104. It’s a fair mongrel! – Journal Entry 24th Sep 1982

I had a wonderful break on the beach yesterday. It was so relaxing to lie in the hot sun, talk, eat and look around at the calm blue sea; the beach sprinkled with people. Even a surf fisherman was up to his knees in foam.

I wonder if anyone would run a second-hand bookshop in Emu Park, together with a book exchange? Might be worth pursuing.

Karen rang to thank the family for their presents. She had an excellent day with many of her friends wishing her for her birthday.

Today I must: finish cost accounting exercises; finish methodology chapter five; make dinner of fish baked in tomato and lemon, served with carrots, followed by mulberries and custard for pudding; go to the post office; buy tomatoes and more vegetables.

Mum and I strolled down to the post office and bought a crab for our lunch.

27th September 1982

Had to chase members of the family for most of the morning; it was one of those mornings where everyone needed reminding about something. It seems like a lifetime has passed since I woke up at 5 am. 

29th September 1982

Panic! Panic! September is almost over. The semester is almost over. And yet I do not have firm control of my subjects. While Karen and Gareth are not here, I shall do as much study as possible. Barbara, who is home for the next two weeks, will need extra attention. She informed me of her break when she returned home from the Activity Training Centre.

Why do I feel hassled? Stop it! It’s a lovely morning. There are plenty of opportunities to catch up and get ahead. I have already written the shopping list, had my breakfast and exercised. Johnny has very kindly done the Yeppoon run while I have been scattering grapeshot for the past few days. Johnny warned me of it. Someday I should record my gaffes.

In the meantime, dinner preparations are about to begin for Bavarian meatballs, rice, pumpkin and a capsicum and bean salad. We shall have freshly picked pawpaw for pudding.

2nd October 1982

Yesterday was special. Students of Methodology spent a whole day at the Institute in discussion with our teacher P. Galle. He is such a skilled teacher; we were privileged to have him hold the session for the seven of us; it was of great benefit.

Gareth cooked dinner. It was delicious. My date with Johnny that night, a truly wonderful one,  began with Löwenbräu München and crisps. Johnny dropped off to sleep at around 11 pm. I slipped away to join mum and Marcello. We watched the Commonwealth Games into the early hours of the morning.

3rd October 1982

After breakfast this morning, I made Johnny a cut lunch. He has to go to Rocky for a tutorial with a group of external third-year students.

Today I will be making a cake for the Bowling club which mum must be able to carry since I don’t have a car. Apart from the usual housework and study, I will prepare dinner—hamburgers and chocolate cake.

Here’s an interesting snippet: heard a comment by a driver in the Hardie Ferodo race comment on his view of the road. He said, “It’s a fair mongrel!”

4th October 1982

The game is on! Only six weeks to go before the exams and a great deal of study remains. Tomorrow I must pay the bank card, pickup Melleril for Barbara, remind Marcello to get chops or sausages, drive the family to the beach at 11 am, take mum bowling and drop off bottles at St Vincent.

These days I only seem to manage a few quick paragraphs in the diary.

8th October 1982

The heavy teaching workload for Johnny is now worse. Five out of thirteen teachers remain. Three or four subjects are to be distributed among the remaining teachers for the next two weeks—on top of their already very full loads.

To back Johnny up over the next year, I must get on top of my studies, run the house efficiently and earn a living. If I can contribute to the family finances, it will lighten his load.

More pressing right now is to keep Barbara busy until lunchtime. She is recovering somewhat from her withdrawal and is already talking about lunch. It is only 10:40 am.

102. Two Days Lost – Journal Entry 8th Sep 1982

Oh, dear! Two days lost. Was it the combination of red wine and oranges the night before that triggered an extremely severe headache and frequent vomiting? Waves of nausea and constant vomiting continued until midday on Monday, accompanied by intense throbbing head and eye pain.

Finally it has eased. I feel weak but need to tackle the jobs that have piled up. First some planning:

Wednesday jobs:  Programming 1B, Cost accounting, type tax papers, write letters to the Rocky Permanent Building Society and Shannon, post letters, clean bedroom, pick beans and prepare one of the family’s favourite dinners, Bavarian meatballs with tomato and bacon sauce and brown rice. Simple and nourishing.

Thursday’s jobs: Programming 1B, Methodology, letters to Mary and Max, prepare a talk, weed the garden, make bangers and mash and cheese tart for dinner.

10th September 1982

I am expecting a call from Mr Carpenter, who lives in Yeppoon, about woodworking courses at TAFE. I also spoke to Ken Sinclair about whether they run a typewriter mechanics course. He patiently explained that although they don’t have a typewriter mechanics course, he would be interested to explore the possibilities. He wanted to talk for quite a while.  From our conversation, I gathered that adult education courses are not going well, in fact he is quite short of ideas. I have thought for some time that there should be adult education in Emu Park and so has Edral Damrow. However, do others feel the same, and if so, what sorts of skills or knowledge would they want to acquire or access? 

Nancy Balsys has taught Batik in Emu Park and she intends to ask her friends what interests them, what they are doing and why, and what they think should happen. Nancy’s husband Ron offered to look after their children so she could attend an activity one night a week. She found a yoga class which she could attend casually; other courses went too long and expected regular attendance and commitment.

I would like to identify local snakes and spiders; being able to discern which are poisonous would mean I could avoid killing them unnecessarily in the garden and chook pens. I also want to learn how to service my typewriter, and would like to see discussion groups form for these types of skills training.

A tentative plan would be to ask Edral to organise a meeting of a few women to look at community learning groups. Possibly a Citizen’s Advisory Bureau? I need to find out what is going on in Emu Park, now and in the past five years. There may be resources that could be tapped from the local school. I wonder if the Progress Association might be interested to organise courses or to back a community newsletter?

14th September 1982

Today, after the breakfast dishes, I must attend to Johnny’s desk and clean the study. I still have the problem of white ants. Library books must be returned, bills paid and prezzie buying organised through Johnny. I will telephone Mr Carpenter on 391830 about woodworking courses and finish off the letter to Mary and Maxy.

Dinner was delicious: veal chops marinated in lemon juice with a drizzle of Marsala, accompanied by the delightful Sauce Messine, potatoes in a box, lettuce salad and carrots. Pudding of fresh mulberries in sugar, ice cream and cream was thoroughly enjoyed by all, as it usually is. With satisfyingly full bellies, everyone went off to different parts of the house.

I was guest speaker at the CWA annual general meeting and had to speak for fifteen minutes on litter. I could think of nothing more dull than litter, especially at an AGM! After a brief introduction, I used the search technique and elicited answers from those at the meeting using two questions: What do you think is the litter problem, and, what should be done about it? A lively discussion followed and one member told me she was highly amused at the way I had everyone contributing their ideas instead of coming up with the information myself. Another representative of the RSL and Rifle Club was pleasantly surprised. On his way to the meeting he had been wondering how the topic could possibly be interesting he told me. He even contributing some clever ideas of his own!

56. Letter From A Year Ago – Journal Entry 16th Jun 1979

I’m sitting outside the student cafeteria, trying to stay cool under a big umbrella. Today we have a minor test in preliminary maths, a course run by Johnny, which I started at the beginning of the year. With approximately one hour to go, I decided to reply to your letter. I’m reading an excellent book by Zimmer called Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilisation, however, I found it difficult to concentrate on.

The campus here is really beautiful as tertiary institution campuses go. A landscape expert was hired and within a couple of years, the garden improved out of sight. Large rocks, huge lumps of driftwood and two or three bleached tree trunks are arranged attractively with trees and flowering shrubs grouped in hillocks. Mind you, winter here is mild – about 15 degrees Celsius in the morning – and the gardens are so colourful, just about anything will grow in winter if you take the trouble to tend the plants, even daffodils.

To get back to the campus and the people milling around, I just like being in a learning environment. I suppose having stopped school so early could account for it. I could be an eternal student if circumstances would allow it. We shall see.

The course I’m doing is something designed for adults, it prepares one for entry to a maths degree or just for the pleasure of doing mathematics. It’s an excellent course that was designed in England with great results. Johnny introduced it here for the first time this year and three lecturers have put many hours of work into developing it for Australians. There are great notes and tapes to accompany the texts. The drop-out rate, however, among part-timers has been high as they just found it too hard. So that will be something for the Maths Department to think about.

In the course of my letters, I’ll try to convey the flavour of life here, though we’re rather prejudiced. We think life in Queensland is really “beaut” if you’re independent, handy and make your own life instead of hankering after the pleasures of a big city. One feels isolated here, one is isolated, but as long as there is mobility, trips south to catch up on news, new things, say once a year, life in Central Queensland can be very good. Sydney we loved, an unusual city with its ferries, gardens and swimming pools; Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide I don’t know and look forward to visiting them sometime in the future.

To get off the subject of Australia, I was wondering if you could look out for old recipe books on Indian cooking from the second-hand book stalls or friends. I have Veerasami’s cookbook. I don’t particularly want the latest books, unless you think them worth having. Ask Aunty Nora too, she may be able to pick up something.

Also I wonder if R would mind giving me recipes that the hotel uses – the kormas and biriyanis seem hard to reproduce here – actually any recipes of Indian cooking as I’m deeply interested. Last year I ran a course on basic Indian cooking and could have run a couple more this year if I hadn’t started this course.

I am also very interested in kolams. Aunty Nora sent me some pamphlets years ago and Jaya drew some kolams for me. If you are able to dig up information on them and any stories on Indian food, I’d be grateful.

The Travels of Marco Polo is useful to give you an idea of what life must have been long ago and yet one asks, has anything changed? Nilakanta Sastri’s History of South India gives one a glimmer. I deeply regret not learning much about Indian life and culture, especially when I am asked about certain customs and taboos. When we first came here we were dismayed at the barrenness of culture when compared to India and Southeast Asia. The streets here are empty, no drums are heard, there is very rarely a procession and the markets are missing…

When we returned from the Philippines, I appreciated the privacy, the having to “do for oneself”, the way of life, the freedom to take whatever job one wanted without worrying about loss of status. Mind you there are some silly people around but then you get them everywhere.

Blast it, the more I think about it, the more I’m attracted to going back to India to explore a few things, just to revel in its crowds, flower bazaars, trains, silks, dances and music… above all Kathakali, whole nights of Kathakali.

Gran keeps trying the local lotteries (it’s seven years since she left India) she’d like to go back for a visit, mainly to see the family.

Got to go.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Found this draft letter from 1979 amongst notes and journals on loose-leaf papers dated 1980, so I have added this to the journal series with some of my mother’s hand-drawn kolams.
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page.