Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loads of Codswallop!!!!!

If only the beach was closer

If only men were more like women

If only I had a coffee and nicotine drip

If only guilt and pride could be assuaged

If only the nightly news made me smile

If only I’d listened to paternal real estate wisdom

If only Jesus had boobs

If only I could turn off my worry gene

If only the sun didn’t dazzle so happily off the pool

If only I had an income

If only I had someone to clean the house

If only I wasn’t obsessed with the past

If only I could hear the creaking of the bed springs

If only Julia Bishop’s glare didn’t remind me of my own

If only Tony Abbott dematerialized

If only I wasn’t so old

If only I could find the key to my imagination

If only the trees didn’t block my view of the mountain

If only the neighbours weren’t so surly

If only I could gag the rambunctious dog

If only my extrovert would come home with me

If only I didn’t have parents with Alzheimers

If only there was some red meat in the fridge

If only I had straighter legs, a smaller nose, whiter teeth …

If only I was someone else I’m confident I’d be a good writer!

Monday, August 9, 2010


One constant has dominated my life here in the northern rivers. Snake. Not surprising really since I was born in the Chinese year of the Snake. Clearly snakes feel quite comfortable inhabiting my private life … I’m a sibling!

There was the time I was sitting up in bed reading one hot night a few years ago and noticed in my peripheral vision something move to my left. A large python was making its way out of the slightly ajar door of the wardrobe less than a metre away. I tracked its slow pace for about an hour, into the toilet, obviously thirsty, then down the corridor into the loungeroom. I opened the glass double doors in an effort to encourage its exit and went back to bed. A few hours later I woke with an acute sensation, reached my hand through the mozzie net and switched on the bedside lamp. It was curled comfortably around the bedhead. All three metres of it. To say the shock was intense is an understatement, but there was also awe.

Shortly after that incident, Raf, my son, lifted himself up into the manhole, armed with a torch. ‘Mum, there’s dozens of snake skins up here’. Sure enough, we were inhabiting their home, not the reverse.

Then there was the python at around the same time who found my sock and undie shelf a comfortable place to hibernate for weeks. So enamoured was I with its choice of ‘home’ I moved most of my smalls to another shelf, lined newspaper around it and even provided a bowl of water. Bad behaviour a little while later demanded I take evasive action. I didn’t know at the time what exactly I was looking at. Tiny white eggs in a slimy clear liquid. My first thought was vomit. My second, aborted snake eggs. My third, poo. I still don’t know what it was, but it was messy.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed two pythons mating on the solar panels on my roof. It was a vigorous and sexy action, a dance of love. They could have been fighting, but methinks they were being amorous. Damned camera had a flat battery.

This morning I sat down at the sewing machine by the window to make amends and that sensation of something going on was around again. I looked up to see a snake vertically descending from the gutter toward the window sill, inches from my face. She’s beautiful. This is her in the photo.

There’s no-one more aware of the symbolic references attributed to the serpent than me. It portends transformation, a change of way, a shedding of the skin of the old for the skin of the new. Over the years I’ve felt equal measures of humility and frustration. A great honour is bestowed on me by its presence, a great responsibility to heed its message, a great uncertainty as to what it is I am meant to see or hear. Who am I to become?

Rainer Maria Rilke, the great 20th century German poet’s words act as a constant reminder … ‘you, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing'

Just whimsy

Sophie’s blue eyes are as big as the Pacific. She wears a perpetual smile and an asymmetrical hair-do. She moves like the proverbial road runner. I wish I’d had a drama teacher like her. Annie’s a doctor, has an enviable collection of aboriginal art on her loungeroom wall, an astonishingly handsome Indian husband, and a broken finger. She’s pissed off and doesn’t want to talk about it. You can tell from the dark wells in her eyes, wary body language and small voice that Uma is often sad yet when the melody begins something instantly changes in her. I feel protective of her. Alex is the one I look to when I’m in musical discombobulation land, and being the ukulele virgin I am, that’s often. She’s an amazing muso, and when she plays the dimples in her cheeks are an exaggerated animation in action. Katey serves freckles, bullets, licorice allsorts and wine gums in huge bowls when we practise at her place, and is generous with her Coopers stash. She’s a town planner in local government and talks endlessly about the big bloke with abominable body odour, bad teeth and attention deficit disorder who’s her assistant. Lee’s an occupational therapist. That’s all I know about her. I think she must be a scorpio. She rarely looks at me and when she does it’s with that glare! Takes one to know one! Mel’s a tour guide, and what she doesn’t know about crocodiles is nobody’s business. Did you know crocodiles grow new teeth every two years? I want to be a crocodile! Grace is a systems analyst with a sharp tongue, a bogan swagger and a penchant for expletives. Whilst fuck’s a relatively common word in my vocabulary, around her I feel like a nun. Luke’s a blow-in from Liverpool, an artist with a gentle personality and a torso riddled with piercings and dozens of colourful tattoos of karma sutra positions he humbly claims are his norm. Our honorary girl. They’re all in their 20s, young, vibrant, on the mark. And there’s me. Weighing in at 55 years I’m old enough to be grandma but try not to act it. I’m welcomed like one of the flock. We’re the DUKES (Darwin Ukulele Kollective) and we’re closing the Darwin Festival at the Lighthouse … ACDC, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Village People, Dolly Parton, Beach Boys, Patsy Cline. Ah, the whimsy!

Names have been changed, and characters partly fictionalised … but thanks for the good times Darwin.