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.

31. Miss You Johnny – Journal Entry 13th Dec 1978

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

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

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

Lots of cleaning of walls and glass.

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

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

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

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

I miss Johnny.

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

14th Dec 1978 11:10am

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

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

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

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

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

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

16th Dec 1978

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

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

So the first thing to do is write a checklist:

CampingChecklist (1)
Camping Checklist by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

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

 

26. Endless Waiting – Journal Entry 18th April 1978

I’m in Yeppoon, sitting at a table in front of a small cafe that’s shut. It’s rather dark here, a few metres away, maybe 10 or 15, a hot bread sign keeps flashing, giving the illusion of movement and the bulbs make a clicking sound as they go on and off. Around and around the hot bread, hot pies, cakes and pastries board they seem to move. Click, Click, Click, around and around. I’m using the light from the sign and also light from the glassed and refrigerated drink stands in the shop at the back of me. The headlights of passing cars occasionally flash in my direction, brightening the table for a few seconds. There are two young girls sitting at the next table. It’s very quiet in this corner. The Strand Hotel Motel across the road has a few drinkers. I wonder who bought the hotel at the auction a couple of weeks ago?

As usual, patients are hanging around waiting for the doctor to arrive; and, as usual, he is late. How long will his patients remain his patients? Especially when there are more punctual physicians in town.

Quality is an interesting concept. The Bororo people of Brazil, according to Levi-Strauss, have it. Quality in cooking, yes, but what about the kitchen? Should that be tidy and aesthetically pleasing before one starts or can one produce good food on the one hand and have a mess in the kitchen while producing quality food? No. Quality does not or should not occur in patches.

The garden is taking shape. What do I have to do tomorrow?

  1. Plant zucchini – the plot is ready
  2. Finish removing the grass from the path
  3. Tackle the strawberries
  4. Plan the plots near the duck pen
  5. Peas – plan their plot

There’s too much on the list for tomorrow.

We’re sewing too. List of sewing jobs:

  1. Cut out hats – D-hats
  2. Patchwork for blankets
  3. Make some green hats

15th Jun 1978

Thursday is People’s Day at the Rocky Agricultural Show. It is about 12:30 pm and I’m sitting near the Radio 4RO booth. Mum and Barbie are playing the lucky envelope stalls. Lots and lots and lots of people at the show today, such a collection of humanity, but mainly homogeneous because this is the heart of Central Queensland. A country town. A few foreigners are around and one Vietnamese family obviously enjoying themselves. First, they had a hot drink. Two rows of stalls later they were buying pluto pups for the kids. Money is changing hands very fast at some stalls. One-way traffic from people – mainly children – to the stall holders. Actually, most of the stalls seem to be doing well, except perhaps the ear-piercings and some of the religious stalls.

I would have loved to have spent more time at the poultry section. I always get carried away by some of the beautiful birds – this time by Doblo’s Indian game fowl and some bantams. Maybe in a year or two, we’ll have a few different breeds. I must find out the name of the largish bantams that looked like Doblo’s birds. People and paper are littered on the lawn about me. It’s lunch-time so more and more people are dropping on the grass, more chip bags are flying in the breeze.

The show seems to offer everyone something to their liking. Competitors get competition, young lovers get excitement and fun and children seem to enjoy themselves the most. The high cost of rides and darts don’t seem to worry them and neither do the plastic prizes. The wind has come up again, cold and biting. The man at the kite shop is flying an eagle kite made from black and white plastic. It looks pretty from here. All the children watch. Nice smell of steak somewhere nearby. A loudspeaker calls people to try lucky envelopes at the sub-normal children’s stall. Suddenly people are rising from the grass, they all dust off their bums before heading off.

17th Jul 1978

At last, a place in Yeppoon where a person can sit on a Monday night and enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee. I’m having chips with my cup of coffee. Can’t decide whether to put sugar in the coffee. It’s dog obedience night. Dusty went without a backward glance. She was either eager or resigned. No use struggling.

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
  • Added my mother’s sister Barbara to the family tree. As Barbara was dependent on my grandmother, both Barbara and Grandma joined the Emu Park Family.

10. National Fitness Club – Journal Entry 8th Jul 1969

I’m sitting in the Yeppoon hospital waiting to see the doctor. Nothing much wrong. I’ve got infected fingernails and neglected my thumbnail when it started and now almost all the other nails are infected. Does it sound familiar?

Thank you very much for your letter. Johnny was just as anxious as I to see if the baby had arrived. No doubt we will get a letter soon telling us all.

Will try to get back when it is safe for you to travel. Kathmandu might seem tame but it’s so colourful and vibrant, no? And I bet Minoru will fill the house with food for the baby and you. I must get round to sending drawings and a letter to Minoru. The first lot I’ll send to you because I don’t know if I know his post box number.

I’m involved in running a National Fitness Club in our tiny town. I’m supposed to be the leader – one who stands with a whistle in hand and shouts out instructions. Monday will be the first time I will go it alone.

Some Rockhampton women have been helping us. Actually there are three women who are supposed to be leaders. One of them is the wife of the headmaster and is away at present so it leaves Bunny and me. And Bunny has a brittle spine so that only leaves me to do the demonstration.

It’s all good fun and a big joke for Johnny.

It’s a two-hour programme and many old women come along. Some of them are 65 years old and a few are 69. They love folk dances and playing games.

Can you imagine me trying to work out dance steps to the time of Waltzing Matilda and Susanna? And I’m going to teach them yoga, so I’m madly reading up on the subject.

It’s all good fun as I said. What else?

We’ve been entertaining people a bit and so far we’ve met only three people we enjoy talking to. I mean they are intelligent and alive people. Otherwise, while the evenings are pleasant, they are not exactly exhilarating.

Of course after people have gone, Johnny and I start a lively discussion, usually in agreement with each other, and then we’re happy again.

All this might sound conceited but it’s not meant to be.

Useful Links

  • Click here for the home page
  • For email followers, click here to read this post online
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Draft letter written to mum’s best friend Cynthia.