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