On the back step

The sun is gently rising and I’m sitting on the back step,
watching the paint peel, and
the grass overgrow the side fence, and
Old Limpy hobble after her fat, clucky sisters.

And my hands are warmed by a mug of hot tea.

And all is well in my world.
And all is well in my world.

Farewell to QUT

On Friday I said goodbye to my friends and colleagues at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It’s been hard. Not only have I loved my QUT friends and my role as librarian, I have also appreciated a wealth of support, mentoring, and opportunities to grow over the past four-and-a-bit years. QUT was also where I completed my Honours and Masters degrees, and where I first found interesting and rewarding work as a research assistant and research administrator.

The best measure of my transformation? when I arrived at QUT in 2001, I was a single mum on welfare, working part-time cleaning pub kitchens. I had never logged on to a computer. I didn’t know what email was, and took a few days to understand the differences between my username, password and email address. A month later I got my first assignment back – 19.75 of 20 marks. And eighteen months later I was working as a research assistant. I have not seen the ‘wrong’ side of a pub counter since. This transformation didn’t happen because I am a genius. About 95% I attribute to the professional and academic staff who took the time to explain the technology, the assignments, how to research, all the different things I needed to know and do. The remaining 5% I attribute to my desperate desire for a happy future for *my family.

I think my story really illustrates what the QUT culture is all about: creating opportunities for folk who don’t count for much elsewhere, and helping them unearth and realise who they really are. I only hope that as a librarian I have been a successful part of that culture, and that I can take the same philosophy to my new library role…

Goodbye QUT, I am taking a little of you with me ❤

*a big shout out too, to my parents and extended family for their love and support!

ANZAC Day 2017

I have returned from a very local Dawn Service. I love the service – a gathering of neighbours, local schoolkids and their families, the congregation of St Mary’s.

Highlights this year – we sang the New Zealand National anthem! Such a beautiful, musical anthem, we were led by a tall, handsome  young Maori from the local badass high school. My partner (who would dress entirely in Aussie flag themed attire if he could), sang along beautifully as well.

A wish for the future – that the ceremony would mention the role of women and families, and the impact of war on the community. There are plenty of soldiers in my family, including an ANZAC and a youngest son who died in Sandakan. Also a member of the Czech resistance and another youngest son – a Ukrainian who perished, location unknown, in WW2. My Grandfathers both suffered from Post Traumatic Shock, one became an alcoholic and caused no end of trouble for my Gran. The other was an overzealous disciplinarian, I remember when he died, trying to make a connection with my Dad but unable to make the necessary amends.

And the mothers! Anna Honcharova who spent her whole life waiting for Pavel to return. Did he die of the cold? Of injuries or illness? Of hunger? Was he one of the severely injured who was too ashamed to return home? Where was he?

And dear Eileen Evangeline Chase Morris McGregor – her darling Robbie died at Sandakan, nearly at the end of WWII. She was such a tough old stick, but would tear up whenever she remembered him, how they sent parcels of food to him via the Red Cross, but that it never reached him.

I wish we could hear more stories and poems from these perspectives on ANZAC Day.

Kholo creek

above Kholo creek
a pink mountain, pink grassy heads swaying gently against the setting sun.

beside Kholo creek
an imprint of her hand in the cold, wet clay.

lost in the night
three childhoods, his parents’ pride, & little sister’s fierce love.