Thursday, April 03, 2014

Aloha in Three Days ...and counting

Time has flown, and is indeed flying towards the next BIG thing... this Sunday Mrs Holt Press and I fly to Hawaii to spend two weeks with our dear friends Paul and Vicki. We are ticking jobs off our to do list in preparation: passports, visas, travel money, insurance, hotel booking, flight details, connections and transfers in Sydney and Honolulu, US plugs, packing etc. Then of course there's managing Surf Boy (formerly known as Sport Boy) in our absence. Hello Nan! He's not too hard to manage apart from being coeliac (allergic to gluten) and having a propensity to lose mobile phones. He will be kept busy in our absence, initially at Soul Survivor and in the second week "on duty" at the Bells Beach Pro surfing competition. Now that he attends SEDA surf school in Torquay he and his grommie mates will be "working" at the Pro. (Trying to get close to Kellie Slater, Mick Fanning et al more likely!) Of course, he's just a little jealous that we are going to Hawaii, the birth-place of surfing :)
Paul and I met in Cairns in 1980, both of us travelling around Oz. We've grown closer and closer as the years have passed despite living on opposite sides of the world. I last saw him in New Zealand in 2009 on a fly fishing trip. We are all very excited about catching up in Hawaii where Paul and Vicki have a house.

Following my mission to Queensland to help Pop get ready to move I spent 5 days in WA. 

It's been a whirlwind for Dad the last few months. He had his final operation following bowel cancer, sold his house in Gympie, bought a house in Geelong and moved back to Victoia after an absence of 20 odd years. And in the midst of all that his sister, my Auntie merle, passed away. He is settling in well to his new home and getting lots of stuff done to make it comfortable. It is great to have hime living so close for the first time in 40 years! Unpacking

The main purpose for the trip was to spend some time with my mate Letchy hiking on the Bibbulmun Track. We used to do this regularly but it is nine years since our last hike and we both felt the difference big time! Poor Greg ended up with terrible blisters and struggled to make it to the end on the second day. Despite the pain we had a great time together, talking and sharing and remembering. We walked from Sulliavan's Rock to North Bannister, about 40km, a journey that Greg did last year with his son Ryan and Huss, the afghan boy who had lived with them for the last three years. Tragically Huss took his own life a few months ago. Our hike was done in his memory and hopefully helped Greg with his grief and sadness. Bibbulmun pics on Facebook


Typically I managed to squeeze plenty more in to my 5 days: the CFFL pre-season draft with all the footy boys, watching the Dockers with a couple of Freo supporting bogans on Friday night, golf and catch up with my old (young) mate Ryan, a couple of days hanging out with Jordy, Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe, a night at Sally and Warren's, trawling a couple of swap meets, seeing Big Brother briefly and Sunday night with 3/4 of the Breakfast Club for dinner in Mt Lawley. Friends and family on FB


It is always great to see my mates and friends and spend time with my son but I also spent significant time talking about a major decision I've been contemplating for a long time. After many years of avoiding/delaying/procrastinating/wasting time I've decided to bite the bullet and do what I should have done years ago. I'm going to go to university and get my teacher's degree and then hopefully have a late blooming career as a teacher. It will take 4 years to get a degree which will hopefully allow me about 10 years of teaching. I'm leaning towards primary teaching.Unfortunately I left it too late to get started this year at Deakin Uni in Geelong and there's no mid-year intake so I won't be able to commence till 2015. That gives me the rest of this year to get ready and work out how to manage on a student income. I'll work part-time in some capacity while I study.It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life but now that I've made the decision I'm excited and eager for it to begin.


Meanwhile, Hawaii awaits...

Friday, March 07, 2014

The End of Holties House, sort of...

I've spent the last week with Dad in Gympie getting him ready for his move to Victoria. Big Brother aka GHB and I came up last week and spent the first few days preparing for a HUGE Garage sale. 
It ran both Saturday and Sunday and achieved all our major goals: ie. Get rid of as much unwanted stuff as possible. Make as much money as possible. Make enough to cover the cost of our airfares. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.
Since then it's been all about packing for the big move. GHB went home yesterday and now we are very nearly done. That's just as well because I'm going

home tomorrow night. We set off for the Gold Coast in the morning. I fly tomorrow from there tomorrow night so will have just enough time to stop off at a theme park for a few hours of fun and frivolity. Just me. Dad's not into roller coasters.
Then back to Victoria and home for Mrs Holt Press' birthday on Saturday.
Dad will stay here a few more days until the property settles and the movers arrive then head south with his van fully loaded next week.
Farewell Gympie.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Farewell Auntie Merle

On Friday we drove up to Shepparton for my Auntie Merle's funeral. She died on Feb 8 aged 79 and although it was a shock to hear she had died it was not really unexpected. I hadn't seen her for over a year but Pop had been to visit her twice when he was down for Christmas and she had said to him she was ready to go. In fact she even said she wanted to go, and perhaps having seen her brother for "the last time" she had ticked off a final item on her bucket list?
I was very glad that Dad had seen her recently and spent some good time with her because due to a clash of scheduling he was unable to come down from Queensland for the funeral. The day before he had the final operation to reverse his stoma and remove the colostomy bag after a 12 month battle with cancer.Every indication so far is that the surgery was successful and Dad is on the way back to good health. 

The funeral was held at the Salvation Army church in Shepp and I thought it was a lovely service. 
Dad had written a eulogy for his sister and asked me to deputize for him which I was honoured to do. When I walked in and saw the flowers on the coffin I suddenly remembered he had also asked me to get a bunch of flowers on his behalf!! Thankfully there was a florist not far away and I had time to go and get some but....it was Valentine's day!! Busiest day on the florist's calendar!! There were masses of red roses and romantically intentioned customers everywhere but I found a couple of lovely bunches of native orchids and the girl arranged them for me while I wrote a card and within 5 minutes I was back at the church and all set. 
I was able to set up Mrs Holt Press' ipad to record the service so that Dad can watch it later, along with Vicki who just missed getting back from her Pacific island cruise in time to make it to the funeral. 
More importanly, my cousin Kathy and her husband were able to cut short their trip to Thailand and get back in time.

I delivered the eulogy on dad's behalf and managed to keep my emotions in check, something he had feared he would be unable to do if he'd been there himself. He had written a beautiful tribute to his beloved sister and several people commented on it later.

I was followed by my cousin Geoff who spoke on behalf of Auntie Merle's kids and family and he did a fantastic job, painting a really lovely and complete picture of his Mum. Towards the end his emotions swelled up and tears flowed and it was a poignant tender moment of love and sadness.

Then came a beautiful powerpoint presentation of photos of Auntie Merle's life accompanied by her favourite songs. It was great to see pictures of her with so many people she loved and was loved by. There were many pictures of her with Dad and they were always smiling and happy together. Dad had written that apart from early childhood when they didn't always like one another, the remaining 60+ years of their relationship had been one of harmony and love, with no recollection of any argument or conflict between them. That showed in the photos.

Straight after the service came one of the highlights of the day for me. An old couple approached me and the man introduced himself as Danny Delaney.
I was stunned. I had only ever heard the name and hadn't realized he was even still alive.
"The legendary Danny Delaney" I replied!
Danny was my Dad's mate (cousin) when they were kids, living at Dixon's Creek (?). There are photos of them together as young boys and I've heard stories of some of their exploits but to meet him in the flesh was wonderful. He grasped my hand warmly and said how pleased he was to hear that Pop's operation had been successful and that he was doing well in recovery. I felt transported to another time and place and euphoric and touched and amazed all at the same time, as if a character in a favourite book had suddenly come to life and appeared off the page in the flesh. The only disappointment was that we had to adjourn to the cemetery for the burial and I didn't get to see Danny and his wife again, I would love to have talked to him some more and heard some of his stories and memories.
(When I told Dad about this encounter he too was moved and promised that once he moves down to Victoria we would go and visit Danny. I can't wait.)

The cemetery was a long way out of town and if I hadn't been following the hearse I'd have questioned whether we were going the right way but sure enough we eventually got there and a brief burial and committal was held in the lovely surrounds. Auntie Merle was buried alongside her beloved late husband Harold.

We then returned to town for refreshments at the Parkdale Hotel and it was great to catch up with family and friends I hadn't seen in a long time. In fact I was shocked, and a little ashamed, to realise that I hadn't seen my cousins Geoff and Julie in 40 years!!!! The Holt and Gallagher kids were inseparable every school holidays when we stayed at Nanny's place in Nathalia. The Gallaghers lived next door and the holidays were always full of adventures and games and family fun together. How had we let 40 years pass without seeing one another?
(I had seen John plenty of times during that period and Kathy and I had hung out a bit as young adults as well as a visit to her place when Dad was down about 12 months ago).

We resolved not to let so much time and distance pass again without seeing one another and began discussing future Holt-Gallagher get-togethers and reunions. I look forward to them already and considering that so many of us now live, or will be living back in Victoria it will be a lot easier to organize.

I enjoyed meeting several of my cousins' kids for the first time too, especially Bec who had come down from Queensland. She was very close to her Nan and has written posts on Auntie Merle's blog a number of times to keep people informed about her health and eventually her passing.
Dad has some lovely photos of Auntie Merle on his blog, Holtieshouse too.


The other BIG news is that not only has Pop bought a house in Geelong but just a week after putting his house in Gympie on the market it has sold and at a higher price than he'd hoped for! The move is well and truly on now. In fact, Alan and I are flying up to Queensland next week to help with the packing and preparation. I've been commissioned to run a BIG garage sale to help dispose of all Dad's unwanted stuff prior to him moving. 




Saturday, February 01, 2014

Melbourne Now Dancers

Kids at Melbourne Now

on You Tube

NB. I asked their mum's permission

Friday, January 31, 2014

Melbourne Now

Today's Culture Club excursion was to see the much-publicised "Melbourne Now" exhibition at the NGV.


Our companions were Neil and Tracey who are into art both personally and professionally.

I loved the exhibition. It is huge and hugely varied, across a range of media (and venues).


The pieces that stood out for me were:

A large 4 screen projection of socio-economic-political-environmental data about Melbourne portrayed in diagramatic form. I know that doesn't sound all that impressive but trust me, it was.
It mapped things like the 70,000 trees in the urban forest of Melbourne, identifying them by type and health (healthy through to dying). The incidence of car accidents (should have been labelled "crashes" but that's just my opinion) throughout the city, grading them in severity and cause. The drains and pipes that run beneath the city. The areas of disadvantage, colour-coded. The age of buildings, from 1850 through to the present day. etc
All done with simple, effective and surprisingly beautiful computer graphics. (I couldn't find a picture of it so have added this pic of another very interesting piece. My favourite part "Spokesman Denies He is a Spokesman")



A collection of Australiana tea-towels, some of which had been amended by the screen print artist.

















A resin cast three dimensional image called "Don't Worry" portraying people and episodes from the artist's life which was incredible, though quite "dark" in feel and theme.

















I'm not much of a video art fan but there was one very cool exhibit of a camera travelling down a seemingly endless laneway which was in fact a compilation of lanes and alleys from all around Melbourne seemlessly woven together.



And a lights and music installation that inspired  two wonderful kids to dance. To my annoyance I can't get the video to upload to Blogger but you can take my word for it, they were great. Here's some other kids letting their hair down instead.



Of course there were parts of the exhibition that I didn't like or that didn't work for me but there was more than enough that did to make it well worth seeing.


We also had a very nice lunch at Optics in Fed Square.





Friday, January 17, 2014

BANG!!!

It has been stinking hot in Geelong the last couple of days which makes it difficult and uncomfortable to sleep. Therefore having to get up at 4.30 and start at 5.30 this week  has not been easy. 
After a long hot week I was approx. 60 seconds away from finishing my shift today when there was a huge bang from the back of the bus. I looked in the side mirror and saw a big cloud of smoke or dust. It looked and sounded bad whatever it was. A father and son sitting in the back seat hurriedly got up and forward, exclaiming "the engine blew up!" 
I pulled over and got out to investigate. Thankfully it wasn't the motor but one of the rear tyres that had blown out. I radioed through to let Dispatch know what had happened and what my position was. Reassuring the passengers that a replacement bus was on the way we waited for help to arrive. What followed was either confusing or farcical depending on your vantage point. A bus appeared in my mirror and I instructed the driver to park in front of us to make it easier for the passengers to switch buses. I duly escorted them onto the new bus and was about to brief the driver when I realised there was no driver! 
It turned out to be one of the mechanics who had come to pick up my disabled bus but instead of coming in a car (as expected) was in a bus. 
"Sorry passengers, this isn't your new bus, it's still on its way!" 
Sure enough it arrived a couple of minutes later but pulled up behind my bus, a considerable distance for the passengers to have to walk along a busy road with no footpath in 43 degree heat!! I ushered the second driver to bring his bus forward. When I next looked up a bus was disappearing into the distance and I was on the radio asking him where he was going! Then I realised that it was the mechanic driving away in my original bus and the changeover driver was still moving his bus into position!! Finally, all the passengers were safely onboard and back on their way, the bus with the flat tyre was on its way back to the depot and I too was driving back to base ready to clock off for the day, about half an hour later than planned!


 Talking of buses, how cool is this new advertisement on one of our buses? I've put in a request to be permanently assigned to drive this one! And no, for those looking for bad omens, this was not the bus I got the flat tyre in!
I've recounted a few of my ebay exploits and successes on the blog in the past and am happy to report the latest. A few years ago I bought four small football pennants at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. They are souvenirs of the 1971 and 1972 WAFL Grand Finals played between West Perth and East Perth (71) and East Perth and Claremont (72). On my most recent trip to WA I found them when I was cleaning out the shed and brought three of them home. The fourth, the West Perth one, I gave to one of my mates, Warren, who is not only a West Perth fan but also a repository of all sorts of weird and interesting facts and stats about sport in general and football in particular. Sure enough, he told me he'd been at the 1971 Grand Final, won by his Cardinals, and recalled the crowd figure and the score I think!

I duly put two of the pennants on ebay a couple of weeks ago and they attracted a lot of attention and many "watchers". That's ebay speak for people who have saved a listed item to watch its progress and potentially bid on it. I was at the cricket at the MCG the day the auction ended and I watched the bidding in the final minute intently on my phone. Needless to say I was very pleased when the bids jumped from 20 to 30 to 50 dollars as the seconds ticked down before the final winning bid was lodged: $82.57! More amazing than the price was that the second one which finished a couple of minutes later went for exactly the same price but to a different bidder! I was stoked and gave a whoop of delight which confused the cricket fans around me who were wondering why I was so excited considering no wicket had been taken or boundary hit!

The last pennant, the East Perth Royals one pictured is on ebay at present and finishes on Sunday afternoon. Considering that East Perth stuff sells well, and they were the premiers in 1972 which also adds to the value of footy memorabilia, I'm optimistic that it will match and perhaps surpass the prices of the previous two. 
If you're interested you can see how it goes here.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas & New Year Celebrations. Interstate Visitors, plus some Surfing

Sunday night at the Holt Press household and we have some guests: 3 Sydney Christian surfers, Daniel, Ryan and Jordy. They're here because a few days ago Sport Boy met them at Dino's while he was there on dog-minding duties, heard they were heading down south on a surfing road trip and managed to convince them to give him a lift (take him with them) to Joanna, well-known surf beach and supposed rendezvous point with a bunch of surfers and grommets he hangs out with. Turns out most of the crew had already left by the time they were gonna be there, not that it mattered because following Sport Boy's directions, the unsuspecting NSW boys didn't know they should have turned off at Colac and ended up at Warnambool!!!! Only about 150km beyond their target!!! Needless to say Sport Boy, the hapless navigator was paid out on and subjected to that great surfer tradition, "Grommie Abuse", for the next few days as they made their way back along the coast. Despite navigational challenges, inclement weather and below average surf, it sounds as if they had a great time and were full of stories and laughter over dinner when I got home from work tonight. It will probably serve as a fair orientation for Sport Boy (aka Surf Boy?) leading into 2014 when he starts at his new "school", SEDA Surf School based in Torquay. That's right, you heard me correctly! Surf School! What started out as a wild-sounding suggestion several months ago has become a reality. The benefits of being the youngest child? It's not quite as loose (picture Hawaiian shirt-clad dudes sitting around on the beach) as it sounds/you imagine. There is an academic component but all of the subjects have a surfing/surf industry focus with the ultimate aim/possibility of developing a career in some sort of surf-related field. Well that's the theory! We'll see how close that is to reality as the year unfolds.

Meanwhile we have had a bevy of visitors over Christmas and New Year, starting with Pop coming down from Queensland. Then Big Brother Alan surprised us all with a quick trip over from Perth last weekend.

Christmas Day was spent at Vicki's for a fantastic meal of traditional Christmas fare. We had deliberately gone for a low-key approach regarding presents and spending which worked well for all concerned, especially the bank balance!

On Saturday 28 I went to the Boxing Day test at the MCG and met up with my mate David, a fellow Spurs fanatic with whom I converse in texts regarding all things Tottenham. It was the first time we'd seen each other since the first and only time we met, on a bus from Dunsborough to Perth in 2010.

That night Mrs Holt Press, Favourite Daughter and I met up with Chris V for dinner in Fitzroy.

We all spent another day in Melbourne when The Heir and Briony returned from their trip to Robe SA. It started with lunch at a cafe called John Gorilla, followed with a jeans buying expedition to High St Northcote before we all reconvened at the Wesley Anne pub in High St for dinner. All agreed it was an excellent day.

On New year's Eve we had an all-too-brief visit from Cam and Louise Tero and their three daughters who are on a road trip from WA to Tasmania. I nearly refused Cam and Alice entry due to the Dockers jumpers they were wearing...

Later that night more West Aussies arrived for a BBQ, Rose and Andrew Braun and 2 of their 3 girls. It was fantastic to catch up with all of them and swap news and stories. 
We saw the New Year in watching the fireworks over Barwon Heads from our front yard.

Having had 5 days out of 6 off over the Christmas period I am back at work but have a day out at the Australian Open with Chris to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

It has been a lovely, relaxed and enjoyable holiday period shared with many family and friends, without over-indulgence or excess. I trust you have had a similarly good time.
May 2014 be a year of blessings for you and your family.

With love
Marcus

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

We enjoyed a lovely low-key Christmas day with the available members of the family yesterday. Pic to follow when I retrieve my camera from Mrs Holt Press' boot. Pop is down from Queensland on his first "post-cancer" adventure and in good spirits. Mum's friend Mona is over from WA and joined us for the day. Only Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy were there of our 4 kids. We all gathered at Vicki's place in Leopold. Roast turkey and pork and all the trimmings followed by my favourite Christmas treat, pudding and ice cream. A fabulous meal in great company. We elected to go ultra simple this year so just a Christmas draw and 1 present each. Nobody minded, in fact I think we all thought it was better that way. (I got a gold class movie voucher) Perfect.
I think the coolest present of the day went to Sport Boy who got a unicycle!
A relaxed afternoon of talking and occasional television followed before the kids got restless and wanted to go home and go for a swim. I took Pop and his new van in for a car wash following the road trip: de-bugging of a different kind.
Today I'm cruising with one ear on the cricket and about to go and pick up the new (2nd hand) fridge we've bought from a bloke at work. Mrs HP has gone out for lunch with her oldest friend Tracey.
I'm working tomorrow then another two days off on the weekend.

To family, friends and readers, I hope your Christmas was as peaceful and blessed as ours and the new year brings good beginnings and good health.
I have much I am thankful for and much to look forward to.
God bless
Marcus


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Farewell

Has Winter finally ended? Has Summer actually started? It's hard to tell with this one day to the next weather pattern but it has been a HOT day today. Sleeping tonight may be a challenge. Thank goodness for the overhead fan.

Today is a momentous day at Holt Press: My Favourite Daughter has moved out of home. (Again) It's true she has moved out a few times before but this one seems significant. The last 12 months have seen a lot of changes and lots of good outcomes for FD. Her health issues are much more under control and she now has energy on a consistent basis. She is about to commence study in a Diet & Nutrition course in Melbourne next year. There is a steadily increasing amount of work in her photography business. She's awaiting the arrival of her new camera, bought on ebay from Canada. She has sold the Kombi and paid off her debts. She has lovely straight teeth after a year of Invisiline treatment. And now she has moved into a cool share house in Melbourne with 7 other young cool people! I helped her with the move today. I will miss having her around as much and will look forward to her visits, however frequent they are. I am proud of all she's accomplished and the future she is building for herself.
After the move I went to my first A _League game of the season: Melbourne Heart v Adelaide United. By the time I found a park (with trailer in tow) and got to the ground Heart were 2-0 down and looking like continuing their 5 match losing streak. But in a rousing 2nd half they came back via two stunning goals then took the lead via a dubiously awarded penalty for handball. Adelaide gained some justice with a deflected equaliser and the game finished 3-3.

Mrs Holt Press and I went to the annual Christmas Dinner for work last night and enjoyed the night out. FD Started an interesting comparison and dialogue regarding it on Facebook last night. You can see for yourself here.
I put together a few puzzles & games for the night which went over quite well but the big hit of the night was my re-worked version of The 12 Days of Christmas at Benders. I roped in three volunteer "singers" and we gave a rousing rendition after dinner.

Tottenham v Manchester United has just started on TV which is my cue to sign off!
After a humiliating 6-0 thrashing by Manchester City last week I'm hoping for a much better performance tonight.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Homecoming Day

It's been a big day of homecomings.

The Heir and his girlfriend have returned home after a month touring around America.

Favourite Daughter has returned home after house/cat-sitting for The Heir in Northcote.

And by now Vicki should have arrived home from a long stint of playing Grandma in South Australia. I'm sure Mum and Tim will be glad to see her.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hello Ian

It seems my absence from the blogosphere has been noticed, missed even. My best blogging intentions have amounted to very little but I appreciate the interest of my hardy surviving readers, whoever you may be.

Since the footy season ended in such disappointment I have been busy with other pursuits, which I will relate in limited detail here.I didn't manage to get a ticket to the Grand Final but I did meet up with my mate Collo before and after the game. 
You can probably tell at which point this picture was taken! Despite the disappointment of the Dockers going down to Hawthorn we went and had dinner after the game and I really enjoyed catching up with him. Mates are great. Footy is fantastic. Mates AND Footy, does it get any better than that?

Stalking a few footy notables during the finals!!
One good outcome from the footy season: a change in the pecking order!


A few family items.

The Heir and his partner Briony are in America, having spent the past month in Hawaii, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago and New York. They posted some great pics on Facebook last night. MY highlight of THEIR trip was that they went to see the NY Giants play the Minnesota Vikings and saw the Giants have their first win of the season.

Favourite Daughter has been house and cat-sitting for them. They have a nice little apartment in Northcote, across the street from Westgarth station, 2 minutes from High St and about 1km from Nan & Pa's old house in Clarke St. It is fun to go back to a part of the world that figured so prominently in my childhood.
FD has been getting a bit more photography work recently, including doing a wedding for close friends back in WA and she is growing in confidence the more she does. On a sweet-sad note she sold her beloved Kombi van this week. It has been on the market for a long time and finally sold to a couple from Melbourne. She will be able to clear her debts and make a fresh start which is a big relief for her.
                                                     Two Rare Birds  photographers with Flair

Spike is living and working back in Perth and seems both happy and healthy for which I'm grateful. At the moment in the "tug-of-war" between family and friends his friends have the greater pulling power. That's fine, I just want him to be happy, but I do miss him. I arranged to send his G5 McIntosh computer over to him this week, the third time I have shipped it across the country!!!! If you don't know how big and heavy a G5 is, Google it sometime!  I also sent him two boxes full of his clothes which is a double blessing: they don't fit me and are much more useful to him, as is the space cleared in the wardrobe in his old room which Mrs Holt Press is claiming as a craft room etc.



Sport Boy had a  job for the first week of the school holidays with a great bloke from church. With the $ he was able to pay for a return ticket to Perth and with our blessing he went and spent a week with his old friends and mates around Busselton & Perth, and hung out with his brother as well. He turns 16 this month...it won't be long before he too is spreading his wings and leaving the nest...theoretically at least!
He is starting at a new school next year, a surfing based course run by SEDA at Torquay. It's not quite as loose as you imagine, they assure us there will be plenty of schoolwork done, and a strong practical component in a range of areas around the surfing industry. That's where his heart lies so hopefully it will lead to some good career options.


Mrs HP has been at a bit of a loose end since her Dad died. So much of her time and energy had gone into supporting him over the last three years that his passing left quite a gap. She is very keen to fill that gap with meaningful and fulfilling pursuits and to that end has started doing a sewing course, has signed up for a basket weaving course and has begun looking at new career options, with a leaning towards art therapy. 
Of course there are all the regular things to be done: keep the household running, taxi Sport Boy around, go to the gym, read, etc so she is never idle.

I suggested that in the footy off-season we start a family "Culture Club" and pursue a range of cultural activities: art, music, drama, film etc to broaden our horizons and take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to us in a great cosmopolitan city like Melbourne. Our first venture was to the Monet's Garden exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. While there we took out membership in the Gallery and look forward to regular visits for touring exhibitions and special events.
A couple of weekends ago we ended up with a double booking of sorts. Mum invited Auntie Ev & Uncle Ken over for the weekend and on the Sunday afternoon we arranged to go to a a Jazz concert at The Potato Shed in Drysdale. The problem was that I then heard about a storytelling event in Melbourne on at the same time which appealed much more than an the jazz! A compromise was reached. We had dinner with the rellies on Saturday night and followed up with fish & chips at Queenscliff for lunch on Sunday before parting company. Mrs HP went to the jazz, and loved it, while I caught the train up to Melbourne and met up with Favourite Daughter to go to "Now Hear This" the story-telling "Slam" run (and recorded) by ABC Radio National. It was GREAT! Those who wanted to put their name in a hat and people were then drawn out and invited to come and tell a story, (5 min duration) on the theme of "Unexpected". It probably won't surprise you to hear that I put my name in the hat. Nor that my name was drawn out first!!! FD said she "knew" it would be!!
I told the story of how I got the ticket to the 2007 Grand Final which is just about my favourite story. The judges liked it too because I got three 9/10 scores to take an early lead. In the end I came third and received the dubious prize of a One Direction USB thumb drive!!! The winner got a 2kg tin of Milo! Clearly we weren't in it for the prizes. There were some great stories told and we really enjoyed the whole thing. So much so that we are planning to go to the next one on Dec 15. Apparently my story, along with the others recorded on the day, will be played on Radio National some time in the new year. The program is called "Now Hear This". If I get a heads-up on a broadcast date I'll let you know.

Another Culture Club excursion was to the Gasworks Gallery in South Melbourne where Mrs HP's friend Tracey works to see an exhibition based on The Hobo Code and inspired by the art of a New York artist called Basquiat who was a contemporary of Warhol. Mum came with us and after the gallery visit we went to have dinner cooked by FD in Northcote as part of a celebration of her 75th birthday (Mum not FD!)

A couple of weeks ago we had a brief catch up with Julie who was down from Mildura for a quilting show at Geelong Grammar School. I was working but had a conveniently timed break at nearby Lara so after lunch Julie, Pam and Mrs HP came over to say g'day.


Another night recently we met up with Phil & Julie for dinner . They'd been at a TEAR conference on Philip Island and on their last night in Vic we went out in Lygon St Carlton. It was great to see them and swap news and stories.


After Alan Jones died Mrs HP and her brothers  spent a week cleaning up and clearing everything out of the house. After people had chosen items they wanted to keep we brought the remainder home and last weekend held a big garage sale where we managed to dispose of quite a bit, but not all of it. Mum joined in with us because now that she's moved into her new unit in Drysdale she too had too much stuff. 
I've loaded up the leftovers and am taking it all to a swap meet market on Sunday morning. What's left after that is destined for Ebay or the op shops.

Last time I was in Perth I caught up with a lot of mates and friends, including the newly crowned West Australian of the Year! Bruce Robinson: ABL



Finally, I love checking out op shops for bargains and treasures. Badges and footy books are my main target.
This caught my eye recently. Somebody's idea of a sick joke perhaps or a radical new therapy?!!!!



Bye for now

Happy Hello Ian


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just When Things Couldn't Possibly Get Any Worse...They Did!!!!

The weekend did not start well. Geelong, despite playing heroically and coming within a whisker of reaching the Grand Final, lost to Hawthorn by 5 points on Friday night. Despite the loss I was not really disappointed. I expected Hawthorn to win based on form, fitness and player availability. The fact that the Cats came so close was inspirational and the game was such a classic encounter that it was exhilarating being there with 85,000 other people. In the end, the best team won, thus ending an 11 game winning streak by Geelong and putting to bed the infamous Kennett Curse. 

Things took a slight upswing on Saturday night when the Dockers easily beat Sydney to reach the Grand Final for the first time. While I am a little less fond of the Dockers than when I lived in WA (and went to many Fremantle games), due mainly to the presence of the Freo Trio of Obnoxiousness, messrs Crowley, Ballantyne and Lyon, I have a number of close mates who are long-suffering die-hard Dockers fans and for their sake alone I want them to win the flag. Numerous nervous texts were exchanged before my Docker mates finally believed they had the preliminary final won and they were on their way to The Big Dance. Collo even rang me as the clock counted down the final minute and his unbridled joy, the sound of  the wild celebrations of the crowd all around him accompanied by his exuberant commentary actually moved me to tears! The combination of exaltation and relief borne of so many years of disappointment and under-achievement spilled out of Subiaco Oval and tumbled all the way across the country to my lounge room in Ocean Grove. (He is now anxiously awaiting the results of the ballot to see whether he gets a ticket to the Grand Final, and considering how to get himself to Melbourne if his number comes up. Flying via Brisbane, Darwin or Port Moresby are all possibilities!) 

Today was supposed to bring some redemption for Cats fans. Our VFL team were playing the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL Grand Final at Docklands. Having finished three games clear on top of the ladder and cruised through the finals Geelong were the hottest of favourites to win back-to-back premierships. Except that nobody seemed to have told Box Hill that!!! They kicked the first three goals of the game and never relinquished the lead in what was one of the most disappointing and deflating afternoons of football I've had in many years! Geelong were almost still in the game at half time courtesy of the Hawks wayward kicking but kicking a solitary point in the third quarter put paid to any remote chance the Cats had of staging a comeback. And just to emphasise the point, Box Hill kicked the first goal of the last quarter after 15 seconds! It was a dreadful performance by Geelong and left Vicki and I as flat as tacks on the train home.

There was one small glimmer of hope left for football joy in the weekend with East Perth playing West Perth in the WAFL Grand Final. With no radio or TV coverage my only way of monitoring the game was via updates on the net on my phone. The scores see-sawed for the first three quarters but remained close. Maybe the Royals could redeem the weekend? No! They couldn't! Old rivals West Perth ran away with the game in the final quarter and won by about 50 points!!!!
Woe is me!

I'm almost scared to mention that Tottenham play Cardiff City in the EPL tonight. The way things are going...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reflection delivered at Carolyn's Dad's Funeral

Yesterday I had the privilege of leading the funeral service for Carolyn's Dad.
Everything went beautifully and Carolyn's comment at the end of the day was that if she could have picked what she wanted to happen through the process of her Dad dying and the funeral, she wouldn't change a thing from how it actually happened.
She delivered one of the tributes and did a wonderful job, despite all her apprehension and nervous trips to the toilet beforehand!


This is the reflection with which I concluded the service.

The first time I met Alan was the night Carolyn and I told him and her Mum we were planning to get married.
We had flown over from WA for the weekend to tell her parents and mine.
The only prior knowledge they had of my existence was a letter sent home by Carolyn the previous week laden with coded references to Marcus. To put that in context, I had proposed three weeks after we started going out.
We arrived on a Saturday evening and spent an anxious couple of hours watching television with them before building up the courage to say there was something we wanted to talk to them about. Carolyn had inspired sufficient fear in me that I wasn’t game to “ask for her hand” in the traditional way in case he refused.
With genuine nervousness I said “Carolyn and I are going to get married”
Alan’s immediate reply floored both of us.
“That’s wonderful” and as easy as that we had their blessing and support.
Throughout our marriage we have been on the receiving end of Alan and Mary’s generosity and blessing. We have never doubted that they wanted the best for us and our children.  
Many years later, following the sad passing of Carolyn’s Mum Mary, we made a significant decision to move back to Victoria in order to be closer to her Dad.
With both his eyesight and hearing mostly gone and on his own for the first time in his life, we felt we needed to be closer in order to give him the support and care he would need. It was not an easy decision and once again there was a fair bit of anxiety on Carolyn’s part before we told him we were moving.
Nervous that he wouldn’t approve we were again surprised and delighted when he said it was wonderful news.
For a man not given to spontaneity these reactions were unexpected but very pleasantly so. It caused me to ponder the meaning behind these responses, just as I have reflected on Alan’s long life these last few days.
What was at the heart of his life? What motivated and inspired him?
What was most important to Alan ?
The answer?
His love for his family.
His delight at our marriage plans I’m sure was based on the realisation that we loved one another and this is what his daughter wanted. How else would he respond other than to want the best for his children?
He had devoted his whole life to providing for his family through hard work, commitment, perseverance, reliability and faithfulness. His love for Mary was the light of his life, his constant north star. He said many times “Your mother could do no wrong in my eyes”.
By virtue of his generous gifts Alan showed his willingness to support and encourage his children, to help them on the road to security. I know we were not the only recipients of his generosity. Alan had worked hard and done well but was always willing to share what he had whether it was with his family or his church or other charitable groups.
Prior to his passing and in the days since, his children have spent a lot of time together and when the discussion turned to meaning and purpose in their Dad’s life, there was unanimous agreement that his family were what mattered most to him and that he had devoted his life to providing for them, looking after them and caring about their welfare.
Funerals are sometimes guilty of presenting a rose-coloured view of the departed. In that light, it is appropriate to acknowledge that Alan was sometimes challenging, even difficult to get along with. He and I did not always see eye to eye. But in everything he did there was one constant: love for his family. He wanted the best for them, even if his view and theirs of what was best weren’t necessarily the same.
In the last few years of his life Alan found himself alone, lonely and broken-hearted. It was time for his family return the favour, to gather around him and to give back. The time attention and care of Charles, Ray, Trevor and Carolyn over the last few years have been a source of great joy and comfort for Alan and without them I’m sure this day would have come much sooner.
You have done your father and mother proud. You have risen to the challenge and done all that needed to be done and then gone beyond. You have loved your Dad. You have cared for him. You have been here for him. You have nursed him and tenderly met his needs. And as his days came to a close and he knew his time was nearly up you gathered around him to make that final journey as comfortable and peaceful as possible. You repaid the love he had given you and became in the process the proof in the pudding of your Mum and Dad’s lives. They loved one another. They loved you. What else could you do but love them in return to the very end of their lives.
You have all made important contributions but, even though I may be accused of bias, I do want to especially acknowledge the part Carolyn has played in the last three years. She left the place she loved and with some reluctance came back to Geelong. She became her dad’s driver and companion, his confidante and encourager, his eyes and ears, his carer and friend.
Her patience and commitment I believe extended her Dad’s life not just in time but most importantly in quality.
Carolyn your faithful love and care for your Dad on a daily basis was an enormous blessing to him and a great credit to you. I know your dad appreciated all you did for him. On his behalf I say Thank You.

Charles, Ray, Trevor and Carolyn, as your Dad is laid to rest you can take comfort in his life and legacy and pride in your own actions and responses. Well done. God bless you for your faithfulness.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gone

Carolyn's Dad Alan passed away peacefully early this morning. Carolyn and her brothers were with him as they had been for the last few days. He was 94.
May he rest in peace.
                                                                   Christmas 2011




Tuesday, August 06, 2013

It's August, I'd Better Blog!!

A few random jottings on recent events.

Dad is doing very well in his recovery, so much so that Vicki has come home after a couple of weeks of caring duties. There are more procedures to come but everything is progressing very well at the moment. Even more encouraging is the strong prospect that he will make the move from Queensland back to Victoria on the basis that he is a long way away from the family and our support during his new health concerns.

I encouraged Vicki to come home on Friday rather than Saturday so she could come to the footy with me on Friday night. Sadly, the Cats proceeded to lose to North Melbourne. This follows the defeat to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago. They are not quite so imposing and invincible as they used to be (or we would like) but they will play finals and are still a serious contender for the premiership.

 Paula & Bruce, a couple of happy Tigers fans, at Subiaco on my recent trip to Perth

It has been a challenging few days on the buses. I've been spat at (thank goodness for the safety door protecting the driver), abused by an irate passenger, threatened with physical violence, and had to clean up vomit left by an intoxicated passenger on the night bus! Then tonight there was a fight at the bus stop right next to the bus with one bloke repeatedly threatening and then assaulting another. I closed the doors and called 000.

In February I initiated a weight loss competition at work, calling it The Biggest Winner. 6 of us entered, each putting up $50 in a winner takes all contest. I also persuaded the company to add to the prize money, which they did with an extra $100 to the winner, $50 for second and $25 for third.
The competition concluded at the end of July and I'm pleased to announce that I won! And that I have lost 15kg in the process, or nearly 13% of my starting weight. I am down to 100kg and well on the way to reaching my target weight of 95kg.Interestingly three of us lost significant amounts of weight, another lost a little bit and the remaining two put on weight! The money is a welcome bonus but the real prize is losing weight. My strategy was to modify what I ate, largely but not completely cutting out the rubbish I used to eat, and exercising for about an hour every day, mostly by riding an exercise bike (in front of the TV!). While I was in Queensland with Dad I joined a gym on a short term deal and went nearly every day, helped by the fact it was accessible 24/7 so I could go at night, and the machines had TV screens! Not wanting to create the impression I'm addicted to television, the reality is that I get bored easily and exercising without some other form of stimulation/distraction is very difficult for me.

After a lull of several months, following the sale of the last of the lucrative footy cards, I have started listing things to sell on ebay again and have had a few pleasant surprises and good results. Most surprising has been a couple of the old bus stop signs I salvaged after a major replacement program a couple of years ago. I have sold quite a few in the past and the prices had dropped significantly so I stopped listing them to let the market improve. Sure enough the first one sold for $49 and one I have currently listed is already up to $86!!
For those who followed the story of the old Coles footy cards (in a nutshell, I bought a shoebox full of footy cards and a box of old Footy Records for $50) and discovered that one pack of cards in particular were quite old, quite rare and very much in demand. The final tally of sales for about 60 cards came to $2100!! with a John Coleman card going for over $300 being the highlight. I'm in the process of now selling various other cards and Records and continuing to reap the benefits of my original $50 investment.

My favourite daughter had a nasty mishap a few weeks ago while taking photos of my nephew's kids at the beach, falling over some rocks and breaking both bones in her wrist! A night in hospital and an operation to insert a plate followed. She is recovering slowly. One good thing was that it was her left arm so she is still able to do most things including drive my automatic car!

Sport Boy has been a bit crook recently and has a cold/flu/bad throat at the moment. This follows but is not connected to a recent confirmation that he has Celiac's disease and is completely allergic to gluten. Hopefully with dietary modifications we can keep it under control, and his overall health will improve. When he's not sick he is surfing! To the point where he is trying to convince us to let him go to an alternative school next year that focuses on surfing and helping kids pursue careers in the surfing and related industries! We haven't committed ourselves but are considering it, having been to an interview with the school and found out a bit more about it. (It's not as dodgy as my first thoughts feared!!)

When I'm not working on a Saturday I umpire local junior football games which has some minor health/fitness benefit and some moderate financial benefit! The range of characters I share umpiring duties with varies!! Give someone a whistle and a uniform and you never know what sort of meglomania you will unleash!! That's an exaggeration but I did have a few problems with my fellow umpire this week who was young (inexperienced) officious(zealous) technical (pernicity to the point of annoying) and who had little feel for the game (Paid unnecessay free kicks/50 m penalties etc). He also had the special talent of being able to point out my mistakes while ignoring or excusing his own! eg. When I pointed out to him at half time that he had failed to blow the whistle for two marks during the quarter he tried to convince me that because both players had immediately played on he didn't need to blow his whistle to pay the marks!! But, the worst incident occurred when we disagreed on the payment of a technical free kick at a centre bounce and because I over-ruled him he walked off the ground and told me I could umpire the rest of the game on my own!! Basically an "I'm taking my whistle and going home tantrum"!! I managed to convince him at half time that he should come back on and finish the game but then watched as he umpired so poorly that at the end of the game one of the team managers informed me that they were going to lodge a formal complaint against him for biased umpiring!! I'm pleased/relieved to report that they had no complaints against me or my umpiring!! I got a phone call this evening from the umpiring coach asking for my opinion and observations on what happened. Further to my umpiring career I have been asked to be an umpire's advocate at the Tribunal next season and went along last week to observe the Tribunal and find out what's involved in advocacy.

 A couple of weeks ago Broady brought his boys, Tom and Ned to Melbourne for the weekend and we caught up at the footy, Richmond v Freo at the MCG. As always it was great to see him, and the boys had a great time.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Going Home

My time in Queensland is almost up. Tomorrow morning I'm driving down to pick up Big Brother Alan who is flying into the Gold Coast. He will take over support/care duties with Dad for the next two weeks. I fly out of Brisbane tomorrow evening and this time tomorrow night will be sleeping in my own bed.It has been really good to be here for the last couple of weeks but it will also be good to get home, especially as I have one more week of holidays left. Dad is doing really well in his recovery, even though it has been much harder/more painful than last time. He has lost a lot of weight and needs to keep his protein intake up to build up his strength and energy. I am confident he will continue to get better every day.
As a parting gift to Gympie I hid my first Geocache today.

Football
After the disaster/debacle of the Cat's capitulation to the Lions last weekend it was a great relief to see them outplay and out-muscle the Dockers tonight in an important game. Go Cats.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kevin's Back

We have a new (old) Prime Minister after a dramatic day in politics. I am glad to see Mr Rudd back in the job. Finally after months of burying their heads in the sand the Caucus realized the only chance Labor has of even being competitive at the coming election is with Rudd as leader. In what might be called a case of political karma, Julia Gillard was toppled when the numbers turned against her, just as she had turned them against the sitting PM three years ago.
Dad and I sat watching the drama unfold on TV and the internet, before turning to the other big battle of the night, State of Origin II,and another victory for Queensland resulted.


I've been in Queensland for two weeks now. Dad's surgery went extremely well and he came home on Friday. He is recovering slowly. The physical wounds are healing but the emotional impact is proving a bit of a struggle. 

Meanwhile I had a welcome distraction from the carer/support role when Mrs Holt Press came up to Queensland for an all-too-brief holiday over the weekend (Thurs-Tues). She had a good time, relaxing and enjoying the sunshine, and I enjoyed having her here very much. Her visit coincided with something of a Jones family gathering for her S-I-L's birthday at her niece Alice's place at Eumundi. I always like killing two birds with the one stone. 
We also got to have a look around the fabulous Eumundi Markets.

While Mrs HP was here we took our first exploratory steps into the world of Geocaching and successfully tracked down 4 caches hidden around Gympie. 
Curious? Go here to check it out.


The only down moment of the weekend was the football! Especially as I had driven down to Brisbane to go to the game at the Gabba. Everything looked good until late in the 3rd quarter, then it unravelled badly.
It was some what surreal seeing the Cats go down to a goal after the siren from Ash McGrath in his 200th game! A shoe on the other foot type of experience!