As of today there is a gasbags-shaped hole in my Universe.*

March 7th, 2015

I am now in my mid 50’s and so are most of the friends that I made when I was little.
Today my kind and thoughtful stepmother gently let me know that my very best friend from when we were both aged 4 has died.
By way of explanation; my mate Moi was intensely private, complex and reclusive.
For some years now we had lost touch as she was battling a very aggressive cancer with what I can only believe were the wrong weapons. These being- Jesus, wholefoods and positive thinking. Turns out that there really can be no Atheists in a foxhole. My beliefs and presence did not support her wishes and I respectfully and regrettably left the Base Commander to fight her war.

Moi and I became close friends as our thoughtful kindergarten teacher- Hannelore Imberger knew that Moi’s house could get a bit rough and I did not have a mother. She felt we needed extra special care during the school holidays so she organised for us to go to her and her husband’s farm, next to the creek on Piggy lane in The Basin.

Moi, ever brave and protective, made sure I was not stepped on by Sampson the massive horse that lived on the farm.
I felt safe.
As a child I had Enuresis (bed wetting). I remember it was worse when I was not at home and I developed enormous shame and embarrassment around it. At the farm in Piggy Lane, I wet my bed a lot. Moi would quietly help me wash the sheets and put on fresh ones.
I felt accepted.

We went to the same school for a long time and remained friends. Throughout that time we tried to protect one another as we navigated the hell that is high school, teenage peer pressure and in/out groups. I was shunned/bullied as I was a hippy, nerd, geek, dag, kraut. Moi was shunned/bullied as she was a lesbian, nerd, geek, dag, kraut and as we found out many years later- bi-polar.
I know it was harder for her.

Moi responded to her struggle with life, the universe and everything like many teenagers do and abused pretty much everything she could get her hands on.
She took too many risks.
She took too many drugs.
She grew exceedingly angry. That included rage towards me and my desire to remain her friend.
We lost contact.

I changed schools for year 11 & 12. I started and finished a Floristy apprenticeship. She started and finished a Wool Classing and Sheep Shearing course.
Years went past with little contact.
The sheep of King Island had great hair cuts and the people of Darwin received beautiful bouquets.
I had become a mother to the beauteous and smart girlchild.
Moi had her heart broken over and over again.
We knew of each others’ existence through family and longed to reconnect with one another. Ours was an unconditional friendship, but neither of us remembered how to step onto that overgrown and ancient path. Was it even capable of holding our combined sorrows, hurts, scars and baggage?

Moi was one of 4 children. Two of her brothers were killed instantly in two separate motor vehicle accidents. One in 1979 (aged 22) and the other in 1985 (aged 27). In 1985 I was still living in Darwin and Moi was still in Melbourne.

After her brother Gerald was killed she went off the grid. I knew there was no point in reporting her as a missing person. I knew she was lost and she did not want to be found.
Weeks later she turned up in Darwin, at my door-  thin, tired and wet. She did not think it was at all remarkable or impressive that she had hitchhiked her way from the bottom to the top of Australia with little more than a pouch of Dr. Pat (tobacco), rolling papers and matches.
She stayed with me and the girlchild for some time. She walked on beaches and in bushland. She ate Mangoes and Laksa. She lay under the tropical sun. The warmth appeared to soothe her deep, deep wounds. We both knew that the scars would fade; yet remain visible. That said; her suppuration eased.
Moi left Darwin as she came. Without notice and on her terms.
I missed her all over again.


We kept in touch, but many more years went by where our lives did what lives do. She flew to Europe with her bicycle and rode it through the Pyrenees. I became a single mother.
Around age 14 the girlchild wanted to live with her father, in Queensland, for a year. This was explored and discussed and off she went. Just days prior to her flight, my mate Moi arrived in Darwin. Turns out that Moi had come to keep me company as she knew I “would be a puddle” as I adjusted to the ‘girlchild-shaped hole’ in my Universe.
She was right. I appreciated her being there.

When we were young and used to go out to the Upper Gully pub to see The Angels play and some idiot would hassle us as he invariably thought we were a lesbian couple and wanted to get himself immersed in us and his lesbian fantasy- Moi would, in her dramatic Contralto tone let loose with “unless it’s 12 inches on the flop we’re not interested.”
No one ever came back from that one!  🙂

My mate Moi was unique, thoughtful, wounded, blunt, funny, accepting and authentic.

We nicknamed her ‘gasbags’ as her name was Moira Gassmann-de Pol. Vale Moi. 25/12/1960 – 26/02/2015.
I loved her and I miss her.

*With thanks to Arundhati Roy

Dual-harmonic oscillators, or my self-determining bits.

April 26th, 2010

Today is Boobquake 2010.

“On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own.  Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town.  I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts.  Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty.  With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.  If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble.  And if we really get through to him, maybe it’ll be one involving plate tectonics.”

I have been observing how various separatists, fundamentalists and bullies have been treating the fabulous Jen McCreight at Blag Hag and I have to say it is disappointing.  Nothing much seems to have changed in 30 years.  The perfect still try to trample the good.

Way back when I was a young feminist in the 1970s, I naïvely thought that oppressors were the ‘other’ gender. I have long since come to understand that oppression comes from any form of authoritarianism. It is blind to gender and more importantly, deaf to self-determination- and humour.

To this end I am dividing my breast best assets between two equally ridiculous oppressors.

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi

and Sheila Jeffreys

One tells me I must cover my breasts to stop earthquakes and the other tells me I must cover my breasts to stop my own exploitation.

Neither of these authoritarian figures allow any self-determination for my thoughts, actions, or body bits and therefore I will begin by liberating my breasts.  I will no longer demand unquestioning acquiescence from them and they can amuse and direct themselves as they please.

To that end Breast left (BL) and Breast Right (BR) and by extension Nipple West (NW) and Nipple East (NE) have advised me through their agent that free fondling times are between 1200-1500.  Appointments taken.

The nuts, the bolts and the tenderness.

January 1st, 2010

Yesterday I spent 5 hours in a sexual and reproductive health care facility, supporting a dear friend who found she was pregnant and did not wish to continue with the pregnancy.

I, and she (we’ll call her Astrid) are lucky enough to live in a country where the right to reproductive health is honoured, supported and subsidised by our National healthcare scheme- Medicare.

The service started quite simply with a phone call to a 24 hours a day number for information, support and advice.  At that point an appointment can be and was negotiated within 3 days.

A support person is encouraged and that became my role.  Then the process begins.

I collected Astrid and drove her to the facility.  She was asked to fast from midnight and felt uneasy about driving to my place.  The clinic sits nondescriptly, but not hidden, in an ordinary suburb near public transport.  Access is via a buzzer which opens the front door.  Inside it looked like any other medical facility with couches, a TV, magazines and lush, cheerful indoor plants. There were no security guards and no protesters.

The receptionist asked Astrid’s first name and appointment time and requested confirmation of her via photo ID.  Once confirmed, Astrid was asked to take a seat and fill out forms which included a brief medical  history, a consent form and arrangements for co-payment.

Once completed this was given back to the receptionist and Astrid and I waited.  From a secured door a nurse appeared and called Astrid into the surgical part of the facility.  The nurse gently questioned Astrid as to why she wanted a termination of pregnancy and spoke of all options available.  These being birth and keeping the child, birth and giving the child up for adoption and a termination of pregnancy.  Astrid restated her decision.

The nurse then went on to perform an ultrasound examination of Astrid’s uterus, with the monitor only being visible to the nurse.  Confirmation of pregnancy and foetus age was established.

Astrid and I went back into the waiting area where she paid her share of the procedure.  We chatted and waited.

Astrid was called by the doctor and I remained in the reception area. I watched people come and go for almost 3 hours as I waited.

I observed that the men who supported the women were uncomfortable, unable or unwilling to sit and wait. They appeared lost without the purpose of sitting in support as they and the women waited for the surgery.  I guess men are more comfortable with the tangible and preferred to come back later when their partner/sister/friend was ready to be released into their care.

There were at least ten women that came and went including Astrid.  Most came with who I assumed were their partners.  One young woman came with her mother and the tenderness between them was touching.  The most surprising people that I observed were a young couple.  Also in attendance was her mother and his mother.  This young woman had agreed to, or demanded, a matriarch supporting on each flank. Her partner sat opposite, looking completely overwhelmed and out of his depth.  His mother looked terrified and appeared to have never envisaged that on the cusp of 2010 she would be supporting her son’s decision to support his partner’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. I wondered if she ever discussed contraception with her son.

I suspect she hoped she could outsource herself to a doppelgänger, hologram or avatar.

Alas, that is not how unwanted pregnancies operate.  It can be an unintended consequence for women who are heterosexual, sexually active and fertile.  Contraception options remain adequate at best and catastrophically defective at worst.

Abortion involves many more people than the pregnant woman. Yesterday I supported one such woman and witnessed many others do the same.

Astrid remains asleep in my spare room.  She can remain there until she asks to be driven home.  She will be well again in a day or so and with love, care, compassion, ibuprofen, coffee, cookies, respect and support she will be her usual self again.

Why would anyone begrudge her the right to choose?

Abortion happens; make it safe.

Image from here


November 25th, 2007

I have been impatiently waiting since 11 March, 1996 for a day like yesterday.

HoWARd has been disappeared

…as have others.

a home made pink gaffer tape banner in the Blue Mountains

Piercing silence over at Karen’s place.

November 22nd, 2007

I drive past Karen Chijoff’s electoral office in St Mary’s most mornings and most evenings. This morning at 0905 there was no sign of anyone. Granted it is always too early for the tattoo and piercing shop next door to Karen, but usually, and certainly in the run up to the election, Karen has her posters out and the place is buzzing with activity. This photo shows her office at 1830. It had not opened all day.


Who would have thought that such an unassuming little shopfront on Queen Street in St Mary’s could deliver such a monumental gift to the Australian Labor party candidate of Lindsay- David Bradbury and perhaps a decisive win for Labor federally.

A little over a week ago John and Janette HoWARd spent two days in the seat of Lindsay as part of the coalition plan to win the election one marginal seat at a time.

“Labor was making a mistake to assume it would win Lindsay, which has a margin of 2.9 per cent. They’ve tended to say, well, this one will go into our list, simply because the very popular sitting member is retiring. The Labor Party is taking Lindsay for granted. I want to say they’re mistaken in doing that.” – John HoWARd

Our PM was uncharacteristically tetchy and ill-disciplined today with this response to questions from Michelle Grattan, regarding the unfolding evidence that the culprits behind the fake flyers of Lindsay, were the husbands of the retiring and aspiring Liberal party candidate of Lindsay.

“What more can I do? I’ve condemned it, I’ve dissociated myself from it, I think it is stupid, it’s offensive, it’s wrong, it’s untrue, I mean for heaven’s sake get a sense of proportion.”- John HoWARd

He’s right you know.

We should vote HoWARd out because he took us into- and yet keeps us in- an illegal war in Iraq.

Then, in the spirit of proportionality, we’ll next see him in The Hague.