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A bush idyll

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Tonight I found myself crying over a tea towel.
I like tea towels. They remind me of grandmothers, tea and mercurochrome. If I purchase any souvenirs on my travels, it will usually be a tea towel. My favourite is from the Lakes Entrance Shell Museum, one of the finest establishments in this state, and the only place I know of which combines an extensive model train set with a large stuffed head of Marlin (Lakes Entrance: evacuated, still a strong wind change from annihilation).
This one is a jingoistic little flannel, printed in sepia tones with a heading in ye olde writing, “Aussie Bush Recipes”. There’s a recipe for “Drover’s Damper” (nobody ever calls it that), Pumpkin Scones, and Anzac Biscuits, as well as a sketch of a “typical bush oven” which looks oddly like a saucepan full of hot coals. And in the top corner, it is printed with the town in which it was purchased: Cann River, Victoria.
I bought the tea towel at Easter this year. The kids and I had just emerged from a week deep in…

Screw you and your bootlegs too

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It’s time for a rant, kids. Strap yourselves in so the dash stops beeping. So today I walked into a little boutique because I saw a pair of amazing dusky pink corduroy cross-back overalls in the window and was dying to try a pair on. The largest size said “29”, which meant nothing to my untraveled eye, so I asked the shop assistant what size it was in my world. “12”, she said. “Do they make them any bigger?” I asked. “No, I don’t think so”, she said, “they don’t make things in larger sizes.” I refrained from gagging and asked if they had ANYTHING AT ALL in the shop larger than 29, and she said that they have some 30s, which is like a 12 and a half. So let me get this straight. They had so many sizes they did a 12 and a half. But there was no 16 or 18 to be seen. And apparently nor would there ever be. I should say, this wasn’t the first shop. It was the third this week. Naturally, I wanted to tell them all to GF themselves. I wanted to grab them by the collar, look them in the eye an…

r we ok?

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What surprises me every time I go through this is that I didn’t see it coming.
There were physical signs. Since Easter I’ve had a feeling in my ribs - a sinking in my sternum and dull pain in the centre that can’t be relieved, or stretched out. It feels like I’m walking around with a boot pressing on my chest. My joints have been hurting, my hips and back, my shoulders, my feet. I was waking up at night, and started catching every bug that came along.
There were other signs too: last week I sat down to write a list, and ten minutes later realised I had been sitting motionless at the table, trying to think clearly. I sat down to edit a perfectly good paper that I’d written for work, decided I hated it, tried to fix it, made it more confusing, and then undid all my edits. I’m struggling to dress because I hate everything I own. I wear a lot of black to work right now, not because it represents my mood but because it’s so much easier to only have to choose earrings.
Cleaning up is impossib…

Frogging Mohair

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I recently made up a knitting pattern. It’s a sequence that’s more tricky than it looks, but makes a loose diagonal rib, so the cherry red mohair blend sort of twists and snuggles as I lift it in my hand. I got the ball of yarn from the Yarn Barn, a misnomer (not a barn by any stretch of the imagination, compared to, say, Pet Barn) which happily indicates to me that the owners, who spin their own wools, were far more interested in the aesthetics than the cogency of the chosen title.
It’s the first time I’ve made up a pattern, even though I’ve been knitting since I was young and knitting things for myself from my twenties. My then boyfriend would joke that I was actually a fifty year old in disguise – I liked listening to 3LO, knitting on trams and tending to pot plants. These are still my simple comforts, although it was easier to find time for them when I lived in one room at about sixty bucks a week, the internet was 28bps and I had little to do but essays and a bit of office temping…

Someone’s daughter, someone’s son #2

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It’s Monday night and I’m travelling to Princes Park to cry for a girl I never knew.
Today I talked to a colleague. “It’s all pretty sad”, he says. Like it was a storm, or an avalanche, that killed her.
As I walked to Elizabeth Street, I could see the number 19 tram stops were overflowing. Instead, I took the train up to Jewell and am tramming back down. I know how, because this is my home, the north. My car is nearby at Mum’s house. She followed me and my sister here when Dad left her, when I was pregnant.
Tonight, Mum has picked up my ten year old from Taekwondo, so I can go. Tonight, I am glad she does Taekwondo. I am glad she can run fast. I am glad she doesn’t take any shit, even from me.
I am leaving behind my child so I can go to Princes Park to cry for someone else’s. On the tram, a couple are looking at their phones, wondering where to get off. I interject, with a small smile. “Third stop”, I say to them. “My friend just texted. It’s near the tennis club.”
A woman my mother’s age…

Someone’s daughter, someone’s son

They’re talking on the radio about a girl who was murdered. Yesterday her body was found in Princes Park, raped and killed. Police issued photos and identities were kept close as the city waited.
Today, a young man turned himself in, and was charged with murder. A small dam broke, as finally, her identity was revealed: a 22 year old, intelligent inner city woman living in North Carlton and beginning a life as a comedian. Tonight, stories are being told of a beautiful person. She had a warm heart, a shy reserve off stage and room-grabbing charisma under lights. This young woman was loved by many good people, people who will grieve for her, and set up funds (and contribute to them), and hold events in her name. Which is right.

I have two daughters. As I listen, tears come. I can hardly breathe.
*****
We don’t know anything about the man accused except what was said in court today, which is that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is “socially regressive”, whatever that means.
He was only th…