Monday, April 5, 2021

Some thoughts after reading a novel all day

 Firstly, how privileged am I to be able to read a novel all day, uninterrupted by anything but long weekend bush warriors doing jet ski burnouts.

It's been grey skies for days. My solar powered batteries have been so depleted that the inverter gave up the ghost. 'The fuse has blown' was my first thought. But logic kicked in. No sun, no inverter, no satellite, no mobile phone, no internet, no lights. Still have hot water and cooking facilities though. Turn it off and then on again, after the sun has been out for a little while.

Tomatoes are finished for the season. The green ones with white star bottoms straight to the kitchen sink window sill to ripen. Who even thought to use cable ties to stake them? Was that really me using single use plastics? Now I need secateurs to cut the cable ties and then I have to chuck said ties in the bin! Fuck.

Thank god for that ball of string and a pair of scissors.

Good intentions and a strong mind. These sentiments both enhance and cancel out the other.

Are there still cloakrooms?

At the bar, my ex says 'We're taking bets for $100 if the barmaid will take off her top.' I say, 'For a hundred I could buy our son a trampoline, but cool cool.' Later as I walk home alone I see him and his mates drive by in a matt black Valiant.

Spiky plants are the Bear Grylls of this country.

Someone at the Easter Sunday markets yesterday was selling home dentistry kits for twenty bucks. I thought they were grooming kits inside the fold out case, until I saw the mirror-on-a-stick. Definitely home dentistry kits.

Piero del Pollaiuolo's Apollo and Daphne. How can we possibly see this image as romantic, when he is prising apart her knees and she is literally grounded to the spot, unable to move? It's disturbing, to me anyway.

Cops, telling us not to park our cars where we normally do while we work the fire season because they're parked up there with guns, bullet proof vests and body cameras, all  on a penalty rates Easter weekend junket watching a bikie mob on their run down south. Ahem. 

Very important men. All of them.

I miss being at sea. This is why I miss being at sea.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Uluru Statement

 In 2017, Indigenous people gathered at this continent's heart Uluru to develop what is now known as The Uluru Statement from the Heart. Such a getting together from so many nations to clearly articulate a singular unity of purpose when it comes to our constitution and our national relationship to history ... it was mind blowing to me at the time. Imagine a collective of Indigenous peoples from the Europa continent doing the same thing, on the same day, with the same sentiment. 

They know they stand on the shoulders of giants.The Pallawah of Van Diemen's Land petitioned to the Crown in the 1830s that their treaty pleas had been ignored, and the letters from Corranderk, calling for a treaty and a voice in parliament, the Burunga Statement, the call for National Day of Mourning on the 26th of January, 1934, William Cooper et al. It goes on and on.

Anyway, after the statement being originally rejected by our then Prime Minister and kicked to the side by other ministers, who misunderstood the statement enough to say it would mean a third tranche of parliament (not true btw and some of those MPs have since apologised for 'not getting it'), the Uluru Statement is gaining traction again as a fair and true campaign for Voice Treaty and Truth. 

Out of the many British colonies, Australia was never ceded to British ownership by its people. There was also never a treaty. The Uluru Statement seeks to cut through that history in really practical ways: We need a makkarata, which is a reckoning and truth telling about our history. We need an Indigenous voice to parliament and this voice has to be enshrined within our constitution, so that any Indigenous advisory mob cannot be kicked out when the government changes hands or ideologies, which has happened in the past.

These statements are the voice from our country's oldest people. Their requests are simple and a profoundly generous solution to our way forward as a nation.

Here are some explainers on why the Uluru Statement is momentous. The first one is from Dean Parkin:

And the second one is the statement itself:

Finally, if any folk want to voice their support, please visit this spot where it is all happening and you can jump on board.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Djeran skies

 Our season turned on the pin of the equinox. Woke up on the 22nd and the car was coated in dew. Any rain before this was fringing the cyclone systems up north and now soft rain and stilled winds tell us we are coming into the Noongar season of Djeran. The Southern Ocean country is pretty different to Indian Ocean country or inland though, and this season down south is translated by some as Pringren. This comes after the two summers and before we head into the two winters.

The other night I was sky gazing and thought ... 'Mare's tails and mackerel scales, tall ships with shortened sails' ... there would be a weather event in twenty four hours and so there was, although a vestigial thunderstorm of the second summer. The moon was amazing.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Bathroom Mirror

This mirror can be brutally honest first thing in the morning. The lines on my brow and fleshy, wrinkled undersides of my arms. The window full of light and luminating the sight of me. Gah!

Skinny Gran looked into this mirror once, long ago. Then her son built her a house in the House Paddock, next to the Apple Tree paddock. It was said her husband, Viking stock, went away to war a good man and came back a bad one. North Africa campaigns. One of the Rats. She survived the car accident, when her drunken husband and some of her children did not. Her son survived it too and left school at ten to go to work. He became adult, slicked back hair, weekly dances at the community hall, shearing teams. Skinny Gran moved with him here, to this house, when he married the daughter of a Dutchman and they staked all of their money into a patch of dirt on the south coast.

Skinny Gran died quietly. The men here die violently as a rule. The women are taken by a more interior means – clusters and squamous cells. For decades, a lifetime, Skinny Gran’s daughter in law, a merry-eyed woman with tight curly hair inspected herself in this mirror before making tea in an aluminium pot in the mornings, quiet time before the children awoke. Listening to the bulls and the magpies. Curly Mum’s daughters were babies and then suddenly they were teenagers, the oldest wielding a tight-lipped authority over her squally middle child brother. Sometimes when she looked in the mirror, she could see the straight brow and nose of her children’s’ genes, the Dutch, the Swede, the hard scrabble life land. 

Sometimes I wonder, as I look in the same mirror, whether Curly Mum thought of the farm as unceded Aboriginal land. It must have been a silent reckoning and certainly not of the times. The work, the constant work and interest rates and carting water for the cattle in the dry years. Her son was old enough now, angry enough and strong enough to take on his old man. Her son went away at fifteen.

Her youngest, who idolised her big brother, sat on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror and cried as Curly Mum stood behind her, cutting her hair into a blonde crown of curls. If only they wouldn’t fight, she said to her mum. Why do they fight? It was a Saturday and the midsummer light through the window was fierce. She was starting high school in a week. Her mum reckoned that there is always a week between a bad haircut and a good one.

They tiled the bathroom, took out the bath with its lion claw feet and installed a sliding glass shower cubicle. No one had baths anymore anyway and the water pressure was improved with the new electric pump. Curly Mum stood in front of the mirror, a towel around her waist, right arm raised and crooked over her hair, her left hand feeling around her boob, seeing if the lump was visible to the eye.

Two years later and, stepping out of the shower in the mornings with bright light shining in, confronting again the scars beneath her absent right breast. So … an Amazon now. Silences from her husband and fearful looks from her daughters. Trips to the city were a necessity rather than privilege. Clearances, cleared, remission. Twenty years. Her son returned.

Her son’s girlfriend was a sturdy, uneven girl who already had a daughter from another man. Curly Dill (‘daughter in law, love’) would seek refuge in the kitchen with Curly Mum when the two men, now bonded in mutual recognition after all those years of antipathy, became intolerable to her in the shed. Curly Mum found this kid’s activism around the forests and feminist thought tilting at windmills and pretty quaint. She’s pregnant, her son said to her one day. How do you feel about that? Curly Mum asked her son. I’m not sure, said her son.

Curly Dill gave birth on the side of the road on the way to the hospital. Not long after that, Curly Mum had a proper hospital bed delivered to the house, and a nurse, so that she could die at home. Which she did.

Grannie Violet had been sweet on Curly Mum’s husband from the days back when Skinny Gran was a single mum and her son was slicking back his hair and going to dances. So when Curly Mum died, Grannie Violet moved into her house and soon became grandma to the expanding progeny of this family. At first there was resistance from them, then acceptance as they realised she was staying for the long run. She would see herself age in the bathroom mirror, over the years. She kept her own house and worked still, cleaning houses and government department buildings, as her partner grew older and his heart condition worsened. Grannie Violet went into the house two days after he died to ‘collect her things.’ I’d like to think that she stopped in front of the bathroom mirror but maybe she didn’t.

Curly Mum’s son took over the farm when his father died. He worked full time at a sand carting company to pay back the loan incurred by his father’s lack of a will, and spent his nights in the calving season with a calf-puller, a torch and his four-wheel drive. He looked drawn and shadowed. The next woman to look in the bathroom mirror brushed her teeth, inspected her fringe, eyebrows and hair, before rushing her daughter off to the school bus that rumbles along the gravel road past the gates, every morning. She hoped for a future, any future. At the gates sit concrete casts of a pair of lions, an Italian plea that the people within own this piece of land. 

Yesterday, Curly Dill looked in that bathroom mirror, remembering this history. She first looked into that mirror when Curly Mum was still alive and she was 24, and in love with her son. If she looked a bit emotional in the mirror, it’s because the farm is about to be sold after the death of her own son’s father, Curly Mum's son, and so this whole story comes to an end, of sorts.