I need cake real bad

brriiiinnnnggg   brrriinnnggggg

the phone rings

John has gone to see Shelli to have her  hands of magic remind his back of how to line up  so I am on call.

is that Sandy ?  says the tiny phone voice

yes it is.

how are you Sandy ?

good in fact  a most amazing thing happened at dawn this morning

a phenomena.

I woke to a palette of yellow the world was painted bright golden yellow.

I sat on the bed and stared  not the red sunrise colours this was yellow . I nudged John you have to see.

he blinked from under the covers too snuggy to care much.

I wanderd out to the kitchen  then  outside. it didnt come from anywhere the sky was its usual  whitish grey with puffy clouds and a smear of blue  .

there was no obvious sign of this glory, it just was it just filled the entire space .  after a bit it disappeared and the day seemed washed out lacking in  colour somehow.

we walked after  a hearing the glad news  from Elsie that she  had met her dog her dog to be. Words tumbled and bubbled  from her spilling  joy into our home amd hearts . Still some  weeks away but the long cherished guide is prepared and coming to walk with her and so we walked  out beyond the gate whipped by cold winds and   hunched deep in our jackets .

how  are you Carole ?

there are no solutions for this friend,  there is only band aids and hugs and I try to be good at both.

I’ve got the  form she says  they want my pension card photocopied .

I know my next line so I say it .

I can do that . this is to get her a rebate on her $1800 rate bill.

then she tells me she has just paid  an $800 electrickery bill and it took all her pension plus.

it’s that bloody stove of yours Carole.

it’s the heater  she says but  I have to have it on

of course you do it is winter afterall and the house is so very very cold .

I return to the stove  theme even though I know better I cannot help trying to fix something there.

the house is not wired up for a stove so she uses a plug into a power point one. are you using the old one or the new one your cousin bought you?

the old one . that new one is chinese and  its no good sandy.

then the phone bill rears its $250  head and I learn about another form she needs help with to get priority in having her phone fixed straight away. I need it sandy I cant be without what if I fell  what if…  ????

of course you need it I murmurr but really I am close to screaming with pain for this battler.

now what about  food ? not much she says,  I need cake sandy

cake   wow ok .

I’ve been sick and you wouldn’t know where I could get any cake would you ? she is sly this woman she is rat cunning she is an adept  player of emotions she is a wheedler a survivor a charmer a whiner  if tears will get her way she will cry.

and she does … sobbing about the road and them up the back of the valley making trouble.

I did  ring Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority  I tell her who apparently haven’t got any when it comes to the Illawambra creek but suggest we talk to  Council  which has been done and the road looks like that.

We have to stop them we have to . it is making me sick she cries.

I need cake real bad sandy it’s an  energy food for me.

Carole I haven’t got time to bake to-day.

I wrap up the last two pieces of canadian orange cake  and scour the pantry for some provisions finding a couple of spuds  a carrot some cauli a pkt of  kingston biscuits  a punnet of strawberries a pkt of  two minute noodles  a couple of apples and some rolled oats.

and then I head off along County Boundary road stopping at Eagles View for two dozen freshly squeezed out eggs before turning up  at Figtree for a cuppa with Suzy. She has baked a chocolate coconut slice . the fire is on and we drink black tea hand delivered all the way from China. Steve arrives  home with a ute full of wood and joins us. I mention Carole and  they open their pantry cupboard.  Steve  hands me marmalade and Suzy puts together a hamper of  still warm slice  a pear some onions  tins of salmon and sardines  even dolmades.

I did look for vine leaves for you when I was in Melbourne  she said. thank you but Bec has bought us a mega jar  we just need the occasion now.

I am running late fighting the clock  driving quickly,  there is a meeting to catch in Bega concerning the refugee situation

concern being the operative word.

John wants to go we want to do something we want it to change we want so many many things to be different.

the Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees group is being re activated.

Carole is down behind the barn feeding lambs  when I arrive. it takes her ages to get up to the fence and  haul  herself over

slowly so slowly she makes her way to me and  leans into me . I hold her she cries.

I am a little impatient having spent too long at Suzys enjoying myself.

crouching down under the trees along  the path to the house avoiding the stinging nettle  past the cages with the red eyed  albino guinea pigs and sidestepping  the scratching  wild hens  up onto the verandah where several large boxes shrouded in blankets are bleating.

there’s twins in that one she says.  She takes the lambs off their mums and  hand rears them by  keeping them warm and snuggy in the dark.

if  you peel back the layers they try to clamber into your arms in their  short woolly coats with  their  wet tongues hunting  milk.

what are they this year Carole  ? girls she says

great girls means a good summer  a summer of rain and fertility.

boys mean dry drought a hard year.

this is the weather according to Carole and mostly she nails it.

in the kitchen we unpack the food  look at the forms  and before I am out  the kitchen door with the pension card she is sitting down to tuck in.

I guess she was really hungry.

today she rings

what do you need I ask ?

water I’m out of water

and some fat sausages  I’ve got $5 she says.

if I could sell some manure I could buy some stuff  and she cries again.  again the road ….again . …..

I’ll see you  tomorrow ok


another reality later we are sitting  in the DaMa Lounge at Mumbulla School with people of  heart and compassion with  intelligence and energy and ideas that flow from home respite to letters written to  policy development to flyers that bust myths and events .

afterwards we eat out like on a date

coming home in the dark and cold.









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