Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mundane Matters Not...?


It has been an interesting end to the week and a great Shabbat. I will miss being close to our two shules and I am hoping to have a kiddush for my son's birthday and to farewell my two kehillot but not really as we will probably spend a lot of shabbosim in Melbourne.  I actually want to combine my shule which I am a member of and the shule that I go to regularly for a shabbes kiddish. It has been a while since I have had the pleasure of the company of many Hamayanites and that does not by any means imply a lack in the kehilla where I am presently davening. They are also an amazing community of really good neshamot.
Nir's footy season is nearly at an end. The cricket will also start soon and that is another reason to travel to Melbourne apart from being with friends for shabbosim.
Someone asked me 'How many Jews are in Drouin?' Truthfully I do not know, but I guess I will find out eventually. I am sure there are some and I will try and host some study evenings or just a weekday parsha shiur if I can get someone out to hold it if I get more than five RSVP's to a bagels brunch or even something on Rosh Hashanna. It will be interesting to find out just who is Jewish in Drouin, Longwarry and Bunyip. You just never know.
I have had more success with an ad in the paper re house hunting than through the agents. The fact that I have not yet gotten a job in the area is a big MINUS in my search for a house. Trouble is I will not get work until I am actually in the area. At least we are house sitting for six weeks and I am seeking someone about the private rental of a farm house about ten minutes outside of Drouin.
Renting in the city for a single parent who is presently jobless is impossible. Rents even for one bedroom starts at $300 and to be honest my chances of work are far better in the country than in the city. It is far easier to get from one school to another in the country and my son will be at a small country school where the atmosphere is far more intimate than a school of of 450 plus students. They often say that students who are home schooled have a far stronger sense of self identity than those who go to bigger schools. That may be so, but I am sure there are people who do survive the bigger school environment due to a supportive and loving family environment. Home and community are very important in building a child's self image. I had my first six years of schooling through primary correspondence and really did not take school work seriously until I was sent away to boarding school in Brisbane. I considered the booklet we did every week over a few hours a morning for four or five days to be some fun. We did not learn past around 11 or 12 noon most days. We started at 8am and finished in three to four hours and then had the afternoons off to do our own exploration of the property and muck around with the horses, dogs, pet lambs or calves or roos, build cubby houses and then burn them down when we tried to light a fire either for warmth or to cook damper or steal some roo meat, annoy our mother and send her into anxious rage as she struggled to control us. She would rip a few switches off the Appel trees and belabour our behinds with them to have us gleefully chortle 'Doesn't hurt Mum. Doesn't hurt.' It did a little but we were not going to let her know that. We used to enjoy her getting angry and lapse into a thicker Austrian accent and bemoan the fact that she never swore until she had children. She was civilised and a lady. We were the animals that has annihilated her sense of culture and decency.
Then fed up to the back teeth, she would say, 'Wait until your father gets home. He will get out the strap on the pair of you.' That was enough to send us under the house with fright because Dad was scary. He did not even have to hit us. He just looked at us and we knew not to test him and if we did get a probably well deserved lick or two of the strap or a whack with the cleaning rod for the rifles, we did have a red mark on our legs and buttocks that lasted in our memories for some months.  My father did not scream or shout. He was business like and fair. He did not hit us every time mother wanted us hit, but when he did it was simply, 'Come here now.' he would beckon us into the shed and take down the cleaning rod from his rifle cabinet. We would walk out to the shed tense and weepy. We would get into the shed. He would test the strap or the cleaning rod against a bag of horse feed.
   'Bend over.' We did with out questioning or protests. WHACK. WHACK. The strap would come down quickly and efficiently on our buttocks or the backs of our legs. Never more than two or three. We would flinch and when it was all over and our father had stated rather matter of fact, 'That's enough nonsense now. You do as your mother asks.' We would run from the shed glad it was over and we were good for maybe a week or so. Once we had our punishment from our father it was over. No mention was made of it. My mother was however different. She gloated over our hidings. for her, our hidings from our father were what she had over us. They were used to goad us into compliance for days after and this is what made us often resentful of her. Sometimes I felt she never gave us a chance to be good. She always expected the worst of us and when she tended to focus on the negative it became a self fulfilling prophecy. We played up on her. Our youngest brother became the angel who could do no wrong and I particularly was the 'bad' child. the eldest who should know better. Also my father had an older brother who my mother hated with a passion.
He actually was not so bad a person, but Mum demonised him. To her, he was smelly, he ate lots of ice cream, he was lazy, he was fat and had a big bottom, (the worst insult she could give my brother and I was 'you have a fat bottom just like uncle D___'), he hated her (whether he really did not not, I doubt) but she would come back from Sunday afternoons at Grans full full of seething anger at perceived insults that she the poor little Austrian had endured from my father's family and she made fun of them to us and tried to instill in us a dislike of them too. Dad tried to tease her, which only made matters worst. My mother lacked a sense of humour at times and took herself very seriously. She did not forgive or forget percieved insults but then she was also very prone to be conned by those who would impose on my father and her. I found her often very difficult to understand.
Anyway I have diverged into memoir which brings me to the work I have seriously started on my bullying text which I am trying to do a bit each day, whether it is 500 or 1,000 words a day depends on the time I have available but I am steadily going to plow through it to around 25 - 30 pages   before I send off to a publisher and if I can't get the interest of a publishing house I will have to slowly plug away by myself. Maybe self publish if I can, who knows?  It is a very harsh subject and the story starts with a funeral. It ends with a broken man trying to reconnect his family and to bring his children hope and understanding despite the loss of their mother. It is about rising from the ashes of one's life into new growth and new chapters.
The world is forever changing growing and recreating itself as it will.....


jackiejr said...

What a textured piece of writing. I coudld see it all so clearly: the horses, the hidings, the cubby house and the fires. I was in another world for a few minutes. Wonderful!

Ilana Leeds said...

Thanks Jackie. I guess that is what writing is all about. Recreating worlds. We were natural fire bugs and stole flour to cook dampers and until we had the idea of digging holes and camp ovens we burnt down about six or seven cubby houses. once the mail man told Mum 'You got a bush fire in yer chook yard.' Mum nearly had a heart attack. There was a column of flame rising up over in a corner of our big main chook yard. The hessian bags and wooden beams had caught fire and I was nearly burnt alive rescuing my dolls and their pram. my brother had gone to get the 'fire hose' but could not undo the tap connection.
do you want to swap editing some time. I badly need an editor but I can't pay yet. If ever I get published we could go percentages? Think about it.