Language, Emotion and Disease – Journal Entry 24th Feb 1979

Notes from Wallace Ellerbrock, MD: Language, Emotion and Disease, Omni Nov 78

  • Objective knowledge is a myth; all “knowledge” being based on biases in “perception” and “cognition” is subjective and emotionally determined.
  • There is no such thing as a fact. Any verbal statement is an opinion. Any statement can be called an opinion or a fact and if called an opinion, it leaves the possibility of an error. If called a fact, neurotically expressing a belief that the statement is gold-plated, it is never to be questioned. More importantly the mind is turned off that fact (not questioning).
  • There are only two emotions, like and dislike – all others are components of one of these plus a personally formulated comment about “reality”. For example, lonely means “I am alone” and “I don’t like being alone”.
  • Anger and depression are not separate emotions. Anger, reality as I perceive it, does not match my image of how it ought to be, but I think there is something I can do about it. Depression is the same, but I think there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Negative emotions are associated with unnecessary disturbances of bodily mechanisms, proportional to the duration and intensity of the negative emotional state. Such reactions are not limited to a particular organ. All bodily organs and cells express their response to such brain states in various ways. If you are angry or depressed about your job, your stomach acids will either go up or down, your blood pressure will go up or down, your glands will increase or decrease their functioning, and so on.
  • Consider the concept of “stress”. There are two reactions. If the stress makes you miserable, your body will have all kinds of deleterious reactions. If it is enjoyable, your body will function better than ever, up to the limits of the body’s installations.
  • Learn to quickly identify the onset of anger and depressive feelings in yourself.
  • Pick something you don’t want to happen to you, such as a removal of an organ for instance, and when something happens that would normally make you angry or unhappy, ask whether giving in to these negative feelings is worth the disease price you’ll have to pay.
  • Discontinue any medications that are central nervous system depressants.
  • Use alcohol in trivial amounts as it is the worst brain depressant.
  • Start observing other people: their postures, their choice of words, tones of voice, pitch and levels of stress. Study the reactions of others and try to guess what is going on in their heads. And then watch yourself. Shoulder posture – down and forward is depressed, up and forward is hostile whereas up and back gives you a feeling that you are working towards the control of your own reality.
  • Decide each morning that throughout the day, whatever happens, it will not make you as angry or as unhappy as it would have the day before.
  • Get rid of the words “got to”, “have to”, “should”, “must”, “ought to” and “will power”. You can’t do anything except what you want to do – so enjoy it.

Notes from The Medium Is The Massage (sic) by Marshall McLuhan

  • The personal and social consequences of any medium i.e. of any extension of ourselves, result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each technology or extension of ourselves.
  • Automation technology is integral and decentralised in depth. The machine was fragmentary, centralist and superficial in it’s patterning of human relationships.
  • Medium is the message because medium shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.
  • The medium is the message and one should not be distracted by the content.

Notes on writing by author Georges Simenon and advice by editor Colette

  • Colette’s advice to Simenon: “It almost works. But not quite. You are too literary. You must not be literary. Suppress all the literature and it will work…”
  • Simenon makes the habits and idiosyncrasies of his characters so known to the reader that each and every reader emotionally equates the character with the person of his most intimate acquaintance, himself. Similarly, localities realised in such exact and penetrating detail can be treated by the reader’s emotions only as the one locality we have all apprehended in truly vivid detail, the setting of our childhood.
  • All his life, Simenon has not just observed but simulated man and woman: their loves, deliriums, obsessions, the secret hiding places of their mind, their urge towards self-realisation or self-destruction. Above all, he’s imagined and lived through the character’s loneliness.
  • If there is to be any art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable – frenzy. It must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine, or else there is no art. All kinds of frenzy, however diversely conditioned, have the strength to accomplish this, but above all, the frenzy of sexual excitement – this most ancient and original form of frenzy.

How to make pizza

Make a big batch of pizza dough and prepare the pizza bases to rise in a warm place.

Make the sauce for the base: fry chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, add tomato puree, add chopped oregano and basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Top bases with pizza sauce and your favourite flavours:

  • Mince, as in bolognaise sauce
  • Bacon and cheese, fry chopped bacon and spread on base with thin slices of mozzarella
  • Kabana, sliced thinly, pan fried then spread thickly over base with pizza sauce on top

Cook on high for 10 mins then turn down for 35 mins.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to my blog Home page
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • The Preamble post marks the beginning of the series and can be found here

My Little Sister Barbara – Journal Entry 8th Feb 1979

Persig’s suggestions are still the best for writing: start with the top right brick and list all the things you want to say. If writing a long report, story or whatever, give it an outline, however rough. You may not keep to it but it’s good practice. So important points are not missed, make sure the writing has structure.

After talking to Tobi yesterday, I wondered what skills were being taught to people in Rocky and the coast. I will talk to Diana about it.

What I have to do today and tomorrow:
Today (Tue)                  Rocky (Wed)
-make bread                    -Dentist 9:30am
-write
-Maths
-make up a schedule

Let me try and recall what Tobi and I talked about. She had a good day in Yeppoon. She bought food at Grandma’s Pantry and visited the second-hand shop where she met Lillian. She was impressed with Lillian, who invited her to her place. Tobi was very pleased with her exploration.

Tobi had taught a potter friend welding. Now the friend had a successful studio and supports the family. The husband who didn’t take his wife’s interests seriously, suddenly discovered how successful his wife actually was, when he lost his job and stayed home to help with the housework. He’s struggling to set up a consulting business and doesn’t seem to be doing well. Tobi and friend got their scrap iron or metal from a workshop. I can’t recall what the workshop produced. The men looked at them in surprise, when they first called to ask for scraps, and said they could have as much as they wanted. They were surprised at the quantity the two women carried away, but of course they had given them generous permission. They had been going there for five years to get scrap. The friend made a sculpture for the workshop, with their own scrap, and got paid. The workshop is very proud of their sculpture. At first, the workmen were very conservative. Now they enthusiastically show the women some new cut-out scraps of unusual design.

Just phoned Tobi about an idea I picked up in the Woman’s Weekly. Tobi told me she was very worried about reports Ned brought back from his first day at school and wanted to talk with the teacher. I put her in touch with Mary who seems to have experienced similar troubles with her kids. One child was picked on in English class because she had an accent.

20th Feb 1979

Phone call from Del to say the boys had sold her son a bike for $20 and an exchange bike. The bike had no seat and the wheels were falling off. The son had been up half the night worrying about the deal, and had hidden the bike, not telling her what was wrong with it. I told her that was no good and arranged a meeting this afternoon (for when Marcello got home). A bit of an awkward position really because the exchange bike is on the verandah – it’s parts sprayed with anti-rust paint. However, we’ll have to sort this one out. The boys’ mistake was in assuming he had as much freedom over his affairs and possessions as they had over theirs.

Late last afternoon Monika was hard to find in Yeppoon because of a misunderstanding over the word ‘surgery’, so after after looking in at the hospital and on the beach, Johnny went to her mother’s place. A rather upset mother said she was not there, where was she, why didn’t she know anything about it and to tell her to come home. Johnny dealt calmly with this, all the while preoccupied with finding Monika and telephoned home to check where to go. Monika is to stay this night at Yeppoon with her mother. That girl seems to have lots to worry about. Her father is now in Brisbane, is rather lonely and writes often. Monika tries to write as often as possible. The girls have led fairly independent lives, going out on their own a lot. The mother seemed to have led a ‘mystical’ existence, delving in the supernatural, ESP and such like, and meditating in her pyramid. She’s tended to stay up very late and get up late, so much so the household moved in fear of waking her up. They had to wait until she emerged.

I seem to be in an excited physical condition, I developed a ticking in a nerve under my right eye, and found it hard to get to sleep these past two nights. I had a shocking migraine on Saturday, more vomiting than pain in the head. Friday dinner out was an ordeal – more like a mild nightmare, which towards the end of the evening, tightened the muscles in the back of my neck. It might be worth writing as much as I can about the evening. I find I’m a bit hazy or maybe reluctant to analyse what happened – the main reason being because what was supposed to happen didn’t, and I feel guilty, though I know bloody well I had stressed the number of people should be small and carefully chosen.

To get back to how I feel. It is a tightness in the chest which is much better today. On Monday (was it only yesterday?) yet another emotional scene with Barbara vomiting at breakfast, me keeping her at it, my mother implying we were harsh and unfeeling and Barbara looking from face to face with a fatuous and frightened look on her face. Barbara is not so much mentally retarded as spoilt, very spoilt with cultural habits quite at variance with Australian norms and behaviour. These upsets are very draining on one’s body. I’ve also been getting sidetracked quite fast, despite firm resolutions. This morning I read the Australian Women’s Weekly, as I usually do, to get an idea of present trents and thoughts. I read a little article on a woman’s experience fostering five children at one time. Then another reader’s story about her mentally retarded brother. It had an utterly devastating effect on me because nothing happened in this person’s life – he was sub-normal, retarded and that was it, so he was in limbo. He had no companion limbo-ites. The Webster’s dictionary defines limbo as ‘barred from heaven through no fault of their own’, ‘a place of restriction or confinement’. For 85 years he was a solitary human being with his ‘I’ll be alright’ affirmation. He seems to have made no demands on anyone – only his little sister loved him and cared about him, but even she did not share her life with him.

I am bold enough to make this remark because I too know what it is like to have a mentally retarded sibling – my younger sister Barbara. I’ve had to look after her since the time of her birth – to relieve my mother who supported us by working at home. My sister had hampered my playtime quite a bit. Now I realise what a frightening responsibility it was; I was about 10 or 11 and could so easily have dropped my sister or accidently hurt her in some way.

My sister lives with us now and is quite spoilt in many ways because she grew up with no responsibilities, nothing was expected of her. In a completely different cultural environment like Australia, she showed up most oddly and badly.

I think I’ll leave off writing about Barbara for the time being.

24th Feb 1979

We slaughtered some ducks, a goose and a couple of chickens.
A cyclone is heading our way, don’t know what it will do to the coast.
It’s 3pm and time to service the moke.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series

A Short Course in Just Writing – Journal Entry 31st Jan 1979

Second day of organising the breakfast and school lunches. When I went for the bread, Bernice told me not to feed stale bread to the chooks late in the afternoon. They roost soon after eating and the bread sours in the crop which, he tells me, is not good for them.

This morning I put shell grit and sand in containers in most of the coops – even for the fluffy yellow ducklings. The Rouen duck pond was slushy and almost dry so I filled that up. The lame Australorp chick has been given back to it’s mother and it may not survive but it cheeped so much there was little choice. The three scrawny filthy white chicks that were sick, seem much better today. All of Marcello’s bantam eggs under the hen are addled. The wind still blows, it must be the sixth day of high winds. The high tides were quite destructive, the radio tells us. The house is quiet without the children. For Marcello and Karen, it’s their first day back at school.

It’s 10am. Let me list what I’ve done so far:

5:30am exercise
5:50am usual jobs in the kitchen – lunches, supervising Barbara, breakfast, washing up, chopping onions, getting meat for chicks
9:00am went to the pen to check on livestock

Back at my desk. Checked with Radio Rentals over the return of the T.V. and date of contract. They decided that having accepted the T.V. they’d take responsibility, which was very decent of them. We have an option to take it back within six months.

It was good to hear from Lyn after so long and she seems to be doing well. Mark seems to be thriving also. I’m hungry and I’d better start P-Maths now.

Jobs waiting:
-car insurance
-Chandlers
-subsidy
-note to marriage counselling
-roster to Mrs Tennent
-letter to Mr Braithwaite

4th Feb 1979

Notes on A Short Course in Just Writing by Bill Bernhardt, in an article in Teachers & Writers Collaborative Newsletter, Vol 6, No 2, 1975

Page 1

  • Which comes first when you speak, knowing that you have something you want to say or the words? Test yourself to find out.
  • Make a short statement out loud.
  • Write down the same words you said. Are you sure that you wrote the same words? How can you tell? Can you make a much longer statement and write down the words accurately? (It doesn’t matter if you misspell)
  • Think of something else you could say, but instead of speaking, write it down without speaking.
  • Can you think of something to say and write the words down as they come into your mind, without taking the time to say them to yourself first?

Page 2

  • Take a pencil and a piece of blank paper and write continuously for three minutes. Pay no attention to whether what you write makes sense or is spelled correctly. If you can’t think of what to say, just write down all the words you can think of. When you’ve finished, turn the paper over without reading what you wrote.
  • Write for three more minutes on the reverse side of the paper following the same directions.
  • Write for three more minutes on a second sheet of paper. Count how many words you wrote each time. Did your output increase the second and/or the third time? Read what you wrote aloud and listen to yourself. Does it make sense? Does it sound like the English you speak?

Page 3

  • Complete the following sentence by adding one word at the end: As they turned the corner they saw…
    Copy the completed sentence onto the top of a blank sheet of paper and continue by writing a second sentence which begins with the word: Maybe…
    Add a third sentence to the story.
    Add five more sentences to the story.
    End the story.
    How much of the story was given to you and how much did you have to provide? Could you see in your mind what was happening in the story? If so, was it like a picture or movie? Did you see all of it at the beginning or did more come into your mind as you continued? Can you see it all again when you read the story over?
  • Close your eyes and picture in your mind a difficult or embarrassing situation. Describe in writing what the situation is. Write what you would say to get yourself out of that situation.
  • Do this again with a pleasant situation.

Page 5

  • Write rapidly for 10 minutes without stopping or pausing to make corrections. When you have finished writing, put the paper aside, without reading what you write – for at least 20 minutes.
  • Read what you wrote aloud, making sure you do two things:
    (1) Read exactly what is written on the paper.
    (2) Listen to yourself reading and catch the points when what you hear fails to make sense or sounds ‘funny’. If you find anything which doesn’t make sense, change the words so that it does make sense. If you find anything which sounds funny, change it so that it sounds right.
    When you finish, read the corrected copy over again to see if you need to make further changes.
  • Is it easier to make corrections and improvements at the same moment you are writing down what you want to say or at a later time?
  • Do writing and making corrections require the same state of mind? Or a different state of mind?

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series

Catching Up On Letters – Journal Entry 13th Jan 1979

The weather is humid, the sky overcast and there’s a steady roar of mowers.

We have been rearranging furniture in various rooms. Brown built bookshelves have replaced our wooden shelves. Some planks went to Marcello’s room to make shelves. Mum moved boxes, from under her bed, to a shelf over her bedroom door. I’m now in the file room and my old desk has gone to the verandah for a sewing table. The pink table is still for glass cutting. Now the house looks a lot tidier and workmanlike.

Finished Illich’s Tools for Conviviality:
– Must use verbs rather than nouns
– Limits should be set on the use and growth of tools and the type of tools used

I must catch up on my letters.

Rolf,
I called on Herman after talking to you. He was shocked at the price too and mentioned “having it out” with one or two people. I pointed out that the object of the exercise – in view of the letter from the Council – was to get the darn thing fixed. He agreed. I also pointed out that if we argued now, we’d find it difficult to get the job done. He agreed with that too and said the plumber at Keppel Sands was terrible anyway. He couldn’t think of alternatives. If you wish to sue someone later, you may do so, but frankly it’s not worth the effort. I told Herman the history of the septic tank, as told to me by J.A.

Herman said that if what I said was true, the man who installed it was not licensed to have done so. I was also told by J.A. that Emu Park must have the worst drainage system for miles around with lots of clay. However, I looked at your place. The allotment next to you has had an electric pole erected quite near yours. Water appears to be sitting in the gutter on the road and right across the allotment entrance. I don’t think we have to look far for the informant.

Marcello mowed and cleaned up the yard after the runaway tenants and now doesn’t owe you any money. Herman has agreed to do the yard – we thought it a diplomatic gesture; Marcello doesn’t mind and I hope you don’t. I told Herman how much Marcello charged. Business is not good at the moment and they’re glad of odd jobs.

Herman said Julie had someone about to move in but I can’t confirm yet and the real estate phoned today to say he has a tenant, so I directed him to Julie. Herman is also trying to sell a house (to get money for building materials to give his boys work) and wanted to know if you wanted him to try and sell yours too. If any more house problems arise do let us know directly, or through Herman, as four heads are better than two.

Frank,
After all the trouble you’ve taken to give me forms for the Indian cooking, I’ve decided I’d be pushing my luck trying to run good cooking courses while studying maths. My fairly large family also make demands on my time, I’d better concentrate on a bit of study, so I can be a more useful member of the community. It’s a pity really because I could do with the money. However, I’m still interested in Worrabinda, but at the weekends. Also, anything going on out west to which I can contribute – even candles – let me know. If pushed, I can stretch the course!

Hamish,
Thank you very much for your card. May you have an excellent 1979. I met Cathy the other day and got some news of you. I hope your new home is as nice as the one you had at Emu Park. Things are very quiet, one soldiers on. It was good to have Rolf with us for a few days in mid-December. Otherwise, it’s chooks and garden and some S.F. and Illich and much discussion of unemployment, rapid change, bewilderment, anxiety, government, UFOs and some bad chess.

Doris,
It was good to receive your card. May you have an excellent 1979. Over here, things are quiet, uneventful, yet hellishly busy. The Rover has had an engine transplant (a Holden engine) and we’ve managed to camp twice at Five Rocks. We’re leaving on Thursday on our third camp to round off the school holidays. Apart from life getting tougher, what else is there in the new future dear friends?

Andrew,
I must apologise for the inordinate delay in replying to your letter. Also for not noting you had given me Greg’s number and hence taking so long to contact him. I sent a message through a neighbour which didn’t reach him.

However, this is the present state of play: Greg is building a new boat and won’t be going anywhere this year. His brother Chris may be going in June or July and Greg will ask his brother if he would bring the birds to you. I’m to await a reply.

I’ve asked several people but so far no luck. The present price for guinea fowl is $5 for an adult and $2 for a chick. If the arrangement with Chris does not come off, I thought I might send eggs through the post. They’re less likely to die on the way, if well-packed. Then all you need to do is hatch them with a foster-bird, preferably a duck for the goose eggs. You can see the advantages, can’t you, of having a large brood straight away instead of waiting for the adult birds to breed? Geese start laying in August. I know guinea fowl lay around that time too. But whether the guinea fowl lay twice a year, I’m not sure. I do know they don’t lay eggs as often as hens.

I was going to contact a woman for pheasants, but she has sold or given them all away. I was told that someone in Mackay has pheasants. You may wish to make enquiries. In the meantime, I changed my mind about attempting to get some for myself. I’d like to reduce our bird stock to a manageable size so that when we go camping, the neighbour’s daughter can look after the poultry.

I haven’t yet thanked you for your nice long letter. Please write as much and as often as you like. The kids and I are keen on poultry, goats, veg and islands and thoroughly enjoyed reading your letter.

My widowed mother lives with us too and it’s thanks to her efforts that we have a thriving poultry yard and a reasonably productive vegetable garden.

The kids help (Gareth 10 years old, Karen 15 years, Marcello 17 years and Monika 17 years) and are amazed at the results of their labour. They cleared a patch of garden, which we reclaimed, dumped an old mattress, paper and household rubbish, then mulched the top with lots of cut lucerne and grass clippings. My mother and I then planted honey dew melons, okra, tomato and pumpkin. Now the area is a profusion of leaves and vines with okra, capsicum and tomato sticking out here and there above the pumpkin leaves. We also grow a lot of eggplant. It is hardy and prolific. Today is the 23rd of January and there’s a gusty wind blowing through the Queensland hoop pine trees. The sun is shining after yesterday’s heavy rain. The garden is well soaked, a blessed relief after such a long, dry spell. We have water restrictions so no sprinklers are allowed, only hand-held hoses.

I’ve started reading a fascinating book entitled, The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird. I’m halfway through and will have to read it several times (and read some of the other books referred in it) before I can digest it. Even this preliminary reading is mind-bursting. Much of it may be familiar to you, who are so much in contact with plants and growing and caring for them. If you can borrow or buy a copy of this book, please do so.

We were to go camping at Stockyard Point (just north of Corio Bay) but decided the road would be too boggy even for a Land Rover with winch attached. So we’re staying home for the last 5 days of the children’s school holidays. We’ll go to the swamp to collect duckweed for the ducks, play cards, read, cook big festive meals and generally live it up.

Kim and Jill called some while back. It was good to see them so brown and physically fit. They gave me more details of your island.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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Christmas Holidays – Journal Entry 24th Dec 1978

There is a slight air of excitement about the place. Would be more if the weather was less humid and there wasn’t so much tidying to do. Marcello went mowing today and Gareth and I hung around filling sacks with grass clippings. Good stuff for the chickens and the plants.

Jobs to be done today:

  1. Fridge to be cleaned
  2. Bottles to be taken under the house
  3. M.O.W rosters to be delivered
  4. Clothes to be washed, sorted and put away
  5. Stay at desk as much as possible
  6. Bills to be sorted and paid

At 3:10pm Gareth and I went out and delivered the M.O.W. rosters. We worked efficiently, I thought, and were back home in 30 minutes.

Johnny is cooking dinner – garlic soup, bread, Christmas cake and ice-cream. Later in the evening we are going to Yeppoon to pick up Monika.

The black cockatoos are leaving the pine trees for home. Where is home for them? They were here all day, large, raucous, destructive black birds, almost unlovely if it wasn’t for the flash of red feathers under their tail.

I have to structure my life, Johnny tells me, rightly of course.

11pm We’re waiting for midnight. There was no late night shopping in Yeppoon. Maybe the shops stayed open later than usual but they were shut by 9:30pm. So we drove home through Tanby. We were in Yeppoon, where Monika’s mum lives, to drop Marcello off for their Christmas gathering and opening of presents. What a lot of presents there are under our Christmas tree.

So midnight came and the family had a drink of Vermouth on the rocks and fruitcake before opening the presents.

Christmas Day was quiet and enjoyable. We also tidied the house in preparation for leaving on camp the next morning. I will tell Trudy what to do about the chooks. My desk was tidied and also part of the bookshelves. The evening was spent in front of the TV with the kids. Read a bit of Schumacher.

31st Dec 1978

The last day of the year. Will have a do a review of 1978 and a rough plan for 1979.

To W. J. Cass,

Thank you very much for making it possible for us to receive the rates discount. Your allowance for our error is much appreciated. If more bureaucrats adopted the attitude that systems should serve people and not vice versa the life of the common man would be more pleasant.
May the Livingstone Shire Council have a trouble-free and joyous year in 1979.

1st Jan 1979

I didn’t get very far with my entry yesterday.

We cleaned another plot in the garden. The rains we’ve had over Christmas have made our weeding easier. Marcello did more mowing so we had a lot of mulch.

At breakfast Johnny, Ruth and I discussed ‘women’. I’m going to try to put down my thoughts on the subject:

More women are in the workforce:

  • Purely for economic reasons?
  • Because ‘housework’ and ‘housewife’ have been devalued?
  • A mixture of both?
  • A genuine desire to get out among people?

Women’s Lib. seems to have missed the main point which is developing or pointing to a better way of life. At the moment these women haven’t contributed anything new, they might even have contributed to chaos or an upsetting of the social patterns used hitherto i.e. full-time mother and hometender. Women’s Lib. wants a fair slice of the present cake, has no philosophy on how to bake a better and more humane cake. They are attempting to be breast-swinging men, jostling for an equal stand in a world created by men. What have they contributed? What have they to offer that’s of value to people, to the social system we’re in?

Random questions:

  • Why are women afraid of the dark, of isolated places?
  • Why don’t more women go off on their own camping and fishing?
  • Why don’t women do car maintenance, repair household equipment, design household machinery, indeed any type of machinery?
  • Why, in their own area – fashion – do men seem to do better than women?

What can women do better than men? Johnny questions the validity of the question and it’s relevance. It’s rather like the European attitude that because a race hasn’t produced an Einstein, they are somehow second-rate human beings.

Women appear to have a different perspective. They’re made differently, are capable of bearing young, their ambient is different, their perspective must necessarily be different.

If more women read Mareuse, Friere, Illich, Schumacher, would they be able to implement a new direction or philosophy which will make living more humane than it is at the moment? Will they be able to stop the suicidal trend of medicine, education and technology? Johnny is very depressed; the worst I’ve seen so far.

The weather is slightly humid and still. Not as bad as I expected. I must keep cool however, and not lose my temper. The urge to twist someone’s ear or squeeze an arm comes over me so violently I’m quite dangerous, not to mention unpleasant to have around the place.

The problem is Barbara, having one of her withdrawals. She saw Patty in Yeppoon across the road and she went white with excitement, nostrils flared as she said his name in a shrill voice. She saw him several times as we went up and down the street in our Land Rover, once to the sports shop, then to the veg shop and then back to pick up a member of our party. Barbara only needs a certain type of excitement to make her go inward, lose her appetite and start talking to herself. If left without attention, she does not sleep at night.

We have so many chicks and ducklings. The three Rouen ducklings have been promoted to the main pen – it must be rather frightening to be put in a general pen with so many strange adult birds they haven’t seen before. On the whole, the ducklings seem happy, especially with the large communal pool. They spend most of their time either in the pool or on the edge. A male Rouen died and was buried in the compost drum.

This afternoon, Johnny and I went for a walk on the beach. The cloudy weather kept most of the holiday folk away from the sea, so Nun’s beach was nearly empty. The wind was strong and small stinging showers of rain fell from time to time. We talked and laughed and at the end of the walk, Johnny declared he had got out of his depressed, hemmed in, state.

Dinner was good: mutton chops in marjoram, golden rice, chokos and a Provencal sauce from the book of sauces. The Provencal sauce was made from chopped tomatoes, chives and garlic, onion fried in olive oil and a little meat glaze. The special almond and chocolate cake was a near disaster. The oven went out while the cake was in it and it sunk horribly in the middle. Johnny was in despair. However, he served the cake stuffed with whipped cream. It was delicious.

Johnny has started reading The Lord of the Rings to the whole family. He reads extremely well. We stopped for a while to eat chocolates and cake. Had an excellent date later.

There have been sharp, scattered showers most of the evening. The wind sounds very loud through the pine trees.

Barbara is a little withdrawn after having seen Patty in Yeppoon on Saturday. She’s back on Melleril at night to get her over this relapse.

3rd Jan 1979

Gareth and I had to get fishing line in Yeppoon, to the replace the one we damaged while camping at Five Rocks.

What happened?

I had snagged my hook on an oyster shell on the rocks. Gareth came to help me and dropped the yellow plastic reel over the edge. “Not to worry,” he tells me with a grand gesture holding my line, “I know a way of getting the reel back.” So he starts pulling the line off the reel. The line curls up in a tangled mess at his feet. Then he reaches the end of the line, but it’s not tied on, so the yellow reel bobs further down near the water. Gareth has the line to sort out.

Meanwhile, I climb down carefully, holding on tightly. A wave hits against me as I reach down to get the fishing hook. I can’t pull it up. It’s caught inside an oyster which grips it’s shell tightly. I break off the line, asking forgiveness of the oyster, for any damage the hook might do to it, and then I go lower down the rocks near the crashing waves to get the reel. I move cautiously. The rocks and waves together can do considerable damage to me. I have to go around some rocks into a gully to get at the moving reel. I almost reach it when a large wave whacks me from behind and lifts me back onto the rocks. Another wave crashes and pushes me further up. I flop flat onto the rocks, barely scratched, with the reel.

Feeling a little sore, I take the bream I’ve caught and Gareth takes his trevally and we go back to the others to get a hook. But the line is too tangled to use. We’re told the reel was not ours. It belongs to the neighbours.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series

The Causeway – Journal Entry 20th Dec 1978

The water is warm and still, just right for swimming.

It’s 12noon at the Kinka Beach end of the Causeway. For the past 40 minutes I have been teaching myself to swim. Marcello, Karen and Gareth were instructing me and laughing at my attempts. Twice my left breast hung out of the bra top to the immense amusement of the kids, and myself. Poor, poor Hecuba.

The Causeway is not aesthetic in the slightest; Perhaps I’m very uneasy about it because Dusty was hurt by a car here several years ago.

There’s no clean sand around. This muddy sand looks ugly. The numerous dogs swimming around makes one reluctant to play in the water. There was one persistent pug-like dog that kept swimming out to us and yapping in a slightly distressing manner. He wouldn’t get out, even when we encouraged him by carrying him to the water’s edge. Later we met the confused little dog on the causeway bridge and he was intent on some errand. It seemed to be of somebody else’s making or rather his pursuit or search was for someone who wasn’t thinking too much of him or his whereabouts.

Barbara enjoyed herself in the water. At home she was in a bad-temper and told my mother that she was not going into the water and so did not need to put on her swimsuit.

“Put on your swimsuit Barbara,” I growl firmly, overhearing the argument she was having with my mother. At the Causeway she wrapped a towel round her waist sarong-style and sat glowering on a bench. I waited until the rest of the family were in the water before approaching her.

“Let’s go into the water, Barbara,” I invite her.

“Noooo, I don’t want to get into the water,” is her reply.

“Ok,” I say quietly but with a grim note in my voice. “You can come in by yourself or I carry you into the water.”

She came in but sat at the edge of the water.

I went into the water and a little later Gareth lent me his air-mattress. Without a clear idea of what I was doing, I took it across to Barbara and encouraged her to hang onto it with me, to paddle in the shallow water. Barbara loved it. We spent a long time paddling, floating, kicking and moving around in the water. After a while I was able to leave Barbara on her own with it and she seemed contented and occupied.

Activities for Barbara:

  1. Getting grass for the garden, chook pen, outside
  2. Getting pine leaves and cones for the garden
  3. Making things
  4. Glass polishing
  5. Visiting the beach, causeway and shops
  6. Cooking
  7. Drawing
  8. Sticking pictures
  9. Being read to (tape reading onto Barbara’s tapes)
  10. Reading
  11. Learning sums – games with cards, dominos, dice
  12. Tidying rooms
  13. Sweeping and mopping
  14. Cleaning the cars
  15. Washing up
  16. Laying the table

21st Dec 1978

It rained half the day. Sewed bikini tops most of the day. Karen cooked the evening meal, a fragrant brown stew; the smell made us all look forward to the meal. We had carrots in the stew and brown rice and peas served separately.

In the afternoon we cleaned Rolf’s garden in preparation for some temporary tenants. Like Rolf (but in a mild way) I didn’t want to hang around too long, nor did I want to see the inside of the house. All the parties that were held there, all the people who had come to that house, nostalgia, memories… the older one gets the more sentimental I suppose.

Gareth’s friend James was over this evening to help Marcello shoot toads. Gareth and James took an old plastic camping bucket, one that is made from flexible plastic, to put the dead toads in. Saw James much later. He was determined to stay at our place until midnight but Gareth wouldn’t invite him to sleep here. I told James he could sleep near Karen if he’d bring his sleeping bag from home. Off he went with the torch strap over his arm and our new torch in his hand. Gareth finally invited him to his stay in his room, so all was well for James.

Wore a special red bikini top for the date with Johnny. There were pistachios, rum and tang. We didn’t get too far in our discussions on what attracts certain women to certain men and vice versa.

A very good evening.

23rd Dec 1978

Let me list the jobs to be done today:

  1. Cakes to be wrapped and delivered as presents
  2. Candles to be finished and delivered
  3. Meal to be cooked
  4. Buy curry powder
  5. Deliver M.O.W. rosters
  6. Get plants together for Mirium
  7. Car maintenance
  8. Write journal
  9. Tidy desk
  10. Pay bills and keep ready

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Barbara, my mother’s youngest sister, suffered from a number of mental health issues and was cared for by our family. My grandmother was always very protective of Barbara.
  • Dusty was our much loved blue cattle dog. She had been run over by a car at the Causeway and suffered a broken hip. After her operation and recovery, she could not sit properly and walked with a limp.

Miss You Johnny – Journal Entry 13th Dec 1978

Yesterday was so good. The cakes were made. Not as good as Johnny’s. I hope they’re good to eat, they’re going out as Christmas presents. Camping gear and shopping list were sorted out.

Read a bit, wrote a bit and saw three TV programmes.

Barbara didn’t eat her egg at breakfast, said she had a stomach pain. She ate only half a slice of bread and threw the crust in the bin. Tiresome girl, she can’t believe she’s going to be kept at home today because of her behaviour. Perhaps the message will get through. Kept Barbara in her room until 3pm. She had lunch in the kitchen. She seems reasonably happy.

Lots of cleaning of walls and glass.

We picked up Monika’s bed from Yeppoon. Had a chat with her mother who said there are strong rumours that Yeppoon will grow big very rapidly, so if any business is to be started it should be done as soon as possible. The Council is putting a restriction on the animals and birds that people can keep in their yards. A licence will be needed for more animals or chooks.

What a beautiful coast we live on; the drive to Yeppoon never fails to delight people, whatever the weather.

Island View Caravan Park had an emu and five chicks in front of it. The chicks looked so fluffy and cuddly. I tried to get close. The mother emu came up to me, paused to take note of me and then turned and joined her chicks. The chicks were pulling at leaves and grass. I was tempted to walk off with a chick under each arm.

Monika and Marcello made dinner today. Karen advised them on the amount of herbs and wine to use. We took the meal to the Causeway and ate it after the children and Gran had played in the water for about an hour. The stew was delicious.

I miss Johnny.

A dog came up to Barbara and me and begged us to throw a stick for it. It had brought along it’s own stick. I tricked it several times by pretending to throw it in one direction, whereupon he raced off in that direction, but then I threw it in the opposite direction. He soon learned and refused to move even when I pretended to throw it. Funny dog, he chased off the pelican that was in the water nearby. The dog seems to understand very well when he’s told to find a stick.

14th Dec 1978 11:10am

At the airport. I may well have long to wait because of the weather. There’s plenty to do, at last I might get a few hundred words down.

These modern toilets are stifling with their airless, hot atmosphere of pseudo-class and cakes of air-fresheners. The writing on the doors are so dull too; are men more naturally pornographic than women? All I found today was an insipid list of who loves who, mostly initials at that, only one said that Karen loves Darryl. Best of luck Karen and Darryl.

We’ve been round the toy shops because it’s Gareth’s shopping day today. I left a long list with the big kids before leaving. They had to mind the drake roasting in the oven, prepare the roast for this evening and clean the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Oh yes and make a goulash for Sunday. The duck is for our camp. Gran was to make the rye bread.

This evening those who want to go to the library will be dropped off there on the way to pick up Rolf. At breakfast it seemed as though only a few were going to the library – Gran is going to church with the Benedictine nuns, Marcello decided to stay at home and Monika seems uncertain.

It’s good to be back in jeans again. I swapped one for two with Monika. Had a look at some Levi’s at Weiners and yet again postponed the purchase of a pair, maybe sometime in January.

Don Juan’s philosophy appears more forceful than Persig’s – life is short, it may be cast off at any minute so be impeccable, there’s no time for crap or petty moods. An intensity accompanies the actions of a person who behaves as though he’s fighting his last battle on earth. Choose a path with heart and follow it. Take responsibility for your decisions. When a decision is taken, act calmly and fearlessly for there will be many more decisions cropping up.

16th Dec 1978

At The Three Rivers. We arrived at 8am after leaving Emu Park at 5:15am. We went to Bernie’s to pick up fruit buns. The drive was straightforward, no major stops.

We caught a lot of fish; and while cleaning them we talked of salting them to take home. Alas, we forgot to pack the salt. And we didn’t bring oil.

So the first thing to do is write a checklist:

CampingChecklist (1)
Camping Checklist by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Don Juan teachings and philosophy are contained in Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda, 1968
  • Robert M. Persig (1928 – 2017) was an American writer and philosopher who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Added dedication postscript to Preamble post. View here.

 

Journey to Ixtlan – Journal Entry 7th Dec 1978

A busy day. We have an order for 35 container candles. Marcello is cutting the stubbies and green wine bottles. It seems such slow work for so little money. Still, it’s money being earned while at home, where we like being.

We picked strawberries, a poor bowlful, from plants covered with weeds. Monika picked strawberry flowers for pressing and has made a batch of greetings cards. Gran bought a dollar’s worth, making it Monika’s first sale. There seems to be a rush to make money for Christmas. The kids were too busy with school to do any work for themselves. Karen is still not free until the end of the week.

Another sick chick is not able to stand up, so Gran dosed it with garlic, milk and bread and put it on a piece of hessian in the cockatoo cage we found at the dump. It won’t live.

It’s a lovely day, sunny and hot outside but with a cool wind blowing, I hear Marcello grinding glass; the geese talk among themselves under the low branch of the Queensland hoop pine. The Rouen duckling is silent for the time being. I’ll disturb them if I fill their plastic water container, so I’ll sit here enjoying writing with this pen. A baby butcherbird is crying for food.  You can tell it’s a young bird because it’s brown and white, not black and white like it’s mother, however, they are the same size.

Lot’s more noises. An earthmoving machine is on the hill a little down the street, it has been working for a while cutting a path to Mrs N’s old house and levelling the yard. Bottles clink – that’s Marcello. The butcherbirdling still whinges in hunger. Gran keeps shouting out messages to us which jars the otherwise warm and peaceful atmosphere. A magpie sings far away; it could be a butcherbird.

I’ve got to leave now to clean my darling’s desk and the file room.

9:30pm
It was twelve hours ago that I stopped writing to clean the study. I did Johnny’s corner fairly well; wiping walls and cleaning louvres. I polished his writing pane of glass – a very large sheet of glass – and put Monika’s drawings under it. Then I did the file room. It needs paint on the walls, roof beams and some floor covering, then it will be a good little room, clean, sweet-smelling and lovely to be in. Monika and I went looking for stubbies and Tooheys beer bottles. Marcello needed more to make the candle containers. None in the hotel bin so Monika suggested the dump. We filled up two small boxes with stubbies. There were a few flowers on the roadside, so we stopped to pick them.

Lunch was good. As usual it was a spread and we talked of catching fish, of Christmas presents and a few other things. I forget what. Had a short nap. Just before dozing I started Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan.

9th Dec 1978 8:40am

Back at the Base Hospital to get my stitches removed. I’ve dropped Mum, Marcello and Monika near the East Street shops. It’s cool here.

I must get a tight grip on myself, I’m in a bad mood. I was aware of it  when I made a remark about Johnny’s hair and he said not to maternalise him. Apparently that meant (what I would call) making cute noises at a child. Fair enough, I make comments without considering the effect they have on the recipient.

Anyway, in fairness to Johnny, I did make several comments about his new haircut. So I just stood under the tree near the old garage and he, after a look at my face, slowly drove away to the airport.

My bad mood was a result of last night. Just a few minutes before dinner, Johnny yelled at Gareth for not having done his bedroom in spite of repeated suggestions. He thumped Gareth on his bottom, then banished him to his room. This sort of occurrence is unpleasant whenever it happens simply because one is yelled at and the other is forced to do the yelling. I had just prepared a very special meal. We hadn’t had fish for weeks and weeks. Also the fish I had crumbed and fried crisp, were caught by Marcello. Now what was going to happen? Was Gareth to stay in his room while we ate a meal that would almost certainly be spoilt by his absence from the table? Why couldn’t Johnny time his chastisement better? I suppose we all are slack in choosing the right time for unpleasant things. And a time for pleasant things too, except pleasant things don’t dampen a scene.

I remember another time sitting down to a meal with Johnny, when he told me my brother had had a nervous breakdown and was in a sanitorium that I knew of and disliked. That was because of it’s uncaring treatment of the patients when the cows were always well stocked with feed. I remember being amazed, in spite of my shock and pain at the news, that Johnny hadn’t told me after the meal. Some would call it nitpicking. I don’t care, I maintain that discretion is essential.

Again, a telephone message came through for a neighbour one night, Johnny wrote out the message and handed it to young Gareth. The kid had to go down the drive, which is dark and spooky, and the neighbour may have been asleep. The message didn’t appear to be urgent at all, it was a confirmation of an arrangement three weeks away.

Anyway, I add to Gareth’s nervous state by shouting at him this morning. He was rude, but on reflection later, it appeared to be a natural exclamation one would make. He wanted a stapler for school and had planned to be taken to the shop and returned home so he could cycle to school.

12th Dec 1978

Jobs that have to be done:
Verandah
Dining room
Sitting room
Bookshelves
Laundry shelves
Get camping gear sorted
Slaughter chook and drake and duck.
Tonight: Put away cakes, make bread, clean bedroom

Don Juan [Notes from Journey to Ixtlan]:

“People hardly ever realise that we can cut anything from our lives, any time, just like that.”

Erasing Personal History

It is best to erase personal history because that would make us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people.

Nobody knows who I am or what I do. Not even I.

You see we only have two alternatives; we either take everything for sure and real, or we don’t. If we follow the second and erase personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which we don’t know where the rabbit will pop out, not even ourselves.

Losing self-importance

You are too damn important in your own mind. That must be changed. You are so goddamn important that you feel justified to be annoyed with everything. You’re so damn important that you can afford to leave if things don’t go your way. I suppose you think that shows you have character. That’s nonsense. You’re weak and conceited.

Death is an adviser

Death is our eternal companion, it is always to your left at an arm’s length. It is always watching you. It always will until the day it taps you.

How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us?

A thing to do when you’re impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death.

Death may tap you at any moment so really there’s no time for crappy thoughts and moods.

Assuming responsibility

When a man decides to do something he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions, without any doubts or remorse about them.

In a world where death is the hunter, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.

To assume responsibility of one’s decisions means that one is ready to die for them.

There are no small or big decisions, there are only decisions that we make in the face of our inevitable death.

The Last Battle on Earth

For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable, my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvellous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.

If this was your last battle on earth, I would say that you are an idiot.

You are wasting your last act on earth in some stupid mood. You have no time, my friend, no time. None of us have time.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series