Sunday, January 16, 2011
I have danced a total of two hundred minutes this entire tragedy. I have listene to stupid music I always hated - bopping mindless crap and I have danced. I have swung my hips, I have smiled. My husband and I have gotten even closer, if that were possible. We danced every night we got home. We went out to eat and he ordered cake, which I would normally chide him for, but this time I told the waitress, "Bring him anything he wants! Boy has earned it!" He got icecream too.
There's more jokes than tears here. More smiles than frowns. There is a lot of looks of disbelief; first at the horror then at the kindness. The faces change so drastically in those few minutes of awareness. You watch their expressions change and you know, you know right then that they won't forget this sight - they will take this with them and they will be humbled. They look down for they cannot take the whole picture in any longer. Daring to cast their eyes slightly higher in search of the first tool they can find, they grab and they work - they work until their hands fucking bleed - because the sight of their cracked broken hands is more pleasurable than the sight of the town should they look up from their task. Nobody looks up for more than a couple seconds - it's too much. It's a lot of information and most of us just simply can't process it.
Today is day #5 for me, day #7 for the victims. I feel like an ass writing about my feelings because I am not hurt - I am not destroyed. I lost no friends, I lost no family, I lost no home - I am one of the happy lucky people. My feelings are not tragic. My feelings are not important. I can barely take photos of the places I come near because doing so just feels like show boating mockery. This is someone's home, you don't show the world how it's destroyed.
But I do - people need to see - see what it is they need to fix. So much work - can you see? So much. Please, come help. Bring shovels, pitchforks, hoses, strength, heart and love. There is nothing you can't bring. C'mon Aussies, Australia needs you.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
They came in droves to help the state
They came with bread and milk to wait
Until the water receeded back
So their hands with work they could crack
From mud and silt and rising tide
Queenslanders came from far and wide
They toiled and slaved and wiped their brow
Leaned on a broom and wondered how
All this could happen to the people around
Oh well, they said, we'll rebuild this town!
One man grabbed everything he had
And gave it away, not even sad
At the loss, the pain or even the houses
Nobody complained, they just hugged their spouses
So glad you're alive, they said out loud
It was what wasn't said that made us proud
With many hands they did the work
This was a job they would not shirk
For they were tall and they were strong
And they were Australian, all along
Among the backs of women and men
Came the relief in groups of a hundred and ten
Nobody cried for they knew not how
They just toiled and soiled and worked the plough
Deep in the mud as far as they could go
Wasn't a question, wasn't for show
They rebuilt this town from the bottom to the top
Until it was done, they did not stop
For when we hurt and when we're blue
We know we're Aussie, through and through.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I might make this private, I don't know yet.
My thoughts are muddled, I don't know what to think. Driving around the morning searching for yet another missing persons house hoping to see the roof and being unable. The only vantage point I could get was blocked off to me by police, who wouldn't even let me near the area to see. I came back to my husband, who I had dropped off to help the neighbourhood of Goodna as I did my search.
Together we cleaned. And cleaned. You are not prepared to see the inside - you're never prepared. The outside is bad enough - everything is brown up to a certain height, and then it's normal. It's like a moment of Kansas with Oz just floating above it. As I started washing things I started realizing they weren't dead. Trees were vibrant and green once given a little rinse; grass was long and bright once washed.
The inside, however, is shocking. Fallen ceilings look nothing like you think they will. Ceiling insulation swells and gets heavy and drops onto the ground in thick heavy sheets. Sheets that break apart easily but are so heavy individually. The insulation is completely indiscernable from mud. The entire house looks like it's covered in six inches of mud while it's just thick wet soggy ceiling materials.
Some things are just absolutely surreal. Bathrooms with part of the door on the toilet and the rest in the ceiling. Somehow, stainless steel tells the truth and while a steel teapot may be filled with mud, it's shininess stands out like a beacon in all the filth.
The things that survive surprise you. Large heavy objects completely distroyed while entire cabinents full of expensive bone china survive - every last piece. I gave two different women from two different home their entire tea sets.
The things on roofs surprise you - a fridge, a bench, an entire table still set for dinner somehow managed to make it onto a roof - cutlery, candlesticks and everything. 3 out of the 4 chairs managed to join it as well. You go up to all the neighbours and ask them politely, "Do you know who's couch is on #16's roof?" Nobody does.
The jokes make things easier. A man picked up a filthy telephone from the wreckage and says to me, "Hold the phone!" At some point I am raking rubbish out of the house and he says to me, "Give me more shit!" I reply, "Honey, I'm a woman, I can give you shit!" and he replies once more, "Well this'll be the only time a man takes your shit!" My husband shouts from another room, "I agree!" and I reply to him, "When did I say you could have an opinion!?" It continues like this for nearly the entire day. Jokes about installing full-size windows and waterfront property abound.
I have renewed faith in humanity. Neighbours help neighbours. Strangers feed and bandage strangers. A woman cried as she told me how she went to a shop to buy shoes and the shop said she could have anything she wanted, anything at all. She only took the shoes she came in for and even then, she could barely take them. Nobody denies help - nobody. They think about it for a second sometimes and you can tell it's out of natural reaction but they pause... they know their natural reaction in this situation won't help them at all - socially polite nuances of denying help are gone. Yes, help. Please, start here. Or here.
The thing is, each tiny little thing you do is an experience all in it's own - it's not all an experience. So when people ask you how you went, you really don't know how to answer. This part was excellent. This part was okay. This part was horrible. This part I pretended I didn't see. This part I can never forget I saw. All together? I don't know... it just was. It just was what it was.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
When my husband and I spend time together, we like to do it in Mount Tamborine - the resort mountain area we went to when we rekindled our love at the ever-popular Escarpment Resort. On a popular Sunday when the spring festival was on, we saw an old bushman singing bush songs by a campfire. He sung a song that would stick into my newly Australian brain and never leave - Tenterfield Saddler.
Tenterfield Saddler is an old bush song, once made famous in Boy from Oz. It's pretty much reflective of it's title but has a good beat and that soft wonderful bush music type of trance you fall into when you hear a deep voice sing it to a banjo or a fingered guitar.
The song has stuck with me this last year as being something I like to hum when I'm feeling particularly Australian. I even play my CD containing it from time to time. I know all the words. One day while driving to pick something up I notice a sign - Tenterfield is only 220km away! In Australian distances, this is not far at all.
Yesterday my husband says to me, "Are we going to Tenterfield today?" knowing full well I really want to go - just to see a saddler. A four hour drive (turns out, it is through some of the worst roads in the mountains you will ever encounter) just to complete an old bush song in my eyes instead of in my imagination.
Well of course we're gonna go to Tenterfield today!
So we packed up the car and we went.
Tenterfield itself is a small town, filled with incredibly friendly people. I was quite surprised at how quickly you can pull a story from a local. They are proud and happy and willing to lend a hand. First on the list was food and second was the Saddler.
There's a real saddler next to the old one - which is filled with handcrafted leather goods made from local cattlery. Real Tenterfield leather made by the new Tenterfield Saddler. Oddly enough the real and new one doesn't have chicken killing cones. But I digress.
Now I'm sure you're wondering what all these photos have to do with Tenterfield. You see, there's this tiny little offroad that points with a brown sign to a place called "Thunderbolt's Hideout." Brown signs in Australia are almost always tourist routes, and we were tourists that day. Not ready to finish my adventure, I decided to traverse the old windy soggy roads to discover what, exactly, Thunderbolt's Hideout was.
Now my husband had heard of Thunderbolt but being a foreigner, I had not. So I was really surprised and, well, so was he. His knowledge of Thunderbolt was entirely from a line of MACK trucks designed by Mack for Australia's Bicentennial. My husband's boss once owned as his last Bicentennial (out of the 16 there are, his boss has owned 5) the Thunderbolt truck. Each of these trucks is worth between 800,000 and 2 mil, the latter being, of course, the Ned Kelly truck.
So here is the beginning of it all. Little brown wooden signs which give the impression of simplicity and commonality only to be met with grandeur and amazement. The signs are almost a deterrant; why would you want to go somewhere so modestly signed?
The bushwalk (which I use lightly as the rains had more than made the place a gorgeous rainforest with hundreds of waterfalls) was incredible. Jumping over gushing rivers which we later discovered were infested with leeches, we ended up at one of the most beautiful rock formations in the world. With many places to hide, it's no wonder this is where Thunderbolt chose to keep himself in most of his time.
Monday, November 22, 2010
So. The farm has, count it, six sets of babies waiting to come to light. Basically, spring happened and everyone is now expecting. I've got a barely-laying hen on a Muscovy egg, a Muscovy on Blue Swedish duck eggs, a Swedish duck on Silver Swedish eggs, a leghorn (!) on 5 sets of rare breed eggs, a pregnant cat and we're picking up our new beautiful King Parrot on the 1st, when she's old enough.
Here's how animals work when it comes to all of the above, because as I wrote it I realized a lot of the information was stuff I had to learn - but that I haven't told anyone. So naturally now that I've learned it I assume everyone knows it. Here's the skinny:
Muscovies are EXCELLENT mothers and I. didn't. know. this. Pissed. Turned out Muscovies can clutch 14 eggs THEIR FIRST GO. This is 20 chickens. After that they can do 20 ducks! or like 30 chickens! What does my Lady Duck Muscovy have? 5. 5 Blue Swedish ducklings. And by the time I figured out what I had done - it was too late.
See, once a hen has a set of eggs, she has THAT set of eggs and unless you can time the hatching of ducks and chickens to the DAY, you're gonna screw yourself over. Because once things hatch, mama gives it a day and then gets off. So if you put new eggs under there too late - you just killed an entire clutch. (Clutch = one full set of laid eggs before the hen decided to sit on them usually 12 for chickens and 15 for ducks)
Leghorns are NOT known for getting clucky. Especially my Leghorn, which is an ex-battery hen. It was BRED to make eggs. For years and years and generations. It should not be clucky. Which is why I put eggs under her the SECOND day she was clucky. Sometimes new to cluck hens get un-clucky too soon because of their childish impatience.
Which brings me to Natalie. The reason we had to buy new nesting boxes. Bitch likes to swap eggs! Remember what I said above? I spent every day reorganizing eggs to very much the danger of the eggs. I tried to move all of them but she DOES NOT like it. The muscovy and leghorn have adapted to the new separated nesting boxes (it's a triple - three separate boxes in the same structure) but I've had to block her in with a cardboard box and a tyre. Which sucks because her singular duckling is due in 3 days. Meaning I have to make sure she STAYS there while simultaniously making sure once that baby hatches, she can get off quickly and start raising it without smushing it.
I've let the Silver Swede build her own nest in a corner near the house and lay an egg a day until she was done (which I believe was 9) and then I threw another what I suspect was Blue Swedish egg underneathe her. Muscovy was clucky but the blue has only laid that egg since. Could also be a Silver egg, but it was laid in a funny spot. Either way, they (10? 11? 9?) should all hatch at the same time and all, but one, 100% naturally!! From nest to lay to hatch, all natural. How cool is that?
The cat is just a whore.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I blame my childhood. Mostly because I was a child and, well, I can't blame my adulthood, it hasn't happened yet. When I was little, for some unknown reason, the entire family decided things would always be my fault. If I had not been somewhere for weeks, I would come back and people would say to me, "Oh, it rained while you were gone! Why did you do that!?" They thought it was funny. I'm sure it was at the time.
It gave me a fucking complex. For years. Many. Many years.
And by many, I mean 'until pretty fucking recently'. See, I still apologize for everything. Not NEARLY as much anymore and, well, these days I pretty much refuse to apologize even for things I did (depends, really). People blame me for something and instead of apologizing these days, I just fix it. I'm so damn fucking sick of saying I'm sorry to people.
And you know why?
Because I don't fucking have to.
I'm hyper. Very hyper. I jump and get excited and just when you think, "Hey I know, I'll get excited too." it... just makes me worse. When someone else starts jumping, I start jumping and it becomes a cycle. Four year olds love me. For many many many years I apologized for this. I tried to cover it up. I had to not be hyper. People really don't like hyper for the most part, did you know that? Also, hyper is almost always paired up with 'stupid'. I did everything I could to not be hyper. If someone said, "Gee, you're hyper!" I'd apologize. I'm so sorry I'm hyper. I'll try not to do it again.
Fuck it. I'm fucking hyper. I'm twenty fucking four and I'm STILL hyper. It's not going away. No amount of alcohol, drugs, medications, etc will make me not hyper. And, well... it's not a bad thing. And screw the people who think it is! So what if I'm hyper? You're not me. You don't live with me. My husband loves my hyper (although admittedly it's a bit much for him sometimes too - but the best thing about me is I love honesty. Tell me to fuck off... and I will!). I'm sick of apologizing for an aspect of me that never changed.
That will never change.
And this is not the only thing I have done this with. And many of my friends too. Apologizing or being embarassed for things that make you, well, you. I cannot honestly recall a single time where I saw a woman snort when she laughed and I thought, "Ugh, how nerdy"... every single time I thought to myself, "Aw, that's cute!" and yet, every single time someone has done it around me they were humiliated, embarassed and apologetic. You snort when you laugh. Some people don't like it. Some people, like me, do. So why apologize for an aspect of yourself that may or may not make someone happy? Take your fucking chances!!! If they don't want to be your friend because of your laugh do you really want to be their friend?!
So. I'm hyper. And I'm bubbly. I'm excitable. I'm exceedingly and probably annoyingly (especially to the chronically depressed) positive. I exaggerate sometimes without meaning to. I blurt out sexist jokes on occasion without meaning to. When men piss me off, I aim for the crotch - fist or words, it's gonna get one of 'em. I love animals to the point of absurdity. I can take a genuine interest in simple basic things like curtain design or spoons. I read really quickly. I walk really quickly. I eat really quickly. I sometimes forget my keys. I always forget my glasses. I would lose my face if it weren't for mirrors. When I'm really insanely happy and I smile super big, my tooth sticks out really far and I look like a horse. Sometimes I just don't remember to do things. Sometimes I try to do too much. I am so sure I can do anything that I sometimes fuck things up because I won't let a professional do it. I eat things I dropped on the floor. I like expensive things. I like cheap things.
And you know what... I'm okay with all of that. It's just me. And I'm not going to apologize for it any more.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
So I am back from my wedding, which wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I had some horrible people treat me in some horrible ways (see "I am not a Bridezilla" and then add another 20 crappy things, only from 'friends') right up until the wedding so I was nervous, stressed and basically on the verge of calling the whole thing off. ("Why get married if nobody will be there!?" I cried.)
It was worth it and I'd do it 100 times. The people that were there... well, they were the ones that mattered, now weren't they? Some of my closest friends came hell or high water, risking even death (!) to come to my wedding!
But now, now I know I have surrounded myself with quite possibly the world's best people. I have great taste, I think. Looking around at my wedding at all the people that were there for me just made me realize that it really isn't about quantity, but about quality and damned if my wedding was based on quality guests, I'd get a fucking medal.
At one point I was standing in the aisle and we all realized nobody had my music! My music! What were we going to do? All of a sudden one of my closest friends says to me, "Wait, I have a solution!" and whispers to me. I forgot. My friend.. is an opera singer. And only usually a drunk one. But there we go, stone cold sober and she sings for me. Sings loud and clear and beautifully for me to walk down the aisle. Screw iPods. Screw predone orchestrated music from a speaker system. I accidentally had a live opera singer sing me down the aisle. Beat that from your friends!
I am looking forward to writing out thank you cards. Wedding gifts rule. So thoughtful, really. I want to describe the things I got but I fear if I forget one, I will be just distraught with horror at the idea of offending someone who gave me a fantastic gift. Let it be known though that there wasn't a single damn gift I either didn't need, didn't want or couldn't use a million times over. And I'm hard to shop for!! Some people actually got me kitchen things I didn't have! Who can do that? My friends!
So now it's all over and my mother is gone, the coffee machine broke during the wedding so it's not on the counter, the dishes are all over the place, my candles are in a box in the garage... and sadly when we got home, one of our parrots had to be taken care of until she passed on, so her cage is missing as well. The house feels eerily empty and like we just moved into it - what with living out of laundry baskets and plates on the counter. I'm working on fixing it up - but we're still missing my adorable parrot sounds.
So it really IS like a new beginning for us, I suppose. We're putting away all our beautiful gifts (sheepskin rugs! two person woven picnic sets! digital photo frames! Tupperware! blankets! booze! GOOD BOOZE! Money! Shit I did what I said I wouldn't!) and even our own stuff so it does feel all brand new.
I feel different, the boy doesn't. I feel older and more mature. Possibly because I nearly killed myself with stress. I think I aged 6 years. I also lost some hair. Okay, I lost a lot of hair. But nobody noticed. Nobody even noticed my missing earring (except just before the wedding one whole person did). I stressed for nothing.
So now it's time for peppermint tea and naps. With kangaroos.