59. A Quarter Of Beef – Journal Entry 16th Oct 1980

Plan for Thursday: Do Stats and Cobol, iron Johnny’s clothes and make the dinner: blanquette de veau (veal tail), lots of veg and rice followed by stewed mulberries and guava.

5:30 am Woke up and stayed in bed reading the Cobol book, did exercises, washed and dressed, talked to Johnny over coffee.

When I went to the kitchen at 6:10 am with Johnny, Barbara wanted to make coffee after she had started eating her egg. Johnny had said no because she didn’t do it while waiting for her egg to cook and would run out of time. When Johnny left the table, Barbara asked me if she could have coffee. I pointed out that Johnny had said no and if Johnny had said no, it was a no from me also. Johnny came back and said to Barbara something like, “Are you being tricky again?”
“Johnny…” I warned and mum appeared to freeze. I tried to explain to Barbara that she should be better organised.
“She knows all that,” says Johnny.
“You know all that, Barbara? Why didn’t you say so?” I asked.
“My mouth was full,” she replied.

Johnny went and had a quiet talk with Barbara about her talking on the bus and involving other people in her problems. Barbara was very sulky when she returned to the kitchen.

Nathaniel came with us to the bus stop this morning, it was such a lovely morning and so good to be outside.

When I returned, mum wanted my help with putting the newly hatched ducklings and their mother into a coop. Fifteen bright yellow ducklings were strolling around the yard while crows and kookaburras watched and waited in the trees. Also, a pullet had disappeared recently and there were small gaps in the fence.

The coop took a while to repair as we had neglected to maintain any of the coops so far and the chicken wire had come away from the frame. Monika and I had a talk about how to regularly and systematically maintain the house and yard.

The ducklings were tiny, really tiny, and they hopped away when we tried to catch them. The mother moved away from us when we approach. She seemed nervous, so I put a screen around the coop to calm her. The ducklings huddled together around their mother. The fence proved to be more difficult and will take longer to fix. One side of the fence had no retaining wall and we’ll have to stack logs and rocks against it by hand.

11:00 am Did some Stats, had some lunch and talked to mum and Monika.

1:00 pm Read some Cobol on file processing. Johnny came home with a quarter of beef, half a sheep and groceries from Flashers. We cut up, weighed and bagged the meat after quickly putting away the groceries. Mum managed to extract nearly a kilo of meat scraps from the bones after cooking. The bones will go to the dog and chooks and the soup, after having the fat removed, will be mixed with flour and given to the ducks.

2:00 pm Made coffee, put veal tail on the stove, tried again to ring Graham, the psychologist, and did some writing. Dozed a little after reading more Cobol.

Seems I did very little work today but worked later on from 7:30 to 9:30 pm

17th Oct 1980

Did one hour of study in the morning; who knows what else I did?

20th Oct 1980

Don’t move away from the desk unless absolutely necessary!

Made Spaghetti Bolognese, took mum to the clinic and went to the Conference Centre.

24th Oct 1980

Funny day today: Nathaniel is sick; Gareth is on holiday and limping around; Barbara is at home because of a school holiday and no bus run; Johnny is on holiday and not able to get on with any solid piece of work because he has to take the family to Rocky this afternoon. He is also unwinding after a hectic and tense week of important meetings; I have a pain passing through my head, almost on its way out now.

I must sort out what jobs need to be done. First the cooking of mashed potatoes, vegetables, sausages and liver. Johnny is making a cake and doing the library trip so I really have lots of time to sort myself out, tidy the desk, make scribble pads and phone calls, write-up my involvement in the Ecumenical Conference and sort papers into files.

25th Oct 1980

Did a little Stats revision in the morning and evening and picked our tomatoes –  two small baskets full. Made the meat and bean goulash for Friday and stuffed a veal flap for tomorrow’s sandwich filling. Had liver and bacon for dinner. The liver was excellent.

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 and scroll through to the bottom.

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.

23. Three Rivers Camping – Journal Entry 12th Aug 1975

Muchlater

The Three Rivers is a camping area located 18 km north-east of Byfield. It was only accessible by four-wheel drive. Byfield is 67 km north of Emu Park.

Tuesday, 12th Aug 1975

We set off for Camp 5 at 4:30 am. Got bogged at 3 Tracks. Chopped down a stump that was in the way and then got bogged at McNevin’s Crossing. Winched ourselves out; then the winch broke or maybe it disconnected. Made it to 3 Rivers by 9 am.

Carried our stuff over rocks to Camp 5. The packs were heavy and it took 45 minutes. After a quick rest, we returned to the Rover and had lunch while Johnny packed more gear – mainly food and utensils. I had thirty pounds of canned food in my pack, just part of the week’s supply for five.

The tide was high so we had to go over the hills. It would have been a pleasant walk but for our heavy packs:

Marcello had a surfboard.
Gareth had fishing rods.
Karen had kerosene and fishing bag.
Johnny had a very heavy pack of food.
Gita had a heavy pack of food.

Crawled to camp at 1 pm.

Johnny had to make two more trips. The rest of us set up tents and had the fire going for coffee and evening meal.

End of the first day at camp.

Oh yes, I was given a piece of driftwood for my birthday by Johnny.

Wednesday, 13th Aug 1975

Decided to spend the day at camp recovering. It was an ideal camp – low, well-vegetated hills and a medium-sized waterfall with lots of pools at the bottom; lots of firewood nearby for the campfire; many Pandanus trees and three coconut trees. The sand cliffs to the north of us were many coloured – white, orange, yellow and cream. There was a family-sized beach, about ¾ mile long, with rocks at each end.

Went exploring the rocks on the north end of the beach to see what the next bay looked like. Discovered it would have taken ¾ to 1 hour to walk over the rocks. Returned home over the hills because the rocks were too slow to cross.

Attempted a rather steep climb, almost came to a bad end. A gnarled casuarina tree saved me; crawled up the hill and headed for home camp. Crossed wooded areas, dark and mysterious and still; expected wild people to tear me apart. Returned in time for breakfast.

The family went fishing after lunch. Caught the evening’s meal, and a few oysters.

Thursday, 14th Aug 1975

Went to 3 Rivers to repair winch. Washed my hair and explored rivers while Johnny worked. Located ferns, eucalyptus and banksia to take home. Collected driftwood and soil. Ate oysters after lunch.

Returned to camp at high tide. The waves were white and rough against the dark jagged rocks. Many of the rock shelves looked like sets from a spooky film, they had holes, and streaks running out of the holes – as though something horrible had dripped out.

The walk back over the hills was most pleasant this time. Many shrubs were in flower; such strange shrubs with such strangely beautiful flowers. There were many cow tracks – most useful if you don’t know your way over the hills.

The day ended with a rowdy game of Brag and garlic fried peanuts.

Friday, 15th Aug 1975

The kids decided they’d like to spend the day at camp. We had planned a visit to the next beach – possibly an hours walk over the hills.

The sky was overcast, a wind was blowing and so the trip was postponed. I went oystering for two hours, determined to give the family a feast. What a lunch today – oysters fried in oil and vinegar, canned ham, cheese spread, jam and biscuits.

It rained from lunch onwards. So we stayed in the big tent, and read, played cards and had dinner there too. 10 pm and it is still raining, lightly now.

It is a pity it rained all day. Found some white clay and yellow clay. Would have liked to have looked for the sources. Finished book on Coasts & Life on the Seashore.

Saturday, 16th Aug 1975

Found large quantities of grey, white and yellow clay – mainly grey. Looked for four-wheel drive tracks on the hills behind camp. Found them, so Johnny and Marcello brought the Rover to Camp 5! Tremendous, we won’t have to carry our things back to 3 Rivers.

Wildflowers were in bloom on the hillsides’ hardy vegetation, they have to withstand wind and grow in relatively poor soil, so they are low-growing and they flower early.

Didn’t catch fish – caught oysters though; discovered a bed of large-sized ones. Gareth and Karen picked smooth pebbles and bits of glass.

Sunday, 17th Aug 1975

Set out, after an excellent breakfast, to explore the next beach that was ½ an hour over the top of the hills.

Passed a creek with palm ferns growing by the sides, a bush turkey’s nest and Queensland umbrella trees.

So many different trees and shrubs, cool glades of low-branched trees and springy grass. Good cattle tracks to follow. Had to climb one steep hill.

The beach was exciting because it was there, uninhabited and waiting to be explored. Marcello found a glass float straightaway. We picked a ferny coppice, with a creek running through, to have our lunch. In the meanwhile, there was plenty to see and possible treasures to be picked up.

Quite excited by the beauty of the beach and the blue-green glass float. So we decided to press on to the next beach which was another 30-minute walk over the hill. The rocks were impassable in parts.

This time, Karen found a small stoneware jar; shipwrecked with a small mouth. And Marcello found another glass float (a small clear glass one), a cow skull and a wooden packing case. Gareth found a tube that he used as a telescope and a small plastic fishing reel. We returned to the first beach for lunch. After lunch, Marcello caught two big bream. A third, enormous,  according to Marcello and Karen, got away with his line.

The return journey took a while because we went well out of our way. It was slow too because we had no cattle tracks to follow and so had to crash through bushes and over fallen dead trees.

Hot fish curry and oysters for dinner.

Learned many games of Patience over freshly fried peanuts.

Monday, 18th Aug 1975

Took some stuff to Rover. Collected ferns, pandanus, banksia, yellow sand and a few pieces of driftwood. Marcello found another glass float, his 3rd. Shifted more stuff to Rover in the afternoon. Kids played ball near Rover while I collected more plants.

Usual game of cards in the evening. High and dramatic tides, up to edge of beach, lovely moonlight. Cold.

Tuesday, 19th Aug 1975

Packed. Left at 8:30 am. Rough journey to 3 Rivers. Riding along paths at an angle.
Bogged in one of the 3 Rivers!
Water gurgling away, Rover at 45 degree angle while we winched it.
Winch broke, but Rover was out by then.
After several tries, we make it over the sand dunes.

Next excitement was a fire. Right at McNevin’s Crossing where one could get bogged very easily, and where we wanted to have lunch. Fortunately, someone had laid branches to make a neat road across the bog. So we crossed easily and drove fearfully away. The fire was too sinister to encourage loitering.

Oh yes, between Camp 6 and 3 Rivers we had a flat tire. Had to stop several times to tighten the wheel.

A mile away from home, we ran out of petrol. Filled up from the jerrycan and cruised home at 3 pm.

Lots of mail and eggs to greet us.

 

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

16. Raising Pigs – Journal Entry 15th Dec 1969

[My mother’s account of raising pigs in India]

Found a book on pig farming. Just the thing I think, all you’ve got to do is get some pigs and you’re in business – what with the Government encouraging pig-farming and all that.

I wrote off to a farm asking permission to purchase a pair of piglets and was asked to call at Katpadi the next day.

We set off on motorbike and scooter, my brother and his friend on the motorbike and my husband and I on the scooter. When we got there we discovered there were only two sizes available, the first size too large to be carried by the pillion rider on his lap and the other still sucklings, with one month to go before weaning.

We settled for the babies. Oh, we’ll bottle feed them, we told ourselves, and off we went.

They squealed almost all the way back – about thirty miles of squeals. Only when we were nearing our farm did they settle down and enjoy the ride.

As soon as we got back there was no time to rest, beds and bottles had to be prepared. Feroke (the male) and Sara (the female) were hungry all the time. They could never get enough. In fact Feroke would quickly finish his bottle (an old beer bottle) and would rush over to where Sara was daintily sucking on hers, scuff her aside, grab the nipple and go guzzle, guzzle. He’d drink till the milk dripped out of his snout. The milk bill was enormous and still they were hungry all the time – so what to do? We decided to feed them on porridge and milk. That solved the problem.

They were kept in a Deal Wood packing case in the common room during the night. The first night they were exhausted and slept right through. The next night I heard a slight noise and cautiously opened my eyes – Feroke and Sara stood cheek to cheek peering at me. I jumped up from my mat, took them to their packing case, tucked them in and went back to sleep. A little later they were back so what to do? I give them their bottles.

All too soon they were grown up. We had to keep them in separate pens till Sara was eight months old, which was a reasonable time to get her mated. The number of times poor Munuswamy had to repair the pens. If dinner and lunch was a little late, we would hear smash and they’d be out to see what was happening. At night the kitchen, which was just a small hut, was attacked because there’d be no-one to chase them away.

The children would go piggy-back on Feroke and Sara, a hilarious sight. Then Faroke took to chasing passing villagers. One man climbed a tree to get out of his way and howled at us to call Feroke back to his pen. Irate housewives would come storming in holding broken pots and warble out a list of misdeeds committed by Feroke and Sara interlaced with juicy words of abuse.

So for their sins, the pigs had to be put in very strong pens.

Then Sara upped and gave us six beautiful bouncing piglets. I attended at the births – but that didn’t give me licence to touch the babies. No. If I did they’d squeal as if I was pinching or poking  them and Sara would charge. Believe me, when a huge sow, however sweet looking, chases you – you run.

The piglets grew round, pink and beautiful and we loved them, except for their nasty habit of squealing about us to their mother. Soon they were weaned and kept in a huge pen by themselves.

We had so much difficulty keeping them in. The smallest piglet would stand near the fence and one by one the others would climb on his back. Then they would be up and over the wooden fence jumping down to freedom. There was only one snag – the little chap who had turned himself into a chair for his brothers and sisters was left in the pen squealing blue murder because there was no-one for him to climb on.

KarenProfileCircle120 Links

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5. Fish ‘n Chips – Journal Entry 13th Jun 1969

Ah now, today has been very good.

Johnny bought me two pairs of jeans and a donkey jacket. And we wandered round the shops and shopped. We talked to people and looked at lino. We asked for plain brown lino which the army buildings and orphanages get rigged out in but no, nothing like it. It will have to be ordered from Brisbane at $5 a yard which is a helluva lot for us to spend on a rented house.

And we had fish ‘n chips. I can eat fish ‘n chips anytime of the day or night.

14th June 1969

Saturday was great.

Went to Byfield looking for picnic spots.

Found one particularly good one with a shallow creek, stony and fairly fast moving. Lots of trees and rocks and quite isolated. The water was very cold though. Should be good in the summer.

Saw a small bird. He was curious about us and kept flying off the wire he sat on, came towards us then went back. This he did for some time until we moved away.

Blog Updates:

  •    Click here for the Emu Park Family Tree on the home page footer
  •    Shorter journal entries have now been combined into one post
  •    How to read my blog infographic added to top of home page
  •    This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series

3. Sickle and Scythe – Journal Entry 10th Jun 1969

Winter days here seem beautiful days. I don’t know what makes the days so unbearably sweet. Today especially was glorious.

I hacked at the long thick grass. It looked so easy but really wasn’t and besides I don’t know how to handle a sickle. I own a sickle and Johnny owns a scythe, like real country-folk.

Of course after an hour’s work, Gareth and I lay on the newly turned earth.

It was happiness.

Note:

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

2. Sunday Lunch – Journal Entry 8th Jun 1969

John and Virginia came with their brand new truck carrying a rotary hoe. What a relief to watch the grass disappearing into the earth when the ripper passed over it. In no time the front yard was neatly ploughed and we planned where the trees would go and where the onions and garlic beds were to be.

Emu Park First House 1969
Gareth, Karen, Gita, Marcello | Emu Park first house 1969

The day was lovely with Fritz, Jan, Virginia, the kids and I watching John happily driving the ripper around. There were many little birds after the refugee insects that were disturbed out of their homes. We found a baby snake under a packing case but it ran away.

I baked bread and there was salad, cold meat and salami for lunch. We were all waiting for  lunch to be ready. Then you know what happened? The three men go to the back yard and try to burn the long dry grass.

Just beat it out when you’ve burned a reasonable area,” one of them said…

The fire looked very pretty and we called the kids to watch. Everybody was quite happy. Then, of course, the fire spread quite rapidly and raced up the steep slope of our back yard. Everybody pitched in to help. I tell you it was frightening. Such a wide ring of fire and every minute increasing and increasing. We worked, my goodness how we worked. Two of our neighbours ran to help. We had to beat at the fire with branches off the gum tree. Johnny and I used cloth.

I panicked and phoned the police station. The policeman and another man pitched up just when the fire was put out and gave us a sermon.

“You’ve got to have a permit to light a fire. You could be put into court for this, and be fined $30 to $40 so that you don’t go out and light another fire. You didn’t know about this of course.”

One of our friends interrupted to say he was the one who suggested it, and that it wasn’t our fault, but the policeman continued,

“I don’t care who told who to light the fire, you get prosecuted all the same. Anyway, see it doesn’t happen again!” And he stomped down the hill to his interrupted Sunday lunch.

Oh dear, we were a sad group. I had to prepare the salad. I could hardly stand, let alone hold a knife. We were dirty and covered with prickles from the long grass. The others collapsed onto the verandah and recovered over a glass of beer. Was lunch good? And did we eat enormously?

Of course we did. It was very good.

BushFirePoem
Poem by Gita 8th June 1969

Note:

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