we are spelling up the world we live in

 

the first mark on the page is the hardest

finding the place to begin at,

the thing to say that will grab and lead you on a journey of discovery.

I get moments when there is quiet and I take the plunge

but sometimes nothing comes to mind ,

nothing emerges

and yet ,

out of nothing something will always arise.

 

we are in pruning mode.

John and the chainsaw have cut sliced and swathed open the dark places around the house

bringing in more light.

it is dreadful to discover the weeds that have escaped and are making a name for themselves,

planted oh so long ago in ignorance.

it is  painful to observe the wake of our actions

those blind blunders and arrogant moves

and to take responsibility for them.

 

on the plus plus side is the arrival in the last few years of the rainforest opportunists,

the scentless rosewood , the bush hemp, the pittosporum revolatum and its cousins, kangaroo apple,

lillipilli and others yet to be identified.

a whole new range of trees have sprung up into our awareness carving out their territory

along with a stupendous growth of vines .

Bec ordered an identification book and is teaching me how to use it,

all about keys

and like anything, with the right key the doorway opens.

 

back in the time that Bec was hanging around with Scottie they planted a heap of rainforest trees

in the  gully below the big dam.

at that time we were still within a dry period and although I had a go at watering

I couldn’t keep it up and  most of them expired.

but you see,

they said they were planting a rainforest,

the idea

they  followed  the talk with practical hands on application

making real the intent,

and now  rainforest trees are appearing,

groves of them.

 

the world really is a magical place ,

and we are magical beings in concert with it.

 

never doubt it

you are living the life you dream of

but if you don’t like it

take a good look and listen to your spells,

because every day in every moment we are spelling up the world we live in.

 

in 30 years this forest has  changed from  dry sclerophyll to a wet sclerophyll forest.

that spell is alright with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two dads two daughters two bmws

 
 
a sunny day 
yesterday
a warm day where the tank got emptied and cleaned out in expectation of coming rain.
John picked up the chain saw and cut up the  wattles near the shed,
the noise upset the little fella so we went ambling, 
mum and dad had discreetly disappeared to spanish classes with Ana in cobargo.
 
we found quartz crystal rocks on the road 
he loves them and I wanted some for a brew I am making.
I have a big old style cauldron on the stove this morning full of casuarina needles,
they are steeped in hot water, simmered and  left to cool. 
a few quartz rocks are added ,then we leave it to meld until spring
at which time it has become a liquid fertiliser.
we can then spray it  on the garden and apparently  it brings in the light.
something to do with silica and /or magic .
 
after lunch featuring quinoa in the salad
we leathered up for a trip to the bike shop at bodalla .
John had already booked dad in for the ride and I was offered to be Becs first BMW passenger.
I came highly reccommended as a very good pillion rider,
and bec wanted the experience. 
so I did 
we did .
 
two dads two daughters 
two bmws,
a dad and daughter thing. 
me and dad sitting up like jacky on the back of the bikes 
on the most picture postcard south coast day .
 
the mountain standing out in sharp relief  hugged by blue sky
and  emerald green fields.
the ocean stretching off the land deep blue with a faint brown smudge of burn off on the horizon
thanks to our idiot forestry and their hazard reduction genocide program.
each lake  a shimmering crystal mirror
and pockets of   spotty gums  in full riotous blossom.
 
 
while the mechanic was involved with stripped screws and helicoils ????
Bec and I  climbed the fence into next door and gleaned the ripe tomatoes off the vine.
no one living there like so many houses we passed in the main street of bodalla. 
 
it is an amazing feeling  to hurtle along on the back of a bike 
for any number of reasons.
not just the lack of control
and the absolute trust you need in that person, 
but the exposure 
nothing around you but your clothing
nothing between you and the air slicing and pounding.
having to hold on
to lean this way or that
to not fidget
or want to scratch somewhere you cant get to.
 
a great meditation
a risk  
an adventure.
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 

..I’m a lucky bitch…

I had a birthday yesterday

55,

dad shares the day with me

and clocked in at 85.

we havent had many adult birthdays together

so this one was special.

the kitchen was a hive of activity

stanley boiling baking heating simmering,

whites whipped and beaten to stiffness.

bec the chef of hors d’oeuvre

or as she calls them horse duvvies

turning out platter after platter

of smoked trout, goats cheese, olives ,prawns ,capers and finger lime combos

oily grilled eggplant and red capsicum ,

tipples of chilled white wine and fat yaks ,

presents opened and examined

hugs exchanged.

there was meatballs ,pasta

and oyster bay sparkling wine.

there was quince and ricotta  cheesecake ,

glenda chief bottlewasher and helper outer

got behing a hazelnut sponge cake with a fejoa cream filling.

john did his french cookbook thing that involves the old black marble top to his dressing table being cleaned up and brought in for serious  chocolate scrolling.

 

photos were taken

don’t ask me,

I havent mistressed the addition of pics to this blog yet.

 

elsie held court on the pull out couch in the lounge room under piles of fluffy warmth

she was sick ,full of winter aches and chills.

Kingston spent a lot of the day in bed with her

reading books ,eating saos  and playing

nothing could have made else feel better than a solid nephew love in.

 

John was hands on most of the day in the kitchen

in his loving food way.

jess said to him  did you hear the phone ringing bonny?

and he said yes but I was stirring.

that is a man with a focus ,said jess, to let the phone ring out.

 

dad had the bestest time

swapping cheek with rob who never flinches

while telling a joke,

the master of deadpan .

 

I walked wallaby tracks

meandering and honouring this forest that enfolds me

that hears all my dreams and prayers

my griefs and joys

offering me strength and comfort

offering me reflection and growth

offering….

me.

 

the laughter of  this mob followed me

until I returned to the sunny afternoon spot beneath the elder angophora

soaking them up a while

before another wander

in another direction

for another story to be sung.

 

thanks john thanks bec thanks jess thanks greg who said great party sans,  thanks elsie and the  bright eyed boy

thanks glen and rob

thanks rosemary for popping in and having a cuppa

thanks dad for being here

thanks forest and water and air and earth

thanks for  music and dance

thanks for breath and expression

thanks for art and heart and fire and food.

 

what can I say ?

or perhaps leave it to dad who tells me that when I was very very little girl I used to walk around chanting,

“I’m a lucky bitch …I’m a lucky bitch…”

and so I am.

we grow used to our prison

 

 

the travellers have arrived home

full of stories and red dust from the centre

the grandeur of bluffs and canyons

the big black eagles sharing  roadkill with the crows

 cold nights  hot days 

and the hideous  racism of Alice Springs.

 

another world away from this wet forest,

the four walls now enclose these hardened biker campers

the beds soft and comfortable.

 

we grow used to our prison

to our level of comfort 

to our ordered universe

to surety and pots of tea on the verandah

with cake and Kingston antics.

 

I see the stars when I venture forth for a wee

I spy the tawny frogmouth perched on a dead wattle branch 

when I walk further

to feel the forest nightness.

 

then I come back to  the fire dancing in our hearth

 the murmur of spanish lessons on the couch

 the soft strings of a guitar plucked

a snore from another chair

a rustle of bush rat running off with the soap again.

 

I pick up the crochet hook and choose another ball of wool

weaving a memory blanket  

to warm a bed or a person .

 

 

I came from a world of inside 

shielded by my culture from the elements

innured to the hard ground 

and the vastness of space.

 

when we camp we are reminded 

of our place within the hugeness

 feeling the rocks under our bedroll

smelling the ants crushed underneath

the dust and grit in our eyes

and if we are so fortunate

an opening of awareness 

lends a heightened clarity to all our senses.

 

but then we come home 

to our hearth

and enjoy the hugs 

the bed the cake.

 

 

 

 

she was 16 and wanted her fella to come and stay in the weekends

 
 
the swamp wallaby was dagging around  off the edge of the verandah
just outside the paper mache room,
I stopped in my tracks ,
even after 20 odd years I love to stop and observe. 
it was eating the yellowed peach leaves lying on the ground
and didn’t mind us having a gork.
Kingston was brought onto the verandah in Gregs arms
immediately raising  his voice and flapping an arm in excitement
then very softly he says hellooo…
wallaby munched on mostly  unperturbed,  the ear swivelling to keep track of us.
 
The paper mache room  was a fun project 
begun one day after discussions around 
the conformity of building.
an idea to explore something other took shape.
we started with tomato stakes, 
maybe the tomato season was over or we were growing them stakeless that year.
we tied stakes together with tie wire
creating a frame on which we could hang cardboard. 
 
 
we chose the south-western corner of the verandah 
and yes it meant that the verandah would no longer be accessible all the way around.
mmm probably debated that one  a good long while.
for the children the verandah was one of the play spaces,
rolling skating, learning to write two-wheeler bikes,
market stalls when they wanted money and we had to buy
 and of course the scene for their theatre productions.
 
forging ahead we  attached cardboard with one of my most favourite tools
the  staple gun.
so easy with so many applications.
no gal should be without one.
 
 
after attaching the cardboard
we applied layers of paper, magazine, newsprint using a cornflour glue
with a bit of tansy thrown in  to ward off silverfish and their elk.
shelves were shaped  all the way around the room
 leaving spaces for windows and  odd bits of funky coloured glass.
 
 a paper mache door was custom made to fit.
not a problem because  
at that time we were really into paper mache
making bowls and trays 
 and coffee tables
and giant flowers 15 foot high.
 
 
 it was easy to mould  a room
anyone could help, and they did
taking  shape over many years.
well actually, if truth be told 
it is still in  the ongoing project basket
nothing is ever really finished here,
not quite, 
like life continuing 
until, it doesn’t.
but then I reckon it still does,
just in another format.
 
 
as a protective measure we decided to overlay 
 hessian on the outside which we then  painted with a  slurry of concrete 
to give that ferrous cement look.
 
inside it was painted a sunshine yellow
and furnished very simply with a bed.
a season or two ago  I found a python skin under there
but I never told future occupants 
because some people would not respond well.
 
the room became Zoes when the boyfriend came on the scene
and it just wasnt cool to have him sleep in the girls room.
she was 16 and wanted her fella to come and stay in the weekends.
what do you do?
you make a space for them ,
make them welcome and support their exploration into adulthood.
I had always said to them that when they were ready for boy germs they could bring them home
and put them in their beds
and so they did.
no backseat  of the cars for you  I said,
no hiding or lying no shame no guilt.
let us treat this stage of development as normal as cutting teeth
and so we did.
 
 
 
 
 

‘I see the world with rosy coloured glasses’

 
people walk into our lounge room and assume  the floor is stone
it isn’t.
it is mud, 
earth.
it is clay and water mixed together  just like those ploppy mud pies we loved to make as kids.
wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of the slush was wheeled in and dumped .
months went by and the floor dried leaving cracks running higgedly and piggedly in all directions
which a more liquid mud filled in.
that is not the only way to do it you know. 
John’s   friends came down from Newcastle to lend a hand and see what had drawn their mate away from their world.
they  thought he was mad but loved him anyway and got in  with backs and shovels
making a “mud !!!  you have got to be kidding floor”.
 
 
 some rounds of tree were sunk in at  one end of the lounge room 
just because you can when you work with mud 
like bottles in your wall perhaps.
 it was finished with a mix of turps , linseed oil and beeswax
which preserves it and gives it a shine that  brings out the varying colours of the earth.
golden wax has filled in some of the frets over the years.
there is something deeply primal and sensual about our floors.
 
 
the house  is known as a passive design system 
using the elements  
working it all together
to provide cool in summer and  warm in winter.
it made sense 
it still makes sense.
and besides that,
it is rugged 
bending to the diverse wishes of  all of us.
 
the real estate guy came out a few years ago for a valuation involving one of many tussles
with exs and partners who wanted blood.
he called it  a rustic cottage, 
at the time I was offended
it is so not a cottage, I spluttered 
it’s a castle,
a grand affair of earth and stained glass 
of verandahs opening into each of the directions
blurring  the lines between inside and outside.
 
some people obviously don’t see what I  see 
some see the webs, the dust, the fret of mud and scat of lizard .
some see the absence of laminated surfaces and cupboard doors.
I see an evolving situation,
a  magnificent space fully alive and breathing 
a place of play and nurturing.
 
but then John has always said that I see the world with rosy coloured glasses.
 
 
 
 

Last night I killed a fox

 
 
its true
I did.
 
do I share this in a vain attempt at salvation?
like confession  to the priest.
maybe,
maybe I want you to know so that I can discharge some of  this grief  and guilt I feel.
there are some people who believe
that killing a fox is a good thing , 
that it is  one less piece of vermin around,
one less chook eater 
one less interloper on our landscape.
 
I am not one of those,
I love them.
I love their capacity to  survive in a land  that vilifies them
 I admire their adaptation to hostility and poison.
I am love  to see them racing across the grassy paddocks 
a wild freedom thumbing its nose at its predators.
 
 
I am not entirely clear why the fox is so hated
why it is vermin and the dog is our most loyal companion?
I have always loved them all way back to the brer fox and brer rabbit stories of my childhood.
 
 when I first came here and  lived in the shack  
sometimes while standing at the kitchen sink I would see a fox on the other side of the creek
coming out of a den in the bank sniffing around
and if I so much as clinked the dishes  the head would come up and look directly thru the trees at me.
after a time I learnt to recognise their scats and follow their trails thru the bush
the smell of them that they leave behind is now known to me.
 
Once I  carefully followed a fox with a rabbit in its mouth 
thinking I was being very discrete
at some point it stopped  and looked back over its shoulder   as if to say I know you are there. 
I let it be then .
 
 
 last night under a bold bright moon sky
a few kilometres outside of bega 
I saw a fox neither full grown nor puppy stage. 
it edged out onto the road to the left of me
 the coat moon gleaming and  eyes glowing in the headlights
then it seemed to have a change of  mind and turned back,
before I could complete the thought phew
it had turned again and made its run straight out in front of me.
 
maybe I am too slow to act 
maybe I could have swerved.
I hit it full on and there was a  banging  and thumping under my car 
until the moment was over and I was still sailing safely  along the highway 
and there was one very dead fox left behind.
 
I could not weep not then 
but I gasped I gulped 
I went sort of numb 
pulled over when I could 
turned around and went back /
 
I took my torch and  there it lay in the middle of the lane with the guts spilling out .
I sat for a long time 
trying to understand how it was that I had killed something that I love.
 
 
 Gently I dragged the fox off the road 
with squelching sounds and leaving a trail of blood.
 and a childhood memory was evoked of   stroking my mothers fox fur stole. 
 
 
I should skin it 
take it with me
 but there was no knife and I could not lift it.
I am sorry was  my mantra all the rest of the way home.
 
but no matter how sorry I am 
no matter my why 
or sadness
nor my guilt
nothing changes the reality
that last night I killed a fox.