SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Morning After


A Happy New Year to you! I hope whatever you did and wherever you did it, you had a joyful time.
We ushered in the New Year in style. We spent it at Anne's house with our wonderful Games group, with whom we meet monthly to play charades, boggle, 500, tabu, categories &&&. Last night, after banqueting, to mark the occasion and to help keep us awake until midnight, we re-watched the hilarious Keating. And at the witching hour we waved sparklers and toasted each other with French champagne afloat with sugared hibiscus flowers, exactly like tiny red octopi. We certainly weren't alone in letting it rip, as I discovered on my regular early morning walk.

The 'morning after' in the Edinburgh Gardens

Under the stately historic elms and ringing the rotunda of the beautiful Edinburgh Gardens, as far as the eye could see the grass was strewn with bottles, cans and plastic of every description. Being a fortunate country with a rich infrastructure, there was already a team of council workers busily cleaning up the mess - hopefully earning triple time on this public holiday. But is was still shocking to see. 

John cleaning up after others

John seemed resigned as he collected the trash and loaded it into his council truck. His main gripe is with the revellers who obviously wake up early dismayed to realise they have lost their phone or watch. They rush back, tousled-haired and bleary-eyed, to look for them, kicking rubbish around as they do so and making the job harder for council workers.
I can't understand why in this iconic public celebration venue, on predictable nights like a balmy N Y's Eve, the council doesn't simply pepper the park with skips. Locals are generally compliant people and I'm sure it would improve the situation. Or that's what I'm going to say to council officers when I ring with my suggestion tomorrow. But this is all a far cry from the new era celebration conducted in South America a couple of weeks ago.
21 December, as many people know and lots had feared, was the end of the Mayan long-count calendar. Instead of heeding predictions of an apocalypse, Evo Morales, Bolivia's first Indigenous President and an activist, saw this moment as the start of a new era. 'It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and the beginning of truth.' In the Bolivian government's view, the time has arrived for community and collectivity to finally replace capitalism and individuality. 
Symbolically ushering in this new age of harmony between humankind and mother earth, Morales sailed across glorious Lake Titicaca in a totora reed boat, a replica of those plied for millennia in Titicaca's waters.
I just hope Morales is right. That 2013 is the start of a new era, as he puts it, vivir bien, to live well.
And I also hope we left Anne's house looking more like serene Lake Titicaca than today's Edinburgh Gardens.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Close-knit Christmas

As I strolled along the street yesterday towards the North Fitzroy pool for my usual Saturday morning yoga class, I couldn't believe my eyes. Overnight, somebody or somebodies, perhaps they were elves, had decorated all the bike stands. They were enchanting, as you can see.

Happy Christmas, Bikes!

After class, exiting illegally (I do enjoy a bit of delinquency especially in the silly season) through the door that abuts the park, I had another delightful surprise. The trees had all scored red cummerbunds and knitted ornaments adorned their branches. It was a wet morning, the leaves were dripping, it was dark. I felt like I'd stumbled into a Hans Christian Anderson story of Christmas in a cold European forest.

Yuletide greetings, Trees

It couldn't have been more different from the experience we had later in the day when we were transported to an utterly different world.
With my sister Jane, and her friends Ruth and Mele we joined the wonderful, warm and welcoming Tongan community to celebrate their Christmas. Yes, there was a whole pig, hula dancing &&&. Mele is Tongan, one of the eleven or so people from her country who first settled in Melbourne, and the community is now a large energetic one, which even boasts its own radio station.

Traditional Tongan dance

The evening was full of dancing and there was a vibrant (and very loud) band. There were demonstrations of styles from various parts of the region, but the show was nearly stolen by someone who had no formal role in any of the official troupes.
A tiny boy, who was perhaps 2 or 3, kept up with all the dancers, spinning, swivelling his hips and following in their footsteps as well as occasionally getting in their way. I was very struck by the fact that he was never removed from the dance floor. Even though all the performers had obviously gone to a huge amount of trouble with their costumes and routines, there was no way anyone would prioritise their performance over some one elses' fun.

Hula dancing par excellence

I may have looked nothing like the gorgeous young dancers above but nevertheless we rock 'n' rolled, rhumbaed, and especially meringued like never before.  Perhaps it was the great dance floor, the fact that there was enough space on it, or maybe the Pacific laid-backness was catching. I don't know what it was, but I resisted making hissed commands or silent reproaches and consequently Peter and I had a ball. Perhaps the day's Yule-tide whimsy had cast its spell.