Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday – Qld Flood hump day

Soft, candle-smoke clouds snuggle into Mt Coot-tha’s folds, hiding from the sun. A smudgy fog hangs over Brisbane; as though we need the filmy protection from the grim reality. The mud is back; the stench; the storms have come, gone, and will return again; and still the clean up continues.

The other afternoon an engineer came to my mother-in-law’s house. My husband and I met him, and then Blisters (I always turn up after all the hard work is done) drove down the long driveway.

The men all walked around the house; pointing here, photographing this crack, measuring with a bright yellow metal tape, the heights, the lines of the house.

Basically, the flood broke her back; the slab has tilted and shifted and major damage has been done.

There isn’t a straight line in the building.

A laser tripod is brought out; it’s spinning laser beam giving proper levels, accurate readings of the structure. It’s grim, but we knew that.

Dried mud lies in permanent puddles of grim dirt where cream carpet once lay. Mud splatters the walls, and the pool is a stinking mess of brown. God knows what’s underneath the waters. A cane toad swims in circles in the corner, as a child’s toy floats in the muck.

There is one final pile of rubbish to be dumped on the street, and my husband and I begin the shovel loads of water damaged everything into plastic bags. So many of my mother-in-laws university books and papers; so many childhood books. I wonder if my husband lay on his bed in a winter’s afternoon, reading this story.

My little sis-in-laws fashion drawings. I photograph each one, to honour her memory. Sleeping bags (the one hubby used in New Zealand walking the Milford Track?) electric blankets and so on, a household and a lifetime of stuff.

Inside the cupboard, below where the tv used to be, below where the stereo played classical music, below where the numerous photo albums lived, the set of World Book Encyclopaedias sticks stubbornly within the cupboard.

Three days ago I watched one of my Mormon Angels (LDS a.k.a Latter Day Saints) try to wedge out the books with a shovel. It took me a while to work out what he was trying to do. Beginning carefully, he tried to prise the books out; but they were too swollen with Brisbane River mud. After a good ten minutes, he continued to use the shovel, but out had gone the carefulness, and into the room came sheer strength and muscle power . But it was no good, the books remained where they are, still.

So it’s true, the pen is mightier than the sword. Or shovel.

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