Over the fence from the house behind
came the vine’s great swathes
covered with large grape vine leaves
…….. but no bunches of grapes.
The maintenance man for the other
flats looked over the back fence
said its back posts were rotten.
After that I pushed the wandering
vines back over the fence
or cut them off together.
After several years in my flat two
wet summers following wet winters
released the vine from summer drought
dryness. It surged over the fence again
this summer bringing a rash of single
green buds, some ballooning into large
ungainly prickly green things … choko !
Yurk ! Not a bunch of grapes !
Just tasteless textureless colourless
choko needing chutney or relish
to make it tolerable to eat.
“No flavour or texture !” said
my neighbour in the next flat.
“What a waste of a plant !”
The internal procedure to check if
I had inherited a major flaw from
my parents’ genes was one at a
private hospital where I paid for it all.
As both my grandparents and a grandmother
all had this serious condition I was
at high risk of developing this life
threatening medical condition
said the medical world.
As I had no symptoms yet I was
not eligible for free treatment
said the national health system.
By the time the symptoms arrive
this condition is at the terminal stage.
The specialist said the internal
procedure showed me to be at a
risk level so high that I was
accepted for the public free list
for the next procedure which should
e done in twelve months time.
Yesterday I checked the date for
that free procedure, It will be three
months later than recommended
by the specialist, subject of course
to the usual system delays.
To have the procedure done within
the twelve month period I will have
to pay at the private hospital again.
Our property market in our
mega metro cities soared with
houses there fetching unheard
of high prices. It all seemed so
strange, remote from our little
provincial city as we saw it all
on TV and newspaper reports.
These changes in the property
market spread to other cities.
key cities in businesses to port
networks. Their house prices
climbed too, again out of reach
of first home buyers. Now
investors are buying these homes.
Even so we are surprised to
find that nice little house on our
nice little street, so ordinary,
was put up for sale at a very
high price. My cousin was told by
her son to bid low, the agent said
the market was competitive. She
bid $15,000 above that price.
But that offer was beaten by a yet
higher bid – how much we wonder ?
My cousin will not be moving
into my street. She still bids
against other buyers for the few
houses for sale in our city.
Is it time to pick up the girls
from school ? time to park on the
school road ? Wait for them to
swerve out of the river of children
streaming along the footpath, climb
into the car ? to little brother’s joy ?
Each afternoon little brother is
so excited waiting to go to
school, getting under Mum’s feet,
urging her on as she gets ready
to leave. He eagerly climbs into
his car seat to be buckled in.
They drive down the hill, weave
through road islands, road lanes
and arrows across the busy highway
that streams with traffic
cutting between home and school.
On down the side streets to wait
in the road near the school.
Once the girls are buckled into
their car seats its off home for
much needed afternoon tea
before carrying on to dancing
and swimming lessons, horse
riding classes. High points of
the busy school girl’s day.
The eight year old joyfully creates
with paper, scissors, sellotape, glue,
gel pens. She makes pictures, birthday
cards, invitations, folds origami
animals with Auntie Jo from the
book she got for her last birthday.
She efficiently makes meals and
teas in the kitchen standing at the
bench on the Minnie Mouse stool.
Spending the day at Nana’s place
cooking with Nana is exciting for her.
Since the school concert of fifties,
sixties rock’n’roll songs for which
she practised endlessly, loudly, she
goes to hip hop dance classes where
she participates so energetically.
She likes the pretty ballet costumes
but her co-ordination is well behind
others of her age. She is happy
when dancing hip hop.
We are glad to see her finding so
much joy in all these activities for
she has to slog so hard at school.
Her reading, writing, are now good
for her age, her maths is improving
with Auntie Jo’s help.
Yet all this is at a great cost of
huge effort and energy at school,
then at home with her parents in
balance and co-ordination
exercises after tea each day.
Dyslexia is a life sentence.
The nine year old was an edgy
child, a nervy child, a worrier.
She cried when Mum left her at
preschool, then at school even after
a term of weekly preschool visits.
When she finally settled into her
five year olds’ class she was
found to be a very able pupil
progressing well in reading,
writing, maths, though somewhat
jittery in her perfectionism.
A matter of fact teacher calmed
her down in her third year. She
blossomed in her last term in
new horse riding classes with
behind scenes advice from Grandma.
The same teacher in her fourth
year was impressed with all the
horse stories, pictures, and new
blooming brilliance in mathematics.
Now the nine year old is right
out of her shell excelling at
class camp walking ropes ten
feet up in the trees, abseiling
down a ten foot tower.
She will always be edgy
but now her abilities flow.
A marble with my name on it
has come up in the genetic
lottery yet again with more
flawed genes from my parents.
Now a new specialist scrutinises
my flesh inch by inch with his
little lens, watched by the nurse.
So many of us here descended
from white Scottish and Irish
immigrants have little inbuilt
protection from the sun’s rays
from above us and reflected
from the vast surrounding ocean
near the equator far from the barriers
wide spread polluting northern clouds.
We burn bright red in the sun –
no adequate screening cover
until twenty years ago.
Damage lasted long after burnt
white skin paled again during
fruitless attempts to turn brown.
In our later years our weakened
skin cells sprout small hostile
warts that burrow down sending
out roots to devour, to kill our flesh.
Only the scalpel remove them.
My little flat built over
forty years ago has three
sliding doors where swinging
hinged doors would take up
far more room to pass.
Over two years ago a mighty
earthquake shook us all
violently, my sliding doors
were shaken side to side which
their makers never intended.
A little later the kitchen door’s
metal fitting, intended to slide
along its rail, were rattled loose
the screws loosened in the door.
With fittings clunking awkwardly
the door sank into the carpet.
A helpful builder took apart
pelmet, door, fittings, then
reassembled them so now
that door slides easily.
The bathroom door now wants
its spotlight. On a different
angle from the kitchen door it
has taken longer to come apart.
I know its clunking is ominous.
Mr Builder please come back !
Sliding doors are money grubbers !
My little flat has little wall
space in my kitchen for a little
whiteboard for engagements,
daily times I must remember.
Cupboards stove fridge washing
machine all throng its walls.
My diaries migrate these days
for I no longer have a desk at
work where I spread my paper.
I do not see those shifting
diaries, I forget important dates.
So now I keep a list on the
fridge for crucial dates
over the next few months.
I often pass the fridge
then remember to check
the next few days ahead.
There are more medical
appointments than I had
realised, my body must
be getting quite ricketty
in my drawn out old age.
So I make sure I also
study my business dates
and social engagements.
Being born on 29 February
little brother’s birthday is
problematic some years so his
parents chose 1 March for the
day on those in between years,
For his third birthday they
excelled themselves with treats.
On 28 February the concrete truck
came down the drive, poured
foundations for the new site of
Dad’s prefab office by the fence.
Little brother was wide eyed.
On 1 March a truck with a crane
on its back drove on to the back
lawn. It lifted Dad’s office from
patio to lawn, then on to its
new foundations by the fence.
Little brother was ecstatic.
He had been kept home from
playgroup so these sights could
enrich his life and education.
His parents also knew that they
would have been in dire trouble
if he had come home to find these
jobs completed in his absence.
They were still living down the
morning when the mowing man
mowed the lawn while little
brother was out with Grandpa.