Wednesday, 24 December 2014

If Music Be The Food Of Love Play On

I've touched before in the blog on my sweet clients who moved to Mount Tamborine from Western Australia and became friends. We don't really see enough of them because life for both of us gets in the way, but when we do catch up it's like staggering into an oasis from the wasteland of the Sahara Desert. You know how with some people you just run out of things to say? Well that NEVER happens here, we can talk till the morning wee hours (and frequently do) with barely a pause to catch breath.

Up on Tamborine Mountain there's some small relief from the summer heat; a light breeze taking the sting out of the ridiculously hot 40 plus days we've been having on the coast. When I come here I feel separated both mentally and physically from the coastal strip, like taking a step away from the bittersweet symphony that is my daily life right now. Of course I lived here for a few years, so it's a little like coming home, or finding sanctuary.

This place is a sanctuary in more ways than one, with the township situated in and surrounded by areas of National Park. The animal and bird life is abundant and can be persistent; native birds especially get to know the residents and are not backward in coming forward with requests for snacks. At Stuart and Pamela's house this visit we met Harry and Harriet, a pair of rainbow lorikeets who flew in for sunflower seeds and announced their arrival with shrill trilling songs. These birds may eat from the hand but are still wild; a burning natural curiosity brings them in to watch us just as much as we watch them.

We also met Charlie, a king parrot of indeterminate gender who was definitely here to win friends and influence people judging by his expressions and performance.

He was more reserved than the lorikeets, very interested in proceedings but wary of contact, only hopping onto Stuart's hand after much patient waiting.

Poor Charlie - barely was he settled on Stuart but Harry/Harriet came and shooed him away! Rainbow lorikeets are very bossy birds. They have no idea how to share and no interest in subtlety.

While the birds jostled for attention I got on with The Real Reason for our visit this day, which was to photograph the lovely Evelyn, Pamela's mum.

Evelyn was visiting from Western Australia and I had suggested to Pamela that it might be an opportune time to take Evelyn's portrait, and of course some mother/daughter type photos as well.

For Evelyn this was a surprise, revealed over pre-Christmas afternoon tea. She handled it all like a pro.

Evelyn was a great subject and very easy to talk to, like her daughter. To get my subjects to relax, I often get them chatting about their life, and what a beautiful life I found in this one!

Evelyn and her husband Bill emigrated from British Columbia in Canada when they were both quite young with children in tow (including Pamela) and settled in Australia. Before this, in the nineteen fifties, Bill worked as the magician 'Wilco', with Evelyn as his assistant. It transpires that this was the last time Evelyn had her portrait taken professionally, more than half a decade ago, posing as Wilco's assistant. If I wasn't excited enough by the story Evelyn then produced the photo for me, framed up alongside one of Bill as Wilco. The difference in time between my shots of Evelyn and this one is longer than I have been alive.
I won't reveal Evelyn's age but she and Bill were married for more than 64 years.

Back home in Western Australia, Evelyn tells me she plays her piano every day. She plays for Bill, and he listens from his spot front and centre on the top of the piano, surrounded by photos of family. Bill has been gone for a year now, but Evelyn knows their tune by heart.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

All We Want For Christmas Is You

Ná u nó ke koho hopena. E koho pono 'oe. 
You are who you are by the choices you make. Be thoughtful in what you choose.
~ Hawaiian proverb

Dear Boy,

We were there when you were born; a squalling, giganti-lump of baby weighing in so little under ten pounds for the record that it didn't matter. You were wondrous. Miraculous. Alive. Danny laid his wonder bare to the world while I hid mine, as I always do, behind the safety of my camera lens.

As you grew we embraced you wholly into our lives, giving you every material (and immaterial) thing possible to ensure that you had a great start in life. We saw you every week, our very own sleepover. At our place you had your own room, your own toys, and your very own place in our hearts. You were our whole lives.

I tried so hard not to love you. Love means surrender and anyone who knows me knows I don't like to surrender; I go down with the ship. Love means vulnerability and inevitably pain, so sometimes it is simply easier not to love, to compartmentalise that part of us that opens us to hurt. I tried to focus on anything about you that annoyed me: standing on your blocks hiding in plain sight around the house, waking up yet again in the night to explain over to you the delights of sleep and why you should enjoy it while you could, the endless wiping of pooey bottoms or sticky hands or trails of something off my really bloody expensive couches. But it was impossible; you only had to look at me and I was lost. So I surrendered.

When you are an adult you have to make choices. You don't always get to have what you want, or the easiest thing, or the most fun thing in life. Or the thing that puts you and your needs first. Making the right choices is usually hard and requires sacrifices, but is the best thing for the situation as a whole and the best thing for a long term positive outcome for everyone.

I'm the first to admit through my life I've made some really dumb choices that have had dumb consequences I've had to work through and fix with the help of my friends and family. But the reason we make mistakes is to learn something, then the next time we make a choice we can choose something slightly less dumbass and make slightly less of a balls-up of a situation. I'm on my second marriage, as is my husband. I can tell you the lessons we learned from our first marriages are helping to make our marriage to each other stronger, and lifelong. We both made bad choices the first time round that held us back for quite a few years, but learning from those mistakes has made for a much richer experience for us second time round. We have learned that a lot of being married is a choice: you choose to work through problems and grow with your partner. Happiness likewise is a choice.

I'm also the first to say that in my life I've made some great choices that have been the right choice for the situation. At the time they may have been frightening, controversial, difficult to work through and sometimes painful to myself and others, but they have been the right thing to do in the situation, so I've done them. I left a fantastic and well-paying career in 2001 when my employer made changes to my job to force me to choose between continuing to study my bachelor degree and my career. To my employer's surprise I chose to leave, and I remember the feeling of falling into the complete unknown and the fear of what the hell would happen now? I can tell you what happened: I found another job, I made some lifelong new friends at uni, I finished my studies, and I became a photographer, a career that has fulfilled me in ways I never thought possible. In that sliding doors moment I could have made the easy choice, to keep working, but I would have missed out on so much. I remember sitting around a campfire with friends in the Anza Borrego Desert in 2001; the young kids were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up. The thought that popped straight into my head was: 'I will be a great photographer, and the whole world will know my name'. If my blog stats are any indication, that has come true.

The other thing about choices is you can't make them for someone else. No matter how many times you help someone, show them something, give them something, show them options or explain consequences, sometimes people are still going to make poor choices, and there is nothing you can do. People will make choices that have less than ideal consequences and there will be nothing you can do except hang on for dear life and hope the ride ends soon. So in times like this in response we have to make the best choices we can, not for others, not for us, but for the situation as a whole. Even if it rips out our hearts.

So Boy, back to you. I want you to know that we have always made, and will continue to make, the best choices for your situation that we believe possible. It may not be the choice that others want or approve of, and it certainly may not be the choice we think best for us, but it will always be the choice we thought best for you, and for your situation. The choice that we hope produces the best long term outcome for you. Because it's always been for you.

Merry Christmas our darling Boy. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, we want you to know that we think of you always. So when you're older, and can choose for yourself, we hope you make the right choice. We look forward to that day.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Parking Lot

Those of you who know me in the Real World will know I'm a bit an activist. That's actually like saying Lady Gaga is a bit out there or that Australian summers are warm. I have causes close to my heart and I'm happy to soapbox about them anytime of the day or night. Better still, I actually do something to fight for what I believe in. In the seventeen hundreds Irish Statesman Edmund Burke said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.

I've tried to keep this blog apolitical and rant free, but this weekend the Brashness and I attended a rally on the Gold Coast to protect our Broadwater area from development. You can Google for yourself what the Queensland governments, both local and state, have planned for this pristine endangered bird and wildlife habitat. Or you can just click here.

I have shown you multiple times in this blog what an amazing piece of paradise I live in here on the Gold Coast. Our beautiful waterways should stay untouched. The people of the Gold Coast, the intelligent, thinking, locals who have researched the issue and made it past all the bluster and propaganda of the politicians, do not want this development.

Put simply, as citizens of conscience we cannot allow this area to be destroyed. Enough is enough.

Here's a few images from today's rally; you can decide for yourself what the mood of the people is toward the prevailing government.

 So good men (and women) of the world, please do something; actually stand up for whatever it is YOU believe in.

 Don't just like it on Facebook or shout at the television between sips of Fanta. Put up, or shut up.

Yours can be a whisper or a shout, a tweet or a tome, but please make your voice heard. 

 If we don't add our voices together I guarantee you, evil will triumph.

If you'd like to see all the images from today's rally, please click here. If you or anyone you know is in these photos, please feel free to download and share them. Please credit Shot By A Ferrett if the image is used.