97. Straight to you




I travelled 16,618 km (103256 miles) to be with my wife. At least, that is the distance, as the crow flys, between Melbourne Australia and New Jersey. Of course, I made the trip five times before that final permanent one. Five times both ways; 166,180 km plus the final trip bringing the total to 182,798 km or 113,585.411 miles.

Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of travel hours; a lot of time spent jammed into undersized airplane seats listening to babies cry and people snore, a lot of time dashing through strange airports trying not to miss my connection, a lot of time being irradiated in body scanners and harangued by the TSA.

Add to that the heartbreaking farewells at the end of each of those five visits and the weeks of depression once I’d returned to Melbourne and the whole thing feels a little Homerespue; at the very least, it is an epic(ish) poem of devotion and unflagging determination.

Was it worth it? Was all the lost sleep, longing, anxiety, and sheer discomfort worth the final reward?


Jersey girl and I recently passed the one year mark in our real life together. One year living under the same roof. One year living as a family. It has been challenging, rewarding, vexing, and, at times, downright confusing but mostly it has felt like home. We live well together. Our chemistry has survived close and prolonged proximity. If there was a honeymoon period, it is still very much in effect.

I wake up every day and thank the universe for this woman with whom I now share my world. She has shown me what true love and devotion really are.

And my new adopted country?

America, much to my surprise has become a strange fascination to me. I have felt myself falling in love with her too. Her seasons, her moods, her people, and her beating heart (New York) have captured me in ways and with an intensity, I never would have guessed could happen to me.

There is a feeling that anything is possible here, that you might discover who you truly are as this vast melting pot of ideas and cultures reflects your persona, your mask, back at you. America will not let you hide from your true self. She demands that you simply be – you.

Challenge accepted.




Another Jersey Girl


You know she thrills me with all her charms

When I’m wrapped up in my baby’s arms…


In this blog, I’m going talk about something very dear to my heart; beer.

I can remember a time in my life when the selection of beers on offer (at least in Australia) was depressingly small. There were the big breweries which pumped out mass-produced swill full of chemicals that all tasted exactly the effing same and that was pretty much it.

Don’t get me wrong, those beers are still the most popular on the market. They have a loyal following among those who believe real men only drink beer that tastes like piss (hence the term “getting pissed”). It’s supposed to prove how tough, working class, and patriotic you are or somesuch BS (I think this is the actual reason women live longer).

England, where I lived for a spell in the early 80’s, was a different matter. There they had a fine tradition of pubs that brewed their own local beers and so you could get away from the generic blandness of the big brewers and experience a wider variety…. of beers drunk at room temperature.

Back again in Australia, things were (very slowly) beginning to get more interesting. A small(ish) brewer in South Australia called Coopers was producing a line of pure beers that were more than drinkable. I switched gratefully from dishcloth brews like Victoria Bitter (VB as it is lovingly known by its brain-damaged acolytes) to Coopers and, for a while, all was well.

Then one of the majors bought up Coopers and that fine beer was very soon close to indistinguishable from the VBs and Carltons. Amazing how thoroughly mass production screws shit up.

All beers produced in NSW are garbage btw and don’t let anyone tell you different.

By the 90’s the horizon was less bleak. Microbreweries were emerging in the back lanes of Melbourne (probably Sydney too but who cares?). Small pubs started experimenting with their own house brews and before long there was a plethora of not too terrible beers popping up. I alas, cannot remember the name of a single one of them.

‘Boutique’ beers really took off in the 2000’s (I refuse to say naughties). In Australia, Belgian style Beer Bars were all the rage and every pretentious wanker worth his salt was swanning around with a surgically decapitated Hoegaarden to go with his neatly trimmed designer stubble.

It all seemed to be about imported beers at that point. The disaster of 2008 was a few years away yet and confidence was still OK. People were willing to shell out a bit on imported brews to show their mates how well they were doing.

Craft beers (as they’d come to be known) really seemed to explode after the GFC but it wasn’t until I first visited America that I really saw how big they’d become. My mind was blown by the sheer volume of choice in every liquor store I visited. Back home, you generally had to go to one of the big warehouse booze emporiums to see that much choice.

I eagerly dove in. Each visit (and, if you remember, there were five of them) I would expand my repertoire of craft breweries.  Flying Dog, with their amazing Ralph Steadman, can designs, were a fave for a while but I eventually moved on from there. Two Roads Brewery was the next to catch my eye and I found several of their beers to be top notch. However, for some reason, the stores around our area just don’t seem to want to stock the good ones.


We, that’s Jersey girl and I, eventually started specifically seeking out New Jersey brews. We found a great IPA from a brewery called Brotherton which would turn up on draft in various places only to vanish after a week or so. We tried to find it in bottles but the brewery was so small they weren’t bottling yet*.

Asbury Park Brewery does some nice beers but not quite the style we’ve been looking for.

I even kept searching while I was back in Melbourne, looking online for news of new breweries in NJ. Which is how I found the winner. A small brewery in Hackettstown was just about to start canning. They’d been around for three or four years and were finally about to release their first canned beer intriguingly called Rake Breaker. Hackettstown is very close to home and so I was pretty excited to get back to Jersey and try it.

And what was the name of this fledgeling brewery?


You just know I was going to be won over by that, right? When I came back (this time to stay) we started looking all over for signs of Rake Breaker in the stores. To no avail. We started to plan our visit to the Brewery tap room but it seemed that every time we had a chance to go something came up. It was becoming a source of no small frustration.

Then, one evening, we were in a tap room restaurant in Princeton and there on the beer menu was Jersy Girl. By this time they had another IPA out called Sun Kissed Citra. We fell over ourselves to order and, there in a cellar in Princeton, had our very first taste of a Jersey Girl beer.

And lo, it was very, very good.

A few weeks later, the cans started turning up in the stores and we got to sample Rake Breaker at long last. It was, if anything, better than Citra.




We’ve since visited the Taproom at Hackettstown several times It’s a great little spot tucked away in a fairly bland commercial park. They have big comfy sofas and board games to while away the time and a very nice selection of beer adventures to sample. They also sell their brews in refillable Growlers, which is nice.



We’ve found our Alpha beer. We still stray into unknown territory fairly regularly, but the fridge at home always has a few cans of Jersey Girl on the shelf.

Ah, life’s simple pleasures**.



Here, for anyone interested, is the Brewery website.






*That situation has apparently now been rectified.

**And yes, It is my ambition to sit with Jersey girl at Jersey Girl, drinking Jersey Girl, while listening to Jersey Girl (they’ve played Springsteen while we were there but not that song – I would happily take the Tom Waits version).

95. I want a wonderful life




I didn’t put anything Christmas themed up this year because, well, frankly I’m really not all that in to Christmas.

Bah humbug.

We had a very nice family gathering (it was the first time I’d personally celebrated Christmas in about seven years) and don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. That said, I don’t get into all the rigmarole that usually goes along with the consumer season.

I did, however, come across an interesting tidbit while perusing NJ.com.

Apparently, for many American’s, the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart is a Christmas tradition not to be flouted. Now, I’ve not seen the movie myself but I get the gist of the message it conveys and I can see why people like to indulge in it around this time of year.

What I wasn’t aware of, was the story’s connection to New Jersey and Hunterdon County (where I now reside) in particular. The movie is set in the fictional upstate New York town of Bedford Falls but the story’s original creator, Philip Van Doren Stern, had a different town in mind when he was writing it; the town of Califon NJ.

We have spent some very happy times in Califon over the years. It’s only about seven miles from home and is a very pretty place to visit. I keep uncovering these odd little factoids since I found my way here to Jersey. I take them as little reminders that I’m where I’m meant to be and that all is on track.





Take it away Jersey boy…


Change in Mood




Life reflects


The russet tones of a naked spinney

Skeleton trees under a daylight moon

Cold nips

At the tips

Of fingers and nose

Harbinger of something on its way


The finger bones of trees

Grasp at the clear, heavy air

While frost


Their former gowns

Diamantes for the newly dead


This is my brave new world

Land of my endless yearning



Extreme as its seasons

And as beautiful as a late Autumn morning.








Words and images are my own.





94. Thank you




This week I experienced my first ever Thanksgiving as we got together with my wife’s family over a meal to truly feel thankful for. It reminded me of the Christmases of my childhood when my mother and grandparents were all still with us. And that got me ruminating on all I now have again in my life.

It’s been a strange year with a great many highs and lows. I finally made it to the US after an interminable process that, in turns, made me feel like a criminal one moment and a stateless pariah the next. I have tried and failed to express the deep joy I felt upon finally arriving at her door. I guess some things can only be experienced, not told.

I got to see two Springsteen shows before I left Melbourne and then had the amazing experience of seeing him on his home turf of Asbury Park, New Jersey in the tiny Paramount Theatre. And I got to do it with the love of my life as a very special treat on my first birthday in America.

I also got married this year… twice. The first, smaller, wedding was the legit one but the second with all our friends and my wonderful son in attendance was easily the best day of my life.

On the red side of the leger, we have been dragged through bitter emotional and legal battles by my wife’s ex-husband who has the clinical narcissist’s instinct for perceiving when things are going well in our lives and then casually throwing a huge wrench into the cogs. He seems supremely unconcerned that the chaos he unleashes each time affects his own children far worse than it does anyone else.

We also managed to have not one but two car accidents in the space of ten days just recently, which resulted in our beloved car being totalled. Another wrench to deal with but at least no one was hurt.

Flipping back to the black side, though, Jersey girl has at last found a job where she feels both appreciated and where her many talents are allowed to shine. This has been a wish I’ve had for her for so long now and to see her happy and (most days) eager to go to work is a deep joy to me.

I have also been experiencing a creative spurt over the past few months which has kept me away from this blog more than I’d like but which is also giving me a fresh vim that I hope will carry me towards something wonderful. Early days yet but the ride has been very enjoyable so far.

So, ultimately, it’s been a turbulent year but one mostly made up of things to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my new home, my new wife, my lovely new daughters and my incredible son, the beauty all around me, the wonderful people I’ve met and continue to meet, and the continued opportunity to stay in a creative space.

Oh yes, and Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner.

For all of these things, I give thanks.


True sea




(i∂̸ – m) ψ = 0


Two souls/systems/bodies

Interacting for a time

Then moving apart

Though separated by miles

Or even the Universe

Can no longer be described separately

They become a single soul/system/body

It is the most beautiful equation in physics

What happens to one

Continues to affect the other

No matter how distant

quantum mechanics does not recognize a vacuum

There is no emptiness

And If two souls get entangled in a wave

They will remain so





Word configuration and image are my own.



Fire #3





Alpine Ash


Fire brought the light

And burned down the house

That was ever the deal

Sometimes, that which drives back shadows

Sets the curtains alight

Its all consuming nature is an ever-present threat


Fire can also temper steel

When she came, she set a bushfire in my mind

That tore through my body and soul but

Left me standing

Stronger than before


There’s a type of tree – back home

With seeds like stones

That can only open when the raging flames

Reach the canopy

It takes a literal conflagration to achieve germination

Throwing out life

Into the midst of utter devastation

We two are like that tree

Finding new ways to live

As everything around us withers

And dies.



Words and image are my own.