Gardening for another world

My cousin is one of those people that fall into the category of being beautiful inside and out. She’s like a movie star, looks-wise, like Hollywood old and new; her looks transcend eras. They say physical beauty doesn’t last but when it transcends eras, like Joan’s, that’s quite a long time.

Here is a short description of what she looks like because amazingly, the snap we took of her on the day is terrible.

Joan has thick, raven hair with a few streaks of grey in it now, although no-one is counting. And she has vivid blue-green eyes like her Dad’s, offset by olive skin. I got my my mothers skin, which is Scottish and my grandmother’s hair, which is red. I have blue-grey eyes, like a Viking; they look green if I am lying on the grass. I so don’t look like my cousin. We are both tall though.

And this may sound a bit closeup but my cousin’s bone structure is also flawless, I mean, you can look but I’ve not found any flaws, perfect symmetry. I nearly wrote symphony then and that still would have been right.

Out of the thirty cousins of us, she has taken all the looks. Well, she was given them, it wasn’t her fault.

She also has a beautiful heart. She was given that too.

If I was her, I think I’d be some kind of monster, all those looks. But she’s not interested, I don’t think she even knows. Instead, she’s busy planting jonquils in her uncle’s grave (my father’s) because she passes it on her way to see her father. Her father resides in the same resting place as mine. I say resides but I mean the “residing” mortal coil of yore. Those quotes are mine. They don’t really mean anything.

It’s a big resting place.

Anyway, I think she felt sorry for Dad because his grave looked like a wasteland. There has been so much going on, nobody has been able to do anything about a headstone. So she planted some jonquils. She popped them in the wasteland.

That started the whole thing off.

“Would it be okay to plant some bulbs for your Dad? We did it for my Dad and it looks lovely!” she wrote. “Here are some photos” but all I could see were a few rocks and some gravel.

“Oh my goodness, Dad’s grave …” I thought because we had done nothing. Because at unexpected times, I feel him very close therefore I’m pretty sure he’s not in the ground; I don’t know where he really is, it is not possible to know but what I mean is, when you think you’re sure he’s not in the ground, you can tend to forget that he actually is. By “he” I mean, his “residing mortal coil of yore.” Those quotes again, just ignore them.

You don’t really forget but you also don’t rush. Which meant my Dad had been in an unmarked grave for a while now. Well, ever since he first went. I don’t think he’d mind. I heard it’s normal. But it sounds horrible in print.

Here’s a sort of mitigation list because of the horrible sound of the print above. I am writing it purely out of compulsion.

Firstly, there are things to sort out when someone slips away. I’ve had nothing to do with any of them but other members of my family have.

Including this: on the boardwalk of a beach near my father’s house is a new courtesy chair with a plaque on it dedicated to my Dad. It appeared few weeks ago. It’s the beach where we all grew up, where we all learnt to swim. I even went to school there, at the beach. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky. The view was such a relief in economics lessons.

Also, last month, an obituary to my father appeared in the big newspaper, a full page tribute. Full page apart from a column at the top with “the things that happened on this day” in history, column.

That took our breath away. So did the chair. My Dad would have been so surprised although I don’t know if people in the other world know about things ahead of time. I’m positive he would be very grateful though.

There, that’s the list. It’s a partial one but better than nothing, even though I’m not in it at all.

Through all that, it meant my father was still in a wasteland.

So Pete and I acted, gathering together two buckets of homemade worm compost, two bags of shop bought soil, a car boot full of gardening equipment, lots and lots of Spring bulbs and seeds and my lovely cousin Joan who met us at the resting place. Some of the equipment was useless but we took it anyway, Pete insisted.

And now there is a beautiful Spring garden, all for my father.

There is not that much to see. The bulbs and other flowers are still asleep and will come out in Spring which is pretty close. We just have to get through Autumn first, then winter. Actually, we have to get through summer first and foremost. It’s still right here, hot and sunny, as if it was December. Last week we had about three cool days which turned out to be a trick. But it had everyone pulling woollies out of storage and packing up shorts and t-shirts to throw them to the back of the wardrobe.

Now we are all pulling the t-shirts and shorts out again, feeling like a ship of fools.

Anyway, whenever Spring comes and it could come at any time, it could even be next, my father’s grave will billow forth in a palate of sky blue, cloud white and sun yellow. That is the colour scheme: sky, cumulous cloud, sun.

We packed them in: daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, ranunculus, anemones, star flowers. In total over seventy flower beginnings. Plus Joan’s original four jonquils.

At some stage in the year’s cycle, it will look glorious. It might even look like heaven on earth.

The only exception to the colour wheel are a few of the hyacinths which are crimson red. Sometimes when you put an extra colour in, a colour not in the colour chart for example, just a flash of it, it can make the other colours look even more so: so more blue, more white, more yellow. Well, that’s the theory. Don’t go by it though, it’s just my theory.

If there are no flowers yet to see there is something to read. Sweeping across the top of the garden is the word “love” written in big, cursive lettering. I wrote it in white gravel I took from our driveway. It’s written large because I always fill the page in my artwork, that’s been the one, consistent comment.

Reading between the lines, it says: someone precious is here, even though there is no headstone yet.

Sheilagh wrote straight away.“Well, we certainly won’t do any tomb-stoning until Spring has sprung!” she said. But I had to look up the word “tombstone” to see if it was awful, I mean gloomy. It’s not, it’s just another word for headstone.

The morning we went down, Pete had bought some passionfruit from the market. He said they were for my Dad.

“How are you going to give them to him?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I just thought he’d like them” said Pete.

“Maybe you can offer them energetically” I said, and held out my arms and hands with nothing in them to demonstrate. “Like this …” It wasn’t very spiritual.


I totally forgot about them until we came home. Most of them were still lying in the fruit bowl, waiting for Pete to eat them. He’s a bit like my Dad, he loves passionfruit.

“I gave one to your Dad” he said, splitting another one open to slurp.

“You did?”

“Yes. I put it in the soil.”

“When? When you were planting the bulbs?”

“Yes” he said.

Sometimes you think you know how lovely someone is. Then they go and plant jonquils for someone or do something equally lovely that has nothing to do with you and you just learn about it. Like pass a passionfruit to another world.

Beautiful illustration, Pinterest 

Secrets and surprises


This is by way of hello because I haven’t seen you in ages, haven’t seen the words and images you have pressed. I’m sorry. I’ve been doing other things, secret things. I will tell you about the secret things in a moment.

Life was simpler when there was only the post and the telephone. You could call and say: I haven’t called in ages because I’ve been doing secret things. Or you could send a letter with the message. You could send a telegram, I suppose, but it would have to be an emergency: Hello, hello? – stop. I’ve been busy doing other things – stop. Secret things – stop. I’ll tell you about them later – stop. Hope you are well – stop. Happy New Year – stop. Stop – stop.

Also there was this: “Who wants to read another story about me?” I wondered. And then: “And who wants to write one?”

That happens sometimes. It’s a good thing because maybe if it was getting boring – if only to me – it puts a halt on the boredom and it is a fact that life is more interesting when it is not boring.

Here is what I have been doing. It’s not even a secret. It’s a list. The rest was smoke and mirrors to get your attention. I am like a lady magician.

There are two items on the list and neither are secrets.

The first is that I have been up-cycling stories. I have been up-cycling stories in order to make them longer, mostly. I have been making them longer, mostly, in order to enter them into short story competitions.The competitions usually want long short stories. Longer than in my collection, often three times the length.

On the other hand, there is no minimum word limit so you could enter a one word story and still have a chance, theoretically. Hardly anyone works on theories alone these days, so I imagine everyone is using guesses as well as logic in their calculations. But it would be interesting to read the winning entry if it was only a word. It wouldn’t be interesting for very long but it would for the time it took to read it. It would be amazing. But it would be short lived.

Anyway, I am not taking any chances so have been upping the numbers on my word count, fluffing them out to make them fatter as well as to give the stories context and sense, since each is now a little universe, no one having read of any of the characters I write about before, least of all me. Plus, you are not allowed to write your name on the story or identify yourself in it in any way, so there is a task.

“Pete? Who is this Pete?” they might ask, for example. So I am having to find ways of identifying who Pete is in relation to the writer, without boring them or myself to death. So far, the only thing I have come with is: Pete, my husband. Or: my husband, Pete. Let me know if one excites you more than the other.

Also, for major relevance in one story, I had to find a way of letting the reader know that we had been living elsewhere for a long time without actually saying it lest they fall asleep in that part of the sentence. It took about two or three hundred words. I prefer subtlety although it is wordier. Maybe it would have been easier to write a one word story.

The second item on the list are the photos of the kitchen, now finished! We finished it on Christmas Day which tells you how much else was going on. Never mind, we had a busy Christmas Eve with everyone from the portrait clan in Sydney so in some ways we were still resting from that. That was great fun actually. Only I thought there was a no present rule but I was way off because we came back with a car-seat load of gifts without reciprocating a thing. Talk about the spirit of Christmas. That’s all we took, aside from food, more food and flowers (some from our garden.)

“You are learning to receive” said my friend later, maybe because she was not among those who didn’t get anything from me. Well, she was, but it was reciprocated.

In the photos of the kitchen you might note there is no wallpaper, no silver swallows soaring behind open shelving but that is because it looked awful so we took it down. Oh well. It was one of those backwards surprises but since it was quick to put up, quicker to remove, we lost nothing.

Tonight: may the fireworks that you see or sleep through light your creative fire for the year to come, at least. May you feel love and peace in your heart. And may you invent a one word story, or something equally amazing!

Beautiful artwork by Marta Orlowaska






Little green pumpkins



Love in wakefulness, love in sleep. The love moves from day to night, attaching itself somewhere just above the head. Then our dreams are filled with the love although the object of it can change and be unrecognisable.

It happens a lot.

We fell in love with little green pumpkins, the size of cherries and made of porcelain. We were in the market for them because our kitchen is rapidly changing. It is happening at quite a slow pace but nevertheless, the pumpkins were perfect handles for the cabinets.

I fell in love so much I wrote about them in sleep, eyes shut, brain turned down to low. I’ve never done that before.

I wrote through dark and through dawn. I wrote with a light heart, full of gladness. I wrote endlessly and without hesitation: little green pumpkins, green pumpkins, green pumpkins …

Nothing else much happened. Beside me, Pete dreamed his own dreams.

Occasionally I would stop myself mid dream to ask: what was the name of that story again? Something snails? – because they also look like snails – No – Little Green Pumpkins! What a great name for story!

And they say other peoples dreams are boring.

So far we have painted nearly the whole house, wallpapering where it was easier.

But our kitchen is still nearly black, such a dark shade of blue it is. Most days we can barley see it. On rainy days it is almost impossible, we have to use torches and candles. 

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Yes please!”

“Okay, I’ll just get the matches …”

“Have you found it?”

“The kitchen or the matches?”


“I’ve found the matches.”

We thought about throwing it out, throwing in a light one. But we are not really the types. Sanding and painting or neither and wallpapering is about as far as we go. You will never see us on television raising dreams from the sea bed, building houses from nothing but seaweed and hope, jellyfish ensuites.

Yet our kitchen is so painted – every crevice, every cranny, behind shelves, even behind cabinet doors – we would have been sanding it forever or so far into the future we would have met the past, which is forever.

So we decided not to. Then we returned to the first idea – throwing it out – which took us all the way to the second idea, which took us back to zero. Once in a while we would repeat the cycle if there was nothing else to worry about.

Meanwhile, the kitchen remained and every now and then when we weren’t looking, it would bump into us to say hello.

Then a few things happened at once. I am convinced the universe works like that, when you aren’t looking especially.

A friend came over for early tea and brought his whole family, a beautiful wife and two very small dwarves who clung to their mother all afternoon until the last hour when they started to undo the house; mainly cushions on the floor, ornaments repositioned, power points turned off, doors moved. The ceilings are okay. I don’t think they could reach them.

“I painted straight onto a varnished surface once, no sanding. I just had to use a special primer,” said our friend.

“Oh yes! I think there are natural paints that stick to anything,” I said thinking of one in particular that is basically breakfast cereal without the flakes that you throw onto the walls and when you want to change the colour scheme you move house because no one can remove it.

Sometimes it is only for us to have friends around.

Two small towns away, I offer a man in a raggedy shirt with a stylish, crumpled look our cutlery draw. I have brought it with me and carry it to him with outstretched arms.

“Are you selling cigarettes?” he asks.

“No … Oh – ha ha ha ha!” Then I offer him the draw.

“Chalk paint will stick to water” he says and produces a paintbrush and half a tin of milky paint and paints our cutlery draw right there before me. He paints standing up and practically in the doorway, flicking his brush to and fro, wiping away the black. In seconds, our cutlery draw has transformed and is the most beautiful shade of ocean on a rainy day.


“I can’t believe it!”

People wandered in and out of the doorway, moving past us. Then he left to show someone a heater. 

What a magician.

When Pete saw it, we clapped our hands. “Hooray!” we called.

Then he found a teaspoon dragged it all along the surface, cutting into it.

“Why did you do that?”

“To see if it really sticks.”

Everyone gathered around to inspect the carnage because he did it while we had other friends here. (We don’t have that many. We are still making them.)

“But it’s like magic” I said. “It will be better with sealer.”

“Yes,” they agreed, “it will be better with sealer.” But their faces were long.

The next morning I hadn’t been able to reconcile the sticking properties with sealer – so I tried Pete’s old trick, drawing a spoon hard along the edge to make it scratch.

It wouldn’t.

“Pete” I called and did it again with him watching, pressing hard into the paint with the edge of the spoon. A barley visible line appeared, like an ant had walked across it.

“It must have been still wet.”


Our kitchen is rapidly changing at a faster pace now. Soon it will sparkle sugar white, day and night, with highlights of ocean on a rainy day to hint at beginnings. Silvery swallows, salvaged from one of our wallpapering mistakes, will soar behind open shelving. I am hoping things will look pretty.

The porcelain pumpkins, well – I’m just going to say it – they have been replaced by ones that look like macadamia nuts. But they were the beginning, the muse and inspiration and are worthy of the title.

The macadameias also make a lovely clacking sound. They are sweetly decorated, some with flowers, some polka dots. Others look like rosy apples.

Beautiful illustration from “What is a Color?” by Alice and Martin Provensen (1967) on Pinterest 

The Twelfth Hour

It was the eleventh hour.

Dear Writers Resource Centre

Today I found your website, I was searching for short story competitions.

To my delight I can see there are lots and the closing dates for many are very close; tomorrow for one, for example.

To my disappointment it looks like I can enter none of of them; I have a blog where I have been practising writing and the stories have all been written and posted online. One competition has just confirmed my stories are ineligible.

I don’t consider that I have professionally published a thing although one day I would like to be able to say the opposite. That is why I have been practising.

The story I wanted to submit is only five days old.

I am writing to ask you: do you know of any competition where my stories would stand a chance at entry?

It would be nice if there was one.

I would consider encouraging anyone running writing competitions to alter the conditions, allowing people like me to enter. Perhaps the term not professionally published would allow me in because certainly I have never as yet earned a penny writing my blog.

Many thanks


Hi Gigi

I am very sorry to hear of your bad luck concerning these competitions. Some competitions certainly do accept short stories that have been published on blogs although as you said, many do prefer ‘never before seen’ writing.

I encourage you to continue emailing competition organisers and commenting on their websites to query their guidelines on this issue.

Best of luck


Dear Amanda

Thankyou very much. It helps to read your kind and considered response.

I have almost written a whole piece about it! Almost, meaning, bits scribbled down and a lot in my head (and heart.)

I will post it everywhere I can.

The main thing is I feel that the fresh, new talent competition organisers are looking for are publishing online, for want of a better word, bloggers.

If a writer is serious and committed to their craft, which I am, that is what they do these days. It is almost impossible to imagine it any other way. We are all practising online – playing, if you like.

And it is true of nearly every art form – everyone who is in the slightest bit creative or artistic is uploading their work: paintings, photographs, illustrations, stories, food and fashion commentaries, short films and new music. We are all “published” yet all hoping for the same thing: to be published. Truly published. There are so many levels to that word!

Often enough it is the case: Lana Del Ray first posted her music online. Plus there are others. So it is a viable method as well, for a serious writer, in this case me, to have a shot a professional recognition.

What I feel the competition organisors are missing is all of the above. Plus, essentially, this: if I were to save up my stories for a competition, for example, it would make me competition focused, rather than a writer.

On the part of the organisers, it would be as if to say: we don’t want your beautiful stories, borne of dreams. We want you to dance on the spot.

I cannot imagine what writer today is not posting online. I can imagine it ten years ago but not today.

I think the writing competition organisers have modelled their entry requirements on a world that is cutting edge yesterday (plus ten years.)

It is not relevant today. The pool that they are seeking to fish new talent from is larger, by far, in blog world. Unless they want someone who writes in the dark. Or a diarist. But why?

The story that I wrote six days ago now and posted online the same day is beautiful. It is heartfelt and funny. It is full of love. It reflects something.

The six comments it has so far received from the world at large have been very flattering. Six, in total, the world as we know it.
Can it really be stale? Not new enough?
I started writing online nearly three years ago. I have written around one hundred and twenty-ish stories, about one thousand words each. I didn’t want to bore anyone.
All this time I consider I have only been practising writing. In other words, I practice with a reading audience (anyone who reads my blog, the latest six, for example) because it helps me to feel viable.

Also, I think it makes my work my current. It certainly makes it better. When you know someone may read it, maybe even six others, it counts.

Yesterday, for the first time, I wondered: perhaps this one is good enough. And that is when I discovered your site. And that is when I encountered the bad luck, as you call it. 

The piece I wrote is called Burnt Orange Afternoon.

Some of the titles of my other stories, all ineligible for entry by recognisable and regarded Australian writing competitions (plus internationally; we are not the only Flintstones in the world) are:

The Woolley Goose 

For the Love of Blue

An Elephant Without Handles

The Importance of Boots

Birds to Melbourne

I even love the titles.

And now, Amanda, I think I have written my “piece”. I have the guts of it anyway.

Thankyou again for your help and please let me know if ever you discover some magic.

With kindest regards


Hi Gigi

It is certainly an interesting discussion point and I encourage you to raise it with competition coordinators. I hope that they are considering the argument you raise so well here.

As an alternative view I understand that it is more an issue of original content. That once people know your story is available on your blog it could draw readers away from the magazine, website, anthology, etc of the competition coordinators.

But, of course, you are perfectly right in saying that an exposure of six readers is not significant—nor should these competitions discourage writers from playing with language online, writing for an audience, or writing often.

Once again, I hope you will pass these ideas on.

Warm regards


Thankyou Amanda!

Yesterday I was just a blogger. Am I an activist now? ūüôā

Kindest regards


Luckily it was only the eleventh hour. I wrote a piece about exclusion on that one and entered it on the stroke of the twelfth.

Beautful illustration by Anna Silivonchik

The Importance of Boots

For those who harbour possibilities of coming to some conclusion about the importance of boots, my apologies.

The importance is purely imaginary. You see, if I take them off …

like so …

boot^ ^^ toob  ^><

…¬†one of them fell off backwards …

I don’t feel important anymore. I just feel a little silly which I guess is a normal state so I suppose you could say I feel normal. ><^

<>^  ^><

The thing is, another thing, a new one <^> this thing is ^<< and you might have guessed РI am bored again. Out my brain, to death.

My fingertips are still working so I am alive. But only just. Another minute of ennui and who knows …?

It is lucky I decided to put it all down in words. Lucky for me , I cannot say for you.

Besides, most people are busy. Of the two – busy, bored – busy is by far the more noble. I have noticed some people even proclaim it as a virtue. Not everyone, not always. But some and some.

Whereas nobody claims boredom except maybe children.

Boredom sits on the shelf in inconspicuous garb, not a tracksuit but close. Those who suffer it suffer in silence, usually. Mute, mainly.

You will not often hear the words: “I’m sorry, I really have to go, I’m terribly bored.”

“Yes, me too, I’m bored out of my brain. Must rush …” kiss, kiss

There is an antidote. I’ve been peddling it for some time. I can’t say how it’s going, I mean, I don’t have a clue.

But I like to think that the world is a little more tuneful theses days. Tuneful or tuneless, it doesn’t matter. To singyourwayouttaboredom¬†has never been about musicality. It’s a genre, meant for the entirety, including the tone deaf.

But this post is not about plugging my own blog (which sounds unrepeatable – and yet if you repeat it, it comes up as innocent in the end. You may have to say it a few times though. Maybe not in company.)

The other thing is – and it is merely an aside, also not the point – great things have come out lesser places than boredom. If you let your mind wander – and it is my job to steer it away since I am the one typing – that also sounds compromising.

My fingertips are so alive now!

Regarding boredom, great sages have claimed that it is only possible for a feeling to exist or not exist. In others words, you cannot be a little bit bored, you can only be bored, or not. It is not possible to qualify boredom nor any feeling state. It is impossible to quantify it and likewise anything that could be said to be a sensibility.

It sounds harsh but it is what the great sages have said (I think.)

We have so much to learn.

Anyway, my sympathies are with the great sages. Because I have a feeling boredom is more widespread than previously thought.

It is very possible, for instance, that you were bored stiff when you sat down to regard the screen before you, the screen whose flashing dot is now transmitting my unremarkable theories.

It’s just a theory. Nobody likes being the only one. The loneliest question in the world might be: “Are we on the same page?” although there are probably others. Many others, come to think of it. “Where are we?” would be a good one if you found yourself cast into outer space, just you and your teddy. That sounds very lonely. I hope it never happens.

As for this page, I don’t know how many are on it. I am hoping all of us.

Here, you may insert any anecdote you like. I inserted one about Pete being a good runner, compared with me. But I took it out at the last minute because it didn’t seem to go with anything.

I am sorry. I am sorriest for not including it because it was funny. He is a good runner but just saying it plainly like that isn’t at funny at all.

Actually, I am’t. Am’t? Aren’t?

Hang on a second, I’ve got to get my Management of English Language book, the companion to the other one.

Ah yes …

No, I’m not.

I am not sorry.

Forgive me, but I am just relating the text. It says:

you are not sorry because you did it on purpose. This whole thing is a diversion because you are bored. You think it is funny wasting people’s time like this but really you are the only laughing. Everyone else is waiting for you to tell them what is so important about boots.

Maybe just a few words.

Just to tie in the title.

Okay. Wow. That book is so good.

Alright, the reason why boots are important is that when you have nothing to do, not a thing in the world calling for your attention, and you feel a little bit like you might die of boredom because there has been nothing to do for ages – since this morning at least

and you have painted all your pictures, restored all your furniture, done all your volunteer work for the week because let’s face it, that is all there is and besides, they don’t usually mind if volunteers are late …

Boots, boots … Yes!

Then, when you go out to get something, something unimportant obviously because everything is done, something like rice noodles or something unnecessary …

When you come home, you can walk around in your boots and they make such a good stomping noise it sounds like you have very, very important things to do.

For example: stomp, stomp, stomp … I think I’ll make a cup of … stomp, stomp … tea then …¬†stomp,¬†stomp … shake out the … rug …¬†stomp

It’s so different to getting about in two pairs of woolly socks and outdoor slippers.

Absolutely beautiful image, not the least bit lonely: Anna Silivonchik

Beauty Spot

The world is littered with beauty.

We find it everywhere we live and so do others.

In Edinburgh people came to hear¬†poetic, natural speech; consonants¬†that were barely there, vowels that sometimes weren’t. They came for¬†kilts in action which sounds rude but I do not mean it that way. For reigning queens held captive in their own castles, except nobody captures queens anymore so it¬†must have been disappointing. The castles are still there though.

They came for hillsides where heather turns the scenery pink and purple and blurs it until it is out of focus, for the haggis who roam there.

They came from everywhere, every day and it felt like home.

Over here is another place of beauty we once lived. I do not mean to boast Рin fact I am trying not to. But I am setting up the story and it is trickier than I thought. It could also sound boring because it is a bit fiddly to set up. If that is the case, check your reader for another post. Come back at the end. I might post another picture.

In Byron Bay people came from all over for entirely different reasons, very fresh.

They came to soak up vibes and there were plenty of them. They came for beaches with the sound of whales under water, for dolphins that arc and twirl in the air then disappear for the fun of it. They came for fresh air, for herbal air on market day.

On market day anything was possible. The other thing is most days were like market day.

Some people loved it so much they applied for visas because they had decided what to do with their life; live there.

Living there could be a¬†bit mishmash; for example, thousands of people in town, none of them your neighbours. You had to search for your neighbours. If¬†you wanted some community feeling you had to ignore thousands of people, millions per year, in the way of your eyes if you were looking for your neighbours. I didn’t care. I just couldn’t see¬†my neighbours.

Now for the story: it’s a little bit tragic but¬†only¬†in the way of a¬†fairy tale:

This town where Pete and I now live is the same. It is humming with tourists due to the world being littered with beauty.

The whole region is a national park with towns running up and down the highway. But mostly it is national park.

Our town is the cutest which might sound boastful but I am not just saying it; it is obvious:

Milling throngs are emptied from tour buses every day. They first stop for the views of blue mountains which is also the name of the region. Then they wander, with a time limit, in parks full of ancient gums that look like spirit guides. They move to the edge of waterfalls, as far as the fence allows, spotting lonesome lyrebirds, which are like peacocks but sing in Australian, or one that has sung well enough and attracted a mate.

Afterward they come to our town where an array of boutique shops sell artefacts with the word Paris printed on them or notebooks with pictures of the Eiffel Tower. It only makes sense adding up the till. Otherwise, I agree with you, it’s quite strange.

There is a new hotspot cafe which looks very cool but it is strictly for people from outta town, opening Thursday to Monday because they are the busiest days.The other days a signboard out the front lets you know they’re shut. But only the people left behind get to read it.

Occasionally the coach operators give the tourists extra time; time to wander, find a look-out, have a picnic.

One day a group of tourists wandered through town and found themselves near here, at our neighbours house. Admiring the view and the shelter, they set up a barbecue in his car port.

Things were just getting underway when another neighbour noticed them and told them it was just car port, not a beauty spot. It has a kind of view. Not much of one. A view of gumtrees, mainly. Maybe there is more to it, maybe I am missing something.

But not as much as they.¬†They were very embarrassed and apologetic and there may have been some bowing. They packed up swiftly and went back to their tour bus. They had to walk of course – up the hill, down the hill and up again. It’s only ten minutes but they hadn’t had lunch.

I don’t know what happened after that. I hope one of the caf√©s was open. Maybe it was a Monday.

Our neighbour told us this story the other day. We can still find them here.

We are new but we are getting less new. I know what days to go to a cafe and and what hours to shop. If you leave out lunchtime it is like any other town but with souvenirs that aspire to greater things.

The only thing is there are no haggis to keep the weeds down. It’s a small thing. But if there were we would certainly raise a few.

We don’t miss anywhere. We are just here. It is very quiet although the birds get noisy.

australian fairy wrens

Photograph: Australian Splendid Fairy Wren, Pinterest

Chasing rainbows with jars

f7b7ab63f331c95b81b4c523e6db94ceAnd now I have to find the rest of the story. It’s about time. I mean, isn’t it about time? Whatever.

I wish I could write every day. Every day like I used to. Every two or three. Then it dropped back. So every three or four.

Now it seems like every four weeks. I am sure that could be verified.

Yet my ambition is the same: to write every day. Or every three or four.

There must be a catch. Definitely.

I am drawing together the pieces. Let’s see:

… What do we have here?


Okay, okay, that’s a start. Don’t be put off.

What else? Is there anything else?

Give it time.


Nope …

… … … what’s that?


It’s … it’s … it looks like a jar.

It’s a jar with a label.

What does it say? Can you read it? Stand closer …


Someone must be collecting rainbows.

That’s funny.

That’s extraordinary actually. I wish I could find out who. Then I could ask for instructions.

Then I would pass them on to you! We could all be instructed! There’s nothing like a rainbow jar with a set of instructions.

I’m glad we found this one.

I’ll try and track down the owner. I’ll get back to you.

Hi! Well, I looked. I looked and looked. In stories, everyone does that.

I looked and looked and looked. I searched and searched.

I hollowed out a small branch that had fallen to the ground and made it into a sort of trumpet, a sort of megaphone and I blasted out through the forest: “whoever has left a jar with “rainbows” please come and collect it now!”

I may have been a little forceful or I may have made the trumpet with a bit too much amplification because no one called back.

“Hello?” I called again “is anyone there?”

I waited. I thought it was the right thing to do. It was becoming more and more like a story every minute.

Then there was a rustling, just a faint one, like this: ruussl ruussl ruussl …

I picked up the jar. Wouldn’t you have?

I picked it up and I held it up to the sky. Maybe you would have done something else. But it felt like the right thing to do. And I was improvising.

The rustling got louder. It got louder and louder just like in stories.

I held the jar up as high as it would go which was right at the tip of my hands which are right at the very end of my arms which stretch all the way out on both sides of me. If you try it at home you will probably find, in most cases that is, that yours do too. Some people have wings though because they have lost their arms. The wings are usually invisible so maybe don’t ask for verification as you could embarrass yourself.

As I held the jar high, as high as it would go, the loud rustling noises – which had become like thunder – suddenly stopped and everything went silent. Dead silent. Like a grave.

“Golly” I thought. “That was quite unbelievable.” Which may seem like a strange thing to think but I was starting to feel aghast. Where is all this leading? Perhaps that would have been a better follow up but it was too late. I had already had my thought.

And then … and then

right then

at that moment …

I looked in the jar.

And it was full.

Full of rainbow. A rainbow as bright and as big as I have ever seen which may sound impossible because it was a normal sized jar, quite small actually. But the rainbow inside it was huge, somehow it still spanned the whole sky, right inside that jar.

I know it was a rainbow because it had that sort of half hoop shape and the colours … the colours … they were exactly the colours that you make a wish on, right there in the sky when someone says: “Oh look! A rainbow!” or when you are out shopping and you accidentally see one.

A rainbow. A real rainbow. Right inside that jar right at the end of my hands.

We’ll I didn’t know what to do except the obvious. So I made a wish.

“Please God …” Then I remembered I didn’t need to address it.

“I wish … I wish …” and I screwed up my eyes in the way that gives wishes more power …

And wished.

And because this is a story I can tell you what I wished for.

I wished for it to rain because it has been so dry and the garden is gasping.

I wished for the wind to stop because there seems no point to it and it has been howling for months.

I wished for somehow it to work out for Pete. All his teeth are falling out and the job that he came back for is too. Falling out.

Which means he has dentistry bills but no new teeth that he can buy. Well … he still has (most of) his own teeth but the other part, the part about not being able to afford new ones if all the others did fall out is more or less true. Well … maybe afford but …

I guess what I wished for is that even though we live in the Blue Mountains which is too hot and too dry and too windy ~ that we don’t have to move again because Pete’s work has holes in it like his teeth.

I hope, I wish, that whoever makes rainbows makes one for Pete. And that he sees it.

Or that someone out shopping sees one accidentally (or on purpose) and says to Pete:

“Oh look! A rainbow!”

And that he makes his wish.

I think that’s how it goes. Kind of around.

Beautiful image: EZ Holiday Lights, Austin