Love and other bruises…..

It is that odd little transition of seasons where summer should have left us but somehow, it is still hanging on in there.  Like a shy wall-flower, autumn had been pushed into the shadows by glare and cloudless midday skies.  But on days like today however, this lovely season which signals the end of daylight saving here in New South Wales, radiates with its own beauty of late afternoon sun-showers and those big ocean swells.

099.jpgObsessed am I with this ocean when it is brutal and unforgiving.  For some reason, seeing the waves monstrous and wild strikes at the romantic spot in my heart every time.  I am endlessly drawn here when the big swells hit and to swim in those waves renders you humble with the greatest of respect.  When a big monster billows and slams, the very best you can hope for is that you resurface.  You will swallow sea water and lots of it and possibly a small fish but that big peeling wave and deep liquid beauty is absolute perfection and all you can do is surrender to it.

036.JPG

201

123.jpg

211

I have an awful lot on my plate at the moment and I am trying to be kind…or at the very least, a little kinder to myself during this time.  I find I don’t have enough hours in my days at present and when I cannot accomplish all that I have set out to do I become restless and dissatisfied.

I am also in the process of de-cluttering.  A stripping down of sorts.  It is a frighteningly monumental task which involves unpacking literally hundreds of boxes which house years and years of collecting and memories.  It is the idea of simplifying and the beginnings of a minimalistic life which has been the driving force for this…..that and the fact I am beginning to develop the materialistic requirements of a swagman.

I am sorting and cataloguing and parting with many, many items and although it was (and still is) very difficult to do so, I am now enjoying the process of letting go.  There are some things I cannot discard though and I will happily remain tethered to those for the remainder of my life time but as for the rest it is arrivederci!  Some items and collections are quite valuable and some are not.  Some hold great sentimental value and some, not so much.  Some items are being sent to an auction house, some I merely give and donate and some will be sold at a sweet little place called ‘Miss Sadie Pineapples’ Beautiful Vintage Emporiumas a gathering of a quirky and eclectic mix of strange, wonderful, weird and beautiful items.

I am currently working on writing projects too and in particular a book.  I have been at this novel for quite some years now.  At times I write in fits of paralyzing self-doubt but I write simply because I love to do so and for me, there is much joy in words.  I write too because there are stories to be told and because I always believe there is an audience for genuine human life which is not without the harsh truths. My writing at times certainly does not skirt the issues. It is not devoid of discomfort and snatches of mess and nor does it cloak the existence of humanity in a neat deceptive veil.

I have filled many, many note books as all of my thoughts and ‘books’ are handwritten until transferred to the computer.  I love my notebooks and always carry one with me and this miscellany has become very precious to me.  There are plots and characters and life clarifying challenges, chapters and clusters of fiction upon the pages of my note books.  Real life, what it means to be human and the complexities of personalities all go onto my pages.  There are gracious, kind and loyal characters.  The deeply flawed but eccentrically lovely outcasts.  The complex, social ugliness, the low life’s, hateful failings of the very weakest of people, the truly brave, the merciless and mischievously conniving characters of actual existence and experience are all in my books.  Real life and those in it certainly do offer up the very best ensemble cast!

As with most things I am deeply disciplined with quiet direction therefore I will write every day even if it is only three words on a page.  I am, it seems, compelled by my very soul to write and these notebooks are also deeply private.    My heart has gone into these notepads for they are what I am unable to ‘say’ at times.  When I have felt monstrously defeated and devoid of all hope it is there among the pages as sorrow and gut wrenching heartache but there is also much happiness, dreams, light, strength and whimsical sketches and drawings.

20160317_181319[1]

I read too and it seems I have a great affection for the male author and especially one who writes in neurotic alcohol soaked prose.   I love the flawed caustic raconteurs who write about love, lust, their misbehaving bowels, frail egos, drug fueled murderous intent, crippling heartbreak and exploding aardvarks.

Of course I acknowledge my novels (actually of which I will confess there are many books including children’s and young adult) may never turn in to more than mere words in my notebooks but as a true optimist, I always believe.

So back to this one book in particular for which I needed the insight of men as it is written from the view of a male narrator. I wanted the opinions, the perception and the raw honesty of men.  I wanted conversations with complete strangers.  Those easy conversations where you and the stranger are open and thoroughly honest because anonymity is the key.  Chances are you will never ever see that person again in your lifetime.  It is the perfect opportunity to say what you will and one man I spoke to told me, within moments of meeting him,  he was eight days out of prison and eight days without trouble.  Another was obviously absent a few brain cells but bless him, he made up for it with his ‘can do attitude’.  He was happy and kind and not hurting a soul which when you think about it, really is what life should be about.

A couple of other encounters weren’t particularly productive and just when I was feeling ever so slightly deflated I happened upon a handsome older man.  Now I like older men…..very much in fact so frankly, this was no coincidental meeting.  He said he was 81 but he looked remarkable for his age and I would have taken him for around 70.  I could easily picture him at his zenith – a good looking tanned surfer dude of the 60’s, button down shirt, nights out at the Trocadero in Sydney and with an endless steam of beautiful blonde girlfriends.   I stated what I wanted from him and he happily agreed.

Over very good martinis we hit almost every subject except the weather.  Life, loneliness, longing and this man could speak of heartache like I had not heard someone speak of it before. We mused on destiny and fate.  That sometimes lovely breath of coincidence where a good chance meeting will forever change your life.  Of relationships, of women and men and why each do what they do.  We spoke of what men want and don’t want.  Of what they admire and of what they find contemptuous in women and then, we happened upon that big heady province of all ghosts and demons…… Love!

Now I have often found love to be a tricky beast.  An ineffable mystery, something to be unsure of and all this talk of it made me feel as though I had stumbled across a vampire and like a very naïve boy scout I was ill prepared. How was it I found myself without garlic, a crucifix and a wooden stake to hand!  You see with love, there is a very good chance you will eventually open up your heart.   And that can be to anyone be they lovers or friends knowing there is a very real possibility your heart could be completely broken and your soul trampled.  But what happens if you remain unattainable!   Unreachable of that most cherished of human offering.

I guess when you render it all down ‘l o v and e’ really are just four simple letters.  They are often the most difficult of words to say but they are certainly the most precious and they are the ones I believe we all must utter to someone at some stage in our lives.  Love really is the very best gift we can offer ourselves and without question, the most valuable thing we will ever receive from someone in our lifetime.  I understand people will hurt you, and sometimes purposefully as that is sadly human nature for some but the trick is to find the ones who are worth you suffering for.  Finding them is the true holy grail.

I reveled in my open, very good and robust conversation with this intelligent man.  Discerning conversation truly is the most wonderful exercise for the brain and soul.  At times we had completely opposite views and outlooks which was great.  My motto is to always be your authentic self and hold sacred your own mind, words and integrity for without them you have very little!    ‘Air Supply’ was playing in the back ground.  Love and other bruises, a song I had not heard in years but it was just as lovely and significant and lyrical as it was when I first heard it over 38 years ago. I knew if All out of Love came on I would be plagued to a severe bout of melancholy!  It played three songs later and I was doomed!  What is it about the 70’s.  Such an innocent yet wonderful time.

After three hours I left the bar and this remarkable man and walked toward the beach.  I was off to brood in that big salty pool that I am endlessly drawn to no matter what time of day.

004.jpg

As I walked barefoot across the sand I thought about all that we spoke of.  Tom had said he was always in love and I thought about how it must feel for someone to exist with that aching human hope that seemed to be such a huge part of living.

The remainder of the afternoon slipped by and I turned to walk home.  Walking is always when I do my very best thinking. When I walk I process and reflect on almost everything. On this walk I thought too that perhaps underneath all of the mess and chaos of life and love and the fragility and uncertainty of relationships forged and lost there really was something quite beautiful and wonderful.  I was very, very sure of it now ……xx

Its a wide open road……

Travel does the soul good so what better way to enrich ones spirit than to go road tripping once again.

On our most recent trip we headed to Knoxville, The Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge and Cherokee.  I wrote about Dollywood in a previous blog post however Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains are also very worthy contenders for their own blog spots.  And once again….don’t travel via the interstates otherwise you will journey for miles and miles and hours and hours and not actually see a single thing!

Eastern Tennessee is the home of Dollywood, the stunningly beautiful lavender tinged Great Smoky Mountains and the lively urban oasis of Knoxville.  This part of the world is home to beautiful lush valleys, heart breaking scenic beauty – especially found in the Smoky Mountains, culture, abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.

*  Knoxville:  This a great weekend destination as it is only four and a half hours drive from Warner Robins (Georgia).  The lovely and gracious town of Knoxville is nestled at the foot of the Smoky Mountains and is rich in culture, warmth and true Tennessean charm.  It is chock full of restaurants, bars, very good cafes, live music, microbreweries and a very splendid Farmers Market.  As you will know from following this blog spot, I love a good farmers markets and the one located in the heart of Knoxville is fantastic.   There are food trucks (serving great food), fresh produce, beautiful craft, coffee, baked goods and historical reenactments.  I like to watch natures gentle seasonal change through a farmers market.  Summer has been of tomatoes and melons and peaches.  It will be followed by the apple and pumpkins which in turn will be followed by a winter of parsnips and kale – the cooler weather seemingly keeps kale sweeter.  It was sunny and cheerful at the Knoxville market.  A place full of happy and much loved dogs, happy vendors, farmers wanting to talk about their produce, street music and colorful flowers.

The pedestrian only Market Square is the heart of the city. It is so vibrant it almost has its own heart beat.  Not only are the Farmers Markets located there but also live theatre, summertime concerts and musicians.  The square is also surrounded by uber cool bars and restaurants and dinky little specialty shops.   The microbrew scene is Knoxville is also very impressive.  We had some great beers in the ‘Downtown Grill’ located on historic Gay Street – great atmosphere, great food, great staff and very very fine beers.   If in Knoxville do try the Grill.  Beers at ‘The Casual Pint’ are also very highly recommended.

Another must do in Knoxville is to visit Mast General Store.  A lovely American friend recommended this store (located in Gay Street) as it is one of the best and last remaining examples of an old country general store.  With over 500 varieties of old fashion ‘candy’ (lollies to Australians), clothing, home goods, books, music and toys etc. this is a great place to wander around and find that little something special to take home.

Knoxville is a town which will have you wanting to return.  Its a place that just makes you feel good for being there.

097 106 024          034 015          044 091

130

Live Shakespearian theatre on a Saturday afternoon in Knoxville 

027 026

Breakfast of champions – sunny side up free range egg, creamy grits and malt stout cured bacon. Tomato pie and seasonal fruit….plus some hot cinnamon donuts to finish 

012    010

007

*  Pigeon Forge:  Pigeon Forge isn’t for everyone and it certainly wasn’t for me.  That said, it is one of the most popular destinations for vacationing families with 11 million people visiting this town each year!  Picture miles of highway lined with every conceivable attraction such as mini golf, signs, arcades, signs, chain restaurants, signs, show venues, signs, small fun parks, signs, souvenir after souvenir store, signs, chain motels etc. etc. etc. and signs.  It really was a visual assault.

*  Cherokee:  Sometimes Steve ‘see’s’ a hotel with character and I ‘see’ that same hotel with bed bugs!  Given that, we still stayed overnight in the town of Cherokee which is located adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway.  The town is a bit too ‘touristy’ for me (writes the gal who loved Dollywood), however the ‘Museum of the Cherokee Indian’ is worth a look.  There is history to be found in Cherokee – albeit a very sad episode of ethnic cleansing and duplicity.  Indian art and handmade crafts are another bonus if you can acquire it from the true custodians of the land.  Now there are an awful lot (or lot of awful) very tacky souvenir shops here plus faded facades and run down buildings around parts of the town.  I also did not warm to the massive casino (which happens to be the regions biggest draw card sadly!).  Does a huge casino such as this enrich and empower a community.  I very much doubt it!  There are always too many hands in the honey pot for any real benefit to reach those in the greatest of need on the reservation!  By the way…..the Australian 70’s duo Air Supply are playing at the casino on October 24.

Something of interest though were the colorful, hand painted fiberglass bears dotted around the around the town of Cherokee.  These have been painted by local tribal artists and each bear represents an aspect of Cherokee culture, their stories and the legends the Cherokee people hold most dear.

518 524 528 547 538 535

521

Next stop….The Smoky Mountains xx