Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Cleaning Fairy

I bear wings and a chux. I am the cleaning fairy! But my magic is lost.
I’m normally a cleaning freak. I’ll clean in places most people wouldn’t think about. I’ll get on my hands and knees to scrub a small bathroom floor because I want to know it’s clean, I’ll want to see it sparkle. I’ll clean before the cleaner comes. I’ll clean something while I’m using it (showers for example). I like clean. My former partner-in-crime didn’t understand. Yes, I will go ballistic if there is a grain of salt on the kitchen bench that I, not five minutes ago, cleaned to pristine perfection.
I’d like to add that I do not have obsessive compulsive disorder. Otherwise my current situation would not arise.
I can’t find motivation to clean my own quarters. Yet, yesterday I went to a friends house and did a weeks worth of her dishes and folded her laundry, all the while she told me off. It’s not the first time I’ve done that to her. I used to sneak into her house and mop her floor (it was sticky and I couldn’t handle it), do her dishes, do her laundry. I’ve cleaned things in other peoples houses that irked me while their backs were turned. I scrutinise the efforts (or lack of) of the cleaners at work. I like clean!
But why is it my bathroom is filthy? Why is it that after living in this house for at least 2 months I am yet to clean it AT ALL? There’s dust and fluff and a gecko’s tail on the floor being eaten by ants and I just stare at it while I’m on the toilet. My bedroom floor has seen a broom once since moving in. The shower glass has a build up of soap scum. The sink is speckled with mud. Dust is collecting in the toothbrush holder along with 10 cents.
And so, while I have the time to clean all this, I am on the computer... writing a blog... and trolling Facebook. And I feel like I’ve kept my wings but I am no longer a fairy, I am a pig. A procrastinating pig.
If anyone out there happens to find my motivation, my magic, please send it back. I have to have this house clean by Friday morning!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Part Two: The Wait Is Over

I tossed, I turned. Sleeping every night on the same side was uncomfortable but sleeping on the other was painful. I stressed, I worried. And I had trouble falling asleep and having to wear a bra to bed just made things even worse.
Bumps in roads, running, over-doing things. Nearly everything hurt. I was constantly worried I was going to bust my stitches. My breast got hot and it sometimes felt like it was swollen.
Two days before my follow-up appointment with the surgeon I pulled the giant bandaid off. The length of the scar scared me. Why did she have to make such a big cut? I re-covered the wound with three bandaids. The area was too sensitive not to have one on.
Ten days after my operation I went in to see my surgeon for my follow-up. She asked the usual questions and then finally she brought up the results. Under her breath she rattled off a few lines of the results and then finally I heard the words:
“Benign cyst”
Relief swept over me. I wasn’t going to be battling cancer after all! I was so happy I nearly cried. There is not much that could have topped that news.
After getting me a new, more appropriate bandaid for the wound she said “So it’s benign, we won’t be needing to do any more follow ups, that’s it, it’s all over”. Then she winked and smiled and I was on my way with tears welling in my eyes and a smile on my face.
I consider myself lucky. Not everyone out there gets to hear those words and their battles are long and hard, tiring and expensive. Sometimes they don’t even win.
I was surrounded by a support group of select people and the occasional not-so-select. But all the way they were by my side. My family, the 49 ladies who sit at the kitchen table and a number friends. Thank you to each and every one of you for being there for me. And thank you to everyone for your kind words even though you found out after-the-fact.
And so life goes on. My only battle now is to try and get out of bed in the morning after trying to catch up on 7 months worth of lost sleep!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Part One: The Unknown

There was an itch, I scratched it and suddenly 2013 became a trial I just didn’t to face. The dogs constantly barked, I was completely broke and my discovery turned my world upside down.
There was a lump in my right breast.
An appointment with a female doctor and then a referral to the imaging clinic later I saw the lump in an ultrasound as I shivered under the cold of the air conditioning.
“You’re gonna need a biopsy” they said. And so the drama began.
First attempt: Rinda came with me. She held my hand and told me it’s okay as I tried to fly off the examination table when the doctor tried to bring a needle near me while I was dosed but not doped on 3 sedatives. Instead of a biopsy I had a second ultrasound. It had grown
“You really need to have a biopsy” they pressed. The drama continued.
Second attempt: I took 3 sleeping tablets expecting that since people of much bigger build than me got knocked out on one. I asked a friend to come in so once I was asleep he could carry me to the appointment and I wouldn’t know a thing. The biopsy could be performed with me completely out of it. But like the sedatives, the overdose on sleeping tablets didn’t work.  Instead I was wired. As soon as the doctor saw me awake he laughed. He knew nothing was going be achieved that day either. The needles got brought out by the sonographer only to be put back by the doctor. I felt worse about wasting everyone’s time this round as not only had I not gone through with the biopsy again but my friend had driven 100km to come into town only to have him just sit in the waiting room while everyone dealt with my fear. The third ultrasound showed that the lump had changed.
“Maybe it’s better if I get gassed and get the rotten thing cut out?” The doctor agreed.
It took a while but a consult with the surgeon was arranged where she and I debated over the use of gas. She was against it while I was against being without it.
Soon enough a letter came through telling me when my operation in Darwin is. The dogs care arranged, Mum and Peter’s flight and accommodation booked and time taken off work, D-Day approached.
A week before I lay in bed thinking about what awaits me. I burst into tears and sobbed myself to sleep. I’m only 28, I don’t want to die. I want to live a full and happy life. I want to see my nieces grow up. I want to ride my horses, run my dogs, pet my cows. I didn’t want to be too weak to do anything. Too lifeless to hold my head up. I wanted none of what could be. And I certainly didn’t want surgery. But it had to be done.
“Well, you don’t have any major allergies and you’re fit and healthy, you won’t need to see the anaesthetist,” the Sister decided in my pre-admission .
“No, I would really like to speak to the anaesthetist please”, I was firm, but I needed to be, things were going to be done my way or not at all.
“The gas will knock you right out, I assure you” said the anaesthetist with a sweet disposition. I hoped she wasn’t filing my head with rubbish.
And so here goes, the following Monday. All gowned up and waiting to go. Surrounded by nurses, my surgeon and the anaesthetist.
“Gas, gas, gas and more gas” I stressed. Despite me being a handful everyone handled it really well and with such professionalism.
“Just breathe, deep breathes, you’ll be fine”.
“Time to wake up now!” says a chirpy voice beside me. What the hell?
“You can’t be serious? It’s all done?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s all over. I’m Wendy, your recovery nurse.
Relief just swept over me. It was gone. For now it was over. I was on a hiatus of a large amount of stress.
Getting the canula out was my final operation hurdle. I struggled to let the nurse pull it out so instead I pulled all the tape off myself in my own good time and left her to pull out the straw while I winced and cried.
I left the hospital with Mum by my side. Results on the lump were at least a week away.
So the wait began.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Feminist is Not a Dirty Word

In an unusual decision for me, I recently volunteered for the entirety of a women's festival in Katherine. I spent most of the time behind the bar where I was fortunate enough to be able to hear the talks of women from various positions in society and many walks of life. Women who have paved the way for other women in their fields, women who have faced such adversity and women who want to leave the world a better place than they found it.
Being a women's festival the attendees were expectedly diverse. Indigenous women, women in law, women from the bush, women who never knock back opportunities to learn new things, lesbians, hippies and randoms who fit nowhere in particular into a stereotype and even a transvestite.
But out of all the talks I listened to it was the talk "The 'F' Word" that I came away with the most philosophies.
In today's society feminism holds a stigma. To say one is a feminist would have others believe that she is a hairy, man-hating, carpet-muncher with too many opinions.
Well, I am a feminist. Always have been. I look at the most influential woman in my life, my mother, and can understand exactly why I believe the things I do. I have seen her sacrifice herself too many times and I look back on her history and understand that so much of it has perhaps been a detriment to herself. So I have an opinion and more often than not I quite freely voice it. As a result I have been branded by some as a "know-it-all" or a "tempered, little bitch". And let them have their opinion, for 9 times out of 10, that has been the opinion of a man. Out of all the people I have ever torn shreds off with words as an adult they have all been men. I have been pushed to a point that I slap the truth in their faces and watch them retreat with a bruised ego. I bring them back down a necessary peg or two. I may be a woman but I will not be bullied.
I am quite happy to label myself as a feminist. I only shave my legs if I intend to go swimming or wear a dress (which, anyone who knows me well enough, is quite rare) but I am not a lesbian. I work what some would consider a mans job, but I am not butch. I am currently quite content with being single but I am not a man-hater. But all the above is not what makes me a feminist. It's what I BELIEVE that makes me a feminist.
I believe, and I quote from the festivals founder, Jude Kelly, "The world is only equal when everyone has the same opportunities". I have lost count of the times I have been knocked back for a job simply based on the fact that I am female. Around the world there are girls who are missing out on an education, a basic human right, quite simply because of their gender. The media has pushed on to society the idea that for a woman to be beautiful in a mans eye's she must parade around in her underwear or a bikini, be of a certain build and cake on the make-up. Leave only what she may look like the following morning to the imagination. When men makes suggestive comments to me along those lines, that I should work in very little clothing or perform sexual favours to get out of being in trouble or get what I want I feel like belting the shit out of them with whatever object I can lift and swing and cause the most damage with. Instead I ignore them or tell them outright that what they have said is inappropriate. If they keep it up they usually end up hearing what I truly think of them which is rarely nice. But the biggest reason I am a feminist is because I am not a sexual object and I was not put on this earth to keep the men happy. I am here solely to keep myself happy and the people I care about happy. I live to my own expectations, not the expectations of others.
But are there more of you women out there like me? Are you a feminist but are too afraid to admit it? Are you a feminist but won't say because you don't like the stigmas attached to the word? Or, in truth, you won't admit to being a feminist because you are too worried about what the men around you may think of it? Bruising a mans ego occasionally or threatening his masculinity is not a bad thing. It's you taking your place in the world. Think back on how many times you have been discriminated against because of your gender. And besides, the males will get over it. They'll have no choice!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Academic Adelaide

There she sits, in her bronze seat, by her bronze books with her bronze smile. Day and night she looks over North Terrace just in front of her old residence. People pass her by and do not notice her. Every female law student has no idea what she has done for them. Except me. For this woman is my inspiration. She is Dame Roma Mitchell.
In terms of Australia, she is the first female "everything". First female Queen's Counsel, judge, chancellor of a university and Governor. She paved the way for women in the field of law in Australia. She died in 2000. She had accolades coming out of her ears but she never learnt to drive a car.
In early May I was in Adelaide and stopped by her perch. I won't be a first female "anything" but I'm here to learn what I can anyway so off I went to spend a few hours in the State Library constructively sleeping on one of their desks "studying". I did spend an hour on the computer and a bit of time ruffling through parliamentary papers but it wasn't long before I decided that I only get to see Adelaide once a year so I headed off to the museum. Out the front was Buddha/ Birdman. He had pigeons all over him. He lifted his arm just so one could sit on it. Creepy, surreal yet oddly serene. I traipsed around the museum. Not a great deal had changed except they have expanded their section on Aboriginals. Seeing enough of them in Katherine I headed to the art gallery to see Circe Invidiosa. She's still there, in a corner, poisoning her enemy's swimming hole as usual. On they way in I encountered what I wouldn't consider art. 2 dead horses, taxidermied to a degree and stitched together minus their heads and suspended from a rather tall pole. It was utterly disturbing. What the hell the artist was trying to convey I don't know but I didn't like it and wondered how many children got nightmares from seeing it.
Back at the State Library is the Mortlock Wing where I spent some time nose-ing about. Downstairs was an exhibition reflecting culture and influences in South Australia. The first exhibit bay discussed Mr. Mortlock himself to some degree. He was a wealthy pastoralist (they don't exist too much these days) and invested alot of money into education and agriculture both of which I can thank him for or my high school, Urrbrae, wouldn't have been worth attending. Upstairs plays host to 7,500 books bequeathed to the State Library on the death of one Mr. Symons. Amongst it's shelves and ladders are little study nooks which I half expected someone with a top hat to walk out of. The whole wing is impressive but the upstairs more so. It's wooden charm and smell of books makes me wonder why everyone is so hellbent on "progress", change and modernisation.
I also spent a bit of time at the Supreme Court Library. It's high shelves were full of law reports from state to federal levels. Old books dating back to the 1800's sitting alongside new books from last year. All printed and bound so they matched, only their wear and tear sets the older ones apart. In the corner sat a small desk once owned by Sir Samuel Way, a former Chief Justice of South Australia. Upon his death he also bequeathed his own personal library collection to the Supreme Court Library. Each of his old books has a little sticker inside the cover to mark what was once his.
My cousin Jane being a legal secretary, works in a Chambers parked in front of Victoria Square, so I got to go annoy her alot. During a party her Chambers were hosting as a bit of a "house-warming" for moving one floor higher in their building, she conned me in to dressing in a barristers robes... while all the REAL barristers watched and laughed. The robes are black because apparently the barrister/ Queen's Counsel/ Senior Counsel are in mourning for Queen Anne... who died nearly 300 years ago. I donned a wig (unsure of its meaning) and a jabot (a white, frilly cloth which I am also unsure of its meaning) and we took silly pictures while I sucked back a glass of beer. As she insisted that I dress in clothing I have not yet earned and did so in front of bemused people that had, I shall get her back for that. Tehehe. In the meantime I will "concentrate", or more accurately try not to fail. And one day, I'll be waddling around Adelaide wearing robes and a wig... minus the beer.

Pigeon Man!

Symons donation in the Mortlock Wing, State Library

Sir Samuel Way's little sticker

Dame Roma Mitchell, North Terrace

Monday, 6 May 2013

Limestone and Salt

The time has come around for me to set foot on the limestone again and smell the salt air. It's Dad's 60th this time round and I am not alone in my journey here. My eldest brother has made the trip from Queensland as well as my Dads' brothers and their families.

Not much has changed since I was here last. A few new businesses have opened. Some closed as quickly as they opened. Thankfully not the chocolate shop.

I made it my mission on my first day back to head out to one of my favourite beaches. It's been a long time since I put my feet in the sea and felt the sand between my toes. The tide was out and being the off-season for tourism the 20km/hr sign was completely ignored as I floored it across the beach in Dad's new car stopping only when I reached the end of it. A few photos of the Bay and some selfies later I was satisfied. Too cold to swim there was nothing else left but to head off. A quick detour out to an old school museum and then I put the car through its paces all the way back to town.

Dad spent Saturday chauffeuring me to various places around the outskirts of town so I could play the world's biggest treasure hunt. I must be bad at it because I only found 1 out of 3. When we'd finished our secret squirrel business we headed off to my sisters to start preparing for Dads party. Then soon it was time for the shindig of which we were fashionably late.

I spent the night catching up with relatives, faces I had not seen for a long time and meeting new faces altogether. Lunch the following day was spent doing much the same. The boat soon called upon our rellies and hugs goodbye were made, the Mallee Boys hearing the rain fall on their soil. The rest of the day was spent eating leftovers and cleaning up.

Monday was a beautiful day of intermittent rain and an ambition of mine came to fruition. I was quite impressed with myself and Dad didn't kick me out of my ivory tower so he must have thought I did alright too. Now it's just a matter of people letting me keep going with what I have learnt. It all sounds cryptic I know, but I don't particularly want trouble if details find their way to the wrong ears. I took a detour home with the hope of another treasure hunt but alas, there were "muggles".

So my final evening is spent without my Dad due to an ambulance call-out. I am going to miss and pine for my little Island once more. It gets harder and harder to leave each time because you know that old saying "You can take the girl off the Island but you can't take the Island out of the girl".

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Puppy Love

Their tiny little paws. Their squinty, little eyes. Their rapid, little heartbeats. Quietly whinging with their sisters and brothers. Together like a chorus line of demand for mothers milk. She's not interested so they wriggle and squirm about in dissatisfaction.
"It's impossible to keep a straight face in the presence of one or more puppies" (author unknown). I stare at them in their tub with smiles and giggles. He stares at me wondering how they can keep me amused for so long.
They smell. Stinky puppies. Mother is supposed to clean up after them but she's not interested. I give the smallest three a bath. Their odour only toned down. I dry them off and put them in the car. I'm going to hand raise them on synthetic milk. Mother is suppose to feed them but she's not interested. She's overwhelmed by the number of them (nine all up) and her maternal instincts aren't strong anyway. Taking three will ease the load. She might put more effort into the remaining six.
I feed her some synthetic milk because the can says it's a good supplement for her. She doesn't drink all of it but enough to satisfy me that she got enough out of it. She only picks at her food and the naughty pup, Rambo, eats what's left if she took it out of the tub. I think she misses her "free" life of chasing wallabies and chewing toys and thongs. She just sleeps when she is not with the pups or being petted. Every now and then she'll tear Rambo a new one for being to close to her babies or just generally pissing her off.
The runts are quiet on the long trip home. The heat of the engine coming through dries them off further and keeps them warm. They make a fuss when I try and feed them but I tuck them all into a dog carrier where they bunk down in each others comfort for the night.
They stink again the next day. Another bath with mild detergent this time. A good clean out of the container too. More fuss at feeding times with only one towing the line. They'll do alright. So long as they bloody keep quiet!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Palais de Tigger

To start the year I lived in a house that was famous in the Katherine region for being flooded in January 2012. The damage the abode received made the house uninhabitable by paying renters... so it was filled with workers instead. I was lucky enough to be given a room with air conditioning, better yet, electricity full stop. The only place to cook was a barbeque so I ate all my food raw and went on a health kick diet in an effort to lose the Christmas weight. It worked by the way. Every night I braced myself for a cold shower because the hot water service was out of action. One of the air conditioners that did work had a fierce leak and alot of my stuff got wet till I realised and moved it all to a better location.
When my work at that place finished I shifted on to the next. Here I was put into a leaky caravan with only half of its windows in place. If it rained I was guaranteed that my stuff got soaked. The shower was a piece of poly pipe surrounded by a tarp (I was constantly petrified that I was being perved on) and the toilet was a hole in the ground. I felt like I was back out at camp again, miles from the station and even more miles from the nearest bit of civilisation but alas I was only 40 kilometres out of Katherine.
Before shifting to this place I tried in vain to find proper accommodation but there was nothing in my price range or locality. I was so devastated and miserable the second time my stuff got rained on I was determined that word-of-mouth and real estate agents were not good enough and that it was time to start baling people up. So I did. But my multitude of text messages were ignored. I drove down Florina Road looking at all the driveways I passed thinking "I could try this person, I could try that person, I could try those people". I sent out one more text after I passed a particular driveway. My last hope before driving into strangers properties requesting accommodation. The response to my text was immediate and that afternoon I checked out the granny-flat on offer.
"It's yours whenever you want to move in". I was so ecstatic to have found somewhere decent to live but I did my best to keep my cool and not act like a total idiot.
Later that week I loaded the horse float with the help of a backpacker and moved in. I decked out the bathroom with a pink shower curtain, a pink hand towel and pink bath mats but not before treating almost the entire room with a good dose of hydrochloric acid with the help of my new landlord. That crap is a bit potent when combined with a migraine. I made the kitchen all... kitcheny. I brought in my microwave and fridge and a few utensils, crockery and cutlery. Later on I bought some cheap plastic drawers to brighten up the room and store half that stuff in. But the piece-de-resistance of homeliness was the living area. To be able to unpack all the things I'd been wanting to unpack! And I didn't care that by the end of the year I would probably be packing them right up again.
The decorating began. My Celtic pentagram throw got weakly stitched to act as a curtain. The borrowed tallboy got smothered in soft toys as did my bed. A step-ladder got transformed into a shelf adorned with photos of Charger and Chief (horses of course) and a wooden vase with fake flowers. My worse-for-wear lamp took its place on the bedside drawers. A photographers works got hung on the only hook I could find in the besa-brick walls. A wind chime, a mini dream-catcher and some now defunct fairy lights got hung on the empty curtain rod above my bed. My rug got rolled out and meticulously vacuumed to warm a temporarily void space. Everything else got tucked under the bed or hidden around corners in neat stacks. I have made the place a home, scaring males with the description of the bathroom. "I think the house just shifted two feet away from the granny flat" was the son of the landlords' response to the pink decor.
With the only working ceiling fan going flat-gallop and the rain pattering down on the roof, for the first time in nearly a year I can feel settled in my unsettled life if for only a few months. It's gonna be worth it.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Dead But Not Dying

With only a population of about 500 people, you'd think the little wheat farming town of Wudinna (pronounced "Woodna") would have very little going for it. On the contrary. Since my last visit in 2009, a few lovely changes have taken place. Normally I wouldn't give two hoots about the place, it had no appeal to me. But in my absence it has sprung some little treasures.

First is Alycia's, a little cafe owned and run by one of my mother's former employees. Alycia has decorated it in a sweet and clean shabby chic style with white furnishings and coloured accents. She sells handmade necklaces and earrings. Besides focaccias and wraps, Alycia sells little homemade sweets like shortbread and macaroons. I love her milkshakes and her specials board always has something different. Last time I hooked into sushi. Who would have thought? Sushi in Wudinna! And just when you think she's covered it all, if you need a bunch of flowers, she can do that too.

Secondly is Lil' Birdie, a boutique gift and home wares shop. It's filled with scarves, necklaces, earrings, handbags and purses. The home wares on offer makes me want to buy up and entertain. There are childrens toys amongst it plus a few blokier gifts. And the baby corner (no, I'm not getting clucky) is full of the most adorable things like pink, lime and white floral buntings and pastel coloured soft toys and outfits.

Thirdly is May's Kitchen. It's a little Thai restaurant and take-away. Owned and run by May, a lovely lady, the diner seems to hold it's own in such a tiny, little, country town.

Of course Garryowen is still there but very much scaled down. With half the business moved to Victoria, it's up to Sean, the owner’s son to keep things going. He still sells the much-loved chutneys, jams, sauces and spice rubs for roasts on behalf of his mother. But the cafe side of things have ended indefinitely.

The construction of a rather large sculpture has given the town a little bit more of a tourist attraction. This sizable, granite creation is supposed to represent the Australian farmer (which is also the art's namesake). With icons of wheat and sheep carved out of it it stands on a base that has the names of all the sponsors on one side and two of the other sides have etched into them the names of the biggest farming families in the district whose heritage in the area runs back for generations.

I've never seen Wudinna in the winter. I find it hard to believe that the area does go green during the middle of the year. I found it even harder believe when I discovered the average rainfall is only 300mm per year. But a picture posted on Facebook by a friend of mine proved to me that yes, it does get green as the photo showed sheep yards sitting atop an undulating, emerald expanse. For a town that survives on grain crops and sheep, being able to thrive in turbulent times gives it alot to be proud of.
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The Australian Farmer Sculpture

Hoarders Anonymous

Hi, my name's Teagan and I'm a hoarder. I've been hoarding for over 22 years now.

Very dramatic but true. I'm a fourth generation hoarder. I come from a family of squirrels. It's pathological. It's genetic. It's... taking up alot of space.

When my parents separated when I was 15, every return trip I made back home to Dad's I would do my best to throw out whatever random crap I could find and reduce the clutter by one cardboard box each trip. It took many visits home but eventually I cut back the amount of stuff I had down to 3 cardboard boxes and one large toy chest. A vast improvement from having one entire wall obscured by cardboard boxes.

In Katherine everything I own is packed away in boxes. It can't be helped. I have no permanent address.

But what's my excuse for all the random boxes in Wudinna? A collection of odds and sods from 2000 right through to 2006 when I started permanently living in the Territory. Time for a reduction!

First off I had to find all my stuff. Some of it was in storage at what is now my brother's flat but previously a neglected section of the motel. Some of it was in Mum's flat, hidden amongst all her crap which she lacks time and drive to go through. And some of it was in the garage which can barely fit Peter's scooter let alone the car.

My brother and I worked together to get all my stuff out of his space, which was formally the women's latrines for what was once the original restaurant and bar of the motel, and put all his stuff back in there again. While we were at it we ripped out the old toilets. No one's gonna pee in them or have peed in them for at least 20 years so why not?

Getting all my stuff out the garage ruffled someones feathers. Nevermind that, with my stuff removed, theirs got put onto a shelf rather than continue to sit on the floor.

Bit by bit, day by day I poked through it coming across little surprises of "Wow, I remember this!" and "WTF do I have this for?". By the end of it all I had thrown out two heavy duty garbage bags of rubbish, put together a box of things that will go into our garage sale for whenever the rest of my family decide to sort out their stuff and compiled another box of mostly writing paper, notebooks, scrapbooking magazines and other random things that Mum and my sister-in-law might like or use.

Parked up in the big, recently built, already chock-a-block shed is my four-wheeled baby, Faith, my 1979 Ford Escort panel van. Right in the back corner she is, where I can't drive her out to enjoy her 3.5 cylinders sideways. Her completely original body marred with a latch bolt on the back doors, roof racks and random hooks pot-riveted to her internal framework, albeit the weaker bits. Someone at some point forgot to let the handyman know that it is still my car. My precious baby now needs some love with a small angle grinder and some putty and paint.

Taking back possession of my little baby, I pulled odds and ends out of random places where I never knew things could be stored, all the while swearing and cussing and grumbling every bad word under the sun. I swept out the back and tidied up a few old cobwebs.

Time for the final cleansing. One box at a time I put everything I owned into the back of her, neatly stacking it for the day I settle down. All loaded and ready to go, all she needs now is my single bed to be strapped onto her roof racks, a large tarp to be tied over her and to be loaded on to a car trailer ready to be towed to wherever I finally find to spend the rest of my life, wherever I live long enough to start hoarding a new life.
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Mum's clutter.
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Peter's clutter.
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My brother and his partner's clutter.
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Oh, look! There she is! Behind all the clutter.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Grandma's Magic Apricot Jam

When I was a kid and we used to go visit my Grandma and Grandpa Haby on the River Murray we always used to return with a jar of Grandma's Magic Apricot Jam... or just plain ordinary apricot jam to everyone else. Being from a generation where nothing was wasted, excess fruit was always turned to jam in Grandma's house. Food scraps went to the chooks who in turn laid eggs and pecked each other feather-less.

After visits to the family in the Murraylands, sandwiches were always smeared with apricot jam for a long time afterwards.

Grandma lives in an aged care facility now. The trees, I imagine, bear wasted fruit.

Here at my mothers, hundreds of kilometres away from the ochre coloured cliffs of the mighty Murray, is an apricot tree. I never even knew it existed until this year.

As the fruit ripened we might eat some here and there but when the whole tree became abundant, eating it as it was became an unreasonable task.

Mum and I headed to the supermarket and bought some fancy jam jar covers and jam setter. Nanna supplied the jars.

Next thing I know, I'm out the back, picking apricots in 40 degree heat. Then cleaning and cutting it all up. In the pot it went with as much sugar in weight as the fruit. Boil, boil, boil. Scald my hand from the wooden spoon being so short. Dispersed among 11 jars once it all cooled. I think Grandma would be quite impressed with our efforts since it was my first time making jam.

I doubt my jam is magic though. Doesn't have that "special something". Maybe it's missing a certain Grandma's love? Whatever it lacks I'm sure it will make up for in taste.

And the plum tree had better watch out... it's next!

When I was in Primary School...



I started out in reception, just like any other kid. I couldn't spell the word "doing" or the word "ballet" but apparently, according to my 5 year old self, that is what I wanted to do with my life, ballet. Pretending I could was as far as I got.

In Year One I liked shopping... in Melbourne... and the city's warmth. It would be another 20 years almost before I made it to Melbourne and from vivid memory the weather was (excuse my French) SHIT! And I didn't go shopping there either, I was too busy sight-seeing with my brother and his girlfriend and their baby.

1992 saw me wanting to join the army. What was I thinking?!?! Half the other girls in my class wanted to be a jockey. Sorry, but I'm the only one who turned out small enough. And my brother correctly predicted that he would be working in Adelaide 10 years down the track.

Year Three in Mr Bartrams class I liked the slack parts of school (stories, recess, lunch, art) and the nerdy bits (maths and science) but hated P.E. (an opinion which never changed), language and cursive.

In 1994 I was voted by my class mates in Year Four as having the "Biggest voice for the littlest lady". People were sick of my ear piercing screams by the end of the year as I was constantly trying to out-do myself. These days I save the screaming for when 300kg of bovine is chasing me.

In Year Five I was quite over school. It seemed I was not enthused at all. Though my friend Victoria had big ambitions. She declared she wanted to own a horse and work with them too. Dream achieved!

My Year Six teacher, Mr Whyte, was always keen to challenge my class mates and I and so I thrived! I got a merit certificate at the end of the year for being a bit of a goody-two-shoes (though my name was spelt wrong). I participated in Festival Choir. I think I even had a go at SAPSASA netball and tennis.

In Year Seven my name was spelt wrong again. We went on camp to Adelaide where I was photographed in the stupid hat that I used to religiously wear. An excursion to De'Estrees Bay had me meeting my future brother-in-law though I didn't know it at the time. I played SAPSASA netball again. Some of my art made it to page 68... where my name was spelt wrong again. I dressed as one of the Seven Dwarfs for Book Week and had my name spelt wrong again. And I was still a nerd, gaining a certificate of distinction this particular year, and had my name spelt wrong again.

My first year of high school my name was spelt correctly in the class photo. I had an uncredited piece of art on page 113 as well as a bit of Photoshop fun on the following page. I went "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" for maths according to Mrs. Johnston by competing with 24 fellow students in the South Australian Maths Talent Quest (still a nerd) and coming equal third with a few other class mates. A photo of me appears getting passed along by fellow students with their hands in the air for drama.

The only evidence of me attending KAS in 1999 was a piece of visual art. Other than Patto's contribution of my art I had dropped off the schools radar. I had left, very much unwillingly, to attend, what I deemed to be, an over-crowded, suburban school. My years at KAS were over before the school year itself was even out. And even though I attended the school for over nine years... they still couldn't spell my name.