The same year the tele arrived in our house was the year man walked on the moon.

Once upon a time I was a child living in New Zealand and the world was a long long way away.

Before globalization, before we could look back at ourselves from space, before the rainbow warrior was blown up in Auckland harbor by the French government, before all this I lived in a suburb in a town on an Island and this was the container of my world.

There was black and white lino on the kitchen floor, a radiogram in the sitting room and we burned coal for our heating.

In fact we had a coal bin in our back yard that was filled by a truck that turned up in the street and a burly guy would heft a bag or two around the house and turf it into the bin.  Us kids used to pick out lumps of it and gnaw on it. When I tell my kids that, they, in their environmentalist way say ooooh yuk mum how could you?

Easy, it was lovely that bin of broken shapes and angles going from dull to shiny when we licked it, which we did.

Someone had told us it was good for our teeth. Not that we actually chewed it, just sort of grazed on it. Ok we tried to chew it.

It didn’t taste like anything much that I can recall.

 I do remember that the coal dust was as fine as the talcum powder Mum used to dowse me with after a bath only black and we didn’t like the taste of that.

So I guess in defence I can say we kids of Taita had our standards.

The bin was in the far corner of our back yard behind dads shed which was a small square concrete blockhouse  with  a door and a poky window,one in every back yard of every state house in N.Z.

come to think of it now it did resemble a bunker. Dad had a selection of tools with which he could fix  mend and make whatever. that was the days when things were repaired. He also had a short wave radio and an oxy welder.

Go and tell dad tea is ready. Not dinner not in those days it was tea. 

Often his hands were covered in grease and oil and I would follow him in to the washhouse not yet called laundry where he would briskly rub the solvol over his hands and wash them in the big concrete tubs.

Sometimes I was bathed in one of those tubs especially if I was considered too messy for the bathroom which was often if I had had my right to play.

 Solvol is a dark grey harsh soap that catches your skin and abrades it, I know this because I liked to help by sticking my fingers into the oily nuts and cogs and my mum despaired of ever making me a lady.

The shed had a flat roof, which my friends and I would climb, up onto the coal bin and hoist our selves onto the roof. Here we could see a little over into the back neighbours yard and feel tall and invincible.

We spent many a time daring ourselves to jump off it, until one day when no one was looking and I was all alone and I was nearly grown up or at least ready for high school I jumped landing on the clover lawn and guess what..  didn’t break anything.  

It was better round at Susan’s house cause they had a pool in their back yard and we could jump from the roof of the same style shed that was our changing room into the pool.

 Hidden from the house by the monkey-puzzle tree there was never any interference in the games we played with that swimming pool. running yes!   jumping how high?   dive bombs absolutely ! 

I don’t know how I got away with being up on our shed, mum must have been busy sewing somewhere though a few years ago when I packed up their house I found cute valium bottles, circa 1960’s so …was she even there?

Another era was the washhouse which was outside the back door. Once it would have had a copper in it but we were modern and had a washing machine with a wringer that you turned by hand. I loved to watch mum push the clothes to the edge of the rollers until it was grabbed and then fingers out of the way I was always told the handle was turned and turned until I could grab the flattened compressed piece and deliver it to the cane basket.

I was still in primary school when black and white television arrived in our street. I told Mum that the teacher said we had to watch a nature show for school so I got to go to Sally’s place each week and watch something.

It was probably around 1969 when it arrived in our sitting room not a lounge room then.

 We had so much fun watching snowy pictures and rolling scenes. Dad as with any machinery loved to tinker so he was forever adjusting the darn thing twisting some knob round the back or up on the roof fiddling with the aerial.

We were often commissioned to stand there observing the test pattern supplying feed back, until we proved to be totally useless at which point he employed a mirror held in front of the screen while he fielded a screwdriver around the back.

The same year the tele arrived in our house was the year a man walked on the moon. We watched breathless at the grainy pictures of a man bouncing around on the pocked surface.

And that night when I should have sleeping I looked up at the moon searching for evidence that he was there.

The spaceships kept venturing and the quality of pictures improved, black and white turned to colour.

We saw the deserts of Mars, the moons of Jupiter, the volcanoes of Venus and the rings of Saturn.

We learnt facts measurements distances and orbits but not life that we could recognize.

I had grown up with the notion that humans were alone in our solar system and while we had the increasing capacity to look into black holes we could not find our selves.

 It wasn’t just space that came into our lounge rooms with the advent of television it brought us the rest of the world.

 Suddenly I was able to observe the migratory path of the caribou, the underwater world of the whales, the hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari, the festivals of the Day of the Dead in Mexico.

The world got smaller; the waste dumps of India came into view, the plastic bag islands in the Pacific, sad bears in cages and clear-felled forests of the amazon.

The beauty and the misery came clear on the screen every night.

And then I  left that island for this island continent and came to live in a forest where there is no tele but the images remain.

We are planetary citizens afterall. members of a universe, of an expanding collapsing creative dynamic play of energy and forces all of which despite all we think we know is still a mystery.

Oh hallelujah to that. 

 

 

 

 

 

elevenses is an organised event here

 

 

we are sitting at the kitchen table this morning,

it is earlyish, the sun  still caught in our tree line sends a beam thru to splash the pinks golds and greens  of the stained glass windows over the table of porridge and toast, of teapots  cups and saucers.

speaking of teapots we all have our own preference in the mornings ; that is,  a pot for me usually the railway stainless steel 2 cuppa full of earl grey, Greg the brown betty also earl grey  and John  the genie teapot with madura . We have a  collection of cosies ranging from a  wild zany Bec crocheted one to vintage looped affairs with a doll on top done by my mum ,various op shop knits and a memorial goyder street library owl cosy.  take you pick  they are all gorgeous and have a story to tell.

when bec appears in the kitchen she  pulls out the one cup railway pot for a dandelion brew and Jess mostly sticks to a mug of something green.

elevenses changes all this around but that comes later.

John notices a honeyeater he hasn’t seen before , forgive us Rob if we get this wrong but out comes the book and I hover between reading and seeing glasses, my face alternately pressed against the glass and burrowed into the book.

Kingston yabbering and demanding to have the book of birds.

we identify the white eared honeyeater, a pair of them  lighting on the still bare fig , into the bottlebrush zooming off across the yard.

they all dart  dive and busy around so much I despair sometimes  of figuring out who they are and I really can’t see them that clearly anyway. I know binoculars are a bird persons best friend but they are an art form I have yet to master.

I just like that they are going about their lives John said this morning, I don’t really care what they are called .

I said to him yesterday can you show me again how to do the binocular thing? he didn’t quite roll his eyes but the implication was there and usually by the time I get it all sorted out the image I am chasing has disappeared .

this morning it is a roll call of who ‘s who in the garden . I forget about sitting down and stay tuned to the window Kingston standing on the chair next to me trying to open the window and prattling on.  a veritable chatterbox is emerging with the odd recognisable word thrown into the mix.

there are the upside down birds I point out better known as the eastern spine bills .  Next along came the new holland honeyeaters or is it the white eared honeyeater and perhaps we have both of them.  we check the book , yes the white eared has a white ear patch funny that and the new holland a white eye.  if we could only remember which is what John says.

a spotted pardolote flies past which gets us all excited for sightings are rare, like a dot painting flying they nest in the ground.  John thinks there is a nest up the track beside a fallen tree.  the usual friends were there, the wrens skipping over the  chairs on the verandah, the grey shrike thrushes inspecting materials in the garden,  the fire tails  having their version of muesli and a magpie has taken to stalking around the yard of late. the grey fantails are excitedly flashing their fans at us, look at me look at me. and we do. and we do.

greg  goes out to chop number twos  when lighting stanley in the morning,  that is, the second size up from kindling and before the more chunkier blocks  are put on. often there is  a yellow robin waiting on the verandah post directly above the chopping block  ready to grab a grub  out of the split wood.

it is the wrens and the robins that have the most intimate contact with us, the wrens because we put out breadcrumbs on the verandah but even if we didn’t they are always under our feet  because lets face it crumbs have a habit of dropping to ground and they are not unknown at frequenting the kitchen benches either.

yesterday a thornbill ran into the window ,Bec picked the wee thing up  and tucked it under her jumper until it recovered a little. so light she said she couldn’t really feel it in her hand.  are they the tiniest bird on the block?  we think so.  after a while Bec placed it in the daphne which is coming to the end of a most magnificent blooming season.

the daffodils are still taking their brilliant turn and wild clematis is beginning to peep out. the pink peach blossoms are doing it and a black snake slides thru the wood pile before disappearing into the couch. in the roof bush rats squeak and chase each other and we wonder where the python is.  last night greg suggested the rats are using the python as a draught excluder for the august winds are gusting hard into us .

we have extended  our garden enclosure ; we need more wallaby possum proof room for our veggies as the creatures  explore and diversify their eating habits.  While working at it the other day I noticed a pair of yellow robins  canoodling  on a branch of a peppermint tree, sure enough one hopped on  the other and then leapt off again.

the air is thick with birds making out . tthe migrants have returned and the dawn chorus has become  louder , there is the usual politics  of territories and bush ownership

we have taken to having  our morning tea at a table near the large angophora , an umbrella thank you glen gives those of us who have been busy in the yard a touch of shade and the studio workers  can sit in full sun.

elevenses is an organised event here. It is a point in our day when we will all come together with coffee pot  cake and fruit; the oranges that I picked early  before the possums could take them all have been juicy bliss bombs.

sometimes we catch up on our dreams and visions,

sometimes we make dates for communal activities to take place.

and  always we love where we are, in the middle of a vibrant forest full of winged activity.

 

 

 

 

 

the word witch came down to me as evil and ugly instead of a wise healer

I have an uncle who is really a cousin.

I only found out a few years ago and so did he.

David is his name and for 50 years he believed that his mum was  Jane Ellen Kay , my grandmother.

He also believed that he had 9 older brothers and sisters.

the whole family went along with this story .

one day the truth emerged which is the great  thing about  family secrets, at some stage  they have a way of worming their way to the surface for a breath of  fresh air.

It turned out that Davids oldest sister Mollie had birthed him out of wedlock .

At first David  didn’t want  to believe it , his mum who had been dead many years at this point was still his mum, and his whole world was defined by his placement in the family ; it was a rock solid alibi .

Mollie was old and the past was best buried in her book . She had married and brought up a  family who believed David was their uncle. And now he was their stepbrother.

As a young woman Mollie  had got a job as a live in housekeeper.  one day she had to fess up to her mum that she was in the family way at which point nana moved into damage control and shipped Mollie off to one of those homes for unmarried ladies .

When the baby was born, Nana brought him home and said he was hers.

amazing eh!!!

where was Nana’s big round belly , where was her milk supply ?

if my mum wondered being still at home and given charge of this little one she never ever said.

and  when I return home and we get together at Auntie Rita’s for a meal I still call him Uncle David because that is how he wants it.

fair enough but makes me wonder about the whole story of lineages.

I visited Nana’s grave in Huntly one time and  there engraved in bold print was beloved mother of  Jean Mollie  Hector Ella George Harry Ian Rita  Alan and David .

I said to my sister  that’s not right,  David is her grandson. and she said but no one wants to acknowledge that and besides that would hurt David.

I think of all  those people researching their family trees and how many gravesides , how many records tell the real story ?

Jess said this morning, Mum, I just read that 9 million women were killed in the middle ages and I wonder why that hasn’t been named genocide.

9 million people predominantly women were tortured in  a variety of innovative ways conjured up by really sick minds wearing the cloaks of the church.

indeed . sounds like genocide. a total commitment to wiping out a way of being.

And how come it isn’t written up in the his story books? how come this is a story that still isn’t told except in feminist literature?

the word witch came down to me as evil and ugly instead of a wise healer .

I re claimed this word witch and taught my girls the truth , that witches were women  who carried the knowing and the means of healing. they were the teachers of the mysteries and for their knowledge they became feared.

And why is it no apology has been forthcoming from the church for those 3 centuries of  sadistic abuse?

The abuse did not stop there  but continued in other forms to this day .

forest after forest has been decimated, tribe after tribe have been squashed.

century after century this insanity  has been modifying  nature,  abusing the feminine,  annihilating cultures  customs and ideas  .

a long lineage of lies perpetrated by a dis ease , an egoic mind-set totally out of control.

the beauty is that we can change this story ,  we can find the truth and tell it .

and when we do, a breath of fresh air  blows away the stale crust of lies  leaving us in a truer template of living on this earth with each other.

a cosmic vision is coming ,is here which is more than a human centric view.

it is  a earth focus ,a universal focus ,a way of living that encompasses our role as planetary beings sharing a habitat .

so for all those witches all those healers and midwives ,all those carriers of wisdom ,

all those women men and children that were accused and burnt and forgotten,

know that we remember, that we care and that we will tell your story.

 

it is happening spring is coming to the garden and forest

 

the swallows have been back on the kitchen verandah for a while

a pair of them

the welcome swallows as they are known.

 

the most perfect darts flying

with their russet throats and dove grey breasts.

they have been turning up in early evening and perching for the night on a rafter

leaving at breakfast time,

but this morning

the first day of august,

I heard them twittering to each other .

hello I thought

and pressed my head up against the glass in our kitchen door.

sure enough he was perched on the light cord  head tipped towards the wall

and there she was cleaning out the nest.

no sign of any additional mud bricks to the nest yet but the renovations have continued most of the day.

soon she will deposit 4 eggs and sit on them continuously for 3 weeks,

every so often  taking a quick flight to stretch her wings,

and one morning we will wake and walk out the door and find a broken soft membrane shell on the slate floor  .

 

it is happening

spring is coming to the garden and forest.

 

sitting at my table in the bedroom

I heard a bang on the window,

turned around to see two birds tumble down onto the verandah,

one lewin’s honeyeater flopping around on its back and watching it,

a new holland honeyeater which flew off when I got up.

I  reckon they were chasing each other and one of them met the glass.

I picked the  lewin’s up and cupped it in my cold hands

its heart pumbling along like a freight train straining up a sharp pinch.

sorry about my hands I muttered and held it as  tenderly as I could.

it is not unusual for birds to run into our windows

but the survival rate is quite high.

John has tried leaving the windows in his room unwashed

in the belief that the cleaner the glass the more the reflection calls them in.

like us reality  for birds can be tricky.

while the  sharp snow wind whistled around this western corner of the house

I held this miracle of feather and beak

gently caressing the olive back and admiring the buttery yellow half-moon earrings.

I noticed the giant Callistemon that John pruned with a savage touch a few months back

is flowering and here they all flock to sip and sup the nectar;

the new holland, the white cheeked, the eastern spine bill and soon the wattlebird.

gradually an eye started to blink and the head came into an upright position,

I uncapped my hand and walked closer to the mandarin tree.

I placed my hand near a branch and it moved off me,

then a short flight to another branch and there it sat for another 20 minutes before flying off.

to cap the day  the whip birds have returned to this corner of the house,

they are always about  these punky larrikins mimics of fun

but tend to move further back into the bush after summer autumn

and now they are racing around whipping and investigating with their mohawks waving in the chill air.

it is happening

even though the sky darkens and  the bitter wind harries the house and rain from snow clouds falls

even so,

spring is returning.