As my tagline states, this blog is ‘a place to practice the craft’. I meant the craft of writing, but it could also be the craft of living, engaging, witching, mothering. Launched a handful of weeks after the birth of my son, it has been many things — a creative outlet during the long days and nights of new motherhood, a digital sandbox to hone my writing craft, a place to find a writing community and make what are now old friends, a path to tread tentative steps toward intentional and ‘professional’ writing, and a repository for parenting mementos that I’m already grateful for, seven years on.
Those mementos include a post for each of Ruben’s birthdays. Number one was small on fanfare but big on joy; two a day of firsts with first tram ride and aquarium visit for him, first foray into fondant foolery for me; three was spent on the half pipe and dirt mounds of the skate park, inspired by his prodigious way with wheels; four an epic piñata and a dinosaur theme; and five, marveling at the wonders of the universe and his mamma’s baking skills as he sliced through an astronaut helmet cake to discover a solar system within.
On Day 12 of my Iso calendar, also known as Wednesday March 25, 2020 in the now nonsensical Gregorian calendar, I heard an interview I’d recorded on January 26, 2020 BC (Before Covid) with Lucy Armstrong on The Upshot. It aired on MainFM, my local community radio station. If you didn’t catch it, you can stream it anytime on Mixcloud.
The premise of the show (also hosted by Kya) is a casual chat with locals to Castlemaine and surrounds, asking the same handful of questions, culminating in the biggie— the meaning of life. The interviewee chooses music that holds special or significant memories. For one of the questions, I went on a bit of a musical rabbit hole to pin point the Ethiopian music I used to hear as a child far from my first home, music played by my mother that filled me with a longing I couldn’t place, and strangely, feelings of joy and sadness simultaneously. Even as time eroded my grasp of Amharic and I could no longer understand the lyrics, those songs struck at something deep inside me. After failing to find just the song that did it, I looked into the word ‘tezeta’ which popped up from some rarely visited nook in my mind. Bingo! Tezeta is not only the style of music I was thinking of, but the title of many songs in that style by a range of musicians. Continue reading →
‘ “It was a dark and stormy night…” The cliché line was written in font reminiscent of a typewriter’s singular offering, with a deliberate smudge of the printed words for added authenticity. The otherwise blank sheet of paper was wrapped around the platen of the typewriter cake* from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, with pastel icing of sage green and peachy creme, mint slice platen knobs, liquorice typebars, a musk stick space bar and keys of multi-coloured smarties. The aspiring author blew the candles and made her usual wish of publication before slicing through the cake as party guests whooped and cheered. That was me, Mek, 80s tragic, birthday cake baker, engineer, and increasingly, adopter of the label ‘writer’ as one of the many facets of my identity…’
That was a snippet of my 500-word statement that formed part of my application for a university course that has been on my radar for quite a while. Continue reading →
I’m late in posting this, partly due to the same reason that this birthday has stood out a little from the rest. In addition to the invite that brings out the inner graphic designer in me, months of space-themed crafting, days of number 5 cookie baking and careful imagining of a cake that took till the early hours of party day to execute, this year we also had a separate celebration on the Queen’s birthday holiday for our little prince—a Yarra River cruise with his grandparents, and not long after, a second celebration of his 5th voyage around the sun with 20 of his closest friends, followed by a slightly more terrestrial event that shifted the focus from star gazing and cake eating, with commencement of our new living arrangements. Knowing this was going to be the case, I tried to savour every single moment leading up to his day even more than I normally would. I was squeezing him a little tighter, telling him I love him far more frequently, and making a greater effort to be present, even in unremarkable moments (how special it has become to yet again be asked to close my eyes as he hides underneath the dining table and I feign surprise at his disappearance). Moments that from now on will happen only for half his week and half of mine, with what will feel for my heart like an eternity between cuddles. Continue reading →
My boy recently marked his fourth whirl around the sun, giving me reason to channel my creative energy into party planning (with barely any energy for this or that). With months of build-up, the anticipation resulted in the full spectrum of almost-four year old behaviour, from the excited-yet-gentle questioning ‘is it my birthday yet?’ to the frustrated, foot-stomping, lego-throwing, angry exclamation that ‘MY BIRTHDAY is NEVER COMING!!!’ Continue reading →
Today was a public holiday here in Australia. 26th January is known to some as Australia Day, to others as Invasion Day. A day of celebration for some, for others, a day of mourning and/or activism- acknowledging the past and present injustices to the indigenous peoples of this country- for others still, simply a welcome time off from work.
Today, I didn’t celebrate, but thoughts of injustices were on my mind. There are gaps in health, mortality, education, social inclusion, services- you name it, there is a gaping hole that divides the original custodians of this land from its other inhabitants. I was not going to write about it, until an email from a friend inspired me to share some words, a quote attributed to Lilla Watson, although she prefers to see it attributed to ‘Aboriginal activist’s group, Queensland, 1970s’.
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
I love the quote, as ‘help’ is too often about making the ‘helper’ feel good without an understanding of what is really needed- be it a government initiative, or the voluntary act of an individual. The alternative is acknowledging the other person’s humanity and seeing that we need one another- a good place to start- with a paradigm shift still needed, some 40 odd years after those words were spoken, and 228 years since the arrival of the First Fleet.
26/01/2017: This was first published on 26th January 2016. It is still relevant a year on. Prison populations, education, employment and morbidity and mortality rates have not made any forward leaps for positive change. This time around though, I am not merely a saddened spectator but playing a small part in change by participating in a Reconciliation Action Plan working group at my place of work.
26/01/2018: A year on and the sentiments and their cause remain. I am still part of the Reconciliation Action Plan group at work, but now with a more formalised role, representing my business group. I haven’t personally made any tangible steps toward the RAP but I have clarity now in what I can contribute, following a seminar I attended on Aboriginal Water Values in late 2017. It is sometimes overwhelming to see injustice and not know where or how to make a difference- but what better way than in one’s area of expertise and circle of influence? I will focus on ways to ensure that cultural values of water are a factor in water management decisions. Without elaborating on the seminar that I found inspiring and how water is intrinsic to indigenous culture, I will leave you with a trailer for the documentary ‘Ringbalin’ which I saw for the first time at the seminar.
Grab your celebratory beverage of choice and join me as I reminisce on most viewed posts; a hilarious search term that landed a confused internet user on my blog; my wild card entry of a post that had a great impact on my creative output for the year; and finally, resolutions for 2018! Continue reading →
I was surprised to read a story in The Guardian this morning about legislation that has been passed in France, making it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of, or purposely spoil, surplus or out of date food. The forced act of goodwill will see supermarkets signing contracts with charities to distribute the otherwise wasted food. I think this is a great idea but a sad indictment of human nature and corporations that it has to be passed as law. The story reminded me of a poem I wrote inspired by Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners, as well as my experiences while working at a Franprix (supermarket chain) in Paris some years ago (maybe another blog post with that story). Finishing my night shift at the supermarket, it wasn’t unusual to see people who didn’t fit the stereotype of needy or homeless rummaging through bins which overflowed with dairy produce that had passed a day or two over their best before warning, bread that had gone crusty, tomatoes that were ripe to the point of almost bursting and bananas that save for the dark brown patches, would have otherwise been edible. Well, I guess even the dark brown patches are edible when you are hungry. Anyway, I was glad to see the story and thought I’d also mention a great documentary I watched some years back on the very topic – The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda (first four minutes below). I loved the interesting characters Varda revealed and the de-stigmatisation of surviving on what most of society deems as trash, while also highlighting the glut of food produced and wasted while so many people go hungry.
In this season of mass consumption and mass waste that leaves our planet hungover and bleary-eyed long after the party’s over, I thought it timely to share a post I wrote early last year on the impact of food choices on our planet. Further to food choices are how we source and package our foods – I have recently taken an interest in zero waste and would love to hear from people who are living a zero waste lifestyle.
We’re part way into 2016, and being February, you probably already know it’s the lunar Year of the Monkey, but did you know that 2016 is also International Year of Pulses (IYP2016)? To raise awareness of the initiative and celebrate those goodies that pack a punch in soups, dahls, curries, salads and all manner of meals, bloggers What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager organised a blogger action day for today, and I’ve joined the bean wagon! I learnt of it via Janice at Ontheland.
I was lucky enough to be featured on Nadine Tomlinson’s Storyteller Series. Nadine, a friend, fellow blogger and speculative fiction writer asked great questions on creativity and life — are there any other topics worth discussing? If you want to read my thoughts on those topics, head over to Nadine’s blog where you’ll also find posts in which Nadine shares insights on the creative process and writing inspiration. Thanks Nadine, it was a real pleasure!
Welcome to Storyteller Series, where I highlight writers, authors, and those who tell, publish, and promote stories. This month, I’m featuring Mek. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and emigrated to Sydney, Australia at the age of six. After taking the safe route of a chemical engineering degree rather than exploring her love of art,+…