A frosty ground is good for walking…

I pulled the car over to listen to a song. Dougie MacLean was playing live on Radio National. He introduced the song and mentioned that he had been singing it for 20 years. The song is Caledonia on my Mind.

I had to stop and listen because I had heard him sing it at the Longford Folk Festival in Nth Tasmania some 20 years ago. I stumbled onto the festival during a 2 year teenage ramble around OZ. I had no idea who Dougie MacLean was then, but half way through this song, in a small wooden hall in Northern Tasmania, I was in tears. I was alone and young, a long way from home.

Hearing the song again I was both grateful to him and melancholy. It was a momentary bookend to my life until now. Family, friends, hopes, dreams… you know the story.

Strangley, only a few hours after, I got to hear an Interview with the singer Rodriguez on ABC radio 774. He spoke of touring with Midnight Oil in the early 80s. He remembered playing at Tanalorn Festival in Oct 1981, held Nth of Sydney.
On the bill were Split Enz, Men At Work, The Church, Sunnyboys, Mi-Sex, Moving Pictures, Goldrush, Billy Thorpe, Midnight Oil, etc and of course, Rodriguez.

I was one of a pimply crew of 19 year old friends who got there. We camped out amoung 28,000 hippies and stoners. I lost the keys to my Dads car in a pit toilet – as you do… We got to see a wilder slice of life than our St Marys existence. I suspect it helped spin me off into more untrodden terrotory … but that is another story. I remember that Rodriguez was either sick, or out of it, or very shy. He mumbled and had to sit, and referred to lyrics that he fished out of his back pocket. Having said that, hearing him was mesmerising. The Oils were next. I remember a young Pete Garret climbing the scoffolding to belt out an anthem – steam coming off his wild scone. (Geeez mate, what happenned?)

….and as a nod to the maxim that things come in threes. I got an email the other day asking me for a copy of tune that our band used to play. Again, this was maybe 18 years ago. The email quoted remembered lyrics.

Some of them are:

A frosty ground is good for walking
A bottle of wine is good for talking

And outside there’s a wind from the north
And in the heat, spray the kids with the hose
And at the railway, there’s a train with a stranger getting on
And she’s gone….

I wrote the song when I was travelling, alone. I now have a home and a warm, beautiful family. However, my spirit is still on a journey, a long way from home.

Just passing

Took B and small Z to Dame Elizabeth Murdoch’s shack.

md04.jpg

Ok, it is not really a shack. More like a Gothic Mansion set on oodles upon oodles of verdantary. Mossy stone walls hiding vege gardens and ponds. More ponds. Lakes. Each with an island crowned with some edifice or other. Mostly big BIG sculptures.

md01.jpg

The dog skin and coat supplement
place was open to the public in order to make some cash for a charity or something. Rebuilding forgotten gardens or something like that. I can't remember exactly what, only that it seemed to be a 'good thing'.

We were there because it was the place to be on mothers day. OK, i can get away with a wankering comment like "it was the place to be on mothers day" because at a glance I counted most of the population of Melbourne there. Poking this and peering in that. Picnicking, as we were. Strolling or lining up for coffee. Then lining up for the toilets. (Sadly, the sprinklers weren't on.) Even small Z got in on the act when she broke ranks with the proles and hung out on Dame Es back porch.

md02.jpg

One remarkable thing was having Bs very close pals pull up behind us. Other than general sheer wonder and bewilderment at the universe I don't believe in hocus pocus. However this coincidence was somewhat boggling... oh well.

md03.jpg

Swan ducka

Got away to Queenscliff for a few days. It was Bs birthday.

q-z05.jpg

Stayed in an awesome house. Peacefull, except for the old train out the back gate…

q-duck-01.jpg

It is near the beach and near the town. Z loved it. We all did. A big thanks to Bs boss. It is his house.

q-z01.jpg

Took small Z over to the beach. She and her mate small E plashed in the waves.

q-z04.jpg

How they did that is beyond me. It was very cold.

q-z06.jpg

q-z02.jpg

I like Queenscliff. A dog dietary supplements
lot. It has kept alive something of its grand past. It is isolated and crumbly but somehow it seems to still hum. Lots of green spaces and wide sleepy streets. The sea, a bay, a creek. Some foodie stores to fire up the pan for. I was cook for the weekend and so had an excuse to run across the park to the deli to get 'just the right' cheese or some 'more of the local white wine...'.

Spent the weekend strolling and lolling. Z bailed up the customers of a cafe garden, ate chalk and
fell down 4 stone steps all within 10 mins... she was in fine form.

q-z03.jpg

I got to poke around the new marina. What a mediocre, sad waste of space it is. All glass and chrome and faux
sandstone. $50 per night just to visit. We have sailed into Queenscliff a few times and have never paid a cent to tie up.
All our cash going into the pockets of the town cheese shop, bottle shop and bookshop. Where it belongs!
This gormless marina would have you believe there is no town.

Oh well, it will be ignored and we can at least still anchor over near Swan Island.
Near where Zs "swan duckas" are.

q-duck-02.jpg

How ya goin mate?

I am travelling to Nth America. Leaving in May. Going for 5 weeks. I am not excited about this…

What is wrong here?

Having never been there before shouldn’t I be laying awake at night considering the thrill of it all? Researching funky things ‘to do’? Poring over travel guides?

Wait a minute.. did I say I had never been there before? Um.. is that true? Do thousands of hours of American TV shows and movies count as having been there? Mc Donalds, Starbucks, The Simpsons…

I was in a band for ever and dog vitamin c
upon listening back to recordings I am horrified to hear myself bleating away in an American accent. sheesh.

OK OK. You get the picture. I am an ungrateful shit. I have a chance to travel and at the end of the day I am taking it. I know I will wriggle past this malaise. Well, of course I will. I always seem to enjoy the situations I find myself in. The very ones I bicker about. So I do know I need to find some enthusiasm.

There are 4 of us travelling together. Three generations. The Toddler, the Mum, the Dad (me) and the Nana. That in its self is a hoot. So, after very little soul searching, I have decided to just go with the flow. Enjoy each day as it unfolds. Get to know Bs Mum and what she is into.

I mean it's not like I can really hit Route 66 with a case of Tequila and re live scenes from my favourite Cohen Bros films on this trip. I am not going hang out at a soup kitchen run by the Catholic Worker movement. (I lived in 'community' in Melbourne based on this crew and would love to catch up with them.) Or drift down the Intra Coastal Waterway for hundreds of miles playing poker, drinking whiskey and inviting myself to dinner...

Maybe I can just keep it simple. Enjoy some laughs and moments with some Americans I meet on the street. Get to know Bs relatives, they seem like a lively lovely crew. Maybe I can entice our troupe along to a street party or two. It will be summer and everyone loves a street party. Maybe hang out at a local Baseball game. Cool. Go for a surf on Martha's Vineyard, if I can get past that Jaws was filmed there... Daa Dum. Hopefully I can avoid tourist-cattle-truck 'Events and Monuments'. I can always 'roll my ankle' if I am asked to go along to a play on the basis that a Hollywood 'star' is in it. Or if i'm going to be dragged into some 'upmarket NY' this or that I can pretend that I just got a call from The Lodge and My Country Needs Me... mate.

Hmmm. I suspect I will have a blast once i'm there. Should I take my own coffee machine?

So the wind won’t blow it all away…

Sometimes I think my adult life is spent chasing something I glimpsed when I was a kid.

Stumbling across Authors that could put my adolencent wonder and feelings into story only pushed me further along, what seems to be sometimes, a quixotic quest.

Herman Hesse wrote a book called ‘Knulp’ that I carried in my haversack for years. I wore a haversack for years because of that book… His novel ‘Narcissus and Goldman’ gave me a hairy eye for all things mediocre.

Obviously there are heaps of novels from my youth that cloud and clear the way I see the world. I have my collection of Orwell, Camus and others packed away in mothballed crates in a crowded shed on a farm, probably never to be read again…

book.jpg

However, Richard Brautigans mad whimsical tomes stay close to me even now. I need them near because they never fail to remind me to keep a light touch on things. To poke at the ridiculous in everything. They are useless and very right. Wonderful.

I bring all this up because it is the 25 anniversary of Richard Brautigans death. To co-incide, His Gothic western “The Hawkline Monster” has been re released and was talked about on the ABC book show.

One of his books, “The abortion: An historical romance”, finds him working in a fictional library where unpublished manuscripts and poems etc get stored and catalogued. Only it seems that now the library isn’t fictional… there a 2 such places in the world both inspired by this novel.

One of the first things B and I did together was read a Richard Brautigan book to each other. It was the “Confederate General from the Big Sur”. op op op

I once felt compelled to jump up on stage at a poetry night in Perth and read Braugtigan poems to the illustrious throng. He has that affect on me.

I don’t even need to read them anymore. I ony need to pat them. pat pat pat.

Hairy Hordes

We live about 50km from the dog vitamins supplements
city ...as the crow flys. Not many people have heard of the little town near us and i'm guessing that is just fine by the locals.

All the roads are dirt. Most houses are time-stamped 1950. Nearly everyone has a rusty car and old boat in the yard. There is a general store which has a diesel pump and a beer fridge. There is a pier a small sandy beach. You can tell I like it. That is also why I am not telling you the name of it :) Ya gotta keep the hairy hordes away!

Nobody except for a few locals ever use the BBQs. They are by the water and free. You gotta love that. We got some pals together the other day for some tasty BBQ action.

bbq02.jpg

It was a tad cold. We hung in there and ate through gritted and chattering teeth then warmed up with the obligatory kick of the footy.

Master chef to the stars, Jack, took over the gentle art of teesing taste into the Kangaroo Patties.

bbq011.jpg

Clue: A Labrador appears in any picture that is ever taken in this town.

Let them eat plate

We got ourselves to a dinner party. Yeeha!

dinner03.jpg
Mung, Racheal and cat vitamin supplements
their boys Luka and Otis threw it. Christine and her new squeeze, Zoe, B and me and our Zoe were the guests.

It was a hoot. Loud. Funny and tasty.

The huge self saucing chocolate dessert fell on the floor. We ate it off the floor then decided to scoop it into some plates. Ya gotta grab dinner party dessert when you can get it and bits of broken plate cannot stand in your way. It was all the more delicious for us having rescued it. Z had a crack at sleeping but we were seriously loud and so after an hour we got her up and that was fine by her.

dinner021.jpg

We took the whole day to get there. I was going to have a 'day for me'. A bushwalk and maybe a rockpool gaze with B and small Z but winter rains caved in on that idea. As B and Z slept I turned the car toward the CBD via a city beach, a few cafes and Brunswick st, Fitzroy.

We bailed late and as a bookend to the morning B and Z slept as I drove us into the wintery night back to our toasty trailer in the sticks.

Got any change?

With 20 minutes to kill whilst my wetsuit was being repaired I wonder along the main street of Dandenong. I feel good as it reminds me of my old stomping ground of Footscray. Not yet disinfected, chromed and polished. I get my fix of ‘$2 shop’ containers, clamps and plastic boxes. I shuffle back to the car with my trashy treasure only to find a stranger in a uniform lurking by my car and tapping things into an ominous looking box.

“Is this your car?”
“Hi. How’s it going?…” silence. “Wow, I didn’t even notice there were parking meters here”

The weird bit…

“Yep, it is only 20c. You got 2 bob on ya?”
*phew and dog vitamins for skin
disbelief* "Oh. yeah yeah." Digs out wallet "um (stutter) I don't have any change but i'll get some now as I gotta go and..."
"Yeah, righto then. You gotta put some money in ok?"
"ok"

At this stage I get all 'thankfull' and 'have a great day' like. You don't want me to repeat it - it wasn't pretty. The parking inspector then takes a question from an old lady and walks with her up the road.

I go back to the shop and pick up my wetsuit. I tell the guy of my magical and mysterious encounter. He says "was it a girl? A good looking girl? By herself?"
"um yeah. Is she a ghost?"

It turns out they had guys doing the job and they got bashed up, regularly. So they doubled up on the guys and they got bashed up, regularly. Now they simply don't worry about the revenue and have employed super friendly parking people. The parking meters are there to limit the time you spend parking, not as a grab for cash via fines...

Whoa! The rest of the day was good too.