Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It's been a long slow day with lots of hold-ups. 7 kids dropped out over the last 2 days, creating headaches that weren't resolved until late this afternoon.
Butt, the car is loaded, I've done all I can do, the camp will just have to survive on what it's got now.
ETA in Perth: midnight.
There's stormy weather happening here, hope it's drier on the road as I head north.
For the next few days I won't be blogging on Holt Press but you can get some idea what I'm up to by clicking on the link for the cool school race camp blog.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I got to indulge in one of life's simple treats this morning, a look around a decent swap meet. I bought a few stuffed toys to use as mascots on the camp, a couple of prints of Melbourne, a toy train engine, and some KNex, but the bargain of the day was a toy helicopter. I had seen the exact same thing in the puzzle shop on Friday night for $25, and I got this one for 3 bucks! Yeah! Betty Bargain Hunter strikes again.
I caught up with my brother Bruce this morning which was really good, we don't see one another very often so it was good to spend some time with him, and to drop off a 21st birthday present to my nephew Adam, we weren't able to make it to his party a few months back. He plays State League baseball; the gift was a blockmounted b/w poster of Wrigley Field under lights which I knew he would like and appreciate, and he did.
A couple of quick stops to set up some check points for the camp and then I hit the road for Busselton, arriving home at 4.30. Just enough time to prepare my talk for tonight's memorial service put on by the Busselton Hospice. In fact, I've just gotten home from said event which was very well attended and my talk seemed to be well received, several people complimented me on it and one asked for a copy.
If they wanted it, I figured you should have the chance to read it too! So here it is!
Message for Hospice Memorial Service
We have one thing in common, we have experienced loss and the pain of grief. Grief can be an over-whelming sadness that accompanies loss but what isn’t always understood is that grief is not restricted to death and bereavement.
While it is most often associated with death, it can be as a result of a lost job, a missing person, moving away from a house or losing a valued possession, or the end of a significant relationship.
In fact I experienced strong grief recently while talking to a mate who divulged to me that his marriage has just broken up. I found myself in tears as I listened to his story, sharing his pain, feeling his shock and bewilderment and trying to adjust to this radical and sad development in his life.
When you first found out that the person you loved had died you were no doubt flooded with these same sorts of thoughts and feelings, and more besides.
Death is one of the hardest things in life to handle, perhaps because there is no second chance, no more opportunities to see/speak to/farewell the person, the love and feelings remain but there is no longer any way to express them in person.
I am not trying to create a hierarchy of grief or to diminish anybody’s individual experience of loss, I know from my own encounter this morning how painful grief can be, but in the end, to lose someone, through sickness, accident, crime or at their own hand is the worst type of loss. Other hurts can be reduced or healed but death is final.
The pain is intense, almost palpable, the disbelief and numbness can send you into a swirling haze of unreality from which you believe you will surely emerge dream-like to find your loved one alive and well.
The finality of death takes some time to accept and we are none too keen to accept it regardless of the facts.
In some cases there can be regrets and if-onlys, we know it’s true and begin to accept it but we wish it could have ended differently, that we’d seen them one more time, that we’d told them how much we loved them, or perhaps been able to undo and un-say things that were said and done before they died.
There is a lot of business to attend to when someone dies. Informing family and friends, holding a funeral, the many visitors and cards expressing sympathy and concluding a person’s affairs all take up time and attention and serve to keep us busy and thus a little bit innoculated against the deepest feelings of loss and grief.
As I say to families after a funeral, they should expect a crash of some sort as the emotions catch up with the activity, and the emptiness and void in their lives become more apparent.
There is no avoiding the reality, the person we loved is gone and we can’t bring them back.
Life of course goes on and while people care and feel sad with us, they too have to return to “normal” life.
It’s in the weeks and months after the funeral that grief can hit hardest.
The common experience of families is that funerals offer a positive opportunity to honour and farewell people, that there is a great outpouring of love and support and that this gives strength to the grieving, enabling them to get through it one day at a time, sometimes just an hour at a time.
At the funeral we are able to tell a person’s story, recognise their achievements, celebrate their lives and express our feelings about them. In a strange sort of way there can be good funerals; in spite of the sadness we can enjoy the experience of honouring the life of our loved one.
The biggest pity about that is that the star of the show doesn’t get to hear and experience it for themselves. How good would it be to be able to say and express all those things while they were still alive rather than after they’re gone? To honour and affirm someone’s life while they’re still alive.
My challenge to you tonight is to recognise these inescapable and eternal truths, that we will all die. None of us is immune. None of us has the money, or the resources, or the power or the authority to beat death, it will come to us all one day, welcome or unwelcome.
In light of this, surely we can be better prepared. We may not be able to anticipate death’s arrival, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do things now to make it less painful when it eventually comes.
How? You may ask?
To borrow a phrase from Robin Williams. Carpe Deum, “Seize the day”.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to do the things you’d like to do, to say the things you’d like to say.
Act now, while you have the time and the facilities and the opportunity.
There are people you love and who love you. Tell them.
Tell the people in your life who matter that you love them.
For many people that’s not that hard to do and yet for too many of us we neglect to say it, we get too busy or self-absorbed to say I love you.
If it’s hard to physically say the words, find another way, whatever it takes, but find a way.
Buy flowers, or chocolates, send a card, or an email or an sms, prepare a special meal, go for a walk on the beach at sunset, buy a surprise gift, lash out on something impractical that you know they’d love, give them a hug, hold their hand, or just look them in the eyes and say I love you.
By the way, I’m not just talking about romantic love between husbands and wives, I’m talking about the love you feel for your kids, or your parents, for your family, for your friends, for your mates. When we take the time to reflect and think about who and how many people are important to us and that we love, there are lots of them, and each of them would be blessed by hearing it, just as we ourselves would be to receive it.
There are two incredibly powerful forces at work in our world, Life and Love and we need to affirm both of them. They may have been neglected or even abused, but it is in seizing life and affirming love that the true joy and purpose of life is revealed.
I picked up a hitchhiker on the way to Perth on Friday. They are rare now but when I was younger, hitchhiking was common and I myself hitched around and across Australia many times and around America twice. I know and appreciate the value of an offer of a lift and some friendly hospitality.
Mick and I talked about our shared interest in art and hitch-hiking and travelling and youthwork and the meaning of life and God. I recounted to him an incident from a youthwork conference I attended some 15 years ago in which the concerns and problems of working with teenagers were discussed and how the conclusion that was reached was that a primary problem with kids is “Purposelessness”. That they don’t know why they’re here, they don’t know what their mission in life is, they don’t realise they were made to a plan and put on earth for a purpose. Because of this ignorance they tend to grab whatever’s going, looking for something without understanding what or who it is they’re looking for, and often looking in the wrong places, places that are risky or dangerous or even fatal. They take risks, they experiment, and they push the boundaries, all in an attempt to find meaning and purpose and understanding in their lives. This lack of purpose means they sometimes don’t value life as highly as they should, they don’t respect others as much as they deserve and they take risks with the gift of life. (Some of them aren’t that young either!)
So what is this mysterious purpose? What are we here for?
For part two of the plan, we are here to love.
We find our meaning and reason for existence in relationships. We achieve fulfilment when we give and receive love. It is love that makes life worth living.
Nobody ever got to the end of their lives and said “If I’d just made another thousand dollars I’d have been happy” or “Life was worth it for that car/boat/house etc” All possessions and wealth will fade away and disappear, it is relationships that we value and that will endure.
It is because of your love for your son or daughter or mum or dad or brother or sister or friend that has brought you here tonight.
It is love and the memory of having loved them and been loved in return that makes you want to come and remember them tonight.
Your love is powerful. Continue to love those who have died, definitely, but don’t neglect the relationships you still have, the people who matter, the family and friends who remain. Affirm your love for the living. Tell them. Show them.
This love that we human beings share is a mirror of the love of God, our Father, our parent, the one who formed us and nurtured us, who knew us from the beginning of time and at the moment of our creation breathed life into us and continues to sustain us to this very day. It is by the grace and power of God that we live and breathe and have our being.
Not content with that, God gave us love as well and even when we rebelled in disobedience his love never faltered or failed and in the coming of Jesus and the events we celebrate at Christmas and Easter he proved his love for us. He calls us to love. To love him and to love one another.
I know that if I asked who would be willing, many of you would trade your life for the life of the one you lost. You would make that sacrifice because of your love.
The Bible says, Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.
Just as many of you would be prepared to pay that price for the ones you love, God was prepared to do the same for us.
It is this supreme act of love, for all mankind, that inspires us to live and to love.
And in remembering and honouring the life and memory of our departed family and friends, we echo back to heaven the joy of love for people who are gone but not forgotten.
Living is not easy at times and loving costs, but in my opinion, they are worth the priceLet your lives be renewed and recharged by loving.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
We did get some difficult and obscure questions right, and of course there were a few we had no idea of and took wild guesses, for instance, who knew that Elvis Presley's backing band were called The Jordanaires and not the "Hip swivelling, body hugging, knee jerk comatose cowboys"? REALLY!
As usual there were little things about the way it was run that bugged me, like having spinning wheel prize draws, costing a dollar a shot between every round, admittedly a money spinner (pardon the pun) but intrusive after a while, and more frustratingly, having a break that stretched for 50 minutes between rounds 4 and 5!!! Sorry for being critical, overall the questions were good, the tone of the night was good, the company was good and we came away with prizes, can't really complain!
I had a great day, getting out to Armadale and a few other places this morning to set up some stuff for the camp, then picking up Phil and meeting Hugh for lunch (The Breakfast Club!) at a cafe in Mt Lawley, I had the prawns, which were tasty but not very filling, Phil generously shared some of his chicken and bacon panini with me which compensated.
He spoke arabic to the Iranian proprietor of the ice cream parlour when I bought dessert. Hugh had the inspiration to buy a lotto ticket for the first time in his life, with the three of us to share the proceeds. Don't know what we'll do about Broadie if we win!! His non-attendance prompted the first ever official motion in the 13 year history of the Breakfast Club, that being, that his membership of the Breakfast Club be down-graded from full to provisional status based on his irregular attendance and apparent lack of committment to the club! We'll see whether that sparks a revival of interest, or precipitates his complete withdrawal from our august organisation!!
Hugh took off to go to a wedding and Phil and I made the mistake of going to see the movie, "Borat"! My advice to anyone considering seeing this film is simple, don't ! It is offensive at innumerable levels, carries a .9 cringe factor, and is guaranteed to make you squirm in discomfort. There are 2-3 funny moments, but these are completely out-numbered by the stream of tasteless, anti-semitic, misogynistic, crude and unpleasant jokes and swipes at people hoodwinked into thinking he was a serious journalist from Khazakstan. The premise is funny, a few of the segmets are amusing, but in the main it's a movie with very few redeeming features and will not leave you feeling good.
Things improved again when we went back to Phils, chatted with Julie and the kids for a little while, surveyed the results of Phil's latest handiwork'; landscaping their backyard, and then descending into his basement shed where he proceeded to demonstrate how to make a picture frame. He made it look easy, it probably had something to do with the high quality (read expensive) tools he has at his disposal, and the fact he's very clever with his hands and most things practical. (Don't worry Birchy, you're still number 1!!!)
After the demo it was back to Sal's to get ready for the quiz night, and that's pretty much where I started this tale.
Yesterday's briefings at Carine went well, the staff seemed happy with their roles and what to expect, and the kids laughed in the right places, listened attentively and asked intelligent questions, and it didn't go more than an hour.
The only disappointment from yesterday was not getting to see my brother Bruce as planned, I couldn't reach him at home or on the mobile, so I ended up doing a little more camp reconnaisance in the city before heading round to Sally's place for the night.
I managed to get hold of him tonight and am going over to see him in the morning. I'll head home to Busso after lunch. Tomorrow night I'm speaking at a memorial service being held by the Busselton Hospice so I've got some prep to do for that.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Then I'm off to Perth for the Briefings with the Perth kids and staff tomorrow afternoon.
I'm staying on for The Breakfast Club, To see my brother Bruce, and to go to a quiz night with Sally and Warren, as well as distributing camp stuff to the detours around Perth. It will be a busy couple of days. The timing is not ideal but that's how it's worked out.
The best news of the day was that I got my full quota of staff so there's no roadblocks to it proceeding.
A couple of kids pulled out today but that's not too surprising, with that many going there's always a bit of attrition. At this point there are 207 coming, and 40 staff involved over the three days.
Enough blogging, time to get back to work!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
At lunchtime today Busselton high school hosted the first ever moto-X demo in an Australian school, possibly the world!
And it was INCREDIBLE!!
and all the other superlatives you can think of!
Three guys on stunt bikes were jumping across a 75 foot gap and flying about 50 feet in the air, then letting go of their bikes!!!!
They did all sorts of crazy tricks and stunts, each one more death defying than the one before!
It didn't look possible yet they made it look easy!
The kids loved it.
The staff loved it, especially the blokes.
It was awesome!
When I've got more time I'll You Tube a couple of the best videos.
The Yr 12 breakfast went well this morning, an early start for me but a good event.
Graduation was on tonight and it too was a great event, in a different sort of way to the moto-X. I sat with Brendan's mum and grandfather. I cried (a lot) when she went up to receive Brendan's folder. He would have graduated with this group of students if he was still alive. I don't know how his Mum copes with her grief and sense of loss at times like this.
After Graduation I went back to my office to work on the camp, the good news is I made some real progress today, getting the 2nd book copied and ready for binding.
Just the staff handbooks to go now, then it's on to the clues which all need to be printed and put into envelopes in sets.
There are officially 209 kids coming, in 26 groups, so that's 26 sets of clues to be assembled!
Plus the 30 other jobs that still need to be done between now and when I leave for Perth next Tuesday night.
Just gotta keep at it until it's all done!
Butnow, it's time to go to bed!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
9 Years old and full of the joy of life, even at 5.55am when he came bounding into our room! Thankfully he retreated and managed to delay a second appearance until after 7 but it was still a struggle. He brought his presents in and opened them on the bed, and to say he was delighted with them is the understatement of the year, he was over the moon. I mentioned a couple of months ago finding the perfect present for him on one of my trips to Perth, and here it is, a set of three replica soccer uniforms, the Aussie Socceroos, Brazil and England. He loves them. Everything else met with his approval too. His big sister took him out for afternoon tea and bought him a couple of lovely presents, ah the joys of having an income, being able to splash out on your little brother's birthday.
He had a good day at school, and this afternoon got to play his new PS2 game, Star Wars Lego which is fantastic apparently!!
To top it off he got pizza and chocolate mousse for dinner (as did the rest of us!)
I had to leave early to drive the cab, just as The Heir rang from England to wish him a happy birthday. He (TH) talked to everyone else as well. I suspect he's feeling a little homesick. I could be wrong but ...
It was another quiet night in the taxi so I was home by 10. I worked on a painting as Carolyn and I talked about recent goings-on. All the kids have had significant things going on recently so there was plenty to talk about.
Tomorrow is a big day, a year 12 breakfast at Stilts Cafe at 7.30, work on the camp all day, it's deadline day to get stuff to the printers, then the year 12 presentation ceremony tomorrow night.
There's a week to go until the camp and I'm starting to get nervous, the work is not diminishing!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A recent doodle which went on to become a painting.
I got lots done today, probably because I prioritised my list of things to do and worked through them systematically. I don't know why I don't do that every day because whenever I do I am far more productive. Most of what I did was for the camp, with a few bits and pieces of other stuff thrown in.
I drove the cab tonight but we didn't have the anticipated Leaver's Rush and it was a very quiet night, I finished early, which is not a bad thing.
Came home, watched Survivor, and now am psyching myself up for the morning. Tomorrow is Sport Boy's 9th birthday!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Keith, a friend from church, has been admiring them for a while and today put his money where his mouth is and came round to get them. I confess I was asleep at the time, recovering from last night's taxi shift, but it's still a buzz to sell some of my paintings.
Musn't forget to drop off Broadie's prescription at the AMCAL Chemist in Busso, wonder why he needs Viagra at his age? He'll be down in a couple of weeks for the Servants Camp at SU. Can't believe someone actually managed to get Diesel to do some work, how they dragged him away from the Book Club and the Floral arranging is a complete mystery to me!
I've manged to convince Picasa to do what I want it to do and here is the collage in a slightly condensed version (9 images rather than 16).
John painted with flamboyant flourishes, appearing at times to be fencing with the canvas, lunging in for some deft broad strokes then retreating to examine the result before thrusting his brush toward the canvas again. In the mean time I was chatting with his wife Sue as we talked about painting and I showed her a couple of my recent pictures on the camera memory. She liked my geometric abstracts and encouraged me to stick with them.
They live in Bridgetown, where Mum and Walter live, and gave us their card and phone number and invited us to come and visit next time we're in town. We were both struck by what lovely people they were and are sure to take up their invitation.
At one stage Sue reminded John that there was another man waiting to get his protrait done to which he replied, "Yes, I know, but I'm not going to be rushed into finishing this".
Afterwards we sat out in the garden as Carolyn finished her wine and cheese platter.
We drove back to Cowaramup to get Sport Boy something to eat but could find nothing satisfactory there (to suit the taste of a 9 year old that is! there were gourmet cafes and a festival happening complete with James Reyne performing, but he wanted McDonalds!)
As a reward for his patience we picked up the other two kids on our way through town and duly adjourned to the golden arches for dinner! Talk about a culture shift! Mind you, with their new improved menu the experience wasn't quite so shocking as it could have been, Carolyn and I had Chicken Caesar Deli Choice rolls, and to my great surprise, so too did Jordan!
She was still a little hesitant but I encouraged her to go for it so she sat for John while he painted her portrait. She found the whole experience very enjoyable as she and John struck up a conversation as he looked at her face from every direction before deciding on the pose he wanted then proceeded to paint her portrait. The whole process took about an hour and Carolyn said it was really good and noticed how much time and interest John took in order to find out about her. Having been a fan of Rolf Harrises portrait painting TV show she was able to relate to the process in a small way. Having a glass of wine and a cheese platter to nibble on while she sat leant an air of reckless decadence to the whole scene!!
The finished picture is interesting. It's unmistakably Carolyn yet not so exact a likeness as to leave you without some sense of uncertainty. Some elements of it are spot on, others less so. Portraits are not meant to be perfect replicas of the subject, if that's what you want a photograph does the job far better, they are supposed to somehow capture something of the character and soul of the subject as well as looking like them. One of Carolyn's comments about the finished piece was that it reminded her of exactly how she looked when she was younger. The more I look at it the more I see her in it and like it. There is that anxious moment when you first look at the finished picture, so full of pregnant hope and fear, will you like it, will the artist be satisfied/affirmed that they've done a good job? In this case it's not an unreserved yes but it's certainly a yes.
NB. Jordan upon seeing it, possessing all the diplomacy and tact 15 year old boys are renowned for, said "It makes you look bug-eyed and square jawed"! Nice one son!!!
BTW. I created a collage of the whole sitting but Picasa has decided in it's own wisdom to break it back up into it's constituent parts so I'll post other pics shortly.
Howard Park is beautiful, a great building situated amongst acres of vines and lovely gardens.
Sport Boy and I hit catches with the tennis racquet while the painting was happening, until I hit the ball first into the fish pond, and then on to the roof where it was irretrievable!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The briefing went well, the NM kids are right into it and seemed very mature and on the ball which augurs well for the camp. My mate Dave, a self-confessed Holt Press addict, is coming on the camp this year which will be great. He had a nasty accident last weekend, hitting his head on a water slide and spending a night in hospital, mega vomiting, concussion etc. 5 days later he's only just recovering! Scary.
The boss asked me tonight if I wanted to drive for an all day winery tour tomorrow but I declined. The money would have been handy but with a late finish and a 9.30 start I'd have been dead by the end of it, maybe literally! It's school leavers week this week, a big week in Busselton/Dunsborough so I'm doing shifts on Monday and Tuesday night already so I figured I'd be better off getting a proper sleep-in, doing some work on the camp, and having some family time tomorrow.
On that note, I'll bid you goodnight.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I saw some paintings at margaret River yesterday that I liked and they inspired me to have a go at something new tonight.
I don't think I'd like this girls body shape or proportions but I'm not totally unhappy with the result!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
This is on a fairly small canvas and is a bit of a test run for a much bigger canvas I want to paint. I'm always more nervous about bigger paintings for some reason, not sure why, they often look good when they're done. I was at a gallery in Margaret River today and most of the stuff their ranged from big to huge and they looked fantastic. I keep looking at other people's work thinking I wish I could do that! and wanting to come home and try it!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I'm not sure if this one is finished yet. If it's not I'm not sure what I need to do to it. Nor am I sure whether it should be vertical or horizontal! Ah, the conundrums we artists face!!Hahahahahahahahahah!!!!
I had an email tonight from an old mate, Skip Joannes, who lived in Australia for about 20 years before moving back to California with his family. I met Skip when I went for a job interview at the YMCA in Perth. What was most memorable about the interview was that he spent half an hour telling me about the job and about an hour telling me about Jesus! It was the first time anyone had ever talked to me about Jesus as a real person, rather than a historical figure or a swear word. I was all ears which surprised me because I'd never been to church or had anything to do with God, but this stuff all just made sense and the more he told me the more I wanted to hear. He shared his faith with me over the next couple of months (I got the job!) and gave me tapes to listen to which I really enjoyed. It didn't take too long before I came to the conclusion that I believed the stuff he told me about God and the Bible and so I took the step of faith and became a Christian. That was in 1985, 21 years ago! I've never regretted the decision. I haven't always got it right and there's plenty of times when I've let God down, but I'm just as convinced as I ever was about my faith in Jesus.
Skip was a great mentor and teacher and we became really close mates. He started a church called Calvary Chapel which we went to for many years before work and distance finally saw us move to a church closer to home.
It was sad when Skip and Terry and the boys went back to the States but I understood their reasons.
Typically it's harder to stay in touch with friends when they live on the other side of the world, although email and the internet make it a little easier than it used to be. Skip occasionally reads my blog so today's post is in his honour.
Mum and Walter recently visited them in California on their world trip and Skip said in his email, "Your Mum has become my Mum"!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Ever since she was a little girl my nickname for Sophie has been Possum, I still call her Poss sometimes. Interesting that on the weekend of her baptism we discovered we have a visitor living in the patio roof, a genuine possum! It's only little but seemed very cosy and at home, spending most of the weekend snoozing, oblivious to the goings on beneath it. At one stage it's tail uncurled and hung down about 8 inches through the trellis. I had to resist the urge to give it a pull!!
Monday, November 13, 2006
On the plus side, the photo book, which has been a major headache the last three years is ready to print and I got a proof copy last week which looks really good. And in a major recruiting coup, Carolyn has agreed to come to Perth for the final day to be the puzzle master, one of the critical jobs on the race on the final day. As a reward she gets a night at the hotel with dinner, and as a bonus I've bought tickets to a special event in Perth that night and we're going with Sally and Warren. She's just got to get Sport Boy looked after for anight and two days. At this stage we're considering leaving the other two at home to look after themselves and one another, could be great, could be a disaster but it's time they had the chance to exercise some responsibility!
I've got to get my task list into manageable form and start ticking off jobs instead of thinking of new ones! It grew by about 10 items today!
Stu, aka The Gardener, is helping me out which is great. He compiled the internet quiz for me. I had to make a few adjustments and Geoff the Web Master has suggested a few more but at least that major task is under way. I still need to supply some pictures and details for the website. With the number of kids coming I also need to recruit some more checkpoint people in Perth, and I'm not going up there until the 24th so it will have to be by phone.
After work I went to the bike shop and bought a carrier and some bits and pieces to put on Jordy's bike for his junk mail round. He carries the pamphlets in a bag and backpack but often ends up with a headache, as he did this morning, thus missing school, because of the pressure on his neck. I'm hoping the rack, and a modification to the basket system on the front will mean he can do away with the bags, and thus the health risk.
After yesterday's big event and working at 6.00 this morning Sophie has crashed in her bedroom. I'm just about to put Sport Boy to bed.
We were hoping The Heir was going to call tonight but we haven't heard anything from him yet.
Dominos did us a favour by cooking dinner for us.
Sophie and Clare arrived home just as I pulled up with the pizza saying they'd been craving pizza for an hour and were about to go and get some! I saved them the bother.
I finished a painting while watching TV, my second of the weekend, a more productive period than I've had for a while.