Monika Schott PhD

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Living a life of ‘oh wells’ over a life of ‘what ifs’. Am a writer and researcher of sewerage ghost towns and the connectedness that forms within them and abject communities. I'm awaiting publication of my novel, 'The faraway land of the house and two cows', an undocumented social history of the community once living on Melbourne's first sewerage farm, the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. I’ve had several short stories published, been short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Writing Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and completed a Master of Communication with a thesis on boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

My historical fiction: The faraway land of the house and two cows

Swimming

Sewerage ghost towns. They exist. Just ask Sorrowing Father, Dear Daughter and Blackened boy, and Yankee doodle dandy that smiles with the eyes and his shadowy mate. They and other characters tell the untold story of the community once living on Melbourne’s first sewerage farm through a timeless reality.

The faraway land of the house and two cows is a story like no other. Unique because it’s the story of an isolated community once living on a sewerage farm: beside land filtration and grass filtration paddocks being watered 24 hours a day with Melbourne’s sewage. And it’s told by characters with their own connection to the place in a way that combines fact, memories and legendary tales.

Head of the Road, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Pengelly Family.

The faraway land of the house and two cows is a must read historical fiction about the families that built and maintained the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm: from early workers and their families arriving in the 1890s to camp on the foreshore, living and working through the great Depression, both world wars and boom times of the 1950s, to ultimately move away from the four main settlements spread across the sewerage farm, to leave an abandoned town in the 1970s. A sewerage ghost town.

The Metropolitan Sewerage Farm community spread across the site, 1951. Map courtesy of the McNaughton family.

The community was behind the making of one of Australia’s most important civic works projects from the 1890s into the 1900s, providing job security during the 1890s economic crash and the 1930s depression.

Jim 'Snowy' Miller and Charlie Hickey out Moubrays Lane. Photo courtesy of the Pengelly family.

Colourful characters tell the story of community life across the Metropolitan Farm: in both the bottom-end and top-end townships and out around Murtcaim, the Ranch and Moubrays Lane, about how and why it all began in the 1900s, until the community’s tragic demise.

There are highs and lows, as in any community, and historical moments that mark time.

Women’s

Where tennis courts and croquet lawns are now covered over beneath overgrowth upon overgrowth, under the eye of the football pavilion still standing and where dalliances within them and by the workshops nearby, continue.

Swimming pool, change rooms, community hall and heritage listed water tank, 2018.

The oval where football and cricket were once played still exists, even if smothered in a dense, undulating cover of green with goal posts standing on command at each end, serving the dual purpose of ventilation through their tops for sewage pipes running below the ground’s surface. The community hall still stands, now refurbished as a centre for education, and the swimming pool exists, although set to become a rain garden. The change rooms were demolished and rebuilt to serve as public toilets, and the heritage listed water tank commands as a reminder of Melbourne’s first water supply.

The reservoir is gone, the church and all four schools too. No abode or home exists or gardens well tendered or the cows that came with homes for milking. All are gone. In physicality, that is.

In the sublime of the underworld in this ghost town of lands faraway, many breathe beneath the earth from where they once stood.

The

Pre-release reviews are saying:

“A brilliantly told story…”

“I was a wreck... I cried my eyes out... it finally got me, all the sadness, emotion, loss, pain of endless change, the desperate ache for what Was … WOW! WOW! WOW! Thank you...”

“Who would have dreamt that a tale of such grandeur could come from a load of old sewage? Monika did, and the Magic of her words create a Time Machine that takes us back to glimpse moments in the lives of a multitude of colourful characters. She puts flesh back on the bones of the ghosts of the past. We experience the lives, loves, losses and tragedies of pioneers, heroes and the occasional villains. Monika has woven the twists and turns of Life and Afterlife over Time and Tide…”

To learn more, visit monikaschott.com 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Sounds wonderful - congratulations!
Monday, 18 October 2021 21:50
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks Stephen. I'm quite happy with it. ?
Tuesday, 19 October 2021 07:27
Rosy Cole
What an achievement, Moni, to have created something vibrant out of the lives of a tucked away community whose love and labour mig... Read More
Friday, 22 October 2021 15:05
2801 Hits
4 Comments

To be the poet, and the poem


Giving comes easy to some. It’s a natural extension of who they are and it seems to flow from inside of them, without any thought to the act of giving. They simply give and expect nothing in return.

It’s genuine. Authentic. Comes in the weave of ebbing crescendo, gliding in humbly and unassumingly as its own poetry.

So many give: family and friends that are family, lend a hand in the home and garden, organise lunch dates, extend gifts for no reason. Friends spreading good humour that radiates a smile and jigs a giggle, gifting joy without trying or realising.

Giving a road bike to encourage a new cycling path; a chunky musk candle, just because; and flamingo treasures for a bountiful home is a sincerity doubled: the giving of gift, and the giving of thoughtfulness to a love of the gracious pink birds.

Joy and wealth in giving and receiving is not so much in material riches or possessions, but more in esteemed care and compassion. There’s no wish for praise, pride or recognition, no ego at all. It’s not forced and comes of pure heart, without emptying of self, as an unconscious and authentic wave of life. A poetry of life.

The giver is the creator, the poet offering their poetry to any in need. Assisting and helping to protect and empower the vulnerable and those without, those disadvantaged or perishing in poverty, where any inequality exists. The world would not be without such charitable beings.

Givers give with kindness and consideration. Bestowing, bequeathing and honouring in the grace of the most silent and wealthiest of philanthropists … the snow leopard shimmying at dusk.

The local vet and nurses dote on our pooch battling terminal cancer, changing her bandages every second day. In a jungle-green bordering on jade bandage wrapped around her front legs and top half of her black coat, the little miss prances out as a pretty princess in an assemblage of blue and red love hearts and stars, Christmas trees, baubles and presents. One time, it was a blue stencilled Schnooze emblazoned across her bandage. Today she’s decked in a six-pointed red star atop, as the star she is.

Going beyond the servicing transaction, beyond all requirement in free flowing flounce and flare.

I see it in work too, in the sharing of stories and family treasures from long ago that mesh with titbits into astonishing story and rhyme. It’s a universal giving stemming from a utopian world, one that survived on the humanity of generosity and that connects beyond reason or rationale.

Why do people give, why so kind and generous?

A not-so-old, old friend of mine lavished me two of her art pieces recently. I didn’t want her to miss out on sales but she insisted on gifting them to me. She wished to give them to people she likes. This, from a woman who shares a new piece of art with quote of uplift each day on Instagram.

The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. When we give, we’re attentive. We’re listening and observing. Acknowledging. Life can seem better and friendlier, more connected and caring. Validated even. It can awaken a lotus flower basking in the sun, and can feel like a friend walking in when the rest of the world has walked out.

It’s giving with grace and compassion. With love. Nurturing in a care that flows without a ripple, in a simple smile or hello in the street. A thank you, a yes or no, a recognition.

It’s as bright as the Milky Way in an outback sky.

Of course there are always the takers, the narrow minded and judgemental, just as there is positive and negative, good and bad. Life is like that, full of polarity.

And yet it’s this polarity that can inspire the poet to create the poem, the poet that is also the embodiment of a beautiful poem.

What a cosmic bang of another kind of poetry when the giving is reciprocated: the giving to someone who gives back.

Copyright

© Image: If you cannot be a poem, be the poet, by vikki_vision on Instagram

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
"The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. " True o... Read More
Saturday, 16 January 2021 16:33
Monika Schott PhD
I agree, Stephen. It's the simple things.
Friday, 12 February 2021 02:02
1774 Hits
2 Comments

Without the beat of any drum

Weaving and swirling, casting a hand of stealth healing. High they fly, low they crawl. Magical. Merciful. Gracious and humane, forever genuine.

They stride and glide, tip toe in the silent sprinkle of glittering dust, sometimes soaring in whispers as delicate as a flawless feather falling from the cosmos. They go unnoticed in humbling humility and in lashings of hushed becalm, serene in acts of sincerity across the Earth.

Considerate, caring, loving; ever watchful in a compassionate intensity of spirit. Without effort or expectation, they nurture. Unperturbed, they're always on call, always listening for the silent sob hiding in a dark corner.

No judgement, no conspiracy, no mock or disdaining taunt. They feel in the intricacy of fine lace and in that, can hold a thousand breaking aches.

Yet, they hurt like anyone, cry in tears of budding yellow tulips of the collective. And then somehow, they heal themselves to carry on, heal any knife wound piercing deep into a buried abyss.

And what defines them, is their ability to do and act and mend in a nurture that weaves and binds any cracking blare and unveiled glare.

They’re not mythical beings, or celestial, atmospheric entities derived in pagan or religious law, nor do they come from any far flung realm or universe.

They walk among us wearing hearts gilded in gold, hearts that emanate as the king of the universal jungle and with the courage to match. From there, they access an unyielding inner strength to help wherever help is needed.

And they do all this without the beat of any drum, in a flutter of butterfly wings. Nothing stops them, and nothing propels them other than their purest of gold gilded heart.

Angels on Earth, are Angels in Eternity.

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The three Cs

A friend recently reminded me of the power in kindness when she asked, what makes an urban area kind? My first thought was, how can an object or mass of solid be kind? What makes anything kind?

It’s a huge question, with a valley amassed in a field of flowers for answers.

Being kind is about expressing goodwill, whether emotionally, spiritually, physically or materially. It’s the act of being generous and considerate, looking out for the needs of others.

There’s such grace in being kind, just as there is in receiving kindness.

For some, it can be difficult to accept a kind gesture, especially those that give so frequently and don’t make time to receive. And then there are those who feel kindness is associated with the naive or weak. And yet kindness in any and all form is the epitome of courage and strength as it requires an openness that exposes vulnerability, especially when the kindness is being extended to oneself.

To give directions to a lost traveller in a city of skyscrapers

Or buy a second spare bike for yourself so you can give your other spare to a friend

For a son to text his mother late at night to tell her to look up at the moon if she’s still awake …

Kindness can melt a heart, crack a shell to ooze a luscious goo. It’s giving without expecting in return, giving with genuine concern.

Being kind is a gesture that is sincere and doesn’t occur because we should be kind or expect ‘good karma’ out of it. It’s not pity either; there is a clear line between the two. To pity is to be sympathetic to suffering, distress or misfortune, to show mercy and feel sorry.

A warm hug from someone who seems to feel your pain is kindness woven in care. Receiving help when you’re down and not when you’re strong, that’s pity. Pity is fleeting and insincere, can be demoralising; kindness stays with you well after the kindness has occurred.

Offering work to someone who isn’t working, mailing a care package of home-baked biscuits sealed with a smiley face to someone far away … they’re little gestures that can make someone’s day, turn an ugly mood into a gleaming uplift in both the giver and receiver.

Kindness can soothe the beastly harsh and thaw the biggest of ice bergs submerged in arctic waters. It can uplift to breathless heights and become buoyant in puffs of weightless jubilation; a gladness of glee.

Compliment someone on their new red shoes and watch their face light up

Hold the hand of a friend who bleeds out their heart

Be taken to lunch, or have the lunch bill unexpectedly paid … there’s such humility in kindness, a respectful, thoughtful and generous consideration for a person, animal or something.

Kindness comes with affection and warmth, gentleness too, to want to do something good. It’s the giving of time and patience, of wanting person, animal and environment to feel better than they are. Being kind is to love, whether in friendship, romantic, parental, environmental or spiritual love.

To sit with a family pet for two hours after her surgery

Be the angelic guardian of a brother’s galaxy

Talk to a friend who is reluctant to talk and after an hour, hear the glee in their tone.

That’s the bonus of course, the delight we can feel in imparting kindness, to know we’ve done something good, helped someone feel better or special, helped something, Mother Nature. But not pity them.

To see kindness in action is enchanting, captivating. It’s a desirous quality layered in modesty that can never be measured.

Kindness is a simple smile, a thank you, or a helpful hand to a stranger. As Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, says:

The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential, if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.

Be concerned, caring and considerate. Be kind. Accept kindness. Expose it in all its glory. And honour it, for it’s in us all.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
True kindness has the power to change circumstances, whether given or received. Kindness makes the world go round and can determin... Read More
Monday, 24 August 2020 11:00
Monika Schott PhD
True, Rosy. Kindness can change anything; it can soften a heart, arouse a smile, and much more. ?
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 01:16
2414 Hits
2 Comments

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