Gail Foster Tasmania Tasmania
picture of the book
Excerpts from "Six Months in Wonderland"...

The following are taken directly from the book.

Living in Wonderland...

Our house had its own micro-climate. One reason for this was that it had its own forest. The other was the rustic building style. The house was very welcoming to wildlife due to an absence of internal lining material and an approximate rather than exact overlapping of weatherboards. We discovered this one cold dark evening, when a dark shape swooped past the rafters.

"Mum! Mum! What's that?" Sara asked in panic mode.

"I think it's a bat!" I replied.

"It's a bat! It's a bat!" Sofie squealed her eyes wide in wonder.

"Look at that! Look at that!" she continued as the terrified bat swept and flapped past the attic.

It wasn't until the flying mammal had found and flung itself through an exit that I considered the possibility of bites and infection. Our idiosyncratic climate also explained the summer day when:

"Mum! Mum! There's something big and black on my leg! Squealed Sara as she raced to the bathroom. She tore off her jeans and threw them in the bath.

"It's a leech!" she exclaimed.

"A very well fed leech." I agreed.

Sara, always one to feel the cold needed to add sheepskin slippers and polo fleece to her night attire under several doonas to gain a semblance of comfort. On the odd warm day, blowflies entered the numerous crannies that the bats and leeches had recently vacated.

My Church Experiences...

Many times I found the total lack of understanding of the female parishioners with the consequent disregard of their feelings, mind boggling in its ineptitude. I was meant to smile sweetly when my husband was asked to preach and join the eldership and I was asked to bring "a plate of supper". Even a minister I respected who questioned the traditional subordinate view of women, publicly praised the Presbyterian form of government as the most democratic among the churches.

"What is democratic about the majority of congregants being ineligible to stand for leadership due to their sex?" I thought to myself, fuming.

On this occasion the woman did not "keep silence". I stood, indignant, angry. I acquainted 'the speaker' with a number of his specious arguments and my feelings about them.

"Be quiet!" he thundered, his glasses now lopsided in red, perspiry, vexation.

I strode to the door. The slam reverberated through the stunned silence.

A Near Miss...

Thursday, September the 5th was my mother's birthday. This was the day the Mt St Canice laundry boiler exploded. It killed 8 people and injured 21. Premier Doug Lowe described it as "a scene of complete devastation". I had gone home for the school holidays.

I returned to the dormitory only to retrieve my possessions. Sheets of sharp, jagged glass lay on my bed, splinters lay around the room. I lived at home until I started College the next year.

Working in Mental Health...

Work at the Richmond Fellowship continued to be entertaining and occasionally exasperating.

"I'm sick! I'm hearing voices!" Dean implored when I went to investigate his absence from morning meeting.

"Yes! They're telling you to get out of bed!" I replied wearily.

"I wish we could get a bunny!" Abbey said dreamily. We could get a girl and a boy."

"Yea, and we could have 14,000 rabbits!" Darren responded drily.

"We could feed them scones!" said Anne in a moment of inspiration.

The freezer was full to bursting with donated frozen scones.

"Well we have a rat! I saw one in the compost!" Darren observed.

"We need a Pied Piper with mental health experience!" I said.

Darren took pity on Abbey and the house soon had a large, roly poly black and white rabbit. Max suggested Royce for a name, as it went with Rolls but the residents settled on Rfa, being short for R for rabbit.


One day while feeling particularly inspired I decided to take another step towards making my dreams a reality. I lounged on the attic bed, hot tea in my favourite cup on the side table. Meg had left me an extra large cup and saucer, white with raised pattern. I called it my "Alice in Wonderland Cup". Tea took on a special contemplative quality when sipped from it.

After three cups of tea and much brainstorming I arrived at my specification list for my dream man. I wanted a man within five years of my age, between 5.10 and 5 11ins tall with muscly arms and chest. He needed to share my Christian values and want to get married, have a love of classical music and be kind, compassionate and intelligent. He would be willing to encourage me to use my gifts of music, writing, counselling and teaching, get on well with people and love children. He adored me and the name I loved the best was Peter.


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