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.