We had a special lunch for my daughter’s fifteenth. My mother and brother were able to make the journey from Tasmania for Brisbane for it.
When Baha’i children turn fifteen, this is the age at which they are able to decide to independently reaffirm their faith. They must make the decision for themselves without any pressure from family or friends as to whether their commitment will be made.
Our family gathered together with bubu, Uncle and two of our dear close family friends. They were great company and chatted with us all, and bought some arty gifts for dear daughter. Daughter loved that we were all honouring her special day and was incredibly chatty and sparky.
South Bank, Brisbane has a lot of cool eating places but Ahmet’s was particularly recommended by a dear writing friend for its atmosphere as well as brilliant menu.
It had tremendous service. The wait staff were warm, friendly and diligent. We ate beautiful turkish pizza, spinach and ricotta pastry, egg plant salad, an assortment of dips, turkish bread, and calamari.
Dear Daughter loved the music on the radio and the the amazing lights. She took quite a few photographs of the lights.
A big thank you to everyone who was there with us. Thanks to Temily for taking this photograph of some of the group that went.
I remember my 15th birthday years ago. It was a massive joint party of three youth. Baha’is from all over Tasmania attended and our parents hired a hall and one of them, Ed, decorated our cakes as per our request. I had a pegasus on mine. Many of my friends from school attended. It was a special day and I was keen to reaffirm and remain a Baha’i as I am today.
It was a big event, but I think our dear daughter was equally happy with our low key and warm and friendly event. It was special that some of the extended family were able to come and spend it with us.
A very happy birthday to youngest son, who is enjoying an afternoon doing what he loves most, playing cricket for his club. Energetic, enthusiastic, movie buff, mathematics wizz, writing with heart and imagination – with a growing crew of close mates. Now your parents are officially parents to three teenagers. What a delightful young man you are and what beautiful friends you are making. Like your older brother, born during Ayyam-i- ha Love Mum
Dad tells me there are 343 grade 7s in the school this year, I take a moment to process this and realise there are more people in the school I go to than the town that I used to live in. I realise how much things have changed in an instant. I begin to think of Tully.
Such a humble micro settlement. The twin towers of Tully was a sugar mill. My nose in distress, sniffing in the terrible air of the mill in cane season. An endless sea of green mountainous landscape. The unstoppable golf ball sized aqua drops have a limitless quantity. They constantly fall. The hill that I called home, in a mountain off in the distance, as steep as the Angel Falls. A green house, light green bricks. A simple little home.
All the kids shared a room. A beautiful neighbourhood, so much forest. The street lit up with Christmas. A display for all eyes to see. A tiny street in a mini figure town, with a display of glowing, blinding, luminous light.
The snakes slither through schools and shops, the birds chirp on the roof tops, the sun barely peeps through the always watching clouds, azure is a discolouration of the sky.
Grey is misery, but the beauty of the luscious green landscape makes me ignore it. The village is a family, everyone knows each other, if one of this tight group of people had a problem with another, I can guarantee they’ll see that person again, they’ll have to deal with it. It also means, a loaf of bread comes with a conversation, dad buys the groceries and shopkeepers talk, for hours and hours. They talk like they are family, because the town is a large family. I grow up with school kids like siblings, I always see them. Only one major place of shopping, it is the heart of the town, lives and breathes.
Dad knows most of the shopkeepers, they’re all high school aged, he educates at the centre of socialising and learning. My brother can’t go past the Guitar shop without walking in, Butler Street is the café relax time for off work dwellers during the day. The traffic report at peak hour will have two traffics, one turning towards the library, and the other towards the Tennis court.
Everyone is a sports fan of some sort or the mother of a sports fan. Cricket here, rugby there and our family is an odd AFL fan. I was considered a rather strange kid, liked AFL, cricket, maths, reading and even cards. No-one I knew liked even 2 of these things.
Storm season is always frightening, a system circling around the tiny houses, shredding them bit by bit, the wind slapped against the roof tops, lightning shattered the sky and clouds opened and shed a thousand tears against the homes of many beings. Lightning, wind, rain, things were so simple.
Cinemas were hard to find, the closest one was a million miles away, so I adopted the small screen. But going to the movies was like hearing you were pregnant. No matter how bad the movie was, I’d love the experience. It never ceased to amaze.
Now things are different, I’m nearly a teen, I live in a city of a million souls and I have handled the change much better than I expected. It was a daunting experience, getting told I was going to a school bigger than the town I used to live in. I didn’t know how I’d handle it.
Now I realise I can cope with change, my family pet bird coped with it, my family coped with it and helped me adapt to the change. And it all ended well. Friends from my new school welcomed me as their own, I now live in Brisbane.
I now know I can adapt to change, and I also know I can teach and help my children through change and the process of growing up. I think of old homes, schools and friends a lot, but the colossal town I live in, I have now grown to know it as home.
So many beautiful comments for Ben on his birthday that I thought I would save them here for Ben to look at and back at with the rest of the family:
Alan Perkins – Happy Birthday Ben, good luck on your Uni journey.
June Perkins Every year I write a letter to my children – I have a notebook full of them. this year is a special one. The one year we are parents to three teenagers.
Lynette Harris Happy Birthday, Ben..
Phebe Kanaratnam-Roberts That is lovely, June Perkins! Big love to the Perkins clan on this beautiful day/event. There are far better things than any we leave behind ~ C.S. Lewis. May Ben’s adventures be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal and creative. Onward!
June Perkins So beautiful of you Phebe
Renee Hills This is so beautiful June.Very moving!
Maxine Lindsay Marsh Happy Birthday from the Marshs.
Graham Nicholson Happy bday.
Siva Peri Wish you all the best Ben. Sure you will outdo your parents who themselves have excelled in many ways!
Justine Crema Happy Birthday Ben
Bill Wells Fantastic sentiments June, he’s blessed to have such a Mum. And he’s a Pisces too!
Soroor Allen Beautifully said!!! Wishing dear Ben the happiest Birthday, and all the best for the Uni year!
June Perkins Ben thanks everyone for the Birthday wishes.
Paulien Bats Congratulations Ben!!
Hélène Safajou Congratulations to Ben and his parents!
Daryll Bellingham Many Happy Returns Ben.
Paul Gerard My nineteenth was spent in Ninggerum, on the (at that time disputed) border between PNG and Indonesian occupied Papua. All very exciting and stimulating at the time. Small contribution to exchequer in Mum’s account.
Lou Dowling Happy birthday young lad!
Danny Letham That reads like you are both very lucky
Arvid Yaganegi Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He looks as determined as Steve Waugh.
Helen Sonia PerkinsHappy birthday Ben!
Te Warihi Hetaraka Way to go Ben, the world is your oyster, remember that science is the balance of religion, and religion is balance of science, they are brothers in arms my friend. All the best.
Thanks also to these people who left messages on Ben’s wall
Aunty Tahirih, Cousin Nadia, Johana, Cornelia, Edward, Omid, Bubu, Blake and Mitchell and the 60 or so other people who hit like.
Happy Birthday Son – so many places have you traveled.
Elders have said to us that young boy will do something special.
A whole class of children from your first school wrote you beautiful farewell letters.
All these people liked you because you weren’t scared of learning in silence from watching and doing.
And you always like standing up for what’s right even if it means not going with the tide of popular and fickle opinion. But since then it’s been a long journey so many schools, as your parents traveled, worked and studied – NSW, QLD towns city and country, year 12 done through distance education and in all that time very few teachers ever saw your brilliance or encouraged you – except for Mr Mberna, from Zimbabwe who said the same thing as those young elders when you were a small boy
A passion for the guitar has been found, a coach to your little brother, and a mentor to your little sister (study hard sis) a voice like Cash and Dylan combined, years of migraines and never having a large group of friends (but we all remember Jesse from Wollongong a fine young man who always said you will be a leader and was a dear friend)
Now you are entering university – to study science – a strong young man with strong values and a gentleman is what you are to us your parents and now the world will see it too. This is your year, this is your time.
I was lucky to attend Rodriguez with my family just a few days ago. I want to keep a record of this memory on my blog.
Rodriguez’s voice is still pristine, even at 72 years.
He sang as you would expect his own songs which many know from the movie or his two albums, ‘Sugarman’ and’ Establishment Blues’ were massive crowd favourites. He also did covers of ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’ and ‘Fever.’
He began the concert introduced I think by his daughter (she introduced the whole band), wearing a visor to protect his eyes from the lighting show and then after a few songs took off the visor and put on his black top hat, which the crowd erupted at.
The lead guitarist was brilliant, making use of pedal guitar effects to texture the songs and Rodriguez generously gave him (and the drummer as well) plenty of space to do some crowd cheering solos, as well as the lead guitarist he had a woman bass player and a drummer. It was magical listening to him under the stars and he had one song that began with lines about being under the stars. He sounded like a smooth Bob Dylan who has just drunk some honeyed tea.
During the concert they called out ‘Welcome to Queensland and we love you.’
‘I know it’s probably the drink, but I love you back, ‘ he said.
He said of ‘Sugarman’,’ it’s a descriptive not prescriptive song, don’t do drugs,’ and ‘let’s men end violence against women.’
At the end of each song he seemed to confirm in brief conference what he would do next with his band, and sometimes tune up a bit before playing.
Before the encore he had his guitar tuned, and apologized to the crowd they would have to wait a little. He said these would be his last songs and did two songs for the encore. When people requested songs he politely listened and smiled, but played what he wanted, saying ‘I have the senior priority – I am 72’ I think it was in relation to that, it could have also been that the concert was going to end soon.
At the end the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
A special moment before the encore was hen the band all gracefully bowed together. They all had excellent affinity with each other during the performance.
Some great, great guitar solos from lead guitar.
Some of the Playlist
THIS IS NOT A SONG IT’S AN OUTBURST: OR THE ESTABLISHMENT BLUES
RICH FOLKS HOAX
INNER CITY BLUES
CLIMB UP ON MY MUSIC
BLUE SUEDE SHOES
I’M GONNA LIVE UNTIL I DIE
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
On the way to the concert we passed a moonlight walk raising funds for MS research. Everyone there carried pink lanterns with MS printed on the front. Some of the people doing it also went to the concert.
Archie Roach, sang several songs that we knew and a couple we hadn’t heard before, accompanied by another guitarist and harmonising vocalist – some of the songs lines…A Child was born here..’ be careful when you walk through this land ’cause a child was born here and a child was born there’..and a song by his late wife Ruby Hunter.
He was happy to be the lead in act to Rodriguez. He commented that not all working musicians are rich, but very hard working, and fame does not mean riches – He also sang and told the story of The Beggerman song.
Archie’s voice has aged a bit, but he has a satchmo quality to it, and he even did a bit of skatting on one of his songs.
The Cassowary Coast gave my children the chance to learn literacy in the land with their bare feet.
Whilst my children, especially when we first arrived in the Cassowary Coast, usually wore their shoes to school, most children went barefoot. The warm weather, the sand pits and playground under foot, breathing toes in humid classrooms were just many of the reasons this was the case.
In the Far North when children wear shoes to school any sneakers or other form of shoes tend to do. As for uniforms most children wear part of the school uniform, but maybe not the whole uniform every day. As we were leaving the high school was attempting to become stricter, but mainly students wore what they could afford of the school uniform and hand me downs as much as possible (making any transitions in uniform take some time to work.)
There were students who were quite impoverished who wore well-worn, or ripped clothes to school. Some of the smaller schools would just give them clothes from lost property when it was possible.
We would often leave our shoes at each other’s houses as bare feet adults, shaking off our sandals and not remembering to put them on again. Another challenge with shoes was the destruction the rain makes of them, as they become so soggy in the wet season. They just never seem to dry. They also seem to die fast.
However, there were warnings to be careful of leptospirosis, otherwise known as Weil’s disease. This is spread by contact with fresh water, vegetation or wet soil contaminated by the urine of infected animals, like rodents, cattle, pigs, horses and dogs. Typically this is caught if you have cuts on your feet and walk through the wet and there are traces of urine from sick animals in the water. For schools situated right next to cane fields, where the rodents often like to hide, this can be a real problem. Also people working or living on farms need to take some care with this. Although you still usually see the children running in bare feet at every opportunity, in wet season they will take a bit more care.
In many schools in our new home, Brisbane, you have to follow a strict dress code and that is something my children find pedantic. ‘How does what you wear affect your learning, they ask? If you are comfortable don’t you learn more easily?’
‘Why do you have to wear a scarf for winter bought from the school to match the uniform? Why not just any scarf?’
Experiencing the world through bare feet a lot of the time (flip flop footwear, and ‘crocs’ special plastic shoes, when the ground is too hot) makes for a certain kind of personality. Clothing adapted to climate makes sense, but clothing only about uniformity itself doesn’t make sense to my children. Images of what early English people wore to Australia and how this has changed over the last couple of hundred years flit through my vision. How much of this has been to do with climate, but also to do with the changing empowerment of women.
Clothing and shoes as a marker of status is outweighed by a need for personal comfort in the humidity and in a place where most people are walking on soft grass, earth, sand and in the farm fields.
I remember my children laughing when teachers new to the Cassowary Coast, who wanting to make an impression wore ties to school. Those who kept ties on seemed to move on quicker than those who started wearing something cool enough to comfortable teach in, although most Far North schools do have air conditioners (often through money raised by Parents and Citizen’s clubs.)
One of the first things they notice when we move to Brisbane is that students wear shoes and a strict uniform to school.
The children’s school in Brisbane doesn’t have an air-conditioner, but it wouldn’t need it most of the year. The library is about to be equipped with one.
My children discover urban literacy requires wearing formal uniforms and understanding trains and buses. They constantly complain about the discomfort of their uniforms. My daughter wears a tie and a pleated skirt rather than shorts and collared tee-shirt. She learns that she cannot have any form of creativity in her uniform attire. Instead she has to find those outlets after school or in her art. She takes up art at the high school, which Sally my artist friend, is happy to hear about having taken her for art workshops.
In our early days in Brisbane we learn about go cards and how to zap in and off the buses. We look up routes on translink and pre-plan our trips. The trips are expensive though and it works out cheaper to go to many places by car, especially if there are more than two of us. My daughter travels with friends on the public transport to go to their houses.
We notice the opportunities the children have at school like extensions in course, accelerated academic streams and the early beginning of year eleven subjects. The children have greater subject choices.
The children have a much bigger choice of who to make friends with at school than they did in Tully. This does not always make it easier. So my daughter is overjoyed to hear from friends back in the Cassowary Coast, and they assure her she is greatly missed.
My youngest son, who has experiences of being bullied in some of his schools, had an enjoyable final year of primary school at a small school in the Cassowary Coast, where many children remember him from kindergarten. It is his year of healing and I am thankful his last year of primary is so wonderful. At the final gathering of the school he attends for the year, we meet historical families who have had generations of their families attend the school. He wins a prize for creative writing, which is presented by my friend Pam who has a history with the school as a former teacher and current sponsor of the prize. She had blind judged them and had no idea it was my son’s essay she read. Pam acts in as a stand in grandparent when my daughter has a invite your grandparents day at the local high school. Both her grandparents are a long way away, just as Pam’s grandchildren are. We have come such a long way from our first years in the Cassowary Coast to have bonds like this.
Despite the challenges of growing up country my children appear to have made some lifelong and loyal friends from that area. We left a beloved pet guinea pig with my daughter’s best friend and later the children skype the friend and the guinea pig. We text my son’s best friend from state school who is soon to spend holidays in Brisbane. The younger two had teachers who saw their need for stimulation and grade skipped them one grade through primary. Soon my daughters’ best friend will be in the city to do university. The girls keep connecting, and nourishing each other in a long distance friendship.
The children participated in community art exhibitions, environmental programs and went to many a waterfall, creek, beach walk – and excursions out onto people’s farms. I hope they will value these experiences in the future.
I hope that no matter what the challenges they remember, that nature has breathed into them a connection they will never forget.
Yesterday I finally was able to take a decent picture of a crow. They always seem to take off too quickly in my backyard. It took a walk at the cultural centre of Brisbane, which has a lot of ibis, crows and seagulls, to net a photo I liked.
I have been working on a poetry series about following the crow song and want to collect some images to go with it. It is great to kick it off with a crow surrounded by colour!
I worked out the other day I have about 16 writing projects on the go, short stories, poetry collections, memoirs, and children’s books as well as a perculating novel. I am time lining them all to have target completion dates. Last year I started to become much better at finishing my creative projects. The momentum has kicked up another level, but I so long for that first full length book of my own.
One of the reasons I have ended up with so many projects on the way is that I have begun collating poems and prose that thematically go together but which are drawn from a number of years. I am gathering bodies of work together to give them -perhaps- a longer lasting life in collections. I have half a dozen short stories that need to be polished.
Whilst all this is happening I am looking for paid work and continuing to follow the crow song, and search out memories from my life that are worth sharing. I am reaching out to many creative and encouraging friends, no matter where they live. It is so helpful to have people read your work before you put the final copy out to the wider public. I trust them to be honest but also helpful. I hope to assist them with their work as well.
All the best to everyone trying to follow their creative songs. I wonder what creative bird you follow?
I have picked the crow just because it is so abundant in Brisbane, and every time I hear it, it reminds me to write – no matter what is happening in life.
Every town, urban or rural, has the hidden walks. These are the ones the locals know about and love. These walks can be found in the oddest places.
They might be alongside a river, behind a school, near a local airport, through a school or field, down a road you found one day, or up a hill to a street with the perfect view.
These are the places I love to walk and photograph with my family, because they are not so obvious. Yet they are the places you come to know if you live somewhere for any length of time.
I loved that a rural town like Tully has banana and cane fields right up to the border of town. I loved that when you headed around the streets walking you found small creeks almost everywhere.
It had a hidden beauty not seen from the ugly highway view.
I loved discovering rusted farm equipment on a street corner or rail tracks for the cane tranes running through the town.
The photograph with this post is of a place behind the highschool in Tully. My husband worked there and one day on the weekend after he had been into collect stuff from his office we went walking through a banana field, and on a nature walk by the creek.
The field is now gone, post cyclone renovation. The walk is still there. The greenery recovers.
Now we are in Brisbane city and its the murals at the railway stations and under walk ways, and trails of art on telegraph poles that peek out at me and say ‘ you must come back and take photographs’.
I still look for the light through the trees in the leafy suburbs. I still find creeks.
What’s changed is how many urban spaces there are. There are so many I must begin and move inwards to outwards.
There are many tall buildings, more suburbs- too many to contain in my head just yet, and I have to look closely to have some of them not seem all the same. Shopping centre, Fast Food, cinemas, highways, Aldis, this is the world of little boxes full of people. Suburbs like this run into each other.
Then there’s Paddington and West End. They have character and gorgeous cafes to stare out at through the bus windows.
And then there are other suburbs with parks and bike ways of sweeping green. One day we will go there more. One day to the botanical gardens.
Can I take my camera with me yet, and look up and down these streets for images to enchant?
Must check the rules of the city, what can be photographed and not photographed? I am not so sure in this space with its people.
The first thing I photograph of people is a street gathering of friends in West End. It is friendly and open and I wish this was our home street afterwards.
New migrants, old timers, friendly people, arty people, and a few students, and families playing cricket in the streets.
I feel like I am back with the spirit of Mission Beach.
The hidden beauty of cities is sometimes put together with ugliness, graffiti, shambling houses. Sometimes the shamble attracts me. Odd bright colours try to dress up delapidated mess.
Expensive real estate space with shabby houses people can’t afford to knock down and barely livable. Cracking walls plastered together and caked over with concealing paint.
I don’t wander with my camera, not yet, but I am scouting, looking out for the places with a deep story.
Our family is finding a new sense of place. I am finding new things as an artist.
Our home is our cocoon from the cold. Sometimes there is no desire to explore, just a longing for the passing of winter and the arrival of spring.
But I must look for the beauty of winter to keep me going through this urban maze.
Still I am not sure of who I am here yet. I am still exploring, just beginning to chip away at the hidden layers and looking out for the hidden walks as well as the ones everyone knows.