On Thursday, the day before my birthday, a friend of mine called by briefly – without even getting out of her car (after all, that’s what kids are for) – to give me my birthday present. It was a rather nice Green Man on a tile. I’m not entirely happy with the energy around it (after all, it’s a commercial product, and who knows where it’s been), but I can cleanse it, and after a while it will just have that generic Nisaba-feel that’s all over everything in my home. Frankie was impressed with the tentacle-like roots growing out of the corners of the mouth, and posed flamboyantly next to his latest boyfriend (photo 27)
And we went to TAFE again. I like to be masses early, and one of the reasons is a nearby cafe which gives students with the right ID card a serious discount (after all, we’re all poor). Frankie glanced around before we went inside, and gestured towards something. “What’s that?” He asked.
“That’s President’s Hill,” I told him.
“Australia doesn’t have presidents,” he informed me didactically.
“Gosh, I didn’t know that,” I told him. Already he knows me better than to answer me when I’m in that mood. He looked at the hill again.
“It’s very round,” he said doubtfully. (photo 28)
“When the kid was little,” I told him, ” we used to live close to the foot of that hill, and we regularly climbed a walking-track that spiralled around it. There’s a great rock-formation on the hill, with a quite deep cave in it. Once when we were walking, we found empty food-cans and a stolen hospital-blanket in it – some homeless person had nowhere else to sleep.”
Frankie quite liked the romance of living with minimal belongings in a cave just like our primordial ancestors – until I reminded him how cold he’d been recently.
We turned and went inside, and I ordered myself a birthday Muffin and coffee. Frankie produced the Ace Stones, a suitable card for Baked Goods, especially round, fruit muffins … (photo 29) …
I’ve always been intrigued by the “Stones” in the Haindl deck, one of Frankie’s relatives. Representing Earth, they have never ever seemed Earthy (or even terrestrial) to me – they have always reminded me of Space Rocks, fallen or still-flying meteors, meteorites, slowly tumbling asteroids, and other space-rocks. I chuckled that in his attempt to symbolise something as Earthy as his delight in a blueberry muffin, he presented me with an Otherworldly image.
Waiting for coffee, I found an old friend (photo 30), my contribution to the deck as it stands now.
Then (photo 31) our coffee arrived, along with the blueberry muffin. Yummy birthday treats, I thought. That much caffeine plus that much fat is going to give her a heart attack, Frankie thought. And all this before we did the haul up the Big Hill to TAFE! But anyway, (photo 32)
I was keen not to harm Frankie, so I took the full hit of caffeine and fats myself, valiantly protecting him, leaving him only a bit of my froth and a few crumbs so that he could have a taste.
Then we did the walk up the Big Hill to TAFE (photo 33)
where I showed him the building where I do about half my classes,
and (photo 34) the stairs leading to the library and cafeteria, the only two places where I really derive a great deal of pleasure,
then (photo 35) we went to photograph him with the police car/s that are invariably parked out the front. See those two workmen’s trucks? Er – yes. This is the first ever time there hasn’t been a cop car (or two) parked there. Just when I was ready to do it. And chat up any female cops who might have been at all receptive. So I cut my losses, and showed Frankie some Classy Australian Vehicle Repairs (photo 36)
then took a photo of him out the front of TAFE (photo 37) to prove that it was all very real.
Then Kirsty came along, (photo 38)
and she seemed quite charmed by Frankie and was happy to pose with him. The Four Pentacles epitomised the attitude of trying to get ahead by incorporating stuff inside yourself (in her case, knowledge). Kirsty commented on my lack of shoelaces, so Frankie and I looked down (photo 39)
and I pointed out that I hadn’t had shoelaces in these particular shoes since a few days after I bought ’em and I was okay with it.
Our first class (photo 40) on my birthday was “Women in culture”, and Frankie, although not a woman, sat in on it, and supervised my mobile phone as it (ironically in such a class) “stole power”.
(Photo 41) shows Morning Tea: a lovely woman in the class called Bronwen had baked a banana cake in the shape of a hat, and had incorporated rainbow colours in the icing because my hat was a rainbow hat. How lovely, Frankie thought. Oh, and how delicious.
“Go on,” said Frankie, along with everyone else, “get yourself and the real rainbow hat photographed with it!” So I did (photo 42).
Can you tell that Frankie was feeling a bit scattered by then?
I gave Bronwen the warmest thanks, and after we ate cake I scurried off to meet Avril for lunch – after all, Frankie isn’t going to be around for long, and it was my fiftieth! I left a message with the girls to apologise to the afternoon teacher, but I really felt no remorse at all, sadly. Perhaps I’ll email her with the URL for this blog!
Avril had discovered a Teppanyaki restaurant upstairs in the Gosford Leagues Club, called YUME Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant, and let me step aside to announce that they have paid me NO MONEY for this endorsement. No, instead they bribed me into advertising them far and wide with that sneakiest of all bribes: superb service, better food, and a fabulous floor-show by the chef, a lovely guy whom Le Fanu, Zan_Chan and everyone else would have adored, I feel sure. Hell, Avril adored him, in the face of all the evidence. (Why do straight women do that?)
Frankie and Avril finally met, after she’d been hearing me talk about him for months here, in (photo 43):
And Frankie had some opinions: (photo 44):
Like many of these places, the floor-show was priceless. The dishes we ordered were many and various, and were a combination of ones prepared in a separate kitchen and ones prepared on the grill at our table. Everything was exquisite. Unusually for all commercial kitchens no matter how superior, nothing was too salty for my tastes. Some of the more photogenic dishes are here: (photos 45-47)
The performance element was flawless, with the usual carefully-controlled flying foods. Shreds of egg flew into pretty young girls’ mouths – or down their cleavage. Portions of fried rice flew into bowls. And at the very end, the chef grabbed a sauce-bottle in each hand and, upside-down and simultaneously, left-handed and right-handed, wrote “thank you” angled towards Avril and me, as well as the other two girls who were also dining there (photo 48)
Then Avril spent some time over dirty dishes with Frankie (photos 49 and 50)
Because it was my birthday it was Avril’s shout, but she swears that the pricing was very fair indeed. I cannot understand how such a great place, with stunning food, should be so poorly known that whilst we were there it was only us and another pair of girls who ate there. As we left the waitress gave me permission to photograph the masks on the wall, charged with energy (photo 52).
In the evening I took Frankie to our meditation group, where he had a fine time. It was more about meeting Frankie and doing different kinds of magico-spiritual work than about just meditation, and Frankie loved meeting everyone, like Kylie (photo 53)
And my special friend Tikani, (photo 54) who didn’t get to handle Frankie personally:
And her special friend, Dan, who did (photo 55)
as well as Spook, who made sure I felt welcome and loved and included – and flattened down my rebellious hair much to my shock and distaste (photo 56):
And all the time Frankie was being his stunning self, centre of attention, glamorous in his appearance at all times: (photos 57 and 58)
Now, photo 59 is interesting. When I photographed Kylie with Frankie earlier, the fire was clearly burning in the background. Dan builds interesting henges or dolmens in the fireplace out of logs, and as they burn they act as gates into the Otherworld (for me at least). The fire was magnificent, but when I uploaded the picture, the fireplace was entirely dark and cold, even though the fire was blazing when I took it.
Magical fire, disappearing fire, invisible fire. There’s something very special about it. Frankie, watching me type this account, agrees that something very strange happened – he saw the blazing fire, too.
When I got home, I had to admit that it had been a special day. I’d had not only completed my fiftieth year, but I had aced it, I had triumphed totally. I had introduced Frankie to a lot of friends from entirely different worlds. I had missed a computing class, not a bad achievement in itself. I had eaten somewhat better Japanese cuisine than suburban sushi rolls for the first time in many, many years. And now Frankie knew a lot more about me!
I went to sleep late, not having journalled the day at all, feeling fantastic.
Saturday the 11th September rocked around. Time to do some laundry, I reckoned, and journalling, and to pay my rent. When I walked downtown to do so, Frankie recoiled from the creepy Pinocchio puppet in the window of the Special Shop That Has All The Nice Wooden Stuff, and for the first time, seeing it, I realised that puppets are almost as creepy as dolls, and Pinocchio as an archetype of animated wood, growing noses and malice, is perhaps the creepiest of all possible marionettes. (photo 62)
I couldn’t pay the rent immediately – everyone was out – so I wandered down to the waterfront and showed Frankie the Memorial Gardens.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“It’s to honour people who died in wars.”
“No, just ours. And of ours, just those who happen to have come from this town. Pretty parochial, eh?”
“Why do you honour them if they are no longer suffering?”
I thought for a moment. “Probably for their grandchildren’s sakes, now. And out of an idea of patriotism.”
“Isn’t patriotism just a way of separating your country from other countries in your mind, and creating disunity?”
“Yep. You’re a smart deck.”
But I come from everywhere, lots and lots of countries. I like to think I belong in all of ’em. What about me? And you too, Nisaba – you even have the genes of several different countries, cultures and even continents running through every cell in your body. Where do you belong? How can you separate yourself and say ‘Australia is best’?”
I can’t, Frankie. I think it’s all a big gyp. No country is ‘good’ and no country is ‘bad’. The good guys are either ‘us’ if it is current or the winners who get to write the histories if it’s in the past. The baddies are either them-out-there, or the ones who never had a chance to write their versions of history because the victors quashed them. But look, you’re supposed to be a goodtime-deck out for a good time. Wanna get your photo taken on this memorial or not?”
“Do you want me to?”
“On balance, yes. All blessings from all faiths, even the Christian one, are sacred, a way of trying to bring a little positive energy into the world. This memorial is on consecrated ground, so positive energies are involved. And the sea might look pretty in the distance behind you.”
So I put him down, and took photo 63.
I went to my favourite cafe to waste some time until I could do the financial stuff, hoping to show Frankie to my Pet Waitress Bianca (who called me “sexy” today! hooray!) and her Trusty Sidekick Amanda. Waiting for coffee, Frankie showed me these cards (photo 64)
Death told me it was time to take a break from drudgery like laundry or paying bills, the Nine Wands told me I needed to put up boundaries between myself and reality for a while, the Ten Pentacles told me it was time to take some unabashed pleasure in the material world. So I ordered a sandwich as well. (photo 65)
The Sun told me that I would enjoy the food very much, especially the sun-ripened salads, of which there were plenty as you can see. the Emperor told me that the table in the window was my own little kingdom, my domain, and I was ultimately totally in charge. And the Tower told me that I would be a clutz, dropping my fork on the floor and splashing some of my precious coffee into the saucer!
I hung around as long as I could to introduce Frankie to the girls and get some snapshots of them playing together, but for a non-Farmers’-Market-Saturday, it was remarkably busy. Eventually Frankie piped up. (photo 66)
“Oi!” he said. “You’re spending too much time removed from the real world! Pick up your lantern and get on your feet! (Hermit) There are budgets to balance and rent to pay (Two Fire). Get out of here and go do what you need to! (Six Swords)”
So, regretfully, I did as he told me. I “folded my tent like the Arabs, and as silently slipped away”. Paid my rent, and it’s fortunate I left when I did, because they were about to close for the weekend. Went home, hung up the second load of washing to dry and put the third into the machine. Journalled a bit. Fed the cat. Hung some more washing out. Journalled some more.
Then Kylie, who had been at the meditation, called and we went out for coffee and dinner and some serious reading-time with Frankie. But that was serious and personal to her, so nothing got photographed. We ate, and she went to work for the night-shift and I sat down to upload the rest of the photos and finish this journal.
And now it’s late, so I’ll be tumbling into bed pretty soon. Frankie’s already dozing fitfully – and totally naked – next to me. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!