Geoff on wed 5 jun 02
Mother's domain is "her" showroom at my factory. Not only does her
much-loved vocation occupy the days of this still amazingly astute 82 year
old, but my (her) clients EXPECT her to be there year after year to find for
them the pot (or collection of pots) they didn't know they "just had to
have". Proverbially, she could not only sell ice to Eskimos, but have them
coming back for yet more of these bargains! I securely bolt stuff down as
the phrase, "Mother . it's NOT for sale" is unintelligible to her.
Add another character, Chieu, who not only shares a house with me, but also
runs my shop, "Earthworks", in Surfers Paradise, Australia's premier tourist
destination. Chieu is from Vietnam of Chinese parentage, has lived in
Australia for 22 years, and runs my shop superbly, and also contributing
extremely beautiful, popular and artistic animal sculptures and other
decorative items to an already vast array of clay items for sale. Dedication
is his life, with a respect and love for My Mother and all older folk innate
in him. Both Taureans, they tend to gang up on me, actually, with a
relationship nearing that intrinsic but so mysterious between grandparents
Twice a week, on his days off, Chieu visits the Pottery to choose stock and
drop off his stunning hand-modelled sculptures (made, incredibly, on the
back counter in the shop when times are quiet!) to complete their drying and
be fired and glazed by Bill, my Brother. After selecting his stock from the
shelves and often from a still-warm kiln, Chieu and Mother pack and
transport it to his small car. Mother is notorious for not returning
ANYTHING to its original location, but is particularly derided for "hiding"
tape guns, an essential implement when packing.
Monday, a particularly and unusually frantic day, Chieu arrived as usual
about 11.00 am, unloaded his still leather-hard lizards, clocks and other
wall features before proceeding, as usual with Mother, to choose and pack
stock. He selecting: Mother packing as they secretly (I KNOW) plotted
against me - ". I know . he drinks too much, and has a secret smoke too! His
skin is so dry . he does too much things for other people . he never get
paid . he give away too much things . etc. ." Nods and knowing winks . you
know . the secret and knowing signs of confirmation . Mothers know! . and as
for "Chinese secrets" .! Paranoid? Nah! Know the plot?
An invasion of some of Mother's "favourite customers" enlivened her
immediately, with interest in Chieu dropping instantly to zero. Her clients
come first, you know - something with which Chieu would wholeheartedly
agree! An air of frivolity, good-natured ribbing and reminiscing overwhelmed
the pottery for some long minutes until Chieu, frustrated by not being able
to locate the tape gun called frustrateldly, and perhaps a little too
loudly, "Reecey, have you got my gun?"
Instantaneously Mother's clients performed the "I'm a turtle" routine,
focussing directly on this unfamiliar Asian and retracting their heads below
their shoulders. Silence befell the entire factory space like that
immediately following a clap of violent thunder. Guilt forced Mother's mouth
agape as she simultaneously attempted to rationalise the sudden frozen
stances of her beloved customers.
Like gentle snow, comprehension of the situation fell first upon Mother and
slowly, her clients as smiles, followed by giggles, replaced wide eyes and
open mouths on pallid visages.
Sales were better than expected once Mother treated everyone to a cup of tea
and a scone, but I found it less than routine to return to my little office
and ponder progress in clay related matters, I have to say.
Leslie Ihde on wed 5 jun 02
A lovely and delightful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing. ( a
great short story in progress, I would say.)
Jeanie on sun 9 jun 02
I loved your story of your Mother. shop assistant and 'gun'... you made
your world come vividly to life. Thanks.
Jeanie in Pa.