I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Teresa's house

I walked home a slightly different way last night (seeking to avoid the St Patrick's Day crowds outside the Dan O'Connell) and found myself face to face with this vision: a free-standing, double-fronted bluestone house with an extraordinary addition above its white pillars.

I was taking a few photos when a woman came out to say hello and when I said I was collecting photographs of bluestone she instantly invited me in to see the rest of her house. Teresa has lived here for over thirty years and put the bluestone up 28 years ago. She told me they said it would last for thirty years, and so it has: there was not a hint of movement or cracking anywhere on the facade, even though it looks rather top heavy. It cost $3000.

I wish I had felt bolder to take more photos inside. The front rooms were bedrooms painted bright shades of aquas and blues, and had big beds with shiny satin covers and dolls and scatter cushions. There was a living room with a wall unit full of photographs: Teresa has four daughters and three sons and something like seventeen grandchildren and seven "grand-grand children". She was watching the news and eating a salad of watermelon and grapes. She insisted on showing me her whole house while apologising for the mess (a cupboard door was open and a towel was sitting on a chair). The whole house was absolutely spotless, including the spare bedroom with an enormous white unicorn (or maybe it was a pony) on it for the grandchildren.

"I go to church in the morning and I clean in the afternoon -- I'm Catholic," she said, almost apologetically. She also gardens, and was apologising, as I took her photograph, that she was wearing her gardening clothes. The house had a wide central corridor which is now a spotless indoor garden with skylights.

The plants were perfect: shiny, flourishing. Teresa said the house had originally been "for the horses". Her English was very very good. Outside most of the garden was spotless white concrete with a hills hoist sprouting like a tree in the middle, but there were garden beds along one side, and a covered barbeque area on the other side where the family would gather for Christmas.

I was blown away by her graciousness. She offered me a drink but I said I had to get home, which wasn't strictly true. I was less gracious in receiving than she was in offering. But such a vision this encounter opened up for me of the lives in the city.

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