she was 16 and wanted her fella to come and stay in the weekends

the swamp wallaby was dagging around  off the edge of the verandah
just outside the paper mache room,
I stopped in my tracks ,
even after 20 odd years I love to stop and observe. 
it was eating the yellowed peach leaves lying on the ground
and didn’t mind us having a gork.
Kingston was brought onto the verandah in Gregs arms
immediately raising  his voice and flapping an arm in excitement
then very softly he says hellooo…
wallaby munched on mostly  unperturbed,  the ear swivelling to keep track of us.
The paper mache room  was a fun project 
begun one day after discussions around 
the conformity of building.
an idea to explore something other took shape.
we started with tomato stakes, 
maybe the tomato season was over or we were growing them stakeless that year.
we tied stakes together with tie wire
creating a frame on which we could hang cardboard. 
we chose the south-western corner of the verandah 
and yes it meant that the verandah would no longer be accessible all the way around.
mmm probably debated that one  a good long while.
for the children the verandah was one of the play spaces,
rolling skating, learning to write two-wheeler bikes,
market stalls when they wanted money and we had to buy
 and of course the scene for their theatre productions.
forging ahead we  attached cardboard with one of my most favourite tools
the  staple gun.
so easy with so many applications.
no gal should be without one.
after attaching the cardboard
we applied layers of paper, magazine, newsprint using a cornflour glue
with a bit of tansy thrown in  to ward off silverfish and their elk.
shelves were shaped  all the way around the room
 leaving spaces for windows and  odd bits of funky coloured glass.
 a paper mache door was custom made to fit.
not a problem because  
at that time we were really into paper mache
making bowls and trays 
 and coffee tables
and giant flowers 15 foot high.
 it was easy to mould  a room
anyone could help, and they did
taking  shape over many years.
well actually, if truth be told 
it is still in  the ongoing project basket
nothing is ever really finished here,
not quite, 
like life continuing 
until, it doesn’t.
but then I reckon it still does,
just in another format.
as a protective measure we decided to overlay 
 hessian on the outside which we then  painted with a  slurry of concrete 
to give that ferrous cement look.
inside it was painted a sunshine yellow
and furnished very simply with a bed.
a season or two ago  I found a python skin under there
but I never told future occupants 
because some people would not respond well.
the room became Zoes when the boyfriend came on the scene
and it just wasnt cool to have him sleep in the girls room.
she was 16 and wanted her fella to come and stay in the weekends.
what do you do?
you make a space for them ,
make them welcome and support their exploration into adulthood.
I had always said to them that when they were ready for boy germs they could bring them home
and put them in their beds
and so they did.
no backseat  of the cars for you  I said,
no hiding or lying no shame no guilt.
let us treat this stage of development as normal as cutting teeth
and so we did.

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