Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Creative Writing

 Where I share a little bit of creative writing with you....

 
February 2015

This was a creative writing exercise for our writing group.
My grandmother did have a huge vegetable garden, and there was a man that lived over the lane we used to visit, but I don't remember his name, and I don't remember any sunflowers, so this story is partly true and partly fictional.

A Forest of Sunflowers

There is a forest of sunflowers at the bottom of my grandmother’s garden, up against the back picket fence between the chook pen and the outhouse under the weeping trees.

The sunflowers are so tall that when we stand amongst them we can only just see over the top. We crouch down on the dusty dry red dirt amongst their stiff scratchy stalks. The sunflower heads are so big they form a canopy shading us from the hot sun and casting a yellow glow over us. Sometimes we take a book with us and read it sitting amongst the sunflowers. It’s our secret world where anything is possible.  As we doze in the sun the world of the Faraway Tree comes to life under the sunflowers.

Beyond the sunflowers is grandma’s big vegetable garden stretching all the way from the back veranda to the chook pen. It seems like every vegetable you can imagine is growing there.  Every day grandma collects vegetables from the garden for our dinner, pulling up potatoes, onions and carrots with the dirt still clinging to their bulbs. Dirt pathways run between the beds and after our bath and on washing day we scoop the water out of the bath or the laundry trough with a can and water the garden.    
It’s fun to help grandma dig in the garden beds and push the seeds into the damp earth that we have watered with our bath water.  But our favourite place is the sunflower patch.
It’s a mystery how the sunflowers came to grow there. Grandma says she didn’t plant the seeds. Perhaps old Mr Rosini who lives in the little cottage over the back lane threw the seeds over the fence one day when he was cleaning out his budgie’s cage.  When we sit amongst the sunflowers we can hear him talking in Italian to his budgie, and Bluie talks back to him. Sometimes we go with our Aunt to Mr Rosini's house, taking with us fresh warm bread that Grandma has just taken out of her big black oven.  He turns on his radio so we can listen to the “children’s hour” and he pulls off chunks of the soft bread for us and slathers it with jam.
My Aunt says Mr Rosini has lived there since the war. Perhaps the sunflowers are how he repays Grandma for her kindness.


July 2014

Passion is the camera in my hands
Walking through the bush searching for delicate orchids peeping from their hiding places beneath the trees.
Crouching on the red dirt in a field of everlastings spreading like a flowing river through the scrub. Wave on wave of pink, white and yellow...endless.
Seeing the light around me, how its highlights and shadows play and change as I chase the light.
Focusing on that one perfect bloom and capturing it in all its perfection.
The excitement of finding a flower I have never seen before.
Marvelling at the perfect shape. The infinite colours and variety.
Yearning for the next time I can walk among them.
May camera in my hands.
This is my passion. 



June 2013


Bilbarin Morning

A wild wind whips across the yard scattering leaves in devilish dance, battering a loose piece of tin on the roof and whistling through a crack in the sapling walls of the hut. 

Tendrils of golden morning light seep thinly through the trailing branches of the peppermint trees.  It bursts through the door as we tumble out onto the verandah in a blur of coats and scarves. Icy water baubles clinging in wait for us on the eaves release themselves as we bound down the steps. The ground crunches nosily under our boots like a military tattoo.  The gate clatters behind us. 


Daisy stamps impatiently in her stall. Her hot breath swirls around her like a smoky wreath. She thrusts her head into the stream of grain spilling into the feed bin.


Dry wheat stalks whip against our legs as we run across the stubble paddock.  Through the stringy gimlet trees, jumping the gurgling water in the gully, pushing our way through the scrub.  A kangaroo bounds away into the mist. Red gum flowers are bursting from their cups and we stop to pick a spray for Miss.


The clanging bell calls out to us across the dusty school yard. The welcoming warmth of the fire in the stove as we slide into our desks and pull out our books.  Miss smiles at us, absorbing the perfume of the bush as she arranges the flowers in a jar on the window sill.



Monday, March 9, 2009
Travel Writing and Photography Course - Fremantle, 7-8 March 2009
Last weekend I attended a travel writing and photography course run by writer John Harman, and photographer Dale Neill. The piece you read below - Salvatore Bellini - is an entirely fictitious piece I wrote from the photo you see of the accordion player taken by Abigail Harman. To log onto John, Dale and Abigail's sites please refer to my web links.

Salvatore Bellini - Cefalu, Sicily
Abigail Harman's photo of the accordion player

The mournful strains of accordion music drift slowly up through the filtered early morning light and seeps into my consciousness. I turn over and pull around me the delicious folds of the feather quilt. The music is a sound I hear every morning. It wakes me gently with its soft kiss.

I stretch, and rising, walk across the cool tiled floor to fling open the window, and leaning out turn my face towards the crisp sea air; it’s salty moisture coming to me on the gentle breeze to settle on my face. Along the waterfront I can see the old man sitting on his stool in his usual place in front of the high stone wall. I cannot see his face, as it is hidden by the shadow of his cap, but I know his lined face looks as worn as the open leather suitcase by his side.

Salvatore Bellini. Every morning he cycles his bike along the winding cobbled streets through Cefalu and takes up his position here on the waterfront. As he plays he looks longingly out across the water. He is playing for the love of his life Antonella, who was lost in the sea between Italy and Sicily during the dark days of the last war: and perhaps in the hope his music will bring her back to him.

I had rented an apartment for the summer in the medieval town of Cefalu on Sicily’s north coast and had met Salvatore on the day that I arrived. Drawn by the music I had followed the sound and found him. As he played his haunting tune he was gazing out to sea with such a look of yearning in his blue eyes that a tear had escaped unbidden from my eyes. And at that instant he had looked up at me and smiled.

(photo courtesy of Abigail Harman Photography - Abigail Harman Photography)


I have recently joined a writing group in Bunbury. We had to write a piece of "flash fiction" including a word new to us from the dictionary. And so the story continues.... 16 September 2010...

Apartments in France - photo taken by me in 2005
As I leant on the cool ledge of the window sill the morning sun sparkled on the mazarine (deep blue)  ocean and white caps kicked up by the gentle breeze  raced each other across the bay.   Fishermen were pulling their colourful wooden rowing skiffs over the stony sand of the narrow beach below the stone wall and rowing out to their fishing boats anchored offshore.
Below me in the piazza the smell of fresh bread wafted from the open door of the (pasticceria)  bakery, from where Rosa was bringing out tables and chairs and arranging them in the sunshine on the cobble stones.  The flower seller was placing overflowing buckets and pots of flowers at his corner near the fountain.  A colourful tarpaulin had been erected on one side of the piazza under which a market gardener was setting up his display of colourful fruits and vegetables.  
I knew Salvatore would be waiting for me on the waterfront, so I pulled on my dress which I had discarded on a chair the night before, slipped on my sandles and straw hat, grabbed my bag, pulled the door shut behind me and went down the stairs and out into the piazza.   Pausing to speak briefly with Rosa, I bought my favourite calzone and two caff√© latte’s from the bakery, and two blood oranges from the fruit stall and then wended my way down the stone staircase to the waterfront. 
Salvatore Bellini was at his usual spot on the bench sheltered by the high stone wall, playing his accordion.  He smiled when he saw me coming.  (√® bello vederti) “It's good to see you”. I picked up the flower which was laying on the bench beside him and gave him a kiss on his aged cheek. Looking out over the water we sat in companionable silence and ate the food I had brought.   This had become our morning routine over the summer and we both looked forward to it. 
When we had finished I reached down into my bag and placed into Salvatore’s trembling hands an old leather bound book.  The pages were yellowed and well thumbed.   As he opened it he gasped as on the front page was written “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935”.
Calzone - bread roll baked with ham, cheese or other stuffings.
pasticceria -pastry shop.

Our latest task in my writing group is to write a piece in either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person - and then re-write it in one of the other points of view. So I have continued on with my story about Salvatore.  I wonder which one you prefer.
 - 10 August 2011

1st person – 432 words

When we had finished our food I reached down into my bag and placed into Salvatore’s hands an old leather bound book. The pages were yellowed and well thumbed. As he opened it he gasped as on the front page was written “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935”.

With trembling hands Salvatore turned the first few pages, scanning over the familiar handwriting, before resting his blurred eyes finally on a painting a few pages in. It was a water colour, delicately depicting a lake and a house.

By now tears were running down Salvatore’s lined cheeks.

Putting my hand on his arm I gently whispered, “What is it Salvatore?”

Touching the picture lightly with his fingertips he replied, “Antonella painted this picture. It is a special place where we used to go”.

Caught up in his emotion all I could say was, “It’s beautiful”.

“Where did you find her book?”

“I went to the antique book shop on Via Porpora. I love the smell and the feel of the old books. And I asked if they had any books from the war years.  Amongst them I found this book. Something attracted me to the cover and when I opened it and saw the names Salvatore and Antonella my heart skipped a beat and I felt my skin tingle, and I just knew it must be the two of you.”

“I gave this book to Antonella for her seventeenth birthday. She loved to draw and paint and write poetry.”

“See here” I said turning to a page marked by a strip of ribbon.

There was a yellowed photo of two people. The girl had long dark hair and her head rested against the shoulder of a young man. There were pencil drawings of field flowers around the photo.

“She was so beautiful and we were so in love” Salvatore said lifting the book and softly kissing the image.

“We were going to be married, but then the war came…..” . He trailed off and sat silently, immersed in his own thoughts.

“I can’t believe you have found Antonella’s book.  It was here in Cefula and I didn’t know. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. You have given me a very special gift – it is like you have brought her back to me.”

“That first morning I heard your music, I knew there was a reason we were drawn together.”

“You are a very special friend and you have made an old man very happy” he smiled and I saw a new sparkle in his eyes. 

Painting found in an book which belonged to my husband's grandmother.
 2nd Person   -  512 words

You finish your calzone and wipe your hands on the napkin making sure there is no food on your fingers. You reach down into your bag and take out an old leather bound book which you place in Salvatore’s hands. The pages are yellow and look well thumbed. You watch Salvatore as he opens the book. He gasps when he reads on the front page – “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935.”

You see Salvatore’s hands tremble as he turns the first few pages. He seems to be scanning over the pages, not reading. His eyes are blurry with tears. He stops a few pages into the book where there is a water colour painting. It delicately depicts a lake and a house. You see that tears are running down Salvatore’s lined cheeks.

You want to comfort him so you put your hand gently on his arm. “What is it Salvatore?” you whisper.

Salvatore touches the picture lightly with his finger tips. “Antonelle painted this picture. It is a special place where we used to go”.

You can feel a lump in your throat. “It’s beautiful”.

“Where did you find her book?”

“I went to the antique book shop on Via Porpora. I love the smell and the feel of the old books. And I asked if they had any books from the war years.  Amongst them I found this book. Something attracted me to the cover and when I opened it and saw the names Salvatore and Antonella my heart skipped a beat and I felt my skin tingle, and I just knew it must the two of you.”

“I gave this book to Antonella for her seventeenth birthday. She loved to draw and paint and write poetry.”

You reach over and turn the pages of the book until you come to a page which is marked with a strip of ribbon. “See here”.

There is a yellowed photo of two people. The girl has long dark hair and her head is rested against the shoulder of a young man. There are pencil drawings of field flowers around the photo.

“She was so beautiful and we were so in love” Salvatore says and he lifts the book and softly kisses the image.

“We were going to be married, but then the war came…..” . He stops talking and sits silently. He seems to be immersed in his own thoughts, so you sit and wait.

He dabs his eyes with a handkerchief. “I can’t believe you have found Antonella’s book.  It was here in Cefula and I didn’t know. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. You have given me a very special gift – it is like you have brought her back to me.”

“That first morning I heard your music, I knew there was a reason we were drawn together.”

He nods. “You are a very special friend and you have made an old man very happy” When he turns to smile at you can see new life in his eyes and they are sparkling.


Making a life "out east"
29 September 2010

A wild wind whipped across the yard, tugging at branches and rattling doors. It whistled through a crack in the sapling walls of the hut and banged a loose piece of tin on the roof. Somewhere a dog barked.

May lay and listened for a moment and then with a sigh roused herself from her bed and crossed the earthen floor to the fireplace where she pushed life into the few glowing coals with the poker. Lighting the hurricane lamp on the mantelpiece she tied her shawl around her thin shoulders and taking two heavy coats from a hook on the wall, drew back the door latch. The wind flung the handle from her hand and she fought to close the door behind her.

Holding the spluttering lamp above her head she stepped off the veranda and crossed the yard as the first few heavy drops of rain began to fall. The flickering light danced around her throwing shadows on the tent which was pitched under the peppercorn trees.

The door of the tent flapped crazily in the wind as she stooped to enter. Two faces looked up at her with wide eyes. May held the lamp up high above her head to check for leaks in the tent and then flung the coats across the two forms which huddled beneath course woolen blankets on the sacking beds.  She pulled the coats up around her boys’ shoulders, comforting them briefly with a reassuring touch.

“Go to sleep now, it’s only the wind” she said softly.

Leaving the tent May paused on the veranda of the hut for a moment, leaning against the smooth salmon gum veranda post. She looked up at the moon that swam in a turbulent sea of cloud, oblivious of the wind that tangled her long hair and tore at her clothes.

This was not the life she had envisioned when she married the handsome John Jackson in Narrogin in 1912. Restless with town life and drawn to farming, John had loaded their possessions and his five children onto a cart and had come ‘out east’ to the small railway siding town of Bilbarin, leaving behind the big house in Narrogin with the fancy wrought iron decoration along the veranda and lace curtains in the windows. John had built a rough three roomed hut from gimlet and salmon gum posts with whitewashed bagged walls, on their patch of land in the bush. Here May raised her growing family, while he tried to “make a go of it” eking out a meager living working away for long periods clearing land for farmers with an axe.

The depression had hit them hard in more ways than one and May was left to bury her dreams in the dry dirt with her bare hands that were now rough and aged by hard work. 

The above this is start of a story about my grandmother. Little remains of Biblarin today, the photo is of the railway siding at Bilbarin today.


Crepes in Fremantle
The character is entirely fictitious, but to taste delicious crepes please visit Michelle's Crepe Suzettes at the Fremantle Markets Saturday's and Sundays.
8 March, 2009

With a practised hand Antoinette ladles the creamy batter onto the sizzling plate. At the window a young girl sits transfixed watching her swirling the mixture evenly into a thin round circle and then flipping it over with a long spatula.

Antoinette smiles at the girl and the smile lights up her face. Every weekend at the markets she stands here before the steaming hot stone pouring, smoothing and flipping to create the crepes that will make their way into the mouths of the gathering crowd: the creperi has a reputation for good food and people are willing wait.

It is a long way from Antoinette’s village in Tuscany and the well scrubbed wooden table in her grandmother’s kitchen and the young girl reminds Antoinette of home. She smiles to herself and softly speaks a few words in Italian.

The Fremantle markets attract hundreds of people every weekend. They come for bargains, fresh fruit and vegetables, a special gift perhaps. It is a vibrant hive of bustling life, colour, sights, sounds, smells and languages. A moving kaleidoscope.

For Antoinette it is the start of a new life far away from her homeland.



2 comments:

  1. I loved your story about Salvatore. It made me feel emotional and was a real tug at the heart strings.
    Dale

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ditto ... love that - it was so real
    Ingrid

    ReplyDelete

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