Filed under moments

Congratulations California

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Above: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officiates at the marriage of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, who have been together 56 years but are legally married only today.

Some moments speak for themselves. Anything I could say in commentary would only be fluff. And anyway, I have tears in my eyes.

Photo: AFP

Sadness

I lost a friend today. My lovely Melki got hit by a car and he’s gone.

I’m very sad.

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Today I am proud to be an Australian

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The historic formal apology which will be delivered to Indigenous Australians in Canberra this morning won’t change anything much — it won’t lift anyone out of poverty; it won’t improve health care services anywhere; it won’t guarantee access to education, employment, or a fair go for even one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. But it will heal, and healing is the first step to everything.

After living for 11 years under the narrow-minded and mean government of John Howard, it seemed like today was an impossible dream. Howard’s refusal to utter the word ‘sorry’ not only prevented the injured parties in this shameful chapter in our history from finding peace, it marked Howard as a cold, heartless and unimaginative man. His successive election wins made us think perhaps that was what Australia wanted or, worse yet, all we deserved. But today there is a real sense of momentum in the air as the dignitaries, elders, politicians and governors arrive in Canberra to hear our new leader utter a simple, unremarkable word: ‘sorry’.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

Australia has taken the process to heart – the newspapers, radio and TV are providing blanket coverage, thoughtful analysis and, yes, the inevitable scarping criticism (Howard may be gone but his cronies linger on). I’m gladdened by that. Australia has found its soul, it’s moral compass, again.

It’s just a symbol, and symbols don’t change things in the real world. A symbol won’t heal the kids infected with STDs; the whole communities addicted to alcohol and drugs; the desperate inequality between black and white. But it will heal the heartbreak that still remains more than three decades after the end of the cruel, if sometimes well-intentioned, policy of breaking up families, denying children their parents and refusing to face the truth.

Today we are facing the truth, and today I am proud to be Australian.

Related: I made my own apology on National Sorry Day almost ten years ago. You can read it here.

Update, 9:33 a.m.: It is done. I have tears in my eyes.

Image above: Candles form the words “Sorry, The First Step” on the lawn outside Parliament House in Canberra on Monday in an action by GetUp.org.au. Photo: ABC News.

Watch the apology live on ABC

The ABC has set up a special URL where tomorrow’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations will be streamed live.

Stepping over the edge

Tomorrow’s the big day when we’re moving to our new life in the bush. No more mains power, no more flush toilets, a new paradigm for living gently, intentionally, and treading softly on the Earth. I am excited, of course, but also I’m bored with putting things in boxes and it’s hard to see past the chore of moving all our stuff. As they say, you never know how much stuff you have until you move, and let me tell you we have a lot of stuff.

One of the things that will happen over the next few months is that we will shed a fair bit of that stuff — probably we could have done so pre-move, but I haven’t had the headspace or the time to think about it. We’ll get there.

Posting will be light to non-existent over the next few days as we don’t hey have any internet connection at the new place. What that means is that for the next week or maybe two I’ll be working from this old house, which will be empty except for a desk, chair and computer. I guess we can leave the kettle here so I can make myself a cup of tea. You can imagine how much I’m looking forward to that arrangement, but the alternative is dial-up and I can’t go there again.

Once we get settled I’ll be posting regular updates on our transition to a very different life. There are lots of small changes in the wind which we have discussed as part of an overall big change in lifestyle. I think it’ll go well, although I’m not such a Pollyanna as to think there won’t be moments (or extended periods) of struggle and frustration. In the end we will have created a lifestyle guided by deliberate intention and which is truly sustainable. Watch this space.

Update, Monday: the move went well (thanks, helpers!) but for some reason this post never got uploaded. More soon.

Homo-ner

So, the house is ours, signed sealed and delivered as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday. I am now a homo home owner, a participant in the Australian dream, the newest custodian of the land which nurtures and nourishes us.

Of course, as is the nature of these things, it never felt assured until the very last moment. In the 2½ months since we embarked on this enterprise there have been a few hurdles, mostly financial, but at every turn we’ve managed to scrape together the little bit extra, little bit extra the bank demanded of us. We had help (you know who you are — thank you) but we’ve done most of it ourselves, living on pennies for the last few weeks to get us across the line. Of course, by demanding we front up more money the bank has reduced the size of our mortgage accordingly — suckers!

Now there are many changes ahead for us — especially the move to solar power. Our electricity bill arrived yesterday and I was happy to declare it the last electricity bill I will ever pay.

To celebrate our new status as members of the landed gentry, we packed ourselves, the dogs, some food, firewood and a bottle of wine into the truck last night and took ourselves out to “our” place for dinner. Cranked up the Rayburn, realised we’d forgotten the rice (we were meant to be having risotto) but Brent managed regardless (you really should try his riceless risotto!) As the dogs ran about the property in the darkness, we wandered round the empty house, experiencing it for the first time through proprietorial eyes, and had earnest discussions on what would go where and what changes would need to be made first. We have a list of ideas and projects that will take many years to complete, so there is much work to do. While we were there it rained — a massive, soaking and solid bucketing of the type we don’t get very often here, deafeningly loud on the tin roof: a very good omen.

We move in a couple of weeks.

New arrival

We are now a three labrador household:

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Brent arrived home last night with a puppy. This came as something of a surprise, so as you can imagine I was somewhat taken aback by this. We’ve been talking about completing our labrador collection for some time, but we had agreed to hold off until we got our house.

Oh, and we got our house.

More cause for jubilation

We bought a house yesterday. It’s a tiny, owner-built mudbrick house on 9 acres of forest about 10 minutes from where we are now. Solar power, composting toilet, gas fridge, the full deal. As you’ll see from the photos, it’s a bit of a ‘hobbit house’ – not too many right angles, very (ahem) ‘rustic’ in parts and lots of unique features like the dragon that greets you as you come to the front door. It’s in a great location with a good-sized dam behind the house and a big shed at the top of the hill.

It’s been a crazy few weeks, trying to buy the place before we go away on holidays today, but we finally agreed on a price yesterday and exchanged contracts at 11 o’clock in the morning. We really like the place and, assuming the bank likes it too, we move in early August.

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More photos after the jump.
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Last day

I quit my job a while back — after five years of writing about AIDS, thinking about AIDS, talking about AIDS, eating, drinking and shitting AIDS, it’s time to pull back a bit. Today’s my last day so I feel a bit sad, a bit frustrated at the work that has been left undone, and more than a bit relieved that it’s over. Working in “the sector” is renowned for it’s capacity to make bitter old queens of what were once brightly optimistic you things, so I think it’s best to get out before that happens to me. New challenges await.

There are a bunch of other things happening in our life — we are about to head off on holiday to Europe (I’ll try to keep the blog updated as we go) and we’re in the process of buying a house, or trying to buy it. With the clock ticking down to our departure on Sunday, the odds that we’ll get to the contract stage before we depart are slimming rapidly. Most likely we’ll go away not knowing whether the sale will go to us or not — that’s not ideal, but we’re only gone for three weeks so presumably we can pick up where we left off on our return.

The holiday, much needed and well-deserved, will lighten my (currently heavy) spirit I’m sure, once we step on the plane and leave behind all that is dull and quotidian I suppose I’ll be less bothered by my inability to juggle 18 balls simultaneously, but between now and then I guess I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Off to Sydney tonight to say farewell to my workmates.

8 May

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Happy birthday to Jasper, who is seven years old today. That’s 50 in dog years — he is officially middle-aged.

In recognition of this important occasion, may I refer you to this post, from 6 July 2000, when eight-week-old Jasper first came into our lives. (WARNING: cute puppy pictures)

Special Offer: leave a “happy birthday Jasper” message in the comments before midnight tonight and I’ll give him a dog biscuit for you. (Or maybe a carrot or just a pat on the head if there are more than a couple of comments — don’t want him to turn into a weighty boy.)

Today is also Brent and my anniversary — we have been together eight years now. That’s 56 gay years, apparently.

Not sure I agree with the conversion factor but regardless, eight years is a pretty good effort. And I still love the pants off him, just like I always have.

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