27!!! who can believe it???


Wednesday last was the Birth day of Elsie Rose

27 !!!  who can believe it ???

she graciously agreed to leave her flat and come out to the forest .

the truth is I lured her with the promise of lasagna.

she loves it when she gets here but hard to drag her away from town life.

that’s what happens sometimes when you bring your kids up in the bush with no tv, a dunny  down the yard and lots of lentils.

you get a devoted tv fan still in love with the fast food outlets of Bega.

what can I say?

I tried.

She say’s, you know Mum I love it when it’s raining and I don’t have to go outside to the toilet.’

well we have umbrellas but I get the point.

so she came home which happened to serendipitously coincide with the return of the little King and his parents.

5 weeks away 5 plane journeys and a kiwi experience of family and hot pools has given him another swagger

he taps his chest points at the teapot, the biscuit tin,whatever

pretty easy to see what he wants,

all the while chattering on in his baby babble way.


because aunty elsie was here when he got home I didn’t get a look in.

he is smitten with her

presses his little face up to her cheek ,cooing, playing with her hair, legs securely tucked into her hips.

she loves it and I wait till she goes home to have my turn.





























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it was just the way things were done then

I went to Bermagui  today on the back of the bike
to Saltwater for fish -broadbill- and chips.
we sat on the edge of the water surrounded by a host of seagulls.
warmed by the sun and entertained by the goings on.
pelicans glided their large bodies around clear water
their bills ready for a quick snatch from the fish cleaning tables.
across from us the road busy with movements of cars trailers and  boats;
pulling the boat out of the water and hosing it down,
checking tackle,buckets and fishing rods , bait and gutting the catch.
behind us people at tables on the verandah lunching
and children soaking up the playground on their last day of freedom.
a pleasant scene
a seaside tableau of holiday makers and locals.
I wondered then how a giant Woolworth’s will fit into this fishing village scene.
I remember the arrival of the first  supermarket to our town, Lower Hutt.
I went with Mum to give it a go, she was a bit nervous,
it was a Big Thing.
I was excited but then I was only 10 or 11.
up until then we bought from  a little grocery store down at the local shops , Taita 
where the woman behind the counter  was my friends stepmother and lived five doors up the street from me .
for other items there was home service.
our milk was delivered every evening to our letter box
I had to put the bottles and the money out. 
the bread was dropped off  by the bread van every morning
unwrapped,  into the letter box
and I had to run out and get it in for the school lunches.
obviously the letter box was bigger than letter size,
and once a week the fruit and vege truck pulled up outside our house.
we would climb up the steps into the back
and put carrots and parsnips,oranges and bananas into our basket.
not a lot of packaging in those days eh.
every few months the rawleighs man visited with his basket of  products
things like polish and menthol rub and even though I knew Mum didn’t need anything
she always bought something.
it was just the way things were done then, 
same when the brownies or boy scouts came to the door selling raffle tickets,
it was understood that you would buy them, that you were a supporter.
so from the vantage point of a  remembrance of life before supermarkets took over
I know they spell doom for local family run businesses.
I watched the local shops decline replaced by boarded over windows and graffiti.
and people like Mrs Pickering across the road were no longer jobworthy,
they were too’ordinary’ perhaps or too working class, in a world that was fast becoming upwardly mobile.
it seems the supermarkets  came hand in glove with increased packaging ,more processed food ,
faster food , a more slick presentation and the profits disappeared into pockets somewhere else.
perhaps it will be great
perhaps it is just what bermi needs 
perhaps pigs will fly.
Oh and P.S.
dad came out of hospital today
has gone to kays for a bit
doing really well after his big triple by pass.
and all that crochet I have been doing, all those brightly patterned squares, 
I stitched them together and sent it over to him.
it was placed over his knees and he loves it.
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he is the artichoke king


John has headed out to the garden to dig up artichokes

of the Jerusalem kind.

they moved here about 20 years ago, probably from Cathy’s place down the road

and being the determined bulb that they are, have multiplied in all directions.

They are a knobbly root  with a whitish flesh and  a strong flavour

 definitely not a widely recognised vegetable, holding no prestige and are never found in the supermarket.

here they thrive and to be honest you couldn’t get rid of them if you tried .

we discovered that the wallabies like eating them so we planted a field of  them once as a decoy crop to keep them out of our vege garden.

it worked that year but what really happened was more wallabies and more artichokes.

we always knew we were sitting on an artichoke empire and John has been the lead over the years  in artichoke culinary explorations but then, he is the artichoke king.

There is  a new store in the village, a wholefood place set up by a bunch of locals, some of them our friends with a vision to sell organic and local as well as introduce healthy eating options into the community.

 they call themselves ‘Sweet Home Cobargo’ and have taken up residence in one of Bennys shops the one that used to be ‘No Wife No Horse No Moustache.’

that iconic sign, faded as it is,  has so far been left in place but on the inside all is changed.

the process of  setting up and moving in has taken many months with a lot of bureacratic hoops to jump thru .

jump they did and opened the frosted glass doors on the 3rd of July .

Cathy rang that morning  asking John if we had any produce to put in?

yep we have artichokes.

later in the day when I went in there they were nestled into a hessian bag $4.50 a kg. 

the walls are painted orange

mango? I said to Cathy as I was poking around.

pumpkin ,she said, Suzy called it  pumpkin.

we both shrugged and laughed.

the fire was tickling along .

beans and herbs and flour to buy off friends is a far cry from trading with  anonymous people.

 I reckon buying food is an act of intimacy and not just food, 

all exchange where I hand over money and receive goods is a very personal  thing is it not?

and one day I thought, I want to have a relationship with the people I buy from.

I want to know them, even just a little, to be able to pass  the time of day with them in way that leaves us both the richer for the meeting, that adds another dimension to what has become a souless business transaction.

and so that has become my practice, 

easy in a small village, easy at your markets but  challenging in the bigger supermarket mega store world.

Cathy rings again this morning,

she wants more artichokes, some to put in the curries they are cooking up for friday night takeaways.

friday the thirteenth is the official opening, a night when the community wearing smiles will gather to celebrate a vision manifest by a small group of people.

up the road next to the newagency Black Wattle gallery opened earlier in the year another small group vision  and goes from strength to strength.

contained within its sights is the opening up of all the empty shops in Cobargo and getting things happening, community things . they started with laneway markets and now Bec and Suzy are running art classes for children.

John washes the artichokes, packs them into a panier and heads off to deliver them with a list  cardamon, linden tea, quinoa, rolled oats,dates .

it is pretty exciting to have access to this food locally and  that for these purchases we have reduced our food miles by about 100 kms, not to be sneezed at eh.

we like to peel them when we eat them, a bit of a tedious  job but is said to reduce the gas factor.

mmmmm didn’t know about that?

it is said and we acknowledge this that they are windy little roots.

but as Bec says well, it  lets you know everything is working.

And we love them any which way really, boiled  steamed mashed ,

nice with a white sauce, makes a terrific  soup 

or toss them into a casserole.


yesterday I picked stinging  nettle and rubbed it into my thumb joint which has been sore

so just wondering if we are sitting on a stinging nettle empire.

anyone for whipping? 











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there comes a point when we seem to ‘get over it’

a friend rang me yesterday,
were we meeting or not?
me in pyjamas , a hacking cough walking and him, a plane to catch .
not likely.
it was a relief really feeling the way I did.
how are you? I ask. 
a long pause and then one word ‘down’.
the feeling transmitted itself along the wires and lodged at my front gate.
is it a winter thing like winter blues? I inquired.
I could hear him thinking, 
he is not a guy that rushes into response
he is a wordsmith .
maybe he says.
I wait.
the holidays are over and it is time to send his daughter back to  Queensland
for another term
a cherished project he and his partner have been working on has been cancelled.
I am learning that I cannot fix anyones pain.
I am learning to witness and feel with them .
we did the silence thing companionably.
sometimes, when things don’t work out  
it is because there is another option available
in a way that we can’t even imagine.
part of the magic and mystery of a divine creative universe.
no matter that we love the frosty morns ,the gloves beanie and jumpers,
the fireside and the hwb in our beds
there comes a point when we seem to ‘get over it’.
John broke his favourite blue cup the other day
the Bacchus cup given to him by Aghiah Sowelu when she was resident here
in the shack that she renamed Abracadabra.
 his coffee  cup .
an hour or so later he fell off the ladder in the shed where he is doing renos.
smash again.
he jarred his arm and shoulder and took to the couch for the rest of the day,
I’m over winter he said.
My sister squeals over the phone what is he doing up a ladder Sandra?
well that stumped me for a bit.
um that is what we do here.
a power point flashed past my mind’s eye of our ladder activities
changing light bulbs, reaching for jars in the pantry, placing curtains back on track,
accessing storage cupboards, resetting solar panels on the roof and then our numerous building works.
indeed leave a ladder out and Kingston is up it like a shot
up down up again with a very pleased look on his face and a few bangs on the top rung.
Kay continues, tell him he shouldnt be doing that.
uh I don’t think so ,but I can  promise not to tell you that I go up ladders all the time.
she is over winter too because the frost has taken out her garden
her pride and joy leaving her with a black sludge look .
I am thinking about this sitting coughing on the east verandah the sun warm on my body. 
the frost beating a slow retreat
the iron roof dripping .
spindly legged  blue wrens skip about my feet picking up minute crumbs, 
we shake the bread board out for them
and then sit back and observe
 the flying under the coffee table
under our chairs
busy always busy.
what are they thinking about winter?
the yellow robin flies to the verandah post and perches sideways 
cocks its head assessing options.
am I going into the garden today?
any activity in the garden and they are there with us
a pip pip for us to stop so they can dive in and pick up the worm.
but it is the kookaburra that amazes me ,
 it sits on a branch
swaying a little as if it is on a see saw 
tilting its head
 for a long time 
and then pow before my eye to brain can see
it has landed, thrust its beak in and pulled out a white wriggly creature
one gulp ,swallowed and off it flies.
I look and cannot determine how it knows dinner is under the ground there.
nature is such an awesome teaching
and  I am trying to pay attention,
to see
but I am the foreigner here and don’t yet know the language.
does the wren the yellow robin the kookaburra get the winter blues?
do they despair of  the iced over water and the short days in which to fill their bellies?
and when a wind takes out their building project do they become devastated ?
could I ever know?
a pair of swallows have returned to camp outside the kitchen door
the grey thrush has been heard to sing
and goodness knows what the wombats are up to but it is all dig scratch  and  turnover 
with a lot of deposits of poo.
I  am heartened by the activity in the forest around me 
from dawn to dusk
the going about lives with meaning .
I think I envy that.
perhaps the winter blues come about because we try to live outside the rhythm of nature
 because we impose our timetable and ignore the seasons.
or then again maybe some days we have had enough
we just in that moment are over it 
 and then we notice the daphne beginning to flower…
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cold is not a good enough reason to avoid travelling on a motorbike in the middle of winter

cold is not a good enough reason to avoid travelling on a motorbike in the middle of winter.

I am serious , it really isn’t.

I ring Dad from Melbourne after finding out that he was whisked off to hospital in the middle of the night.

I  mention the huge frost at our place on the day we left and he says I told you you would be better off in the car.

but dad that is not the point.

we are our own bike club me and John ,Rebecca and Gemma .

what shall we call ourselves? asks Gemma.

None of us wanting to be in a club we don’t come up with a name.

We stop at Eden for petrol and a wee break,

me and Gemma and Bec are laughing in the toilets

as we fumble thru our  many layers of clothing to access zips and buttons

with hands that wont follow direction.

it is worse when you are busting,

imagine the time needed  to access first my leathers, buttons, then my RM Williams, zip, then 2 pairs of long johns and the undies. then try doing all that up again while maneuvering over the bulk of jumpers scarves and jackets.

point being don’t wait till you need to go.

a woman came out of a cubicle and said ‘you are all mad its freezing’

yes it is and we  laughed again.

further along the road we stopped for elevenses,

gem had made a thermos of coffee  but it was only lukewarm, the date cake was good though and

so was huddling around the bike warming our hands on the cylinders that are so conveniently exposed on the BMW.

we stayed the night at lakes  and the next day was warmer and drizzling.

by Sale the drizzle was determined to be rain

so I stopped off to buy wet weather pants

add another layer

by now I cannot walk well , more of a waddle.

the weather progressed its way into me, my boots my  gloves  and then my hands  started to hurt.

the visor was totally fogged up so my view was like the day grey clouded with beads of rain.

so on day two wet was added to cold and I almost stopped enjoying myself but before that could happen

John turned off the expressway and took us  direct to Springvale , a largely Vietnamese suburb for a very large bowl of pho as in soup.

I squelched into the cafe and that soup of vege  beef and noodle warmed us enough to get the  rest of the way to Zoes.

after we got up from the table there was puddles of water on the floor.

I read later that this was the coldest day in Melbourne for 2 decades only reaching 9.9 degrees.

Zoe took me straight to her drying cupboard to hang up my sodden gear .

she went back out  to her dad who was getting our gear out of the panniers and yes my backpack had got wet too

do you want to have a hot shower first or hop in the cupboard with Sans.??

he joined me in the cupboard , it was quite roomy and so very very warm.

aah the joy of a brand new house with ducted heating .

It was the next day  that I got the call about Dad

he is still there in Waikato Hospital waiting for the bypass surgery

the one where they nick veins out of your legs and stitch them into your chest creating new pathways for the blood to flow.

Jess  Greg and Kingston now in their third week in NZ are staying in his house driving his car and visiting him every day.

yesterday they took him a bike magazine.

he sounds great and seems to be enjoying the attention.

if I tell him about the cold he thinks it is all about coming up with ways to avoid it and on some level he is right.

I do dress with the view of staying warm on the bike , getting rugged up as much as possible and mostly I am snug,

mostly .

It is not about not doing it because it is cold more about being prepared as much as possible and then enjoying it .

the feeling of being alive,John says

he also  says it is about adventure.

and where he goes adventure often of the extreme kind follows or leads or they go hand in hand.

mostly I am up for it though sometimes…

the day we left Melbourne was sunny a clear blue sky and we sailed up the highway to Moe

thinking tomorrow we will be home.

pea and ham soup with Donna the queen of  mosaic making art happen in schools and shopping centres

shaking up the world in Moe until one day recently the earth shook and things fell off the shelves.

the power of art  transforming our lives.

we sailed on up the highway to Stratford-on-Avon,

the turkish shop called us in to see their mosaic world in tiles  plates and carpets

patterns unbelievably rich and vibrant  in colour and complexity.

We stayed the night in The Old Hotel in Paynesville on the shore of McMillans Strait

next to lake King watching the car ferry go back and forwards to Raymond Island which the hotelier tells us is overrun with koalas.

fancy that while here on the south coast people jump up and down if a scat is found.

we ride off into another sunny day and find ourselves face to face with Ra the Sun God

hiding out in a little slab hut behind the Mingling Waters  cafe at Nowa Nowa.

Ra is a wood  sculpture from the  roots of a messmate obliqua  that blew over in a storm. Once 66 metres tall and somewhere between 200 -300 years old the root is  7 metres across and 4 metres high.It  took J. E. Ramsdell 12 months to bring Ra out of the roots into a high gloss shining state.

From the presence of Ra the Sun God  to the Royal Cave at  Buchan this is no just getting on home trip this is something else some other map being followed, we walk underground thru limestone formations of  stalactites and stalagmites along slippery wet paths and metal fences to stop us touching these calcite deposits.

It is after three when we stop at Orbost for fuel and John suggests another side trip.

The Buchan Cave was not enough and lets face it we were still two hours off dark just time enough to go up the Bonang Highway .

to where? I asked .

It’s a beautiful road a bit of gravel.

to where?

well we could get to Bombala.

funny I had never thought of going there and obviously we were not getting home this night anyway.

so  we went along the Bonang a narrow forested road where the sun only visits in passing getting dimmer and dimmer and more and more windy.

I stopped looking at the wriggly road sign telling the story of more twists and turns  and more..

logging trucks passed us scurrying away with some cut off beauty.

the road pitted and rutted with still much debris from fallen trees that had been mostly cleared off.

it was slow going and getting colder. Beautiful  towering giants,  tree ferns bubbling creeks  and very isolated.

my visor kept fogging so I had to have it open even though the chill factor was extreme.

dark came and we were miles from anywhere.

mist curled over creek flats, wallabies bounced on the edge of the road now gravel .

bunnies ran out in front of us and thank goddess we didn’t know that deer were in that neck of the woods.

fingers frozen,  existing on one toasted sandwich at Nowa Nowa and a few sips of water before it blew out of Johns jacket and disappeared.

nothing at Bonang.

Delegate looking abandoned except for the Carlton Draught sign

We pulled up and asked a chap coming out does this pub have rooms? yep he says.

we were off that bike and into that bar very quickly.

the barmaid threw more logs on the fire and all the locals wanted to know where we had come from and where we were going.

a couple of shots of brandy, a toast by the fire, a few chats  and the promise of a meal and a room and we were restored fortified and thankful.

and so when we leave the next very frosty morning for home what can happen the sun is shining again ,the day is glorious and yes it is frosty  but

there is ice on the roads

and there are all those lovely yellow signs that show a car careening off the slippery road.

not sure about that as a spell.

but  Mt Darragh Road is beautiful and John takes his time and I pray

and then we are here,.home

everything as it is

starting up stanley

for a real cup of tea with pot and leaves


Oh and what did we get up to in Melbourne ?


in Melbourne we go to hang  out with family and eat;

we eat pho at Springvale, we eat dumplings at Box Hill, we eat suckling pig in China town,  we eat lentils and lamb Ethiopian style in Footscray, we eat cheese pies and baklava in Dandenong and pizza on Lygon street.

and when not eating we go to the movies a Chekhov morality tale called ‘the duel’

catch a matinée performance of circus oz going now for 30 years

to witness the enormously clever contortions and movements of the human bodies at play.

we buy merino thermal underwear ,help Zoe buy a couple of leather sofas catch trains trams and buses

and well it is nice to be home again.

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I am the Queen of Crumble

sunday morning  sitting in the kitchen doing my morning pages 
yes, I am doing the artists way. 
the sun strikes thru the red  gold  green glass of the windows
playing patterns of colour  over the  table.
sun sightings have been rare of late and it feels good to see the broken up sky admitting blue to the circle.
the label on the jam jar catches my eye 
yes, distracted once again from the morning pages.
it reads :
Blackberry Jam
a summertime production
a wild magical journey
a real experience
in that label is a story of a moment in time captured and stored in a jar, 
a day when Jess Kingston Carole and I fossicked among the thorns for the juiciest  berries ,
I remember the cool wind blowing at us from the ocean
exposed on the ridge of Caroles sheep property on the road in to the  Illawambra Creek 
at the foot of the Dumpling.
Wandella Mountain looming tall with all its towers to the north, 
the mysterious blue ranges of Wadbilliga to the west
and thru Narira gap to the east the commanding presence of Gulaga.
last night I went to a birthday party
Virginnia Sada the queen of curve and lush wanted to dance
to celebrate the moment with friends.
 around the  back of Gulaga Mountain we drove in early evening dark
dressed in our finery.
me in a bright green quilted  skirt ex- dressing gown and made by Glenda 
topped with  a deep purple satiny frock with chiffon ruffled skirt,
a purple beret, lipstick and a pair of  Nanny’s  gloves
ladies gloves, black with gold beadwork 
for a very small ladies hand
and really too tight and ladyish for me. 
 candles illuminated our way into a house lit with music and conversation
full of love and heavy with the scent of  warm mulled wine.
I had made an apple and rhubarb crumble 
a simple affair as far as puddings go
good winter desert
beloved in this family. 
I wondered if it was classy enough for such a gathering
particularly as I had made it in our old scuffed roasting pan 
I quailed a little  placing it on the desert table alongside a chocolate scrolled torte.
the house of many rooms filled with laughter
 old friends bonded and  new friends claimed,
guitars, flutes and drums played.
earlier in the day the labyrinth down at the bottom of the big hill had been walked.
dogs raced around and offered wet kisses,
bodies danced under laser strobe lighting
and then,
Sada asked if warmed would be better ?
yes definitely.
later on in the kitchen while Monica and I were 
ransacking the shelves for a tea we wanted out of the million varieties on offer
we rescued the crumble hot and bubbling. 
I  found cream
it was good, 
very good said Monica.
I  AM the queen of crumble, I said.
what is the secret?
don’t tell, says Kim
but then that is easy because I really don’t know. 
Leila came back for 3 top ups,she said she was sharing with a friend
extolling the yumminess she asked who had made it?
you are the crumble queen she says.
Monica and kim and I  looked at each other and laughed 
there’s a story  there ,said kim
I wonder.
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eggs or coffee

I went into Cobargo this morning
my turn to work at the Black Wattle gallery
a newly formed artistic cooperative
formed to show the creative talents of the local community.
it is a great space full of  light and  diverse  arts  from knits to ironwork,
from soft landscapes to ex telecom wire  baskets,
from beaded necklaces to alpaca carpets.
I like hanging out there for a few hours 
 watching the street
a radical change from forest and wallaby,
hearing the news
friends drop in
and travellers passing  by tell me stories.
the morning starts with a visit to the farm
for the flowers.
Janet was back on deck after a  recent trip to Thailand with her daughter. 
 I followed her around  while she cut jonquils
telling me about  cats crossed with foxes and coffee
overrated she reckons. 
then extolled the benefits of Thai dentistry a fast growing popular phenomenon among Australians apparently
followed by islands and sun and elephants and markets and sun.
I’m having trouble getting back into here, she says.
Janet sells veges to the  markets as well as locally
planting 6000 lettuce seedlings at a time .
there was a dozen eggs there today and we needed them,
 I knew I was out of money having garage saled out in the weekend
but I  checked my wallet anyway
and hey there was $5 ,the exact amount for the eggs.
but if  I get the eggs then I don’t have coffee money,
eggs or coffee
eggs or coffee
me or the family
eggs or coffee
eggs .
at the gallery I related this story to Suzy who said I’ll give you coffee money just after she had told me of her extravagances and limited budget.
no, I said ,someone will come in and bring me coffee.
not that this  had happened before but….
the morning was cold ,so cold the doors were closed and  the heating went on,
I sat on the fancy nancy reupholstered couch doing my crochet squares for the afghan.
Penny came in with a bunch of old photos of my son mum  and children,
 look  I found these in a book that I bought at Well Thumbed
a NZ art book,
don’t know it, I said.
but we had had a market (check blog; ‘it was only a dollar’ )
a while back and the books that we didn’t sell did go over the road to our second hand bookstore run by middle aged feminist leftie women earning us a $30 voucher.
must have belonged to Jess and had bypassed my radar.
Penny went and got the book and we admired the art 
look at this culture of art says penny
we don’t have this depth here.
how peculiar I am thinking…
later in the morning after ringing up the sale of a beanie made from an alpaca called Melody
a few crocheted brooches  and some bunches of flowers, 
I spied Priscilla walking past and called out to her.
she said do you have  time?
yes I said. 
I’ll get a coffee and come back for a chat,
minutes later she walked in and joined me on the couch 
with coffee and cake.
thanks Priscilla
well met.
a moment of synchronicity 
a moment of letting go to the idea that what was needed would come 
of not trying to work it out 
of allowing ….
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