Kafkaworld's Blog

December 14, 2013

On Swimming with the Dolphins

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 7:35 am
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What an absolutely beautiful morning on the beach for the first day of the school Christmas Holidays.  The sea was calm, the air was still and the water refreshingly cool but not cold.  I almost went for a swim!  

Mr KW romped in and performed his famous back-float, his toes emerging from the ripples occasionally as he drifted majestically towards the Port of Brisbane.  It was then I noticed a small pod of dolphins frisking through the water.  Mr KW had finally gone New Age and was swimming with the dolphins!  What a man; what a hero.

The dolphins were actually about 200 metres out towards Moreton Island, so theoretically, he wasn’t with them so much as disappearing in their wake, but that’s a minor quibble.  Good on all of them.

Meanwhile, I’m off to find my togs for tomorrow morning when my first swim of summer will officially take place.  Fanfare please horn section. 



December 8, 2013

On Expectations

Filed under: domestic bliss,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 4:05 am
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I’ve been going through my late mother’s box of letters, photos and other memorabilia of importance to her, with a view to organizing it all to be passed on at some time to people who are interested.  I came across this floor plan, labelled in Mum’s handwriting.

I’m fairly sure that this is the house they lived in immediately following their marriage, when Dad was working at the hospital in Ayr, North Queensland.  What interests me most is the extreme modesty of the house by today’s standards of what is suitable for a young married couple.  It looks like a dolls’ house next to the multi-bathroomed monstrosities families currently aspire to, but Mum seemed very excited about it and I’m sure she relished being domestic queen of her own little domain.  Yes I know that sounds terribly patronising and defiant of all the feminist principles, but this was post-war 1948 and I suspect the desire for peace and safety overrode everything else.

The first house Mr K and I owned was in Townsvile, clinging desperately to the lower slopes of Castle Hill.  It was also tiny but had two bedrooms, one of which the Kafkaboys shared.  The laundry was under the house where I spent a lot of time with my buckets of dirty terry towelling nappies.  This was a blessing in disguise as it was much cooler down there than upstairs and I was grateful to escape the heat for 30 minutes with a comfortable chair and a good book.  In the chaos of parenting small children, you have to grab those precious moments when you can.

December 7, 2013

On Blessing The Surf

At the beginning of every summer, there is a ceremonial blessing of the surf at Woorim Beach.  They hold it at 7.45am which explains why I have yet to be there in time to participate.  Also, I usually forget that it’s happening so it’s always a pleasant surprise when I emerge for my morning walk at about 9am to be greeted by an entirely different kind of litter to the usual bottle tops and Big Hamburger paraphernalia.


As the flowery litter becomes more abundant, it dawns on me that it’s Surf Blessing Day.  Woorim looks so beautiful having been lavishly decorated by the little beach elves.  I really must get up earlier next year.


December 1, 2013

On Growing Old Together

Filed under: Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 9:59 am
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“Would It Be So Wrong

by Krista Lukas

to suggest that he move
next door? I don’t want him
gone altogether, neither can I stand
him underfoot. It might be ideal
to holler over the fence,
invite him to dinner.
We’d sit together on the patio, eat
asparagus from his garden,
grilled shrimp under the setting sun,
then kiss the grease from our lips,
maybe more. After,
he’d go home
and watch basketball at full volume,
while I soak in the tub listening to Coltrane.
Then, wearing pajamas, hair uncombed,
I’d curl up in my own living
room with Robert Frost or People
and the cat, the quiet,
the light of a single lamp.”

Surely that’s not too much to ask.

November 21, 2013

On Muttonbirds

Shearwater%2c_or_Muttonbird-1  DownloadedFile

 Muttonbird: what an ugly name for such a beautiful bird.  For this horrendous nomenclature we have to blame an officer of the Royal Marines who called them “the flying sheep” because early settlers on Norfolk Island harvested their close relatives, the providence petrels, for their meat and oil.  Because they nest in shallow burrows, they were easily caught and that particular species of petrel quickly became extinct following annual slaughters of hundreds of thousands of birds.

The muttonbirds of today are the Short-tailed Shearwaters, so called because of their graceful shearing flight moving from centimetres above the water to high in the sky.  Every year, they travel to the Arctic and back to the same burrows on the Eastern coast of Australia from Southern Queensland down to Tasmania, a round trip of 30,000 kilometres.  What an astonishing journey for a seabird weighing around half a kilo.  It’s unsurprising that there are casualties every year which just drop into the sea, starving and exhausted, to wash up on our Eastern beaches.

In the past few weeks, I have seen dozens on Woorim Beach alone and subsequently read reports of much higher than usual numbers failing to make it to their burrows.  This saddens me greatly.  Something is obviously going wrong and it is heartening that there are scientists researching this.  I just wish the current government showed as much interest in environmental problems as they do in demonising asylum seekers.

Anyway, all this put me in mind of a wonderful poem by A.D. Hope.  It’s a little sad but so beautiful.

The Death of the Bird

For every bird there is this last migration;

Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;

With a warm passage to the summer station

Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided

By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come.

Season after season, sure and safely guided,

Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion

With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest.

Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession

and exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;

The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;

Down the long architrave of temple or palace

Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;

That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,

Custom and fear constraining her no longer,

Drives her at last on the waste of leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,

Single and frail, uncertain of her place,

Alone in the bright host of her companions,

Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space.

She feels it close now, the appointed season:

The invisible thread is broken as she flies;

Suddenly, without warning, without reason,

The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers

No way, the wilderness of light no sign,

The immense and complex map of hills and rivers

Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,

And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,

And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,

Receives the tiny burden of her death.

Now I’ve made myself cry but, as I walk along the beach tomorrow, past those fallen bundles of feathery courage, I will again consider the vast distances travelled by these birds, trusting in nature to provide a way.   An absolute miracle.

* information gleaned from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife web page.

November 17, 2013

On Things My Children Teach Me

Filed under: family,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 4:48 am
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I have two children who, for my purposes, I will call DJKafka and BassKafka.  They know who they are.  DJ Kafka was here recently and commented that I never go to the beach.  I used to walk there every morning, picking up litter as I went, a win-win situation.  Since cancer paid me a visit (thanks for nothing cancer), I just got out of the habit because it was difficult enough to leave my bed, let alone plough my way through the sand to the sea.  Now I have been shamed back into my Daily Amble, for which I’m very grateful.

This is how it looked the first day I went back, and I just couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to do it.  Thanks for the motivation DJKafka.

DJKafka also gave me a CD of music from 1974, the year he was born.  It is currently on high rotation in my car.  The music is unexpected and mysteriously trippy, expanding my mind (as we termed it at the time) in rather unexpected directions.  Hmmmm.

April 29, 2012

On Simon and Garfunkel

Filed under: music,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 5:08 am
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Yesterday afternoon, I watched a wonderful documentary on SBS about Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.  It mainly concerned the making of their final album, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’, and it led me to spend too much time today playing all my old S & G LPs.

What a difference forty odd years makes to the lyrics of these songs.  When I first listened to them in the late sixties, I was an adolescent and, like most adolescents, I knew everything.  How I wish I could go back to those days.  My husband agrees, remarking that the main thing we had in common when we first met was that both of us were omniscient!  But life has a way of beating that out of you, and we no longer share that particular character trait.  Far from it.  Neither of us knows much at all about anything really, apart from how best to run each other’s lives.

So back to Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  “When you’re weary, feeling small, 

                                                                               When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;

I’m on your side.  When times get rough

     And friends just can’t be found …..”         and later

“If you need a friend I’m sailing right behind ….”

When I was 19, I had no idea what that was all about, thought I did but found out the hard way that I knew nothing.  I listened to that song again, remembering the sacrifices important people in my life have made for me over the years, tears pouring down my face.

“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me

While I looked around for my possibilities.

I was so hard to please …”

Yes I’m an overly sentimental old woman, but that’s likely to get worse with time so get used to it.  One more before I go and risk boring everybody to teeth-grinding oblivion.

“The words of the prophets are

written on the subway walls,

and tenement halls

And whisper in the sound of silence”

That song never gets old for me.  Must be off now, one more LP to listen too before something mundane happens and reality butts in to spoil my day.

September 10, 2011

On ‘Hell Is Other People’.

I always thought Oscar Wilde said this.  It seems like the sort of thing he would say.  Then a man on the wireless informed me that Jean-Paul Sartre said it.  It seems the sort of thing he would say too, even more so as he was, I believe , an existentialist.  So nobody existed except him.  Which you would think to be rather lonely.  Unless he believed that remark about hell and other people.  I have now officially diverged from my theme too many times and am therefore inhabiting a paradigm in another dimension.  It’s quite nice here, nobody around except me.

Never mind, I’ll begin again.  I spent last weekend in Melbourne, a city which I consider to be my spiritual home – assuming I was rich and could afford to live in one of the ‘nice’ inner-city suburbs, handy to the tram line.  I’m such a pretentious yuppy.  Homeless in Melbourne in winter doesn’t appeal to me at all. (Damn.  Off topic again).  So there I was on the plane, in my precious cubic metre of personal space, when a young woman, shortly to prove even more pretentious and selfish than I, sat in the seat in front of me.  As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, she pushed her seat back to maximum recline, causing the book I was reading to hit me in the nose.  I wasn’t amused, but thought maybe she was unwell or tired, but no.  She ate and drank heartily, talked loudly, told jokes and sang along to her stupid iPod.  I retaliated as best I could by kicking the back of the seat, and I did attempt to borrow a crying baby from the lady over the aisle but she threatened to call security.  Obviously, Ms ‘I Am The Most Important Person In The World’  had no idea of the discomfort she was causing in the row behind her.

At the end of the flight, she gathered up her designer hand luggage and swanned off.  Fontmaster and I chose to wait as the elderly woman in the aisle seat required a wheelchair and she seemed so frail, we didn’t like to crawl over her.  I’m sure Ms IATMIPITW would have trampled her underfoot in a heartbeat as she raced back into her very important life.

Next, walking down Collins Street, keeping to the left, I was confronted by a line of four friends who loved each other so much that they couldn’t bear to leave each other’s sides, so they just swept down the footpath like a human bulldozer, forcing we lesser mortals onto the street where we had to explain ourselves to the oncoming traffic.  Not that this behaviour is not restricted to Melbourne.  You can enjoy it anywhere you go.  I felt like screaming into their stupid smug faces, “Hellooooo.  Is there anybody else on this footpath except you or are we figments of our own imaginations you fucking idiots“.  But I didn’t.  I’m so well brought up – apart from the constant swearing.

Deep breaths everyone, only two more to go, and they are my favorites.

The first one occurred in Little Collins Street where I was attempting to enter Kikki.K, a stationery shop where I like to browse.  Unfortunately for me, Mrs Very Well Dressed But Brainless had arrived before me and, fearing for the safety of her three children (also very trendily dressed and with much more expensive hair-cuts than mine), instructed them to sit in a an unbroken line across the doorway!  Nobody else could enter or leave until Mrs VWDBB had purchased her pencil and left the shop.  To be fair, the kiddies responded quite well to being kicked in the head (very gently of course), and shuffled up a bit to let me through.  Gosh we all laughed.

That night, we went to the State Theatre at the Arts Centre to see the divine Australian ballet.  Our seats are in the second front row, where I hope to breathe my last during a performance of any Graeme Murphy/Kenneth MacMillan ballet.  On one side of us were two women, on the other side, two girls aged about 9 and 11.  As we settled in, it became obvious that they were together as they kept leaning across and shouting to each other.  We offered to swap seats so they could sit together but they were happy to keep shouting.  It was then I noticed that the girls both had large backpacks, jackets and several supermarket bags full food.  Obviously there was a danger of them starving to death while watching the show. These were carefully placed in front of them so that people going to seats further in had to step over the mess.  The demographic of ballet audiences is quite old so that frail elderly people, some with walking sticks, had great difficulty getting past.  The girls were completely oblivious to anybody else’s comfort.  If I had come equipped with a walking stick, I might have walloped both them and there stupid mother, accidentally of course.  These things happen in small crowded spaces don’t they.

April 23, 2011

On The Death of a Beloved Animal

Filed under: family,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 8:32 am
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Not long ago, Durdlin and Burfit had to say goodbye to their dearly loved cat, Doctor Octagon, known to her many friends as The Doctor. She was old and she was sick and letting her go was the right thing to do but it must have been so very, very hard to watch her leave.    

Trying to express sympathy and comfort in my usual bumbling way, I said that  she would always be with them, padding about the house, as long as they remembered her.  Upon thinking this over later, I realized I had inadvertently touched upon the truth.

I am aging fast and have always had animals in my life, domesticated and otherwise.  If you include all the  various forms of wildlife I have attempted to nurture, I am presently being followed by a veritable menagerie of dogs, cats, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs and heaven knows what else.  It’s no wonder I never feel lonely.   

September 1, 2010

‘Tis The Season

Filed under: life,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 2:49 am
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Hooray, it’s spring when we all frolic and frisk and fa lalalala hello clouds hello sky lambs run around in circles and some women spring clean.  What’s your favorite season?

My answer depends on where I’m living at the time.  In Queensland, we don’t really have four seasons; there’s summer, which goes on forever, and then perhaps a few weeks when it’s cold enough to snuggle up under many blankets in bed.  Spring in Queensland is nothing but a harbinger of another endless, hot, humid and sweaty summer; a time of eternally frizzy hair and underwear that always seems too tight.  Don’t bother getting excited about clothes or shoes, it’s too damn hot to wear much.  Oh, did I say summer shits me?  Maybe you guessed.

So the best season in Queensland is what passes for autumn.  Finally, it’s safe to turn off the air-conditioner.

Living almost anywhere else, in more temperate climes, spring is queen because winter has been hard and really cold.  Trees which have been skeletons for months, are covered in buds which will become leafy green lushness and fragrant flowers.  The breeze, instead of smelling of wood-smoke (although that’s special too) starts to waft the scent of jasmine over the suburbs.  Spring bulbs pop up unexpectedly all over the place.  It’s wonderful.

Then there’s autumn when the leaves change colour and eventually carpet the parks and gardens.  The world looks, feels and smells different.  People say that Queensland weather is the best in the world.  I say bollocks to that.  Our weather may be perfect but lordy it is boring and ennervating and tedious and makes people mad so that they murder their families every Christmas.  We all go troppo here for months on end and everyone pretends it’s glorious and life-enhancing.  Nup.  It’s melanoma wrapped up in pretty paper.

So that’s why I am going to Victoria for two weeks, to bask in the beauty of a real spring before coming back here to climate hell and 8 months of trying not to get into any summer induced fights with my long-suffering nearest and dearest.  I promise you all that one day, when my gentleman friend’s gold lotto ticket finally wins 4 million, we will spend summer in Tasmania and winter in Queensland and overnight I will become adorable and nice to be near.  Promise.

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