how i became a refugee rights advocate

This morning on twitter I retweeted this tweet,

Lebanon has received more #asylum seekers from #Syria in last 24 hours than #Australia has in all of 2013. #auspol

by Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. Very soon someone I don’t know responded with this,

@wildecrafted @Kon_K Who cares? You can bet they won’t be housed in air conditioned luxury & paid welfare in Lebanon #notourproblem #auspol

Who cares? I care!

I’ll admit that lately, for the same reasons I haven’t blogged in almost seven months, I haven’t been keeping up with the news about asylum seekers & refugees or the awful race-to-the-bottom politics of the two major political parties in Australia like I used to but my values have not changed.

When I was 21 years old I went on a convergence from Perth to the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) just out of Port Augusta in South Australia. At the time I didn’t understand the history of mandatory detention in Australia, and if I’m honest I didn’t really understand why I was going on the convergence.

I first heard about the convergence when I was at a friend’s house, we were sitting on her bed eating highly nutritious mi goreng two minute noodles when I noticed a poster on her bedroom wall that was promoting the 2003 convergence to Baxter IDC.

“Shell, what’s Baxter?” I asked.

Between mouthfuls Shelley told me what Baxter was and we talked about people who had fled persecution and wound up in prisons here in Australia, detained indefinitely without charge or trial. I knew some of this stuff, I’d seen it on the news at my parent’s house but I didn’t yet know that there were people standing up and saying it was wrong.

It was a couple of weeks later when I was hanging out at a feral little bunker of awesomeness called Groovy Space (the home of a local junk percussion band) that my friend Scoutt told me that another convergence to Baxter was being planned and it was happening in a few weeks. She asked if I wanted to come.

There were around 80 of us on the bus from Perth to Baxter. It took us 28 hours to get there, the bus had two drivers who took turns to drive and to sleep in a bed at the back of the bus, we stopped infrequently.

For the three days that we were at Baxter I experienced more than I could have imagined when I signed up to go. I saw a friend, who was well known for his non-violent direct action (NVDA) workshops, get punched in the face by a particularly aggressive police officer. I saw people trampled by horses. I saw helium balloons popped by cops holding pins. I saw the cuts on the face of a fellow Perth activist after his face was rammed into the ground by the police officer who arrested him. I heard our friend tell us about how he’d been arrested because he was holding a camera that had recorded the police brutality and of how the film was wiped clean when he received his camera back. I saw asylum seekers climb onto the roof of the detention centre and heard them call out to us. I chanted “AZADI” (which means freedom in Farsi) with the hundreds of other activists who had come from every state and territory in Australia to protest Prime Minister John Howard’s cruel policies.

While all of this was certainly powerful it was the experience of keeping an overnight vigil at the front gates of the centre with a small handful of the hundreds of convergence attendees that really affected me. We spent the night huddling together under blankets, running on the spot and doing star jumps in an attempt to stave off the chill from of the cold Autumn night in the desert. We discussed anything and everything, always mindful of the people detained in the IDC we sat before. As the sun rose that morning I was struck by the beauty of the vast desert sky. As I stood to face to rising sun the stars still glowed in the dark night sky behind me. I felt free.

The children, the women and the men who were detained at Baxter IDC could not see the horizon. They could not see the simple beauty of the morning washing over the desert. They were not free.

It was in that moment that I knew, I really knew, why I was at the convergence. It was at that point that I understood my own privilege in a way I never had before and it was at that point that I silently vowed to myself, with tears in my eyes, that I would fight for the freedom of those seeking asylum in Australia. They deserve freedom as much as I do.

We won some things during that period of the refugee rights campaign, and in 2007 when John Howard was finally defeated by Kevin Rudd we all had high hopes. Unfortunately since then we have seen a return to policies every bit as inhumane as those of the Howard era.

Thursday June 20, 2013 is World Refugee Day. This Sunday (June 16) the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) are hosting a rally calling for an end to the mandatory detention of  asylum seekers and for an end to the awful policy known as “The Pacific Solution”. I will be there, with my children, because the least I can do is spend a couple of hours of my weekend marching for an end to mandatory detention and the closure of offshore immigration detention facilities.

 

posted by wildecrafted in activism and have No Comments

the beach across the road

Here in Geraldton we’ve been living in a suburb called Beachlands. It’s full of old fibro houses and it’s a bit ugly, but there’s no other houses between ours and the beach. There is our road, a big wall, a four lane highway, a train track, and another road, but no other houses so that makes it beachfront right?! Ha.

We’ve only been to the beach a handful of times since we’ve been here, much less than once a week on average. There was a time where I was ducking over there for a solitary walk as soon as Bean got home from work but then his hours changed for the Winter and it was getting dark by the time he was dropped back from work each day so the walks didn’t continue.

Bean’s hours have changed again and it’s starting to warm up a bit here now. The last few days it has been hot. In fact, last night was so hot I slept in my undies with the ceiling fan on. I’ve been joking that it must be Geraldton’s comfort tax on my enjoyment of the beach yesterday, because we really enjoyed it.

Yesterday was the second consecutive day we wandered over there after Bean walked in the door at the end of the day and it was just lovely.

The sprogs played chasey with the waves, I scrunched my feet in the sand, we talked about what next… and we’re none the wiser after talking about it. Really, what next?!

I left the sprogs digging a pool at the water’s edge with Bean and went for a short walk up the beach. Even though I’ve been so lonely up here and I’ve been craving companionship I have felt desperate for time alone too. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the mundane nature of daily life up here. I’ve felt that my life has revolved around making food, cleaning up after the sprogs and entertaining the sprogs with little to no outside input. I’ve been on autopilot for a while now, not really conscious of what I’m doing but just acting out of habit.

In the last few months I’ve had many low points in my interactions with the sprogs and expectations of them, and myself, that are not based in reality.

The walk yesterday evening, however short it may have been, gave me time to breath and caused a shift for me.

This morning I woke feeling more refreshed than I have in a long time and I felt enthusiastic about spending the day with my sprogs.

Maybe it was the walk? Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m leaving here in 5 short days? I don’t know, but whatever the cause I’m grateful for it.

The sprogs and I went to the green grocer this morning and stocked up on bananas, strawberries, watermelon and apple. We came home long enough to pop it in the fridge before heading out again in search of a paddle pool. We found one at the second shop we went to, twenty dollars thank you very much. Perfect.

We got home and the sprogs had a little rest while I inflated the pool so when they woke up it was ready to be filled. They hoped in with the hose feeding cold water in while I bucketed in scalding hot water from the tap. As one of the billions of buckets I carted was filling up I remembered the hippy bubble bath we bought yesterday and chucked a bit of that in too. The warm, bubbly paddle pool kept them amused for a couple of hours! When they finally got out we watched an episode of Grand Designs together on ABC iView before they decided they wanted to hop in the pool again about 10 minutes before Bean got home from work. The second time they were in there I decided it looked like so much fun I got my clothes off and jumped in with them.

I started swishing up the water and got some serious bubbles happening, we were a pile of bubbly giggles and it was so much fun. I think I’ll have sore arms tomorrow from all that vigorous water swishing but it was so worth it and the three of us are looking forward to more bubbly fun again tomorrow.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (5)

a beautiful sunny day trip

A week or so before Sprout’s 5th birthday this past July we got a brand new car, a Toyota Prius C (funny little hatch back hybrid petrol/electric car). We took it for a maiden voyage to Kalbarri, 150km away from Geraldton, just for the day.

Neither Bean or I had been to Kalbarri before, and obviously the sprogs hadn’t either.

We were suitably impressed. The day was warm and sunny, the people were happy and helpful… with the single exception of the racist git at the fish and chip shop who revealed his racist git-ishness after we’d bought our dinner from him.

When we first got into town we had a hot bevy at one of the cafes, grabbed a new sunhat each for Sprout and I then we took a drive out to some gorges. The Prius did very well on the gravel roads despite being a city car and the sproggets were happy enough to look out the window and be merry since the new car most definitely still had novelty value.

The gorges we were at were very exposed and quite busy so we weren’t so keen to have our lunch there. We got back in the car and found somewhere a little way down the road that offered shade, some water to dip our feet in, and a few less people.

After lunch Bean was itching to check out the surf break Jake’s Point. There was a large rock pool at Jake’s so while Bean was taking photos of surfers and cursing the fact that we couldn’t fit his surfboard into or onto the Prius the sprogs and I had a look in the rock pool. There were a few interesting shells, a crab and a seastar that was unfortunately already dead.

It was windy at Jake’s and the sprogs were getting cold because they’d got their kit off and had a paddle in the rock pool. I chucked a little tanty about not wanting to sit on a beach watching people surf & worrying about how close the sprogs would get to the edge of the rocks so Bean reluctantly agreed it was time to go.

We headed to another couple of beaches for a quick look but my absolute favourite, and the one we spent the most time at was the last one we checked out. Since it’s been a couple of months I can’t recall which of the colourful names this beach had been blessed with, I like to hope it was the one called Rainbow Beach (or something to that effect)…

We parked at the top here and walked down a path in a small gorge to the small, sheltered section of sand & tiny crushed shells.

It was such a magical place, although the sign at the end of the path warning us that lives had been lost at that beach reminded us of the danger in the beauty that lay before us.

We climbed the beautiful sandstone rocks at the far end of the beach to look out to the ocean.

We found ourselves standing next to some rushing water. Dangerously beautiful. We watched the water come in and go out with the tide.

Bean and I held tight to the sprogs hands, taking in the sights and the smells of the sea air before we headed back down to the beach to look at shells.

The sprogs and I managed to make a rainbow with the little crushed shells around us while Bean explored some little nooks under the cliffs on the other side of the beach.

The sun was setting, our tummies were grumbling and we knew we had to get back up that path through the rocks so we started to head back in to town to find some dinner before the drive back to Geraldton.

We found the aforementioned racist git fish & chips which we thoroughly enjoyed eating while watching the sun slip into the ocean at the town beach.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (6)

a brief fling with television

The house we’re renting for our short time in Geraldton is furnished. Not one single item of furniture in the house is to my taste, but whatever hey? We’re only renting it for four months and two of them have passed fairly incredibly uneventfully already.

The house comes with television. Three of them actually.

This is the first time Bean and I have ever lived in a house with television. Neither of us owned a TV when we got together so we saw no good reason to change that once we started living together. Blissfully we’ve lived without TV, relying on our computers to view TV shows and movies online when we wanted.

Last year, while living through a wet Winter in the tiny shed, I introduced the sprogs to Playschool. When we needed a change of mood and heading outside or to another room (we didn’t have another room!) was out of the question I’d put an episode of Playschool on the computer, buying half an hour of mental space for me and entertainment for the sprogs. Before this they’d had very little exposure to screens, always at other people’s homes.

Moving to a house with TV was a bit weird for us, it gave us another thing to do, but it was a thing we’d actively chosen not to do before now.

The (only) thing I love about this house is the amount of storage space. We have such a small amount of stuff here with us that we can’t possibly fill all the cupboards with it so there was plenty of room to put the wall decorations* into an unused cupboard where I don’t have to look at them and there was room in the same cupboard for two of the televisions also. Brilliant!

The third, and (by far) the largest television was in the loungeroom. It took up about 2.5 square metres of floor space (at least a quarter of the available floor space), the chairs all faced it and it constantly demanded attention, whether it was on or not.

We got a little sucked in to it, what with having no friends locally and being tempted by it’s awesome time passing ablities.

The sprogs watched a bit of ABC for kids. It became a more dominant feature in our lives where our previous screen time experience  was all about watching an episode or two of a chosen show before continuing with other screen-less activities. The TV was turned on and they watched whatever was on. They watched TV to pass time, using it as a fast forward button on the day rather than as a tool to enjoy a specific program.

There were shows (always children’s shows) which scared the sprogs and caused nightmares later on, but Sprout would always get upset if I turned the show off. Moe never really got so sucked in, if the show didn’t interest him he’d walk away and find something else to do.

For Sprout though the TV became a bit like a drug. Understandably, she was (is!) bored, there’s little for them to do at this house between the times we’re out and she wanted to pass the time. She became aggressive and violent, particularly immediately after the TV was turned off. Her capacity to enjoy time spent doing other home based activities diminished, her desire to do anything other than watch TV diminished. She began pleading and bargaining for more TV time.

The final straw for me was when she hit Moe for standing in the way of the TV. I was worn down by all the begging, I was irritated and overstimulated by the overwhelming images flashing before our eyes, the loud noises, the silly voices – children’s television is a lot brighter, louder and more intense than it was when I was a child.

That night I asked Bean to help me move the TV into one of the storage spaces and move the sprogs toys into the loungeroom.

It seemed so silly that their toys were in the sleep out, farthest from the main living area than any other room in this little shack, with no heating and flimsy fibro walls while the massive eyesore of a TV was in the heated loungeroom.

In a short time we had the TV out of sight and the toys in its place. The sprogs were delighted the following morning to wake to their toys in an already warm room.

There have been some questions about the TV, but they were answered and we’ve moved on. We’re back to the occasional episode of Playschool or some other short children’s show on the computer, with Bee Movie** showing most days while I’ve been sick this past week.

There are certainly times I wish we did have the TV set up so I could turn it on to a channel designed for children and have some peace myself, but the reality is that the break isn’t worth the angst at the end of it, nor does it feel like a break when there’s irritating TV noise in the background.

I’m glad we had the brief fling with TV, it had been so long for either Bean or myself that we’d forgotten what we didn’t really like about TV before, so it was good to be reminded. It was good to see such a huge impact on Sprout’s behaviour, which we were able to discuss with her and she was eventually able to recognise in herself. I’m glad we can now say we know rather than merely suspect that selective viewing, rather than turning on a TV and watching whatever is available at the time, works far better for our family.

 

*Wall decorations that made me cringe were not to my taste.

**The only children’s movie the sprogs aren’t frightened by.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comment (1)

not school camp

One morning earlier this month Bean called me from work to tell me he was not supposed to be at work because his 5 day break was scheduled to start that day and they’d just forgotten to tell him!

I was irritated by the news because had we known earlier we could have gone to the WA Natural Learning Network camp that was due to begin the following day. Bean suggested we still go.

The camp was at Donnelly River, 720km from Geraldton.

“Yeah!” we thought, we can totally pack and drive there in one day. And you know what? We did it!

It was so very, very worth it. We made the decision at noon, by 3pm we’d eaten a decent lunch, packed the kombi and were driving toward Perth. We got to my Mum’s place in Perth at around 8.45pm and we stopped for the night. We left for Donnelly River the next morning and we got there around 1pm, a couple of hours before the rest of our group started arriving. We drove in rain the whole way from Geraldton to Perth and then from Perth to Donnelly River, but the rain stopped when we arrived at Donnelly and didn’t start again until we were leaving a couple of days later. Perfect!

As soon as we arrived we were mobbed by very friendly kangaroos and emus, all wanting to know if we had anything edible in our pockets.

After some time spent patting kangaroos & being gawked at by much more cautious emus we managed to get up the stairs and away from the wildlife, drop our stuff inside our cottage and go for a walk around the village.

Most of the rest of the group arrived that afternoon and evening, with a few arriving the following day too.

That night we had a shared meal at the old mill worker’s club which was fun, chaotic, LOUD and very fulfilling for the sprogs.

After dinner we visited our old friend who is the relief manager for the village and drank cups of tea around his fire while the sprogs played with his drum kit and drew pictures at the table. Quite late at night we trotted back to our cottage for a very, very cold night’s sleep.

The next day our group hired the flying fox for a few hours and the children all ran in and out of each other’s cottages, rode bikes along the street, fed the animals from brown paper bags full of food from the general store and bottle fed some orphaned lambs.

That second evening, which was to be our last, we asked the managers if they had a heater we could use in our cottage because our fire was not heating the space. The cottage next door, which our friends were staying in, was very warm where ours was cold and our fire had been going all day while they’d lit theirs just an hour or so before. The managers couldn’t find a heater and offered to move us to a different cottage as well as reimbursing us for the night and giving us two bottles of wine.

We accepted their offer to move, and gave the wine to our friends who had been sharing their wine and beer with Bean and sharing their warm loungeroom with all of us for the evening.

That night we all slept so well in our new cottage that we decided to request an extra night rather than a reimbursement for the previous night. Our request was granted so we spent the day hanging out with the group rather than packing and heading home.

The next day rain was forecast so we decided to pack early and head off once the rain set in.

The drive back to Perth was pretty scary. A storm had hit and trees were being uprooted in the paddocks next to the road, trees had fallen over the road, large road signs were ripped out with footings still intact and we passed a caravan that had been blown on its side while being towed in the other direction. We made it back to Perth in one piece though, where we had dinner with some old friends before heading back to my Mum’s place for the night.

For the return trip to Geraldton we took the new Indian Ocean Drive, a much nicer drive than the inland roads. The sprogs were so tired after the weekend they were happy to stop infrequently and Van Halen (the white kombi) didn’t miss a beat, sitting comfortably at 60mph on the open roads, so we made it home in good time.

It took me over a week to get to the bottom of mount washmore once we were home, but luckily the post camp high lasted just as long.

A brilliant spontaneous weekend. We’re looking forward to the next camp.

 

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Thank you all for your kind comments for my last post both on the blog and via email. I tried to respond to you all, however some of the emails were eaten in cyberspace as both I and my computer got used to the new mobile phone internet connection.

This camp came just after I wrote that post and vastly improved my state of mind.

posted by wildecrafted in education and have Comments (2)

geraldton through wilde eyes

Well it’s been nearly 3 weeks since the sprogs and I joined Bean here in Geraldton so I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the place (subject to change with time and experience of course!).

I’ll get the rants out of the way first so we can end on a happy note eh?

Geraldton does not do waste well at all. There is no council recycling collection which seems so last century. We can deliver our tin and aluminium cans and our cardboard/paper to a depot but plastic and glass can’t be recycled here. To that I say,

“WOW!”

We don’t seem to use products in cans (other than the occasional can of tuna which Bean takes to work and doesn’t cart home again) and our paper/card is added to our compost heap as the carbon component to balance out the nitrogen rich food scraps. Glass and plastic are the recyclable wastes we generate most of, and we can’t recycle them here! I suppose the positive of that is that it gives us an opportunity to further reduce the packaging waste we bring in to our house in the first place. It’s been rather a rude shock to be producing so much waste at all after our time in Albany where our milk bottles were returned for reuse, the mesh bags and paper bags our vegies came home from the farmer’s market in were returned for reuse and our honey jars were returned for reuse as well. We produced much less household waste then.

I suppose it might take time to get to know where to buy the food we’re used to eating, it did take time in Albany. The farmer’s market here is a fairy average affair, especially when compared to the Albany farmer’s market. They are really trying though, and I hope it takes off. There are likely a lot less fresh produce growers around here than there are around Albany, the climate here isn’t the greatest for growing thirsty crops, so I imagine it’d be tough to find the selection of growers there are on the south coast. Luckily I’ve already found a green grocer who sells a fabulous selection of organic fruit and veg. They have agreed to take a weekly order from us and pack it all loose into cardboard boxes since they otherwise individually wrap their organic produce so they can tell the difference between it and the conventional stuff at the check out. They also stock Margaret River Organic milk (pastuerised but not homogenised) which is a reasonable compromise when raw milk is not available. Short of having our own cow or living within cooee of my dairy farming sister nothing can ever come close to the milk supply we had in Albany. Really, how can you beat reusable glass bottles filled with fresh, unprocessed milk delivered with a smile and a genuine enquiry after your wellbeing? In short, you just can’t.

The weather has been quite lovely, real “holiday” weather. Yesterday it rained for the first time since we arrived and it was a really rather dismal effort at rain, more like a sprinkle really. We’ve been at the beach most days and at the playgrounds every day since getting here. Mornings and evenings call for long sleeves but during the day we’re wearing short sleeves very comfortably, and today is the first official day of Winter. I have a strong suspicion Summer here would melt me into Ms Cranky Pants because Autumn has been about as Summery as I can handle. Thankfully we’ll be out of here early Spring so I won’t get to test that hypothesis.

I’m really glad for the outdoor friendly weather though because the playgrounds here are AWESOME! The best I’ve seen anywhere.

At the town beach there is a fabulous playground with two main sections, one aimed at younger children and one aimed at older children. The equipment over both sections caters to children ranging in age from pre-walking to teenagers. Next to the playground is a water playground that can be turned on by anyone with the press of a button between 9am-6pm each day, yeah… even now that it’s officially Winter.

The sprogs have had hours of fun at the water playground already, it really is fantastic and unlike any other free playground I’ve seen.

And that’s just the town beach playground, the rest of the playgrounds we’ve seen around Geraldton have been fabulous too. The only thing that could make the parks here any better is a play in the park program like the one the wonderful Jamie (the Clown) and his YMCA crew ran in Albany.

Our house is not bad, not a place I’d want to settle for longer that the four months we plan to be here, but it’s not bad. We had some issues with dirty carpets to begin with and in honestly I can’t understand how on earth we’re paying so much for it because it just doesn’t seem worth it (totally foreign rental market up here) but it’s close to the beach which I’ve taken advantage of a few times when I’ve gone for a sunset walk by the ocean all alone once Bean has come home from work. It’s been nice to snatch those moments of solitude because we’re back to having no friends nearby and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the task of parenting the sprogs on my own for such extended hours while Bean’s at work.

Thankfully a south coast friend has put us in touch with a mid west friend and I’ll have to make contact now we’ve landed and settled, so the lonely days can be over real soon…

So far I’m liking Geraldton enough, there’s a lot about it that is awesome and it’s nice to have a change of scenery after a really tough year in Albany.

 

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (3)

return of the prodigal blogger

Well, well, well…

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

We’re in Geraldton now, the sprogs and I have been here for nearly two weeks. It’s been lovely to have our family all back together again.

So much news to share, so little desire to sit here typing for hours!

In a (fairly large) nutshell, here’s what we’ve been up to since the last post 6 weeks(!) ago…

My younger sister had a skate boarding accident (here’s a tip – wear a helmet if you’re planning to ride anything with wheels!) and pretty seriously hurt herself so I decided I’d head to Perth with the sprogs a little earlier than originally planned. I had hoped to help out a bit with my sister’s care since my Mum works casually and has no leave entitlements, as it turns out my sister is a terrible patient and can’t really hack being dependent on anyone so I wasn’t very useful anyway.

My elder sister came to Albany with her husband and their children to help me pack everything up, clean the house and get out of there. Words can’t describe how freaking awesome these people are!

My niece and nephew kept the sprogs well and truly entertained and helped them forget how much they missed their Dad in those early days. My sister came with her special brand of anal retentiveness and awesome cooking (I really, really don’t know anyone who cooks more amazing whole food and I’m not just writing that because I think my sister will read it either!). My brother in law revealed a skill set I was unaware he posessed when he showed himself to be the luggage tetris master. He managed to pack both kombis so full that I found myself making more “clown car” jokes than was probably necessary. My BIL also checked the kombis over for road worthiness, if I’m honest neither would really have escaped being slapped with a yellow sticker if they’d been pulled over that weekend but the major stuff was ok.

After scrubbing that house until it was cleaner that it had ever been before (well, certainly cleaner than the day we moved in to it at least), the sprogs and I piled in to Van Halen to head to Perth, and my sister drove their car which towed a trailer full of our junk while my BIL drove Brigit in convoy to their place on the south west coast where they’ll be garaging Brigit for us until we’re done here in Geraldton.

Once again my sister and her family have helped us out enormously, more than all we’ve ever done for them rolled in to one. It would have been nigh on impossible for me to manage the move and clean up alone, so I (we) are eternally grateful for the help.

In Perth the sprogs and I caught up with some friends, not as much as we’d have liked but the time we did share with old friends was lovely.

Staying with my Mum and sister was quite nice, particularly because the family in the town house next to Mum’s have a two year old daughter and a newborn daughter who both provided hours of entertainment for the sprogs. Spending time with Mum and my sister was nice too, although I felt fairly useless since I’d told myself I’d be helpful and my damned sister decided to need very little help after all!

Bean flew down to Perth a couple of weeks ago for his first R&R break and we drove back to Geraldton together a couple of days after he arrived.

The drive was smooth and fairly uneventful. Bean drove the whole way, figuring he owed it to me after I’d driven solo with the sprogs from Albany to Perth. The man’s a fool, I drove solo because it’s illegal to ask your child to take over! I’d have shared the drive if I had a willing and capable driver sitting in the passenger seat. Anyway, we left a grey and rainy Perth to arrive in a sunny, warm Geraldton and it’s been pretty much like that since we got here.

The locals are talking about how cold it is, and we’re thinking we’ve entered the endless Summer because it’s even warmer than Summer was in Albany this year.

I’ll rave a bit about Geraldton in another post, but for now I’ll leave it at this – THE PLAYGROUNDS HERE ARE AWESOME!

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comment (1)

van halen gets a lick of paint

Van Halen, the 1970 kombi, is one of the things we desperately needed to sort out this weekend, before Bean flies out to Geraldton (not intending to return to Albany and our current house) this Wednesday.

Since we moved to this place 8 weeks ago Van Halen had been parked in the garage, with all windows but the windscreen out and the sliding and front doors off, getting a bit of attention from Bean most evenings once the sprogs were in bed. Bean was prepping Van Halen for a respray and most of the prep work was done by the time he was offered the job in Geraldton, not quite all of it, but most.

The major things that hadn’t been done included:

  1. The driver side door still needed a fair bit more work, some welding and bog.
  2. The bumpers hadn’t been touched at all and needed to be attacked with an angle grinder and some rust kill primer.
  3. The headliner was still in, and stained from what we think was probably one of the previous owners smoking in it…

 

When we decided Bean would accept the contract in Geraldton and that we’d pack up house here in Albany so the rest of us could join him there we knew we’d have to cut some corners to get Van Halen back on the road and looking good enough that he wouldn’t attract the unwanted attention of the fuzz. Of course, we knew that when we’re not rushing to get paint on and windows in we’d go back and uncut the corners, but if we were going to get Van Halen from the state he was in to a road worthy state in less than a week we’d have to rush some things and just not do others. Ironically even before the respray Van Halen was more roadworthy than a lot of smarter looking old cars on the road because of the rust cutting and new panel work that had been done, but with a patchy paint job he would attract the attention of the cops more than he will all one colour.

We had a late night chat in the bus one night last week and decided to pull the headliner out, Liam got on to it right away and it instantly looked less crappy. We’ll probably get a new headliner one of these days, but the interior roof is in great condition and headliners weren’t stock on original kombis anyway so it can stay that way for now.

He’s resprayed the whole thing, not the original shade of white because for some reason the auto store couldn’t access the paint codes database (or whatever) this weekend and he worked against the clock to get it resprayed and put back together.

The original guess colour from one paint joint was really white, it was so crisp it looked like copy paper and we thought it sucked. The spray gun had a lot of overspray and looked pretty shocking even for straight off the gun. When he ran out of paint and we went to a different store to get more we opted for a more cream white and got a new spray gun too. Much better!

Bean has just spent 3 full days in the garage, early morning until very late at night. I’m pretty impressed with his efforts, it was a big ask to get it all done in a few days and he actually pulled it off.

At this stage we’ve decided we won’t sell it, we’ll hold on to it and then get Brigit’s (my ’71 microbus) restoration started when we’re settled. She’s going to get the full back to bare metal then 2pac treatment so she’ll be a very long term project and frankly I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t have a kombi for a daily driver (maybe be a whole lot warmer in Winter?!) so makes sense to keep Van Halen for now.

When we get some time to catch our breath Van Halen will need another coat of the same white, the doors are looking less cream and more copy paper than the rest of the body… The front will need some extra sanding and a respray, there was a rough patch that didn’t show up until the white went on. There are a couple of spots of paint that have reacted with something underneath so they’ll have to go back to bare metal and be repainted. We’ll be replacing some non-genuine seals with genuine seals, since the non-genuines are too fat and stop the doors from sitting flush wtih the body. The windscreen will also come out for the next coat/s of paint, it stayed in this time since we didn’t have the time or funds to get a new seal to put the windscreen back before Bean leaves. The tyres will come off the wheels which we’ll prep and paint the same white as the body, then we’ll finish them off with some nice chrome hub caps. The bumpers will need to be stripped back and properly prepped, they have just been painted as they were (rusty!)- no prep work at all. Ran out of time…

The interior, which is my job, has to wait too since we have clearly run out of time and don’t have all the parts we need to install the rock and roll seat and make up new door cards. Some of the interior from Brigit has gone in to complete it since Brigit just has to go to Perth where she’ll be garaged for a few months until freight time, no worries with the cops there (once we get her the 450km back to Perth that is!).

All up, Van Halen’s looking much more tidy than he did and I feel confident we’ll be able to drive it without hassle from the fuzz, the list of extra work required isn’t dauntingly huge either and won’t take long to bring him to a standard we could happily call finished.

He’s not show quality, he never will be and was never intended to be, the engine bay didn’t get a lick of paint, it probably won’t this next time around either. Still, he looks smart and I reckon he’ll turn some heads.

Bean says he’s learned heaps from this leg of the restoration, and I’m pretty amazed at how hard he’s worked and how well he’s done.

Some things we’ve learned over the past week:

1. Don’t rush in to a paint job before your prep is completely finished*
2. Don’t paint two different shades of white over each other because the underneath shade will inevitably show through somewhere*
3. Don’t paint in a poorly lit garage at night time*
4. Having a second same-era kombi makes getting parts to complete the job much easier (as long as you ignore the fact that your other kombi is looking less complete every step of the way)*
5. When painting, it’s so much better to pull the windscreen out, even if it means sacrificing a perfectly good seal to the stanley knife gods*

* All of the above lessons could also be much more concisely stated as:
Don’t take a job 900km away when you’ve got a half finished kombi project in your garage!

So now, I have a question for you, dear readers. What colour would you choose for the interior if you had a white kombi with a black VW badge? Black and white? Red? Blue? Orange? Green? Yellow? Purple? Pink? Brown? Other?

 

posted by wildecrafted in volkswagen and have Comment (1)

ch-ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges

Yep. That’s probably the cheesiest blog post title I’ve ever come up with.

Anyway, I believe the cheese is warranted because I have big news to share from around these parts.

Bean got a different job. He flies out to GERALDTON(!) in just one week. The sprogs and I will stay here for a few weeks to sell or donate all of our furniture and housewares excepting what we can squeeze in to the two kombis*, then we’ll follow him up.

So much to do! We have to break the lease here in Albany, so if anyone local knows of folk looking for a house** nice and close to town and the hospital please get in touch…

The Geraldton job goes for 16-20 weeks and we’ll stay in temporary accomodation while we’re there. Once it’s done we’ll be debt free!

Bring it on.

 

*clothes, camping gear, my sewing machine, fabric stash, Bean’s tools, some crafty supplies for the sprogs, toys…

**or anyone wanting furniture or white goods

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (6)

limbo

I haven’t blogged very much lately. My computer was in the repair shop for a couple of weeks but I had use of Bean’s old lap top so I could have posted if I wanted to. Truth is, I haven’t really felt like I’ve had very much nice to write, so I haven’t bothered to write anything. Everything I’m feeling is so priviliged and whingey, which is pretty much what this whole post is about…

Right now I feel that our life is in limbo. We are suspended in time, just waiting for the life we intended to live to begin.

Here we are, stuck in a town we never meant to live in. Even though we chose to move here as a stepping stone to moving to a town nearby (but too far to be a part of right  now) it certainly wasn’t part of the plan to stay here for a year. You see, we were just passing through.

Now, it’s been a year. We still don’t have a friendship group. We have a couple of friends, but we really need more than a couple of friends because friends get busy with their own lives and can’t possibly be expected to meet all our socialising desires no matter how nice they are. I sort of know my way around here now, and I know lots of places that are really lovely, but at the same time our visits to those places are tainted with an impatience on my part. I’m not suppose to still be here you know?

The thing is, the longer I stay here the less sure I am that I know where I’m meant to be. A year ago I was sure it was in that nearby but not near enough town, and now I’m quite unsure that’s the place. I’m left wondering if I’ll ever find my place in this world.

Our house, it’s not a home. It’s just a place we’re staying right now, while we wait for real life to begin.

I try so hard to view it as a home… it’s just that (aside from the location) the double garage, laminate benches, cheap vinyl floor, cheap carpet, aluminium window frames, the boxy legolandness of it and lack of hanging hooks on the walls make it hard to view it as my home.

Meanwhile, pinterest is like my virtual glory box. Bookmarked pictures of wooden floors (some painted white, some clear coated or oiled), porcelain sinks, weatherboard homes, stained glass windows, wooden window frames, claw foot baths, ornate doors and lovely little DIY projects wait for the day that we have a home of our own again.

It’s not just the look of this place, or the location though. Renting is getting me down. The temporary nature of it just goes against my strong desire to put down roots, to anchor ourselves to a home, a patch of earth, a community. We have a rent inspection next week too, and while I understand a desire to make sure the tenants aren’t destroying the ever so important investment property I just can’t help but bristle at the invasion of my privacy. I keep a very clean and ordered house and I feel irritated that someone else (who may or may not keep a clean home) has a right to come in to my house and judge whether we’re clean enough, good enough, to live here. I’m confident there’ll be no problem, the house and yard are in better condition than when we got here, but it’s still awful. The worst of it is that the day of the inspection is Bean’s birthday and we’d much rather be enjoying a lunch time roast than making ourselves scarce lest the sproggets strew their toys around the house as they do when they’re home.

I have seen lots of inspirational pinterest quotes lately that say things to the effect of home is where family is, or the best thing about home is the people we share it with, and while it gives me a warm glow in my heart to read things like that I find it harder to really believe it when I see the damage that here is doing to my family.

The sprogs don’t have friends to play with regularly, they’re very isolated which is terrible for them since they’re so social, much more so than I. Seeing them so lonely breaks my heart more than my own feeling of loneliness ever could. Not only are they lonely, they’re bored too and they are harder to get along with when they’re bored. They try to stir each other up and generally cause mischief.

We’re still drowning a bit in financial obligations too. The simple maths is that the repayments and other general outgoings exceed the income, and that leads to a lot of stressing for me and Bean.

We still haven’t been able to afford a new mattress (even an old one), so we’ve been sleeping on a foam egg cup mattress topper for 7 weeks now. Oh how my body just hurts. I’m feeling tired and sore, every night that goes by without a proper mattress is compounding those feelings to a point where I’ve felt that I’m spiralling down into a dark headspace, unable to see positives where they definitely exist, unable to find joy in the days spent with the sprogs. I’ve been snappy and cranky, generally a pretty horrid person to live with really.

Thankfully my dear Mum has offered to buy us a mattress, she thinks she’s just giving it to us, but we’re just adding it to the list of things we owe her for. We hope to pay her back very soon actually, because we’ve got some great plans to get us out of debt and to the end of limbo-land fairly quickly. It’ll require some hard work and sacrifices but we hope it will pay off, hey we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t would we?!

Stay tuned, when it’s official I’ll write about it…

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (6)