32. 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.

29. Crows and Cane Toads – Journal Entry 6th Dec 1978

The weather has changed, my skin feels cool, dry and slightly uncomfortable. A storm? The winds for the past few days have been strong. It was difficult using the gas stove because of the strong draughts through the house, especially the kitchen.

Last night was very pleasant.

First before dinner we packed a forequarter of beef into the freezer, a slightly tedious job, cutting up, sorting, weighing and packing. Meat prices are going up, so we must be more restrained in our eating habits.

Then dinner, which was good. Marcello and Monika are away. Gran talked of her National Fitness Christmas party. We talked about the trip to the dentist and so on. Immediately after dinner Johnny made two fruit cakes with Karen. I offered light relief and very little help. Then went to read The Lord of the Rings. After that I sat at my desk for a while, sulking a little and then told Johnny, rather dramatically, that I would have to rearrange my life. We sat in the file room and had a glass of whisky and coffee and talked – with me getting quite giggly and amorous after another half glass of whisky.

This pen is so fine I could go on writing and writing words, lots of words.

It was a reasonably good day today. I spent several hours getting the Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) papers in order and writing up the minutes of the last meeting and typing the Treasurer’s financial statement.

Monika rang wanting to know when Marcello wanted her to come back – this afternoon or evening. I gave her the Svendsen’s telephone number. By about 10am Marcello rings in to get a lift home and to ask for the drill and sanding disc. So I put together some strawberry jam, marmalade and empty egg cartons for the Svendsens as a small thank you for putting up Marcello for a couple of days. Mark and Marcello load a lot of gear into the Rover, give me some fish that they had caught and suggest I come later in the afternoon for Marcello.

I drive home and head for my desk, switch on the cassette tape recorder again and continue working for a while.

No, I’m wrong. What I actually did was fry some fish as soon as I got in and served lunch. It was a gorge of crisply fried fresh fish. I then went to my desk, switched on the cassette tape recorder again and continued working until midday.

After a small rest for about 60 minutes, I mix a bowl of pikelet batter and get the roast in the oven. While putting herbs on the roast and sticking garlic in the meat, I tell my mother that perhaps the chickens have chickenpox. I had observed a very small chick sitting with his head smack on his shoulders and beak pointing at the roof. He then woke up, made a few pecking motions and then settled his head back again into hunched shoulders with the same strange beak-up pose. A little while later, mum came in to say that not only was this chick missing, another like him in size and behaviour was also missing and would I creep into the pen and search for them, please.

“Do you mind if I went later?” I asked. “I’d like to get this finished. If I went now I’d come back with chicken pooh on my hands and knees from crawling through the low chicken coop door.” Mum agreed, so the pikelets were made first and the tea tray prepared for Gareth’s ‘Jaguar’ friends who should race to our kitchen this afternoon as soon as school is over.

In the chicken coop, I couldn’t find the missing chickens or their carcasses. Trying to count thirty fast-moving chicks and three ducklings was difficult, but fortunately those nursing chicks were much smaller than the others.

Then I went looking for cane toads. They have been known to eat very young ducklings. There was one toad, which I killed. Next, I checked for holes or gaps in the wire netting overhead that would allow the crows in. Recently, large numbers of crows moved into the neighbourhood and one large family was nesting in the tree in the poultry yard. I found a large gap and fixed it with a piece of wire I found lying in the coop. We removed the Rouen ducklings because they foul the chickens’ drinking water.

Back inside the house, I clear the sink and get ready to go pick up Barb at the Yeppoon bus stop. I write a little while waiting for her. While driving back up Phillips Street, I see an embarrassed S talking to J O’D who is holding a mangled white Leghorn hen. He has it by the feet and it’s bloody neck and head dangle while he talks. Good, he has evidence I think – he must have caught the Dean’s two dogs while they were attacking his chooks. They have killed over 17 of our birds within a few months. I should have stopped to add my complaint too, but I continued home.

After dinner Marcello and Gareth shot a crow. We have a large family to feed too, the crows can search for carrion (there’s plenty on the road), instead of stealing our eggs and chicks. The kookaburras are a bit of a pest.

The day was not yet over. I leave at 7:15pm to say hello to the Batik class and say how sorry I am that I can’t join them because I have a M.O.W meeting at 7:30pm. The M.O.W. meeting was short and lively. We’re having problems getting volunteers. One woman is terrified of a M.O.W. recipient dying while being served a meal, another is alleged to have said she was not willing to be a servant to anyone. Pearl is having to do 2 hours a week.

Back at the desk, I’m writing in this notebook and drinking black coffee. The red Japanese clock strikes ten. I’ve just challenged Johnny to a game of chess. Karen has made a row of greeting cards with pressed flowers and Monika is making hers. The two lads were hunting cane toads. Death to cane toads and crows. Sometime last fortnight there was a very bad smell just near the rose bush. After a bit of a search we found a small galvanised bucket full of dead, bloated cane toads.

I must remember to separate the Rouen duckling from the geese. Her companion gosling is missing and she is being picked on. How she quacks; if she didn’t make such a noise and if she were white instead of chocolate brown, she might lead a less stressful life among the geese. I hope she takes to the spare Rouen drake we have, but he may not make the right noises; she thinks she’s a goose.

There’s a moth on this page as I write, a greeny mother-of-pearl creature, slim and long with flowing antennae. Now he is still, but for quite a while he would flutter, rise and jump or fly backward to land on his feet with a slight noise; curious movement this hopping backwards and landing with a thump. There’s another like him now flying around the lamp. He won’t last long.

CicadaPoem
Poem by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • Click here to go to this post online
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Marcello’s girlfriend Monika came to live with us in May 1978 and she has been added to the Emu Park Family Tree