My Mother’s Voice

My Mother’s Voice

Next to my bed is an old chest of drawers, it is a remnant of a very ancient and long since departed bedhead/side drawer combo, inside one of the drawers is a rectangular domed lid box, it is the remnant of what was in some dim distant past a box of handmade chocolates, inside the box are various little bits and bobs, remnants of things long long departed.

Inside the box is a little cassette tape, it is a cassette tape that fits inside an answering machine, an answering machine which is also long departed, it is also a remnant, but it’s one of my most prized possessions.

I haven’t listened to the tape in quite a long time, but I still remember it quite plainly.

“I’m going to pick up some bits at pieces at shopping, if you need something give me a ring back”

“I’ll drop in just before the kids get home from school after I’ve had a nap, shopping makes me tired”

“See you later, love you”

I don’t actually recall why I didn’t pick up the phone, perhaps I was in the toilet and missed it, or perhaps I was in the bathroom, or perhaps I just couldn’t be bothered.

“Love You”

It was early December and I had a brief thought that I hoped Mum wouldn’t do too much as the radiation therapy, tablets and the emphysema she had tired her out, but she was supposed to be getting better.

The Christmas card from her that year said that the coming year was going to be amazing and that she loved us all.

“Love You”

It was either April or May of that year and my Sister had some devastating news for me, the tests had come back and Mum had cancer, cancer of the bladder, which along with the emphysema was caused by five decades of heavy smoking.

The bottom dropped out of my world then, Mum went to hospital for radiation therapy, on tablets, some days were better than others, but she always had time for us.

“Love You”

There were trips to hospital to remove fluid from around her heart, but she managed to make it through and she told us she was getting better, she gave me this beautiful card for my birthday, I still have it, that’s also one of my prized possessions.

“Love You”

Christmas was supposed to be good one for us, time to celebrate to be together, Mum said she was going to spoil us all, all I wanted was for Mum to be well for Christmas.

“Love You”

It got later and later and Mum still hadn’t turned up, but I wasn’t that worried, I knew that shopping tired her out and perhaps she hadn’t felt like it after her nap, then the phone rang, Mum had collapsed at the shopping centre and was now in hospital.

When I got to see her she didn’t know me and couldn’t speak.

I went home and listened to the message again, taking in my Mums voice.

“Love You”

Mum never spoke to me again, I never heard her say she loved me, in the days that followed I listened to that message again and again.

I took the tape out of the machine for safety, I couldn’t have survived if anything had happened to that tape, on the day of her funeral I listened to it, on the day we scattered her ashes on the hill behind her house I listened to it.

“Love You”

As the months passed I didn’t need to listen to it as much, just knowing that I had it there if I needed it was enough.

When the machine broke and was replaced by a much newer model I was OK with that, because I can still hear my Mum in my head, I don’t need a tape to conjure up her voice.

Perhaps one day there might come a time when I can no longer remember what my Mum sounded like, then I will look into ways of getting the message and her voice off the tape and onto my computer.

“Love You”

My Mother’s Voice.

The more things change the more they stay the same


I originally wrote this sometime back in 1984; just after I started running my first BBS (Bulletin Board System) called somewhat imaginatively H.U.B. B (Hobart Users Bulletin Board). My BBS was one of the first public BBS’s in Tasmania, and I was one of the first female SysOps in Australia.
HUBB was run on a 512k double floppy Micro-Bee called Eric, the BBS program ran off a floppy disk and until I got a dedicated phone line it ran from our home phone from midnight to 7am daily. My users were a very dedicated bunch.

BBS’s were a very new phenomenon in the early 80’s and came with a whole new set of problems, especially if you were female, especially if you were young and female. BBS’s were a new thing and we were all new in it together, however it seems that some things were universal and it didn’t take long for sexism and misogyny to rear its ugly head. The more things change the more they stay the same it seems.

All I have fixed is some of the grammar and a few of the more egregious spelling mistakes.
Dear fellow SysOps and Lusers,
You know it gets REALLY old very quickly when I hear from a lot of you that females should not be running BBS’s, BBS’s are solely for males, as only males understand how computers work, and how to make a bbs run properly, well let me tell you I’ve been running mine for six months now, ON MY OWN without male support and guess what, I’m doing a pretty bloody good job.
I know I am one of those rare beasts a female sysop but that doesn’t give you any god given right to assume that I am here for your amusement, in any way shape or form.
If I say hello to you at one of our meet-ups then I am just saying hello, I am not entering into a social contract with you that then entitles you to grope, fondle, touch or just generally act like an arsehole around my person.
If you had been a bunch of teenage boys then I might have excused the behaviour on the grounds that you didn’t know better, but you are mostly grown arsed men with wives and kids of your own!
Being a female sysop does not equate to me being there for your dirty jokes, your innuendo, subtle or otherwise, or even your upfront offers of a ‘good time’.
My breasts are a part of me, and have been for a good many years. I’m almost positive that most of you have seen breasts before and even touched some, but just because your wife/girlfriend lets you touch hers, does not give you blanket permission to touch mine.
The next person who gropes me with the excuse that you ‘wanted to see if they were real’ will get a swift kick to the balls with the excuse ‘I wanted to see if it really hurts’.
The next person who comes up behind me and slides his hands over my shoulders and down my breasts will get a swift elbow in the guts, closely followed by a slap on the face.
The next person who backs me up into a corner will also discover that elbows to the guts hurt quite a bit, and the next person who tells me to lighten up and that it’s all just a bit of harmless fun will probably get my drink thrown in their face.
I honestly don’t understand why some of you see me as such a threat, it’s not like Users are in that short supply that we have to fight over them, my BBS is not that much different from yours, we all offer the same things, so why are some of you so determined to trash my reputation, yes I’ve heard all the rumours that have been spread and all I can do is roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders. 
Just keep your hands to yourself.
SysGoddess H.U.B.B

10 things that made me cry today

Ten silly things, not the recent and so very sad things that have happened in the world/

1: My Cat was mean to me, she wouldn’t give me a cuddle

2: I slept in far later than I thought I did, I thought it was 10am, turns out it was midday

3: I didn’t get asked if I wanted a cup of tea

4: My tummy and sides hurt from all this coughing

5: I’m late

6: I miss my other kitty Nyx

7: My phone battery keeps on dying

8: I miss playing games like Ratchett and Clank and SSX Tricky

9: My room is super messy

10: My toe hurts

You win brain (trigger warning, rape)

I can go for weeks, months and sometimes whole years without ever having a conscious thought about when I was raped, that doesn’t mean I have forgotten about it, but like other unpleasant things that have happened in my life, I just choose not to dwell on it.
However there are times when my brain or my subconscious or whatever it is will take the matter into its own hands and serve me up a highly unpleasant reminder that comes out of nowhere and leaves an impression that lingers, almost as if it’s saying “you may have moved on. but I NEVER FORGET”.
Last night was a case in point, I was having one of those dreams that I seem to get a lot of lately, the one where I am still in hospital and I wake up and I realise that I have been dreaming the whole time about being at home, those dreams while annoying only make me feel slightly ill at ease, and the feelings I get from those don’t linger long.
So I woke myself up, reassured myself that yes I was actually AT home, in my own bed, with the cat and that it was just a dream in a dream and drifted back off to sleep, where I slipped into a dream about my Nan’s old house, which wasn’t quite my Nan’s house but enough so that it was very familiar, I like these dreams because in them I invariably see all the people I have loved and lost, my Mum, Nan and Lesley, which while it makes me sad also makes me happy, memories of happier times.
This time it was different, the facade was my Nan’s house but once I went inside I realised to my horror that inside it was the little out of the way class room at the old Tech college, the one I used to eat my lunch in and listen to my music and read, the one I thought was safe because it was out of the way and not used anymore.
I tried to wake myself up because of all the things that I don’t wish to keep on reliving, being raped rates as number one, but all my usual tricks wouldn’t work, and thanks to my brain I got to relive it all again in full glorious colour and sound, every moment of sheer terror, pain and disgust, all over again.
Then as if my brain hadn’t had enough of torturing me with that particular bit, it took me on a whirlwind tour of every single bad decision I made following the attack, the dropping out of school, the failed suicide attempt, the arrival of panic attacks and agoraphobia, every single one in a non stop hit parade of bad decisions.
When I finally managed to wake up I was panting, crying and working my way up to a full blown panic attack the first one in months and months, I was also alone in the house, I have never felt more alone than at that moment, I grabbed my cat and held on, telling myself to breathe, I’m quite proud of that, I shut that shit down before it could take hold.
I’ve been on edge all day, and I’m not looking forward to sleeping tonight, you win brain, you’re the boss.

Not “just a cat”

Not “just a cat”.

Not “just a cat”

As you might know my darling Nyxie puss passed away on Tuesday night, it was quick, sudden and highly unexpected, yes she had been a little unwell but the vet said it was just a cold, gave her some antibiotics and told us to keep an eye on her, what we did not expect was her sudden and rapid decline on Tuesday night, which culminated in her laying in my arms as she passed away surrounded by loving pets, hugs and tears from us her family.

What was also a bit unexpected was the absolute rush of grief and loss that I felt and still feel, Callista and Nyx came into our lives in 1998, our previous cat Tabby had passed away at the age of 8 the year before, Tabby had helped me through a tumultuous time that culminated in the breakdown of my marriage and many many a time I had sat outside with my Tuzbucket and cried into his fur.
When Tabby took ill I was a sole parent to two small children and when the vet said they didn’t know for sure what was wrong with him and it would take a costly operation to find out I was in a large dilemma, some weeks I barely had enough money to pay the rent and bills, I sadly came to the conclusion that I had to put Tabby to sleep, I hated myself for that choice and I have never forgiven myself for it, I don’t know if anything could have been done for Tabby, but it was part of my contract with him that I at least try, and I couldn’t even do that.
Callista and Nyx were teeny tiny little Burmese/Abyssinian crosses and from the very first moment I saw Callista she owned my heart, when I found out that Nyx hadn’t been adopted, I just had to have her as well, they came into my life at just the right time and they were there for me through some pretty rough times, I promised myself that this time it would be different, that if my kitties needed help I would give it to them, I would not let them down.
They never once let me down, when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer in early 1999 my poor kitties bore the brunt of my tears and all my angry monologues and when Mum died just before Christmas in ’99 my kitties were the ones who saved my sanity and once again lent me their fur so I could cry into something soft and warm.
Through various other upheavals and more tears and sadness when my Nan passed away, my kitties were there for me, through it all,  when in October of 2011 I ended up in hospital dangerously ill and on the point of death a few times, I used my kitties as my inspiration poster through the many months of rehab, their picture was pinned up on the wall of the room where I did my physio, where I took the first faltering pull ups from my chair to relearn how to walk again my one fear was that they would forget me because I had been gone for so long.
When I was finally released from hospital after 9 long months I was not the same person I had been when I was admitted, now I need a walker, my mobility is limited, I get tired stupidly easily and my brain is not the same as it once was, I get depressed very easily and yet once again my kitties were there for me to hold onto and cry into their fur, nothing changed about the way they treated me, I never once felt like a nuisance or a burden to my kitties, which sadly is not how I think of myself to other people.
So when Nyx died it felt like the bottom had dropped out of my world again, and some people made comment that my grief was somehow inappropriate since it was “just a cat” and that far more horrible and sad things happen all over the world every minute of every day, yes, yes they do, but grief and sadness are not an Olympic sport, you don’t get graded on how you show grief, or on what makes you sad.
My grief and sadness are mine, losing Nyx hurts and I suspect that it will hurt for a good long while to come, she was not “just a cat” to me, she was a vital part of my life, I am having her cremated and her remains will be with me always, once again some people have said that this is stupid and a waste of money, after all she was “just a cat”.
If I had the money I would get her ashes turned into one of those diamonds and wear her close to my heart always, something I am sure would scandalise the “just a cat” people.
She wasn’t and never will be “just a cat” to me.

Somethings you just don’t forget

Over the weekend Tasmania was burning, bush fires ravaged whole communities and have caused untold damage and loss of property, there were many comparisons made to the Black Tuesday bush fires in 1967, thankfully this time we seem to have come through without loss of life.

The words Total Fire Ban give me the shudders, because of 1967. I remember Black Tuesday somethings are indelibly etched in your memory. I wrote this back in the late ’80 after we had endured a prolonged period of dry hot weather. My feelings still haven’t changed as I sat in my house on Friday and smelled the smoke and watched the news, heard the sirens and the warnings, I was once again back in 1967 and it wasn’t pleasant.

I hate that announcement, not only because of the sound effects they use with it, but because it brings back so many old old memories. It was February 1967, I was nearly three and it was hot, unseasonably hot, hot enough for many old timers to click their tongues and intone that “they’d never seen weather like it afore” to anyone that would listen. Much like today I imagine, it’s 38 dgs and climbing, there’s a hot northerly blowing and all it would take is one maniac with a match and the entire state goes up in a ball of flame. 
But back to 1967, I remember it being hot for days and days, my mother being particularly snappy as my sister and I asked for the wading pool to be filled again, Us not knowing that water was in short supply, living down the end of a long street with dodgy water pressure was worrying her, my father, in the CMF, off god knows where fighting fires in the middle of the state, knowing that he was in some danger, waiting and listening for the radio reports, the photos in the paper, of the flames and the men, looking tiny and insignificant next to the flames, leaping fifty and a hundred feet in the air, even in black and white looking dangerous and evil.
Our house, at the end of the street, backing onto untouched thick bushland, the bush coming close to the back fence, surrounded by bush on three sides of the house, tall trees, gum trees, wattle trees, bush as dry as last months bread, the unnatural silence, no birds, no animals, no insects, silence, broken only by the worried voices of my Mum and the neighbours, all the men off fighting fires, our only protection the water dribbling out the end of the hose.
I remember, and I am sure of this, going to bed the night before, asking my mother when daddy would be home, and Mum crying because as it turned out no one had been able to get in touch with my dads platoon for three days, and mum expected the worse, I remember quite clearly reaching up and hugging mum and telling her not to worry, that she would be able to fill the wading pool up tomorrow, three year old children have their own set of priorities.
The next day it was hot, hotter than before, I’m told it reached 44 dgs, that didn’t mean much to me, not that day, I could smell something sharp and it made me sneeze, I looked at the sun and it was bright orange against a black cloud bank, terrified I asked mum what it was, smoke she said, lots and lots of smoke, there’s a fire, a really big fire, and it could be heading this way, it still didn’t mean much to me. 
Later that day, Mum told me to stay inside, she went out with a scarf over her mouth, picked up the hose and spent four hours wetting down the fence and the house with this pitiful trickle of water, my sister and I watched with interest as mum trudged back and forth with buckets of water to throw on the fence, not realising that this was a task equivalent to the little boy with his finger in the dyke, holding back the sea.
She came inside and told us to get some things together, that we would be spending the night with neighbours, she was crying, I didn’t know why, I think my sister did, she stopped me from making a fuss and we went and packed our favourite toys.
I remember standing on the back door step watching, watching and not believing as this wall of flame headed down over the hills on two sides of us.
I remember crying, and being scared.
I remember my mother standing by the back fence and crying, still watering the fence with the hose.
I remember my mother swearing as the water slowly stopped flowing.
I remember the look on her face as she came inside and got her purse and the photo albums (mothers also have strange priorities).
I remember the fire engine, the siren- loud, the fireman yelling at my mother to “get the fuck out of here” to leave and leave now. 
I remember the look on my mothers face as she stopped the car at the top of the street, got out and looked one last time at the house, I swear she was saying goodbye to the house. 
I remember our neighbours, all crowded into one house away from the fire, my mother refusing to look anymore, all the children crammed into the cubby house up the tree, looking but not wanting to look, the silence, even the cockiest child was awed by the scene they were watching.
Hell, pure hell, hungry flames, ordinary men pitted against that, hell would win, it had to, now I know why my mother refused to watch, her life was in that house.
Hours and hours later, dark, the flames finally out, my mother nearly fainting as she was told that the fireman had saved the house, mainly due to the wetting the fence had gotten from her, tears, tears of laughter and joy, and sadness as we hear of others less fortunate than us.
The next day it rains, strange that, I was carried home that previous night asleep, the morning brings utter destruction to our eyes, trees hundreds of years old, gone, nothing but black as far as the eye could see, the pitiful noises of the animals who got caught in the fire, in pain.
I remember my father coming home, expecting to find the house gone, he’d been told that all the houses in our street were destroyed, my mother crying again, everyone crying.
I remember dad climbing over the fence, with his gun, the crack crack as he shot the animals in pain.
I remember my mother nursing a bandicoot back to health.
I HATE that



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