinquished its licence (EL8016) to explore for antimony and gold in the Nambucca Valley! The licence has now been cancelled. PMR claimed that exploration was not justified. Lock the Nambucca Valley is confident that our strong opposition to commencement of antimony mining activities in the Nambucca had a role to play in PMRs decision to pull out. They were well aware of our existence and the enormous community support for our campaign to prevent them starting. We have won.”

Lock the Nambucca Valley however remain realistic and vigilant as “another company could apply for a similar exploration to plunder and pollute”.

Wins:
People power saved Newtown Community Markets.

change.org
NSW introduces tougher penalties for drunken violence
Mum of five gets life-saving stomach cancer surgery

care2 petition site
Tasmanian Forests Won’t Be Open to Logging
The Shubie Spice Girls Can Stay At Their Home

GetUp
Helped save from destruction the oldest collection of rock art in the world on the Burrup Peninsula, WA.
Brought together senators from across party lines to win a conscience vote stopping ministerial veto of the RU486 non-surgical abortion medication.

… and more wins, detailed on their websites.

A final word to Wicked Campers
Artist Stef Burgon takes on Wicked Campers, paints her own slogan
If ya wouldn’t say it to ya Nan… don’t write it on ya van! 

*Wicked Campers is an Australian camper van rental company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The company also has outlets in other parts of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, North America, South Africa and South America. Wicked Campers market their product towards younger drivers and backpackers. Each van features a spray painted design, often featuring pop culture references and politically incorrect slogans.”