I Can See The Sun.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to focus on writing today. I’m perched on the verandah of a holiday cottage in Daylesford. My bride and I are having a few days away to celebrate our anniversary. Right now, the love of my life is having a nap. This morning we trekked around the Botanical Gardens, had a coffee at a cafe in the main drag and perused the offerings of the local shops. We held hands, walked a lot, laughed, and savoured the fact that we had  all the time in the world. I bought a new belt  and a cake of hand made soap. Caz bought a woven tote bag and some purple paint for her next painting. They weren’t big purchases. They were just a small way of spoiling ourselves.

After our shopping trip we drove back to our little cottage, had lunch and pondered our good fortune. While I dozed behind the cover of a book, Caz got her craft thing happening. Outside our little hideaway a thunderstorm was brewing.  I was with a mate yesterday and we were bemoaning the fact that Sunbury never seems to get decent storms any more.  We remembered the storms of summers gone when after a few days of sweltering heat it’d get humid and thunder and lightning would break the sky open and down it came – heaps of rain.  Gutters became streams, washing got soaked and kids in thongs and shorts would be told to “get in out of it”.

Well here I am a day later, as I said, perched on a different verandah, watching and listening to a good old fashioned storm.  I’ve heard more thunder in the last half hour than I have for ages.  And the mass of grey clouds that rolled in after a hot morning are sending down the real thing.  The rain is tapping out a sweet tune on the tin roof.  The trees that surround the cottage are dripping with relief.  Yep, it’s a cool change – a bit like this holiday my bride and I are having.

Over the last ten years we’ve had our share of dry spells.  we’ve had times when worries of family life have built up like humidity in summer.  We’ve had our share of thunderstorms, where our opposing views clash like angry clouds.  And we’ve had tears fall like rain upon our parched souls.  But always after the anger, there’s a sense the air is cleared and things are starting afresh.  Ten years of marriage, ten years of life giving rain.  I’m going now cause my bride’s awake and I’m sure I can see the sun.


Let’s Go Out The Back

It’s funny how sometimes I scramble around looking for something to write about. I cast my mind back over the week and think of things that have stopped me in my tracks, made me smile, or perhaps made me sad. I’m at the tail end of what has been a hectic but productive week. There’s been heaps going on, all of it positive but still the subject of todays blog eluded me. And then! in a flash of inspiration, or maybe desperation I thought , why not actually write about our verandah and of course the dreaming there on.

The first thing I’ll tell you about verandah is that it’s a big bugger. It’s about ten meters long and nearly five meters wide. Impressive hey! But I’m old enough to appreciate that size isn’t everything and it’s what you do with your verandah that counts, not how big it is! We’ve been renting this place for nearly four years. I still remember doing a walk through with the agent, stepping out the back door  and getting my first glimpse of the outdoor area. My bride and I scooted home to our old place hastily filled in the application form said a quick prayer and talked non stop about the verandah.

We had to wait a couple of weeks to move in and during that time I’d pretty much forgotten the inside layout of the house, all I keep seeing was the verandah. In my imagination I saw the four of us whiling away the hours under the shelter of treated pine and colourbond. I pictured alfresco dining, coffee sipping, story writing and of course a comfy spot to have a smoke. When the agent rang to tell us we’d got the verandah, ‘I mean house,’ our packing took on a manic pace. Our old house had a nice spot out the back , but this new joint had the Taj Mahil hanging off of it, and it was all ours.

Looking back over the nearly four years that we’ve been living here I realise that nearly every plan, most arguments and all of the wonderful bits in between have taken place under the corrugated big top. Out on that verandah, my bride and I have laughed and loved. We’ve worried about the kids, thanked god for the kids. We’ve planned the budget, and adjusted the budget when my overspending has got us into bother. The night of my stepdaughter’s deb, me and the bride sat out there till six in the morning savouring every moment of our girls coming out. The old verandah has probably lost count of all the, ‘I love you’s and all the I’m sorry’s. The verandah is where we’ve had our fights, made our peace, planned our future and listened to 100’s of hours of radio ads.

It seems whenever life gets a bit much Caz or myself utters that comfortable line, Let’s go out the back. Those five words are an unspoken code for lets talk. Lets start again away from the business that is the kitchen. Lets go over it with a coffee in one hand and our hearts in the other and find our way forward. There’s something about sitting out there and having a smoke that makes all the hard stuff seem doable. Something about looking out at the sky, looking into my brides eyes that makes me think we can handle anything.

I reckon they should make our politicians move out of that big building in Canberra and stick them all on a shady lean-to. Occasionally I’ll see a snippet of parliament on the telly and I’m always struck be the closeness of the chamber. I’d defy anyone to try to solve problems in a place like that. The honourable members need to get out in the air, here the roof creaking from the sun and listen to the rain playing a tune above there heads. We should have a national verandah, with comfy chairs, mugs of coffee and maybe then we’d see politicians talk like real people and act like they care.

I’d be lost without our good old verandah. It’s where I do most of my thinking. It’s my place to take stock. My spot to think about the day that was. To think about what I achieved and to rethink things I may have buggered up. Sometimes out there I catch a glimpse of a world where everyone gets an even break. It’s a nice picture, you should drop by some time. See ya, I’m goin out the back.

Our Verndah

Our Verndah

My Sun Through The Clouds

This weeks blog is about my bride Carolyn , who is my greatest supporter, my best friend and my confidence . Carolyn  and I met twelve years ago in a creative writing class in Sunbury. I was lost when we met . I’d given up on the notion of ever falling in love again. I felt depressed, trapped. I thought that my life was mapped  out. That the way I was living was just the way it was. My days were full of work and my nights were long and empty.  I reckoned love was something that happened to handsome young men , and I didn’t feel handsome and I sure  didn’t feel  young.

After we’d met we started writing to each other. Little letters weaved their way through the posties hands and with each delivery we discovered more about each other. She told me she liked my writing. Told me about her life and I wrote back and told her about mine.  I couldn’t believe that this beautiful creature was writing to me. When each letter arrived I’d read it like my life depended on it, and looking back now I reckon it did.

We fell in love swapping letters. She wrote. I wrote . I’d never been any good at courting. First dates, making conversation, stealing a first kiss and ordering wine at a restaurant weren’t my strong suit. But with a pen and paper I felt I could just be me. I told her about my world. My kids. My fears. My failings. Caz signed each letter, ‘ God bless you,’ and as the letter writing continued I knew he had.

Like call good romantic comedies our path took a few turns to the left and right before we became a couple. Caz had two young children and I thought I was too set in my ways to become a step-parent. I moved away thinking I needed a fresh start.  But through it all we kept writing to each other.

The day before valentine’s day 10 years ago, we got married. I’ll never forget how beautiful she looked that day, because she looks just as beautiful  today. In our journey since  we’ve been through a lot. The young stepchildren are now young adults. We’ve supported each other through mental illness, family hassles, my midlife crisis . And through it all my Bride has been there helping me find myself. And teaching me how to like myself.

Carolyn  is a gentle encourager  . She loves me and the kids in a way that no one else could. She feeds me not just with stuff that goes into a bowl, but with stuff that goes into my heart. She balances the budget. Paints, draws and writes with  passion.  She loves cats and old people and Abba and Wham. She  gives so much of herself that at times I think she’ll break. But she never does.

For 44 years I felt ugly.  But thanks to her I now feel handsome. My Bride makes the impossible seem attainable. She’s the sun breaking through the clouds. She was the one that tells me to keep on trying . She’s the one that keeps on loving me no matter how many times I stuff up.

We share our days, our lives and  our dreams. We surprise each other. Sometimes annoy each other but through it all find a way to love each other. The weekend after next we’re off for a holiday to celebrate our anniversary. My bride has booked a little cottage so it will just be the two of us on a different verandah , talking, dreaming and laughing . Dont bother calling the mobile, Cause I won’t be answering.