After a long silence and many Café Poet months, or should that be Wendy’s word-Wednesdays at the Old Post Office Tearooms, it is time to restore the blog and get some new stories and poems happening….
It is full speed ahead at the café, bigger and brighter than ever, with an extended menu, many new faces, and a few regular favourite ones….. but the theme of lovingly prepared fare from Brenda’s heart and home, amidst the vintage surrounds of the tearooms, set in this beautiful old courthouse building with artistic and historic energy rippling all around, is as unique and true as ever.
This year I decided to have a “word of the week” theme…. The word will be written on the Café blackboard, hopefully inspiring the café patrons to pick up those pens on the table and start creating thoughts, poems or images in the little notebooks provided. Whatever creative crumbs, written or otherwise, I find in those tabletop notebooks, I will share here on this blog.
I started rather selfishly with a word that held meaning for me, on my first Café Poet Wednesday this year. It had been my birthday the day before and that inspired me to write about it.
So the word of the week was “Birthdays” and while most patrons ignored it, there were a few mentions…. And my inspiration was drawn on memories and thoughts of my own particular natal anniversary.
It’s my birthday and today – anything is possible.
Today is the anniversary of my beginning, my breaking forth and gasping that first breath of this air we all share….. and today I will symbolically repeat that fresh start, knowing full well, that just as I emerged all those years ago with a blank canvas upon which to paint anything my heart desired, today I still have that potential to paint my masterpiece, afresh, regardless of all the lines, smudges and marks, and the colours and stories that have already been etched across it. They may not be erased but they are the primer, the foundation, for today’s new creation.
Today it begins. At least, that is how I see it.
Is it a personal thing to secretly look forward to and at the same time dread your birthday? Is there a remnant of childhood that embeds a certain excitement in the days or hours before a birthday, where you feel that anything is possible because that day is yours, all yours. Did your childhood lace your idea of birthdays with such expectation that the conditioned response is to look forward to what the day holds for you? What are your memories of birthdays gone by? Did your family treat you more special on your birthday, did you allow yourself to accept more, love yourself more, celebrate what you like about yourself and your life more so that over time, the approach to your natal day rekindled those positive feelings?
Do you, like me, have memories of family gatherings, special presents or hidden surprises, smiling faces, the easing of sibling rivalry for just one day, candles on cakes, the excitement of planning a party in your own honour? I remember the traditional “birthday calls” on the local radio…. Where unbeknown to me, my Mum would phone in my details so that the on the morning of a birthday, while we were getting ready for school with the radio playing in the background, the announcer would suddenly be telling the airwaves that it was some lucky person’s birthday and if they went to look under their bed, or in a certain place, they would find a big surprise. I loved hearing my name mentioned, as if I was famous for the day, though have to confess the frustration at hearing “today is Wendy Flea’s birthday!”. You guessed it, no matter how hard my Mum tried, over the phone, Slee obviously sounded like “Flea” to the faceless person at the radio station, and more often than not, got written down wrong. Oh yeah, there were a few tears back in my younger days, when I felt they had cheated the real Wendy Slee out of her birthday by that slip of the tongue!
I found an old diary some time ago, from when I was 11, and read in the pages the lead up to my 12th birthday… the planning, the invitations, the friends I would invite, the handing out of invitations and the crowded school bus on that exciting afternoon…. The sight of the kitchen table filled with party food, made by my Mum with such love – the cupcakes, the little red sausages doused in tomato sauce, the sausage rolls and home-made cake, along with the rustle of paper and laughter and surprises, and the crazy games that no longer get a mention in today’s generation – drop the hanky (oh dear, how old does that make me!), pass the parcel, blind man’s bluff, pin the tail on the donkey, and good old hide and seek, farm style with the advantage of all those amazing places a farm can offer as hiding places…. As well as those intense moments when candles got blown out and many voices sang your name and you cringed or blushed but secretly loved every moment of it! At the time I read this old diary, my youngest daughter was about to turn twelve and the irony was not lost on me – how some things have changed so much, but other things remain steadfast and the same.
Alternately, did your upbringing burden you with a residue of numbness because birthdays were not celebrated or even remembered, and you were certainly not allowed to feel special because of them? Were birthdays thereafter denied because of the hollow absence of any joy or acknowledgement of you attached to them, a feeling to be avoided at all cost? One of my greatest sorrows is to hear or know of some one, whose birthday is spent alone and unacknowledged, especially a child. For that is almost like saying their existence is not worth celebrating. Unless of course, they have arrived at the fact that their existence is their own responsibility to honour and observe, an awareness that often arrives too late for many. Overwhelmingly, when children grow up without knowing the cause for celebration is their arrival in this life, that is both a tragedy and a challenge – a huge lesson set for them right from the beginning of their journey. Will they believe in themselves enough to rise above that denial of their birthday and learn to celebrate themselves? Or will they succumb to a lifetime of unworthy beliefs or lack of self love?
Is there a element of our conditioning that also overshadows that day with expectation and a tinge of fear, as the years are marked in their passing and we are reminded that instead of just one day older, we are one year older? Do we run a quick comparison of where we were the year before, or where we hoped we would be, one year from now, and berate or chastise ourselves and our existence because we fall short? Do we look in that wretched mirror for signs that we are okay and find only things to fault or mourn? There should be a rule that on birthdays, at the very least, no one is allowed to look into any mirror but they eyes of those who love them.
Do we fear that our birthday might go uncelebrated? Or that we might spend it alone? And just what is it about being alone that truly scares us? Do we relive other sadnesses, or losses or grief that the day might evoke or accentuate? Do we try so hard to avoid the responsiblity for our own happiness, striving to ignore the reality that we are both the celebrator and the celebratee of our own anniversary and the reality that our birthdays start and end with ourself. It is up to us to choose how we will face this natal anniversary and how we allow it to shape our day, our year ahead and our being.
3 march 2013
This has to be the best tea-room I have been to (and we have traveled extensively in Australia, New Zealand, America …)
The attention to detail is second to none – the home-cooked foods, tea cups, milk bottles, sprigs of lavender and the friendliness of the owner ….
A world away from mass production!! Thank you
Peta and Jack (UK)
One slice of Banoffi pie, two forks,
To share, or so I thought
I took a mouthful, reconsidered
And had to eat the lot!
I love it here – it’s the best tearoom!
Are you allowed to have birthday parties here?
It’s a place to sit and ponder about life’s wonders
Just sit back and let your mind wander
The surrounds of our beautiful town.
There is so much to see and do in Busselton,
Have a wonderful day – keep smiling 🙂
Yummy in my tummy!
High – fly – whee!!
Birthday – NO!
No more aging,
No more wrinkles,
No more aches…
Just coffee for me – wheee!
Who needs birthdays
The Old Post Office
Is born again
Into a new café.
Homemade cakes in the counter
Cup cake pics on the walls
Scrumptious “light as a feather” frittatas and quiches
Not hard to enjoy at all!
We had soup in a teapot
Once when the place was all full
No more bowls left but lots of teapots!
Teapots for doorstops
A versatile innovation
There’s fun and creative
Happy and kind people here,
You’re an inspiration!
Not About Birthdays!
There was a little daschund
Who had so little notion
How long it took to notify
His tail of his emotion
And so it was with eyes so
Full of woe and sadness
His little tail went wagging on
Because of previous gladness
(this is not an original poem but it IS fun!)
I was driving to the jetty.
My eyes flashed on the outside tables for guests.
I saw the best ever plate that had scones with strawberry, cream and jam.
I stopped at a parking (space) and ordered.
My wife’s reaction – Oh my goodness!
This is a treat. Thanks guys – you are great
(Darren and Lorraine)
How tempting you are
Scones, cream, jam and even pink rose petals
To feast the eyes.
On a diet
It was the “Adam” this time
That made me give in to temptation
And here I am.
Feasting at the table
To feed my desires
Who can resist
The look and the taste
Have fulfilled my desires
Mostly those of the eyes
Lorraine 2 march 2013
Orange, red, pink, purple,
Squares, circles, dots, dashes,
Soul of an artist
Dreams treading the boards
Creative spirits abound,
Here in the heart of town.
Summer Days – The Old Post Office
Time’s hurrying but has stopped for a while
Beside the post, beside the pier
And then I had some tea in style
As I, with you, sat here
(Stanton, Qld) 5/3/2013
Birthdays are our “first days”
Our first day here was like a birthday, and every subsequent visit is just like our first.
Karen and Des
My birthday this year, when asked by others how it was, became difficult to describe because of the expectations placed upon such days. It did not go as planned, or even as I had hoped, but it was a day none the less that I would not have missed for the world.
You see, my birthday this year was full of hidden blessings. The challenge was to find them. Once the kids got on the school bus, I spent the day alone. Initially in the early morning rush, they both forgot it was my birthday but before they left, I got the best hugs – the kind of hugs a Mother stores up in her heart to sustain her forever. No one had called me with plans to meet for a meal or a coffee as it was a week day and people were understandably busy. I was too broke to go out for the day and sit in a nice café or restaurant so that was out of the question even though these days I am more than happy to take myself “out” for a meal or drink and enjoy the solitude for creating or reading. My pain levels were high, the fuel tank in both the car and the body, was on empty, and so going for a drive out into nature was not an option either. I had housework to do as guests were coming over the weekend, so I spent the day vacuuming, dusting, mopping, sorting out the usual crap that accumulates in my home without an extra effort from me, and digging out the septic drain to unblock the old toilet. Nice one huh? That evoked a warped smile at the joys of living in an old farmhouse.
I decided I would cook and share dinner at Mum and Dad’s house for everyone so I made sausage rolls and a desert for my extended family. My Mother, who had suggested we all have tea together, had been delayed in town, was not well (which was concerning for me) and could not get home in time, so I ran around getting things ready for everyone at her house, and even ended up doing all the dishes afterwards. Not for one moment did I sit down and have someone wait on me. So yes, you could say I had a fairly uneventful if not, a potentially “I feel sorry for me” birthday.
But here’s the thing. I would not have missed out on those hidden blessings for anything… Even with the stench of the septic drain, the heat and humidity of the end of summer, the sweat of housework, the empty hours of my day, or the exhausting final hour doing dishes before falling into bed or the nerve pain that dogs my every moment. I have never felt more grateful for being alive.
During the morning, I heard the slow putt-putt-putt of the motorbike which meant only one thing….my dear old Dad was driving down the hill to my house. At 83, he is not able to walk much, but he can hop on that bike and get around the farm. And he stopped out in the front driveway, unable to get off the bike but wielding a bouquet of flowers from my Mother’s garden and a birthday card. It was a beautiful moment because I know that I won’t always have my Dad around to visit my home at anytime, let alone, on my birthday and the sound of his old motorbike will one day only be in my memories … nor will I have my Mum to pick me a bunch of flowers from the garden she creates with love, and has done every day of her life. These were treasured moments indeed. And I had a few phone calls and the space to sit and enjoy them, friends from all parts of the world, not necessarily aware it was my birthday, just having perfect timing and calling on the right day. Then, without leaving my house, I had a barrage of lovely wishes on facebook, and whatever you believe about the internet or social networking sites, I can assure you that energy and intent is very real and the wonderful vibes I received all day from around the world gave me a lift and buzz that was tangible…. And lasting! It was like a solid wall of kindness and positive thoughts that I could sense in the air around me.
During the day, Laura had insisted on coming home to be with me for my birthday. It is not always easy to have my special needs daughter around as she never relaxes or stops talking and constantly needs attention. But she has a heart of gold, this special daughter of mine and I love that she wanted to be here with me, no matter how we might juggle things to fit. Her ability to find the celebration in the mundane, was a gift I truly wish I could emulate, and her words “this has been the best day of my life!” – a common catch-cry throughout her life, held great significance this day, a reminder about making it count, living in the moment. I missed my oldest daughter’s presence too, as she lives away and was working, but her early morning phone call was a special treat – our conversations are always heartfelt.
Then I had the dinner with my family….my Mum and Dad, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law, my niece, and three of my four kids. And I got to offer something to them. Which for me, is always a bonus. It was special to be together like that. It may not sound it, especially when you consider we all live here on the same farm, and can see each other any day, but somehow, for me, I sensed that the times when we could gather like this are numbered, and it would not always be this way – there will come a time when I look back on these gatherings with longing in my heart and only memories around me. SO I soaked up every lovely part of having family surround me. And my Mum brought me a cake, as she has done (or baked herself) nearly every year of my life, and upon it placed a candle, so that we could relive birthdays of old, with a puff and a chorus of mismatched voices and a whole lot of laughter. Add to that, the antics of my two youngest children, who know how to entertain, and I know that in years to come, these memories, this day, will be so precious and cherished, even more so than now.
So weary, I was in tears at the end of the day, because there is always a small voice that tries to sabotage joy. And that voice sneaks in with exhaustion or pain as the open window that beckons it in. I thought of things I missed, elements in life I did not have, people I have lost, the pain my body constantly feels and my inability to do the things I long to. The overbearing feeling of “age” weighing me down….. But then I stood outside in the night air and knew that I was happier, and more blessed than anyone else I know, because I was right here, right now and fully aware. I could breathe in that cool air, and feel that breeze on my face, a relief after the heat of a summer’s day. I could feel the Earth beneath my feet and the almost silent symphony of nature around me. I could taste the rain that would come in the days after my birthday, that sweet perfume of a grateful Earth embracing the essence of life as it came home to start another cycle. I knew that the people I loved were asleep in their beds, and they were safe and well, here with me. And those I had lost, I felt them nearby, not so distant at all, just a thought or memory away. The nightbirds called and sang, and the music in my heart echoed back. I took some photos and there in the sky the orbs gathered like brightly coloured balloons, more and more as I stood quietly, as if they were drawn to my presence. It appeared like a cosmic celebration. I was grateful for the simple awareness that there is more to this universe than our 3D minds can imagine…..and that my mind was wide open to the possibilities, not narrow or closed. And I knew, that if I was dead tomorrow, I would miss all of these things and so much more.
By the time I walked back inside, even though on feet that were in so much pain I could barely stand, my heart was full… so very full.
So I celebrated my birth, and my rebirth, and the end of the old and the beginning of the new…and made a plan that every day, in the guise of an “unbirthday” would be the fresh start and the celebration of my life, just as this day had been.