Dear Me, (Steve)

Hi. How are you? I know you’re there. Pretty sure too, it’s mostly just you snoops around in here. So be it. From now on, you’re blog-ee numero uno!

It’s only a few months now until you hang up the pliers for good. Also, barely a week gone by since ‘Spring Plains’, home for 18 years, passed on to your neighbours at ‘Spoilbank’.

‘Watchyagunnadonow?’ has arisen, a zillion times. Also, ‘sad?’

First one’s always easy. Gunnadowhat’snext, o’course! Life’s a revolving door! Second one, you lied, over and over. Truth is, sadness is eating at you in the strangest of ways. The months are whizzing by, but you’re counting the days – a kinda tortoise/ hare situation, like they’re taking turns at piggy-back. When you tear off each page of the calendar, there’s frenzied rabbit scratching’s bottom right-hand corner, and mounds of turtle-shit blanking out each day.

Because as the months gallop away, you’re hangin’ on to all the lasts – the day to day. And it’s not about last latching of the house-paddock gate, or last glance at the kitchen table or clock on the wall. (Which hasn’t ticked for a year) With Denise gone already these past eighteen months, together mealtime memories are as dead as the batteries in the clock.

Still, there’s the pied butcher bird in the whitewood tree near the old laundry, greets the dawn with trills and warbles to rival the greatest of operatic virtuosos, and the rusty fire-pit near the gen-set shed that more than anything else speaks of family, friends and good times.

No, it’s more about last section of feral netting at Nehla Downs, and last shift of the plant for the very last contract at Glenariff. That’s just for starters. Gunna be a tsunami of lasts in the very last weeks.

There’s firsts too – first time you’ve been able to get close, really close to Rob – last but not least of your kids to work (slave) with you on the fencing plant. Down through the years there’s been Shane, then his partner Lou, (not your kid, but one you’d be proud to have!) then Becky, Kate, and of course, their mother who did the hardest yards pre-jack-hammer. N.B. To date: no budding fencers amongst them. Let’s see when interest rates hike!

If Rob moves on before the season ends, it will give rise to another last – last local or last international – your passing parade of offsiders and workers, both male and female, whose foibles, tears and laughter enrich and enliven your ramblings. One in particular will always hold a special place.   

Rob has his own first and lasts. He’s transitioning, a personal journey we can all follow, as soon as his upcoming memoir hits the big time. Your part of the bargain is a mullet. At 65! Betcha his transition has much more chance of success than your pissy fingerling!

Meantime, you write. Your memoir/bio (‘Dreamin Longa Baaka’) is taking shape, bit by painstaking bit. But your dreams are haunted. Because you had no idea how grounding such a dog’s breakfast (as your MS is now) could be! Did you? What began as a quest for answers into the tragic life and death of your youngest brother has had the unintended effect of highlighting your own failings! How could you not have known that memoir, honest memoir is mirr-oir? Didn’t you know that by including a backwards glance at your own life for perspective –  a youth lived to the max rather than to a standard – you would shine a light on your own failings?

Indeed, by blending memoir with bio, you discovered your brother’s weaknesses were yours also.  But lucky you! By gift of birth, yours were navigable. Chris’s rudder broke in the womb.

 Another milestone to give you a smile! ‘Sally’s Snoozy Thursday’ your short fiction entry for ‘Outback Anthology # 7’ made the cut. A fun, speculative poke in the eye for pollies and God botherers, it’s pure Oz, and yet global. Many thanks to competition judges for ‘getting it’

Also exciting, Jessica Howard, editor and journo for ‘Bush Journal’ decided for her August issue to revisit Hakan Ludwigson’s ‘Balls n Bulldust’. Since you were amongst his photographic subjects, 40 odd years ago, Jessica tracked you down for interview, her theme for the issue, ‘transition’. Touché!  Naturally, you made mention of your mullet! Had to! Lisa, ‘Bush Journal’ photographer and business partner, kindly insisted you keep your hat on!

Til next time, Steve.