Thursday, October 21, 2010


Spring is well and truly here, and my garden again looks like my header picture. The roses are bursting into their October flush.

"I'll tell you a secret," I sometimes tell the teens. "Life gets better the older and older you get."
They often laugh, (with me)....Are the young still told that being young is the happiest time of their life?
I don't think that many older adults look back on it as such.

When I was a teen, the most enviable female in the world - not that I envied her, her life was too dazzling to be yearned for - was someone who suffered from anorexia nervosa, alcoholism, depression, throat cancer and kidney disease.
Not that she did at the time, of course... that all lay in the future for Sandra Dee. She died at the age of only 63. Or perhaps 61: her son says that her mother inflated her age so that she could start work at 2, rather than the 4 years old that her mother claimed.
"Youth is like Spring....," my father quoted to me back then, at a loss when he found me in floods of tears about ...nothing. I had no idea why I was crying. "....a much overrated season."
I heartily agree. Blissful bits. Storms. Cold snaps. Unpredictable.


Twelve years old Oscar looked up from his punctuation excercise and asked, "Are you French?" "No," I said.
"You're not?" he said. "No."
"Are you sure?" he said. "Yes, " I said.
"You're like Australian Australian?" "Yes".
"You're sort of...," Dionee waved her hands around, worryingly leaving the interpretation to my imagination.

One half of my ancestry is centuries old English. One half equally Irish .... except for one great great something who left Corsica with Napoleon. Perhaps I look like him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I withdrew a submission to a university alumni magazine this week, because the editor misread an acerbic, ironic phrase as literal, and objected to it.
As, read literally, the phrase offended her political viewpoint, I saw this as not only misreading, but censorship.
It reminded me of Max Harris being found guilty of indecency for publishing the Ern Malley poems, because the police found indecency in the narrator's intentions in "shall rest snug and know what he means". In another instance, "the indecency lay in the fact that the 'events took place in a park at night'". As well as for using the word "genitals" and "incestuous" - the prosecuting policeman said that he did not know what the latter meant, but felt confident that it was indecent. It's strange to think that such was the world I was born in to.
Fortunately, withdrawal meant that I did not have to object to her wish to change "wheel" to "turn", "skeletons" to "frames", or change some punctuation which destroyed a deliberate rythmn. This trivia made me aware that as an editor she is paid to alter someone's writing.
How odd. Her initial reaction to the piece was "absolutely lovely". When an artist takes a painting to a gallery, does the owner say, "Absolutely lovely. I'll just paint out this bit here and here, and change these bits around"?
Ironically, I think that if, in the offending bit, she had edited "was" to "seems", it may have overcome her objections.


One week, I was unable to go, which had unforseen consequences.
A's mother, brooding about what we were "getting up to" - (which amounted to revelling in the beauty, the isolation) - had evidently come to the conclusion that I, the girl whom she didn't know, must be "good".
She made a surprise swoop on the little shack.
That I, the good girl, was not there proved that the other three were bad: why else would I stay away?
Having proved that the three were bad, therefore confirmed her opinion that I was good.
A was a lovely, serene girl; immersed in poetry and history and literature. She endured her mother's mental illness with such grace and kindness and good temper. I don't know how she did it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Times past

In my last year at university I was friends with A, B and C, who were old school friends of each other, but not of me. My school was more downmarket....not only that, it was, yuk, catholic...(although I was not: an uncomfortable perch). My parents were less well-heeled - ie, poorer. Culturally, we were sort of the same : my parents'education possibly eclipsed theirs. Values,etc were in common, and traditional........ I enjoyed AB and C hugely.

A invited us to stay at her father's south coast getaway. We jumped at the chance: we were carried by her in her mini several hours south of Sydney, to stay in this tycoon's getaway - a fibro shack. It faced north, ie sunwards, across two vast empty inlets/beaches. Divine. There was no other dwelling in sight.
It was known but unspoken that A's mother had mental health issues: that's why A had a car: what horrible assault might happen if she had to take public transport?
A's mother, in her confusion, had insisted that A go on an "outward bound" course. A said that it had all been boring - if you had to abseil down a cliff, then you would abseil down a cliff, or do whatever silly physical stuff they valued - and that the only positive she got from the experience was that it was pleasant to swim naked.
So, we gave it a try. And, after initial coyness, it was very soporific, to wander nude along the pristine lengths of these two beaches: the untouched sand, the clean breakers washing in. Miles of beach and bush and emptiness: isolation, solitude. It was quite blissful.
Until the day we looked behind us, and saw waves of people gradually emerging from the coastal shrubbery as we retreated. We had forgotten that there are weekends. And, that on weekends people travel to surf and fish and whatever.
Today the whole place is, of course, a mass of development. I'm pleased that I remember it when, but I wonder whether there are any old locals who remember four naked young women loitering along the shore while the locals hid in the bushes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

for oh, the wolf is nigh

Rachel stitched this in 1842. It occurs to me that, to do the equivalent, I would need someone staring at my work in 21 78.
It's quite common to read of people whose motivation is how future generations might regard them. Not my interest at all, but these bits from the past are both poignant and intriguing.
Rachel is a long gone relative, and I know nothing about her: but, I have her childish work here in my hand. How odd.

And yes, just as in 1842, the wolf is nigh. Maybe.

Jesus great shepherd of thy sheep, (funny looking and one-eyed as they might be).

Dummy spit

I apologise for such. I have not returned to my blog for so long because I did not want to read my own embarrassing behaviour.
The emotionally reactive part of my brain structure seems to have more influence than the rational side would choose or prefer....(thereby shucks of responsibility for own behaviour).
Many thanks for the kind, concerned and understanding responses.