26 October 2014

PERTH #2: What I did . . .

Part of the reason I needed this time and space was to finish up a giant grant application that I had been working on since July. Writing is hard to begin with, and it really only comes easier when there is space given for it to happen. So I looked at this 4-day stint in Australia as a writing workshop of sorts . . . 

So on the second day of my visit, I rode the bike my lovely hosts provided me to the local library. The Mr. drew me directions to town in my sketchbook. It was a 20 minute ride, mostly through fields and neighborhood streets. So I drove up the dirt road and turned right to head through the first field. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet! Because about 2 minutes into this part of the ride—under a ginormous tree—I was attacked for the very first time by birds. 

Giant white and black Australian Magpies swooped down, slamming me with their beaks. It was hilarious and terrifying all at once. I finally realized why The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock was so scary. The swooping sound of the wings right above your ears is the worst part! Anyhoo . . . Once I passed their nesting ground, the ride went smoothly. I wound up first at a coffee shop and then at the local library. I was able to organize my images and figure out various issues with my proposal. 

I started riding home around 1pm--and got attacked by the birds again--when I received a text from Janice. Janice was one of the theatre teachers at Stamford in Singapore. Last year, she gave birth to a beautiful boy and moved back to Perth with her husband. 

So when I got back to my little train car, I hopped in a cab to Perth. I met Janice and Felix (such a doll!) on the coast. We walked up and down the shore for a bit while I took pictures. Then we walked across the street for tapas. We had a lovely time catching up and it was so much fun to hang out with Felix again (he came to my 40th birthday party as a brand new little human, back in June). 

After lunch, Janice drove me to the kangaroos. Like a typical tourist, I wanted to see wild kangaroos in action. So she drove me to the local cemetery where they frequent. And sure enough, they were everywhere. Turns out, they aren’t that different from deer. They kind of look at you blinking, and then bounce away. And they were way smaller than I expected. Yes, I’ve seen kangaroos before. But only in zoos. These kangaroos were wild and probably only about 4 feet tall. But the jumping is certainly a riot. I love a good hopping animal.

On the third day of my visit, I spent the day writing. And by day, I mean from 9am until about 11pm. It was an all day affair. And my hosts were so incredible! They provided me a space in their hand-fashioned outdoor kitchen (complete with pizza oven). And, about halfway through the day, brought me handmade mulberry coffee cake and hot cocoa! Seriously?? I’m sayin’: heaven. I wrote and rewrote, and wrote and rewrote . . . All the while having chickens, roosters, and turkeys meandering in and out of the space. It was so great!

Around dinnertime, I decided as a thank you that I would buy us all pizza from this little gourmet pizzeria downtown. So while the Mrs. and I (and Pip) went to go pick it up, the Mr. had put together a little bonfire of sorts. We came home, had our awesome pizza, salad, and garlic bread, and then we sat around toasting marshmallows. This evening couldn’t have been more my dream night, if it tried . . . The neighbors came over, and then I pushed the scariest-button-in-the-world, SUBMIT, on my grant application. 

Then we all went to bed. It was such a lovely night. 

You know? Australia has one of those amazing skies. The kind that goes on forever and ever. Think Montana or Texas . . . And when the stars are out, it’s just glorious!

On my last day, I spent some time walking around Fremantle

I took the train-then-the-bus into Fremantle and had a go of it. It’s actually a lovely little town: cute cottages line all of the streets, little cafe’s and eateries are abundant, and it has a lovely little Ferris wheel in middle of town.

So of course, the Ferris wheel is the first thing I did. I thought it was going to go around just once, but it went around four times. By about the third go-round, it began to feel a smidge repetitive. But I was game.

After hopping off of the Ferris wheel, I was on a mission to find the Fremantle Arts Center. It’s a lovely little art museum in an old psychiatric ward. It was just creepy enough . . . I loved it! The spaces were wonderful and the work was top notch. They have galleries and a resource center on the first floor and artist studios on the second floor. They also have a nice restaurant that seemed to be serving beautiful food. I didn’t stay for a meal, but it looked scrumptious! I’m thinking about contacting them about a possible children’s program . . . We shall see.

After the Arts Center, I started meandering towards a coffee shop that was recommended to me. On the way there, I happened upon a giant warehouse art space and took a look at the show. On display was college student artwork from their recent semester.  

Then I found the coffee shop. I had a summer smoothie that consisted of kale, collards, and various other veggies (it was very green tasting, to say the least). 

Then I took a trip upstairs. There were four gallery spaces upstairs, of which three were being occupied by the current show. You’ll see in the images below, why I fell in love with this work. Who wouldn’t love a giant knitted ball, suspended in the air? 

Following my full day in Fremantle, I got back on the train, grabbed my things from the farm stay, and hitched a ride to the airport from my hosts. It was a most wonderful and productive visit. I can't wait to go back!

STAY TUNED FOR PERTH #3: Who I Saw . . . 

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