Monday, August 04, 2008



We have moved. The long, toasty period of migration is essentially over. As we speak Sarah is driving the last horse-float full of cats along the winding dirt road, under the blazing stars, towards our new home in the bush.

At night now you can see the Cross, and from what I remember the Serpent Bearer, where one of the stars is a recurrent nova, and the Pointers. I remember years and years ago, standing on a low wall on the southern shore, showing a girl* how you could use the stars in the Southern Cross and the Pointers (Alpha and Beta Centauri) to find true south. You imagined the Cross and the Pointers were each the haft of a sword, and you followed the imagined blades with your eyes, and where the blades crossed there was south, the base of the earth, the frozen land. The southern coast at night is cold, and soft, and quiet. I remember the sea hissing and curling under us.

And I remember her being impressed at how I could navigate by the stars. And I remember her being less and less impressed when we tried to get back to the car but couldn't, because I could find true south using three hundred-year-old light, but I couldn't find the car park I'd parked the car in half an hour earlier, what with it being dark and all. And I remember us blundering about in the sand-dunes, increasingly cold and tired and sober, in the small hours of the morning, tripping over tussocks of wind-grass and stumbling down the faces of dunes and crunching miles along the mud, while the tide came in and the stars disappeared and it started to drizzle. I rang her a few days later and her mother said she couldn't speak to me because she had one of those old diseases you don't hear about any more - pleurisy, or rinderpest, or maybe the ague, something you got from long hours of neglect and exposure to the elements - and that she would call me back when she felt better.

She must still be sick.

Years later, on a different beach, but same hour of the night, in summer, I first kissed Sarah. And it all worked out very well, and nowadays I have a GPS.

Anyway. We have moved to the new house. The new house is in fact old - couldn't afford a new one, had to get a second hand one - all high ceilings and cellars and polished floorboards. Because it is miles from anywhere it is cheap, when I feel the reverse should be true.

The town is miniscule, a pub and a post office and, bizarrely, a stained glass window shop. Every Friday a hunched little white-haired old man appears like a figure from a fairy story and sells vegetables from a road-side stall. People gather half an hour beforehand to buy them, squeezing the capsicums like a lover's buttocks**. I suspect the old man buys the veges in Woolies and peels the stickers off, but never mind.

And in the new house we have electricity, and light, and heat, and several of the other fundamental forces (we're still waiting on the guy who comes around to install the weak nuclear force - at the moment our bosons are all over the place), and a few short hours ago we got the internet. And tonight I go shopping, and tonight - this very night I say! - we will eat something that will not be rye toast with peanut paste.

Life is so good it almost seems unfair.

I have even found a gym in the nearest town. It's the only gym in the area, and it's a convenient thirty odd kilometres away, but it's near the railway station, so every morning at seven thirty I am there. This means I rise in the darkness, potter about the house, drive my nanocar into town, and deadlift and bench press to my heart's (and other organs') content.

The gym is a country gym. it's full of old steel weights with measurements on them in the Imperial system, and eighties music playing on the radio. I think I saw Dee Schneider on the preacher curls machine this morning. The dumbells are beer-cans filled with sand and shot-gun pellets, the punching bag is a wool-bale slung on a hook, and the "boxing-for-fitness" class is three men in blue singlets going at you with pick-axe handles.

Not really. I shower and then catch the train into work. Everyone on the train at that hour is shell-shocked and silent, and my breath curls and steams in the cold air. There are sheep grazing beside the railway station. I lounge on the seat as the trains clacks and sways and read Ulysses, realising as I do that everything I have ever written is inadequate in ways I can't begin to describe yet. I missed my stop the other day because I was reading.

Anyhow. Sarah proceeds slowly. I have informed her that we are about to enter the fourth and final stage of wound healing. Classically pathology states that wound healing consists of four stages - inflammation, proliferation, maturation and remodelling. Like many pathological processes, several alternative physiological pathways exist, and the one we have chosen goes chocolate, cats, novels and seafood. We are now entering the seafood phase, and I am going to be prescribing therapeutic squid tds prn po. Seriously, she potters about and is lovely.

We have, by the by, a new answering machine message. On it you can hear Sarah's velvet tones enunciating her message, while in the background I imitate a horde of Siamese and oriental cats. And quite well, I might add. For those who do not know, these kinds of cats look fairly similar, but Siamese have points (darker colours on their ears, tail and feet), whereas oriental cats are comparatively pointless.

That may be it for tonight. I am going to bed because Mondays are twelve hour days, and I tend to get suddenly seriously tired, and when that happens I make even less sense than usual. I will go off to be and write more in the next few days.

Thanks for listening,

*Belle, the fundamentalist Christian teenage mud-wrestler, without word of a lie. I was young and religious and repressed and male and the testosterone was almost crystallising out in my blood. I learnt many things that night, and the one that stands out in my mind is that a very fast left-handed hane makikomi is not an erotic technique.

**I mean "squeezing the capsicums like they would squeeze a lover's buttocks", not "squeezing the capsicums like a lover's buttocks would squeeze them, were the squeezer so inclined and were the capsicum appropriately positioned". Nor do I mean "squeezing the capsicums which were like (i.e.: in some way resembled) a lover's buttocks".

That's probably enough from me.



Blogger Foilwoman said...

I'm so glad you are settled and Sarah's recovery is going well. This Internet observation/aquaintanceship thing is very odd. I often wonder about my stalker-like tendencies, reading about your life and wishing you well. Nonetheless, I'm glad my wishes are rendered irrelevant, and you are happy and healthy (I hope) in your new home.

As for Hane Makikomi, TigerGrrl tossed a boy in her karate class the other day, and I am now on guard duty to protect my offspring from said boy's fatuous and feckless father who seems to think harassing children is an effective fatherhood technique. The play (the throw) definitely didn't seem erotic, although it did give my nine-year old a great deal of pleasure. ("I threw you! Did you see that*? Wow! That was cool! Let's try it again!" to the fleeing back of a mortified pre-adolescent male animal.)

*No, honey, he felt it on his ass when he landed, but I didn't tell her that.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Ladyk73 said...

Your writing is lovely!

And you made me giggle !!!

1:02 PM  
Blogger Camilla said...

I love your writing, BJ. That was beautiful :D

Also, love the new voice mail message. I envisioned you in the background, with cats lined up in a row, playing them like a furry, caterwailing piano. Whatever you were doing, it must have been funny because you can hear the laughter in Sarah's voice. :D

Enjoy your new house!


8:54 PM  
Anonymous Milo said...

BJ, I loved the part you kissing Sara. I am so happy to hear that you are both well... I also can sort of imagine the phone message. It must be sooo funny. Makes me laugh too.... kindest regards... Milo

7:05 PM  
Blogger Juanita said...

It sounds like you're doing great! I'm happy for you both.

4:58 AM  

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