The Christmas spirit

I walked through the front door and was stopped in my tracks with the silent realisation “Oh My Gosh, it’s Christmas!  I first noticed on a sideboard in the entry a knitted nativity scene. It was so cute and made by the sister of the lady who lived there. I could not imagine ever spending the time to knit little individual sheep. This house, where our Book Club was meeting for the Christmas session, met all of the criteria of a warm, cosy, festive atmosphere. There were Christmas decorations everywhere; tastefully placed. A huge artificial Christmas tree filled a corner of a warm sitting area defined by wood paneled walls, antique sideboards, comfy leather lounge chairs and a fireplace adorned with conifer sprigs.

 

Christmas in the Australian summertime is usually a stifling occasion, but on this December evening it was raining, cool and misty, transporting us to a European Christmas. We shared a buffet dinner arranged on the dining table in the best Christmas crockery. We ate, drank sparkling wine, chatted, and then settled to discuss the book: Amy Witting’s “A change in the lighting. The discussion was brief and not as in-depth as the previous discussions of other books.

 

dsc010351The next day I decided to think about my own plans for Christmas. I put up our little artificial tree, made Christmas cards and sent them, planned the meal for our family get-together, and went and bought a cute little nativity scene. It is not knitted but cute nonetheless.

 

Our shared meal will be a typical Aussie Christmas lunch with various cold meats, salads, pavlova with raspberries, plum pudding, fruit punch, lollies, beer, and wine. No doubt it will be a hot day and I will set up tables on our back verandah.

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Smelling the roses

Yellow, purple, white, red and orange flowers are in full blossom in my garden. The perfume from the flowers on the orange tree and grapefruit tree fill the air with a citrus fragrance. I have picked the first roses of the season and their perfume fills my kitchen.

 

Since my recent change of direction I have not had a minute to spare. I have been totally occupied and feel fresh, rejuvenated and creative once again. I have so many ideas coming at me that it’s hard to keep up and to know which track to take.

 

I have practiced playing the piano, designed a new website, been to the movies, eaten out with friends and family on several occasions, shopped, walked, cycled a 60 kilometre route through the nearby hills, cleaned the house and my study, enjoyed a lively discussion at Book Club, listened to music and practiced yoga. And this is just week one of my new life. I am also thinking about the next stage of my oil painting of tree ferns. I have been stuck after the initial laying on of paint, but now I feel free to attack the next stage.

 

I have also worked in the local public library. What a great relief it is for me to once again be working in a positive, professional, and truly valued service to the community. To be able to help people find the information they seek and to see their immediate joy when we succeed in helping them. It is a pleasure and a privilege.

 

One elderly lady wanted pictures and diagrams of Couta boats so that she could restore a model of a Couta boat that she had inherited. We have, in the collection, a fantastic book that answered her question specifically.

 

This public library has Wii’s for the junior electronic games folk in our community. I have little experience with Wii’s, so after switching them on, I left it to the 6 year olds to work it out. And of course they did. One excited boy proudly told me he had reached Level 4!

Book Club

Finally I am in a Book Club and have attended my first meeting this week. The book we read and discussed was Wicked but virtuous by Mirka Mora. It is an autobiography of the Melbourne artist. As someone who formally studied art and design in Melbourne I was embarrassed to admit not knowing of either her or her work. Having said that I discovered she is probably as good an artist as she is a writer, and that is “poor” in my opinion. The book was more of a memoir in the style of an unedited stream of consciousness. It lacked detail, information, and insight into her life and relationships. It was pretentious and parasitic in the way she loved to name-drop.

 

I know of and really admire the work of other great Australian female artists such as Margaret Olley, Margaret Preston, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. These were artists of substantial talent and contribution. Stravinsky’s lunch written by Drusilla Modjeska is a rich and brilliant exploration of the art, life and times of Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith set alongside the happenings of Australian society at the time. It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend.

 

The Book Club offers me a chance to broaden my reading outside my habitual tendencies. It also is a privilege to share our varied responses to literature and to hear the opinions and thoughts of others. It gives depth to my own limited ideas and notions. The things known about a topic beyond what is written in the book adds more to the story and discussion. Others in the group knew of Mirka Mora and her art and shared their tales. It served to enrich the experience and opened us all to more of Melbourne’s short history.

 

Meanwhile at work our Book Club students competed in the annual Readers’ Cup Challenge. I helped judge the quiz where the teams answered questions about the four books they had read: What I was by Meg Rosoff; The red necklace by Sally Gardner; Town by James Roy; and One whole and perfect day by Judith Clarke.

 

The girls had decorated their tables, responded to creative tasks by making colourful masks, and wedding dresses, and they had dressed up for the occasion. It was a fun activity and The Jane Austen Book Club won by a slim margin.