it is insane what I need to manage my life


the day is blissfully warm

a reminder of season change.

John leaves for a visit to his country

he packs up the motorbike

and can’t find the frying pan

since the last trip to the desert.

ooooh that’s gross says Jess when John asks her if she wants some penicillin

waving the pan in her face.

no sardines in the house and we have eaten all the fish

so time for him to piss off.


we load up the trailer with the white metal medicine cupboard

and a heavy  wooden Marco built  table

and take them over to Bec’s studio.

the rats have started eating her oil paints

they loved the purple so much that she can’t find the tube and there is a heap of purple poo

left behind on a bench,

apparently they liked the  brown and silver too.

Bec is working on an installation for the Black Wattle Gallery

something about cosmic nesting.


I take some old computers to the tip today

our tip ,

it is a sight to see

the accumulation of our trash over many years,

frightening really.

did we drink all that beer?

do we collect all that plastic?

I am overwhelmed by the  number of oil containers, batteries, broken bits and packaging

from a household that claims to be into reduce recycle reuse,

and we do,


it is insane  what I need to manage my life

to live in ‘oneness’ on this planet.

is it some sort of  cosmic joke ?

I don’t even know how to cut down more than I have ,

stop existing springs to mind  but that’s not a real answer.


these computers have become   a thing of the past

everyone here has their own personal laptop ,

even that freaks me out but I understand it.

full of solder and boards,silicon and chips and metals and modules

all produced by the machine world,

a world that runs us,

that gives us our desires; the  mobile phone, the iPad, the ability to Skype , tweet and blog,

to fly drive bike and shop ,

to have whatever we want.

oh yes  I am a user ,

I am a geeky girl  intricately tied into this techno whizz while at the same time I cook on a wood stove

in a home  powered by solar  .

see there is my dilemma,

I have a foot in both camps.

I want the forest to be

I want the koala to live

I want nature to be applauded and respected , feted and adored,

and I want to earth speak via blog.

I want it all


there is a cost .

my existence costs the planet

and that is what is so good about the tip just up the track ,

it reminds me that I am consuming resources

and that to have  means

less habitat for the lyrebird

less room for the woodlands

less oxygen in the air

less clean drinkable water

especially when I do the maths and add  the waste of 8 billion other souls.


right in close to me   is a pair of king parrots dagging around in the bottle brush

while on the other side of the house the  grey shrike thrush sings its spring song.

who am I to say spring is not officially here yet?

somehow there is room for us all .







and they came in the night to steal the sea’s children


yesterday afternoon John says to me

would you like to go tailor fishing?


he is surprised because I don’t often go.

mostly John likes  fishing off the rocks and I am not comfortable with that

but beach fishing I figured I could give it a go.

and fishing for tailor for a specific is unusual

mostly he fishes  for fish any fish

and here he is saying lets go get some tailor

I am even keener when I learn it is happening at dawn.


he checks out the tides and monday morning at dawn on an incoming tide is chosen.

he has to go for a bike ride right then and there  to check out the sea

coming home to tell me he has a good feel about the gutter at Cuttagee ,

looks up  the weather forecast and …

I wake, it is dark but I can hear him rattling around in the kitchen

lighting Stanley.

I get up ,it is 4.45 AM

not yet a glimmer of light.

I make some parties which translates to flatbread in this house,

flour egg salt olive oil and water.

roll  out and cook briefly on Stanleys hot plate.

sooo good,especially with the hommous I made yesterday.

we made a thermos and left.

smack bang in the middle of  Wandella road we brake hard to avoid a wombat not yet full grown

stunned by our lights and looking distinctly mangy.

I have heard about some mange medicine that you can if you can put on them that will clear it.

worth a go for these amazing creatures.

sailing along thru the darkened valley

escorted by Venus Jupiter the Pleiades and the Saucepan.

a soft grey light is creeping  into the day,

we stop at Bridge Motors to buy a pack of pilchards

I wait in the car.

John asks about tailor

the guy says no no tailor around and the beach is not much good, needs a good windy blow to stir it up a bit.

oh well John says maybe today will be our lucky day.


a tailor requires a 3 hook rig,  and I watch in almost light as John puts the bait on.

the first throw into the gutter in the middle of Cuttagee beach and a bite straight away

the rod bends taut,  a bit of  fast winding goes on and on  all the while walking backwards up the the beach

until bingo, a fish flops out of the sea and onto sand.

second throw in, same thing

come on , your turn,

So I take the rod and follow the step by step instructions;

walking backwards rod up high winding winding faster slower

the rod sticking into my belly my arms aching with the effort,

the fish running and jumping and then another salmon bigger than the first lands.

not tailor but salmon.

hello  I say, thank you.

I am grinning John is grinning.

beautiful sleek silvery grey pearlescent bodies

pale yellow eyes  , mouths gasping at the shock of meeting air.

it is a good idea to bleed them out straight away

John tells me, adding, some people wont eat them.

that becomes my job

and I am confronted with the responsibility of taking of a life

to feed me , to feed our family

and I am grateful for the experience.

whispering  sweet words of gratitude to the spirit of the salmon

I cut their throats.

this  is not  a story for vegans

but hunters will understand the thrill.

John baits up again and again until the pack is done

and the excitement of the waves booming racing in to reclaim the beach

the sea eagle flying over head just out of arms reach and finally the sun,

among dark clouds a bold orange orb rises up out of the ocean and bathes us in merciless brightness.

the last fish caught ,number six and the biggest ,my arms now beside themselves with exhaustion from the chase and the strength required to haul these spirited creatures out of their world  into mine.

John sits down with  a cuppa while I take on getting  the hook out of a flapping fishes mouth.

shshshshhshhh shhh I say, my body  jumping and shooing when it thrashes around trying to keep myself out of hooking range.

I put my boot on it to hold it steady and wiggle the hook around.

not happening .

I’ll do it, John says

I have another go and another , eventually it slips out .

I watch the degutting process  happy to be uninvolved in that bloody affair.

they are washed in the sea

and bagged up for the trip home.

it is not yet 9 o clock

and we have caught our breakfast our dinner,

a fish for Carole, I can hear her squealing already.

such bounty such beauty

I am very blessed

and then I am sitting at the kitchen table

Kingston beside me

eating fish together

he likes lemon and salt too.


And finally in the afternoon,

sun pouring in thru the glasshouse ,

fish head soup puttering along on stanley

John says

“and they came in the night to steal the sea’s children”.

well I guess we did at that.





27!!! who can believe it???


Wednesday last was the Birth day of Elsie Rose

27 !!!  who can believe it ???

she graciously agreed to leave her flat and come out to the forest .

the truth is I lured her with the promise of lasagna.

she loves it when she gets here but hard to drag her away from town life.

that’s what happens sometimes when you bring your kids up in the bush with no tv, a dunny  down the yard and lots of lentils.

you get a devoted tv fan still in love with the fast food outlets of Bega.

what can I say?

I tried.

She say’s, you know Mum I love it when it’s raining and I don’t have to go outside to the toilet.’

well we have umbrellas but I get the point.

so she came home which happened to serendipitously coincide with the return of the little King and his parents.

5 weeks away 5 plane journeys and a kiwi experience of family and hot pools has given him another swagger

he taps his chest points at the teapot, the biscuit tin,whatever

pretty easy to see what he wants,

all the while chattering on in his baby babble way.


because aunty elsie was here when he got home I didn’t get a look in.

he is smitten with her

presses his little face up to her cheek ,cooing, playing with her hair, legs securely tucked into her hips.

she loves it and I wait till she goes home to have my turn.





























it was just the way things were done then

I went to Bermagui  today on the back of the bike
to Saltwater for fish -broadbill- and chips.
we sat on the edge of the water surrounded by a host of seagulls.
warmed by the sun and entertained by the goings on.
pelicans glided their large bodies around clear water
their bills ready for a quick snatch from the fish cleaning tables.
across from us the road busy with movements of cars trailers and  boats;
pulling the boat out of the water and hosing it down,
checking tackle,buckets and fishing rods , bait and gutting the catch.
behind us people at tables on the verandah lunching
and children soaking up the playground on their last day of freedom.
a pleasant scene
a seaside tableau of holiday makers and locals.
I wondered then how a giant Woolworth’s will fit into this fishing village scene.
I remember the arrival of the first  supermarket to our town, Lower Hutt.
I went with Mum to give it a go, she was a bit nervous,
it was a Big Thing.
I was excited but then I was only 10 or 11.
up until then we bought from  a little grocery store down at the local shops , Taita 
where the woman behind the counter  was my friends stepmother and lived five doors up the street from me .
for other items there was home service.
our milk was delivered every evening to our letter box
I had to put the bottles and the money out. 
the bread was dropped off  by the bread van every morning
unwrapped,  into the letter box
and I had to run out and get it in for the school lunches.
obviously the letter box was bigger than letter size,
and once a week the fruit and vege truck pulled up outside our house.
we would climb up the steps into the back
and put carrots and parsnips,oranges and bananas into our basket.
not a lot of packaging in those days eh.
every few months the rawleighs man visited with his basket of  products
things like polish and menthol rub and even though I knew Mum didn’t need anything
she always bought something.
it was just the way things were done then, 
same when the brownies or boy scouts came to the door selling raffle tickets,
it was understood that you would buy them, that you were a supporter.
so from the vantage point of a  remembrance of life before supermarkets took over
I know they spell doom for local family run businesses.
I watched the local shops decline replaced by boarded over windows and graffiti.
and people like Mrs Pickering across the road were no longer jobworthy,
they were too’ordinary’ perhaps or too working class, in a world that was fast becoming upwardly mobile.
it seems the supermarkets  came hand in glove with increased packaging ,more processed food ,
faster food , a more slick presentation and the profits disappeared into pockets somewhere else.
perhaps it will be great
perhaps it is just what bermi needs 
perhaps pigs will fly.
Oh and P.S.
dad came out of hospital today
has gone to kays for a bit
doing really well after his big triple by pass.
and all that crochet I have been doing, all those brightly patterned squares, 
I stitched them together and sent it over to him.
it was placed over his knees and he loves it.

he is the artichoke king


John has headed out to the garden to dig up artichokes

of the Jerusalem kind.

they moved here about 20 years ago, probably from Cathy’s place down the road

and being the determined bulb that they are, have multiplied in all directions.

They are a knobbly root  with a whitish flesh and  a strong flavour

 definitely not a widely recognised vegetable, holding no prestige and are never found in the supermarket.

here they thrive and to be honest you couldn’t get rid of them if you tried .

we discovered that the wallabies like eating them so we planted a field of  them once as a decoy crop to keep them out of our vege garden.

it worked that year but what really happened was more wallabies and more artichokes.

we always knew we were sitting on an artichoke empire and John has been the lead over the years  in artichoke culinary explorations but then, he is the artichoke king.

There is  a new store in the village, a wholefood place set up by a bunch of locals, some of them our friends with a vision to sell organic and local as well as introduce healthy eating options into the community.

 they call themselves ‘Sweet Home Cobargo’ and have taken up residence in one of Bennys shops the one that used to be ‘No Wife No Horse No Moustache.’

that iconic sign, faded as it is,  has so far been left in place but on the inside all is changed.

the process of  setting up and moving in has taken many months with a lot of bureacratic hoops to jump thru .

jump they did and opened the frosted glass doors on the 3rd of July .

Cathy rang that morning  asking John if we had any produce to put in?

yep we have artichokes.

later in the day when I went in there they were nestled into a hessian bag $4.50 a kg. 

the walls are painted orange

mango? I said to Cathy as I was poking around.

pumpkin ,she said, Suzy called it  pumpkin.

we both shrugged and laughed.

the fire was tickling along .

beans and herbs and flour to buy off friends is a far cry from trading with  anonymous people.

 I reckon buying food is an act of intimacy and not just food, 

all exchange where I hand over money and receive goods is a very personal  thing is it not?

and one day I thought, I want to have a relationship with the people I buy from.

I want to know them, even just a little, to be able to pass  the time of day with them in way that leaves us both the richer for the meeting, that adds another dimension to what has become a souless business transaction.

and so that has become my practice, 

easy in a small village, easy at your markets but  challenging in the bigger supermarket mega store world.

Cathy rings again this morning,

she wants more artichokes, some to put in the curries they are cooking up for friday night takeaways.

friday the thirteenth is the official opening, a night when the community wearing smiles will gather to celebrate a vision manifest by a small group of people.

up the road next to the newagency Black Wattle gallery opened earlier in the year another small group vision  and goes from strength to strength.

contained within its sights is the opening up of all the empty shops in Cobargo and getting things happening, community things . they started with laneway markets and now Bec and Suzy are running art classes for children.

John washes the artichokes, packs them into a panier and heads off to deliver them with a list  cardamon, linden tea, quinoa, rolled oats,dates .

it is pretty exciting to have access to this food locally and  that for these purchases we have reduced our food miles by about 100 kms, not to be sneezed at eh.

we like to peel them when we eat them, a bit of a tedious  job but is said to reduce the gas factor.

mmmmm didn’t know about that?

it is said and we acknowledge this that they are windy little roots.

but as Bec says well, it  lets you know everything is working.

And we love them any which way really, boiled  steamed mashed ,

nice with a white sauce, makes a terrific  soup 

or toss them into a casserole.


yesterday I picked stinging  nettle and rubbed it into my thumb joint which has been sore

so just wondering if we are sitting on a stinging nettle empire.

anyone for whipping? 











there comes a point when we seem to ‘get over it’

a friend rang me yesterday,
were we meeting or not?
me in pyjamas , a hacking cough walking and him, a plane to catch .
not likely.
it was a relief really feeling the way I did.
how are you? I ask. 
a long pause and then one word ‘down’.
the feeling transmitted itself along the wires and lodged at my front gate.
is it a winter thing like winter blues? I inquired.
I could hear him thinking, 
he is not a guy that rushes into response
he is a wordsmith .
maybe he says.
I wait.
the holidays are over and it is time to send his daughter back to  Queensland
for another term
a cherished project he and his partner have been working on has been cancelled.
I am learning that I cannot fix anyones pain.
I am learning to witness and feel with them .
we did the silence thing companionably.
sometimes, when things don’t work out  
it is because there is another option available
in a way that we can’t even imagine.
part of the magic and mystery of a divine creative universe.
no matter that we love the frosty morns ,the gloves beanie and jumpers,
the fireside and the hwb in our beds
there comes a point when we seem to ‘get over it’.
John broke his favourite blue cup the other day
the Bacchus cup given to him by Aghiah Sowelu when she was resident here
in the shack that she renamed Abracadabra.
 his coffee  cup .
an hour or so later he fell off the ladder in the shed where he is doing renos.
smash again.
he jarred his arm and shoulder and took to the couch for the rest of the day,
I’m over winter he said.
My sister squeals over the phone what is he doing up a ladder Sandra?
well that stumped me for a bit.
um that is what we do here.
a power point flashed past my mind’s eye of our ladder activities
changing light bulbs, reaching for jars in the pantry, placing curtains back on track,
accessing storage cupboards, resetting solar panels on the roof and then our numerous building works.
indeed leave a ladder out and Kingston is up it like a shot
up down up again with a very pleased look on his face and a few bangs on the top rung.
Kay continues, tell him he shouldnt be doing that.
uh I don’t think so ,but I can  promise not to tell you that I go up ladders all the time.
she is over winter too because the frost has taken out her garden
her pride and joy leaving her with a black sludge look .
I am thinking about this sitting coughing on the east verandah the sun warm on my body. 
the frost beating a slow retreat
the iron roof dripping .
spindly legged  blue wrens skip about my feet picking up minute crumbs, 
we shake the bread board out for them
and then sit back and observe
 the flying under the coffee table
under our chairs
busy always busy.
what are they thinking about winter?
the yellow robin flies to the verandah post and perches sideways 
cocks its head assessing options.
am I going into the garden today?
any activity in the garden and they are there with us
a pip pip for us to stop so they can dive in and pick up the worm.
but it is the kookaburra that amazes me ,
 it sits on a branch
swaying a little as if it is on a see saw 
tilting its head
 for a long time 
and then pow before my eye to brain can see
it has landed, thrust its beak in and pulled out a white wriggly creature
one gulp ,swallowed and off it flies.
I look and cannot determine how it knows dinner is under the ground there.
nature is such an awesome teaching
and  I am trying to pay attention,
to see
but I am the foreigner here and don’t yet know the language.
does the wren the yellow robin the kookaburra get the winter blues?
do they despair of  the iced over water and the short days in which to fill their bellies?
and when a wind takes out their building project do they become devastated ?
could I ever know?
a pair of swallows have returned to camp outside the kitchen door
the grey thrush has been heard to sing
and goodness knows what the wombats are up to but it is all dig scratch  and  turnover 
with a lot of deposits of poo.
I  am heartened by the activity in the forest around me 
from dawn to dusk
the going about lives with meaning .
I think I envy that.
perhaps the winter blues come about because we try to live outside the rhythm of nature
 because we impose our timetable and ignore the seasons.
or then again maybe some days we have had enough
we just in that moment are over it 
 and then we notice the daphne beginning to flower…