This week

By Vita Forest
This week I have been

From Harold Reid Reserve, Middle Cove – right in the middle of Sydney!


WRITING 

READING Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

WATCHING the Dance Academy movie with Lucy 

VISITING the Harold Reid Lookout in Middle Cove with Lucy for a picnic and a bush walk and

Looking across to Castlecrag


EATING a baguette, cheese, dips and veggies 

ENJOYING some warm spring weather

On top of the ridge at Harold Reid Reserve


BEING surprised by a homemade cake from some of my students baked on a play date 

PLANNING out my week and 

DOING my chores through the weeknights so I had a lovely chore-free weekend 

HOPING to keep up this new habit in the future 

Spring wildflowers seen on our bushwalk

Advertisements

A rabbit goes a marketting

By Vita Forest


I sat on Katrina’s special collapsible portable stool, that weighed almost nothing and folded to fit in her backpack.  I sat in the shade and looked out at the sunny side, the side of the building, the side with the sunbakers, the coffee takers, the side with the arched windows and metal pipes and picturesque bricks and the old boiler that could have been part of Howl’s moving castle.  Maybe it had broken off on one of his jaunts and he hadn’t noticed it yet with all that creaking and banging and carry on.  Perhaps it had found this spot in the sun by the railway track and decided to take a rest til he came back.  There was plenty to see here after all.


There was a small boy wearing a milk crate on his head and a woman in a floral silk robe belted about her waist  that billowed behind her as she strode along in her fluffy magenta slippers.  There were dogs of all sizes pulling their owners along by their straining leashes and children making trains of upside-down milk crates lined up in a row.  There was music drifting outside from inside the huge metal shed where a man on a cello stroked its strings with a long bow as the shoppers wandered by, their bags full of watercress and tomatoes and home-made pasta sauce.  There was the smell of coffee and sourdough bread and the patina of flaking paint on the sturdy old brick walls.


I sat on my friend’s stool, placed just so, right across from the boiler, in the shade not the sun, against the rippling corrugated iron wall, not as sketchable as the sunny side, not as warm either, truth be told, but sometimes you gotta suffer for your art.  I sat and flicked a blade across the tip of my pencil, sharpening that graphite to a point (how I love a sharp pencil to work with) and my knife slid down the pencil and my eyes slid across the tracks and the pavement to the boiler and I thought about how I could draw it (all the while aware of the blade of the knife of course, all the while taking care not to cut away a finger or a thumb).  And I sketched out the composition, the segments of the cylinder, how it would fit on the page.  And I sketched in the milk crate seats in front of it and I noticed that someone had just sat down on one of those milk crate seats and had set down a few items on a milk crate table and looked like she was there to sit awhile so I started to sketch her in too.  And as I quickly drew in the angle of her head and the slope of her shoulders I noticed her place a clump of green on the ground for her dog I presumed, her dog on a lead, there were so many dogs, but a dog eating greens?  I looked again and saw that the animal with its harness and leash and thick brown fur was not a dog, not a dog in the slightest, but a large, placid rabbit sitting in the sun at the market and eating its morning tea while its human ate hers.

I have never seen a rabbit out for a walk on a leash.  I have never seen a rabbit relaxing in the sunshine as dogs sauntered by, not seeing, not sensing, not bothered by the rabbit nibbling fennel fronds on the concrete.  Perhaps they knew each other, saw each other every week, here at the market, doin a bitta shopping, hanging out in the sun.  I didn’t notice any animal greetings but I noticed passing children doing double takes and stopping to crouch and look and gently stroke the rabbit and one sat quietly and was rewarded by having the rabbit carefully lifted and placed on her lap to pat and whisper to and scratch behind its long velvet ears.

I mapped out the girl and the rabbit then sidled back to Katrina (very subtly of course) and brought to her attention the furry friend that was Not A Dog.  She had not yet noticed the rabbit, she was drawing the boiler and the roof and the windows and wasn’t up to adding any people, not yet, that would come later.  Then I sidled back and kept on drawing and delighting in the nonchalant girl who sat there self-contained but not self-conscious in the sunshine with her juice and her pastry and her rabbit on a leash.

Had they walked far? I wondered as I scribbled in her boots.  Had they hopped all the way? (while I shaded her cardigan).  Was this a regular excursion on a Saturday morning in September?  Did she have a favourite stall for her nibbly greenery or did they try the rocket from the Hawksbury one week and the radish leaves from down south the next?  Would I draw her looking up or looking down at the rabbit, stroking its head, or holding her drink, or leaning on her elbow?  People always move so you have to work fast, adjust, approximate, make it up.  She sat and sipped her juice and I scribbled and drew and tried to get it down before she up and left with her bunny and her bags.

Nell strolled by with a coffee and her photogenic stalk of broccoli and a bunch of lavender and peered over my shoulder.  She hadn’t yet decided on a setting for her sketching, on a subject, on a place to sit awhile.  I brought the bunny to her notice and she laughed out loud and leaned against the wall and watched the girl with her bunny sitting under the boiler and said, “There’s a story in that.” And maybe there is and maybe this is it or maybe there’s something more to come.

So Nell wandered off to find her own sketchable moment and I drew in the milk crates and the drink and the table and the shadows and the sunglasses, but before I could go and ask if I could pat her rabbit and what its name was and how they came to be at the market that day and did they come often and a million other questions, before I could ask all that, she picked up her rabbit and her rubbish and put them both carefully in her calico tote bag and walked away.

So I sat and drew rivets and rust instead of rabbits and shivered in the shadows while drawing what was in the sun.

This week

By Vita Forest

Festival of the Winds, Bondi 2017


This week I have been

WRITING Cold Call

READING Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert (loved it!)

WATCHING The Good Fight

SKETCHING at Carriageworks, Redfern

Farmers market at Carriageworks, Redfern


WALKING the labyrinths to live drumming and didgeridoos at the Labyrinth Dreaming Festival in Centennial Park where we were

The Pilgrim Labyrinth


WISHING the Sydney Labyrinth a Happy Third Birthday and

Sydney Labyrinth, Centennial Park


JOURNEYING into and out of a number of labyrinths including a Pilgrim Labyrinth where you were

The Pilgrim Labyrinth (see the stones?)


CHOOSING a river stone and carrying it into the labyrinth then pausing and

LAYING down your burden by placing the stone somewhere along the path on your way out

PICNICKING beside the festivities then

VISITING Bondi Beach and

We touched that dragon’s tail!


MARVELING at the show in the sky at the Festival of the Winds


 

Cold Call

By Vita Forest


“Hello?”

As Prue pauses and listens, the phone pressing to her ear, she smells the earthy scent of soil.

She should have worn gloves.

Who is it?  One of those cold calls?  One of those people from a call centre far away across the globe, sending out calls, fishing for callers, waiting until someone finally bit?

“Hello?  I’m going to hang up.”

She starts to move the phone away from her ear, then hears a tremulous, “Wait!”

She sighs and raises the phone again.

She is impatient to be out in the garden again.  She wants to get back to her work.  She wants to finish spreading the mulch around the camellias, smothering the weeds, suppressing the unwelcome growth.  Suffocating it.  Burying it.  Showing it who was boss.

“Yes?  Who is this?”

“Is that Prue?  Prue Glass?”

It’s a male voice, unfamiliar.  Uncertain.

“Yes it’s Prue Glass?  Who is this?”

“Chris.”  Another pause.  “Chris Leong.  Caitlin’s husband.”

Now it’s Prue’s turn to pause.

“Oh.”

She feels the blood rush to her face and her pulses start to pound, senses that all she has held inside is about to erupt.

“Can we… can we meet?  I think we have things to talk about.”

Prue hears the front door opening.  Luke returning from school.  A normal day.  Just like any other day.

This couldn’t be happening.

“Chris…”  What could he possibly say?  What could they possibly talk about?

She knows very well what he will say.  She knows very well what he will want to talk about.

“It’s really…”

None of your business!  Not necessary!  What could he hope to achieve from talking about it?

Luke walks into the kitchen, earphones in his ears, in another world, nods at her vaguely before dumping his bag down and opening the fridge.

Prue clears her throat.

Struggles to breathe.

“It’s not a good time.  My son…  My son has just arrived home.”

“Ok.  But we need to talk.  I think you know what this is about.”

I think you know what this is about. 

The blood burning her face.  Her skin on fire.  Knowing Luke’s eyes are on her, curious.  She turns to the window.

“Please call back another time.  It’s not convenient now.”

She hangs up.  Takes a breath.  Presses a hand into her belly.

Pressing.  Squeezing.

Tries to fling off the feeling of dread, of the floodgates opening, of her life coming crashing down.

She places a smile on her lips, turns to face Luke.

He is still standing at the fridge, one earpiece out of his ear now.  She hears the tinny beat pulsating from it, pounding out into the air.  The bright white light from the fridge sends a garish streak across his face.  The fridge breaks into a hum.

“Who was that?”

Prue blinks.

“No one.  Just one of those… silly call centres trying to get us to change who we get our electricity from.”

She presses the hair away from her temples, rakes it back again and again, goes to the sink and splashes her burning face with water.  Dousing it.  She imagines she hears a sizzle as the cold water meets the heat of her skin.  Feels steam rising.  She squeezes her hands against her cheeks, looks out the window, looks out to the pile of mulch on the lawn.

No matter how hard she tries, no matter how much she shovels and shovels and buries and piles it up, the weeds will still find their way out, still slither up into the sunlight.  She feels her breath catch in her throat.

Has it all been for nothing after all?

“Mum?”

Luke is still there, standing at the fridge.  Still staring at her.  The light shining on his face, the hum turning into a gurgle, the rows of jars gleaming in the coolness behind him. Olives, Strawberry jam, Tomato paste.

“Why is the fridge still open?  You’ll let all the cold out.”

Prue stumbles back outside, back into the air.  She rushes down the steps, past the place on the verandah where she had seen Martin and Caitlin.  Caitlin and Martin.  In the darkness that night.  She had wondered if it was real.

It was real.

It was all coming home to roost.

This week

By Vita Forest

Kookaburra at our Fathers Day picnic

This week I have been

WRITING Betty 4 Bob

READING The House of  Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

WATCHING a “vague relation” in  Spiderman Homecoming with my kids

CELEBRATING

  • Betty and Bob’s nuptials
  • Fathers Day

PLAYING games of Banagrams with my kids after dinner

MAKING Nutmeg cake for a Fathers Day picnic

ENJOYING a crazy warm day on Sunday

Sunny Sunday!


THINKING about ways to simply

 

 

 

Betty 4 Bob

By Vita Forest


This Saturday we are looking forward to a new chapter in one of our school’s very own fairy tales (I borrowed that line from a student). This Saturday will mark the start of a marriage between two staff members.
Betty and Bob have known each other for years. They are both divorcees, both coming from relationships that didn’t work out. Betty has lived for the last few years with her young-adult children, making a new home for them, creating a little sanctuary in her own unique style. This included a fabulous wall of Betty’s cross-stitches, her Four Season plates displayed proudly in her kitchen, and of course, her secret, special paint colour – full strength in this room, half strength in another (the name of the colour was only shared with you if you were very lucky).
She was growing used to being single and enjoyed a full social life with book clubs, stitching groups, movies, mini-breaks, old friends, her large extended family and even a First Wives Club… Betty had made peace with this new life, this life she did not expect to be living, but a life she was finding to be thrilling and satisfying and good.
But one day at school, she was feeling a little sad… One day at school, in her empty classroom she had shed a tear…
This did not often happen, but this day she was feeling a little lonely, a bit down. She went about her day, teaching the children, marking the homework, going out on playground duty.
She stood, as she always did at that time of the week, under the COLA on lunch duty. Opening children’s yoghurt packets and drink bottles and lunch boxes, talking to tiny people in large hats, not knowing that the next chapter of her life was about to begin…
Bob had been working at the school for a number of years, quietly watching Betty, waiting and hoping. He started working there the same month that Betty’s first marriage had really fallen apart (they discovered later) when she was consumed by its crisis, when she was distracted by the end of her life as she knew it. He waited and watched and offered her a kindness here and there in his gentle way.
They were friends, they were colleagues, but Bob hoped they might be something more one day. He watched as Betty ploughed through the divorce, the upheavals and came out the other side renewed and resilient. He watched and waited until that day, that day at lunch, when, hidden in plain sight, he asked Betty if she would like to go to a party with him…
And the rest, as they say, is history… text messaging each other across the staff room, going on road trips in the school holidays, watching The Bridge in matching t-shirts… Keeping their relationship a secret at school for… not very long, but behaving impeccably and professionally at all times.
We were all delighted when during one of their road trips, they got engaged to each other. Happy news indeed! The months have passed, the wedding preparations have been made, the honeymoon planned. Last week, Betty showed me a lovely book her current crop of Year 1s made for her. It included musings and advice on marriage, including when you find the right person to marry, you should play Lego with them, and you should marry someone who is kind to you (wise words indeed).
The happy couple left school on Tuesday, allowing a few days to get the last of the wedding jobs completed. The school threw them a “special assembly” at which they walked down the aisle together, where they received “Bride of 2017” and “Groom of 2017” medallions, where the school captains (all of twelve years old) offered them advice on what makes a successful marriage, and the children serenaded them with “Going to the Chapel”.
All that is left to do now is to wish them a “happily ever after…”

This week

By Vita Forest 

View from Middle Head, Mosman


This week I have been

REWRITING parts of one of my novels

READING The Good People by Hannah Kent

WATCHING my class perform our play at assembly (it all went very well and they enjoyed having an audience reacting to the humour).

GOING to one of my Bookclubs to discuss The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

CELEBRATING Saskia’s birthday on a rock overlooking Sydney Harbour with Saskia, Vastra and Rowdy the dog while

Towards North Head from Middle Head


EATING chocolate cake and

DRINKING tea from a trusty thermos then

WALKING along the ridge at Middle Head, Mosman

Beautiful angophora trees


TRYING a thirty minute decluttering frenzy!