Online Writing Group

Soul Food's material comes from a rich well. Patrons participate by responding to regular prompts that are on the home page and by posting responses on forums within the cafe.

During September, group member, Jenny Aarts wrote about a Picnic on Capri.

We plan to leave the piazza far's crammed full of British tourists, still pouring into the fabled Isle of Capri in bucket-loads. Unlike us, they're willing to pay inflated prices for the chance to sit at a proper table and rest their weary legs. To sit with their faces turned like pale sunflowers towards the sun, the blessed, searing sun, which they see precious little of in their home country. It's well into October, but Summer hasn't ended by any means. It's still blazing hot.

'Ooh, I'd looove to live 'ere...' says a woman, in a broad northern dialect. 'Would y'e?' says her husband. A look of alarm crosses his features. 'Ye wouldn't...would y'e Nora? Ah mean...t's all raht fer a while, ...but ah wouln' want t' live 'ere, Loove.'' This last bit said with a hint of masculine firmness.

She smiles and doesn't bother replying, just settles back in her chair and closes her eyes. The woman is obviously in a state of bliss. I can almost hear her thoughts... ...Yorkshire will be freezing by's probably rainin' and all at 'ome ...just's me, Nora Babcock... in Capri...and don't that have a looverly ring to it and all?... Cap..r..i..ii... ooh, if tha's not romantic ah don't know what's paradise, 'tis and all...and such pretty colours, everywhere you look...and birds singing their little hearts out up there in the trees...and flowers almost dancin' they're so 'appy... It's because it's so warm 'ere! Well I never....I never in my wildest dreams thought ah'd ever coom 'ere, but I 'ave so there...and its bloomin' looovely...And those Italian waiters...ooh, they're ever so handsome.

Her housewifely eye notes and approves of the crisp, snowy clean and white against all that olive skin and wavy dark hair. Those Italian wives and mothers must be good housekeepers too, just like the Yorkshire women... She can't help but notice the black trousers stretched tight over their pert butts...must've run short on material... but they look ever so sexy when they sidle past her and she feels the heat coming off them in waves...and when one smiles all lopsided and sideways at her with a certain gleam in his eye, as if he fancied her legs something terrible..

...As if 'e would, and me a woman my age....oooh, Nora Babcock! Stop it, you wicked girl... .

She blushes a little, smiles dreamy-like with half-closed eyes, and her husband says... 'Ye were jo-okin' weren't ye, Loove?' He chuckles. 'About livin' 'ere? Yer always did lahk a bit o' a joke, didn't ye Pet? Ye had me worried fer a moment there...'

A scent of garlic close by brings her to her senses. She sits up straight and alert, eyes the steaming plate on which rests a whole fish, it's cloudy eye regarding her mournfully. She shudders and places a bit of lettuce over it. A pile of quartered potatoes rests elegantly against a tumble of salad greens and sliced tomatoes, gleaming with olive oil. Atop the potatoes rests a single fried egg, which quivers slightly in the centre.. 'Eeh!' says hubby, as a similar plate is set down in front of him. 'It don't look much like fish with egg'n'chip on t'side ter me, Loove.' 'Ooh,' she says, 'Ah can't eat it Joe. I joost cahn't...not with no batter...'

We hurry away, in fits of laughter, pausing just outside the square only to buy soft panini rolls filled with ham and cheese, a bag of orange-scented clementines...some bottled spring water and a tiny bottle of limoncello from an old man's stall. 'Which way?' 'That way...' We walk up hundreds of stairs, past gracious villas with tiered gardens and pottery urns overflowing with flowers. Past palms and olive groves, along a path that twists and turns and takes us up and up. We spot a mysterious sign, a handwritten sign in shaky writing on a piece of wood, so small you can hardly notice it. Natural Arc, it says, with an arrow pointing upwards, like a direction to Heaven. Sounds all right...let's go...

A good half hour later we make the final ascent and find ourselves at the end of a bluff. And there in front of us a natural arch of rock, framing the inky sea. As well, there's an intensely blue grotto below, which means more running down and up the stairs again. But it's the perfect place for a picnic, and only a few other people to share it with...the ones who have stayed the distance with us...kindred spirits. From here, the throngs of tourists seem far away...they can have their other Blue Grotto...this one'll do us.

'Gee, I could live here...' I sigh, as we tuck into the panini. Cas chokes and hurriedly cracks open the limoncello. 'No you couldn't,' he says, and hands the bottle to me. The fiery, sweet lemon blazes a trail down my throat. Ah...he's laughing at me...I say that about every stunning place we come across...he knows darned well I'd miss home too much to leave it forever...

while Debra Fox wrote about 'Place'

Elbow Curve
Ear Lobe
Belly Button
Inner Thigh
'The Place'

Check out more response to the September writing tasks.

Vivienne Bibby
Lois Daley
Fran Sbrocchi
Audrey Larkin
Stephanie Hansen
Jenny Aarts

Modern Ruins

Edwina Peterson Cross

Teresa Seed
Audrey Larkin
Vivienne Bibby

Jenny Aarts
Audrey Larkin
Vivienne Bibby
Lois Daley
Edwina Peterson Cross

This Dutch Delft calendar tile is one of a set that depicts seasonal pursuits. Other titles include, December - Collecting Firewood; October - Pressing the Wine; August - Harvesting the fields. Write about Seasonal Pursuits. See Trendle Ellwood's Boiling Sap to massage your imagination.

Seasonal Activity
Vivienne Bibby
Lois Daley
Autumn is Coming

The Ultimate Lunch Order

News has just spread throughout the land that a magic genie has taken up residence in the canteen. Students who fill out lunch orders can have everlasting supplies of their favourite food. There are no limits! The genie will grant all wishes and permit boys and girls to take food home for Mum, Dad, the dog, brothers and sisters.

Quick! fill out your order now! Here is a sample order from Reservoir East Primary School.





October - November 2003

Renewal and Reinvention

The Soul Food Cafe is propelled by a myth. The Princess and the Muse became the myth Heather Blakey lived by and The Soul Food Cafe is the place she retreats to in order to be with her Muse. Within the safety of The Soul Food Cafe Heather Blakey has renewed her creativity, reinvented and named herself. These days she wears her creativity on her sleeve!

The Princess in The Princess and the Muse experiences a depression which is familiar to many artists. Artists and writers who are made to feel worthless because they do not earn enough money, whom are forced to relinquish their creativity or create in stolen time, suffer similarly.

Mental darkness of the kind the Princess experiences creeps upon individuals gradually and unobtrusively. Many would be artists have been subject to a slow process of pasteurisation and calcification with rationalists systematically purifying the irrational, the primitive and the unwanted raw emotions.

The good news is that individuals who work within the Soul Food community come to understand that the creative flame is eternal and learn that when they engage in a cycle of renewal they are able to reinvent themselves and discover new aspects of their creativity.

Shaun O'Boyle describes himself as a late bloomer. "I'll be frank," writes O'Boyle, "I did not excel in high school. I wasn't even a little bit interested in furthering my education when I was in high school. I remember careers class, we all had to give a speech on what we wanted to do for a career. I picked bus driver. Bus driver. Not that there is anything wrong with being a bus driver, but it just isn't your typical dream career path. So you can see that I wasn't exactly motivated toward the higher education path."

After taking a job in a shipyard, working in the bowels of ships, risking life and limb on a daily basis Shaun knew that to get ahead he needed to get in gear and get himself a better education or face the fact that he would most probably be doing that kind of work for the rest of his life. Perhaps more importantly, working at Avondale sparked his interest in large industrial operations and big machinery an interests that endures.

Photograph courtesy Shaun O'Boyle

Meet Shuan O'Boyle, a talented photographer who has romanced the ruins and compliled an amazing collection of evocative images that capture the poignancy of modern ruins.

Check out O'Boyle's Industrial ruins photography, photography which shows how he was caught by the beauty of those massive ships out of water.

Shaun says that he "would occasionally sneak his instamatic camera into work and grab a few snaps when the light was just right at sunset."

It's safe to say that the beginning of Shaun's interest in industrial photography lies within the Avondale shipyard, proving that art can have the most amazing origins.

When Edwina Peterson Cross first introduced herself here at Soul Food she described herself a poet, a mother, a dancer, a dryad, a mountain spirit and a disciple and cohort of the Muse; dwelling in the enchanted green hills of Southern Oregon. She told us that she has a spirit that has danced on a constant quest to come to terms with a body in chronic pain. Winnie revealed that she is a published writer, poet and the poetry editor for Welcome Home magazine. She is a self professed " lover of words and books; of laughter, language and learning; of fantasy, mystery, magic, and myth."

And now?

Edwina Peterson Cross remains a poet, a mother, a dancer, a dryad, a mountain spirt and a disciple and cohort of the Muse. What is interesting is that she has become a painter.

To bear witness to the transformation that has taken place make sure you view two of her galleries here at Soul Food. Discover Edwina Peterson Cross, wacom artist and creator of surrealist artwork.

Apart from Edwina you can meet and read about inspired individuals who, like Clarke Kent, have put on new garments and presented themselves differently.

Blanche d'Arbeloff, born April 17, 1904, died August 19, 2001. Blanche began painting at the age of 94, when people might be excused for staring trancelike at flickering images on their TV sets. In the last three years of her life she produced an extraordinary body of work bursting with vitality, spontaneity and originality.

Her first exhibition was held in May 2000 at the Mary Ward Adult Education Centre in London where she enrolled for painting classes after her husband died in 1996, aged 101. She and Alexander had been together for nearly 80 years.

Stephanie Hansen expressed interest in writing when she joined the cafe almost four years ago and you will find plenty of her beautifully crafted pieces here on the site and at her blogger, For Crying Out Loud. But make sure to take a look at Stephanie's mirrors, bowls, papier mache mobiles and acrylic on wood at her studio, Worth Works.

It has been a pleasure to observe the transformation in Hansen's creativity and to see her name herself artist.

Sacred Soul courtesy of Stephanie Hansen, Worth Works

Who will you become? What direction will Soul Food take you? How will your creativity evolve? What will your true voice sound like? What garments will fit most comfortably?

If you work regularly, within the safety of the life affirming Soul Food community, try on costumes and experiment you can be sure that new artistic talent will emerge and be revealed. You can also be assured that when they do appear there will be many hands clapping.

Featured Writing Exercises


In the world of symbols, the anchor represents hope, confidence and salvation. As the anchor secures the position of the ship in the harbor and holds it steady during storms on the open seas, so it anchors the soul in a serene harbor not found in this life. Because the anchor is secured to a firm base, it provides hope. Explore the symbolism of anchorage and harbours.

Romancing the Ruins

Photograph courtesy Shaun O'Boyle

"Ruins capture the imagination with their ability to tell stories about the past. There are memories within the crumbling walls of these ruins that speak with a potent language. Abandoned architectural spaces and discarded objects recall moments when former occupants walked these halls and occupied these rooms. The aging surfaces bear the etched marks of a bygone time, scrawled upon the walls are the personal memories of the buildings, memories from a past that pulse from the walls."

Spend quiet time exploring the ruins as depicted by talented photographer, Shaun O'Boyle. On the wings of imagination visit the deserted and abandoned parts.

Romance some ruins. Let your senses be your guide and write about moments gone. For more ideas make sure to visit Shaun's links.

Personality of a Door

Have you ever stopped to think about comparing your personality with that of a front-door?

Front doors come in an endless variety of materials, shapes and sizes. They include the dignified Cathedral door, the pretentious bank door, the revolving door, the forbidden door and the humble tent-fly. Front doors often acquire a character reflecting that of their owners. There is the furtive door, opened a cautious six inches; the sagging dispirited door with its air of defeat; the blatant door, quivering on its hinges to a blast of sound from the radio, the blank, tightly closed door; and the friendly open door, through which is transmitted pleasant, homely sights, sounds and smell - a snatch of song, or buzz of conversation - a glimpse of bright flowers in a sunny window, or the fragrance of a batch of scones, fresh from the oven.

Doors have a lore all of their own and have attracted the attention of artists, writers and photographers like Jim Nilsen whose image you see here.

Use the metaphor of doorways in your writing.