27 February 1985

Letter: Brown Girl

Letter 27 / 2 / 85

Looking back at old photo's - like the ones we have of James when we were in Melbourne and he was a baby only a few months old - well, Jo is just like that. Her hair is light now, and what there is of it looks quite red at this stage. Her eyes are dark brown. And her skin is tanned and hair-less - James and Alison are quite hairy, blond hairs.

Healthy outdoor life

We have all been suffering with some virus, as have so many people here. Alison has been sick for so long, I was beginning to think it was all just a reaction to Jo - she demands so much cuddling and carrying around when she is sick - but she has been having some genuine fevers. Jo, too, has a high fever, and a very noisy chest and horrid cough.

James is pale and tired looking, very weepy, though his fevers seem to have eased up now, and although his chest is "tight" he's had no asthma so far this time.

I'm very tired - from getting up so much at night. And I have a weird itchy rash under one arm, similar to a lot of other people here at the moment. Peter's had blocked ears for a couple of weeks, but seems to be improving ...

Happy lot, aren't we! One O.D. ("Old Dear") wrote to us and said,

"Do you get viruses and things up there? I guess not, with that nice outdoors life you lead you are probably all healthy" ...

Going overseas

We would like to attend a translation workshop in PNG (Papua New Guinea) but I doubt whether we will be able to. Our passports (which didn't have the kids on anyway) run out next month, so we've sent them off ... Its all very well telling people to "Go to your nearest GPO"! We had to do a statutory declaration (which involved finding a JP or magistrate!) to say that we are more than 100km away from any P.O. When we finally get our passports, then we'll have to start working on visas ... and start taking anti-malarial medications.

Mango plague

We are having a plague of mangoes. I have never seen the trees so loaded. Some branches normally beyond Peter's reach are hanging so low they are now within Alison's reach. The first million or so didn't even taste good, but they are getting sweeter now. At night they fall about every 2-5 minutes, and the lawn and roof of the shed and translation house are littered with them. Its a daily chore to pick them up and, when possible, give them away.

One bunch was hanging down and touching the translation house roof, and Peter picked 60 mangoes from the one bunch!

Village Life

Ron Day, standing for Chairman of the Island

Its very busy around the village these days. Election for a new chairman is around the end of March, and with new laws we are obliged to vote. I guess we are so much more involved these days.

I'm carrying the camera everywhere I go, it is my constant companion - along with Jo and Alison! - in preparation for furlough soon, as well as an "in".

Kids n books

James has rediscovered his books lately, he's constantly asking to have stories read to him, and its hard to find the time. The younger two are somehow more demanding, their needs usually seem more urgent. Alison loves books too, though she is not so patient with stories yet. Jo loves the taste of books...

A couple of days ago Jo was getting up on her hands and knees looking like she would crawl, but now she seems to have lost interest.

Tired now, must sleep.

09 February 1985

Letter: Hermit Crabbing

Letter 9 / 2 / 85

Our fish tank is going better these days. We've had a little hermit crab for some time now - fascinating little chap. He was living in a little cone shell, and we put an old "egg-shell cowrie" in the tank as part of the decor - and we felt very honoured when he popped his bot out of the cone and into the cowrie. Then we felt shunned when he returned to his old shell ... and now he has chosen the cowrie once more. It probably has a more spacious interior, but it would be heavier to carry about.

Then yesterday the tide was low and Peter collected a couple more hermits - big ones in trocchus shells - and a spidery star fish which drapes itself here and there in the aquarium. When Peter was changing the water this morning it hung on a piece of coral and switched one leg like a cat switching its tail.

Pram transport

I have been very busy these days, now that James is back at kindy. I ply up and down the village with my pram-load of babies. Jo sits at the back (? closest to me as I push it) with her feet on the foot-rest, chewing on the rail, and Alison sits up behind her at the front (?) lounging back on a pillow, grinning at people and singing in her husky little voice: "How does cat'pilla go? dear me anybody know". Very cute! Jo turns on her sweet gummy smile for all and sundry too, much to everyone's delight.

I'm now having a weekly Bible Study time with Gracie Tapim - very lovely lady, belongs to "Revelation" church so feels a bit lonely on the island. She doesn't speak Meriam, unfortunately. I've been talking to other ladies about having Bible Studies - they smile and nod in that special condescending way that we are learning means they don't mean it at all. I take my own biscuits and suggest that they might provide a cuppa to go with it. They are often a bit shy of offering a cuppa to a "kole" (white person).

05 February 1985

Letter: Water Retention

Letter 5 / 2 / 85

Its very wet here, I guess the "wet" season is properly here now. We ordered some of taht super-absorbent stuff for the garden - if its claims are true then its going to be wonderful! We will have to do a lot of proving before the Islanders will believe us about it though. Its like wallpaper paste - powder that goes jelly-like - only more so.

Minor interruption ...

Oh-oh! Alison just wee-d on Jo's play-mat and a pillow. She just refuses to be trained. I've tried rewards, I've tried ignoring it, its smacks today - I can't handle washing pillows and mats all of the time. She does know - she must know - I can only guess that she needs to get the attention any way she can.

New cot for Jo

I re-made Jo's cot the other day. It was a terrible struggle when I did it for Alison - being highly pregnant at that time -it took days of hard work. this one I whipped up in a few hours, and I made it with snappers (the kind you put on with a hammer) so I can take it off to wash it without dismantling the whole cot.

Another baby?

James wants a brother - no I'm not expecting again. He said yesterday, "I haven't got a brother, but Nathan (red-head in Darwin) is my brother." He may never even see him again. He is full of heavy questions lately, like: "When God made the sea, was it high tide or low tide?"

World Safari

Do go and see World Safari (2) if you get a chance. I gather Murray Island features quite prominently, seeing as this is where their boat sank. Wilfred (who now likes to call himself "the tourist guide for the Torres Strait") has just been with them for their opening of the film in Adelaide, he and Margaret (and 7 kids) just got back this weekend. This seventh child (which was actually a twin but one died) is called Peter, after a certain white "Uncle" the child has.