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.

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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

Opprobrious Growth

November 10th, 2007

I keep wondering why the coalition’s Go for Growth campaign hardly ever has HoWARd and Costello doing a duet.

On Thursday- 08/11/07, I got a glimpse as to one explanation of this lack of ‘Go for Growth’ as a plural. The Coalition’s treasurer- Peter Costello was interviewed by Fran Kelly on her ABC Radio National Breakfast show. From the moment she introduced him as potentially Australia’s future Prime Minister, Costello was at his worst (or best, if like me you want him to help himself be totally unelectable). We all know he is tetchy and surly, but with Fran, his insufferable, misogyny and nastiness really surfaced. He wasn’t going to have any of her probing questions regarding a hubristic comment he made in an interview with fellow ABC Radio journalist Jon Faine.

“Fran, Fran don’t you worry about questions he (Jon Faine) asked me, they’re all on the transcript. You ask me your questions. ” – Source

The Liberal party knows that Costello is not a hit with the chicks and has deliberately reduced his visibility and is not mentioning the succession.

Women cannot bring themselves to vote for a government where Costello may eventually be in charge. It is evident that Peter Costello palpably dislikes strong, smart and powerful women. He is the unpleasant growth that we are supposed to Go for. However, we have booked an appointment to remove the bunion, wart and itchy verruca.

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Image from here

Compost

November 5th, 2007

Today we learn that both flavours of Environment Ministers/spokespeople- light and lighter, also known as Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull talk to Australian media in an impromptu, off-the-record way.

Garrett is on record as having said- albeit in a jocular fashion:

“Once we get in we’ll just change it all.”- Source

Turnbull is alleged to have said, (but is denying the comment) :

“I just want you to know I hate this so-and-so mill, I hate it.”- Source

It is interesting to note the differing ways that the two Environment hopefuls handled this lapse in judgment. One said sorry and the other denied ever having said anything.

However, the bigger issue is the nasty mileage that the coalition has tried to make of Garrett’s ‘gaffe.’

Peter Costello, in particular, seized on the remarks, claiming Labor would abandon its pledge to match Coalition promises.

“These are the words that are going to haunt this campaign from now on. The Kevin Rudd me-too policy is a pretense. They don’t really believe in this tax plan, they don’t really believe in the pension announcement.”- Source

All that said, the most interesting development is how I, and many previous Labor voters, find ourselves smiling as we hope that Garrett’s gaffe is true. Far from the fear which Costello et al. are trying to instill in the voting public, people such as me are pleased. YAY I say- finally a Labor position I can recognise. It is certainly going to make voting Green and preferencing Labor a much more palatable option in this campaign of me-tooism.

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Image from here

Not walking by

June 19th, 2007

My day to day work is interspersed with assisting victims of intimate violence to rebuild their lives.

By and large these (mainly) women rely on the generosity of neighbours and other more loosely connected supports to assist them to stay safe, until friends, family or the police arrive.

Recent events in Melbourne, where what seems to be the death of a caring man, who came to the aid of a woman, who was being assaulted, will only serve to alienate those who are vulnerable to domestic and family violence further. I say this because I predict that as a society we will pull back from helping strangers in need, even more than we did before this man’s unfathomable and confusing death. If you don’t feel safe to help, you can always call the Police. Use 000- it is an emrgency.

Ironically, my day to day work could also see me offering support to the partner and the three children who will be burying their brave partner and father, respectively. My work may also require me to work with perpetrators. It’s challenging , but they also have the opportunity to change, repair and redeem.

I will continue to work very hard to reduce violence in our community- and will not walk by.

I know I am not the only one and I hope it never costs me my life.

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Image from here

Thank you; drive through.

February 28th, 2007

Last year I bought a house in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

When I catch up with people and tell them where I now live they say “Oh, so you’ve made a treechange.” I never used to say much, but lately, having been to a handful of community events and sampled my local shopping areas I flatly say “No it’s not a treechange.”

See, I have come to understand that ‘seachange’ and ‘treechange’ have within them the notion of deconstruction. The simplification of a hectic, out-of-control urban experience and the longing for the simple life. Frankly, my motivation is a lot less Jacques Derrida than that. I was, and am, motivated by the beauty of the landscape and in particular the beauty of my home.

At first I thought that I was all citified and I had to learn to slow down, but then I remembered that I am the same person I was when I lived in Darwin for 15 years. It really doesn’t get much slower and laid back than the top end of Australia.

I have come to the realisation that I am blunt and impatient in either hot or cold climates.

The final example of who I am and what I need, came last week when I attended a community forum organised by the local progress association where candidates for the upcoming state election spoke to we concerned voters residents.

We gathered, sat down and listened. Each candidate was given 15 minutes to talk, with extra time allocated for questions afterwards if needed. The independent candidate- Robert Stock, got bogged down in the minutiae of micro policies and seemed to lose himself, let alone his audience. Robert Stock was followed by the Liberal candidate Michael Paag who was big on macro, expensive rhetoric, but completely fell down when asked specific questions relating to his sweeping statements, such as “Which sectors of the state public service will the 20,000 ‘back-room bureaucrat’ jobs be cut from?”

Michael Paag was followed by the ALP candidate Phil Koperberg. Thankfully, and cheekily he said words to the effect

Having heard the Liberal candidate speak I am so impressed by what he and his government will do on March 25, 2007, that I am going to change my vote to Liberal, but I am a realist and l live in a real world…

By the time Phil Koperberg was done and the Greens candidate Pippa MacInnes stood up, I was barely able to pay attention.

To be fair, the throng and thrust that is my natural style as I push for clarity and logic in the answers to questions clearly irritated most of the polite members of my ‘new’ neighbourhood. I was reminded of a ‘girlchild saying’ where she would whisper in my ear “You can stop helping me now Mama.”

I am thankfully, SO not suited to joining my very sweet, polite, civil, but misguided local community. I am so pleased that this venture into community development is out of the way and I can now get back to the real world of broadband and blogging.

So, out of self preservation- theirs and mine, I will happily limit forays into my community to weddings and funerals.

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L-R Robert Stock (IND), Michael Paag (LIB), Phil Koperberg (ALP), Pippa MacInnes (GRN). Many thanks to Matt for generously sharing this image.