“It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain“… lyrics matchlessly sung by Chrissie Amphlett of the Divinyls, run through my head; soundtrack to the dwindling days of our city life as I conduct a mental retrospective; some of the hits and misses curiously similar. Then I’ll say farewell in my usual style… humming Don Henley’s Boys of Summer “Don’t look back. You can never look back.”
In no particular order…
Customs House Library… the building is a landmark but the interior holds the real treasure, books and more books.
Neighbourhood cats with whom we’re on a first name basis… Davros, Ruby, Frank, Zac, George Junior, Ted… and freely share therapeutic pats and fur.
Local markets… bringing real food from the country to my city doorstep, and nice people too.
The dishwasher… I love its wooshy lullaby sound as cleans the dishes while I sleep.
Air-conditioning in February heat and humidity.
Public transport… inexpensive and convenient.
Paid employment… the comfort of a monthly bank deposit.
Gratis internet, phone and postage courtesy of aforementioned paid employment.
Sense of walking among living history of old buildings, laneways, streets and gardens.
Its intangible and random gifts… kindnesses, street art, buskers, footpath recycling…
Ten minute cab ride to airport.
Walking distance to lots of interesting and useful stuff.
Sitting at footpath tables outside cafés & pubs people watching.
The denizens, all the permutations thereof.
Soy chai lattes at Tramezzini in the AMP Building.
Air pollution, grime & noise.
Air-conditioning except in February heat and humidity.
Paid employment… working 5 days, 9 to 5.
Car parking congestion.
Living in a shoebox apartment in a street of shoebox apartment complexes.
Apartment complex strata rules…no smoking, no parking, no balcony railing plant pots, no…
Public transport… unreliable and crowded.
Workplace bathrooms… oh, the horror stories I could tell you.
Workplace kitchens… patronised by apparently normal co-workers with annoying habits, and refrigerators harbouring food turned science experiments.
Riding in lifts (elevators)… that might get stuck between floors but people risk limbs to enter or leap into like lemmings* and crowd like sardines… Why? Because another might be as long as a whole minute away.
The vagaries of home delivery pizza… hot & crisp, late & soggy, great, not-too-bad, inedible, how much did we pay for that?
Our favourite local haunts that have become too busy/popular/hipster.
Henry Ford “as long as it’s black” corporate attire… I’m keeping a couple of ensembles in case I need to attend a funeral… says it all really.
[*leaping lemmings – popular misconception but the metaphor endures.]
Twenty years ago when I bought a block of land and built a house with my then-husband I knew it wasn’t the house of my dreams: an old house with verandahs, tin roof and rainwater tanks, like a nanna’s house.
Au contraire, it was a modern off-the-plan, brick veneer, tile roofed house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living areas, double garage and a deck, set in a native bush yard in subdivision situated an urban area of the Central Coast of NSW, overlooking glimpses of a lake and the ocean in the far distance.
I lived in that house for nine years with then-husband, two cats and a dog. I gardened, worked, commuted to the city, hosted dinners, barbeques, parties and Christmases. Family & friends came to visit or stay almost every weekend.
All the while my dream house waited.
The cats and dog spent their last years there as I promised them they would. However, when they were gone I set myself free and moved back to the city where I worked. After a while the G.O. came to live with me in a tiny apartment where we had not much space nor time for those other things that make a life. Except a dream staked on the old house we bought together ten years ago in a village in the hinterland of the Nambucca Valley.
The G.O. had originally purchased our house with his then-wife several years before I set eyes on it. Despite being told it was a ‘knock-down’ he stripped, rebuilt, painted and gave the old house a new life. I visited it once, briefly, during the early stages, a couple of years before he nearly had to let it go along with the life he’d had there.
But as fate unfolded its enigmatic plans by the time I’d sold my still-new house the opportunity presented itself for the G.O.’s lovely old lady of a house with wide verandahs, tin roof and rainwater tanks to become mine too.
When I saw it with fresh eyes on my second visit, I knew it was the nanna’s house of my dreams; the house where there’d be homemade biscuits in a tin, loose tea leaves in a jar, teapots with woolly covers, cups & saucers & floral pattern plates, shelves of books read but undusted, scattered bibs & bobs from various times & places, well-loved comfy furniture, geraniums in the front garden, veges & a hills hoist in the back, family pictures in the china cabinet, a cat sleeping on a chair, creeping sunshine, quiet afternoons and elastic time.
“And so, onwards… along a path of wisdom, with a hearty tread, a hearty confidence.. however you may be, be your own source of experience. Throw off your discontent about your nature. Forgive yourself your own self. You have it in your power to merge everything you have lived through- false starts, errors, delusions, passions, your loves and your hopes- into your goal, with nothing left over.” Friedrich Nietzsche
For me, a woman who has the kid from the country she once was still in her psyche; the experience of living and working in and around Sydney for the past 25 years has been pretty cool. Little did I dream as I played childhood games of ‘let’s pretend’ at an invisible typewriter I’d end up resident of an inner city locality I had no idea existed, doing a job involving computers and technologies not then thought of, employed by one of the world’s largest law firms, spending my week days in a skyscraper looking out over Sydney Harbour.
Of all the locations I’ve lived in as an adult, inner-city Sydney is where I’ve felt most at home. For almost 12 years I’ve wandered its streets, commuted by train to Circular Quay, strolled through the CBD knowing it wasn’t going to be forever but enjoying the pit-stop on my journey. We’re leaving the city at its best; in the warmer weather it sparkles and glows ready for the festive season.
“idealizes life with only its head out of water, inches above the limits of toleration of the corruption of its own environment… Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”
It’s time for us say our farewells… for, in the words of Kahlil Gibran “life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
A day in the life…
With the festive season approaching and in view of our imminent shift to Taylors Arm I’m attending early to Christmas gift strategies and shopping.
Resigning myself to the inevitability of on-demand occasion-dictated gift exchange but hopped off the consumer-retailer spending hamster wheel, once again I’m favouring gifts of products we’ve enjoyed this year, purchased locally from people or organisations where dollars make a difference to lives & families not corporates & shareholders.
To package the goodies, I popped over the road from my office building to Eastland Officesmart and grabbed funky green paper bags for a $1 each.
One of the unfortunate things about moving from the city is we’ll be no longer within walking distance of our local Eveleigh-Carriageworks Famers Market so I’m stocking up on gift items of Olsson’s Australian Salt and Prickle Hill Worcester Sauce. I’ll also pick up a box of Jollie Gourmet dog treats for the lovely Lucy, my younger sister’s pooch.
I ordered boxes of my favourite Daintree Tea, and to avoid paying shipping for online shopped Oxfam finger puppets for my new niece, I added bargain multi-packs of fair trade chocolate as well as a couple of cat prezzies for my other sister’s kitties Addy & Nutmeg for whom play is preferable to food.
Getting in the swing of imminent Taylors Arm self-sufficiency, to add personal homemade touches there’ll be Bespoke Muesli, liquid hand soap, and after test baking the Passion Fruit Garden’s Gingernuts recipe I’ve designated them Christmas Biscuits 2015.
Over the past few years our gift giving trended to consumables; a response to our cupboards being incrementally stuffed with stuff. It’s my way of taking a stand, attempting to influence by example because despite ongoing efforts, we’re unable to persuade family and friends that although we appreciate the gesture we don’t NEED Christmas gifts.
During recent space clearing in our house at Taylors Arm I filled a box with well-meant but superfluous gifted miscellany and moved it to the G.O.’s shed prior to its next stop at a charity store in town. Possibly from whence it will do the rounds again and end up nicely wrapped under someone’s Christmas tree. Not mine, I hope.
‘Tis the season to shop small.
Shop Small Australia
“Shop Small® has returned to Australia this November. It’s a national movement committed to supporting small businesses at a local level. You know the ones — the family businesses, the start-ups and the independents that make each neighbourhood unique.”
Shop the Neighbourhood – Canada
“Shop The NeighbourhoodTM is a local shopping event that’s all about celebrating small businesses and making your community thrive.”
28th November 2015 will be… Small Business Saturday
“In an age of global markets and capitalism, it’s far too easy for small businesses to struggle and fail, even if they have superior products and services. We have the power to change this, and Small Business Saturday encourages people everywhere to shop with small businesses for just one day, and to change the world a little bit.”
As I see it, the alternative is the slippery slope uncannily depicted by images from depressing artwork portrays what our societies have become.
Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide. If you’d like to join in, link back to Celia’s blog.
The G.O. and I resigned from our jobs yesterday.
30 days until my 50th birthday for which I’ve rainchecked ‘festival of’ until 2016 in favour of simple gathering of family for lunch at the lovely Lifeboat Seafood Café on the Hawkesbury River.
36 days until our next trip to our house at Taylors Arm where we will shuffle and prepare accommodations to absorb our Sydney apartment belongings.
42 days until we finish work.
46 days until the removalist truck arrives to load up our apartment contents for the 500 km trip up the coast.
56 days until Christmas, when we’ll be 9 for lunch.
After that we’re having a long holiday…
“Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life.
A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job…
And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.
To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…
Crying out: High tide!
Time to move out into the glorious debris.
Time to take this life for what it is.”
Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson
Back in the good ol’ days, for about 18 months, I spent weeknights in a Sydney CBD 5 star hotel; a perk that was part of the contract role for a project I’d fortuitously fallen into while living and working near my home a couple of hours drive up the coast. When the project relocated, my job moved with it and
so I was always conveniently on hand to save me the inconvenience of commuter travel it included accommodation & expenses.
I drove down from the coast early Monday morning and back mid-afternoon on Friday circumventing peak traffic, en route connected by [handsfree] mobile phone and finishing my working week remotely… although because most of the project team were from somewhere else and in transit, demand was usually light.
But 10 hour plus working days Monday to Thursday were pretty common, as were team post-work drinks and dinners but I had enough time to myself to enjoy various pleasant diversions such as dinners with girl-friends, walks around Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and Pitt Street Mall retail therapy.
It’s one of the few interludes when I didn’t make my bed each morning; a discipline instilled in me at an early age by my mother. When I returned each evening there were fresh sheets on the bed, clean towels in the bathroom, and the room tidied. Bliss!
One of my responsibilities was to arrange accommodation for the project team. I was familiar with staff at the hotel, and Reservations were kind about throwing better rooms my way, upgrading me to a suite at any opportunity when the hotel wasn’t full. Which is how I came to spend quite a few nights in hotel rooms larger than either of the inner city apartments the G.O. and I have resided in for the past decade or so.
Our apartment residences have been slightly bigger than micro-apartments but only just, by virtue of being endowed with 2 rooms (bedroom and kitchen/living) plus bathroom and balcony. Occasionally, disenchantment with constrained living space sans benefits and nostalgia for those heady hotel room days inclines me to compare.
Hotel: Spacious, stylish rooms and luxurious suites.
Apartment: Modern, open plan, low maintenance.
Hotel: Bathroom with internal window opening to living area with view of TV if so inclined to soak in tub (sometimes spa) with glass of wine after long day.
Apartment: Windowless bathroom and shower (only – no tub) with view of toilet and sink.
Hotel: Daily buffet breakfast.
Apartment: Make toast/eggs each morning.
Hotel: Room service dinner.
Apartment: Order home delivery from Menulog… or shop, chop, cook.
Hotel: Onsite health club.
Apartment: Walking distance to train station.
Hotel: Bars and Mini-Bar.
Apartment: Is there any wine left?
Hotel: Choice of restaurants.
Apartment: Leftovers or what’s in the freezer?
Hotel: Daily housekeeping service.
Apartment: Daily washing, wiping and vacuuming.
Hotel: Proximity to Sydney attractions.
Apartment: Proximity to railway tracks.
Inspired by Francesca of Almost Italian’s post Behind the Fantasy
Another ‘branching out’ story inspired by comments to my Out on a Limb post, our city apartment’s leafy neighbours and the article Erskineville’s newest housing project. Dedicated to the G.O. for whom the big eucalypt tree neighbouring our balcony is a balm to city life.
“I’m a relative newcomer to what they call this now… the neighbourhood. A remnant from what it was two centuries of human time ago, a natural habitat abundant with my kind. I was here when the changes began and we trees gave way, were taken away, made way for Buildings and Roads… and People, as is the humans’ want to call themselves. But not here by the end.
The Outsiders came with plans and tools and cleared the Land. They said they paid for it with Money, or the Government gave it to them. I still don’t understand about the Money or the Government. They aren’t part of the Creation. Where did they come from?
The Outsiders undid some of the work of the Creation. They called it Construction, it made the Buildings go up and in an instant that’s all there was. No trees, grasses or blossoms. No wild animals, birds or insects. The Outsiders didn’t put them back. If they had thought of it anyway they had no time for Preservation. Instead, with pieces of trees they felled, the Outsiders confined spaces around the Buildings, dug the soil, set their beasts to graze and planted seeds they’d brought with them.
How do I know this? After I was there, before I came again, my Spirit, at one with All, was part of the Witnessing of what ensued. Nothing happens that isn’t observed and recorded in The Annals of Time. Of the Spirits of the Land, some travelled Home, some necessarily remained behind as Guardians. As Keepers of the Earth we do not give up our place lightly.
The Outsiders desired autonomy, opportunity to create their humanmade objects. They wanted more than the Creation could provide. To have their own powers of creation pleased the Outsiders. They were clever, strong and capable, no longer believing they needed to rely on offerings and appeasements to the Creation, subject to its caprices. They were proud.
Before the Outsiders there were the Old Ones. Nomads, they used only what the Creation offered, and in exchange were caretakers of the Land. The Outsiders had no place for the Old Ones either. Now they don’t come any more.
In the beginning there weren’t so many Outsiders. The climate suited to my kind was harsh for Outsiders, and the work of changing things was harsher. They brought more Outsiders from far away. Their dreams and schemes and talk spread like fire-stick burns of the Old Ones. But where from fires and ashes commanded by the Old Ones our kind regenerated, the all-consuming visions of the Outsiders doomed us.
For a while the Outsiders were grateful for the gifts of our kind. We were useful to them. By our bodies they kept warm and built shelter. As part of the Creation this was our calling. For all time we have provided Protection. To surrender ourselves to the Outsiders was a Sacrifice of Honour. Once the Outsiders would have honoured it in return by cultivating and nurturing our kind.
All beings are bound by the Creation and its three Pacts. The foremost Pact is Equality. As part of All no one being is more important than another. The second is Perpetuity. We are part of an endless nurturing cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth. And, finally what we give we get back. What we take we give back. That is the Pact of Stability.
There were Outsiders who remembered the Creation and understood the importance of its Pacts. However, unlike the Old Ones the Outsiders didn’t roam the Land accepting what the Earth offered up. The Government and the Money claimed they ruled the Land. To get shelter and food the Outsiders needed pieces of the Money. The Money would only yield pieces if the Outsiders exchanged time and toil for them. And so the Outsiders worked to live, and called it Industry.
But as I said, the Outsiders wanted more than the Creation entitled them to. More Outsiders came and believed and laboured pursuing the possibilities and successes of their own toil. They made a new pact amongst themselves. They called it Profitability. Profitability was acquiring lots of pieces of the Money. The more they thought about Profitability, the less important Equality, Perpetuity and Stability seemed. It became harder to live by the Pacts of the Creation. Everyone was busy pursuing Profitability. Profitability was time-consuming.
Profitability was also successful. The People wanted more. They exchanged the Money with each other in return for trinkets. Industry began to make all manner of trinkets they called Product. The People worked even harder to get pieces of money to swap for Product. They believed many pieces of the Money and beautiful, numerous or newest Product gave them special powers of Status as well.
After a while there were so many Buildings, Roads, Product and People, the Government and Money weren’t able to maintain Order needed to control Profitability. They appointed Politicians who were Outsiders that made rules for the People which they called Laws. The Politicians were busy making Laws so they chose other Outsiders to be Police to make sure the People obeyed the Laws. Because the Politicians and Police were busy with Laws and didn’t have time for Industry the Government decreed they could take some of the Peoples’ pieces of the Money which they called Taxes.
Rather than calling it the old name Order, the Government gave it a new name Community, which was better for Profitability. People toiled harder when they believed they were doing it for the Greater Good. A portion of their Taxes were returned to them in kind in the form of Services for the Greater Good and Benevolence for the unfortunate who didn’t have many pieces of the Money. The People were proud of what they created, their Industry and Benevolence. They worked harder, building more and better, earning more pieces of the Money.
Some time ago, one of the first Outsiders, among the last who remembered the Creation and its Pacts was approaching the end of his physical life, preparing to rejoin Spirit. He’d kept all these years a single gumnut pocketed in the first days of the Construction. After the woman he’d passed this life with returned to Spirit, he carried out one last act for the Creation to redress the balance of Stability. He planted the seeds from the gumnut in a crock the day they returned her body to the Earth.
While nine moons passed the issue of gumnut rose from the soil into two young saplings. The day after the young man returned the old man’s body to the Earth, he planted the saplings outside his Building of Industry where he would pass them each day. The tears he shed over the green shoots and into the soil summoned my Spirit and that of my twin, to dwell on the Earth once again, as patient observers.
The young man stopped by each morning and evening as we grew taller than him, then taller than the Buildings. At midday he brought food and sat beneath us sheltering from the weather. Many turns of the Earth were passed like this until the young man came to resemble the old man, and didn’t come as often. For many moons no People came at all. But the birds returned and we offered them shelter.
The young man, now old, came and last stood with us as we watched the Machines bring down the Buildings. Once again Construction emptied the Land before it made more, bigger Buildings go up, higher than our reach. The People came back but different, among them women and children. The Buildings are called Real Estate, shelter for the People.
We trees are few in number but stand here strong, Guardians yet, waiting still.”
”It’s one of the most important sites there and is a major project in moving from a former workers’ precinct with brick-making and a tannery to a new residential masterplanned community with new street blocks and pedestrian laneways.”
Erskineville’s newest housing project
He likely hadn’t heard of Australia’s “muesli magnate” Narelle Plapp. The power of cereal isn’t to be underestimated. She went from selling from the back of her car to a $5 million business in a decade.
Her Food for Health brand’s Liver Cleansing muesli variety contains no sugar of any kind and is the only pre-packaged muesli I buy when my time and do-it-yourself muesli efforts run out. Thankfully it doesn’t happen much. This IMK month beyond making a batch of muesli from my pantry stash of dry goods, kitchen time has been non-newsworthy, so…
Myself, I’m quite enthusiastic on the topic, particularly when it’s about muesli, although inauspiciously defined by Urban Dictionary as “a clever ploy to sell hamster food to human beings”. That may technically be true… but muesli is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Muesli is truly an equal opportunity cereal. It can be fat free, sugar free, fruit free, gluten free, nut free, vegan… You can buy muesli in a multitude of pre-packaged permutations but I think the best and cheapest muesli is bespoke. My creations include only oats or oat bran, pepitas, sunflower seeds, coconut and raw nuts.
Like Emeril Lagasse “I can’t tell you enough about cinnamon. Cinnamon is an awesome spice to use and it goes great with something like apples in the morning or in a mixture of fruit or in your oatmeal or even in your cereal” my secret muesli ingredient is cinnamon, added with plain full fat yoghurt (preferably homemade) and a smattering of fruit -fresh, or frozen berries.
Muesli attracts cheap shots…
“Keating unleashes the lip on ‘muesli-chewing’ Moore… Former prime minister Paul Keating has labelled Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore a supporter of “sandal-wearing, muesli-chewing, bike-riding pedestrians” because she opposes the Barangaroo project.”
… and is often misunderstood.
“The [green] movement must look long and hard at itself and break out of the comfortable ‘muesli-belt’ if it is to truly reflect the views of the wider community.” Head honcho at Global Action Plan and friend of BusinessGreen Trewin Restorick says environmental campaigners must do more to support disadvantaged sections of society.
But it’s a cereal discussion worth having…
“Some candy bars had more protein than many cereals. [Jean] Mayer dubbed them “sugar-coated vitamin pills” and wrote, “I contend that these cereals containing over 50% sugar should be labeled imitation cereal or cereal confections, and they should be sold in the candy section rather than in the cereal section.” Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
“Rule 36: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.” Michael Pollan
“Episode two tells the story of a modern marketing miracle: the story of the breakfast cereal. The Age of Plenty investigates the processing, marketing and advertising behind a breakfast that has singularly impacted the way we live. Breakfast cereal marks the birth of modern day “convenience food”, invented to make cheap and lifeless corn bits edible and easy to sell, and promoted through reverse psychology, cereal has transformed the way we eat and consequently the way we live. This series tracks the multi-billion dollar breakfast cereal industry, explaining the impact of television advertising on the promotion and sales of breakfast cereals, which endures to this day.” The Foods that Make Billions
Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide. If you’d like to join in, link back to Celia’s blog.
Other than a short story I’m buffing, my blog post WIP folder resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard; bare of anything other than snippets and reminder notes. What is it I do with my time?
Monday to Friday 9 to 5: day job. As mentioned, I’ve had an office desk reshuffle where I came up trumps with a sunny spot and harbour view. I’m 6 months into a role reinvention and a month into rollout of a new technology system; it’s all about tail ends, engaging others and building up muscle memory.
Before and after work… sometimes during if there’s a lull: domestic business.
Thanks to Australia Post I’m getting more exercise as they remove local red post boxes. It feels personal… first it was the red post box near the pub at Taylors Arm which means now the nearest is in town at Macksville 30 kilometres away. The next to go was the red post box I pass each week day on King Street conveniently adjacent to St Peters train station. Sure, most of my correspondence is electronic but I like to send special occasion mail to various family members within demographics diffident to texts and emails, as well as return Quickflix DVDs… some of us haven’t succumbed to pay TV or movie streaming.
And then there’s Telstra… Even Wikipedia’s entry for Taylors Arm warns “There is no coverage for mobile phones in Taylors Arm.” For us it’s been a decade long saga to little avail. We were somewhat heartened by news that “Telstra will build 429 new mobile towers in regional Australia” but the devil in the detail is Upper Taylors Arm will be recipient of one of the “250 Small Cells to deliver high speed 4G data services” rather than a tower so “Customers with 4G capable devices may notice a change in the device’s signal/strength bars, but no change to their voice service“. As far as timing info there has been nada except “We’re currently working with Government on how to allocate them and will have more details coming soon“.
After persistently & extensively contacting Telstra requesting information & assistance I was eventually assigned a Case Manager who promptly & concisely advised “We apologise that your options for internet connection is currently limited because your area is found on a blackspot… We are working very hard in building more towers for customers but we cannot provide a specific date for this… While it is disappointing that we are unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution, Telstra is confident that our investigation and proposed resolution are appropriate and therefore, I’m not able to do anything further to resolve this matter for you.”
My attention turned also to the bank with which we have a small investment property mortgage. Over the years, drop in Australian interest rates has halved our rate but the reduction never applied to our minimum repayment amount… unlike the opposite scenario! Early on we elected to pay extra via fortnightly payments, so we’d never noticed. My first attempt at requesting an adjustment netted us a further rate drop… our Home Loan Specialist didn’t appear to grasp the nature of the request and happily advised us that he had reduced our interest rate in line with other available products. I was grateful, and eventually successful after another equally tedious round of ‘if you don’t ask the right question you don’t get the right answer’ emails.
If that wasn’t enough, I took a look at our landlord and occupier home & contents insurance policies as renewals evidenced price creep. It’s always interesting to understand nuances of other industries. Apparently tenanted property attracts higher risk so it must be covered by Landlords insurance… at double the premium.
As well as usual household dross -food shopping, cooking dinner, paying bills, cleaning- recent undertakings have included futilely investigating alternative mobile phone & internet providers and products, acquiring replacement reading glasses for the G.O. & registering the frames warranty via Oakley’s clunky online process, arranging & attending a smoke detector & fire alarm inspection appointment, rescuing an abandoned
lemon kaffir lime tree, revamping balcony potted plants, upcycling a footpath-find gilt mirror, research ideas & possibilities, so on and so forth. I don’t know how I stand the excitement…
Next weekend is the Labour Day public holiday for NSW. The G.O. and I couldn’t possibly make a trip to Taylors Arm without a laden ute. So last week taking advantage of the G.O.’s no-work Saturday, in between browsing motorcycle showrooms we ticked off a few more home improvement purchases from our list; the back of the ute now jammed with storage and kitchen shelf units, curtain rods and other DIY bits n’ pieces.
However, my salvation in the midst of mundane is books. A welcome highlight of recent office book club selections was Vera: My Story. In the words of Kerry O’Brien “Vera was wild, exotic and utterly outrageous when I met her as a young journalist in Melbourne. When you’ve survived both Hitler and Stalin there’s not a lot more to hold you back. She has a great story to tell.”
Regardless, I’m sure Vera Wasowski attends pragmatically to household matters, such is her partiality to order and pleasant space.
“It is important to me to find a home: a place that welcomes me each day. I can’t be a bohemian nomad all my life. I can’t; no-one can. You need a place where you can sit down in your weariness with a glass of wine and a cigarette and gaze across the room at the books of your life, at the paintings that bring a gladness to your heart each time you look at them.”
Rest assured however, I’m not alone in my household’s domestic endeavours. While the G.O.’s efforts are constrained by his work hours and environment he does what he can and often what I’m disinclined to; oven, window & shower cleaning amongst other things.
Each workday from my desk (courtesy of a recent fortuitous reshuffle) I now gaze at a reminder of the way my and the G.O.’s ancestors arrived in this country. By ship. Through Sydney Heads. For me it’s a reminder of how fortunate he and I are that they did.
Four of the G.O.’s ancestors came on convict ships of the Second and Fourth Fleet, and were part of the very early settling of Australia. For several generations there was an inclination for people to overlook or hide their convict heritage. Fortunately, no longer, as evidenced by an intrepid stonemason Ray Collins who with ancestors on both the First Fleet and Second, created the monuments and the First and Second Fleet Memorial Gardens at Wallabadah in country NSW.
“The First Fleet Memorial Gardens consist of eleven circular gardens, representing the ships of the First Fleet approaching a large garden in the shape of Australia. A winding cobblestone path connects the Gardens, each of which has a number of surrounding sandstone tablets inscribed with the names of the persons who sailed on that ship.
Within each garden is a stone tablet featuring the name and a pictorial sketch of that particular ship. The Second Fleet Gardens consist of two gardens with stone tablets arranged by ship. Both gardens have interpretative signage largely drawn from the logs and memoirs of the participants.
These gardens are dedicated to the sailors, marines, spouses, children, convicts and free men of the First & Second Fleets. The Gardens tell the story of both these voyages and the early settlement of Sydney largely in the words of those who participated.
The interpretative signs and the content were done by Neil McGarry & Associates.”
I encountered a link to information on these gardens late last year when dabbling in some Google based family history research, shared it with the G.O. and promptly forgot about it, until en route to Tamworth late in August to celebrate our anniversary. As part of our scenic route roadtrip along the New England Highway we were approaching the village of Wallabadah both of us reminiscing about other times we’d passed through. Bing! I remembered the gardens just as we were coming up to the turn off. The G.O. obviously having paid little attention earlier, had no idea of why I was asking him to turn off but accommodating adventurous as he is, he did.
Other of my and the G.O.’s ancestors came to Australia as free settlers and assisted migration via ships from the United Kingdom and Europe; precursors to what has become known as the Fifth Fleet fleeing post-war Europe and Asia, and ongoing immigration and seeking of asylum. All of which contributes to the legacy of our wonderful multicultural country, so with due and fair process we can share and share it again.
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now”
Martin Luther king, Jr