Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Why I didn't Shoot the Deputy
Thankyou for the letter home to all parents, encouraging them to volunteer their time at our primary school for activities such as library, computers or home reading.
I have many happy memories of being the regular 'home reading mum' at your school. We walked to school every morning with dogs, prams and bicycles, and spent at least an hour after that helping the year ones and twos read.
In 2006, the Howard government brought in 'Welfare to Work' and for myself and many other parents, the whole scenario changed forever.
Unless we work full time when our children turned seven, or we are married to someone earning enough money to give CentreLink the flick, we are now obliged to sign a contract stating that we will work a minimum of fifteen hours a week at or above the minimum wage of $14.23 an hour. If we earn less than the minimum wage, we are obliged to work more hours to make up that difference. If we do not qualify for either of these mandates, we are obliged to do 100 hours of Job Search training and be corralled into Intensive Assistance. The job search agencies whom we are unwittingly signed up to, garner a certain amount of federal funding per person that they have to 'process', and therefore they see each individual as a 'funding unit'.
If we do not comply with any of these options, we are considered breachers and bludgers who do not participate within our community in a productive manner.
However, we can do fifteen hours of volunteer work per week to make up for this personal shortfall.
Volunteer work includes most forms of government-sponsored altruism. Unfortunately, according to CentreLink and PVS Workfind, the definition of volunteer work does not include the following things:
* Looking after a friend who has cancer, including driving them to and from appointments, gardening, cleaning or shopping for them.
* Helping your elderly neighbour when they have to leave for six weeks to deal with funerals or births in another state.
* Painting your mate's house.
* Canteen Duty in primary schools.
* Home reading in primary schools.
* Helping kids in the library or the computer room in primary schools.
I don't know a parent who wasn't running around like a blue-arsed fly, before the Welfare to Work regime came in. I suggest that if you want parents to help our kids out in the lunch hour, in the canteen, in the library, in the computer room, then you approach the doctor's/lawyer's/miner's spouse who can afford not to work or queue in government orifices. The other option is a little more socially progressive. Approach PVS WorkFind and CentreLink. Impress on them the need to change their policy of devaluing the work of volunteers within the schools and the community.
I am terribly sorry that I can no longer spare an hour a week to help out with the kids at our school. These days I can barely make the Assembly.
I notice as well, that you are asking for more diverse services from parents, as your own resources are being squeezed. It was with a great sadness I read this letter from you today and realised how all of our resources and time are becoming collectively contracted into non-productive slots that no longer allow us the moments of unadulterated day dreaming and fun and unthinking philanthropy.
Yours sincerely, Sarah Toa
(Cartoon by The Boiling Point, www.mikhaela.net/weblog )
Monday, February 23, 2009
Cross Discipline Juice
Back at uni this week, after eighteen months' work experience in the real world. (Read lawnmower, garden centre attendant, courier and deckhand). But this time it's not Uni 101. It's real juicy.
My thesis: to research the origins and history of a little girl who was dropped off the edge of her world and arrived on our own Eclipse Island here in 1831 with a boatload of sealers from all corners of the globe; to write something beautiful about her story, fictionalise it, find a 'voice', a narrator capable of spinning such a ripping yarn, and at the end of the year, present it to the history/literature buffs at Murdoch.
A good excuse to hang out on and island and write, methinks.
Now, if I could just rustle up a spare couple of hours in the week, this would be quite achievable. Something's gotta give ... All the same - I'm so excited about this project and it's potential.
Friday, February 20, 2009
A Totally Self Indulgent (Sigh)
Funny, because once I did forgive him, we became firm friends. I've always been a better friend than lover and this was no exception. He was the original Paul Hogan sort, a larrikin without the plastic surgery. He had the soulful, laughing brown eyes of his father.
He was prematurely halted on a Harley ten days ago, by a tree.
I wondered at the Coffin Cheaters yesterday, standing dark and staunch near the back of the huge crowd of hardened party animals, every single individual tenderised by the collective sledgehammer of unexpected grief. I wondered if they saw the irony of their moniker at the graveside.
The pall bearers wore West Coast Eagles jumpers or shearer's singlets with the Phantom emblazoned on their back. It's been a while since I've seen a lot of these folk. Some hadn't changed in a decade and others wore their footy jumpers stretched tight over a new bulge of self-indulgence. Beautiful girls, bare foot with flowing dresses and heavy, silken hair, tattoos burning in February sun. Balloons. His Mum.
We set the balloons free to the strains of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, cheering, whistling and clapping and watched them soar higher and higher, kept company by a lone guardian pelican, until they became like grains of dust and then disappeared.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Blake's Take On It All
Anyway, it's a tripper and it's great! Enjoy.
The Mental Traveller by William Blake
I traveld thro' a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women too
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth wanderers never knew
For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe
Just as we Reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow
And if the Babe is born a Boy
He's given to a Woman Old
Who nails him down upon a rock
Catches his Shrieks in Cups of gold
She binds iron thorns around his head
She pierces both his hands & feet
She cuts his heart out at his side
To make it feel both cold & heat
Her fingers number every Nerve
Just as a Miser counts his gold
She lives upon his shrieks & cries
And She grows young as he grows old
Till he becomes a bleeding youth
And she becomes a Virgin bright
Then he rends up his Manacles
And binds her down for his delight
He plants himself in all her Nerves
Just as a Husbandman his mould
And She becomes his dwelling place
And Garden fruitful Seventy fold
An aged Shadow soon he fades
Wandring round an Earthly Cot
Full filled all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got
And these are the gems of the Human Soul
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye
The countless gold of the akeing heart
The martyrs groan & the lovers sigh
They are his meat they are his drink
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the way faring Traveller
For ever open is his door
His grief is their eternal joy
They make the roofs & walls to ring
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring
And she is all of solid fire
And gems & gold that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her Baby form
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band
But She comes to the Man she loves
If young or old or rich or poor
They soon drive out the aged Host
A Begger at anothers door
He wanders weeping far away
Untill some other take him in
Oft blind & age-bent sore distrest
Untill he can a Maiden win
And to Allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms
The Cottage fades before his Sight
The Garden & its lovely Charms
The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball
The Stars Sun Moon all shrink away
A desart vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around
The honey of her Infant lips
The bread & wine of her sweet smile
The wild game of her roving Eye
Does him to Infancy beguile
For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger & younger every day
And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay
Like the wild Stag she flees away
Her fear plants many a thicket wild
While he pursues her night & day
By various arts of Love beguild
By various arts of Love & Hate
Till the wide desart planted oer
With Labyrinths of wayward Love
Where roams the Lion Wolf & Boar
Till he becomes a wayward Babe
And she a weeping Woman Old
Then many a Lover wanders here
The Sun & Stars are nearer rolld
The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
To all who in the desart roam
Till many a City there is Built
And many a pleasant Shepherds home
But when they find the frowning Babe
Terror strikes thro the region wide
They cry the Babe the Babe is Born
And flee away on Every side
For who dare touch the frowning form
His arm is witherd to its root
Lions Boars Wolves all howling flee
And every Tree does shed its fruit
And none can touch that frowning form
Except it be a Woman Old
She nails him down upon the Rock
And all is done as I have told
Sunday, February 8, 2009
It's Been A Week
Those who know me well, understand from experience that Captain Chaos is probably busy drinking and getting maudlin in a Glaswegian bar somewhere and has never even heard of me but he's a great scapegoat. Let's tar and feather the bastard anyway.
I got sucker punched. I'm puppy-sitting.
You could comment. "Ohhh, he's sooo cute!"
I'll remember that, when I need to palm him off.
He is a disaster area. He's here for a month. He's dug up the rotten fish fertiliser, rolled in it and spread it all over my doorstep. He's bent starpickets in endearing, wriggling moments of absolute joy. He's utterly terrorised the chickens, the cat, the bandicoots and the black skink (the original specialist in terrorism and guerrilla kibble-hijacking) has left home in a huff.
I've had a week of
*people rear ending me at roundabouts,
*people yelling at me because I'm unloading tables too slowly at the markets and they would like to park their fucking Merc just past my banged up old Rodeo.
*trying to quell catfights at the local petrol station. (Man, those policemen can scratch!)
I decided today, that I needed to wash these things off me. You know, just clean the week away and emerge from my dirty little encounter with the Captain, if not virginal, then at least partially intact.
Washing after feeling so dirtied is real nice - when you have gas.
Then the kettle exploded.
Our Sunshine arrived from Melbourne with a shell-shocked Chihuahua and set up a tent in the backyard. This morning she set about the makings of a fire and cooked me breakfast.
So with lashings of fried mushrooms and eggs, ("Isn't there something special about food cooked unevenly on a barbie?" she asked me and I have to agree. It's the crispy egg white thing with gooey yolks on toast, cremated on one side and lightly browned the other. Yes.) and the most awesome ginger coffee I've ever tasted, my depleted internal para-copers are regrouping.
I still need a wash. The combination of deckhand and no running hot water is just wrong. But things are looking up. I photocopied dozens of this image, stolen from a mate's blog and have decided they are now my official business card.
"A problem? Sorry to hear that. Here's my card."