Today, a random day, but one that will give you an idea of our lives here…so different to our lives in Sydney.
5.30am Wake up to the sound of L calling out. He’s the alarm clock you don’t need to set. Get up and get dressed to go out for an early morning walk with two ladies who live nearby.
5.45am Wait out on the darkened street. The moon is still bright in the sky, but the air is already humid. My neighbour (one of the walkers) doesn’t come. I walk up and down outside our houses trying to decide what to do. This has happened once before but, that time, my other neighbour’s dog joined me so I felt confident to walk up to the second lady’s house, which is just up the road. But today no doggy friends join me so I decide to abandon the walk – in between her house and mine are a series of snarly camp dogs I just don’t trust. I go back inside.
5.55am Do some stretches on my yoga mat while L reads books and talks to me.
6.15am R wakes up. The sky is light outside now.
6.30am Give the kids breakfast. It’s very predictable – always yoghurt and muesli.
7.00am J gets up – he got a lucky sleep in this morning! He makes me a coffee and I read the Sydney Morning Herald on the ipad. I would much prefer to be reading an actual paper but it doesn’t get delivered up here. You can only get the Weekend Australian in town on a Sunday afternoon, and we’re rarely in town at that time.
7.30am Make bread with the kids. It sounds complicated but actually only involves putting three ingredients (packet cheat) in a breadmaker given to us second hand by my Aunty and Uncle – it’s coming in very handy up here!
8.20am Take R to childcare. I drive because it’s hot at the moment, but in the dry season the kids and I can walk down there in about ten minutes (and that’s at kid-speed). Driving down this morning I pass several cars. We know all the drivers and say hello. One is my neighbour who apologises for missing the walk this morning – she was baking cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday and totally forgot. Outside the centre I park in the near-empty carpark and leave the car running (as many people do) while I drop R inside. She greets the carers as friends. It is a small and very personal centre – only about fifteen kids (aged 1 to 4) and four staff.
8.30am Drop L at preschool, which is part of the school J works at. It is taught by a Yolngu teacher, and many of the lessons are in Yolngu Matha (the local language). I stay with L for a few minutes to help him settle in.
8.45am I walk about fifty metres from the preschool to the Learning Production Centre (LPC) where I work two days a week, tutoring the Yolngu Assistant Teachers in their Certificate Three in Teaching. I wouldn’t normally work on Fridays but I’m going to Sydney next week so I need to leave some work for them to do while I’m away.
9.30am I finish the work-list for next week then duck into one of the primary school classrooms to give the teacher in there a worksheet. The class is reading a Yolngu Matha text and is about to do a role play in language (the school is one of the few bilingual schools still functioning in the NT).
10.00am Arrive home to freshly baked bread. It smells heavenly, so I cut myself a still-hot piece and smear butter on it. Delicious.
10.15am I do some reading for some of the scriptwriting related meetings I have in Sydney next week.
12.00pm Stop for lunch. More fresh bread, but with healthier toppings this time 😉
12.30pm I try to do a bit of writing for my young adult novel, but it’s just not happening today so I give up after just one short chapter, and go back to reading/researching for Sydney.
1.50pm Drive down to childcare to get the kids – the centre closes early on Fridays. I pass familiar faces once again. I know pretty much all the parents of the kids in the childcare centre, as they all live or work in the community.
2.00pm Make choc-chip cookies at home with the kids. Baking is something I barely remember doing in Sydney, but here we do it all the time. The kids love it.
3.00pm Take the still-warm choc-chip cookies up to the school to share. We are going there for J and I’s first Yolngu Matha (language) lesson. About twenty Ngapaki teachers and community members show up. I take the kids with me too. J meets us up there (he’s just finished school for the day) and sets up Playschool to play quietly on his laptop in a corner of the room. The kids watch a bit of that but also come over and sit in my lap and join in the language lesson and eat food. It is very relaxed. The Yolngu teacher co-running the session (who happens to be one of the students I tutor) also has her kids there. It makes me wonder why we, in Western society, segregate our lives and keep our children separate to many things we, as adults, do. I know I would never take the kids to a language class in Sydney but here it is totally acceptable, even normal.
4.30pm Head home and make a quick pumpkin soup, while J takes the compost out and hangs out the washing. I think I got the good job – there are swarms of mozzies around at the moment so before going outside he has to cover himself in repellent spray. The sky looks like there might be rain on the way, but none comes. It is one of the driest wet seasons on record – we have only seen one real downpour since coming back in January.
5.45pm Have dinner with the kids. The soup gets smeared everywhere. The kids have eaten too many biscuits at the language course and it takes some coaxing to get dinner eaten.
6.00pm Kids’ bath. Wash pumpkin soup off.
6.30pm Stories for the kids. There’s a Sea in My Bedroom (one I remember from childhood), Man Gave Names to All the Animals (L’s choice because it has an extensive list of animals in the back) and No David (R’s choice because it’s about a naughty little boy who does many of the things she does – the main words in the book are ‘No David’).
7.00pm R goes to bed. If L has had a daytime sleep he is hard to get to sleep before 8.30pm, but today he hasn’t slept and he’s exhausted. A few half-hearted protests and he’s out for the count.
7.15pm J and I would usually talk about our days but today we’re too tired. I escape to write this blog post and he does something on the ipad. It’s not actually our ipad – it’s the schools. J uses it for his lessons, which has the handy side benefit of allowing us to use it at home sometimes!
7.30pm J and I watch a crappy DVD on the laptop. We don’t have a TV up here. At the moment we are watching Friday Night Lights. It is a very predictable and cheesy American football drama – we would never usually watch it but we’re desperate and have nothing else short enough to watch at the moment. We have a few good films on the laptop but rarely have the energy for a 2 hour film-watching session. A 45 minute episode is much more do-able, so Friday Night Lights it is. We can’t wait until Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Mad Men return to the screen so we can go back to watching quality television!
8.30pm I finish reading ‘The Mountain’ by Drusilla Modjeska, which I’m reading for our community bookclub up here. It is very good. Definitely recommended. We hear the patter of light rain on the roof. We check the radar online. Yep, the rain is coming! Woo hoo!
9.30pm We head to bed for an early night to the sound of rain falling. I slept terribly last night (R was restless) and am exhausted.
And so passes another day here in the community. I have to say I feel happy here. I enjoy the pace and the slow immersion in community living.