Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Dark Side

I’ve never seen an automatic weapon before. And seeing one across the street last night, confirmed that I never want to see one again.
I can remember the first time I saw a policeman with a sidearm. Melbourne 1972, the shopping mall at the end of my street, where we went to perve on boys and look at jewellery after school. I felt as though some irreversible tide had turned, that the violence I never had believed possible in my world, had crept in unawares and lodged itself squarely on the hips of the establishment.
Last night was different. I had just stepped out of the Padang after a meal. He was just a civillian. No uniform to lend credence to the menace at his side. What was he doing there with something like that in the main street of Ubud?
Lately the outward peace and harmony of Bali has been eroded by information about historical massacres, rebellious youth and stories barely whispered about those who have “disappeared”
The man with the gun was waiting just across the road, his firearm in plain view, held pointing downwards at his side. I couldn’t help but stare but realised it might not be a very good idea. Dread, unlike any I have felt before, averted my eyes.
A car pulled up and man and gun got in the front door. The back windows were tinted, the gun was now upright between him and the driver. It and lodged in my memory with a kind of chill. Now it seems that Bali wants to show me her dark side.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Birds

There's a cacophony of birds today. My usual jungle scene, carries only the inanities of doves in an undertone of frog or cricket; these accompanied by the cyclone of ceiling fan I need to keep the menopausal sweats from driving me to the shower all day! But just now a raft of sound along the river. Strange bird calls back and forth, interspersed with louder exclamations from another breed. A luscious mix of exotic sounds dart past my open doors. I have leaned as far as the window ledge and terrace will allow but there is nothing to be seen till an awkward duckling crashes in to the bamboo stand. It is clearly not the origin of what I hear, although a duckling in a tree strikes me as absurd. Now, as I return to write, whatever stimulus they found has gone and just the cyclone sound remains. No clue as to what Balinese beauty has sung to me today, no clue if they will return, suburban jungle mysteries keep my foreign senses tuned.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coming Home

The moss covered alley to my door sprouts tourists, French and German, as it meanders through the gateways and tailor shops off Monkey Forrest Rd. I side step leaf trays of offerings and red hot incense protruding from the doorposts and sweat my way past peace lillies and muddied ponds where gaping fish mouths churn the waters of their silty baths. Back to write,back to push my hand into the lucky dip of stories just below the surface of my day to day. The darkness wrapped inside the parcels that I pull from there surprises me.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I'm a bit sick of all this peace and bloody watery reflection. This book is supposed to be about gypsies and whores and whirling skirts lifted in the face of tut tutting Madonnas. It's supposed to be about rebellion and struggle; to scorn the powers that be and yet since landing in Bali I haven't even been dancing,got drunk or lashed out on anything extravagant. The interminable zen of it all needs a damn good shaking. Look out Ubud!

Friday, February 12, 2010


Yesterday there was an earthquake. I was sure the bed was shaking when I woke up before dawn but perhaps it was just David on the other side of the mattress scratching at some mosquito bite. I wouldn't have mentioned it except he had woken in the night as well, imagining that some lizard war was unfolding on my bedside table. There was a flapping sound he said like something in the throes of death. Apparently he had turned on the light and got up to see what was happening but there was nothing to be seen. Later when he went to order breakfast there was a large moth beating its wings against the upstairs window trying to get out. In a place where omens and auspicious events proliferate I can not help but wonder what might be stirring in the nether world. Today I woke in tears. Subterranean currents bubbled loss and grief to the surface of my morning. Change always means letting go and right now my empty hands need holding.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Green Collage

Outside my sliding doors,
two metres of veranda drops
into jungle
The green collage
stands motionless except for
butterfly or squirrels tail.
But then a gentle tipping starts
and fingertip of frond and leaf
respond in motion to the rythm of the rain.
Like a childs first taps on piano keys
they all dip and rise in harmony
until the sunshower moves away.
A symphony of leaves.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Who said that?

It's been interesting playing around with the idea of voice over the last couple of days. Most of what I have written in the past has been in the first person and I am not sure that for the particular story which seems to be emerging that that is the way I want to go. So yesterday I rearranged several pages of text to be from a narrators point of view, which openend some new perspectives that I quite liked. Now I find the narrator has developed a character all of it's own and the story is now being told by a kind of guardian angel/sylph type being that I had never even imagined to exist until it appeared this morning.And boy does she ever have a lot to say!
I love having the freedom to play with this stuff

Coffee and vanilla bean

I have developed quite a taste for Bali coffee with half a fresh vanilla pod and a dash of honey and milk. Vanilla pod was always one of those luxury items that never made it to my shopping trolley but the spices at the markets here throw their scent through the cellophane and are an irresistible enticement of colour and promised flavour. The last time I was here I lusted after them but knew I would not get them home through customs. Now as my kitchen capacity grows I plan to celebrate their availability. Who has a great recipe for star anise?
I am enjoying my days at home. Afternoon thunderstorms, morning massages, the ever watchful workers who come and clean the room the minute I leave the house. Lifestyle is so affordable here, and I am enjoying the ease, the cooked breakfasts, the cleaner and groundskeepers. Yesterday I went out to take some clothes to the laundry where they are washed and dried and see four or five of the workers here tending the garden. They were trimming the lawns with hedge clippers, and cutting banana leaves to use for their ceremonial dishes. The idea of using a noisy lawnmower because it was quicker was a joke for them, Bali time is quiet time.
My writing has started to find a rhythm and the story has begun.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


There was a huge golden orb weaver hung in space off my balcony this morning.
Balinese pancakes are green, and breakfast on the terrace is divine.
It looked a little off kilter, I thought perhaps it was injured but closer inspection revealed that it was actually pulling silk from its abdomen to construct a new web. It was balanced precariously on the tenuous threads of it's beginning. By the end of the morning it had completed its task, sunlight threw golden shimmers across its masterpiece. But the thing that struck me was the change in the creature at it's centre. Poised, legs spread as it read the vibrations along every strand. it was in perfect balance. No longer an ungainly creature struggling in space but connected contained and engaged.
Slowly in Bali I feel similar threads weaving a new life for me. New connections to bring balance to the places where I have struggled to maintain equilibrium, to find a foothold. All my familiar threads are broken but there are new beginnings and my tentative limbs are now open to the vibrations of another web.
Today I sorted through all my writing and the forest showed me how to start my story. I had three warm and unexpected displays of affection from local people I have met and am reassured by the gentle spirit of this place.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Well, today's the day!
The tedium of shopping and house hunting and currency conversion complete I have a whole day, alone, in my room, with my laptop...........
Hmmmmmmmmm, daunting really when you get what you want.
For more than two years I've been saying I want to write a book. I want to stop work so I can stay focussed and inspired. I've wanted to write since I was five.
Well. Here I am.