Paper Cat Tales

Chasing My Tale

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How to say goodbye to a house that’s become home

I’m interested in rituals for everyday life… rituals for letting go, acknowledging, celebrating and grieving…

Yesterday morning I said goodbye to the house I lived in from late primary school until I finished high school. Since then it has been my Mum’s house and my family ‘home’. I went into each room and stood for a few minutes in each space. I just stood, not trying to remember anything, just choosing to be right there in that moment and soaking in the sense of place. Outside in the back yard I faced the house and spent a few minutes doing a simple body prayer.

On my flight back to Melbourne I had a song (Katie Noonan / Elixir’s cover of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) stuck in my head. I was feeling really grateful for my family and that I even have a home to say goodbye to and so for a bit of fun I wrote some memories of my old home in the form of lyrics to the tune of the chorus…

Goodbye Terrace my home
Where the Mums and the Kellys did roam
Your roof top fire’s gone out now
Pool tennis balls have been thrown
Back from dinner it’s card game time
Coffee’s brewed on the stove
The walls still don’t quite reach the ceiling
But we love you so Cadell clo-o-ose Oooo OOo OOO ooo oo.

Later in the day I mentioned my in-flight activity to a friend who thought I said I had composed lyrics to the tune of Follow the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard of Oz! It certainly does add something singing it with a munchkin-land voice… very silly! Not quite what I had in mind but it works. Haha!

The lyrics contain a few in-jokes… Kelly was the name of our dog who died a few years ago, fire on the roof refers to the time my brother and his friends in all their teenage wisdom decided it would be a good idea to to light a fire in a small metal bin while mucking around on the roof. They didn’t manage to set the house alight but they did freak out our next door neighbours. It’s feels good to remember random stuff like that.

In the afternoon yesterday I was hit with another wave of sadness about the fact that I would not be returning to a place that’s been part of my family for 17 years…

My new friend and colleague, Melbourne-based arts educator / storyteller, Julie Perrin recommended an activity that she said can be helpful for processing and saying goodbye to a home. I haven’t tried it yet but the idea is to draw a picture of the floor plan of your house, add in furniture, outdoor spaces, colours, and if you want to, draw or write in memories of things that have taken place in different parts of the house.

I love this idea and am fascinated by simple rituals like this that allow us to acknowledge and reflect on significant changes or milestones as they unfold. 

Have you or has someone you know found a simple way to acknowledge, process, celebrate or mourn an event or milestone?

If so, I’d love to hear about it. Share it in the comments on this post or if you’d prefer you could email me at papiercat[at] (yes there is a letter i in that email address).

I’m working with Julie Perrin on a Retreat Day in Clifton Hill called Springtime Story Basking this weekend. There are some tickets still available, so if you’re in Melbourne and you’re needing some space to write or draw or just be, join us at the Athol Gill Centre, 100 Hodgkinson st, Clifton Hill, 11am - 4pm this Saturday. Bookings here

If you’re interested in the idea of home and/or ritual you might also like to have a look at this poem Some Say Home by Cheryl Lawrie and check out her site hold this space- an exploration of alternative worship, public sacred spaces, ritual, justice and spirituality in Melbourne, Australia.

Filed under home house goodbye ritual spirituality story storytelling events

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The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids… Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them… the adult female sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behaviour seems not to deter males from reproduction.
- National Geographic

The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids… Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them… the adult female sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behaviour seems not to deter males from reproduction.

- National Geographic

Filed under praying mantis praying mantis insect noticing walking home mantid

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Kuru Alala + Adelaide - part 2 

This week is National Reconciliation Week. In Adelaide I stumbled across the ‘KURU ALALA - Eyes Open' exhibition by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers in collaboration with two visual artists who are immigrants to Australia; Columbian-born, Maria Fernanda Cardoso (link to website) and New Zealand born, Alison Clouston (link to vimeo). This was definitely one of the jaw dropping moments of my Adelaide experience. 

The sculptures in this exhibition made me laugh but I also found myself wanting to sing, cry and take a nap all at once… a breath-taking collection of artworks made in response to a series of bush trips and artists’ camps held in the Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara lands of Central Australia.

I don’t have permission to post pictures of the artworks but follow the links and you’ll see… if you have your Eyes Open that is!

It occurs to me that one of the reasons I had such a strong response to this collaborative exhibition is because it mirrors a little of my story…

In 2006 I spent a few weeks being hosted by the Congress mob in in Port Augusta in Adnyamathanha country. I was with two other whitefellas including my Taiwanese-Australian friend, who was practically adopted by some of the local elders they got on so well. 

I grew up in Wellington, Australia, near Dubbo in western New South Wales, where my Dad was an engineer and my Mum was a teacher at a local Aboriginal Primary School. My time in Port Augusta in 2006 was, in a kinesthetic sense, a reconnection to my childhood home. Something about the Adnyamathanha ways felt in my body like how I’d grown up in Wellington, NSW.

Me and my Mum - 2011 in Melbourne.

Even though I’m white as white (Anglo: German, English, with a bit of Welsh - and probably a few other places - heritage), something connected that I still can’t quite explain. When I returned from Port Augusta to my home in Sydney I could speak of my friend’s experiences but couldn’t speak much of my own experiences for many months. I may have been in ‘reverse culture shock’… I’m not entirely sure how that works, but it was clear I was grieving. 

It seemed extreme to me, as the girl who hates computers, but chose Computer Studies over Aboriginal Studies in High School when they were the only two elective subjects that weren’t full. How could I have suddenly become a champion of Aboriginal rights?

Relationships; living together; learning from each other, that’s how.

The ‘KURU ALALA - Eyes Open’ exhibition is on at the Jam Factory in Adelaide until June 7, 2012. For more information about National Reconciliation Week see the Reconciliation Australia website -

Filed under Reconciliation Art Travel Home Connection Family australia

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Open House

My Mum’s house is on the market. She’s down-sizing from a four bedroom place in Raymond Terrace to something smaller, hopefully with plenty of garden, in Newcastle.

Last week we needed photos for the Dowling website so I became a freelance real estate photographer! I was reasonably happy with the results so I thought I’d post them here. The exterior view (above) was taken by the agent. The interior shots are mine, apart from one gorgeous image of the view out the kitchen window (directly below) which taken by my cousin, a talented photographer studying Design at the University of Technology in Sydney.

It’s an unusual but beautiful house built in the 70s. I know it’s hard to define architectural styles but I think it might be classified as Organic Architecture because it was designed and built specifically for this site and seems to have been designed to reflect its environment and with consideration for the seasons of the year.

The lounge room:

The kitchen:

The view from the dining room to the front room:

The back deck:

Filed under house design architecture photography real estate home

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