At Temily and Sal’s Wedding

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Me with my friend Temily.

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With my daughter.

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With Ruha.

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With Carol, Temily’s mum.

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With Tasmanian connections, and my daughter.

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With Temily’s family, Carol, David and Forrest.

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With my family (except for dear Ben who sadly had to miss the event).

 

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With Minaira.

 

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Son and daughter perform a song for Temily and Sal

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Music duo!

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With dear David.

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The lovely couple, Temily and Sal.

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Hand and Family Crafted

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For Temily and Sal

A hand crafted wedding,
where the family and friends all help
where there are no veils
where there is a top hat
where there are bush flowers
where there is a cake made by the groom, decorated by the bride
where hospitality and love are wrapped
around every guest gathered in this forest.

A hand crafted wedding
with a chalked up flourished welcome sign
with hundreds of paper cranes like rainbow bird stars
with a piano outside on the veranda
with home made bunting
with people bringing pots of rice and other foods
with tiny bubble blowers that
send circular rainbows
into the air
with love.

Serenades for the couple
from the piano
from the violin
from the guitar
from the voices raised in song and prayer
from family and friends
under the cranes that become
like rainbow bird stars
for a marriage where
there are no veils
this is the way this marriage begins.

(c) June Perkins

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Shoeful of Rain

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Shoes and Blossoms – June Perkins

“A shoeful of rain. A heart full of friendship imagining a world connected with strands of love.”

Above are some thoughts after meeting up with a friend at a cafe to talk about life, art, dreams – in our extremely busy schedules.

It was meant to be for one hour, but was two.

I never had sisters growing up, so friends who feel like sisters are very precious.

Going home I stepped in a puddle, but my heart was too happy to notice it much.

Life has been busy, working on a video for the kick starter, meeting up with friends, having friends not seen for over 14 years reconnect.

Stories wait to be edited, whilst one book is about (I sincerely) hope to be brought into the world.

And now a week after seeing my dear friend, who has such courage to follow her dreams.

“A heart full of creativity, a shoe full of tasks; connecting the world with the power of art and the music of soul.”

June Perkins

Celebrating Pedra and Mona

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Mona and Pedro – taken by June Perkins

On the weekend the family were so happy to celebrate the engagement of our dear friend Pedro, to his beloved, Mona. They went all out for this engagement as they will be having their wedding in Africa and many friends and family from here will be unable to attend.

Pedro was like a big brother to our children when lived in Tully, after attending a mentoring camp the children were at. He visited us quite a few times and bought the boys a guitar! They both still love playing the guitar, especially our eldest.

It was so uplifting to be there to see him embark on the journey of life with his true love.

On coming home, my youngest said, ‘Do you think Pedro has seen my facebook friend request?’  He is new to facebook and primarily on there to be in touch with family.  Pedro had indeed accepted the friend request of one of his adopted little brothers.

The evening was full of speeches, dancing, food, a photo booth, and lots of people coming together from near and far to celebrate.  It was also the celebration of a coming together of many cultures, in a  soon to be marriage of true world citizens.

We saw many of our mutual friends from Far North Queensland, Brisbane and beyond.  So lovely to meet up with them and to also see what wonderful human beings their children have become.

Here is just a small glimpse of what was a memorable evening for us all. I may write some more on the evening later, but for now this post celebrates this memory.

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Scanning Precious Letters

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So I have a massive plan to scan precious family archives. When the cyclone threatened to destroy all it had me thinking about some precious papers.

This one is a letter from poet Roger White, A Canadian Baha’i poet who I wrote to a couple of times. He sent me some feedback on some poems and encouraged me to write a novel.

So many more gems like this, including journals… I almost need to employ a family archivist, if I could afford it. Maybe I can ask my children and pay them some pocket money to help me with this as it’s going to be an ongoing task.

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I have a signed copy of the above book.

I am certainly enjoying reading through these old letters. In the days before blogs I wrote many letters.  I have the replies to those letters and it seems like a fun project to preserve these records for family.

If you have old letters from me, maybe you’d like to scan them and send them to me.

Would be interesting to read some of those words from long ago. Letters have a unique feel to them.

For more on Roger White Visit these links

Obituary

Emergence of a Baha’i consciousness in World Literature – The Poetry of Roger White

Ron White’s Writings on Roger White’s Poetry

One of the Another_Song,_Another_Seasonbooks I had as a teenager

So  precious to have such words written about my own writing too and to have such a gentle but persuasive critique.

(c) June Perkins

Today I Remember 2#

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Where were you born?
I am often asked that.
What country please?

And if I say Papua New Guinea
the next question is Where?

And I have the village name ready,
‘Maipa Vilage’
and a story about the yellow face paint of the bush mekeo
but no real picture of where it is?
See I left there when I was two.

Sometimes people then want to insist
but you want to go back
don’t you
to understand who you really are
and the next question
is why haven’t you done it yet?

So I try to explain my Papua New Guinea is
my mother’s Papua New Guinea
in snatches of motu
and village language
never deciphered.

My Papua New Guinea walks
around dressed in my mother’s life
which is itself dressed
in experiences of a new land.

She is sometimes Papua New Guinea
missionary raised girl
and other times she is changing
to world citizen lady
whose heart can travel the
mountains and make hibiscus grow in
a cold frozen land.

My Papua New Guinea is married to Australia
and she is in my bones
although she has her origins in England.

I am Tasmanian raised.
If you ask me about that place
then I can answer you.

I can tell of you wallabies
at Cradle Mountain
and a crow stealing my sandwiches
and a cold plastic mattress
slept on with a too thin sleeping bag.

And collecting crabs
with mum and my tall pale skinned Dad
with glasses perched on the end of his nose
and the cracking of the skin
after we boil them.

And meeting English grandparents
visiting from New Zealand for the first time
awkward and strange
and they want to be called by their first names
but we don’t and can’t do that
as my mum would find that disrespectful.

And the times my mum gave me gifts
whenever she was mad at me
or wanted to apologise
she always seemed to avoid words
like ‘sorry.’

Or the times Papua New Guinea saved us
because she was in my mum as she chased away burglers
with a bush knife
and we toasted waffles in
a waffle iron over an open fire place
to celebrate our small victory over oppression.

But my Tasmania is also filled
with memories of people
calling me names
because of colour
and living with a grumbling stomach
because the food has run out
and being told ‘you have to do better to be treated the same.’

My Tasmania is a place where my Mum is lonely
striving to make friends and going back to school
and every time she goes forward
she is tested
and tries to be strong.

She rings Papua New Guinea when I am little
speaking three languages
all in one sentence
punctuated by homesickness tears.

And sometimes I am mean to her
and wish I could take that back
and throw those memories into
the wide river and they
would skip across
and disappear into the ash forest.

But then there is the day she sends
me grass skirts
and I know all is forgiven.

This gift does not mean anger.
This gift means acceptance.

In me Papua New Guinea and Australia
dance.

(c) June Perkins

Travelling with Roxanne

Some people you just take an instant shine to and for me Roxanne was like that.

She was interesting because she was a journalist, did radio and was travelling the world.

She inspired me to want to be a world citizen and in many ways for me is like a glimmer of Martha Root in that she traveled lightly with luggage but with an openness to carry stories with her from every place she had been in.

 

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With Bahai Youth from New Zealand visiting Melbourne, 1991

Roxanne was a great listener.

Meeting her when I was just a teenager was inspiring.  She took me travelling with her to a youth service project and I remember being so excited as I packed my suitcase to go on this adventure.  I wonder how many other youth she inspired in her travels.  I suspect there were many.

I went to help build a hall in honour of a Tasmanian Baha’i Albert Benson. Later we went to its opening that Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone and his wife also attended.  I was so happy I had played just a small part in putting the building together.

There was a youth from America there, Alesa, who was working with me on the roof of that hall.  From  the rooftop we saw some of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania  – rolling hills and endless green.

Alesa was very friendly and told me the names of Baha’i youth in other states she thought I could make friends with and told me about youth conferences.  Because of her I saved my money and with some help from the local governing body of Baha’is the LSA I went interstate to conferences and peace expos.  I felt connected to a larger Baha’i community than just that of Tasmania. Seeing this bigger picture was like being embraced by the acceptance of the world, as Baha’is come from so many countries and walks of life.

I was grateful to Roxanne for taking me under her wings and empowering me.  I wanted to give her a present, but the present had to be light enough to travel with – and to be significant and in some way beautiful.  In the end I hand wrote some poems and gave them to her.

She took my humble gift and received them with honour.  She wrote to me for many years, right up until the day I married.  Not long after that I heard that she had passed into the next world via cancer.

Her letters were like sparks every time they arrived as she encouraged me with my writing and suggested other creatives I could get in touch with. I think she may have told me about the poet Roger White, who I was to read and later write a letter to, although I never met him in person.  I wanted to one day see the places on the postcards she sent for real.

I still have all her letters; it must be time to reread them for their warmth and love.

She was overjoyed to hear of me meeting and then marrying David as she knew of his family and she wrote that they were sincere and faithful souls.

(After writing this story I think I need to find the box with letters from Roxanne.)

  (c) June Perkins

Travelling Kiribati

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Visiting Kiribati 1999

I am sharing extracts from the memoir in progress rather than whole pieces, just to give you a taste of the manuscript unfolding.  This week many memories of a two week trip to Kiribati have been swirling around.  I had to write them down.  Reflecting on that journey makes me want to travel, because when you travel you often not only learn about others but more about yourself.

I felt like the little mermaid walking in feet for the first time, so out of place both within and without. My initial excitement at only my second solo overseas trip was overcome by the strangeness of how it all felt. Houses without walls, streets without sign and people with manners I couldn’t always understand. So this is what it is to be foreign.

In a journey a small boat across the ocean, from Tarawa to Butaritari, which rocked so much nearly everyone was throwing up over the edge of the boat, I wondered at times if I was ever going to see my family again. I couldn’t speak to them during my time away because access to a phone wasn’t easy. The good news was I was not throwing up from the side of the boat, but seemed to have decent sea worthy skills.

I had been advised to wear long dresses and that my modesty would be judged. The young people found me old fashioned, ‘You know you can wear shorts, we do when we are gardening and overheated,’ while the old people impressed upon me their wisdom with a meditative mantra.

‘Listen, listen, listen! Respect, respect, respect,’ without being specific about what that actually meant.  I didn’t listen to the young people, and besides I hadn’t packed shorts. I chose to dress more in the long skirts, closer to how the Elders dressed.

(Extract only  from chapter in progress)

(c) June Perkins

Green Stone

Wear this green stone when you are writing, and later on I will tell you a story about why it is special.  If you feel like fidgeting and not concentrating why don’t you just rub the greenstone instead.

This green stone, was given to me by a carver, Te Wahiri Heteraka who lives in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

He did not make it though.

I was visiting New Zealand to do interviews for my studies.

During this trip I went to visit Mr Heteraka’s workshop to interview him and find out about his carving.  He is an elder there.  He has done carvings for the council buildings and liases between the elders and the council.

When I was leaving the town in which Mr Heteraka lives, I went to say goodbye to him at his workshop.

He showed me this greenstone and asked me the following question.  “What does this green stone remind you of?”

What does it remind you of? What would you have said to Te Wahiri Heteraka

I answered, “It reminds me of a spade or a chisel and makes me think about lots of hard work.”

Te Wahiri Heteraka then told me that his son had carved the greenstone.  He was serving as an apprentice in his father’s workshop.  He then gave it to me to keep.

Do you know what an apprentice is Ben?

Master Carvers, like Mr Heteraka, do very beautiful carvings in wood, bone, and also green stone.  One of the things they make is a tiki.  They learn this by being apprentices, who learn from people who are very good at the craft or skill they wish to learn.

Greenstone is to be worn next to the skin.

I have a book about Maori carving, but it is in a box at the moment.   In it there are lots of pictures of master carving.

When you are very good at it, after lots of practice you can make beautiful things.  However, you must start learning the basic techniques.

This green stone that Mr Heteraka gave me shows a beginner carver’s work

When you wear this green stone, it is good to remember its story as you write.  It will remind you that you can become very good at something with lots of practice.

You have to begin somewhere.

What would happen if Mr Heteraka’s son did not start with this basic carving before doing more complicated ones?

Mr Heteraka gave me this greenstone.  A friend of his told me that this was a very special thing that he does not do for everyone and to treasure it.

When you are older and can look after it well, I will give you this greenstone, and you can remember its story.

 

(c) June Perkins

Dreamtime Tea

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A contribution to the Tea & me project for the Queensland state library about a special cup of tea from my memory. I hope they’ll like it. Why not go and share your story, picture of video as well. I think this is a wonderful project. How many stories do we know about the cuppa, a cup and having a cuppa with friends?

She cycled the streets of the dry Northern City. The city where it rarely rained. The city with the wide roads, that sometimes flooded when the king tides came in.

She had come from Japan to improve her English, to learn about another culture, the culture of a dry Northern Town. So she cycled the long wide roads to meet the woman she was going to practice conversation with. A woman with frizzy hair and dark smiling eyes opened the door and offered her tea.

Why had she chosen her out of all the people she had met in this Northern Town? She had a soft spoken voice that was clear and easy to understand. She did not announce herself when she came into a room but you could sense she was aware of everything. She seemed to be of the place and yet not of the place. She had an air of ‘recently-moved-here’ about her.

They met each week at the lady’s house. She rode there on her bike. The lady she visited did not own a bike. This she could not imagine. Everyone where she came from rode bikes. The city was pretty flat, humid and hot- with a saint on the mountain.

The lady with the frizzy hair showed her home on an Atlas- two places Tasmania and another Papua New Guinea. She was a child of two cultures.

And now maybe three, the culture of Northern Towns. They sipped their tea carefully. They honoured each other stories by listening.

One day it was the Japanese lady’s birthday and so the Frizzy haired girl with the medium brown skin, gave her some dreamtime tea. This was a very touching gesture, and something to be honoured. To her surprise the next time the frizzy haired girl saw her friend- which was a while because she had gone for a short trip home, she gave her a pink and blue kimono.

What became of this promising friendship? A post card, and a letter, and then one returned home and the other moved away from the Northern Town.

The friendship became a memory of conversations sipping dreamtime tea, sitting in kimonos in a Northern Queensland town. It became a pearl to be dived for and something that came to her like a scent of Jasmine and hibicus when she returned to the north.

(c) all rights reserved June Perkins