The Hat Made It! The Horse Didn’t!

Across Australia today, people celebrated the Melbourne Cup Day.

The finished hat; all in a few hours work.
Funny day today in the office.

After a long morning of trying to speak to clients who were mostly out for Melbourne Cup Day, my colleague and friend Celise and I went to our work party.  The atmosphere was alive. The weather behaved. The food and drinks were enjoyed and then came the moment all punters were waiting for – The Cup Race


My friend Celise, looking stunning.

All lights went off and the large video screen in our boardroom came on, showing the horses running. The screen was linked to our office internet network and when the clock stroke the start, I looked around the dim room at the intense faces. Some sat and others stood. I had no money on anything, but it was interesting how excited and aggressive the atmosphere became and I looked back at the screen wondering if the most popular horse, I was told, a Japanese horse, would win.

The funniest thing was, the internet kept on stalling. The screen paused, then, a stop-start repetition. It drove everyone crazy. There was more screaming at the streaming than the actual race. The race in our boardroom took longer than the usual time. Finally, the horse everyone thought would win, did not. It was over. One colleague bravely took this breaking moment to ask if everyone knew how much damage horses endured in these races. No-one heard her. The faces were pre-occupied. Some were busy calculating how much they won and others, how much they lost. All in all, it was a fun day, especially in our hats.


Australia Stops for Melbourne Cup Tomorrow

2013 Melbourne Cup race

The Emirates Melbourne Cup is on tomorrow, November 4th. While the main race will be in Flemington, Melbourne, many Australians will celebrate nation-wide. It is not a public holiday in Queensland, but it might as well be.

For the race, I am making a hat, badly. I  know it is not my best work because I have made better hats in the past. I know I left it too late and I don’t have all the right materials.


The Cup day is tomorrow and the office will have a party. I am not a big gambler, nor a horse race lover, far from it. I did not know our office wanted to party. But, it makes sense because most people in this country will take up to three days off work to gamble and party for Melbourne Cup.


I don’t have any fancy hats. And, I don’t need one. The ladies in my office made a pack to wear hats so I wanted to make one for fun.

So far my sons had various pointers and suggestions on how to improve the hat before going off to bed and leaving me with the task. I have found various pieces of craft material at home. I am about to re-create a 10-year-old straw hat into something…yeah ‘something’ I don’t even know. The good thing about it is that if the ‘hat’ fails, I can dump it in my compost and recycle the  bits and pieces. It is all organic.


Pictured here, I found some hand-made re-cycled paper I had for a different project, and thought I could use it. I sewed the paper onto the orange hat and the paper was not opaque enough so I needed to paint the hat white. I was on a mission. The can of white paint was in my art workshop and without thinking or smelling the paint, I took a brush and painted the hat . Once finished, I could not wash the brush nor my hands, and I realised I had used the oil-based house paint. Worst of all my son told me,  we did not have any mineral turpentine left to clean off the oil paint. Sounds great doesn’t it?

With his help, I used a combination of Antiseptic Dettol and nail polish remover to rid the paint on my finger tips so I could type this blog post. Don’t try to use that Dettol combination to clean your hands, it is not nice. I guess I won’t be needing that nail polish tomorrow either; I have white-painted nails.

To make the slow-drying oil paint dry faster, I have been blow drying the hat for two hours. I am hopeful; I will wear that hat tomorrow. Thank you universe for challenging my creativity but the hat will happen, regardless.

I hope I have made you readers smile tonight with this silly story and my pathetic hat-making effort. If you are following The Melbourne Cup tomorrow – have fun and win. My friend won a few thousand dollars on a $3 bet, so I know it can be a day for anyone. I am just going to finish my hat.

Cool Stuff: Wood Casting with Hilla Shamia


For someone who is interested in art and beauty in everyday things, it came as no surprise that my sons have developed the same ‘eye’. My son Nathan introduced me to Hilla Shamia, an Israeli furniture designer who combines wood and metal in a way you don’t see too often.

Hilla Shamia is a Israel-based designer with B.Des. at Holon Institute of Technology, Industrial Design department.
Hilla developed a unique technique that joins the materials of aluminum and wood. She created a series of furnitures based on this technique called – Wood Casting.


These ‘wood castings’ are made from a whole tree trunk, and that enables them to preserve the natural form of the wood while still maintaining distinct boundaries in its creation. Each is a One-of-a-Kind piece.


A Wash In The Bush – Short Story

Google Images – Fireflies

It was pitch black. The day had gone. Heat and humidity parted swiftly and everything was swallowed by the early evening darkness. By touch, I placed my towel on a nearby tree branch and stripped for my bush wash. My skin woke to the cool breeze. My right foot carefully searched on the large, rough and wet stones to the small piece of plywood. I stepped up, trying to keep it balanced under my weight. The ‘ply’ was held up by other stones. The underneath was muddy water. I stared into darkness and caught very faint glimpses of trees.

Already pulled out of the well with a rope and bucket, I reached it. The water felt cold. Today was an especially hot day. My mind went over how sticky it was. As I filled the saucepan, the steel cooled to the temperature of the water. I raised the saucepan and saw them coming. The ‘light’ visitors. They came in a fanfare of glows seemingly in rhythm, yet, their presence was soundless. I realised I had missed the fireflies in Port Moresby’s city life.

The fireflies came closer as if curious. They scribbled bright disappearing lines in the ‘black’ all around me. Their light made the darkness even darker. 

I poured quickly. The water was cold.
“Ohhh nice!” half-shivering, I yelled out to my family, wanting to connect us through the depth of darkness between us. The chattering of my mother, my sons and, nieces and nephews were a few metres away.
This well water must have come from the centre of the earth. Untouched by the 36 degrees heat of Lae, Morobe Province. It was so cold.
After pouring three saucepans of water on myself I looked up again. By now the fireflies gathered just above me. They synchronised in an orbit-like dance. I looked up at the fireflies, entrenched, and the soft mushy Lux bathing soap slipped out of my hand. The soap’s creamy white oval-shape slithered away under the old plywood with a soft plonk in the muddy water.
I am not about to put my hands in there I thought. I stared at the ‘nothing’. It was still pitch black. I bent my knees but half-way, I decided, it was not a good idea. I am not going to find that soap unless I am prepared to feel through snakes, centipede, spiders, worms, and God knows what else is in there.
An owl startled me back to reality. I listened to the owl speak to another softly. I was dripping, half-soaped and cooling down fast. The fireflies lost their rhythm and separated. They flew away. I reached for another saucepan of the cool rinse and grabbed my towel.
“I’m finished!” I called and picked up my clothes.
Through the bush, I could hear my mother bringing my sons towards me to wash them. They were nine and six. She had the lamp and the boys had their torches. Suddenly, everything looked different.
In the background, my nieces and nephews were waiting their turn to the waterhole. My cousin Sam Newton dug this well before he even built his house. The water feeds and quenches the thirst of hundreds in our community. Because of where Sam had dug the well, the water remained cool all day and night. We used the water for cooking, drinking and washing.
“Where is the soap?” I heard my mother ask.
“Forget the soap Ma, just wash them in the water”.
I smiled and dried myself.