Gardening for another world

My cousin is one of those people that fall into the category of being beautiful inside and out. She’s like a movie star, looks-wise, like Hollywood old and new; her looks transcend eras. They say physical beauty doesn’t last but when it transcends eras, like Joan’s, that’s quite a long time.

Here is a short description of what she looks like because amazingly, the snap we took of her on the day is terrible.

Joan has thick, raven hair with a few streaks of grey in it now, although no-one is counting. And she has vivid blue-green eyes like her Dad’s, offset by olive skin. I got my my mothers skin, which is Scottish and my grandmother’s hair, which is red. I have blue-grey eyes, like a Viking; they look green if I am lying on the grass. I so don’t look like my cousin. We are both tall though.

And this may sound a bit closeup but my cousin’s bone structure is also flawless, I mean, you can look but I’ve not found any flaws, perfect symmetry. I nearly wrote symphony then and that still would have been right.

Out of the thirty cousins of us, she has taken all the looks. Well, she was given them, it wasn’t her fault.

She also has a beautiful heart. She was given that too.

If I was her, I think I’d be some kind of monster, all those looks. But she’s not interested, I don’t think she even knows. Instead, she’s busy planting jonquils in her uncle’s grave (my father’s) because she passes it on her way to see her father. Her father resides in the same resting place as mine. I say resides but I mean the “residing” mortal coil of yore. Those quotes are mine. They don’t really mean anything.

It’s a big resting place.

Anyway, I think she felt sorry for Dad because his grave looked like a wasteland. There has been so much going on, nobody has been able to do anything about a headstone. So she planted some jonquils. She popped them in the wasteland.

That started the whole thing off.

“Would it be okay to plant some bulbs for your Dad? We did it for my Dad and it looks lovely!” she wrote. “Here are some photos” but all I could see were a few rocks and some gravel.

“Oh my goodness, Dad’s grave …” I thought because we had done nothing. Because at unexpected times, I feel him very close therefore I’m pretty sure he’s not in the ground; I don’t know where he really is, it is not possible to know but what I mean is, when you think you’re sure he’s not in the ground, you can tend to forget that he actually is. By “he” I mean, his “residing mortal coil of yore.” Those quotes again, just ignore them.

You don’t really forget but you also don’t rush. Which meant my Dad had been in an unmarked grave for a while now. Well, ever since he first went. I don’t think he’d mind. I heard it’s normal. But it sounds horrible in print.

Here’s a sort of mitigation list because of the horrible sound of the print above. I am writing it purely out of compulsion.

Firstly, there are things to sort out when someone slips away. I’ve had nothing to do with any of them but other members of my family have.

Including this: on the boardwalk of a beach near my father’s house is a new courtesy chair with a plaque on it dedicated to my Dad. It appeared few weeks ago. It’s the beach where we all grew up, where we all learnt to swim. I even went to school there, at the beach. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky. The view was such a relief in economics lessons.

Also, last month, an obituary to my father appeared in the big newspaper, a full page tribute. Full page apart from a column at the top with “the things that happened on this day” in history, column.

That took our breath away. So did the chair. My Dad would have been so surprised although I don’t know if people in the other world know about things ahead of time. I’m positive he would be very grateful though.

There, that’s the list. It’s a partial one but better than nothing, even though I’m not in it at all.

Through all that, it meant my father was still in a wasteland.

So Pete and I acted, gathering together two buckets of homemade worm compost, two bags of shop bought soil, a car boot full of gardening equipment, lots and lots of Spring bulbs and seeds and my lovely cousin Joan who met us at the resting place. Some of the equipment was useless but we took it anyway, Pete insisted.

And now there is a beautiful Spring garden, all for my father.

There is not that much to see. The bulbs and other flowers are still asleep and will come out in Spring which is pretty close. We just have to get through Autumn first, then winter. Actually, we have to get through summer first and foremost. It’s still right here, hot and sunny, as if it was December. Last week we had about three cool days which turned out to be a trick. But it had everyone pulling woollies out of storage and packing up shorts and t-shirts to throw them to the back of the wardrobe.

Now we are all pulling the t-shirts and shorts out again, feeling like a ship of fools.

Anyway, whenever Spring comes and it could come at any time, it could even be next, my father’s grave will billow forth in a palate of sky blue, cloud white and sun yellow. That is the colour scheme: sky, cumulous cloud, sun.

We packed them in: daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, ranunculus, anemones, star flowers. In total over seventy flower beginnings. Plus Joan’s original four jonquils.

At some stage in the year’s cycle, it will look glorious. It might even look like heaven on earth.

The only exception to the colour wheel are a few of the hyacinths which are crimson red. Sometimes when you put an extra colour in, a colour not in the colour chart for example, just a flash of it, it can make the other colours look even more so: so more blue, more white, more yellow. Well, that’s the theory. Don’t go by it though, it’s just my theory.

If there are no flowers yet to see there is something to read. Sweeping across the top of the garden is the word “love” written in big, cursive lettering. I wrote it in white gravel I took from our driveway. It’s written large because I always fill the page in my artwork, that’s been the one, consistent comment.

Reading between the lines, it says: someone precious is here, even though there is no headstone yet.

Sheilagh wrote straight away.“Well, we certainly won’t do any tomb-stoning until Spring has sprung!” she said. But I had to look up the word “tombstone” to see if it was awful, I mean gloomy. It’s not, it’s just another word for headstone.

The morning we went down, Pete had bought some passionfruit from the market. He said they were for my Dad.

“How are you going to give them to him?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I just thought he’d like them” said Pete.

“Maybe you can offer them energetically” I said, and held out my arms and hands with nothing in them to demonstrate. “Like this …” It wasn’t very spiritual.


I totally forgot about them until we came home. Most of them were still lying in the fruit bowl, waiting for Pete to eat them. He’s a bit like my Dad, he loves passionfruit.

“I gave one to your Dad” he said, splitting another one open to slurp.

“You did?”

“Yes. I put it in the soil.”

“When? When you were planting the bulbs?”

“Yes” he said.

Sometimes you think you know how lovely someone is. Then they go and plant jonquils for someone or do something equally lovely that has nothing to do with you and you just learn about it. Like pass a passionfruit to another world.

Beautiful illustration, Pinterest 

The enormous sweetness of small things


The sweetness that he brings to all things is unfiltered; every action, every interaction, every utterance. It is nearly all there is and it is everything.

“Just a second …” he implores from atop a mountain of soft pillows, beneath a mountain of soft blankets and duvets, (everything is soft) trying to put his good hearing aid in place (the other one got dropped and only transmits news from Mars.) It takes a full minute to get the hearing aid place, a minute and a half in total because he was struggling at the beginning. But I am not going anywhere. Where would be nicer than here?

“Now” he says, grateful for the waiting, “how did you sleep?

“Great!” I say and he looks happy.

“How did you sleep?” I ask

“I slept okay …” he says yet I detect a drollness between the lines, almost inaudible but there. I think it is in the way he rounds his words.

“I didn’t fall out” he continues, “so that was good.”

“Well, that is good!” I confirm and he laughs.

The news is conveyed as a small miracle, like someone who has gone to the supermarket to for honey – and finds a jar.

Sheilagh lies awake beside him, listening in, letting him do the talking. When she does speak, it is to suggest a hot honey and lemon drink, which is their morning ritual, but I put it down to sheer coincidence.

“Yes, please” says my father and Sheilagh rolls over and is up, gone to make it.

“Did Pete sleep okay?” asks my father because it wouldn’t be a normal conversation without him asking if Pete is okay/slept okay/how Pete is.

“Pete slept very well.” I say. “I was just going to make us some tea but I thought I’d check on you first. You’re still here, so that’s good!”

“Yes!” says my father.

Sheilagh returns with the honey and lemon drink and my father, who is lying on his side, reaches out for it. His movements are slow, like a snowman coming to life, his arm stretching in slow motion toward the bedside table for the drink. Somehow he is able to drink it lying there on his side although it is a little too hot so I add some cold water.

“Thankyou” says my father and continues to sip it sideways, atop the pillows. He is so comfortable atop these pillows, underneath these blankets, in this bed, he says.

“Sheilagh” he asks, sideways. He cannot easily roll over so he asks from the side of the bed, calling out to the other side where Sheilagh is snuggling up. Soon they will go back to sleep and so will I. It is early. Only Pete will get up (permanently) to go to work because he is the only one who is not retired. Eh-hem.

As for my father and Sheilagh, they catch up on sleep they lose in the wee hours when my father needs to … well, do the same. Sheilagh wakes up to help him because my father can’t do much of anything on his own anymore. I have never seen someone so tired or so happy.

The good thing is most of the furniture is electric so he gets rides to go up and down in bed, on his chair, everything. Electrical is the vogue of the house.

Other nights, a carer takes Sheilagh’s place. My younger brother stays over most Thursday and Fridays nights because he is already a night owl and a 2am wee break is like day-time to him. It would probably only be interrupting his lunch.

“Sheilagh” my father is asking. “You used to give me one of those bent straws” he says, at angle to me and the drink. The cup is upright in his hand but because he is sideways, it is not working that well as a drink and he has remembered about the bent straws.

“Do you still have those?” he asks.

At another angle next to him, Sheilagh’s smile, silent and full of warmth, conveys that she does and I offer to get them since I am the only one standing.

I find them in the pantry, grab one and on my way back, drop in on Pete, across the hall. The walls are thin enough and he is close enough to have heard the conversation.

“Hi Sweetie” I say. “Would you like a bent straw in your tea?”

“Yes, please” he says and I take the straw in my hand into my father with the news that Pete would like a bent straw in his tea, too.

On second waking, Pete is gone and Xen has arrived, full of love, to take over from Sheilagh for a few hours. My father is still asleep.

Sheilagh is in the living room. I find her sitting by the table with newspapers. Morning is pouring in through the windows from the bay and lights the room perfectly in beautiful, early luminescence.

Quickly, we get to talking about the operation my father needs and which the surgeon has reluctantly confirmed. It’s tricky: cutting open his hairline across his skull, under local anesthetic.

Sheilagh has her face toward the light, exposing her thoughts. If just left, the situation could easily become worse. It is impossible to know what to do. The choice is stark.

I pop in to see my father once more before I go. Last time we talked, he said he didn’t want to end up with a tomato on the top of his head. Now, when I bring it up he says he is not worried about the hospital trip, he is only worried about his knee (which makes him afraid to stand) He is not confident of conveying this to the nurses.

Of the of the tomato, he only says: “I suppose it could be my brains.”

“Or your sense of humour …” I offer.

As I leave, I hear Xen trying to gently persuade him to maybe let her shower him, which has a marvellous restorative effect-  but my father turns her down with equal gentleness and perfect politeness.

“I don’t think so” he says with perfect politeness.

“I’m just so cosy here” he says, from the side and I know it is true. “It’s just so cosy in this bed. I don’t know why anyone ever gets up.”

“That’s what I say to Pete” I say and my father just catches it. I am pretty sure he wishes it were different, for Pete’s sake.

Later, I learn the shower went ahead as Xen planned. “She waves her magic wand over him,” says Sheilagh.

Beautiful artwork by Magaly Ohika

Burnt Orange Afternoon

Laura and Auntie GigiA birthday party. My father is now eighty-seven, which means he is close to a hundred, close to a thousand. Less close to a thousand but closer than the rest of us.

We keep telling him: you are adding longevity to the family. Good one!

We say: go for one hundred! “That way, we can have lots more of those parties” I say.

“Yes” he says. “That’s a good idea.”

“Only next time, we will pay for ourselves. You and Sheilagh can’t do that again. It’s too much.”

“Well, you can’t invite people to a party and ask them to pay for themselves” he says.

“I know …”

We are twenty strong that day, at least. I don’t count but it is something like that. That is the prediction anyway.

We sit on the covered verandah of the Burnt Orange cafe. Before us is the headland with the harbour before that. Actually the harbour is after that but from the headland’s point of of view it is before. You need to reverse it if you are sitting with us.

If you are sitting with us, you will also notice that before the headland is some bushland which sounds nondescript and yet that is what it is; some bushland. It may aspire to greater descriptions but for the moment it is all we see because we are mainly here for the burnt oranges.

And besides, we are all together, here in this afternoon tea place, and everyone has dressed up, and my father and his wife are paying, which is very naughty but nevertheless very fatherly, in his case and we are all at ease. Something to do with job description. I read somewhere that is what fathers are for and I took it in.

I, on the other hand, would make a terrible father. I prefer people to pay my way rather than the other way around. Now you are getting a clearer picture of what it is like on the inside of me. I am trying to shine a light in there in the name of evolution.

If you are my sister or my female friend, I will fight you for the bill. Horses for courses.

A long time ago, my little sister was complaining that whenever she was invited out on a date, at the end of the meal she felt compelled to bring out her wallet and offer to pay. And sometimes her date would let her or he would go halves.

“What?” I asked. I have not always valued myself well but even then I was clear: he pays, he asked you out.

“Yes but I feel so awkward when the bill comes.”

“Forget your feelings” I would say.

“But I feel so guilty”

“Okay” I would say, “fine. You can’t change your feelings. So sit on your hands.”

She started to laugh.

My little sister tried it. Over and over, she tried it. All she could remember was “sit on your hands.”

Now she’s married with two little ones, both with red hair. Her son has strawberry hair. She has strawberry hair. They are a strawberry family, more or less. Except her daughter has hair like me, like a burnt orange.

She married a blonde man who would rather let her hands go numb than make her pay. They are very happy.

Back to the cafe. We are gathered at two, long tables, my father in the middle of the top one. He is making a speech but not everyone can hear. Nobody wants to get up because the tidbits the cafe has brought us are delicious. The older ones, including Pete, are also drinking champagne, like drunkards.

I am in the middle. I have always been in the middle. Therefore I don’t drink. I order tea. Then I order a second pot. It is so refreshing. You drunkards should try it.

Because nobody at the second table wants to move and because they can’t hear, I get up to sign language my fathers missives. I start by using what I know of contemporary, music festival sign language and form a heart by joining my thumbs and index fingers.

He is mostly talking about love: being proud, being thankful. He talks about loving us. It is easy to sign.

Then he starts to talk about a journey we undertook as a young family on aeroplane. I feel awkward because I can only think to stick out my arms and pretend to fly. It is a low point in my interpretation but the audience is forgiving. Besides, they probably would have done exactly the same thing. Maybe you would too, if you had been there. Maybe next time.

The speech is over and someone is tapping at my leg. It is my niece. She wants to know if I would like to go outside and play on the grass with her. I say: yes

Later, she and I are talking about world/personal preferences for sweet or salty foodstuffs. It is a carry on conversation from the second table.

I ask her: if someone offered you cakes or chips, what would you chose?

“Cakes” she says.

Afterward, when we have come back inside, I find her tapping on my leg again. She has thought about it some more.

“If someone would say Cookies and Cream, I would say cookies.”

“That’s nice” I say.

When I tell Pete that night – we drive home mostly in silence, through the blue evening, to music that sounds like beating stars – he can’t stop laughing. Or loving. Neither of us can.

We are so glad to be home. Here. This home. This sunburnt country, in this strawberry, caramel and chocolate, burnt orange family.

Photo taken at the Burnt Orange Cafe, Middle Head, Mosman, Sydney

For the love of blue

Blue by Genuine at Etsy Another thwack noise, this time I know what it is. Poor little thing.

Half asleep, fully asleep, sleep.

Later I wake up for the day. The thwack half forgotten.

Then I remember – thwack! and think to look around the side where we found the last one, a tiny, wee robin, bright yellow. “Is that real bird?” I wondered.

It was lying under the jasmine. It was so small and so dead that I decided it was okay to leave it there. I don’t know why. I just thought this time, it was okay. I don’t think I believed in it.

When Pete came home it was the first thing I told him about. My days are not that thrilling. They could be more thrilling. I am working on it. At the moment I only have dead birds.

“Here” I said, passing him a torch as he dropped his bag. “There is something you might want to see.”

It sounds macabre put like that.

“Should we bury it?” I asked.

“Yes” he said.

“Okay, I’ll get the spade.”

“I’ll get it.”

But neither of us moved. It was pouring. We didn’t want to go to the shed.

“Let me …” I said and walked in the other direction.

“Are you getting the spade?” Pete asked.

“Yes” I said, nearly inside. Then I turned back. It seemed silly.

Nothing happened for ages so and we just stood there, shifting our weight from one foot to the other under the terrace surrounded by rain and night. I said something about having to make dinner, Pete, about needing to fix the computer.

Beyond the terrace everything was black. And loud because the rain was drenching. Besides, Pete had told me there was a giant spider living in the shed and while I could ignore the news in the middle of the day, in the middle of the evening it was preying on my mind.

Finally Pete said “Okay, I’ll get it” and started to move.

“Wait!” I said. “… what about we use something else?”

“Like what?”

“Something instead of a spade” I said.

“Like what?” he asked again because he had been at work all day and had used up most of his originality.

“Anything” I said heading back inside.

Anything, anything, anything, I was thinkingto stop us from going to that bloody shed.

“It’s only a little spade, anything will do …” I called back. Anything at all. Please jump out at me.

“This!” I said reappearing with a wooden spoon from the laundry and flicked it like a wand.

“Okay” he said, like he was relinquishing, like I hadn’t just done us both a favour. But our legs were sore from all the water we had been treading, so fair cop.

The next thing I knew he had done it, dug a tiny little grave in the earth under jasmine and the trellis.

This morning’s thwack is another I am sure.

This thwack was so loud, like a tree falling on the house. More likely another bird hasn’t see the glass and flown headfirst into the window.

I get headaches a lot and I hate them. I hear this thwack, imagine the headache. Poor thing.

I decide to look where we found the last one.

But instantly I forget because we live in a house and they are always calling for your attention. There is washing to hang out, flecks of leaf litter and mysterious fluff on the floor to be ignored or swept, beds to be made, cabinets to be painted. I am painting the cabinet blue in the fashion of a duck egg. I have not heard what the ducks say about it. Maybe it’s old hat.

Nevertheless I would paint nearly everything duck egg blue as I am recently converted and probably mad with it.

Simultaneously, I hang the washing, ignore the fluff, de-leaf the beds, drag the cabinet outside and sand it ready for the first coat. The first coat will be dove grey in the fashion of a dove.

Somewhere in the mix I wander past Pete’s window, the window he looks out from the desk with computer. And there it is, a Satin Bower bird, dead.

“Oh sweetheart” I say out loud because you should have seen it, it was so beautiful. We recognise their olive green plumage in the garden but this one was lying on it’s back, it’s underside exposed and it showed itself to be the palest yellow with grey flecks.

I go to find the spade. In daylight, the shed is just a shed.

Crouching forward I see its eyes are half open and when I look I can see they are the most beautiful, evening blue. Sapphire blue, says the guide book.

The book also identifies this one as a female or a juvenile because the adult males are a slick, satin black. But they all have blue eyes.

And they love blue, they will do anything for it. The males will do anything for it because the females will do anything for it which means the males spend a lot of time collecting, selecting and sifting through the finest pieces of blue anything to attract a female: blue flowers, scraps of paper, milk bottle tops, anything. Of course, they don’t have the final say, but that is nature.

I dig another grave. Because it is daylight this time I have one eye on the bird’s comfort, the other on Pete’s social networking site where I will post the photos I have styled. You think you are doing something good but really you are doing it for public endorsement of your decorating skills, in this case the bird’s grave.

We have hung paper mobiles in front of the windows and now keep the blinds half closed in the morning to make the windows easier to see. We do not want to see anymore birds at close range although the beautiful Satin Bower bird got many “likes.”

I will find other things to style and photograph. Perhaps the cabinet when it is finished.

It was like ping pong, barely audible, with sponge.

Beautiful artwork, Blue, by Genuine at Etsy

The Joy of Pink

pink dressClothes can say a lot. Today I am wearing my pink dress. But unless you live next door you are probably out of earshot so I will tell you what my pink dress is saying.

It is saying that it is hot today and I have too many clothes and am wearing this one to give it a turn. There is a lot of competition. There are many, many dresses in the closet. This one used to be a favourite but since returning to Australia I have bought thousands more so it is just a dress now. But it is the only pink one.

It is a lovely dress – dusky, rose pink linen that drops to the floor with a loose tie in the middle so you can bunch it up and wear it as a short dress if you want, crinkled with three bands of white.

It is so lovely I am still wearing it tomorrow, which has become today. I was wearing something else earlier. A denim something. But it was nothing next to the pink dress which was still hanging around.

The time before was just before Christmas. But there has been a month of hot days since then so I have been out shopping. It is very hot. It may get hotter. I have bought some more dresses just in case.

The best place to shop around here is the charity shop. In some cases it is the only viable economic option. This is one of those cases.

The charity shop gets all it’s stock from Sydney. Well, that’s what they say but I saw a skirt in there that was made in Paris.

“Made in Paris” I read and it was all I needed to know.

I took it with me into the changing room along with a dozen others.

Three items only in dressing room please read the sign. But surely that could not apply to a charity shop. “That is for Sydney shops” I figured.

Please do not steal from us. We would rather help you than call the police read another inside the dressing room. “Now that is charity,” I read through tears. “I like shopping here.”

But it turned out the skirt had a funny waistband. Funny in the way that I couldn’t comprehend it. So I put it back.

I put it back after three attempts.

And I bought ten dresses instead. I say ten but it could easily have been thirty. Plus a shirt for Pete.

When I unloaded them from the car to the wardrobe I think that is when the pink dress took a dive.

This pink dress; I keep forgetting I am wearing it. It is so light. It is only a dress but it feels like much more. It is modest and spectacular, early and late night, candle flame and fireworks all at the same time. It is a remarkable dress.

If the lady who bought the skirt in Paris found this dress in a shop there I am sure she would be wearing it now too. There is nothing wrong with this waistband. It doesn’t even have one. It has a sort of tie.

And the rest of the dress is perfect.

Now it has had a chat with you.

Today my wardrobe is full and as I write Pete is erecting another. He has been doing it all day. It’s one of those easy one – two – three – step ones that has taken him all day to get right. When I ask him if he needs a hand he says he’s okay but I feel stupid just lying here on the sofa.

So I get up and walk into the room he is working in, the room with the wardrobes.

“Can I help?”

“No” he says. “Just go and rest.”

“Okay” plonk.

I am in recovery from the sun.

Two days ago we drove to Sydney to pick up the wardrobe. The wardrobe is mainly for Pete, I should say. He has more clothes than me although I know you probably don’t believe me.

It was thirty eight degrees and we were driving a UFO. Well, it was like a UFO. It had huge wraparound windows that let in enormous amounts of sun and the controls were in Martian.

I don’t know whether you have noticed but driving around on a sunny day you may as well be sunbathing. We had the air conditioning on but the light that poured in was intense. I might as well have been lying on a beach towel.

I brought a hat and shawl with me and tried to hide beneath them. I put the shawl over my legs and used the hat as a screen against the window or I just wore it. It’s a very large hat. It rolls out to nearly a metre. You can only see your knees though so the scenery gets boring.

It worked because I am not dead even though I felt like it for days. Today the headache has gone and I don’t feel so hungover. But I have added another two days to the story so now it is nearly four days later.

Pete says I should get some proper polaroids. He says they might help because the other thing was my eyes sort of shrunk. But I just think I need a bigger hat.

To my surprise I don’t miss anything from Europe or Britain. I love it here. It feels natural too, like I was never going to miss them although I was sure I was.

But I am a viking in an aboriginal land. The land must wonder: what is she doing here?

I would answer: making myself at home. Wearing a hat and shawl when the sun is king for trips to Sydney. Gardening, painting the house, painting furniture, pictures – painting nearly everything.

Wearing dresses because it is hot enough.

Like this lovely pink one.

There! Did you see that car? The woman in the one metre hat …

But please also notice the lovely pink dress.

Lovely image: Pinterest

Making Beauty

DIY-painted-candleholders-colorful-wedding-ideasTimes were there was a sock to mend. That’s it. There was only the sock.

Later, a few days later, maybe a stitch here or there on a petticoat. Maybe. There was nothing else to do. Time crept by in big, lazy doses. Life was good. A lot of people say that but it was.

Six months later and I could be living on Mars. Nothing is the same, nothing. Pete is of course but that is because his nature is relaxed, laid back. He still smiles and says it will be alright but this time he is consoling me over more than a sock.

He says: don’t worry. He says: don’t do so much.

Now he has started to say: you have brought this on yourself you know.

I guess that is a change. Yes it is. It definitely is because I can’t believe what I am hearing.

… what? What did you say?

But I only think it. I don’t want to put him off his stride. He’s not normally that direct. The most direct he usually gets is to say don’t worry which is confirmation that you are, which is pretty direct. I don’t need big clues.

His new counsel sounds ominous. The words drum in my ears but I am more interested in the psychology of the change. He’s never spoken to me like this before. It must be an emergency.

On the phone last night:

“I didn’t do a thing today. I mean, I didn’t do anything. I just drove three hours to Sydney and back (three in total) – but straight back because I couldn’t stand the store. I couldn’t stand it. It was so soulless. I had a bag full of stuff but the closer I got to the checkout the more I was hating everything so I just dumped it and left. I didn’t buy a thing. Three hours.”

“You prefer the DIY approach …”

“Yes. No. I hate DIY. But I hate that store more. I’d rather do it myself (DIM) even though I hate it. But I didn’t do any today. I’m not going to do anything for a week. I’ve decided”

Because I’m exhausted.

“Well if you do you know you’ll be choosing to. You’ll be doing it to yourself.”


… see what I mean about the change?

But there is so much to do here. Much more than a socks-worth.

Pete says: leave it. He says: I’ll do it on the weekend. He says: there’s no rush, I think we can take more time.

But I still see everything through the eye of a needle; everything looks like a sock to me.

That? That’s just a sock, that big old wardrobe that someone is throwing away which needs a complete renovation, from top to bottom. Yes, it is a little dirty but isn’t it sweet? (It is.)

Oh, there seems to be creatures living here in the cracks. What’s this … dust …?

A bit of miscellaneous dust. The wardrobe is still sweet. It just needs a clean and a paint … doesn’t it?

“Pete. I think the wardrobe has creatures living in it. Can you borrow the trailer again? I think we need to take it to the tip.”

It wouldn’t be the first time. But it turns out to be okay.

We’re still on the phone: Pete is in Byron for a work trip. Most people go there for holidays. Pete goes for work. I wish I had gone with him now. But I couldn’t leave the socks.

“I bought all this fabric today. On the way home. I stopped off. And I bought some handles too, some better handles for the large set of drawers. The big one? … I’ll show you …”

I have to talk really fast to fit it all in. All things I did today, my day doing nothing. I might sound like a maniac.

“You should see the fabric. It’s beautiful. I couldn’t decide between a couple of them so I just bought everything. I couldn’t decide.”

“Yes but you’re not going to do any more tomorrow are you? I mean, if you do …”

Yes I know.

My life on Mars. I still prefer the other one, the old life where the hours passed like leaves dropping from trees tired of the season.

But I hate saying that. It excludes a lot of things, a lot that I love. Family. A beautiful house. A place I don’t know yet.

I console myself: I shall put beautiful things into our beautiful house, things that we have found or bought for a song (coincidentally) and which we are making more beautiful.

“What is the French for Low Maintenance Garden?” I wonder and I ask our French friend. In my mind I’ve always wanted a house with a name, although time goes so quickly it is hard to keep track of always.

But the words don’t fit although it is better than haggis house.

“What about The Louvre?”

Creative impulses can be dashed so quickly, you have to be careful. We have no artwork. The walls are adorned with paint, the irony is lost.

Yet just now something has happened. Just now, sitting here with you.

We have art, art to lie down on or sit in. To put tops in and t-shirts.

Art to hang clothes from, undress or dress behind, reserve what you were wearing today because you might wear it one more time before washing.

It is all too likely we will have art to lean back on, padded and soft, covered in a beautiful fabric, to prop pillows against before or after sleep, admire from eyes in the back of our heads.

Although it is subjective.

A favourite television show is on so I have to hang up. I need the worldliness of a televised singing contest.

“I thought perhaps we could finish painting the wardrobe on the weekend? You know, together. You could be there to help me.”

“Yes, okay … but …”

“I know.”

Leaves dropping from trees.

It will be good to have a beautiful place for socks.

Image with the kind permission of beautiful website: Once Wed

Finding roses

I am grateful for the wealth of luck in our world. Some people say there is not enough but imagine if there were none. No one would get out of bed. It would be bad luck. Everything would be.

It is almost impossible to imagine such a world. Just the thought would be enough to drive you back to bed which is where I am.

It is a beautiful morning. Most people are probably up; the sun is up and you are probably up. Whereas I am still here.

I am still here because if I get up the garden will see me and I am supposed to be having a day off. It will be the same as last time.

It’s funny – in a way that doesn’t make me laugh – because it is supposed to be a low maintenance garden. That is what the real estate brochure said:

Low maintenance garden

But we were too smitten with it’s beauty. However I did notice there was no lawn.

“There’s no lawn … it must be very low maintenance. Oh look! It says so here …”

Yet our low maintenance garden is killing us. I am only here now because I have run away from it. If it was any more low maintenance we would not survive I think. But it is low, just above death threshold.

“I am not going to do any gardening today” I thought to myself last time “I am just going to lie here and rest, like I used to …”

But it was a beautiful day, one of those days that is all things to all people. A sunny day, that sums it up perfectly.

“I better take the washing out” I thought to myself. “The washing will love this beautiful day.”

And that is what I did. In my pyjamas because I would need them later for lying down, for when the washing was hung in rows parallel to the earth and goddesses were smiling at my housekeeping.

But unfortunately the washing line is in the garden and the garden decided to kidnap me. Just for an hour – an hour was kind.

I started to peg, it was only a start, when my eye was drawn to the fence behind the washing line, the fence at the back. Actually the fence is at the side but as I was side on it to it, it was at the back.

There was a rose bush I had missed. I trimmed twenty of them on the weekend. But there was one I missed and the garden was kindly pointing it out, drawing my eye to it. I swear I didn’t look – my eye was drawn.

There >>>

“Oh God … a rose bush …”

But the garden has no time for complainers and I was set to work straight away there in my pyjamas, there in our low maintenance garden. I hadn’t even had my tea. I never have my tea anymore.

This is the situation I am trying to describe to you. I am at a loss.

I feel like going into the real estate agent office and complaining. I don’t know what I would say though … What could I say?

“I haven’t had my tea yet!”?

Should I go in my pyjamas? To bring home the point?

What is the point? I don’t think I know anymore.

I am falling in love this stupid garden, the one that steals all my time. The love is creeping up on me in big doses. I believe I am loving it as a consequence of pain and being chained to it.

That is why I am staying here in bed. Because of the stupid garden. It may be the only way to stop the process of love even though it is course of action that has never worked for anyone. Not for any place, nor any thing. Nothing, no-one. It has never stopped anyone falling for Mr wrong or Miss Wrong. No-one, never. It’s never worked.

But I’m going to give it a try. Because I really resent it.

Here’s how it went with the roses:

After I trimmed them (all but one) I had to try to put them in the bin, these bladed spears. But It is almost impossible. Rose branches don’t like to conform – they are non-conformist.

I borrowed another bin so we had two bins of them, twins.

It was no good.

“Pete, when you come back, just be careful around the side there because the #***^{}#{*** roses won’t fit in the bin. They’re sticking out like knives. Please take care.”

“Oh really? Okay” he answered. It sounded like he was humming. He’s very low maintenance.

Our garden is also low maintenance – in a manner I don’t recognise; it hasn’t any lawn. That is where my recognition ends.

Yet there are things growing where lawn might have been. Lots of things: exotic things, native things. Where there is space there are paths that curve and spiral, wander and twist. You could get lost. You could lose your train of thought.

It’s so beautiful.

It is winter and we have flowers, winter flowers.

There is a little plant I am trying to save … but if I tell you about it I will lose my train of thought.

There is so much to love. All the little things.


Beautiful images courtesy of Australia.