Monday, October 20, 2014

Boom! and Beggar Grandmothers

I've been a bit wary of Goggle since their latest incursion into social media but this week my other browser seems to have forsaken me, along with a frightening moment where my whole computer turned blue and white and spewing words like SHUT DOWN across the screen. I didn't even have to spill coffee on it this time. Anyhoo ... apologies to anyone who receives an email saying I'd like to add you to my circles. I've got my own circles thanks, as you do too, so I'm not being desperate (honest), just commandeered.

There are some meanderings ... but firstly I'd like to talk about what it is like to drive 350 kilometres to rob beehives of their honey.

Tyrant Queen

Kundip bees are hard. Kundip is hard. It's all quartz and mallee and hard history. Every time I get out there these days to a) shore up the shack against resident snake b) rob hives or c) engage in a long ranging argument with said tiger snake, I think to myself, "Why is this so hard?"
When I returned, my Mum said to me, "It's always been hard out there, Sarah. It's just a hard place."

I'd requeened hive #2 because the original queen was slack and not cracking the whip enough (see this post). This was about the same time the tigersnake told me to get the hell out of my own shack, who just went me as I walked through the door. Now hive #2 is ruled by a furious, over-producing tyrant of a queen whose workers just went me as soon as I opened their box and then the buggers stung me twice through my veil, totally altering my facial profile for about three days. My chin wobbled like an old woman's wattle for a week, but we got a lot of honey out of that hive. I am learning that angry bees make more honey and She is now the alpha queen of Kundip and that my requeening effort worked. It's a real shame that I wasn't quite as attractive on my drive home but I'll take those blows in the best interests of honey.

Ubud #2

The first time I came across a beggar, I found it terribly confronting. It was my first day in Indonesia, ever, and I needed to buy a SIM card. Suddenly, she was right at my feet looking like some kind of ghoul, her hands at her mouth and then outstretched to me. A baby sat on her lap. I had only big notes and no idea what they were worth.
The only way I could step around her was by leaping the huge hole in the footpath, where I could see the town's effluent flowing beneath.
She was terrifying and I felt disgusted at myself for being afraid of her. Her baby watched me as I walked away, and I had to pass them both on my way back.

But as I watched them over the next few days, I began to see the women were actually grandmothers, not mothers, and that the babies were sleeping in their laps by eight o'clock and that it probably doubled as a baby-sitting gig for them. Or maybe they pay for a baby prop. Not sure. After that I started putting all my small notes into a different section of my bag, so I could reef it out without sorting through my strange cash on the street.

It's just a job, a living, and I guess the service they were providing me with in return for my pittance of small change, was the story, a memory, an experience. It's an honest transaction. At dusk, the street ceremony ended and I walked behind the four grandmothers. They were walking up the hill towards the writers festival venue, joking with each other, their babies in slings suckling from milk bottles. They were pointing out their beat beyond the ceremony ... and by eight or nine, they were the starving wastrels with sleeping babies and limp, grasping hands who scared me so on my first day.


At Five Fathom, after running the spinnaker from Gull Rock, Happy said, "Right. Let's jibe."
"What am I supposed to be doing?" I asked him, earnest about my role.
"Nothing. Just sit there."
So I sat.
Then Happy said, "The runner! Who's doing the runner. Sarah. Sarah! Do the runner."
I stood up and on that jibe the boom swung down and smacked me across my nose, my jaw, my ear, my skull. It felt like a truck hit me.

Then I was looking at the winch. People were shouting at me.
Which way do I wind on the rope?
I took off the rope and looked at the winch again.
People were still shouting at me.
I wound it on anti clock wise, took it off and looked at it again.
More people shouting.

Finally a friend looked at me as I stood there stunned, staring at the winch and said, "Are you okay?"
"Got hit by the boom," I said. "Am I bleeding?"
I asked this because I felt it was obvious that blood must have been pissing out of my face at that stage and that  everyone on board would have known that I'd been walloped by the boom.

"She got hit by the boom," my friend said to Happy. "She got hit by the boom."
"Jesus, Sarah!," said Happy to me, as he straightened up the boat. "You have to tell me if you get hit like that. You've got to tell me, for fuck's sake!"
At that moment the rest of the crew understood what was going on and Dave came straight down from Adventure Land at the bow and laid three fingers in front of me.
"How many fingers are you seeing?"
"Oh, fuck off Dave," I said, wavering, watching his fingers blur, thinking he was re-enacting that 1984 scene with Richard Burton. "I'm fine."

But you know, I was on the verge of crying the whole way home. It's the hit on the head thing. Getting hit hard on the head brings up all kinds of history with me. Crew mates gave me rolled up and ready lit cigarettes, Happy let me steer, someone else handed me a beer and still I was shipwrecked from Emu Point to Home, on the edge of tears the whole way.


  1. Replies
    1. Also ... on the right hand side of the road are the grannies I was writing about.

  2. Feeling for you Sarah. Effective post!

    I'm well off Google now too. Thought I posted to your Richard Flanagan comments but maybe just didnt hit send. But cant respond to comments on my own blog since a week or two ago and the G+ share funtion has stopped working too. Why do they have to own the whole world? If its easy Imight just jumpto Wordpress.

  3. I guess you could just cut and past all of your text into another blog Ciaran, though you do have a pretty impressive body of work going on. And what about the images? Good luck with that, anyway :~).

  4. So, what is your "other browser" Sarah, and what are you using now? Please tell me that the answer to neither question is "Internet Explorer".

    Why do they have to own the whole world? If its easy Imight just jumpto Wordpress.

    If you were a huge multi-national corporation, wouldn't you want to own the whole world? As far as I can see, Google is another good example of what happens when you let a company use its success in one area of the market to leverage other areas. Like with Woolies and Westfarmers branching out and colonising every facet of retail. The longer this goes on, and the more consolidated things get, the less "fixable" I think it is through "consumer activism" and the like. It'll be interesting to see how diverse the landscape is in twenty years, no?

    At the moment, you can export your blog from Blogger and import it into WordPress, but as Sarah indicated, it won't move your pictures, videos, or any other embedded content. I don't think you can do much with your G+ stuff, though I might be wrong.


    It's an honest transaction

    I suppose. On one of my early trips to Brisbane, I put money in the tin of a bloke who was flailing about in a wheelchair, making grunting noises. Later that evening, I saw him pushing his wheelchair and casually chatting with a woman, probably on their way home for tea. I didn't feel quite so at peace about that one at the time. I guess it's not exactly the same thing though, is it? Or is it?


    Getting hit hard on the head brings up all kinds of history with me.

    That sounds pretty nasty. I have my own history, but my gut reaction tends to be blind fury, and I just want to hit back. I guess it's a bit pointless trying to square off with a bloody sailboat though.

  5. Yes, that's interesting Alex. Blind fury is my alternate reaction to being hit on the head. It's either fury or tears, no middle ground.