22 Apr 2013

Love and Kindness

‘The best part of life is not just surviving,
 but thriving with passion and compassion
and humor and style and generosity and kindness.’

Maya Angelou

I cannot give enough thanks for the kindness and generosity shown to me by all who attended my book launch last Thursday (18th April 2013) – with a special heartfelt thanks to the wonderful ladies at The Victorian Women’s Trust – who have style and flair and know how to turn the dreams of women into a collaborative reality!

Mary Crooks, Executive Director of VWT, initially embraced the sentiments and genuinely loved the book design of my printed family heirloom when she first held a copy in her warm, supportive hands.

Having worked with Mary on a couple of projects since 2009, when I received her invitation, ‘let’s talk’, in response to an idea I had brought to her round table, she has always delighted me by supporting that venture with ‘let’s do it!’

On the day I brought in a copy of My Mother’s Harvest, hot off the press from the first run of books in early December 2012, she didn’t waste a moment in including Dur-e Dara OAM ( restauranteur and VWT Director)  into our conversation with an unexpected gesture to promote the book for Mother’s Day.

As I sat quietly at the table, looking from one woman to the other as if watching a game of table tennis, these two wonderful women astonished me by placing a large order of books as personal gifts for Christmas. An endorsement of my book in its humble beginnings could not have come any better than that.

The day before my book launch I spoke with Dur-e and was amazed by how much she had identified her own life with mine:  through the craft of storytelling, we understood each other as creative women supporting parallel journeys.

No frittatas, please, we’re Spanish

As I sipped champagne chatting to a mixture of book lovers and my fan club of close friends, the cosy room in the offices of the VWT in the heart of Melbourne swelled to a gathering of 40 people. Oblivious to the real preparations going on behind the scenes like any true princess, I too enjoyed the small triangular wedges of homemade Spanish Omelette adorning a red platter and other treats being offered to the guests.

Earlier in the day, I had cooked two Tortillas to celebrate the launch of my family ‘cookbook’ and then discovered that my father had also prepared an extra one for the occasion (in true competitive family spirit). He sent me an email that read:

‘Done! No human beings were intentionally harmed in the making of this Tortilla EspaƱola. It is fervently hoped that the same will apply to those who volunteer to eat small portions of it. But we offer no guarantees. Recipe by Piluca and Maribel, slightly modified by Brian, but no turmeric this time at the request of the whole family, who are gastronomic wimps.

1 hr 45 mins from Go to Whoa. Note: anyone who claims to produce one of these in 30- 40 minutes is either misguided or Gordon bloody Ramsey. That is a Frittata.’

A captive audience

Dur-e gave a heart-warming introduction about my family, the food that nurtured three generations and a glowing endorsement of the stories that made me feel even more acutely that the effort in producing this book had all been worth while.

Invited to say a few words...and after having thanked Bee Williamson, friend and book designer, my ‘helper elves’ (father, son and wholly Harry), I found myself telling my life story! Whoops – apologies to those who thought it was going to be an early night and my gratitude to those loyal ‘fans’ who were still smiling at the end of my unprepared speech (or maybe the smiles were born out of sheer relief that I had finished).

Well – not quite.

I invited my partner, Harry, to read an excerpt from the book, and he entertain the group with his theatrical interpretation of my parents’ wallpapering antics.

Did someone mention parents?

Perfect timing. My father, Brian, seemed to jet-propel himself clear of his seat to join me ‘on stage’ to deliver his final words of congratulations and stole the show. Fidgeting with a package of some sort, he grinned with great triumph, revealing THE surprise of the evening and said,

‘Maribel. This is your life. Enjoy!’

Astonished, amazed and quite floored, I opened the package he presented and unwrapped an album with family photos, letters and snippets from our past, as a tribute to ‘My daughter’s harvest’.

Thank you, dad – sneaky, but what a brilliant way to end such a perfect book launch.




Mum has the final words

In the glow of the following morning, as an autumn sunshine lit the pages of the photo album, a hand-written letter from my mother beckoned my attention. Pulling it from one of the clear pockets of the album, I unfolded it carefully and began to scan her letter, dated a fortnight before she passed away in 1978.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I slowly read my mother’s loving words, the moisture clogging up the magnifying glass, feeling caught in a surreal moment of time. Here I was, thirty-five years later, receiving my mother’s glowing praise as she mustered the last of her strength to write to her seventeen year old daughter, 12,000 miles away from home. I had sent her a bouquet of bright Interflora flowers and so she put pen to paper upon this treasured airmail letter.

The final three words that my mother ever wrote to me danced on the page before my eyes. Alive and full of inspiration, they are now part of the working title for my next collection of writings... ‘millions of kisses’.

‘How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment.

We can start now, start slowly, changing the world.

How lovely that everyone, great and small,

can make a contribution toward introducing justice straightaway.

And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness.’
Anne Frank (1929-1945)

for further interest check out these clips we did with VWT

Love and Justice - a women's anthem by Kavisha


Tarka – Precious Music, Precious Water


Bee Williamson  - Book and Web Designer


 © 2013  Maribel Steel

1 comment:

Lyndel Caffrey said...

What a beautiful post Maribel. So sorry I missedy our launch.