The depository for ideas Site {FRIDAY EDITION}

For those that missed it this is a site for Ideas and stories. Am putting it up as a Friday thread so you can all see what it,s about.

(Plus I am running very late again).

 

Jaycee’s idea

Raffle and trivia night will be held next Friday.

TONIGHTS COMMENTS START AFTER ABOUT 33

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Got a idea for a post?

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acceptable will become posts at the first available opportunity.

783 thoughts on “The depository for ideas Site {FRIDAY EDITION}

  1. I have an animal story…It was told to me by my brother a number of years ago . He was the “Daniel-down-the-road”..and he witnessed (or was later told..and you may doubt this tale..but I’m telling you…) the whole sordid tale !..But wait…I don’t want to do a “spoiler”.

    It went like this..:

    Serena Kills the Rooster.

    I have had the pleasure of living in the country for many, many years. It is a tranquil life, a quiet life punctuated with the cries of strange birds and the rustle of gum leaves..of peace and serenty and long, long sunsets that fade so silently into night..ahh! Of course, that’s the better side there are those moments when you wish to be as far away from the bloody joint as possible..as soon as possible! But then, the good feelings outnumber the bad by about three to one, so it is still the place to be.

    In the last few decades, there has been a huge influx of people to those country areas, all intent on grabbing some of this good-life for themselves. A goodly proportion of these people were what one would call (and like to call themselves) “New Age People”…or, “Tree-Change people”, and so forth and so on….One such couple moved onto a few acres in the quaint location of “Lady Bay” down the coast a way from Adelaide. Their names were..”Jarrah”..and “Serena Sunset”. Both newly adopted names, being chosen by themselves to best describe the strengths (self perceived) of their individual characters. They were a young married couple of the type you would see setting up house in any country town with a few acres up their sleeve.

    There was the old timber-framed house on the property, built by the old “Cocky” who raised a nest-full of “cocklets” there….a couple of leaning implement sheds long since empty of any useful implements. There was also ,of course, the ‘Hills-Hoist’ firmly rooted into the Kikuyu back lawn with a series of circular stepping-stone pads leading from the back fly-wire door to it. Accompanying this tranquil scene was the eternal sea breeze that spun the “Hoist” full of the days washing like a fun-fair merry-go-round..oh yes! there was also the remnants of a chook run there that Jarrah set to with a purpose and soon resurrected and stocked with three hens and a rooster Their names being….(of course)Henny, Penny, Cynthia and the rooster….;Bodo!…(the name: Bodo, derived from a male friend with an over-zealous sex-drive!).

    Thus was the scene set for the regulation back-to-earth young couple w/chooks! They fed the chooks,.. the chooks layed eggs, and they(the humans) made little cakes and scones with the eggs and organic flour God /s was/were in his/her/their heaven/s, all was right with the world! Then Cynthia started to sit! Oh how wonderful !.. they would soon become parents! Serena brought new straw into the nest and arranged it carefully around the hen….every day! fresh water was placed within reach..sorry, :beak! and she (Serena) even fell to sometimes hand feeding the hen pellets of special organic food w/vitamins one at a time while stroking the top of the birds head and crooning a spiritual dirge said to soothe expectant mothers. Jarrah was moved to protest at this extremity, but was silenced with the accusation that;

    ” You men just don’t understand how we women feel!”

    So it wasn’t long before the household was blessed with little cute chicks that “Peep-peeped” to a doting human that “Ah!.look!..aren’t they just beautiful”-ed in return.

    Prior to the hatching, Serena had read in a Mother-earth-type- magazine, that if one placed the eggs with the sharp end pointing to the polar-cap, one could ensure that one obtained all hens! Serena diligently followed these instructions….of nine eggs hatched , seven were roosters!

    You must’ve put the sharp ends the wrong way”. Jarrah accused.

    “I did not! “Serena countered angrily, leafing through the magazine, then pointing at the article “See…it says to point the sharp end toward the polar-cap.” and she smirked.

    “Gimmealook” and Jarrah spread the magazine out on the kitchen table.”Aha!” he cried triumphantly “The article was written in America!”

    “So?!”

    “So..miss-smarty-pants, that means the polar-cap they are talking about is north while here it is south!”. And sure enough, there on the page was a pen-sketch of a “typical hen’s nest” with the pointy ends of the eggs lined up with an arrow with a distinctive “N” at the tip.

    A tear welled up in Serena’s eyes. she stood up from the table.

    “Oh Jarrah , how can you be such a bastard?” and she ran to the bedroom, slamming the door ,leaving a contrite Jarrah outside whining…

    “Aw,..look here Ser’…look…I’m sorry….I was just pointing out…aw c’mon, don’t cry, I’m sorry, really I am…!”

    Six months later..:

    Funds having run low Jarrah was forced to obtain employment up-bush in a Fly-in-fly-out mining operation.. The job required his presence for three weeks on, one week off. Serena appreciated the money, but still felt the loneliness. However , in the true “bush-woman” tradition, she bucked up and went about her jobs with ,if not strident enthusiasm, then at least a sense of duty. And speaking of duties..; those bloody roosters!

    Well, at least she had got rid of all except two of them, Bodo and Terence and today (for she had set her mind) she would get rid of one more! Today, she decided, she would kill Terence (the rooster) and tomorrow she would serve him up with roast pratties to her mother for dinner! voila! Doubting Thomas Mother would soon see how her daughter took to a country life!

    Serena had given the other roosters away, but now she had run out of friends and the roosters were fighting. Anyway, she had seen Daniel-down-the-road cut off a rooster’s head (though admittedly, she had shut her eyes at the crucial moment) and death seemed so swift that she was inspired to give it a go (or rather have the rooster give it a go!). She chose Terence because he was the least pretty and she had grown fond of “Bodo”. She chose also to forgo beheading him as being to cruel and gruesome.

    Having read somewhere that ; when drowning, “one’s whole life flashes before one”, she decided that she would thrust his head into a bucket of water and that as they say, would be that, consoling herself that Terence’s past life under her care was one of “beer and skittles”, having his life flash before him would be a continuance of the bliss he had come to expect under Serena’s care….death would be a joy!

    “I release you to go forth into your next life” Serena farewell’d Terence.

    She kissed the goggle-eyed bird goodbye and thrust it’s head into a bucket of water and held it down one minute…two minutes..she gazed at her watch on her wrist…”How long does it take to drown a rooster”..were her thoughts at the moment..three minutes….”Best be sure”.. four minutes (Terence bucked a little )”Nerves” she thought….FIVE MINUTES!..

    ”Done” she cried, and pulled Terence out by the neck His eyes goggled and he croaked..

    “Cwark!”

    “Oh, GOD!” Serena whined,”You should he dead!”

    “Crawk!” Terence agreed. Serena looked right then left, ..this won’t do, he should be dead!…obviously one can’t drown a chook so easily!…

    “Waddleye do? waddleye do?” she panicked as she stared at the limp-half-choked chook. “That’s it!” Serena remembered once seeing the same Daniel-down-the-road wring a chooks neck with one deft twist and pull of his hand! So grasping Terence’s head between middle fingers, and placing his now-kicking-body between her knees, she twisted and pulled on the scrawny neck….nothing…she pulled and twisted! …but not being as strong as Daniel-etc-etc, all she managed to do was scrag Terence’s neck and remove a handfull of feathers with her version of a “Chinese burn”.

    “Grork!” moaned Terence, though a little more weakly.

    “Oh God, Oh god!” moaned Serena…”I’m sorry Terence, I’m sorry!” and giving up on this approach, she glanced around desperately for something to finish the job….it had to be finished NOW! her eyes lit on the axe!

    “Of course, of course!” she cried, trembling now at the pain and despair she was sure Terence must be feeling….She rushed to the wood-pile dragging the croaking Terence behind(he wasn’t a small rooster). Placing his neck on the block, gripping the still struggling body with one hand crying tears of pity and panic onto the bird, she lifted the axe with a short-grip to finish the job…one swift chop and!

    “I didn’t know these axes were so heavy damn..cant get a good swing…stop struggling, dammit !…”She dropped the axe and thumped The rooster with her little fist, weeping profusely with pity all the while..

    “Bugger it Terence, stop kicking, can’t you see I’m trying to kill you as quick as I can…fuck it! oh damn this axe!”.

    She had picked up the axe again, but because of her short grip up near the neck of the axe, every time she lifted it the handle would kick-up and strike the point of her elbow and so make her drop the axe onto Terence’s neck with not enough force to do much damage other than draw a little bruised-blood and some protesting..“Gwark..gwark’s” from the poor bird. Serena started to weep.

    “Bugger it, bugger it,..Jarrah and his bloody, blunt axe, everything around …(sob) this bloody place…(sob!)…bloody doesn’t (sob) bloody wooorrrkkkkk!!(prolonged weeping)

    “Gwarrrk…gruurrk!”

    “Oh shuddup Terence, please, please shuddup…(sob, sob)”.

    Serena stared through weeping eyes at the terminally damaged rooster, and in a final weeping fit of desperation, grasped a house-brick lying nearby and with several sickening and despairing blows, bludgeoned the roosters head till it finally lay still and inert on the ground.

    Serena didn’t know how long she sat there tranced out, the beaten, bruised, half-drowned body of Terence spread at her feet, her gingham apron with the cute ric-rac around the edge now gruesome with blood and feathers. But she suddenly came-to and quickly , jumped up, and , finding a sack, covered the body as if it was a victim of foul (steady,steady) play! Then, rushing into the house, she promptly telephoned Jarrah up the bush and wept the whole sordid story out to him, pleading with him to come home immediately to bury the body! Jarrah, needless to say, couldn’t rush home, and the body didn’t need to be buried because ; Daniel- down-the-road’s retriever stole the corpse that very night and no more was seen of Terence the rooster.

    Serena got rid of the rest of the chooks, and now confines her farming activities to a patch of veggies in season. Oh, and they changed their names back to what they were christened as : Steve and Sharon Smith. The country life can do these things to one.

  2. jaycee

    Poor Terence. He tried to tell Serena that he didn’t want to die by surviving each attempt to kill him, but she didn’t understand.

  3. No pressure, Jaycee. Maybe you’d like to meet George the camel…..

    My brother got himself a young camel which he ‘stole’ from a mob of camels that roamed at the bottom of his property on the edge of the Simpson Desert. He called him George because the camel reminded him of a human character of that name.

    Anyway, George turned out to be more of a time waster than a useful animal in the scheme of things. He caused no end of trouble because he delighted in yarding the cattle and then standing in the gate opening to keep them yarded, so that my brother had to do daily checks around the property to ensure George wasn’t playing guard camel.

    There were a couple of times when George had to be rescued. The first rescue came about when George was found with his head stuck in the fork of a tree, the result of which left George with a permanent kink in his neck. The second rescue was also a bit traumatic as it involved transporting George home on the back of the truck. This time he’d got his front leg caught in the fork of a tree!

  4. Not your regular animal down the bottom of the garden..: the Camel !…I have to say I would not like to deal with one…especially George…tell me, Janice..where did he get his individual idiosyncrasies ?..or is that the “norm” for camels?

    Cute story by the way!

  5. Jaycee,

    Your post about instructing OH to use a whipper-snipper reminded me of the antics my dear old Mum used to get up to in respect to learning to use the new-fangled gadgets of the modern era.

    Like me, mother had a love of gardening and she went to extremes to surround the homestead with plants, including always a productive vegie garden. On Andado Station her gardens would be completely smothered by the red sand from the sand-dunes in summer, but come autumn, she began loading her wheelbarrow with the sand to uncover her garden beds and starting again from scratch so that she could enjoy a garden again until the summer winds began to blow in earnest in late December/January.

    The move to a property just 60miles north of the Alice was right up Mother’s alley because the only problem was overcoming the hard water that was only borderline in suitability for stock to drink. She used her trusty wheelbarrow to trundle loads and loads of sheep manure she got from underneath the shearing shed and this, she discovered, if dumped on top of her beds a foot deep, served as a filter, as well a mulch against the summer heat, to make the water palatable for plants. Here, she was able to grow lawns of couch which was hardy enough to survive anything provided it got enough water. Mowing such large expanses of lawn was a problem however, as she only had one of those little push mowers so, to ensure she got a bit of help from the menfolk, she left the mowing until after the evening meal so that it was impossible for the blokes not to notice her slogging and sweating over the push mower and therefore, guilt had them go out and do their bit.

    It didn’t take very long for my father to invest in a motor mower. He brought the monster home, gave a demonstration and then spent some hours teaching mother how to use it, not noticing that mother had gone into stupid mode as she always did when she thought it was to her advantage. After the arrival of the motor mower, when the blokes were at the homestead, they mowed the lawns. When the blokes were away mustering for weeks though, they would come home and find the lawns all mown and trimmed to perfection and were assured that mother had used the push-mower.

    Many years later I received some very good advice from mother…..”don’t make a rod for your back, girl” she told me, “it doesn’t hurt to play stupid and it saves having to nag a man to do his bit for the household”.

  6. Janice…I dips me lid to a very wise and “men-chanically informed” mother……respect…

  7. janice

    George seems to be accident-prone. Perhaps if he’d stayed with the herd he’d have learned a few practical lessons … Or maybe it’s just his nature…

  8. It dawned on me yesterday…I was “parked up” in the aisle with the shopping trolley ,while the OH. consulted the labels on which cooking oil had the best content of Omega 3.. and I was comparing the weight between packets of Betty Crocker’s ‘Triple Choc Muffin’ mix and her ‘Blueberry Delite’ muffin mix..(The Triple choc felt so much heavier to this old tradie)..and nearby, two comfortable looking old blokes with their heads together were discussing another bloke who had “just the right valve”..for some pump base for some device “at the club”…

    It became obvious they were both members of some hobby club..trains..old motors….pumps?..and they were discussing with crossed armed “enthusiasm “ this news. and it dawned on me that here were the “survivors” of our generation..Here were the plump looking remnants of those boomers who threw caution to the wind and care to the air and created havoc and revolution with every step and stagger…except..it wasn’t these particular two..or a multitude of other “hobby club” members..or Rotary, or Lions..or Probus or those other conservative service clubs…no ..it wasn’t THEY who “burned their livers and bras”…THEY were too busy cementing in their material securities to be on the front line fighting for the New Social Order..: Less “confrontation” , more “consolidation”..less “ striking for conditions”..more “ stroking for contrition”.

    Not for them the pike nor banner…no tears of frustration nor deep sympathy for the forsaken and weak..because, you see..that is how you become a survivor..: you conform..you yield..no risk unless it’s others risk..you don’t shout, you whimper…you don’t challenge. You join a “hobby club” and settle down to inane mumblings of complaint…THAT’S how you survive, until the most important thing in your life becomes that “tetchy little reed-valve” that the Bobs or Barrys or Bettys of the world have in their top drawer in their hobby cupboard.

    Now, I once sought to join a club..an old machine / engines club..I tried to join because the old Bedford was old enough to be classed “antique” and could therefore qualify for a reduced rego’ cost..I met the Secretary at their rooms and he showed me around..but the thing that struck me most interestingly was the fact that the members badges were kept on two separate boards..one for the women and another a little way away for the men…to avoid any scandal…and that level of pettiness about says it all.

    That’s how you become a “survivor”..that’s how you get the “last word “ on the subject, because all those “warriors” of the “new revolution “ are either burned out or already dead!

    I’ll leave it to Henry Lawson to finish off..
    The Men Who Come Behind
    There’s a class of men (and women) who are always on their guard—
    Cunning, treacherous, suspicious—feeling softly—grasping hard—
    Brainy, yet without the courage to forsake the beaten track—
    Cautiously they feel their way behind a bolder spirit’s back.
    If you save a bit of money, and you start a little store—
    Say, an oyster-shop, for instance, where there wasn’t one before—
    When the shop begins to pay you, and the rent is off your mind,
    You will see another started by a chap that comes behind.

    So it is, and so it might have been, my friend, with me and you—
    When a friend of both and neither interferes between the two;
    They will fight like fiends, forgetting in their passion mad and blind,
    That the row is mostly started by the folk who come behind.

    They will stick to you like sin will, while your money comes and goes,
    But they’ll leave you when you haven’t got a shilling in your clothes.
    You may get some help above you, but you’ll nearly always find
    That you cannot get assistance from the men who come behind.

    There are many, far too many, in the world of prose and rhyme,
    Always looking for another’s ‘footsteps on the sands of time.’
    Journalistic imitators are the meanest of mankind;
    And the grandest themes are hackneyed by the pens that come behind.

    If you strike a novel subject, write it up, and do not fail,
    They will rhyme and prose about it till your very own is stale,
    As they raved about the region that the wattle-boughs perfume
    Till the reader cursed the bushman and the stink of wattle-bloom.

    They will follow in your footsteps while you’re groping for the light ;
    But they’ll run to get before you when they see you’re going right;
    And they’ll trip you up and baulk you in their blind and greedy heat,
    Like a stupid pup that hasn’t learned to trail behind your feet.

    Take your loads of sin and sorrow on more energetic backs!
    Go and strike across the country where there are not any tracks!
    And—we fancy that the subject could be further treated here,
    But we’ll leave it to be hackneyed by the fellows in the rear.

  9. I think it’s great to have a hobby. One of my uncles had a miniature Swiss landscape in his attic. He crafted all the trains, every sign, the mountains, the lakes, the river, the trees – all delightfully made and painted by him. Through the landscape a variety of trains would criss-cross each other at a speed without ever colliding. It was a real treat for me and his children to start and stop the trains.

  10. Gigilene & Jaycee,

    Camels are not easy animals to handle (especially the bull camels), but George lived a privileged life in my brother’s care. Had he stayed with his wild mob in the desert he’d have had a hard time fighting a long line of males. In fact a lot of male camel calves are often killed by their sire or older males before they have the chance to grow up – female camels try to keep their males calves away from the herd until they are strong enough and wily enough to flee from the other males and then, if they survive to puberty they are then banished from the mob by the dominant male to protect his own kingship.

    George was accident prone because he enjoyed being mischievious and it was satisfying for him to lord it over the cattle and horses. Down on my brother’s property he was King George.

  11. As years went by and everyone got older, I often wondered what had happened to this wonderful entertainment park. My uncle has probably passed away now, my cousins have children of their own and may have removed that fun scene and installed it somewhere in their own attic. At least I hope so.

    I forgot …. there were also cows with bells on … and a couple of farms higher up on the slopes and further away in the valleys.

  12. Gigi’..no reflection upon YOUR uncle’s hobby in the attic, but I have known blokes who retreat to some quiet, dingy shed or corner to whittle, carve and fiddle away at some introverted obsession …some DO produce a delightful outcome…others just seem to fester away in that cocoon of isolation for years and years….until…

    Oh man..

  13. jaycee

    Not my uncle … He did most of his crafting around the dining table after dinner. It seemed to me now as I reminisce such a happy family.

  14. Yeah but, see.. you Frenchies have such “balanced” dinner table culture..ie; food, talk , vino..crafting..cheese..more vino..more talk…ahh!..such singing, such dancing…!

  15. I knew a bloke once , used to make things out of old beer cans…animals and stuff..you know…
    he became an alcoholic trying to maintain a “raw-material” supply for his hobby!

  16. Also knew a lady once who used to make beer-mats out of old stockings….sold them as a novelty to the local pub…they had to give it away as the blokes would spend more time sniffing the mats than drinking !

    It’s true , I tell you…true!

  17. Hey!…that reminds me of a story about this woman who joined a Puppet group and became renowned for the “humanism” of her puppets…I’ll tell you about her story some day…eerie!

  18. Good morning fellow dreamers!..where shall we go today in our meanderings through the windows of the mind?

    What about Rome?

    Too old?

    What about Art?

    Too esoteric?

    Awww!!

  19. Rome it is then!…I…have decided!

    Roman Holiday.

    The sun may have set on the British Empire, but Imperial Rome is very much alive and kicking!…even if only within the precincts of the “Commune di Roma..S.P.Q.R.” and while it is true ; Christians were never really torn apart by lions in the Coliseum, and the only cries you will hear in anger in that mighty edifice are from the wild banner-waving protesters whistling and sloganeering their noisy way down the Via di San Gregorio outside!

    If you want to see the Christians skun alive in these times you can view the grisly scene in any one of the “God” shops in the streets leading to St. Peter’s Cathedral. In such shops there is no end of gaudy “memorabilia” to embrace to the heaving bosom of religious fevour! There is even (so I was informed by my “born-again” brother) a 3D picture of ;

    “Winking Jesus”!!…

    “Rubbish!” I said “One could expect as much from a bitter ex-catholic”.

    “I’m telling you I saw it!…blasphemy utter blasphemy!” …

    I checked..he was right!..you know those gaudy 3D. pics where if you turn the frame this way then that…But then again, blasphemy and sanctimonious preaching do go fist in glove, and I recall a piece of graffiti minutely scrawled (as if ashamed of its truth) on a wall of the eastern gate to the Vatican – “God is an Atheist”, placed there, no doubt, by one of the many pilgrims to this mightiest of sculptures dedicated to one of the mightiest of worshiped deities.

    But then, one doesn’t go to look at Rome…Rome bows not her neck to the tourist yoke, Rome doesn’t paint its’ “face” up for the “season” nor are its folk encouraged to “behave” for the tourist dollars! You don’t go to gaze at Rome, rather, Rome gazes at you…and that with a very critical eye!…Well could the poet Shelly, have directed his famous line to her: “Gaze upon my works ye mighty and weep!”, for there is barely a square foot in that old city that doesn’t ooze or rather, weep, history….not a dry, musty history, like Egypt. nor an exotic “distant” history as in China…rather, the history of Roma, is an earthy, dirty, sweaty, passionate drama that embraces every vice and heroic gesture of mankind!

    A stroll down the Via del Corso,is a must, with its extraordinary denizens and superb buildings and crazy kids on their crazy scooters demonically driven over any available space (including your toes if you are not fast enough!). Those understated signs casually pointing to such gems as ; “Fontana di Trevi”, “Piazza di Spagna”, ”Pantheon” and not at all least : “Il Colosseo.” and the noise!, the noise! wonderful! wonderful!

    If the visit to Rome is the baptism then Naples must be the confirmation – the confirming of Italy as the continuing party of Europe! The government of Italy is missing a grand opportunity to make millions ,with the simple erection of a viewing platform up on the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy could charge foreign driving students for the education of seeing how an uncontrollable, seething mass of machines can disobey every known rule of the road, yet still transport their cargo (apparently unscathed) from one side of that Piazza to the other without the inevitable pile-up that would for sure occur in dear-old-Adelaide, with only a quarter of the traffic and half the driving skills! “See Naples and die” would indeed become a truism if one was placed behind the wheel in such traffic.

    But surely, one has not lived till one is served a wood-oven-fired pizza accompanied by a stubby of “Peroni” beer, and serenaded with calls and cries of fishmongers and sundry street vendors outside the trattoria window. If one was to cry-“Shuddup!” at the top of your voice, there would be, I’m sure, only the slightest pause (if any) in the general hubbub of activity. One could dress like a king and eat like the same in the city of Naples for a pittance…and indeed, if one believes everything he reads…also die most swiftly if he crosses the wrong people there! Even as I write this, I am wriggling my toes in a pair of exquisite Italian -leather shoes purchased in one of those boisterous markets…the price?..a mere $23.00!!

    My last thoughts of Southern Italy are of crisp, blue-sky’d days, lying under some olive trees on the tarpaulin that we used to pick said olives, unwrapping the fresh linen cloths off the plates of home-cured prosciutto, tasting the pale sheep-milk cheese, slicing off a healthy lump of that ciabata-type continental bread and pouring a glass of rich, home-made red wine from the glass-stopped bottle and remarking to my brother-in-law that ;

    “There are people in some countries that would pay for the pleasure of doing this, you know?”

    So, in closing, I must remark that if there is a God, and if there is a designed end to the world, and He/She does judge us harshly for our lack of spiritual determination….we can all proudly and collectively point to Italy and cry-

    “Look at this!…at least you can’t say we didn’t try!”

  20. jaycee

    I’ve never been to Napoli, so I have to make sure I don’t die before setting foot there and seeing all her wonderful sites.

    “Gaze upon [Abbott’s works] ye mighty and weep!”

    PS I envy your Italian shoes…. And your “wood-oven-fired pizza”.

  21. Andamooka.

    Two corellas bank in flight,
    Silhouettes against citrine light.
    Evening clouds ; ocean shoals,
    Swirls in whorls of comets tails.
    Trigg Creek trees soldier stand,
    Column static, chilling land,
    I turn my back on penumbra shine,
    Last light on hills of shingled stone.

    An ocean ; the world outside my door,
    The wind is waves along the shore.
    The diggings ; whitecaps on the hills,
    Whitecaps washing seaborne gulls.
    My dreams ; a heaving oceans roll
    As the swirls in the whorls of a comet’s tail.

  22. Proverb: A bitter heart will sour the sweetest soul.

    Parable:
    Milan’s first wife left him and her baby very early in their marriage. She became ill with a rather common debilitating mental illness and as the medical treatment in those days was hopelessly inadequate, she was left to carry on with her own devices. She couldn’t cope and simply left home, left the baby girl, left her husband and finally left the country and went back to Europe where she disappeared from Milan’s life.

    In due course Milan met another woman who helped him raise the child. She lived with him for ten years and then they married and she had a baby also, a son. The girl had grown up and was cared for as the new wife’s own daughter.

    Now, every birthday from seven years on, the girl would receive a letter and a parcel from Belgium , from her mother. Sometimes there would be a few notes of currency enclosed.

    Janice, Milan’s second wife was at first not perturbed at these little gifts. But over the years, and particularly when the girl reached teenage years, she seemed to become a little offended at the daughter’s glee upon receiving these gifts.

    “Oh”, the girl would exclaim in happiness, “My mother has sent me something!” and she would take the parcel off to her room to open it.

    Janice would look scornful and sorrowful at the same time and would complain to Milan.

    “See, see, off to her room with the precious gift, ha! and it wasn’t that woman who raised her, no … it was me who worried when she was sick! So what does she care for me? … no … (and here she would sometimes have tears come to her eyes) not for me the respect she saves for her mother that deserted her”. Milan would drop the corners of his mouth and sigh.

    One day a letter arrived saying that Milan’s first wife was coming out to Australia for a visit, to see her daughter. Janice was caught between her love of the daughter and the bitterness of a feeling of betrayal of the girl’s love for her mother.

    One evening they were visiting a friend, and as they sat in the lounge by the open fire, Janice talked off-handedly of the mother’s visit.

    “Oh yes, she came over one night last week … humph! the way she talked, humph! as if I was the interloper, as if I was the one who broke up her family … I soon put her in her place!”

    “Well, she didn’t really infer that you …” Milan tried to explain ..

    “Oh no! not to you, no you wouldn’t see, you’re not a woman … but I know that tone of voice … you men are blind … and … and she brought over a dress for Corina (the daughter) .. ha! what a dress … it was terrible.. eh, Corina? eh? … the colour; ugh! the cut, the style … what a laugh … ha ha!” ..and she laughed a forced bitter laugh without looking at the daughter sitting there alone, slump shouldered in the corner, her eyes shining sadly and looking to the floor.

    “Obviously she doesn’t know her own daughter” Janice finished huffily.

    There was a prolonged stay of silence..

  23. Once again, the LNP make other conservatives look progressive.

    Pope Francis has made it easier*, quicker and free for Catholics to have their marriages annulled under reforms conservatives fear may lead to church-approved divorce.

    Details of changes to a system that critics, including Pope Francis himself, had attacked as needlessly bureaucratic, expensive and unfair were unveiled on Tuesday.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-09/pope-makes-it-easier-for-catholics-to-end-marriages/6760102

    *

    While Pope Francis is seeking to democratise the procedure in a way that would appear to make an increase in the number of annulments likely, his letter does not amend the exceptional conditions under which they can be granted.

  24. jaycee

    Corina is torn between two mums. One day she will probably make a definite choice between Janice and the one whom I think has no name in the story, just “the mother”.

  25. My mother worked as a servant girl at the station on the Murray where this event took place..She heard the nub of the story told by the station owner to a guest one night after dinner. Those stations in those days were almost like miniature kingdoms on their own.
    It is one of those little things that one sometimes meets a hardy, rough-on-the-outside farmer, only to find a soft centre due to some event in their lives.

    His story went like this..:

    Poor Cocky.

    The door of the shearing shed opened and it clattered that grating corrugated iron sound as it banged against the steel rails of the holding pens. A short, stocky farmer stood framed in the square of light that was the doorway. Another man and a young lad ceased their occupation to turn to stare at the intruder.

    “Gazza!” the man in the doorway called.

    “Ah…George…come in, come in,” the older man responded.

    George stepped into the shearing shed eclipsed as it was in its corrugated iron cladding from the bright day outside… Nail-hole shafts of sunlight on floating gossamer of dust beaded the gloomy floor. He ambled over to the others with a swinging gait familiar with aged workmen. The man called “Gazza” (Gary) was busy cleaning the working parts of a rifle with a soft cloth; the young lad, around fifteen years, sat, legs dangling, on the skirting table, watching half-interestedly. The air in the shed was musty with residual odour of sheep, shearing, workmen and machinery oil.

    All the trappings of a just finished shearing season remained scattered about the work-space; marking dyes, dousing drenches, tufts of belly wool and wool bags with sharp, bent fastening staples hooked onto them hanging from a nail in the wall. A steel-plate stencil with the station’s name “Portsea” black-edged with paint hung skew-wiff on another nail next to the bags and the floor-boards still greasy with a waxy gleam from the task just completed.

    “What’s the score, Gazz?!” George asked as he approached, hands in pockets.

    “This is my grandson…Jamie…” and the man sort of winced at the boy’s name.

    “Jay-mee,” George pronounced slowly with an emphasis not lost on Gazza…

    “Yeah, righto.” Gary silenced any further comments on what he too considered an effeminate name for a boy child, but the lad surprised them both by standing up from the skirting table and offered his hand to George.

    “Call me Jim,” he said confidently.

    George raised one eyebrow in respect and took the lad’s hand proffered. The other man, Gary, smiled gently but proudly at this small gesture, then he spoke.

    “We’re going to get a lesson in gun-handling, so I thought it best to start off with the basic requirements of the skills.” Gary spoke as he concentrated first with a toothbrush and turpentine, then with the soft cloth as he cleaned and worked the trigger mechanism of the rifle. The small metallic clicking sounds mixed with their breathing seemed to drift smoke-like up to the rafters to mix with the lingering, tremulous feelings of the cacophony of shearing machinery and men over the past few weeks…like the residue of excitement left in a stadium after a full-house wild sporting event…the people gone but the echoes remain!

    “You gonna teach him to shoot?” George asked.

    “Mmm…this arvo.”

    “Where?”

    “Oh…dunno…I thought down on the flats, near Dempsey’s Landing.”

    “Coupla’ rabbits?” George persisted.

    Gary was reassembling the rifle as he spoke and now it was complete, he pushed in the bolt and worked it a couple of times with a click! clack!

    “That” he answered contemplatively ‘..or maybe a couple of those bloody galahs.”

    George winced imperceptibly, he himself did not shoot at all now, although it was once said that he was the best shot in the district.

    “Gonna come along?” Gary asked, though he knew George would refuse.

    “Nah…nah…give it a miss, Gary.”

    Maybe it was the moment, maybe it was the fact that the younger lad was there which prompted Gary, but he carefully placed the rifle on a cloth on the skirting table and folding his arms whilst leaning against the table, looked George squarely in the eye and said:

    “George…you used to be the best shot in the district when we were young, but now you don’t even pick up a gun…it’s a puzzle, George, a real puzzle…so c’mon, out with it, what’s the story of all this pacifism, eh?”

    George took his hands off the table and plunged them into his pockets, they were rough hands, coarse hands with solid callouses and chipped nails, they were hands that had shaped the framework of the family farm, he himself was a nuggety man, old now but still solid with yet firm muscles from an age of hard labour on the farm, from a generation who structured their lives around the necessities rather than the leisure’s, his face wore evidence of struggle against nature…nature was winning!…His shoulders set.

    “Aww…you wouldn’t want to know Gary…Why…you’d just laugh,” he grimaced a sort of smile.

    “Oh give it a rest George…how long have I known you…?”

    “Yeah…well…but some things that happen to a man might be terribly upsetting to him but still seem funny to others…like, like slipping on a banana skin, or walking into a street sign while looking the other way, for instance.”

    “Ha, ha.” Jim and Gary laughed together.

    “No, George,” Gary shifted his body, “you’re not going to get out of it that easy… Now, if I’m going to teach young…” and he paused “young Jim…here the correct use of firearms, he’d do well to hear why another man (who used to drop a rabbit at a hundred yards running)…suddenly gives the game away…you owe it to the young lad’s education, so c’mon,” he made little flicking “c’mon” gestures with his fingers and hand “…out with it…” and he crossed his arms again.

    They both looked at George impatiently.

    “Well,” George decided, “alright, I’ll tell you, but it mightn’t mean much to you and I feel a bit of a fool for the telling of it, so I’ll trust you not to spread it far and wide.”

    Gary agreed with this request with an of course…of course.: George took his hands out of his pockets and leant at arms length against the skirting table and gazed at the floor.

    “You know, it’s strange, the things that change a man’s life…and it’s almost always little things that do it too, not the big but the little.” He took a breath, pursed his lips and began.

    “ You remember that cocky we had for a pet years ago?”

    “No..no, can’t recollect it …but everyone had a pet magpie or cocky ’round here at some time.” Gary scratched his head as he answered.

    “Well, we did and you know we got him from old Tedmonson out there on the ‘Bulldog Run.’ He was a cranky old bastard, that Tedmonson, he used to treat that cocky mean, was there myself one day and the old man swearing and hammering away at a plough-arm, trying to straighten it and that cocky up and mimics him. “‘Bloody bastard of a thing,’ says Tedmonson. “‘Bloody thing! Bloody thing!’ cackled cocky. -“‘Shuddup stupid!’ yells Tedmonson. “‘Stupid bastard, stupid bastard!’ mimics the bird, and old man Tedmonson up and chucks a hammer at the cage, swearing and cursing, picks up a length of water pipe and smacks the side of the cage with it something shocking, so the bird in there has its crest shooting up and is flapping its wings and screeching something awful! “‘Steady on Sandy,” I said to Tedmonson. “‘Bloody bird…I’d wring its neck if I could get close to it.” “‘Wring your neck! Wring you neck!’ cocky mimicked again, so the old man picks up the water hose and sprays the parrot while all the time laughing sort of cruel like ’till I calmed him down.

    Then one day they’re moving interstate and I happened to be over there looking at a generator I was thinking to buy and I asked him what he was going to do with the cocky.

    “‘Wait till the wife’s gone and then shoot the bloody thing…then I’ll tell her it got away.’

    He grinned menacingly at the parrot who just raised its crest and ducked its head away sideways, always keeping its beady eye on the old man though.

    “‘I’ll take him”, I offered. “Be a shame to kill it, I don’t mind birds and the kids’ll be thrilled!’

    Tedmonson looked disappointed, but I pressed him on the subject and said I’d ask his wife that night, so he shrugged and said: “Oh well…so be it, but it’ll cost you a dozen bottles of beer.”’ and that’s how we came by the cocky…and we called it “Wudgie” or “Wudge” because when I first brought him home, Louise, who was just three years old then, looked at it and asked: “‘Is that a wudgie?” meaning budgie of course and we all laughed, so we called it “Wudge”…and the kids taught that bird to say all sorts of things and some words it picked up on it’s own, like those birds do.”

    “We had that parrot for around eight or so years, ’til one day it escaped, an’ it tells you how clever those birds are : every day we came to feed it, it’d climb up the wire, beak over claw to hold by the door lock with its head cocked and one eye watching us lift that catch. We had one of those gate catches that click up themselves as you shut the gate, and that bird spent eight years every day watching us lift that catch ’til one day I come out to feed it and he was gone and a twig was left pushed through the wire where he’d flicked that latch..

    “Oh bullshit!” groaned Gary, turning away.

    “No…no…listen, “Bandy” Phillips had a cocky that used to undo the valve-caps on his bike with its beak and press the tiny tip in there to let the tires down…and Harry Hocking…”

    “Alright, alright… I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but go on with your story.”

    “They’re clever birds, those parrots,” George persisted.

    “Yeah?” Gary broke in sarcastically, “then they oughta put ’em through university and make politicians out of them …or perhaps they already have” and he raised his eyebrows and an indicative finger as he nodded his head sagely.

    “Anyway,” continued George with a sigh, “it was gone… but I thought I might see it again if’n it came back or someone caught it, and I’d recognise it by the one missing claw on its left foot . By and by over the next few years I forgot all about the bloody thing…presumed it was dead…Then one morning the missus says that Uncle Charlie is coming up for the weekend and would I go shoot a couple of wild ducks down by the river so as to have a nice roast come Sunday. They always said that: “George, go shoot a couple of ducks…George, go shoot some bunnies for Christmas… …’cause I was a good shot, you see.”

    “I’ll say,” interrupted Gary, then turning to his grandson eagerly, “I seen George here trim the corners off a playing card at twenty-five yards with his .22, then plug the centre with his .410 shotgun.” Gary finished with his arms gesturing.

    “Wow,” the boy remarked, suitable impressed.

    “Well, I was a reasonable shot then,” George admitted shyly.

    “Any-road,” he continued, “I’m down near ‘Westies Billabong’ there at seven in the morning and my breath’s steaming.. I’d spotted a couple of ducks by the reeds there so I got into a crouch… (and here George went into a pantomime of his actions)…and was working my way bent-backed ’round the billabong real quiet when suddenly all hell breaks loose… (he threw up his arms in a gesture of surprise)…and these two cockies come twisting and screeching in the air above me…must’ve had their nest in a hole in a tree there and saw me as a threat. Any-road, they were making a hell of a racket so it scared the ducks who flew off , and I was that angry with those bloody birds that when one came swooping and diving then twisted side-on to me… (George used his hand flat to show the action)…just above, I quickly just swung the shotgun in its’ general direction and let fly…boom! ”

    “Well, I hit it and it fell like a folded object to ground over near a red gum and it lay twisting on the grass so I started walking casually over to it all the while pushing another cartridge into the breech of the shotgun. (He went through the action of loading the gun)…”
    “But as I came nearer, suddenly! (he paused)… I hear a voice…’What’s that!’ I called…again I hear it… ‘Who’s there!’ I called…turning 360 degrees to see who it was… but there was no-one, nothing but the screeching of the cocky’s mate weaving and diving madly in the air above, around the branches of the gums…Then again, that same voice calling weakly and I turned to the direction of the sound (George turned staring to the empty pens) and there it was, on the ground in front of me, the cocky I had shot, calling weakly….’poor cocky’ it was saying, ‘poor cocky, poor cocky’ over and over till its voice faded, I looked down at the bird..and suddenly I saw that missing claw..Nah! I thought..it couldn’t be.. Wudge…Wudgie? I said unbelievably as I stood over it, but sure enough, there was the crook foot with the one claw missing…sure, it could have been another pet bird that had escaped and gone back to the wild..after all ,it had been years since I last saw it… I bent down and lay the gun on the grass, then raised the body of the bird close to look at its’ eyes to see if there was still some life left in it..but it was dead, and I stared and stared, but all I could see in that dark pool of it’s eye was the reflections of passing clouds overhead…and there was something about that…that killing of the bird, it threw me…maybe something to do with it gaining it’s freedom and losing it perhaps, and I couldn’t even let a poor bloody cocky have a bit of life but I go and kill it! So really, in the end I was no better than old man Tedmonson, perhaps worse..’cause even he didn’t kill the bird.”

    “Killing, killing… George kill this, George kill that and I was so sick of it, sick of the killing…” he let his arms fall to his sides wearily. “…I dunno…just…sick of the killing…so I went home, threw the gun in a locker in the corner of the shed and I haven’t shot one since…

    “It was the killing, I think…I just got sick of the killing….”

  26. jaycee

    I can understand why George “threw the gun in a locker”. Bl**dy guns! Poor “Wudgie!”

    “Any-road”, is Jay-cee an “effeminate name for a boy child”? …..

  27. ” is Jay-cee an “effeminate name for a boy child”? …..”….well..Gigi’…it’s gotta be a bit queer..eh?

  28. The complete speech by Jeremy Corbyn at his first appearence as leader of Brit’ Labour.

    Jeremy Corbyn, Parliament Square, London
    September 12, 2015

    I’ve never seen Parliament Square looking so filled, so beautiful and so happy as on this day. Thank you all for being here today.

    When I was declared elected three and a half hours ago, I announced to our conference that my first action in this new position as leader of the Labour Party would be to come to a demonstration in support of refugees, the right to asylum and the human needs of people all over the world.

    And I do that because we are all humans, we all have a sense of decency and humanity and reaching out to others. And I am shocked beyond appalled at the way so many and so much of our media over so long, endlessly describe desperate people in desperate situations as ‘the problem’; desperate people in desperate situations, as people who are trying to travel or move illegally.

    Those desperate people in desperate situations are all over the world. There are more of them now than at any time ever in the recorded history of this planet.

    They’re victims of war, they’re victims of environmental degradation, they’re victims of poverty, they’re victims of human rights abuses all over the world.

    We have a responsibility as one of many countries that signed the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Right to Asylum. We are a country that is a member, obviously, of the UN, but also of the Refugee Council and the Human Rights Council.

    And we therefore have a responsibility to ensure those people are properly cared for and properly supported.

    And so I think it’s quite incredible what has happened across Europe in the past few weeks. Suddenly a lot of politicians have rediscovered their principles of humanity. They’ve rediscovered that you don’t need to walk in fear of the far right and racists – there is actually a popular uprising in favour of decency and humanity in our society.

    To those who managed to try to get into Hungary, to get through Austria, to get into Germany, I say to the ordinary people, the ordinary decent people in Hungary, who came out of their homes to offer food and water and clothing and health and sustenance and comfort to Syrian people going through the most terrible stress and distress in their lives, thank you very much for your demonstration of humanity.

    I also say thank you to the people in Austria who did the same, and I say thank you to Germany, for being prepared to take the numbers of refugees they are, and showing the way that should be followed.

    I also say that we need to have a thought as to why people end up in such desperate situations. I’ve been in parliament a long time and I’ve seen many decisions taken. And in moments of clamor and moments of fervor, decisions are made – go here, invade there, bomb there, do this, do that.

    It’s the easy situation, the media build it up, there’s lots of military advice, there’s lots of apparently simple and easy solutions. Tragically wars don’t end when the last bullet is fired, or the last bomb is dropped.

    The mourning and the loss of soldiers of all uniforms goes on. The mourning and the loss of families that lost loved ones because of bombardments and fighting – that goes on.

    The refugees move on and on, and there are whole generations of refugees around the world that are victims of various wars. Those desperate people in camps in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Libya and so many other places, desperate people trying to cross into Turkey and other places – they are all, in a sense, victims of wars.

    So surely, surely, surely, our objectives ought to be to find peaceful solutions to the problems of this world; to spend our resources on helping people not hindering people; and to try and bring about that world of decency, human rights and justice.

    And so none of this is simple, and none of this is easy. But surely we have a principle between us all – that we are all human beings on the same planet. We’re all human beings who want to live. We’re all human beings who want the children who live in the next generation to hopefully be better off than we are.

    And you think of those families eking out an existence in refugee camps all around the world – they too are ambitious. Their children too want to be artists, poets, writers, engineers, lawyers, journalists… doctors and everything else.

    The waste of human resources by the lack of human rights is one of the great crimes of the last and this century.

    So today, here in Parliament Square, we as ordinary, decent people, stand up and say to our government, recognise your obligations in law. That would be good. Recognise your obligations to help people, which you’re required to do by law. That would be good.

    But above all, open your hearts and open your minds and open your attitudes, towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society and are human beings just like all of us.

    Together in peace, together in justice, together in humanity – that surely must be our way forward.

  29. Here is my humble offering on this rainy day which keeps me indoors:

    The blackbird is sitting on her nest just outside my window in the geisha girl plant well covered by leaves.

  30. The plight of the “escaping from warfare refugee” has figured large over the last few years with much sympathy, while the “economic refugee”has been somewhat scorned as an “opportunist”…I can assure many that it is far from true..the desperation and need can be felt equally by the “starving stayers” as by the fleeing desperates..and it didn’t always go that well with such “legitimate” immigrants.

    This might ring a bell with some of our older citz’ here…Do any of you Adelaidiens remember that strip of garden between Nth. Terrace and the wall of the Governor’s residence?…It ran from the Light Horse statue to the Arch of Remembrance, between the Governor’s residence and Nth. Terrace …and it was a real garden, not like now where it is just a lawn. It was once full of exotic flowers and shrubs and they would give blazing colour to that walkway that used to carry so much foot-traffic from the railway station to the university or Rundle St (as it was then)..I’m talking back in the 60s / 70’s …well, the entire kit and caboodle was planted and maintained by this little Italian Gardener…I remember seeing him there a couple of times, in those green bib-n-brace overalls. He used to work out of a corrugated-iron shed hidden snugly behind a hedge of some low shrub-like trees near the war memorial end…he could be seen there with his wheelbarrow and some tools in it…he would plant out and till-up where replacement was required or needed, according to the season.
    He migrated to this country around 1960 and intended to settle here with his new family..this is a little piece of his story.

    It went like this..:

    “Carmello Comes Home”

    ( I )

    “All journeys start in hope,
    So many end in despair.
    The migrant sets his mind to the first,
    Tho’ his heart overflow with fear.”

    Carmello Notori stepped off the boat at Outer-Harbour on a very hot February day. The year was 1960. The sharp sunlight cut daggers spark-ling off every bright object into his eyes so that he squinted continually and some obscure god had scattered wanton stars onto the sea that glittered and danced.

    “This is a pale country,” was Carmello’s first thought. “I hope it treats us well”. By “us” he was referring to himself and his wife and two year old child who were to join him later, about six months later, after he had got a job and set up a house for the family.

    Carmello obtained employment with the city council and rented a small flat in a near suburb and wrote short informative letters to his wife back in the village in Italy about his progress in the new country. After six months, he wrote for her to come and join him, but she put it off as “the child was ill with influenza and she needed to rest him.”

    Three months after that it was something else that would delay her. His letters became a little more terse and then cajoling in the hope of persuading her to come out, but she stay put in the village. After a season of excuses which Carmello “saw through”, she finally confessed she was too scared to go away from her family, her friends in the village. Where would she get help with the child? Who could she talk to in the lonely hours that plague the mothers at home. No, she was too scared to be alone in a strange house in a strange land. He clutched that letter in his hand and rested his cheek on his arm on the kitchen table. He could see her point in his heart and he did not try to argue her out of it, for he too had felt the loneliness of a faster lifestyle, a more grasping lifestyle that left little time for friends to gather impromptu to savour the joy of a sweet moment. He changed the tone of his letters gradually to one of fatalistic acceptance and sent money back home on a regular basis.

    He would have liked to have gone back to his family but he remembered the acute poverty that drove him, and many others alike, away. He remembered too the bragging he had done in the local cafe of the good life he would have in the “new country”, so he stayed, though it was mostly the memory of the poverty that kept him at his work and he sent money back home to his family.

    Carmello worked for the council looking after a long stretch of garden next to a busy city street. It was a narrow piece of land that ran from the main city intersection by the Parliament House, a half a kilometer to end at the War Memorial. He would till the soil and plant shrubs in the autumn. He would rake the speckled yellow and red leaves from the deciduous trees that lined the street and shed their foliage in the cool autumn days. In the winter he would sweep the path that ran through the garden or sit quietly in his hut amongst the creeper vines when it rained. After some years he was left to be his own boss so that his schedule was a very obliging one that saw him through the years. When the spring buds came out he weeded and tilled between the flowers as they grew. A small fire always burnt in one corner near his hut, where he would incinerate twigs and leaves and bits of scrap paper people discarded on their daily commute through his garden.

    The softness of the small fire cheered him in some lonely times and sent a slim, scented plume of blue smoke twirling up, up over the trees into the city skyline. No-one noticed him so no-one bothered him. He was an anonymous immigrant in a big country, and so the years passed by and he sent money back home to his family.

    One day a woman stopped and admired a flowering plant just near where he was standing.

    “They’re nice aren’t they?” he spoke.

    The woman gave a little start. She hadn’t noticed him standing there. She gazed at him and blinked. He blended in so well with the leafy backgound that he almost seemed a part of it. His brown cardigan hung loose on his short nobbly frame.. a pair of bib and brace green overalls untidily covered his body, the knees of these overalls had been crudely patched as if he had done the job himself (which he had). His face was “chunky” with a big nose and his curly hair, though not dirty, was neglected so his general appearance looked as one who needn’t impress anyone.

    “You have a garden?” He asked.

    “Why, yes I do”, the woman answered cautiously.

    “Here, I give you one of these,” he spoke softly, confidentially.

    There was a small heap of cuttings of a green shrub with spiky blue flowers which he had been pruning. Kneeling down with a small trowel, he grubbed up a bulb of one of the plants, then rising and looking over his shoulder in a secretive way, put the bulb into a plastic bag supplied by the woman. They exchanged pleasantries about the flowers and gardens then bid each other cheerio. Once a month the woman would come down the path on her way to the library and they would chat and exchange details about their gardens and the weather and this and that…

    “Fifteen years I have worked this garden now,” he told her one day. She seemed surprised she had never noticed him up to when they first met, such was his anonymity.
    “Soon I have my long service,” he smiled.

    One rainy winter’s day there was a ceremony going on at the War Memorial so that he wasn’t working just then. There were a lot of people standing around listening to the Governor giving a speech. The Governor and other dignitaries peeked out from under the broad black brims of umbrellas. Here and there you could see some old soldiers, medals and service ribbons on their coats and them just standing out in the pouring rain, the water streaming in little waterfalls over the brim of their hats and their gaunt faces streaked with the drenching rain so you’d think they were crying rivers of tears.

    Carmello stood under the lee of his hut. The woman stopped next to the gardener.

    “Oh hello missus”, he greeted her quietly and they stood there listening to the address. After a little while Carmello leant over to the woman and softly whispered: “I’m going back to Italy soon.”

    “For good?” the woman asked.

    “No, No,” he shook his head emphatically, “Only for a short while ; a holiday..I have my long-service leave.” He smiled at the thought.

    When he returned from his holiday he seemed unsettled, a bit more determined as though he were fighting an uneasy desire.

    “If I could go tomorrow, missus…,” he would say, shaking his hand in a gesturing way and he’d sigh. “But I must save, missus, I must save now”, he turned as he spoke, the rake in his hand with the head resting on the ground. “I must save now,” he spoke earnestly.

    He was sad at leaving his family back home, and to make matters worse, he had learnt that his wife was now expecting another child and he could not be there to assist as a husband ought.

    Another wet day she came along the path and saw the gardener sitting huddled just inside the door of his hut with a little fire of sticks burning by the door. He looked miserable sitting there.

    “Are you well?” She asked.

    “Ah! no missus, I have this cold..una raffreddore!..I should be home..but what is the
    use of staying alone in an empty house?” he stared at the fire as he spoke, and it was around that time he decided he would have to go back home…the final decision was made as he read the latest letter from his wife in the village. She told of the everyday events of the season in the village ..and he was not there…

    “…it was a good year for the grapes,” she wrote “ but the olives were not so good, with many rotting on the trees..Alfonso ( the grandfather) got a good deal from the miller for his wheat and we now have plenty of flour for the pasta this year…” Carmello read on..”…the saint’s day parade went well as it was a lovely day with the sun shining bright and all the children dressed up and the flowers so pretty placed at the feet of San Giovanni…” the memories flooded in..all this was happening as he had himself seen so many years ago..and he was not there.

    Carmello looked up at that moment from his reading as he heard a strange noise across the road..There , dressed in their light, flowing bright orange robes, were a troupe of half a dozen Hari Krishna shaved-head devotees chanting and ringing their small cymbals and tambourines as they skipped and swirled down the footpath opposite in single file…It was the strange sight of this totally , to Carmello, alien image that steered his course of action, a craving for the familiarity of homeland swept over him so he almost swooned from a sense of isolation and loneliness ..but he would stay and save and save..then after three more years, he calculated, he would return to his home.

    The woman’s husband had a stroke at around that time, that knocked him flat and kept her home for several years so she never saw the gardener again. A long time after she was walking through Carmello’s stretch of garden and she noticed the gardener’s hut was being pulled down by some workmen.

    A little way along the path another man was digging up the green shrubs with the spiky blue flowers. The woman stopped .

    “Where’s the little Italian gardener?” She asked one of the workmen there.

    “Oh him? He’s gone home, lady, back to Italy.”

    “Oh?” She queried.

    “Yep” the man continued. “Twenty years here was enough for him.” He laughed. The woman turned to go away, then stopped.

    “Tell me; what was his name?” She asked for he had never told her.

    “To tell you the truth madam,” the man scratched the back of his head “I wouldn’t know. We called him ‘Gino’ but we call all the eyeties ‘Gino’.” And he laughed again.

    ( II )

    Pellegrino Rossi sat outside on the footpath under the blue and yellow lighted sign that said “Tony – BAR”. The word “Tony” was smaller than the word “BAR” and was in the top left hand corner. Pellegrino Rossi sat out in the morning sunshine at a small round table drinking a cup of espresso coffee and observing the movements of the people of the village. The daily bus from the big provincial city pulled up over the other side of the road with a squeal of brakes and a hiss of air. Pellegrino could not see who had alighted as the bus was between himself and the far footpath. But he knew someone had got off as the driver too had alighted and there was a clatter of baggage doors opening on the far side of the bus. After a short time and a degree of muffled conversation, the driver sprung back into his seat and with a hiss of shutting doors, the bus accelerated away in a cloud of fumes, smoke and dust.

    A short nobbly man of about fifty remained on the far footpath where the bus had left him. He was escorted on both sides by two enormous tatty brown suitcases with large belts and buckles around their girth. His suit of clothes matched the colour of the cases. They were crushed and misshapen from being worn on a long journey. His belt, like the ones on the suitcases, was pulled tight around his girth so that his trousers were “lifted” high on his waist and left too much ankle showing down around his shoes. Pellegrino squinted at the man who remained standing there as though trying to comprehend his situation. A smile of recognition gradually crept over Pellegrino’s face. It had been a long, long time. He called out:

    “Well, well now, “Panerello” (for that was Carmello’s nickname), we were wondering when you would come home.” His hand was shaking at the new arrival in that flat openhanded on edge way that Italians do. Carmello smiled and nodded as he recognised his old friend.

    “Hey! “Dry as sticks”,” Pellegrino called into the doorway of the Bar. “Pour a glass-full of the fatted calf to welcome the prodigal home!” He laughed as he stood.

    At the mention of “the prodigal”, Carmello’s hand went automatically to the inside pocket of his suit coat. There it felt a fatted packet. Fatted with banknotes of a foreign currency. Payment for all those years of tending the gardens. Payment for all those years of loneliness in a strange country. Payment for all those years of patience and endurance. He gave the packet a squeeze and it seemed a weight fell from his shoulders.
    “Payment for the children” he sighed.

    Carmello smiled happily as he surveyed the scene, the Bar, his friend, the round tables on the footpath, the yellowing paint on the house walls, the orangey-pink of the old church in the square, the cobblestone road, the sound of his friends’ greeting, the feel of the mountain air on his cheeks.

    “Carmello, Carmello!” a woman’s voice cried from down the narrow street, the sound rebounding off the walls of the canyon of houses. He recognised her sweetly,…the photos,…the memory of her longingly treasured in his heart…his wife called again in a gentle dropping inflection of voice.

    “Carmello…Caro, Carmello” she came quickly down the street in little skips and runs as older woman do when they want to go fast on foot. He could see the tears in her eyes, a couple of people stopped and some popped their heads out of nearby houses. His friend, Pellegrino called again from across the road.

    “Ah Panerello, Panerello, it’s been too long.” He was smiling as he came onto the street. Carmello looked to him, at his approaching wife, a tall young man at her side..his son.. the young girl at her skirts…his daughter..had it been five years already? A sob of joy welled up inside him, he lifted his hands as though wishing to explain something with them but no words would come to his lips…his wife coming closer, his friend reaching out for his hands with both of his, his village shone bright in the morning sunlight, a shaft of sunshine snipped a star off the glass ashtray on one of the tables at the “Tony-BAR”. Carmello felt the tears run freely… He was home,…at last…he was home!

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