cold is not a good enough reason to avoid travelling on a motorbike in the middle of winter

cold is not a good enough reason to avoid travelling on a motorbike in the middle of winter.

I am serious , it really isn’t.

I ring Dad from Melbourne after finding out that he was whisked off to hospital in the middle of the night.

I  mention the huge frost at our place on the day we left and he says I told you you would be better off in the car.

but dad that is not the point.

we are our own bike club me and John ,Rebecca and Gemma .

what shall we call ourselves? asks Gemma.

None of us wanting to be in a club we don’t come up with a name.

We stop at Eden for petrol and a wee break,

me and Gemma and Bec are laughing in the toilets

as we fumble thru our  many layers of clothing to access zips and buttons

with hands that wont follow direction.

it is worse when you are busting,

imagine the time needed  to access first my leathers, buttons, then my RM Williams, zip, then 2 pairs of long johns and the undies. then try doing all that up again while maneuvering over the bulk of jumpers scarves and jackets.

point being don’t wait till you need to go.

a woman came out of a cubicle and said ‘you are all mad its freezing’

yes it is and we  laughed again.

further along the road we stopped for elevenses,

gem had made a thermos of coffee  but it was only lukewarm, the date cake was good though and

so was huddling around the bike warming our hands on the cylinders that are so conveniently exposed on the BMW.

we stayed the night at lakes  and the next day was warmer and drizzling.

by Sale the drizzle was determined to be rain

so I stopped off to buy wet weather pants

add another layer

by now I cannot walk well , more of a waddle.

the weather progressed its way into me, my boots my  gloves  and then my hands  started to hurt.

the visor was totally fogged up so my view was like the day grey clouded with beads of rain.

so on day two wet was added to cold and I almost stopped enjoying myself but before that could happen

John turned off the expressway and took us  direct to Springvale , a largely Vietnamese suburb for a very large bowl of pho as in soup.

I squelched into the cafe and that soup of vege  beef and noodle warmed us enough to get the  rest of the way to Zoes.

after we got up from the table there was puddles of water on the floor.

I read later that this was the coldest day in Melbourne for 2 decades only reaching 9.9 degrees.

Zoe took me straight to her drying cupboard to hang up my sodden gear .

she went back out  to her dad who was getting our gear out of the panniers and yes my backpack had got wet too

do you want to have a hot shower first or hop in the cupboard with Sans.??

he joined me in the cupboard , it was quite roomy and so very very warm.

aah the joy of a brand new house with ducted heating .

It was the next day  that I got the call about Dad

he is still there in Waikato Hospital waiting for the bypass surgery

the one where they nick veins out of your legs and stitch them into your chest creating new pathways for the blood to flow.

Jess  Greg and Kingston now in their third week in NZ are staying in his house driving his car and visiting him every day.

yesterday they took him a bike magazine.

he sounds great and seems to be enjoying the attention.

if I tell him about the cold he thinks it is all about coming up with ways to avoid it and on some level he is right.

I do dress with the view of staying warm on the bike , getting rugged up as much as possible and mostly I am snug,

mostly .

It is not about not doing it because it is cold more about being prepared as much as possible and then enjoying it .

the feeling of being alive,John says

he also  says it is about adventure.

and where he goes adventure often of the extreme kind follows or leads or they go hand in hand.

mostly I am up for it though sometimes…

the day we left Melbourne was sunny a clear blue sky and we sailed up the highway to Moe

thinking tomorrow we will be home.

pea and ham soup with Donna the queen of  mosaic making art happen in schools and shopping centres

shaking up the world in Moe until one day recently the earth shook and things fell off the shelves.

the power of art  transforming our lives.

we sailed on up the highway to Stratford-on-Avon,

the turkish shop called us in to see their mosaic world in tiles  plates and carpets

patterns unbelievably rich and vibrant  in colour and complexity.

We stayed the night in The Old Hotel in Paynesville on the shore of McMillans Strait

next to lake King watching the car ferry go back and forwards to Raymond Island which the hotelier tells us is overrun with koalas.

fancy that while here on the south coast people jump up and down if a scat is found.

we ride off into another sunny day and find ourselves face to face with Ra the Sun God

hiding out in a little slab hut behind the Mingling Waters  cafe at Nowa Nowa.

Ra is a wood  sculpture from the  roots of a messmate obliqua  that blew over in a storm. Once 66 metres tall and somewhere between 200 -300 years old the root is  7 metres across and 4 metres high.It  took J. E. Ramsdell 12 months to bring Ra out of the roots into a high gloss shining state.

From the presence of Ra the Sun God  to the Royal Cave at  Buchan this is no just getting on home trip this is something else some other map being followed, we walk underground thru limestone formations of  stalactites and stalagmites along slippery wet paths and metal fences to stop us touching these calcite deposits.

It is after three when we stop at Orbost for fuel and John suggests another side trip.

The Buchan Cave was not enough and lets face it we were still two hours off dark just time enough to go up the Bonang Highway .

to where? I asked .

It’s a beautiful road a bit of gravel.

to where?

well we could get to Bombala.

funny I had never thought of going there and obviously we were not getting home this night anyway.

so  we went along the Bonang a narrow forested road where the sun only visits in passing getting dimmer and dimmer and more and more windy.

I stopped looking at the wriggly road sign telling the story of more twists and turns  and more..

logging trucks passed us scurrying away with some cut off beauty.

the road pitted and rutted with still much debris from fallen trees that had been mostly cleared off.

it was slow going and getting colder. Beautiful  towering giants,  tree ferns bubbling creeks  and very isolated.

my visor kept fogging so I had to have it open even though the chill factor was extreme.

dark came and we were miles from anywhere.

mist curled over creek flats, wallabies bounced on the edge of the road now gravel .

bunnies ran out in front of us and thank goddess we didn’t know that deer were in that neck of the woods.

fingers frozen,  existing on one toasted sandwich at Nowa Nowa and a few sips of water before it blew out of Johns jacket and disappeared.

nothing at Bonang.

Delegate looking abandoned except for the Carlton Draught sign

We pulled up and asked a chap coming out does this pub have rooms? yep he says.

we were off that bike and into that bar very quickly.

the barmaid threw more logs on the fire and all the locals wanted to know where we had come from and where we were going.

a couple of shots of brandy, a toast by the fire, a few chats  and the promise of a meal and a room and we were restored fortified and thankful.

and so when we leave the next very frosty morning for home what can happen the sun is shining again ,the day is glorious and yes it is frosty  but

there is ice on the roads

and there are all those lovely yellow signs that show a car careening off the slippery road.

not sure about that as a spell.

but  Mt Darragh Road is beautiful and John takes his time and I pray

and then we are here,.home

everything as it is

starting up stanley

for a real cup of tea with pot and leaves


Oh and what did we get up to in Melbourne ?


in Melbourne we go to hang  out with family and eat;

we eat pho at Springvale, we eat dumplings at Box Hill, we eat suckling pig in China town,  we eat lentils and lamb Ethiopian style in Footscray, we eat cheese pies and baklava in Dandenong and pizza on Lygon street.

and when not eating we go to the movies a Chekhov morality tale called ‘the duel’

catch a matinée performance of circus oz going now for 30 years

to witness the enormously clever contortions and movements of the human bodies at play.

we buy merino thermal underwear ,help Zoe buy a couple of leather sofas catch trains trams and buses

and well it is nice to be home again.

I am the Queen of Crumble

sunday morning  sitting in the kitchen doing my morning pages 
yes, I am doing the artists way. 
the sun strikes thru the red  gold  green glass of the windows
playing patterns of colour  over the  table.
sun sightings have been rare of late and it feels good to see the broken up sky admitting blue to the circle.
the label on the jam jar catches my eye 
yes, distracted once again from the morning pages.
it reads :
Blackberry Jam
a summertime production
a wild magical journey
a real experience
in that label is a story of a moment in time captured and stored in a jar, 
a day when Jess Kingston Carole and I fossicked among the thorns for the juiciest  berries ,
I remember the cool wind blowing at us from the ocean
exposed on the ridge of Caroles sheep property on the road in to the  Illawambra Creek 
at the foot of the Dumpling.
Wandella Mountain looming tall with all its towers to the north, 
the mysterious blue ranges of Wadbilliga to the west
and thru Narira gap to the east the commanding presence of Gulaga.
last night I went to a birthday party
Virginnia Sada the queen of curve and lush wanted to dance
to celebrate the moment with friends.
 around the  back of Gulaga Mountain we drove in early evening dark
dressed in our finery.
me in a bright green quilted  skirt ex- dressing gown and made by Glenda 
topped with  a deep purple satiny frock with chiffon ruffled skirt,
a purple beret, lipstick and a pair of  Nanny’s  gloves
ladies gloves, black with gold beadwork 
for a very small ladies hand
and really too tight and ladyish for me. 
 candles illuminated our way into a house lit with music and conversation
full of love and heavy with the scent of  warm mulled wine.
I had made an apple and rhubarb crumble 
a simple affair as far as puddings go
good winter desert
beloved in this family. 
I wondered if it was classy enough for such a gathering
particularly as I had made it in our old scuffed roasting pan 
I quailed a little  placing it on the desert table alongside a chocolate scrolled torte.
the house of many rooms filled with laughter
 old friends bonded and  new friends claimed,
guitars, flutes and drums played.
earlier in the day the labyrinth down at the bottom of the big hill had been walked.
dogs raced around and offered wet kisses,
bodies danced under laser strobe lighting
and then,
Sada asked if warmed would be better ?
yes definitely.
later on in the kitchen while Monica and I were 
ransacking the shelves for a tea we wanted out of the million varieties on offer
we rescued the crumble hot and bubbling. 
I  found cream
it was good, 
very good said Monica.
I  AM the queen of crumble, I said.
what is the secret?
don’t tell, says Kim
but then that is easy because I really don’t know. 
Leila came back for 3 top ups,she said she was sharing with a friend
extolling the yumminess she asked who had made it?
you are the crumble queen she says.
Monica and kim and I  looked at each other and laughed 
there’s a story  there ,said kim
I wonder.

eggs or coffee

I went into Cobargo this morning
my turn to work at the Black Wattle gallery
a newly formed artistic cooperative
formed to show the creative talents of the local community.
it is a great space full of  light and  diverse  arts  from knits to ironwork,
from soft landscapes to ex telecom wire  baskets,
from beaded necklaces to alpaca carpets.
I like hanging out there for a few hours 
 watching the street
a radical change from forest and wallaby,
hearing the news
friends drop in
and travellers passing  by tell me stories.
the morning starts with a visit to the farm
for the flowers.
Janet was back on deck after a  recent trip to Thailand with her daughter. 
 I followed her around  while she cut jonquils
telling me about  cats crossed with foxes and coffee
overrated she reckons. 
then extolled the benefits of Thai dentistry a fast growing popular phenomenon among Australians apparently
followed by islands and sun and elephants and markets and sun.
I’m having trouble getting back into here, she says.
Janet sells veges to the  markets as well as locally
planting 6000 lettuce seedlings at a time .
there was a dozen eggs there today and we needed them,
 I knew I was out of money having garage saled out in the weekend
but I  checked my wallet anyway
and hey there was $5 ,the exact amount for the eggs.
but if  I get the eggs then I don’t have coffee money,
eggs or coffee
eggs or coffee
me or the family
eggs or coffee
eggs .
at the gallery I related this story to Suzy who said I’ll give you coffee money just after she had told me of her extravagances and limited budget.
no, I said ,someone will come in and bring me coffee.
not that this  had happened before but….
the morning was cold ,so cold the doors were closed and  the heating went on,
I sat on the fancy nancy reupholstered couch doing my crochet squares for the afghan.
Penny came in with a bunch of old photos of my son mum  and children,
 look  I found these in a book that I bought at Well Thumbed
a NZ art book,
don’t know it, I said.
but we had had a market (check blog; ‘it was only a dollar’ )
a while back and the books that we didn’t sell did go over the road to our second hand bookstore run by middle aged feminist leftie women earning us a $30 voucher.
must have belonged to Jess and had bypassed my radar.
Penny went and got the book and we admired the art 
look at this culture of art says penny
we don’t have this depth here.
how peculiar I am thinking…
later in the morning after ringing up the sale of a beanie made from an alpaca called Melody
a few crocheted brooches  and some bunches of flowers, 
I spied Priscilla walking past and called out to her.
she said do you have  time?
yes I said. 
I’ll get a coffee and come back for a chat,
minutes later she walked in and joined me on the couch 
with coffee and cake.
thanks Priscilla
well met.
a moment of synchronicity 
a moment of letting go to the idea that what was needed would come 
of not trying to work it out 
of allowing ….

if the goddess has returned I hope she brought a new fella back with her

the transit of venus 2012
the transit of venus 2004.
these happened within my lifetime
but then,
so did the blowing up of the Rainbow Warrior
in Auckland harbour.
a despicable act sanctioned by the french government .
a protest vessel
a bunch of volunteers  saying don’t detonate nuclear bombs in the pacific ocean
or anywhere else for that matter.
but the military and their puppet governments will have it their own way.
 some say the flyby of venus is the return of the goddess
well if so I want to know why she left
and where she went?
kinda chicken and egg
did she pack up in disgust one day when the women agreed
to the teachings of the male gods? 
did she race off to another universe after some bloke
leaving us to wake up and discover our chains?
there are as many stories as knots
and each serve their purpose.
when I set out  in the 70’s and 80’s to discover
me as woman,
I met the goddess in all her guises.
I met the matriarchs,  the witches, the healers, the midwives and the warriors.
I claimed every one of them for every face was one of mine.
Murray has gone
dad has taken himself back to NZ.
after nearly 3 months residency at jellybean road
he returns to the Waikato
land of his dreaming.
he is full of good times 
and we are richer for the lived in presence of an elder.
today the house is quiet, 
the sun streaming from its lowest position in the sky.
these short days demand a vigilance to get done what needs to be done
before the long nights around the fire.
mostly it is about wood
 gathering stacking bringing it in,
every day loads of it so that we can be warm.
thank you forest for your dead wattles and fallen timbers
thank you machine world for the spinning steel of the chainsaw to make short work of it
and thank you  family for all the warming soups  stews and pies .
we are a machine culture, 
tap tap tap with my fingers making marks on a screen.
we are also a community of loving kindness. 
a weird blend of opposing forces 
terribly out of balance
lurching along to our destinies, 
or just living out of them right now. 
maybe nothing awaits you or me,
maybe all we have is this that we are sharing now,
and  maybe,
in this moment,
we can come totally alive to the whispers in the air,
the song of our neighbours,
the cosmic dance of this planet 
sailing thru a universe
at warp speed.
if the goddess has returned
I hope she brought a new fella back with her,
because the old model with its warring ways 
has surely passed the use by date.
and maybe this new fella and the goddess 
can together make a kind dream, 
one that looks after the platypus 
and our spirit,
that denies nothing and embraces all.