106. The Allure of Romance Novels – Journal Entry 3rd Nov 1982

Dear Nora, 

Please forgive my delay; it’s been almost a week since I received your letter. Life is at its busiest right now.

In response to your three queries: Firstly, mum would prefer the lesser of the two prices quoted and will contribute half. Would you like us to keep the $150 (1500 rupees) here for you or would you want us to send a bank transfer in rupees? Secondly, come whenever you can. It does seem inadvisable for you and Henry to be away at the same time. Henry would be very welcome here anytime if he wishes to make a trip on his own. Finally, the road trip from Sydney to Rockhampton takes two nights and one day. It would cost say $100 (1000 rupees) without food. 

I would suggest you book Madras to Brisbane and Brisbane to Madras with an option to leave from Melbourne. Mum will buy you a plane ticket from Brisbane to Rocky when we know definite dates. Once you are here, we will book your Rocky to Brisbane or Rocky to Melbourne flight. The same arrangement could be used by Henry, of course. If you can raise the fare to Australia, we will look after you here.

Perhaps Mary can advise you on what to pack. You can borrow warm clothes from mum as I am sure you wouldn’t care for mine! If you are thinking of buying small presents for the folks here, may I delicately suggest that it would not be necessary as many Indian things are available here. I do agree you should pack as lightly as you can and remember, no seeds, rawhide leather, skins, plants or flowers are allowed into Australia.

I am posting this letter today as we have to go and withdraw mum’s money at the Post Office and I’m cashing the child endowment cheque too. I look forward to hearing about your plans!

4th November 1982

Today, Mum is off on a pensioners’ bus trip.

While dropping Barbara at the bus stop, I started thinking about Mills and Boon romance novels. Written by females, for female consumption, these novels are quite lucrative.  Nevertheless, educated women don’t seem to read them, and not all uneducated women read them either. Young girls, married women and old ladies read romance novels and have done so for nearly two-hundred years, according to a recent article of dubious scholarship. There are strict rules: passionate kissing and retaining one’s honour are allowed but rarely (in fact never) is fondling of the breasts or (god forbid) any touching below the waist. Sexual intercourse, and a certain amount of fondling, is now included within a particular subset of these novels. 

The heroine is usually independent and beautiful, with a sense of humour, honest and passionate. The men tend to be tall, handsome and quite ardent. They are often very wealthy farmers with large estates. Initially, there is antagonism and distrust, explained later as a ploy to fight against their mutual attraction. The main characters endure many incidents, working together in crises until eventually they can’t help but admire and respect one another. Usually, there is another male and female who delay our happy couple from finding true love. Finally, they come together and, as in fairy tales, live happily ever after.

The article in the Weekend Australian says that women’s taste for these novels indicates their interest in sex and, according to a Kinsey Report of the 1950s, more women were turned on by hardcore pornography than men. 

Off the cuff reply to that—from what one gathers after reading romantic novels, such as Jane Eyre, is that women want to feel powerful in the sense that the man wants her, and only her and that she can make him completely happy. On the other hand, only he can cause her to succumb and revel in her femaleness: burying his face in her beautiful hair and saying things like, “you elf-creature, what magic have you bound me with?” I’m not sure how explicitly the sexual act comes into it, not very I suspect unless the man is skilful enough to give her pleasure, intense pleasure at that. It seems that the sexual act is a vague part of the passionate kissing in a tight embrace.

We should keep in mind, I suppose, that these novels portray characters who are larger than life. The women are more beautiful,  competent, faithful and courageous than the female reader. The hero is handsome, humorous, wildly passionate but not out of control, and articulate enough to say most of the things women want to hear. He does not go off to the pub drinking with his mates. There is more than enough delightful concentration on the lucky couple; their preoccupation with one another would satisfy most female readers. However, what women read and what they want in real life might be two different things. How does one find that out?

101. Dear Mary – Journal Entry 13th Aug 1982

On Thursday I gave the family a meal they least like—liver. Mum, Barbara, Johnny and I like the way I cook it, but the rest of the family are not fond of liver, in any form. Before the new recipe I would fry largish slabs, but now I cook very thin slices and it is delicious and tender. Fortunately, Marcello brings fresh calf liver from work as the liver from the butcher is rarely fresh. 

The recipe is as follows: Finely chop one or two onions and slice the liver into thin strips. In a large pan, fry the onion until tender, then set aside. Add chunks of butter to the pan and when foaming, saute the liver pieces over low heat until just cooked. The slices need to be stirred gently, just until they lose their bloody appearance. Place the liver on the onions and squeeze a little lemon juice over them to taste. Next add some chopped sage to the pan and fry briefly, add a tablespoonful or so of flour, stir well, then add a cup of white wine and whisk. Add more liquid if the sauce is too thick and if you don’t have wine, water with a dash of vinegar would be a fine substitute. Finally, stir in a large handful of chopped parsley or chives and slide in the liver and onions. Add salt to taste and grind in lots of black pepper. Don’t let the liver cook further or it will become too rubbery. Serve with buttered rice and a plain vegetable dish. We usually fry eggs too, especially for those who are not keen on liver. Bacon or sausages can be added for extra flavour but it is the sage which gives this dish a special flavour, although garlic can be substituted.

Anyway, as mentioned, I gave the family liver on my birthday and chocolates much later with coffee. On Saturday Johnny will be cooking a special meal and Karen is coming home for dinner. I asked for paella, which I’m very keen on, banana splits for pudding followed by chocolates and coffee.

14 August 1982

Well, we had our paella meal, although as this one didn’t have many prawns, Johnny added scallops and mushrooms. Tiger prawns, unlike banana prawns, have distinctive stripes and a sweet flavour. Needless to say it was delicious and I ate so much that I couldn’t eat the individual servings of pudding: a whole banana sliced lengthwise with a blob each of vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream and whipped cream, and crushed nuts strewed over the lot. Before dinner, Karen and I went for a long walk on the beach. The weather is delightful now but summer will be upon us, before we know it, with frogs in the lavatory bowl and flies in the kitchen! M, R and Z rang for my birthday on Thursday, it was so good to chat with them. Unfortunately, I have to report that mum hasn’t been well: about six weeks ago she had a medical examination and was told that her blood pressure was worse; she then worried about that and of course everything started to deteriorate—she had head pains, belching at night and insomnia. Last week I took her to the clinic to see the GP and I think she will be back to normal in a fortnight. Barbara insists on taking mum to the park on Sundays for a picnic.

Nathaniel is talking quite well now and TJ is beginning to lose the staring, unresponsive look which newborns usually have. I call him “Kumarakut” because he looks so small, round and brown, almost glossy. Monika hopes he won’t lose his brownness the way Nathaniel had, however, I don’t think she needs to worry because TJ is darker than Nathaniel as a baby. I wonder how TJ will like it? I think he can expect a rough time until he grows up and no longer cares. Monika has her hands full when both kids are crying at the same time.

Life is hard work with very little play because Johnny is tied up with extra lecturing, besides all the other tasks he must complete. I’ve taken on four subjects this semester, twice as much as before. Gareth has his studies too, and so we all have to keep going, even on weekends. However, semester ends in November, with a two-week break in September for the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Tough times, like good times, must come to an end. Mine is, of course, self-inflicted, and will continue well into next year. Thank you very much for your cheeky card; I pinned it on the noticeboard along with the label from the back of the envelope. 

27th August 1982

It seems our correspondence could easily be concerned with just swapping recipes—thanks for yours! Do you think the sweet mango pickle would last longer if vinegar was substituted for the water? The onions could be cooked longer perhaps or left out?

Your recent visit must have started something because after you left, two long-absent friends came to stay for a while. The first was a Canadian friend who brought his new wife to visit his old stamping grounds. Then last week another friend, whom we met in Manila about ten years ago, came to stay. Carmen is a Filipino married to a Swiss and now lives in Lund, near Geneva. We climbed rocks, raided guava and mango trees, and ate lots of curry with bread and pickles. She loved being photographed with the kangaroos at Cooberrie Park. To our delight, there was a mother koala with her baby for a photo. Carmen’s ten-year-old son wanted to come on the trip; I think he will feel the photos are a poor substitute for the experience. Carmen had spent time with friends and relatives in Manila and then with her parents and sisters living in Brisbane. She was very tired on arrival because on her journey down from Brisbane, the bus driver kept dozing off! Absolutely terrified, she took turns with another passenger to speak to him the whole way.

94. Letter to Z – Journal Entry 24th June 1982

Dear Z,

We all thoroughly enjoyed your visit; it was great to see the whole family and our only regret is that we were not able to take more time off. However, as Johnny says, you are all most welcome anytime. Why not come up for Christmas? Be warned though, it is usually very quiet apart from the midnight tree-raiding and special feasts. Our only outing seems to be a slow walk on the beach mid-morning after a huge Christmas breakfast. This is usually followed by another family beach cavort on New Year’s morning. Christmas time is mango season and unfortunately, the beginning of wet weather.

Thank you for the photographs. Gran has now carefully arranged them into her album. Monika ordered extra copies of those she took and we picked them up from Yeppoon yesterday; I’m sending you a batch for distribution, as you see fit

For a few days after your departure, Nathaniel walked around saying rather forlornly, ‘Z dorn!’. He excitedly pointed you out in Monika’s photographs and even remembered the dressing gown you used while you were here.

I am relieved examinations are now over. I had two exams and Karen had six. Barbara is going for five days to the annual ATC camp at the bottom of Phillip Street. Gran and I will probably bake several large chocolate cakes for them, like we did last year. Karen is back for a few days before going on a week-long camp in the Bunya Mountains; it will be freezing there.

The temperature dropped dramatically last week. Even though we are on the Queensland coast, it was down to 7℃ inside the kitchen with the most dreadful wind from down your way. It’s a glorious morning but still quite cold, so I am sitting at my desk with the heater on. Next semester will be busy because I was rash enough to sign-up for four subjects.

I am particularly looking forward to a subject called Methodology, part of the Associate Diploma in Computing, that teaches students to think clearly; something I am very much in need of! The prescribed textbooks are: Thinking about Thinking by Anthony Flew and Learning to Philosophise by E. R. Emmet. The lectures will be given by CIAE’s resident philosopher and I am curious to see a philosopher in action.

I recall two evenings spent listening to Johnny and a philosopher discuss a range of topics. They had the extraordinary ability to explore and develop concepts, many of which represent the most important aspects of humanity, civilisation and education. 

I shall quote from Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He categorises people as Romantics or Classics.  Romantics, Pirsig says, are intuitive, aware of appearances, imaginative and creative… Classics, however, see underlying forms and because he is essentially in favour of Classics, he describes their style or approach to things thus:

The classic style is straightforward, unadorned, unemotional, economical and carefully proportioned. Its purpose is to bring order out of chaos and make the unknown known. It is aesthetically restrained. Everything is under control. Its value is measured in terms of how well this control is maintained.

All of that to say, I am looking forward to the Methodology subject to see what effect it has on the students, myself included. I must ask Johnny about last year’s students; I imagine it would be difficult to measure clearer thinking.

Gran, Monika, Gareth, Nathaniel, Johnny and I are very keen on naan bread and I now make it once a week. A major breakthrough thanks to R, for helping develop the recipe. We now have a twenty-five-kilo bag of rye flour to make chapatis, which I find are infinitely better than bread. Chapatis can be made much quicker, they freezes well and a few at a time can be used for breakfast or lunch.

By the way, our house number is not “2” even though it is on our kitchen door; Gareth found the number under our house and decided to put it up. Our official address is 11/17 Clement Street. You can use 11/17 Cnr Phillip and Clement Street, however, Phillip Street will suffice. Emu Park is a small town and I am sure your mail will find us.

Gran seems to have settled down to her gardening and social activities. She managed to water her garden for years with only a trickle until Johnny installed a new tap for her near the barbecue. The radishes, shallots, lettuce and brinjals are thriving now that the sprinkler has a better flow of water. Gran is much happier with this simple fix.

I shall post the photos with this letter when we go to Rocky later this morning.

93. Exams Over – Journal Entry 22nd June 1982

I’m quite relieved that the programming exam was not too difficult. An open book exam is not easy either, one has to know the subject or time is wasted hunting for the relevant section. All I needed was one reasonable performance to boost my spirits after the disastrous accounting procedure exam. It was enjoyable answering questions for pleasure after the required number.

The invigilators are worthy people, but they must be quite bored going through the same routine several times a day for a month: let in a horde of students, check exam slips and identification, call out perusal time, call out starting time. Ever vigilant for cheating or disruption, they are quick to supply more paper to students signalling for more and disappear in turns for a quick coffee or toilet break. They seem like old friends. Whenever I attend an exam we nod sedately to one another and exchange slight smiles.

At this point, I am reminded of Margaret who took a flask of coffee with her when she sat a three-hour exam! She gets tired after an hour or so of intensive paperwork. Of the five of us who finished P-Maths, Rod, Margaret and I continued our studies.

Next semester could be grim unless I organise myself extremely well and not waste time spending more effort than necessary trying to absorb the material. There must be a better method than the one I’ve been using. I shall try the following for each subject: quick review; detailed study; summary and review; repeat for the next section; perform another review a few days later. I have four subjects, two of which are three hours a week, another six-hours per week and the fourth, the Methodology subject which I am most interested in, one hour per week. That would be forty-five hours plus time to be added for assignments; this is possibly overgenerous, but I suspect not. I had planned to do so much during the semester break.

Holiday plans for the family:
Gareth – 2 weeks from 28 June
Barbara – 2 weeks from 28 June (camping the first week)
Karen – 4 weeks from 21 June (Shannon has holidays for 2 weeks starting 4 July, not sure if she will spend them with us)
Gita – 4 weeks from 21 June
Johnny – Nil

In between enjoying the children’s company and taking them on outings, mostly to fish, I need to stick to my schedule: exercise, diary, calculus, reading, programming and (last but not least) Johnny. I must focus on writing programs and revising the first part of calculus, then forge ahead with next semester’s calculus material.

Gareth has a heavy cold but needs to be well enough for a debate today. To avoid the early morning coolness, I’ll be taking him to school an hour late. Will stop now and write a letter to the school office about his late arrival.

24th June 1982

Karen came home yesterday. We had a nice evening in the little room talking until midnight, just the three of us.

65. Easter Weekend – Journal Entry 20th April 1981

It was a wonderful Easter weekend, eating excellent meals and spending time with the family.

On Good Friday we enjoyed baked mackerel, freshly caught by a local fisherman, with a delightful fruit salad to follow.

Easter Saturday lunch was an absolute gorge of prawns, aioli and fresh white bread. Mmmmm… I skipped everything except the prawns and aioli. Our usual array of pizzas followed for dinner with stewed mulberries and whipped cream for dessert.

The Easter bunny visited on Easter Sunday so there were loads of Easter eggs. Johnny and I ate bread and chocolate eggs, quite an acceptable way of eating Easter eggs for breakfast without feeling too sick. Everyone piled into the Rover for a picnic lunch of pizza at Stoney Creek, a very nice outing with the family.

Easter Sunday dinner was the event of the weekend if one can call it that with so many wonderful meals eaten already. We had rump steak, Johnny’s cordon bleu standard béarnaise sauce and boiled potatoes, corn and zucchini. After dinner we all went for a quick trip to the Singing Ship – the full moon brought many others to the top of the hill too. We played the dictionary game several times that night, then Gareth, Karen, and her friend Shannon listened to Goon records until late into the evening. 

After eating a large granny smith at 2 am in the morning, I went to bed and was plunged into a long nightmare of monsters surrounding me while I desperately tried various ways of escaping. I can only remember one segment: I was in a room full of people and creatures, circled by tall black lizard-like men with long snarling whips in their hands. I had to wake up to escape, my heart still beating fast.

Had an idea for a story. Through a door into a room leading to a bakery, male voices can be heard and a woman is standing, breaking open eggs. One after the other, they turn out bad with large black spots on the yolks and watery whites. A man comes out of the bakery, stands and looks at the woman. She shows him the bad eggs and says they are bad, breaking a few more. There is no movement from the man who continues to watch her intently; she moves to leave looking appealingly at him. He softens and makes a small movement toward her, she rushes into his arms pressing herself against him. She puts her arms tightly around his neck, her body pressed against him. They stand for a while, then he releases himself to pull curtains closed but does not shut the adjoining door to the bakery, male voices can still be heard in the next room. They lie down on the floor, eyes locked together, the woman gazes down at his face brushing the hair from his forehead.

Did a lot of digging in the garden and planted a few seedlings of brinjal, the genuine eggplant that looks just like eggs, made a list of seeds to be planted and also what goes where. Made a batch of bread and must now iron Johnny’s clothes.

Very much in love.

KarenProfileCircle120NOTES

  • 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 and scroll through to the bottom.

55. The Nasty Mood Continued – Journal Entry 18th Aug 1980

The nasty mood continued. I had a particularly bad one and I was hurtful to Johnny.

We had a rather important discussion last night with reference to Ellerbrock’s article on Acne: we talked about faith healing and wondered how it worked; then looked at worry and stress and the damage it does. I said the body was in a state of siege and defined that to mean normal functions were stopped because the system was ready for an emergency, of an undefined sort, which could play havoc with the endocrine and nervous systems. Faith healing would appear to induce a relaxation that could be beneficial and is, in fact, beneficial because it would leave the body to get on with the repair.

Another important item of discussion was my observation that I would like to get back to being one hundred percent respectful and loving towards Johnny-blue-eyes. Apart from the problem of being together and thereby losing excitement through habituation, one has a closer idea of a person’s weaknesses. But now I realised that all of Johnny’s weaknesses are very minor and could be dealt with politely and easily. No, the problem as Johnny sees it is a cultural one, where being courteous and loving towards one’s spouse is not a prevalent habit, nor does it seem to be appreciated – though those who know us think Johnny and I have a wonderful relationship.

This morning I upset myself through a couple of minor skirmishes with Barbara and mum, but I did it to myself by not treating their incident as routine and minor. Being courteous and formal keeps emotions in check (and in perspective) rather than getting emotional then doing and saying things out of proportion to the incident.

I’m sick of lecturing to myself – why can’t I buckle down, steady up, just get on with it, instead of getting emotional and excited – to the point of not being able to breathe properly. Then I use this as an excuse for not doing work?

Johnny’s on holiday and it is very good to have him at his desk. At the moment he is trying to get a bumper bar for the moke. The bullbar we had proved too heavy for the moke and it snapped a steel mounting. A new bullbar costs $90, plus fitting costs, and the wreckers don’t seem to have anything suitable. Oh well, yet another bill. We could use the $50 I earned towards half a bullbar or tow.

19th Aug 1980

Illnesses must be regarded as madness of the body, indeed as “idees fixes” according to Novalis.

To get back to Johnny and my small talk a couple of nights back, I re-read Ellerbrock’s article again and found these hypotheses of his alarming, though Johnny says it’s something we’ve known about for a while.

  • “Human language, [a product of perceptual/cognitive/affective processes] reflects the error and distortions inherent in those processes; the language learned and used, with inherent errors, in turn, leads to additional perceptual and behavioural errors.”
  • “Irrational verbal behaviour, so readily allowing the making of statements contrary to reality, and irrational non-verbal behaviours initiate circular feedbacks which tend toward multiple repetitions, with corresponding amplification of the harmful responses of the body and the brain.” Both quotes from Ellerbrock, Co-Evolution Quarterly.

Anita called briefly yesterday to introduce us to her new husband. They seem very happy. It was good to see two people getting on well, especially after a long first marriage to someone else; presumably, Peter was married before too.

Madonna brought her horse to graze in our paddock. He’s albino and hence called Pinkie. His eyes are a peculiar colour, his mane and tail plaited with pretty string.

What else happened yesterday? Johnny went into Rockhampton to a meeting and came home with half a pig from the Schulz household, Gareth made a macrame hanging, Gran went to a lecture on prayer. Nathaniel is not well, nor is Gareth, and Barbara has the sniffles too. Marcello is not well this morning and was up most of the night because of Nathaniel’s crying. Johnny and Gareth cooked us an excellent roast mutton with turnips and yellow rice, followed by brandy snaps. I did some weeding and Barbara helped by bringing the grass for mulching around the plants.

We waited up for Gran who came in at 10:30 pm and then Johnny and I settled down to spend time together in the study until 1 am.

Mum80s
Gita in the study, early 1980s

 

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • 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.

48. A Difficult Childhood, R’s Memories – Journal Entry 27th Jun 1980

Third day of holidays – we woke up at about 8 o’clock after an excellent night until 2 am. Felt very good after a hot shower, really good. Ate breakfast and went to the CIAE to deliver some exam papers Johnny had marked, and to hand in my assignment.

Met with R who told me some more episodes from his childhood in India. I’m not sure if his vivid recollection has been improved on over the years but I doubt it.

R was separated from his mother at age four and clearly recalls the day. His mother was crying, his father appeared and insisted she come back to him, but she refused. R even remembers the shirt he was wearing when he went away with his father to live with his paternal grandmother.

For some reason he was taken to live with another grandmother, a grandaunt actually. Even while he was there, R hardly saw his father who had to work as a water carrier on the railway station. At about the age of six, he went to live in another strange household. His mother was away at a teacher’s training college and life was very strict, with many rules to live by. When the other children came home from holidays, he noticed the same rules were not enforced on them. R had to bring his own plate to the table and wash it after use. He woke in the morning, went to the lavatory, did yoga, had a bath and then after a cup of milk, had to sit down to his books. He says he didn’t get much time for play.

One day he was sitting at a huge table working and he saw his grandmother arrive. R remained sitting at the table but burst into great sobs; he cried and cried when he saw her. He insisted and pleaded to go away with her.

R went to live with his grandmother. After some time had passed the grandmother said she could not control him, that he was always in trouble and up to mischief. So it was suggested that he go back to the grandaunt’s house. R told all his friends that he would never go back to his grandmother’s place again.

R maintains that he tried very hard to go back to his grandmother’s little village but he did not succeed. He is extremely cautious now about making such definite statements lest they come true, especially when he talks to his wife and children.

He was tutored at his grandaunt’s house, by his mother, who was now a trained primary school teacher. The adults were afraid he would run away if he attended the local primary school. He couldn’t understand their attitude, especially when he had agreed to stay with them.

His mother was an orphan who had to live with relatives. The householders persuaded her to marry an uncle on her mother’s side, even though he was illiterate. Strangely, one uncle’s name was on the wedding invitations but she was married to an elder uncle on the actual day of her wedding.

Don’t leave your children in other people’s houses, R warns me, people can be so inhuman.

So many restrictions were placed on him in that household that now, at thirty-six, he is being firm about not being the one to adjust his ways.

R and his wife are such different people. She has the attitude that if someone else is there to get things done, why not let him. His family seems very dependent on him and he gets very little relief. Minor things niggle: he has his bath early in the morning and his wife likes to bathe at midday or late at night; he would like to stay home and play board games but she doesn’t want to play board games and would rather visit her friends; he wants her to get a bank card to handle more purchases and household matters, but she doesn’t want a bank card – he thinks she doesn’t know how to manage one, and the niggles go on and on.

His wife says that he is the one that loves going out and that he goes out a lot while she likes to stay at home. She says he doesn’t read much. She nags the children and wants them to do well at school, complaining that he is not firm enough with them.

R says he’s had to learn to manage a household and family without having had brothers or sisters, or his mother or father for any length of time.

He feels uneasy because he now has his uncle’s name. When R was in high school his uncle went there and changed it from his father’s name. At that time R’s mother’s age was changed too so there is now only about eight years difference between R’s age and his mother’s age.

Even now he feels a sense of regret. When R was a kid, his father came to live in the same village with him and his mother. The father would follow him about, calling out affectionately, trying to speak to him, but R always ran away.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • 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.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.

42. Life Rebalancing – Journal Entry 8th Dec 1979

A warm morning. The black cockatoos are doing the rounds of the Queensland hoop pine trees. The nuts are ready for eating. Their harsh cries seem to have stopped. They must have settled down to feed.

It’s been a month since I wrote in this pad. What has happened until now?

P-maths, that almost constant influence in my life, is over. Now I can start revisiting it and have been doing that since the end of November.

Had ten whole days with Johnny at the end of the semester. We walked up hills, up and down the railway tracks and under the bridge, went to the beach and lived off eggs, cheese, bread and olives. We drank much rum, brandy, wine and creaming soda. There was much love and we talked and discussed many things: adults in education and their transition, urban Aborigines and manipulation/facilitation.

The family was so good while we were on holiday.

I’m back in gear, doing a few things I didn’t have time to do during study time and we’ve made several family shopping trips to Rocky. We’ve planned more. Johnny invited me to join the CIAE search group and it could be the most exciting happening in my life. I attended a few meetings and enjoyed them very much. They were intellectual and stimulating.

I seem to have time to read and think because the big ones take turns cooking. My cooking day is Friday and Johnny takes the weekend. As for gardening and chooks, I’ve just about retired completely from those two activities, but will take the time to plant banana and pawpaw trees – they look after themselves. Late night shopping on Thursday was fun and we are going again next Thursday.

22nd Dec 1979

The lass who is looking after Cassidy’s house is a Finn, reads about Kundalini and is only interested in that type of reading – Rama Krishna, etc. She has two boys aged 7 and 12. Presumably, she knew Connie because of a common interest in the occult. The Cassidy’s dog has a spear grass thorn in its eyeball and Herbert has taken it to the vet. Poor Herbert and Marian, they have many dogs of their own. They also have Ellen’s dog Sugar. Neurotic Sugar, who bleeds a lot when she urinates, then squats in it and shakes herself. Unfortunately, she will probably die soon and her mistress is in hospital too. I wonder who has that poor Persian cat that was kept chained all the time. A beautiful, frustrated cat with matted fur.

So many good books to get acquainted with. Read Graham Greene’s In Search of a Character, two journals about his books: A Burnt-Out Case and The Heart of the Matter. He wonders, in the first journal, what makes so many people want to become writers: “Why should this dream of writing haunt so many? The desire for money? I doubt it. The desire for a vocation when they find themselves in a life they haven’t chosen? The same despairing instinct that drives some people to desire rather than to experience a religious faith?”

Re-read Lady Chatterley’s Lover for the fourth or fifth time. Lawrence is such a good writer. Nothing yet to touch this love story – rather the telling of this common theme – love between a man and woman.

Why are Johnny and Gita lucky to have each other? I think it is because each has what I call a ‘generous heart’. A giving, in spite of high cost, and it’s rare for two such people to be together. Looking around, there seem to be many couples where one partner is generous and the other is not. Such a loss it seems, though the couples seem to make a go of things without feeling anything is missing. Social Anthropology in Perspective by Lewis is most enjoyable and sets me thinking. I had better start re-reading Emery’s works for the Canberra trip.

The relationship with my Johnny is good but runs into trouble sometimes because of my moodiness. But I am learning to control moodiness. Life is so good – the only life one has and Johnny says we should do something substantial to merit this life we have together.

Last night was such happiness. We decided not to use the word happiness, overused and ambiguous, surely we mean ecstasy or rapture.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.

34. 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.

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18. Holiday Goat – Journal Entry 24th Aug 1970

[First part of a letter to a friend. One footnote added.]

Would you have time to dash off a few(?) illustrations for the manuscripts attached? I’m sending one manuscript by the man* to give you an idea of the sort of drawings we have in mind – simple and childish.

What do you think? If you are busy just read the stories and send them back with suggestions if you have any. There is another very long story the man has written, for children, which I would very much like to be illustrated by you. I have yet to type it. That too I shall send in a few days’ time; don’t worry if you can’t do the drawings – at least read it and tell me what you think of it.

We move to Sydney in six weeks time. Got the job with the consultancy firm. We’re looking forward to the change. Will report.

The two weeks August holidays were spent in a house on the beach. ‘Twas good. The man worked and the children played on the beach.

We lost our goat, much to our delight and slight guilt on my part. It was like this: I borrowed the goat as a pet for the children because we don’t like dogs or cats in the house – not that the goat was allowed in the house. She came in once and peed into our coffee cups. At least, we thought, the goat won’t follow us around and she will eat grass. No problem. Alas, the goat thought she was a dog, followed us about, ate the duck’s feed every chance she got, slipped to the neighbour’s garden every chance she got and was generally a nuisance. So when we went to the beach house, we let her loose because we were away from people. She followed us everywhere – even when we went to look at the moonlight on the sea. One day she was gone. Don’t know whether she followed people walking along the beach or whether the dingoes got her. I tried – honestly I tried – offering her to everyone I saw, but no luck.

I heard a good story the other day. There was an old man cleaning the garden of the beach house when we arrived for our holiday (just two miles from our house). A nice old man. His name, I learnt is Ollie. His surname is Collie, so people call him Ollie Collie. He drank too much at one time, went off his head and was put in an asylum. He was let out after a while. Some time later he had a fight in the pub with another guy and this Ollie Collie stood up and announced, “I’m the only man in Emu Park who has a certificate to say he is sane.”

Footnote:

* man refers to Johnny. He wrote short stories for us when we were young children.

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