When the haiku poet Basho walked the narrow road to the deep north it is probable he wore a coat made of paper.   During the Edo period in Japan many people wore  Shiroishi Washi clothing.   These clothes were made from washi paper that had been treated with vegetable oils to make it waterproof.     making paper clothes in rural Japan

paper coat








Today it’s heading for a top of 38c down here in Victoria, Australia.   The hot north wind blowing in from the desert is expected to continue until Saturday.   Further north from here they are expecting temperatures of 44c +.

As the roars around my house it sounds angry.   It’s a relief to retreat inside and contemplate the idea of conveying silence through a photograph.

In reaction to the heat and furious wind I have chosen a photo I took early one wintery morning as my contribution to the challenge.

2017-04-13 07.58.42-01


Summer Weather


DSCF7805-01The weather down here on the shores of the Southern Ocean is a fickle thing.   More often than not, it’s grey and overcast.  This time of the year bursts of cold air straight off the ocean can lower the temperature by 10 c degrees or more in a matter of minutes.  Our daytime temperature highs can range from 20c to 38-40c over the course of a week.

Those perfect days when just the gentlest of breezes stirs the trees and the sky is a dome a clear blue are precious – they can also be exceedingly hot.  Due to the heat I like to get out early on such days.   I took these photos early last Sunday morning.



photo prompt:

Black & White Still life


One of the things I have resolved to do this year is eat healthily.    I have been learning about the properties of different foods and was fascinated to learn that humble celery has been regarded as medicine for almost 3,000 years.   Hippocrates, the father of modern Western medicine described it as a nerve soother.   In Chinese medicine it used to lower high blood pressure.   Science reveals that celery has a high calcium content and is excellent source of potassium.

When I went shopping early morning I was happy to find bunches of fresh celery stacked on the supermarket shelves.   My plan this week is to start juicing it.  Apparently a glass of celery juice every day lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy sleep.   I’m not sure about how this juice will taste as juice but I’ll experiment with adding other vegetables to make it more palatable.   If anyone knows any tasty celery juice recipes I’d love to hear them?

Another of my resolutions for the year is to use less plastic – particularly single use plastic bags.    I’m finding this resolution particularly hard to put into practice.    It was only when I got home and unpacked my groceries that I realised I had unconsciously put the celery I selected into a single use bag even though I was taking it directly to the automatic checkout  then placing it in the shopping bag I’d bought with me.   Why oh why is it so hard to retrain the brain not to automatically reach for the plastic bags when shopping?


photo prompt:


Crow Days

When I started this blog in the new year I stated that one of my intentions was to become more authentic.    Immediately on posting that people started asking me ‘exactly how do you do that?’

Not being entirely sure myself I had to do some reading.   I discovered psychologists say we are not living authentically when our actions are governed by the expectations of others.   The psychotherapist Eros Candusso writes that “One reason we fall into this false self is because we want to conform with the group…  We don’t want to be weird or isolated.   So we get a sense of payoff by being false.”  By developing awareness of the true intentions behind our actions and, as a result, developing more control over how we behave, we can move towards greater personal authenticity.

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to acting falsely.   A good example is my previous post where I decided that I needed to write my memoirs because my younger sister asked me about some family history.  Because of convoluted family dynamics I immediately felt I had write an entire book about what I knew of family history.   It took me most of the day to realise that I could simply answer my sister’s question then say I wasn’t all that interested in digging up the past right now.

The entire episode made me think more deeply about personal authenticity.


Crows are birds who have no qualms about expressing their authentic voice.

Since early spring (September down here in southern Australia) I have had a family of crows living in the tall gum tree behind my house.

I first became aware of them when I noticed a crow parading around the garden with a twig in its mouth.  After a moment it flew off with it then shortly returned to get another.   When a second crow began doing the same thing I realised they were building a nest.

Over the next few weeks the crows became increasingly territorial.   One day I was painting  in my studio when a ruckus in the garden made me look out the window.   A crow had a neighbourhood cat bailed up on a fence top and was pecking at it with its beak.   The cat cowered in fear until it snatched a moment to make a quick getaway.  Crows immediately went up in my estimation for as a young teenager I know said “You have to admire any bird that can hold its own against a cat!”

In due course the baby crow arrived and the two adult birds were kept busy ferrying food to it.   At that stage the baby kept up a constant squawking.   Its parents were never very far away and often made re-assuring noises.

It was about then I began to realise that crows speak to each other in their own language.   They don’t always squawk raucously.  There are all kinds of subtle midtones and short abbreviated sounds that they use to communicate with each other.   The most annoying of these was when the baby grew larger enough to leave the nest but was not big enough to find its own food.   Every afternoon it would march up and down my yard crying piteously.   As the days went by it was left alone for longer and longer periods of time.

One evening the three birds perched on a branch overhanging my garden.   As I watched the mother regurgitated food for the baby while  Dad watched on protectively.  Poor mum didn’t get much of a break before the baby started crying again and nudging her for more food.

By December the baby was able to fend for itself and the din in the yard lessened.  The family still live in the gum tree and fly around my house chatting conversationally.  The baby often perches on the fence top and watches me as I work in the garden.


This intense involvement in the life of crows led me to look up their symbolic meaning in the book “Animal Dreaming” by Scott Alexander King.  He says that the crow symbolizes natural law and writes –

“Crow encourages us to seek the wisdom found in the inner silence and to ponder our actions and reactions to life…her appearance generally heralds a sudden but necessary change, a wakeup call or a lesson in self-discovery.

Crow demands that you listen to your instincts and act upon them in a way that honourably serves your purpose.”

Around the same time I had a really strong urge to paint on my Medicine Drum.   After consideration I realised that the image I wanted to paint on its surface was a crow.

These days when I play the drum I feel I am drumming my authentic self into being.




Ghost Writing

via Daily Prompt: Brilliant

Brilliant!   I just got a text from Amazon (how did they get my number?) telling me it’s my last chance to hire a ghost writer at their special Christmas offer rates.

Just what I need.

I feel a bit like a ghost myself these days.   Kind of disappeared.  My old life has melted away and I’m not sure what takes its place.

Maybe that’s what happens when you retire.   You disappear –

– disappear into an aging body and health warnings too serious to ignore
– disappear into a pile of unfinished projects that used to seem important but now no longer do.

My sister-who-lives-in-Europe sent me a Facebook pm (it’s how we communicate these days – a  postmodern simulacrum of conversation).

She asked if I still had the piece I wrote years ago on some deleted blog about a childhood visit to my great grandmother.   The visit happened before she was born.   She wanted to re-read it.   Perhaps in the hope it would give some kind of context to her own for she’d been born in altogether more fractured times.

I no longer have the piece for I hadn’t really thought it was all that important or that anyone cared much about it.

After Christmas dinner my younger daughter asked me about old family history that only I can remember.   She’s at that age when suddenly family history becomes interesting.

Put with my sister’s request her questions assume a new significance.   It’s true I’m the only one who remembers many of those old stories  – my brothers were too young and were off watching the cricket with dad anyway.   I was the only child who sat on the plush carpet lining up buttons from great grandmother’s button jar while the women sipped tea and mulled over family stories.   Stories of the world that is gone and all but forgotten now.

Yes, there’s  project there alright.   It just needs to be written.   That where the ghost writer could come in handy.   Then again perhaps it’s time to become my own ghost writer and write the stories of my own ghosts. Maybe that’s their voices I’ve been hearing in the whispering in the swish of the broom as I sweep out the cobwebs gathered in the dusty corners of my banner