When Ella was a babe I started to try and draw a four-panel comic about our life every week. I kept it up for a while before being completely overwhelmed by the whole baby thing. Until recently I thought I must have lost them all in one of our moves but the other day I found an ENTIRE box of old, forgotten comics and all the four panel ones from 2003 were in there.
Much excitement. This is my favourite from the bunch as it brings back such powerful memories. I love that comics like this help me to record moments that, in the scheme of things, are insignificant but really, it's moments like this that distinguish a good day from a bad one.
From Brick Dog and Other Stories (Pluto Press, 2002) by me and the amazing Mandy Ord. (Mine are in red.)
A current list of worries and fears might include:
- house gets burgled - laptop won't boot - tree falls on house - fox eats pet guinea pigs/pigeons - car breaks down - forget to pick up Ella from school - dogs get set on by other dogs - have to make a phone call to a tradesperson - run out of wine - get parked in at Kmart car park - comic artist rehab artist fails to post - children say/do embarrassing things in public - run out of panadol - accidentally spam facebook friends in attempt to take some dodgy quiz about which jane austen heroine I am - dog gets bitten by a bee (she's allergic)
The time when I lived and worked in Fiji (1999) was one of the most creative and productive periods of my life. I suppose that's what you get when you have no television, no mobile phone and no regular access to a computer to distract you. It was just me, my thoughts, a pen and paper, the BBC world service on the radio, and a mongoose family in the garden. Bliss.
I bought dear old Rex in 1999 when I lived in Adelaide. I had just ducked out from the ANAT office to go the bank and cash a cheque for the petty cash float. Somehow I wound up spying a tank of tiny turtles in a pet shop and proceeded to SPEND the PETTY CASH MONEY on tiny Rex and a tank for him to live in. I know!
When we moved back to Sydney I got a special license to import him into NSW and had to apply for a reptile keepers permit. We made the long journey by car. During our overnight stay in Mildura Rex and I stayed in a warm motel room while Richard and the dogs slept in the car!
I had Rex for almost five years and in that time he outgrew six tanks. His last tank was six feet long and two feet wide and was equipped with UV lights, heaters, two filters, plants, rocks and a choice of basking platforms. I even made him a fenced outdoor pond complete with fountain but he never seemed to enjoy it much - he kept trying to escape and once even climbed about a foot up the wire fence. He liked his big tank in the kitchen though.
See that look on my face? I'd probably just finished cleaning the tank for the third time that week! It was really hard work keeping that tank clean and I always felt worried about Rex being kept indoors and on his own. So, when I was pregnant with Ella I made an arrangement to 'donate' Rex to the reptile park up in Gosford. This photo was taken on the morning of our last day together, just before I popped him in a plastic crate and drove him up the coast to his new home.
That day was November 13, 2002. It was a really sad day and still when I think of it I have to hold back tears. I watched on as Rex was released into an outdoor enclosure with about 20 other turtles. Poor thing hadn't seen another turtle since he was a hatchling. He freaked out and hid under the water for ages. I stood for about an hour and watched him - he was easy to spot as he was so pale and clean compared to the other turtles. He had led a very cushy life after all.
The following year, on the anniversary of his departure, I returned to the park with a nine month old Ella and spent ages trying to find him. I'm not sure that I did. Maybe he had died, Maybe he had been moved to another enclosure, maybe I couldn't see him cause he had become all dark and weathered like the other turtles? I don't know.
Truth is I feel really sad about the decision to give him up. And guilty too. If I could have my time over I would have kept him. He'd have a lovely outdoor pond out in the backyard. My kids and I would spend hours watching him swim and waiting for him to come up for air. We'd watch him basking in the sun on hot days and burying himself under leaves on cold ones. I'd clean out the pond lovingly, enjoying the chance to get my hands wet. I think he'd even have a nice lady friend and I've even named her. Regina. Regina would have been her name.
A page that had been planned for Brick Dog but was never finished in time. I re-discovered it a few days ago, penciled and half-inked and decided to go over the pencil roughs faithfully with a slightly thicker pen.