Graceful, powerful and effortless, she can take our breath away with her cascading beauty…
Ireland beautiful wilderness
Happy New Year!
While my families and friends suffering the extremely cold weather in Canada, US and UK, in Australia we too, tried to endure the extreme heat. For the last three days, the temperature has been in the 40° Celsius (107° Fahrenheit) in Melbourne. I was not the only one suffered, but my little garden also, despite my effort to rise early in the morning while still a little cooler tending to the garden, my flowers and herbs wilted from being burnt by the fierce sunlight.
For the first time in my life, I attempted to paint the fence at the front of my house, which also suffered through the weather. The job was too small for the trade men, which they could not afford the time but the hourly rate was too high for a pensioner like me. Without any experience, I decided to buy a can of paint and a brush then set out to paint! I thought I was doing so well in my careful way until my neighbour came by telling me some simple things as: “Stir the liquid harder and right down to the bottom of the can…” and “Load the brush with lots of paint…” In another word: “Do it properly, woman!” Which helped.
But even as I chose as late as 7PM to paint the fence, the last couple of days were impossible. The weather was still hot (35°) and paint won’t stick! So instead, I was content to capture the pretty hibiscus flower on the canvas before they wilted. It was even too hot to eat and salad has been on the menu daily. However, tonight I am going to make “herb” pasta sauce with the beautiful fresh herbs I picked this morning before they all get demolished in the heat or by the hungry insects.
A bouquet for my table from the unused herbs, which gave the whole room a lovely fragrance.
It’s the third Christmas since the day my beloved husband died (990 days to be exact). Although each day had been as long as an eternity yet, it seems as though he only passed away yesterday. This year I am learning to appreciate time on my own, I am also learning to be happy facing the misery of being left a widow instead of, running away from it as I did the last two Christmas
I learnt to count my blessings, and that I did not have to plan a big Christmas dinner for anyone, and definitely counting my blessings that I did not have to shop with thousands of other shoppers. I smiled watching how people rushing around buying as though the shops would be closed for weeks and not for just one day. Anything but to do with the real spirit of Christmas: Shouting the insults at one another, fighting for a spot in the car park that already full. So many dramas that being put into one day of the year for families to connect or to disconnect? And if Christmas comes once a month, would families have enjoyed each other more without too much effort? We’ll never know.
Perhaps I envied those, who have families gathering around them? Who had to get up on Christmas morning and in a hurry to get “things” done? Perhaps I should have felt guilty that I did not have any worry making sure the family Christmas dinner is up to the usual expected standard; like the turkey might be too dry? Or the pork is not crispy enough? And what happened to the pudding? But instead, I did not have to rush out of bed, and then I took my meditating time wandering through my herbs garden, listening to a birdsong, picked some fresh herbs to make a creamy omelette that would turn into a soft fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast. How perfect! Not to mention the aroma of my favourite freshly brewed organic coffee, just the way it should be on Christmas morning and I better get used to it.
Well, like a bear, I decided to hibernate this Christmas, in the luxury and abundant quietness, away from the hustle and bustle of the festive season, allowing not, the crowded loneliness and the loud misery affecting my soul. I am counting my blessings indeed, for a lovely Christmas morning, totally alone. And yes, I did turn my phone off just for Christmas.
A Dream Within A Dream
By Thai Peck
The theatre – more like a palace really – heavily ornate in gold-plated furnishings. The passage was wide and bright with mirrors reflecting all the lights of many huge crystal chandeliers.
The music was still ringing in her ears as she was walking along the corridor. Perhaps it was from Mendelssohn’s violin concerto or could it be Dvorak’s cello suite; whichever, she was too happy to care.
She was loved, adored and he was kind, handsome and he loved her! Her heart skipped with happiness as they made their way down a grand staircase. Her hand gently ran over the beautifully carved balustrade, a gleam in her eyes showed much admiration for the artistic labour of the past, she took a deep breath as though she wanted to inhale the spirit of this grandeur, her eyes glancing up at him, she smiled; a quiet gratitude. He watched her, a gentle smile beaming on his handsome face, it was such a pleasure witnessing her expression of appreciation, and he held her gently down the steps, as though she was the most precious thing on earth.
The foyer now looked like an art gallery. A bright red velvet-cushioned bench beckoned them to sit down and contemplate an enormous painting on the wall. The light rain was falling steadily outside. They waited, his hand holding hers, their eyes gazing at the same direction where so much information appeared slowly on the painting pleading the artist’s hidden story.
A stranger stopped by and parked himself by her side, pleasantly commented on the painting. An amusing reply from her: “Those human-beings in the painting are staring at us with wonderment too!” It took him a moment then the stranger gave out a hearty laugh while her lover squeezed her hand gently, looking at her with an approving smile full of love and admiration.
The stranger stood up, took a bow and walked away, she noticed that he was in full dinner suit attire while she and her lover were casually dressed: he, with a pale blue open-neck shirt and she wore a flowing reddish silk dress and a cardigan over her shoulders
They walked out of the theatre foyer; the evening light was softer but no less bright. She exclaimed: “It stops raining!” He smiled happily: “So it is!” A young pretty lady came to greet them: It was his sister who was looking cheerfully with tender friendliness toward her. All three walked together among the crowd.
It was late but there were still so many people around, outside in a sort of carnival atmosphere, everyone was cheerful and happy. She was walking holding on his arm feeling as light as a feather, she wore no jewellery, carried no handbag, no “iPhone”, no purse and she felt so free.
They stopped by a stall selling beautiful handcrafts and artwork including many beautiful silk scarves. How she loved touching the soft flowing silks gently against her cheeks, they were the most luxurious colours that she had never seen before. He offered to buy her one, or two or as many as she liked, but she wanted nothing, she needed nothing as long as he was by her side and while all she wanted was to feel his soft breathing on her neck.
His sister, however, bought one for herself; it looked so pretty on her, a mixture of pastel colours that looked just like a watercolour painting from somewhere… Watercolour…? Out of nowhere…? Why did she think of watercolour…?
(All of a sudden, the bright light dimmed and it became so dark as though someone slowly turning the switch off…)
“…What happened? Where was she?” She tried to peer into the darkness gathering her thought but her mind wandered far, so far…
She heard a voice calling but did not know where it came from. She did not know why someone called out: ‘grandma‘. Whose grandma??? Her own grandmother had died seemed like centuries ago!
How pale the light turned, perhaps night had fallen, her vision blurring. She tried to stare into the dark shadows catching sight of the man she loved but she could hardly see… Then all of a sudden! She sighed with relief as the white light regained its brightness. Through this blurred vision yet she could see it so clearly: There she stood with her lover by her side yet, for a moment where she thought she had lost him… Her heavy eyelids closed contentedly… A smile on her dry lips…
In a half-lighted room, the doctor whispered softly to the young woman standing by the hospital bed: “I think your Grandma has gone.”
The young man put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her; slowly the young woman leaned her head on his shoulder. It was a summer evening; the golden sunset was going down slowly outside the window, casting a brilliant glow about the small room, the young woman was wearing a flowing reddish silk dress and her young man in the pale blue summer shirt…
“…I stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore, and I hold within my hand. Grains of the golden sand – How few! Yet how they creep through my fingers to the deep. While I weep – while I weep! O God! Can I not grasp them with a tighter clasp? O God! Can I not save one from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”
Edgar Allan Poe
Author’s note: “From a vivid dream, this story (published 2015 WP) was created in loving memory of a beloved.”
“Is the night chilly and dark?
The night is chilly, but not dark.
The thin grey cloud is spread on high,
It covers but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full
The night is chill, the cloud is grey:
Tis a month, a month of Christmas,
And Summer comes slowly down this way…”
After a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
A drive on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria about 150km west of Melbourne reminded me of the coastal drive in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles… Memories, oh memories!
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Remember me to one, who lives there,
For he once was a true love of mine…”
With green mint, cool parsley, sweet basil, and sunny thyme made a perfect dinner of herbs added with refreshing coriander and common chives, all from the garden herbs box you built for me on the deck.
“…Where I may sit and rightly spell. Of every star that heaven doth show, and every herb that sips the dew. Till old experience do attain, to something like prophetic strain…”
Parsley that you can smell with your heart and rosemary for remembrance of you and of love, while sage gives me the wisdom and courage to change the things I can. And thyme! O thyme of sweet aroma, for my cup of tea.
This painting was inspired by Shelley’s poem that we read together. I used the aboriginal art creating a story of love separated by heaven and earth between oceans, rivers… and never the twain shall meet.
“The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me? “