Karen Scott

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Karen Scott

You know when you receive a form letter in a Christmas card from friends that their year probably wasn't as good as their summary. Yes, the kids got their degrees, promotions, the new house is a mansion and the lovely granddaughter featured in an advertisement for breakfast cereal. But really you knew that there'd been a smattering of bad, perhaps some failed exams, an unpleasant property settlement or an altercation with the neighbours on the left over the barking dog.

Well, thinking back over the last 40 years I realised my life was a good form letter with a very large smattering of the unpleasantries of life that that we all suffer at some time.

On a personal level I have spent many years looking for the perfect husband only to find he doesn't exist. I tried twice unsuccessfully, although I now have a really nice partner Bill (I usually don't use that word as I don't play tennis) and we've lasted ten years, mostly in different towns from each other and are still happy, but forget any wedding.

With husband No. 1, I produced the three little blonde boys I'd always wanted and they were mostly a pleasure. Now at the ages of 31, 33 and 35 they are still a pleasure as long as I'm not desperate for a long conversation and happy to settle for grunts. How they became successful carpenters, welders and builders is beyond me as their father and I aren't the handiest tools in the shed, although husband No. 2 who was in the AFP could build anything and it rubbed off. These three sons and their partners have given me the loveliest one grandson and five granddaughters I could ask for.

After leaving school I completed the Advanced Secretarial Course at Reid TAFE where I was pretty ordinary at typing but topped the class at shorthand - what a blast from the past! I was expected to go into Court Reporting but disappeared into the bowels of the Dept. of Defence (Army) where I stayed for six years as Personal Assistant to a succession of five Brigadiers and never took shorthand again. I then married husband No. 1, a National Serviceman, and moved to Wollongong to buy a takeaway shop and rotisserie hot chooks.

Some years on, about 1985, as a single mother, planting a few rockery plants, I decided to study for a Horticulture Certificate which I fortunately passed and followed that success with employment at Mawson Garden Centre, Tuggeranong Markets Nursery, many years with an Indoor Plant Hire Company, a few more years at Fyshwick Markets Nursery (at this point becoming a florist of sorts). I then went on to my present home of Bunnings, Fyshwick, where I have been the resident Horticulturalist for nearly seven years. I created the (somewhat smaller than other Bunnings Nurseries) Fyshwick Nursery and lived among the plants for five years, for two of these having fleeting moments of questionable fame by being brave enough to talk live on the Bunnings Garden Show on 2CC on Saturdays, advising what was a good buy that weekend. Now I live inside the store lurking around indoor gardening, looking at diseased leaves and chatting about gardening - I also get paid!

A lot of professional gardeners I think just live and dress casually and when my mother tries to dress me up, I'll say "All I have time for is Bunnings, Bill, bed and bingo" so only need a limited wardrobe. I have mastered the art of having two homes, which works well as no one gets sick of me and dinner is often waiting on my return. I live with my 87 year old mother in Queanbeyan while I'm working. She is somewhat different from some 87 year olds and travels with her male companion (she's a cradle snatcher as he's only 84) constantly. At present she is on a four week round Australia cruise and yay! I have control of the TV remote. On my days off I travel two hours to my other home and that of my 'easy-to-get-on-with partner Bill to a tiny town, not even on all maps, Bendick Murrell between Young and Cowra.  I had a bric a brac store and herb nursery next to him in the 1990s and we took it from there.

At this point I now understand the pattern of the form letter in the Christmas card. When you're on a run remembering the good things in life, why drag up the bad, so I won't.

With a life so full of human contact and conversing so much which I love, now and then I appreciate sitting in the yard in Bendick Murrell in peace and quiet, if the barking dog next door and the man up the hill with the really loud stereo will allow me to do that. I don't sit for as long as Bill and I sell our own herbs at Hall Markets every month so I usually pull poor unsuspecting plants out of the garden and turn each into six. At the moment I am also bringing back the terrarium from the 1970s and have sold quite a few of those, filled with ferns, fairies or frogs.

I love to write and once had Australian Consolidated Press pay me $100 for the first Australasian rights to a story about Husband No. 2 and his snakes and lizards (live) which we kept in our house at Richardson. I then sold one to New Idea magazine about the same husband and his computer. Neither story was very complimentary to him so I decided not to submit any more while he is still alive.

Anyway, Brett has done a wonderful job reuniting such a large group of us, Due to these efforts, I have been to visit Margaret Hanfield who I had lost touch with, and I have spoken to others. Great work!


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