Sandy by the sea 2006-12
06 began with fall from moto – ouch!
And fractures slow to heal, so had to buy
An automatic car; then stuck in slow
And heavy traffic all the time – Prahran
Intense and crowded – thought we’d sell and move
To Sandringham. Meant selling Barwon Heads
As well. I published Cheap as Chips, a book
Of forest campaigns history in this
Our state Victoria. Then had a go
At forests novel: William Creek. We had
A break in FNQ: Palm Cove was nice
But Rochi sick with Crohns’ – got better fast
At home in Vic. My mum at eighty-nine
Dementing, sister Kim a transplant scored.
On happier note it was the first of years
With Lucy, little Staffy, lovely dog.
We moved to ‘Sandy’ late November; house
Was just a little cottage by the sea.
We added water tanks with solar heat.
07 starts with job for me quite close
In Hampton – Southend Clinic – all nice folk,
But Rochi travelling by train; good job
She’d found with Makin’s gallery near the old
Abode! We planned to renovate, then took
A holiday in Perth, saw Uncle Bill
And Norma Jamieson, returned to threats
Of litigation over Cheap as Chips
By Wombat Forest Group, a bunch of mean
And nasties, just vexatious, caused a lot
Of trouble as they’d planned to do. At end
It came to nothing, Rochi warned them off
With words of legal substance. India
Our next big break – five weeks in Rajasthan
With Mughal forts and palaces, the Taj
Mahal so glorious, and quiet time
In lovely Goa – curried fish so fine.
08 became a busy year at work
With plans to combat deadly bird flu should
It come to Oz; it hasn’t yet. Oh dear
I needed hearing aids to help me hear
The women and the kids at work; I’d hurt
My hearing long ago with firewood saw
At Mirboo North. Put solar panels on
The roof for power, then took a break up north
At Byron Bay where we first met. At end
Of year mum died at ninety-one, relief
For her, I think – dementia such a curse.
09 saw gruelling renovations here
In Sandy; long it took but ended well –
Our builder Ross just so professional.
We christened it with birthday party fine
For moi on turning sixty. Bought a house
In Seddon – that’s my super; helped us get
To know the west of Melbourne – quite a change
From here in Sandy: folk and refugees
From all the dangerous places of the earth.
Toiled hard on Seddon just before a job
In Kalkarindji, locum work in far
NT, my first. The blacks so poor and sick,
Their plight disgraceful here in Oz, a rich
And lucky land. We took a break, ten days
In Kakadu closeby, and Lichfield Park
With mighty pools and waterfalls, no crocs!
This year Tate graduates in Archi; what
A coup for him; his brother Lec at work
In Physio, and sister Eve exec
At Penguin Books – all three are up and off.
Then from the blue Tate sickened – insulin-
Dependent diabetes, damn it all,
But coping well; a family curse, this pain-
In-arse disease. There’s worse of course, much worse.
Its 10, and old George Nurse my friend from years
Ago in PNG has died at home
In London; stayed with George when Eve was born,
Goroka, seventy-nine. I’ve started work
At Maidstone’s Gath’ring Place, in Koori health
Two days each week. We drove two weeks around
South Island of New Zealand, mountains wild
And beautiful, fjords just so lovely.
Another NT locum, Tennant Creek,
Five weeks confronting as before; and then
A stay in Bali – clever folk, so deft,
Creative, spiritual. Back home our first
Female PM is Julia Gillard, sad
She toppled Kevin Rudd in party coup.
It poisoned voter feelings for this tough
And smart ex-lawyer; needed Greens to govern.
11 starts, I’m reading Milton’s great
Prose poem and then Dante. “Life on Earth”
By great Tim Flannery came next – wondrous take
On Gaia. Then, by God, were massive floods
In Queensland, then in Vic, Christchurch earthquake,
Tsunami, nuclear meltdown wreck Japan’s
North coast – dire events and prophecies!
We took a break on Fraser Island, bought
A house in Hervey Bay – a little rash
Perhaps – it was a rush of blood to head.
Dear Lec and Cat have left for London, on
The way to backpack Mexico and all
Those risky places south; be safe and well!
A dreadful massacre in Norway, mad
And bad right-winger killed so many young.
Aunt Helen died at ninety-eight, a dear
Old thing and sharp until the end; her son,
My cousin Peter also gone a few
Months later, loved by many friends. Our first
Barmitzvah, went with Rochi; son of friend
And colleague David Shap. Strange mix, relaxed
And formal service like no other we
Had seen. Then Eve and I worked four hard days
At Hervey Bay to clean and stock the house
For rental – fun it was to spend that time
With Eve. Five weeks in Katherine followed, just
Like locums past; nice town but people sick
As dogs. What have we done to these first folk
Of this the lucky country? Then we had
Three weeks in Thailand – major floods but fine
And friendly people, lots to see and do.
We stayed one week in Phuket; Rochi’d won
It on a scratchee. Plush resort but I
Caught Dengue; now I can’t go back for fear
Of deadly illness – rules out most of South
East Asia. Still, we’ve seen the best of it.
It’s 12, and starts with such a sadness deep
And unremitting: Caitlyn Haskett dies
Of mortal illness, lovely, young and smart.
A parent’s nightmare, worse there could not be.
We’ll try to help our friends her mum and dad
As best we can, but grief is such a sole
Endeavour. Then a scandal draws me in:
Ian Gawler shown to be a fake, and I’m
A part of case against him, published in
The Age – page two headlines. It’s very sad
That hope for many cancer patients has
Been dashed. Rochi’s parents sixtieth bash
Then flying them to Hervey Bay with our
Dog Lulu on the plane as well. And Eve’s
With child at thirty-three – she lives with Craig
In warehouse large that Craig is fixing up.
A fine Olympics in UK, a war
Of hate and barbarism in Syria
Has spoiled the Arab spring. Alastair Mac
Old friend from PNG has skyped – he’s now
A well- known writer and ecology
Professor. I shall leave the Gath’ring Place –
Too many money problems, join the near-
By Joslin Clinic seeing refugees.
But first my usual locum stint in far
NT, this time at Nhulunbuy on Gove
Peninsula; it’s hot of course but cooled
By breezes off the Arafura Sea
And Gulf. I like it here, will come again.
My sister Kim remains a brave but frail,
Disabled diabetic, in and out
Of hospital but helped by that fine son,
Her Ollie and her husband Tony – loyal
To Kim through all her ups and downs and downs.