Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is coming!!

You know it's that time of year again, don't you?

COWBelles certainly do and this year's presents have been taken care of with a multitude of bright and spangly gifts for all the family and friends who have supported us, individually and collectively, throughout the year.

Our COWBelles have a generous nature and bestowed group-made necklaces as their gifts of farewell for our 2 lovely Sydney Uni Social Work students, Loretta and Alyssa. Not much of a bead-o-phile herself COW group member Marla had the Farewell cards amassed with signatures and well wishes, ready to go as the Uni girls chose their favourite baubles from the display.

Loretta and Alyssa were 'on loan' to us through their placement with the Glebe Community Development Project but alas the end of the year means a change of placement and we miss all the wonderful students we meet who then need to move on for the next stage of their courses.

We still have 2 more COWBelles get-togethers before we finish up for the year. Friday 3rd is a making day and Friday 17th is earmarked for a final buying frenzy at the beadshop at Leihhardt for all those individual presents to be made in the last week before Christmas Day. It will be a hectic, but fun outing as is usual with our spirited COWBelles ladies.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

COWBelles + PLACEspace registration for COW

Do you know, it might take me a whole month to write about the latest updates but it's a good thing the COWBelles don't wait so long for their progress!!   

Last Friday 5th Nov. saw the frantic and colourful bedlam that is the COWBelles creative morning tea sessions, break out again at the Old Firestation as 10 Glebe COW and 5 Waterloo Spainards descended into a flurry of prolific bead-making.

Necklaces, earrings, bookmarks and spectacle holders were created at lightning pace and much cooing of admiration followed as the ladies modeled their latest design.  And of course, continued justice was done to Hopestreet's coffee and cake!

A warm camaraderie has developed between our Glebe ladies and our new Spanish friends as the sharing of craft activity and the inclusive Glebe community atmosphere have transcended the language barrier and  initial uncertainty of new acquaintances.  The group is a pleasure to be part of and some wonderful photos may be seen by clicking on the Events in Photographs links at left.

News for COW  is the addition of the COW social action group and COW blogsite to the new community recognition and resources site called The website is a collaborative service provided by TAFE Ultimo and the Federal Government with a vision to connect people, organisations and learning opportunities into one resource location.  Our group may be found by going to  registering your name, email contact and a password and scanning the Groups list.

If that seems like a lot of detective work then click on the link below for a very quick shortcut!

It's COWBelles Friday again this week and some discussion is due for our continued meetings next year.....yes, alas,.... our funding has come to the end and decisions must now be made to self fund or finish up. Know which I would prefer and I suspect all our COWBelles will be of similar mind, so thinking caps on and many ideas to consider as we enter this next phase of  COWBelles craft.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our new Spanish friends......yay!!

What a FUN day at COWBelles last Friday!! I thought the Old Fire Station would burst at the seams with so many people in it!

I phoned Community Worker  Edith the day before and she told me the Spanish ladies were a little unsure of meeting our COWBelles, so 4 ladies of the group of 12 would be joining us for our craft morning to 'check us out'. I wondered if  they might not like us but whatever the uncertainties were on either side, of course there was no need to worry at all.

4  ladies arrived on the community bus with our regular COWBelles so I'm sure they had already discovered how open and friendly our Glebe-ites can easily be. Then we were delighted when another 4 ladies joined us as well.

The COWBelles and our Spanish guests were a little reserved at first, but within half an hour conversations sprung up and the lure of all those colourful baubles worked their magic. The tables spanning the length of the room were laden with colourful trinkets and the babble of noise was punctuated with gleeful bursts of laughter.

Photos of our day can be seen through Events in Photographs at left.

At the end of our morning social craft session there were hugs and genuine smiles as our guests were leaving and we knew we had made some new friends. They promised to come join us again in a fortnight when we next gather at the Old Firestation in Glebe and we greatly look forward to seeing them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

COW at Homebush today!

It may be nearly a month since I last wrote about our jewellery making but the Belles have been busy nonetheless!

Last session our COW Belles ladies were in full swing with new beads, new techniques and new creations after our visit to the beadshop at Leichhardt. Not to sit on their laurels for long, the Belles were out in force at Homebush today checking out the Bead & Gem Expo for more new beads, more new techniques and the inspiration for more new creations yet to come.

Alas, no photos were taken as I had my face in every stall, beady-eyed on beads, and forgot!

Yet, not all is lost, the return journey saw us stop at the Dairy Bell ice-cream factory in Australia St at Camperdown and a photo was to be had of several hot, tired but smiling COW, and one ever-serene Geoff, thoroughly enjoying the factory wares.

Its back to our fervent beading next session and the launch of a new phase in our jewellery making as we welcome the Waterloo Spanish women's group into our creative community.

Looking foreward to it.

The Spanish are coming!

COW Belles is expanding it's welcome.

A decision was made sometime ago to open up COWBelles to other women outside the local area and the invitation has been accepted by a lively group of older women of Spanish background, regularly meeting at Waterloo and also looking to expand their horizons.

Yesterday Bec, Loretta and myself met the Spanish ladies and their Community Worker and translator Edith. The ladies were excited by the chance to join other women for craft and conversation. 'Conversation' will be a patient yet pleasant challenge as the ladies' primary language is Spanish and COW has no Spanish speaking members - yet!

The Spanish ladies were intrigued by the notion of COW as a social action group. This idea seemed new to them and the concept of 'group action' at the local, state or even national level appears to be something that COW may one day be able to offer alongside the cake and craft social setting.  Our Spanish guests are of course under no obligation other than to enjoy our hospitality.

There is a feeling of anticipation and welcome in the COW Belles today as we wait to meet our new guests on Friday 8th October and discover that coffee, cake and craft can surmount any cultural barriers we think we may have.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Belles Beadshopping!

What fun!!!!

10 of our intrepid ladies boarded the bus last Friday morning and headed off  for serious investigation into the huge beadshop on Parramatta Rd at Leichhardt . With much relief for our fabulous driver Geoff a parking spot was patiently waiting for us right outside the front door! Ladies spilled off the bus and straight into gasps of delight when the door slid open and an 'Alladin's Cave' of colour and sparkle greeted them.

Glebe's COW Belles prowled the shop mixing and matching colourful baubles and picking up crimps and pliers to make the wonderful creations planned for their family and friends. They trundled with baskets or careened with small trolleys and sheepish guilty smiles gave testament to 'buying a bit more than I planned to'.

90 minutes and a couple of hundred dollars later, tired ladies engaged in excited conversation climbed the bus steps for the journey back to a well deserved coffee at the Old Firestation, poorer maybe but definitely happy!

Can't wait to see the new jewellery to be made from today's outing and it was unanimously agreed that another bustrip to the beadshop was in order before Christmas gifts were due.

Photos of our visit to the beadshop can be seen at right in the Events column by clicking on the link to our webalbum.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

COW Belles outing

OMG!!! only 2 sleeps to go!! The fabulous COWBelles of Glebe are out for the day and loose in Leichhardt.  A morning trip to the huge Beads shop on Parramatta Rd is planned for this Friday and our COWBelles are excited.

Several of our budding designers are raring to go and pick out the kinds of colours and styles they really want for their creations. Often in our morning tea jewellery sessions a question arises for a style or coloured bead or bauble we don't have and a faint sign of dissappointment crosses a face when the answer is 'no, I'm sorry, we don't have that'.

Come Friday that will be a thing of the past as 12 or 13 of  COWBelles fun, feisty and friendly competitors huddle onto the community bus to Leichhardt and spill into the colourful ailes in a frenzy of possibilities and delight.
Though one must give thought to the wonderfully 'sage' Geoff, our community bus driver, who will load the bus with Glebe's 'giggling gerties' and embark heroically on the task of safe transport - actually a pleasure with someone so gracious and caring!

The last 2 sessions of COWBelles has seen some genuinely wonderful earrings, bangles and necklaces, as the slideshow at left gives testament, and the volume of work created in a session can be quite extraordinary!
The group has already seen it's first sales and an opportunity to show off it's talents at the recent fundraiser lunch hosted by Hopestreet.
The jewellery sparkled next to the sassy pink door-snakes and a chance to appreciate the commitment and imagination of the group was a welcome opportunity.

This week COWBelles will be shopping but watch out! for next fortnight's session when all the new jewels will surface as our wonderful ladies vent their creative energies!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

COW Belles progress 2

Hi,  again!
Another great COW Belles last Friday as our community COWs learnt a new skill. We focussed on making earrings this week using metal pins known as 'eye pins' and another type called 'head pins'. Eye pins have a loop at one end and head pins a flat end similar to sewing pins. Both make earring dangles so easy that some of our ladies where shown how to use them once and then were off in a flurry of new creations!!

Colour combinations were imaginative and the all metal earrings were very stylish. Small. black display cards showed off the earrings in a sophisticated  manner and all the ladies agreed that their work was becoming more professional with each session! Several opportunities exist for fundraising sales this year and the ladies are looking foreward to marketing their work and highlighting their new found skills to the community.

Another surprising, and delightful, conversation began with several ideas for making COW Belles a very long term project and finding extra finances when the City of Sydney grant expires. This is an example of the long term planning and drive Glebe's Concerned Older Women are known for when they have a unified vision for the group. Ideas danced around the group until Bec had to reign in the enthusiasm for the arrival of the representative  from the Older Persons Legal Network.

Funding exists for COW Belles into early 2011 and it will be good to hear all the COW Belles ideas for funding the activity beyond our grant dates. If the jewellery making to date is an indication of  COW's determination, ability and imagination then the future of COW Belles is well assured as a long and happy program in this wonderful community of Glebe women.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

COW Evolution!

Our news reporting may be out of date but our achievements are not!!  

Recently at a COW meeting Bekkie sat in sage 'Mona Lisa' repose while the ever sweet Sarah asked 'So what are some of the achievements of COW? What sorts of things has COW been passionate about in the area?'  A moment's silence as eyes searched others for answers.

'Um, there's the bus seats.' said one member, '...and the lighting,' came from another. 'There's the changing of the 370 bus route?', came passionately from the armchair,  '...and don't forget the shopping trolleys!' came insistently from another corner.  From there several over-riding discussions began at once as so often happens within this friendly melee!... and I, who am a COW ring in, realised that much has happened before I came to the group and much yet may happen that needs to be remembered as our membership changes in the future.

So, amoungst entries dealing with current issues will be found, from time to time, entries from past events while a completed picture of COW is built for future reading. Past achievements have not always been documented and the determination, passion and joie-de-vivre (ok, did I spell that right?)  that our concerned older women have should not be forgotten as events pass.

One achievement  refound is the article in the Glebe Community Newsletter announcing the success of the COW booklet for last year's Sesquicentenary celebrations. The COW booklet celebrated the lives of women in Glebe both well known and quiet achievers, who have stood out in the memories of their peers. Whether alive or passed, dedication to community is their most outstanding legacy.

The link below is active and will take you to a internet copy of the highly successful publication:

Also, the announcement of COW-Belles and the very popular Hearing Tests event show COW's own dedication to community!

 From Glebe Community Newsletter  March 2010:

“Concerned Older Women have been very busy over the last year with a number of events and projects.
One of the highlights of last year was the launch of a booklet that they had put together for the sesquicentenary, Stories of Glebe Women, Past and Present. This event was held last December and was the culmination of months of work from COW members collecting and writing stories and articles about local Glebe women. The event was a lovely celebration of the featured women and the work of the COW group in putting the booklet together.
Last November, COW also hosted a talk from Australian Hearing, a federal government agency specialising in hearing loss. Australian Hearing provided a trained representative to speak to people at the Old Fire Station about hearing loss and the options available for assistance. As part of this event, Australian Hearing also conducted free hearing tests for community members. The talk was very informative and the free hearing tests were well utilised.

Australian Hearing is based on York Street in Sydney, and can provide similar ‘talk and test’ events for other community groups. To speak with someone about hearing loss or to arrange a community talk, call 9269 3500.
This year, COW will be hosting students from Glebe Public School for lunch during Seniors Week, and also hope to begin a new project called COW Belles soon.”

I think as the group recalls all its achievements, COW will begin to appreciate its very own old-'girl power'!       Yay!!!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

COW Belles progress

Was a fantastic COW Belles on Friday 1 July 2010 for me, the ladies produced 2-3 items each and have obviously mastered the jewelley techniques I've shown them to date. I was excited to get there at 10.05am and find the ladies were well underway without me!!  I honestly love to see COW confidence growing so fast and to think this is only our 3rd session!!!

With the speed of learning in the group I have decided to teach some new things for our next get-together,  some work with wire and metal, I think. Will be good to add to the existing skills of our group so that those who like to learn a few more adventurous beading techniques have a chance to try them.

I am also really happy to see the co-operation and assistance of members helping each other in the group whenever someone gets stuck with a piece they're working on. Rather than calling me, ladies are willing and able to help someone next to them which to me is always the best aspect of good community!

Hope everyone is enjoying COW Belles and the company of our wonderful ladies, I am!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cow Belles

COW has been giving a voice to older women in Glebe for a few years now. The dynamics of the group have changed with the passing of time ... some of the original members have died; others have moved out of the area and a few have simply become too ill or incapacitated to attend.
COW is open to any older woman living in the Glebe area and as a group has always been aware of our sisters who are housebound through age and/or disability and the loneliness that situation can bring.
Irene Charnas has always been what i like to term a 'crafty' person!! Multi-talented in the areas of ceramics, painting, photography and beading she came up with an idea that was stunning in its simplicity. Collect the disabled and frail older women and bring them to a venue for a fortnightly activity-based morning tea. 
Throughout the ages women have gathered with sewing and knitting, put on the jug and quietly gone about solving the problems in their little corner of the globe. The idea was enthusiastically received by the COW group and it was quickly decided that beading was the way to go and we would pick the women up in a small community bus. Whilst I loved the concept I find beading as interesting as watching paint dry so it was deemed that I would be allowed to lurk in the background and generally help and encourage!
And so to the boring bits! Where would we get the money and the bus; what would we name the project and, more importantly, where would we find a driver?
Irene generously offered to write the grant to the Council (a mind-boggling and tedious chore) and the GCDP agreed to be the auspice. 
Council loved the idea; the bus was relatively easy to organise and a lot cheaper than we had hoped and the project name sort of fell into our laps ... but we still needed a driver with the time, inclination and necessary licence.
We were pondering this at a COW meeting when a quiet male voice said: "I have the licence and am willing to drive the bus". We all turned to smile at a wonderful man named Jeff who volunteers at the HaveAChat Coffee Shop on Fridays ... and Cow Belles was well on its way.
Flyers were printed and hand delivered and stuck in shop windows and a gratifying number of women turned up for the introductory session.
I was running a few minutes late for the first gathering of Cow Belles and as I raced in the door I was hit with a hum of activity. Four tables had been assembled with plastic containers of differently shaped and coloured beads and 14 women were busily engaged in beading and talking to each other.
There's a current saying ... "If we build it, they will come". Well COW built it and the women of Glebe responded.
It's early days yet ... we're only a couple of meetings in ... but the enthusiasm hasn't dwindled. I'm still determined to resist beading but after last week when Cathy made me some glorious earrings in an amazingly short space of time i found myself beginning to weaken ... and that could be another story!
More power to the COW group and Cow Belles. Long may they reign!

Marla Priest

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Memory of Laurie 
One of my strongest memories of Laurie is of her buzzing around the Old Fire Station on Thursdays and Fridays as part of her volunteer work in the Have a Chat Café. She would pop a tea towel over her shoulder (with a very camp tongue in cheek) and carry around trays of tea and coffee, cakes and biscuits to serve those who came to the café to catch up with friends and neighbours. 
Laurie was passionate about the Glebites with whom she built relationships and friendships, not just the ones who frequented the Old Fire Station, but also the ones who didn’t get out as much- the older women (“her ladies”) who Laurie used to check in on and make sure were ok as well as taking them a batch of bread each Friday morning almost without fail. Laurie in her service of others not only felt useful (which she most certainly was) but also found what she needed in the comfort and strength of local friendships.  
Despite constant chronic pain, Laurie was almost always the life of the party, always had a joke to share, always had an Elvis song in her heart and was always looking out for others and lending her ear to those who needed a chat. Laurie was also very passionate about the rights of women and the rights of the gay community. I always admired her for the way she spoke about these issues and shared about her past experiences, difficulties and activism. 
Laurie, you will be and already are sadly, sadly missed by all those who love you and had the pleasure of knowing you. I will always think of you whenever I hear or see Elvis paraphernalia, whenever I see the green and purple colours of women’s rights that you taught me about, and whenever I see a rainbow symbolising the resilience and diversity of the gay community. Rest in peace and comfort.  
Bec Reidy, Glebe CDP

The day dawns brisk and cool
Early dew dancing on green leaves
Morning sun peering timidly through clouds
Warming air, drying pavements
Humidity hangs like a cloak
Shrouding rooftops
Stifling sound
In the distance the markets begin to hum
Erecting stalls, displaying merchandise
Washing hung
Pathways swept
Yawning and breakfast noises
breaking the silence
Welcoming the weekend
Children play and fight
Dogs bark; birds sing
The pub calls to its early patrons
Letters spill out of the box
The house is silent save for the
gentle whirring of an ancient fan
She lies quietly atop the bed
Eyes closed, still and pale
A full ashtray and a note her sole companions
She lived; she loved;
She laughed; she cried
Pain now permanently erased
Her day is over
Never to return
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Marla Priest