Monday, December 31, 2007

Procrastination Part 2

I talked a couple of days ago about procrastinating. I am now in a mild panic as to whether I will complete a job for Beach Mission which starts on New Year's Day. I'm editing the newsletter this year and need to prepare half of each issue before we go. So far I've got three done. I need at least one more, possibly two! And I'm running out of time. We head back to Busso tomorrow. We have to pack and as we'll be camping for ten days, that means quite a big job. And I have to drive the taxi on New Year's Eve! (tomorrow night).

I'm not sure I will get it all done!!

While I was working on the newsletter last night I was monitoring Tottenham's progress against Reading on the Web site Match Tracker. It was the most amazing game of soccer I can ever remember! The scoring sequence went like this:
Spurs 1-0 up
1-1 (at half time)
Reading 2-1 up
2-2
Reading 3-2 up
3-3
Reading 4-3 up
4-4
Spurs 5-4 up after a goal scored from a rebound off a missed penalty!
Spurs 6-4, the final score!!
I was almost breathless by the end of it, I can't imagine what it was like for the players!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Dinner

It's after midnight in Bridgetown and we've just enjoyed our traditional family Christmas gathering, a superb meal prepared with great love and care by my mum, with some assistance from a few assorted family members. Our contribution was to stay out of the way by arriving late this afternoon! The main reason for that was that I drove the cab until 6.00 o'clock this morning, and then took Sport Boy and his mate Jed to McDonalds for breakfast. I slept until about 1.30 then we packed and prepared for the drive to Mum and Walter's.
We exchanged gifts, we all draw one name out of a hat a few months before Christmas and buy a present for that one person. I got a Geelong theme song door chime!!

Christmas dinner was roast pork and turkey and all the trimmings followed by the highlight of Christmas, Mum's plum pudding! Mmmmmm, plum pudding! and ice cream! Mmmmm

Between the presents and dinner the men in the family went down to the Boat Park to play a spirited game of soccer squash, a long-standing family tradition. I'm pleased to report that "The Oldies" won.

We are very blessed and fortunate to live in such a wonderful country and to enjoy such freedom. I am more and more thankful all the time for all that I have.
The news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan and the threat of civil war there are further reminders of how lucky we are to live in Australia.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday

Fashion Boy returned to work on the harvest today. All things being equal we won't see him for another month. It's a shame he'll miss the family Christmas on Saturday in Bridgetown but it's good for him to earn some money and get a taste of a real job. He opted for a five hour car trip rather than a one hour flight to go back, not sure why.
His departure frees up a bedroom which Favourite Daughter will occupy for the next few weeks. I'm not sure what we'll do when they all come back permanently! She has been in terrible pain the last few days. She hurt her back a few eeks ago, initially by doing push-ups! and has had a lot of pain ever since and its getting worse rather than better so she went to see a myopractor today who administered some very painful treatment. Hopefully in a few days it will have the desired effect but right now the only relief is via pain-killers.
Fashion Boy's final words before departing were touching considering the sometimes stormy relationship the two of them share, "Tell Sophie I'm praying for her back".

Mrs HP and I hit the town for the second night in a row tonight. We had dinner at Albies Bar and Bistro, courtesy of a voucher given to me by the taxi company as a Christmas bonus. She had crab and prawn spaghetti, I had reef and beef. We ran into an old colleague of mine, Tim who is holidaying with his family. The first time I met Tim was at SU Sailing Camp about 10 years ago when he was still a teenager and I was the speaker at the camp.
He went on to become chaplain at Ocean Reef during the time Favourite Daughter went there.

There was a significant step forward in Holt Press technology today, I bought a wireless router which The Heir successfully installed, enabling him to connect to the net via his laptop. Very cool.
I plan to get a laptop of my own sometime this year so look forward to the same capability and freedom.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Procrastination Stops Here

First things first, I've just come home from Dave's having watched Spurs demolish Fulham 5-1! That's the sort of Christmas present I appreciate.

I only saw the second half because prior to that Mrs Holt Press and I were at the cinema watching a very funny film called Death at a Funeral. It had a LOT of bad language but despite that we enjoyed it and had a few good belly laughs.

You know those jobs you put off doing? The sort that your spouse reminds (nags) you about every week or so? Those jobs you know you ought to do but for some reason you just can't get yourself motivated to do?
And then, when the time arrives when you really need whatever it is that you should have fixed/cleaned/prepared/serviced you have to do it under adverse conditions, like unsuitable weather, or worse nagging!
I remember cleaning out clogged gutters in the middle of torrential rain on more than one occasion, that being the only way to stop the water banking up over the eaves and beginning to flow through the roof and down the inside of the windows!
Today was the day when another unfinished task came home to convict me!
It's been very hot here the last couple of days.
Lulled into a false sense of security by the mild weather of the previous month, I had avoided cleaning and servicing the air conditioning unit on the roof despite the repeated reminders from Mrs HP! But today, with the temperature approaching 40 I could put it off no longer. Mrs HP broke through the technology barrier and downloaded a copy of the owners manual for our particular system (with a little help from Fashion Boy) so that I could no longer plead ignorance about what was required. The whimpering of various Holt Press family members under the influence of the admittedly oppressive heat was too much and I dragged out the ladder and the screw driver and headed for the roof.
Sure enough, the AC system needed a good clean-up which I proceeded to do under the accusing glare of the scorching summer sun! Serves me right I hear you saying! Thanks for the sympathy!
Well, the job got done, better late than later I always say, and the rest of the day was made significantly more tolerable for two reasons, the circulation of cooler air throughout the Holt Press Homestead, and the reduction in whimpering and complaints from the afore-mentioned HP progeny.

I'll just sit back now and relive the highlights of Tottenham's victory in the comfort of my air-conditioned home!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kid Born in Shed Saves World


2007 years ago in an obscure village in Israel, a miracle occurred.
God, creator of everything, sent his son to be born of a peasant girl.
A host of angels appeared to local shepherds, announcing the birth of a child who would become the saviour of the world.
A star led wise men to the new born child and they brought him precious gifts.
His life is easily the most outstanding life ever lived.
His death the most remembered and significant death in all history.
His example, the supreme role model for all human beings.
His words will endure eternally.
His acts changed the entire course of the world.
His sacrifice opened a door back to God, available to all.
His promises provide hope and inspire faith in countless millions.

The kid born in the shed truly saved the world.

Today the Holt Press family remembered that birth and exchanged gifts in honour of the original Christmas.

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Eve

I love the holidays!

Knowing you can relax, that you don't have to go to work in the morning, that you're free to do what you want for days on end, that's a great feeling.

Having said that, I drove the taxi both Friday night and last night and will be in it again on Christmas Eve, but that is work I choose to do to earn a bit of extra money, and most of the time it's fun. The new laws about drinking alcohol in public mean we have to enforce the no booze in the cab rule a lot more strictly but most people accept it without a hassle. Some of them scull the rest of their drink before they get in which I don't advocate! We have a new GPS based computerised system in the cars now which 95% of the time makes our job much easier and considerably more pleasant. There are a few bugs we're all trying to iron out as we get used to it but it's a vast improvement on the old system.

This afternoon I did a shift in the gallery which was typically quiet until the last ten minutes when there was a flurry of last minute purchases, Christmas shopping with class! I worked on a painting all afternoon while listening to the ABC's Grandstand Wrap, with one more recap of Geelong's wonderful season the personal highlight but I also discovered that a yacht from Busselton is entering this year's Sydney-Hobart Yact Race, a first for the Geographe Bay Sailing Club. In honour of the ABC and for the benefit of Cam, and any other fans, I'm posting this picture of myself with ABC commentator Gerrard Whately, taken at an O.B. in Geelong a couple of days before the Grand Final.


Fashion Boy returned home this morning for the Christmas break from the work on the harvest. He'll be here for 5 days, although already tonight he's gone to stay at a mate's place in Dunsborough. Favourite Daughter and The Heir have also gone to Dunsborough for a party so Mrs Holt Press, Sport Boy and I took advantage of the reduced numbers (and noise) to go and get some chocolate mousses from the 24 hour garage and spent an hour driving around Busselton looking at Christmas lights. Tiredness and a sprained ankle (the result of a bad landing while going for a rebound while shooting hoops) finally wore SB out and we got some respite from his constant chatter and questions! Kids are always 20% cuter when they're asleep!

We're having our own family Christmas tomorrow because The Heir has to work on Christmas Day. After the exchange of gifts (kept to a minimum this year as a protest against the increasing over-commercialisation of Christmas) I'll crank up the Barbie and prepare a feast of prawns and marinated chicken and other goodies. Our BIG traditional Christmas Dinner with the extended family will be at Bridgetown on Saturday night when the Perth-based family members can get away for the weekend.

As Sport Boy said in the car as we appreciated another wonderful light display in someone's front yard, "I love Christmas". Christmas that is kept simple, free of needless extravagance, with an emphasis on family and time spent thanking God for the original and best Christmas present that is.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Amish Amazing Grace

When I was at the Men's Gathering in November one of the blokes there told us a story about an incident in America involving a horrendous crime committed against the Amish people, and their amazing response to it.
He asked us to help publicise their cause as there are moves to nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize.
This is an email he sent containing more of the story. There is a YouTube video about it as well.
I'm happy to lend the (limited) support Holt Press can offer to such a worthy cause.



AMISH COMMUNITY FORGAVE GUNMAN AFTER HE SHOT THEIR DAUGHTERS….NOMINATION FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

HISTORY:

In Sept 2006, a gunman entered a single teacher primary school in the small Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, USA, ordered the boys and teacher to leave the building, then assaulted the girls and threatened to kill them. One of the older girls bravely said “let the little ones go and shoot me”. Ultimately, he shot most of them, killing five. The police broke in, and the gunman killed himself.

The community was devastated. The world was shown TV images of covered small bodies being carried out of the simple school house in a community whose people wore ‘old world clothes’ and traveled by horse and carriage. We felt sorrow for the mourning community, and anger towards the killer.

The Amish community then did something which was remarkable. They made a pronouncement: “We are in great pain over the loss of our daughters. However, we forgive the killer, and we will help his widow and their children”. Members of the Amish respectfully attended his funeral. They visited the widow and set up a fund to financially her.

COMMENT

I was amazed to read of their act of forgiveness under such profound provocation.

I reflected on the significance of their extreme willingness to forgive people who do them harm. As a small Christian community formed hundreds of years ago in Germany, they endured many persecutions, mostly from other Christian churches. One of their basic tenets is “to follow Christ’s commandment to forgive those who cause you harm”, and over the decades they have put this into practice. I realized that they were offering the world an example of love instead of the paradigm of revenge Ultimately, if we want peace (in a world with increasing access to nuclear weapons), then we need to open up the possibility of embracing innovative ways of handling conflict. The Amish provided a powerful example of responding to appalling aggression in a new way.

After 9/11, if the American President had said the Moslem world: “ You are trying to tell America something…lets sit down and talk seriously about your grievances", then we may not be in the mess of Iraq.

The example of the Amish is similar to the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in South Africa. It resonates with the teachings of the Dalai Lama

On the anniversary of the massacre, a book was published called “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy”, detailing how the community handled their grief and commitment to forgive the killer.

Bill Moyers of PBS wrote a video essay on the same topic (go to ‘You Tube’ and type in ‘Amish Grace’). It is a very moving 3 minute video. I recommend you see it.

I think the Amish Community of Nickel Mines deserves the “Nobel Peace Prize”. I have asked Medical Association for Prevention of War ( a previous recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) to nominate the Amish. Hopefully, they will do so. The prize ceremony will be in November 2008.

sincerely,

John Stace



Thursday, December 20, 2007

One For the Good Guys

Regular readers will know that the Holt Press Home has been the target of repeated bike thefts over recent months. First the 3 wheeler I bought at the garage sale disappeared and despite vigilant searches has never been seen again.

Then when we came home from the church camp a few weeks ago we were greeted with empty spaces where my racing bike and Mrs Holt-Press' mountain bike had formerly been.

Most recently Sport Boy suffered the agonizing theft of his new BMX bike the day after his birthday, this time from outside the rec centre while he was playing basketball.

All were reported to the police but despite phone calls seeking further info, nothing came of their investigations.

The final straw came this weekend when my mountain bike also disappeared. It is a big bike with front and rear carrying racks and a very high seat to accommodate my long legs. I use it to deliver the junk mail and get to work. Having no bikes left except Sport Boy's original bike, Favourite Daughter and I set out to investigate a lead of our own.

I had seen a couple of notorious kids hanging around the front of our place acting suspiciously around the time of the church camp and although I had given their names to the police, had heard nothing more. So I found out their address and FD and I drove round to their street and past the house a couple of times. Sure enough there was a bike that resembled mine laying in the caport, partially obscured by a car. FD got out and walked past the house for a closer look, which was made harder by the woman in the house coming out to the car-port while we were going past. FD confirmed she thought it was my bike so we drove around to the police station to report what we had found.
The officer took down the details and despatched a patrol car to go and check it out, promising to ring straight away if they found it.

While we were there I asked if we could have a look through the bike shed, which contains about 30 bikes that have been found or recovered but remain unclaimed by their owners.

To my surprise, hanging right inside the door was my racing bike, which had been found in late October. Even though I'd given them a detailed description of it at the time they hadn't matched it to my report. Never-the-less they were happy to return it to me then and there.

Score one for the good guys.


Then, further good news an hour later. The police called to say they had indeed located my bike at the address we'd given them and it was now at the station ready for me to collect!


Score two for the good guys!

Sadly there is still no sign of Sport Boy's bike but we keenly scan every bike we see a kid riding wherever we go. In fact, one such "investigation" ended in what could have been a very unfortunate incident.
A couple of weeks ago Mrs HP rang to say a kid riding a bike fitting the description of Sport Boy's was riding along our street and suggested I go and check it out.
Sure enough, I spotted a boy was riding a Khaki BMX very similar to the one we had stolen. I turned around in the school car park up the street and went back for another look however close inspection showed that the pedals were a different colour and the braking system was not the same, it wasn't Sport Boy's bike.
I pulled into our driveway and took one last look down the street, to see the kid facing me from the corner. He then yelled out "Get Lost!" and rode away!

Whoops!

I think he had mistaken me for someone with much more sinister motives!
I can just imagine him racing home and telling his Mum about the man in the blue car following him, and being able to point out where he lived!
A little misunderstanding can go a long way!
I can just see the story in the paper, "School Chaplain stalks boy on bike"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thankfully we haven't had a visit from an angry parent, or the police!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fashion Boy Reports In

FB has gone out to the wheatbelt to work on the harvest for one of our friends Ossie who hires a team of young people each Summer to help him work on the wheat bins. He left on Sunday and all being well will be out there for about 6 weeks. He rang home today to ask about coming home..... so he can visit us at beach mission at Augusta one day!
That may not be all that practical but who knows.
He sounded good and said that it wasn't as hard as he'd imagined!
Another shot from the camp. This is one of my favourite parts of the camp each year. One person from each team has to try and catch a tennis ball which we hit as high and hard as we can. It always produces some spectacular action!

I took Sport Boy to see Mr Margorium's Wonder Emporium today. He enjoyed it and I enjoyed the bits I didn't nod off in! Sitting down in a darkened room for any extended time is almost certain to send me to sleep!

It was a landmark day for Favourite Daughter today, she received her first ever tax refund!
Seeing as she is not working at the moment it's arrival is timely, and after a few months living with friends in Dunsborough FD has officially moved back home. Ordinarily that would create an over-crowding problem, 4 kids into 3 bedrooms doesn't quite fit, but with Fashion Boy away at the moment she has moved into his room.
I'm not sure what we'll do when he gets back! But, it's good to have her home, along with the Heir.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Matt's Picture

This is a small section of a much larger picture drawn by a kid at school called Matt. It took him nearly 6 months to complete and I think it's sensational. I'm hoping he'll consider selling it to me.
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Pav Helps the Girls

Now that the holidays have started I can catch up with a bit of blogging. This picture is from the Cool School Race Camp. The kids have to get their photo taken with someone famous. They were very hesitant but finally managed to be in the right place at the right time when Matthew Pavlich and a couple of team mates appeared, and happily obliged to have their picture taken. That earnt the girls 20,000 points!
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Grand Final Bear

video
On Saturday I got to say thank you in person to the lady who gave me my ticket to the Grand Final. She's a 78 year old Eagles fan called Nan and on the morning of the game she woke up covered in a rash caused by a virus and was unable to go to the game. Her daughter Diane sat next to our friends the Smokers at the Grand Final breakfast and when she told them her mum couldn't go to the game they told her about me and she happily agreed to give me the ticket.
And I mean "give". She wouldn't accept any money for it, even though I had gone to the MCG with $1000 in my wallet prepared to pay all of it if I had to in order to get a ticket! (I'd been working and saving hard for months before hand in order to have enough money for the trip and a GF ticket). To receive it for free was truly amazing, a "miracle" in my book, and without doubt the best material gift I've ever received.
To thank Nan and Diane for their generosity I asked Mum to make a special bear for her which as you can see, is wearing both a Geelong jumper and a West Coast scarf!
Nan was absolutely thrilled and delighted when I gave it to her, and then produced another Teddy of her own, dressed in an Eagles jumper. If you play the video you'll see (and hear) it's other interesting feature.
It was lovely to see Diane again (we sat together at the game) and to meet her Mum and Dad.
They enjoyed hearing my story and how much it meant to me and then Nan said something remarkable.
"I'm so glad I got a virus that day"!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We're All Going on a Summer Holiday

No more school for 6 weeks, yeehaa!

I spent the last few hours of the working year cleaning up and disposing of piles of rubbish and recycling. By the end, my office looked twice as large and 4 times more useable!
The sad part of the last day was the large number of teachers who are leaving/moving on! Not only was there a large quantity, but they were high quality too! Half the Country Week coaches have gone! Most significant of all is Duth (John Duthie) a legend at Busso and one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet who is taking 12 months off, which we all fear will be the prelude to retirement! I will miss him.

I've just gotten home from my cab shift which went well, the new system is great (so long as everyone uses it correctly!)

Tomorrow I'm going to Mandurah for a Beach Mission meeting, with a stop in Bunbury on the way to deliver a gift to the lady who gave me her Grand Final ticket.
Tomorrow night is one of the highlights of the Holt Press social calendar, it's the CFFL Winner's Dinner, where we honour the premiership coach in our fantasy football league, and get together to reminisce and talk footy one last time for the year. It's always a good night. This year we're having a BBQ at Letchy's and gathering around his fire-pit. I can't wait.

Friday, December 14, 2007

One Day to Go

One more day!

The kids broke up today.

The staff finish tomorrow!

Hallelujah!

I know I had long service in third term so have already had an extended holiday this year but I'm tired and really looking forward to the break. Hopefully it will help recharge my batteries and see me start the new year fresh and fired up. I need to put in a better effort at work and to feel I am making a more consistent contribution.

I went and watched Sport Boy's basketball game this afternoon and he played well in a 24-20 win over his friend Sam's team. They enjoyed playing against one another and he couldn't stop grinning at the end cause the other team had been saying how much they were going to win by before the game!

The house is quiet tonight. Fashion Boy is sleeping over at a friend's place in Dunsborough. He's about to leave on Sunday to go and work on the harvest for Ozzie, a friend of ours from church, so wanted to have some time with his friends before he goes away. The job on the harvest is going to be hard yakka, I'm not sure how he'll handle it but hopefully he'll knuckle down and get the hang of working hard. He stands to earn plenty of money of he does.

Favourite Daughter is away at an SU Camp on the holy mile and despite being a bit out of her comfort zone seems to be having fun. She's not working at the moment so hopefully this will inspire and motivate her to get out and find another job.

Mrs Holt Press has also got a new job, starting in January working in reception at one of the resorts between Busselton and Dunsborough.
With this about to happen we have officially given notice on the junk mail rounds, and will not be the slightest bit sad to say farewell to it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Zoingo Boingo Brothers

When Sally Warren and Callum aka BBQ Sauce Boy came to stay for the weekend they brought a present for Sport Boy with them, a Zoingo Boingo. He had tried BBQ SB's ZB while we were in Perth and they realised it was the perfect present to get for him. He quickly got the hang of it and they then developed all sorts of tricks and techniques together. Here's some video of them in action.


video

Tomorrow will be an exciting day in the Holt Press Domestic Resources Dept. Our new washing machine will arrive! The old one had a melt down last week after 20 years of faithful service. Carolyn found a good price on a new one at The Good Guys but they were sold out. Harvey Norman agreed to match the price but they too were sold out! We then found one in Bunbury and got the same deal and it arrives tomorrow. Then comes the task of working through the growing mounds of dirty clothes that have been steadily accumulating for the last week!

I had my monthly dose of real live Scrabble tonight at the Scrabble Club and won both games although the second one had to be abandoned when I dropped the dictionary on the board, scattering the letters all over the table! It would have looked like a dirty trick but for the fact I was 100 points ahead at the time! Gael was happy to concede defeat. I scored 459 points in my first game, winning by over 200!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Slow and Steady

Sport Boy's end of year school concert was on tonight and in a rare display of unity the entire Holt Press family attended the big event. It was pretty good as far as kid's concerts go. Troy Buswell was there (Deputy Leader of the WA Liberal Party/Opposition) and impressed me with the things he said about the school and it's value in the community.
Sport Boy's class did a version of ghost busters called myth busters and he had a great time.

It's been hot in town today which sapped my energy a bit as I slowly went about sorting out post-camp stuff. The finances are nearly in order. The gear largely unpacked.
There's still a bit to do but not heaps.

I'm counting down the days till the end of term!

Sport Update:
Tottenham had a good 2-1 win over Manchester City last night and the NY Giants had an equally impressive victory against Philadelphia, the team Sav Rocca now plays for.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday

I feel rested and recovered after the busyness of the last week and have just caught up on two of my favourite TV shows, The Amazing Race and Survivor. Watching them is almost like professional development, they give me ideas to try for myself in camps and programs.

This afternoon was largely devoted to junk mail as on top of the normal round I also did Fashion Boy's round in Peppermint Park because he was away in Perth for the weekend. He was due home on the bus tonight, BUT, he rang to say he'd missed the bus!
Of course he has no credit on his phone and had spent all his money over the weekend!
Favourite Daughter was in Perth for the weekend too but there was no room in their car for her brother so he was stranded.
Thankfully we have generous and helpful friends in the city and a phone call to the Hotchkins secured him a place to stay for the night and a ride to the busport in the morning where he'd better catch the 8.45 bus if he knows what's good for him!!!

This week is the last week of school which is always a good time. The hard work is over and it's just tying up loose ends before we finish. The camp went well but probably needed to be scaled back in difficulty by about 10%. There's gear to unload and distribute and clean up and pack away.
My office needs a thorough clean up so hopefully I'll get that done this week.
Then it's the Christmas holidays, yeehaa! followed by Beach Mission at Augusta.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tired

I got home from the camp late last night, tired and struggling to stay awake/alive. I stopped several times for refreshers and safely arrived about 11:30.

I slept in a little this morning although my phone alarm woke me at 7:15 as I hadn't turned it off from the camp!

I've now just completed my first taxi shift in 3 months and am again totally knackered.
Hopefully I will get a really good sleep-in tomorrow.

Hopefully.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

CSRC Day 2

Ah the joys and tribulations of the Cool School Race Camp!!!!
The groups have really struggled today, the phone puzzle stumped them for over 8 hours!!!!
Perhaps it was too hard, or perhaps they're too....! No, must have been too hard!
In the end 3 groups bought the answer for $20 and my group finally got it with a lot of coaching!!

They're working on the internet quiz now which is pretty tricky too but they're making progress.

You can try it yourself if you like.

Go to www.coolschoolracecamp.com and click on the netquiz. The password to get started is Graduate.

You'll need a couple of other passwords later on, leave me a comment and I'll let you know.

In a first for Holt Press, there will be a prize for the first person to complete the quiz!

Not a big prize, but certainly a prestigious honour!!

The kids have got 2 1/2 hours till they have to be at camp site 2, I'm not confident they're gonna make it!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

CSRC Progress report

Day one on the camp and things are going well, the weather is cool and damp, very different to normal.The group I'm with started slowly but have improved their performance as the day has gone on. They're looking for info on the internet now to help them with tomorrow's tasks.
A fruitless half hour walk to McDonalds for a photo that was just around the corner from where they were has got them thinking about getting better info!

Gotta go, the net cafe is closing.

D-Day

Now I'm ready!

I arrived in Perth about two hours ago and since then have been sorting out all the gear to go in the kid's showbags for the start of the camp: ID cards and lanyards, wrist bands, clues, puzzles, paper clips, photo books and task books. Then the extra bits for the staff, handbooks, extra clues, answers and this year for the first time, a ration pack of snack food to take with them in case they don't get a chance to stop, it sometimes happens when the kids are fired up and motivated to keep going. Mind you, that usually doesn't happen on the first day! It takes them a day to work out what they're doing and how to improve their performance before they hit their stride on the 2nd and 3rd days.

It's always a nervous night before the start of the camp, hoping I haven't forgotten anything crucial (I always forget something but usually not something crucial!)
Last year the third day was marred by the clues having been put in the wrong envelopes. I've been extra careful with them this year and am confident everything's in its rightful place.

I'm about to go to bed, ironically it's only 4 hours till the kids get on the bus to come up to Perth!
I wouldn't switch places for quids.

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

CSRC D-Day minus 1

I'm nearly ready.

Seeing as the camp starts in 14 hours that's a good thing.

I worked a 17 hour day yesterday which broke the back of what remained and today I knocked off nearly everything else.

I need to download some pictures to Stu so he can put the finishing touches on the net quiz and we'll be ready.

I'm driving up to Perth tonight so I have more time in the morning. I'm staying with Bruce and Jacqui which is less than a KM from where the camp starts so I'll be able to sleep in a little. The kids leave Busselton on the bus at 6.00 in the morning!

A lot of work has gone into getting to this point, hopefully the next three days will make it all worthwhile.

See you on the other side.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday

Church was good this morning, Steph gave the message instead of Noel for a change and she had some good things to say.

Sally Warren and Callum ( who on a probationary basis is hence-forth dubbed BBQ Sauce Boy) left for home, via Yallingup where Sally had found a painting she liked so much she had to go back and buy it.
We really enjoyed having them stay for the weekend and hopefully it won't be the last time.
They left us something to remember them by, a Zoingo Boingo for Sport Boy, a 21st century pogo stick which he has quickly mastered to the point where he and BBQ Sauce Boy had to abandon their duel because it was time to leave!

I spent the afternoon making ID Badges for the camp and then painting. I'm trying to finish Favourite Daughter's big canvas. It's not done yet but it's getting closer.

The camp is in two days and I have a long list of jobs to do tomorrow, some of which are critical so I really need to get cracking!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spurs 81

While we were in Perth favourite Daughter, who knows I collect pictures of personalised plates, and that I love a soccer team called Tottenham Hotspur aka Spurs, spotted this classic number plate in the rear view mirror and I was able to turn and snap the pic before the lights went green.
1981 was a very good year for Spurs fans like me. Tottenham made won the FA Cup in a classic final, the hilight of which was a wonder goal by Argentine import Ricardo Villa to win the game 3-2 against Manchester City. It was a replayed final, the first game having finished 1-1. I was in Nathalia staying with my cousin Kathy at the time of the final and the replay came on TV at about 4am Victorian time. I got up to watch it but with the rest of the house fast asleep had to keep quiet throughout which proved extremely difficult considering the intense excitement and closeness of the game.
When Villa scored the winning goal after weaving and dribbling past about 4 defenders I stood and screamed in total silence!! I was shaking all over, jumping around and carrying on, all without making a sound!

The following year, 1982, Spurs made the Cup Final again and I decided to fulfill a childhood dream and go to England to see them win the cup.
I sold my car and a caravan I owned and bought a one way ticket to London.
I was met at the airport by my pen-friend Tania, a fellow Spurs fan and on the way back to her place we stopped outside White Hart Lane, Tottenham's home ground in north London. A policeman on the gate allowed us to go in and let us walk on the "halllowed turf".

What happened next was one of the "miracles" of my life and a marker post from which many other events are measured.

The policeman said to me:
"Have you come over for the Cup Final?"

"Yeah"

"Have you got a ticket yet?"

"No, not yet"

"Well, I've been looking for a worthy cause, here you go" as he handed me a winning ballot card in the club's cup final ticket lottery!

I'd been in England for two hours and I had a ticket to the FA Cup Final!

Tania's mouth fell open and she said" people have tried their whole lives without getting a ticket to the cup final!"

"I know" I said, "But I did come half way round the world to get it!"

Spurs went on to win the Cup again, beating Queens Park Rangers in another replay, 1-0 after a 1-1 draw. I got a ticket to the replay quite easily by lining up outside Wembley Stadium the morning after the game and buying one for about 5 pounds.

Footnote
A month and a half later I was in Madrid and managed to get a ticket to the World Cup Final between Italy and West Germany. Within a six week period I'd been to the two biggest soccer games in the world!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Progress

I actually felt like I made progress in my camp preparations today. It's been a bit like swimming through treacle at times but today saw significant achievements in securing a camp site for night one, finalising the groups, briefing two lots of kids, at Newton Moore and Busselton, printing the task and score books, and recruiting the extra staff member I needed. I even managed to requisition most of the cheques we'll need to pay the accounts and allowances.

Needless to say there is still plenty to do but it felt like I got over the hump today and with 4 days to go should manage to be ready in time.

We have special guests at the Holt Press Hotel, Sally and Warren are here for the weekend, and Callum is with them to the delight of Sport Boy. We had a BBQ tea tonight and tomorrow hopefully we'll get to show them around a few of the sites.
Only the junk mail stands in the way of a pleasant weekend with old friends!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Faith Hope Love

We're home again after 2 days in Perth on camp business. I found time tonight to put some finishing touches on my latest painting. I hope to hang this one at The Ship, near the entrance to the restaurant.
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

TMBTCSRC

The drive to Perth was uneventful although the increase in temperature the further north we drove seemed to bother the kids. My view on weather has pretty much always been, it is what it is, I can't change it so I just have to adapt to it. Of course, it would be good if the the air con didn't need re-gassing and if the car wasn't so old that that didn't mean a major modification rather than a quick injection! But the sea breeze came in later and that helped.

I went to the briefing at Shenton College, to find that only the kids from Mirrabooke were there! The Shenton kids have bailed from the camp. That's a shame but not necessarily a surprise, every year there is a drop-out rate. The camp will be smaller than I'd hoped but I will still make it as good as it can be for all those who are there.

Next stop Freo to deliver some clues to detours and check-points. I ran into 3-4 of the Carine groups on their camp and asked how they were going and everyone seemed fairly happy. They knew where they were camping for the night which is a major part of their work done for the day.
I borrowed a scooter from Gem at Scoot Freo to zip around to the places I had to get to, he's a great bloke, very generous and sccommodating. His daughter came on one of the first camps when she was at Carine so he has some idea what it's all about.

Favourite Daughter and The Heir picked me up after their shopping expedition to Harbourtown and we delivered a few more clues to people in strategic places.
In the course of this I was talking to a young woman behind the counter who saw my name badge and said "Marcus Holt! I'm Candace!"To say I was spun out was an understatement! This was a girl I hadn't seen in about 15 years and the last time I had seen her she was suicidal following the murder of her best friend! (Probably an understandable reaction!)
It was great to see her and learn that she is doing really well, is happy, in a good job and enjoying life. It is a very nice feeling to run into a kid who was at risk and who is now doing really well.
I ran into at least two other people who knew me from previous years as I was travelling around the city today, it is sometimes an occupational hazard.

We dropped The Heir at the train station so he could go off and join Alex at a karoake night!!
FD and I called in at the Shenton Park Motor Lodge to drop off our gear before heading out for dinner. Just as well we got there early because Bruce and Jackie were just about to leave for dinner and Bruce had set the alarm. If we'd walked in then it would have been quite a commotion!!!!
We had Noodles for dinner then re-joined the Carine kids at their campsite, Challenge Stadium because Josh had invited me to speak to them for a few minutes. I told them to always take any opportunities that presented themselves, to take care of one another because there are no guarantees of long lives, and, using my venture into painting as an example, to be willing to try new things because they may be surprised what skills they may unearth and what doors may open for them.

When we got back to Shenton Park Bruce was still up and we've spent the last couple of hours talking. He showed me the Fathering Project DVD he helped produce recently and it's excellent. So much so that I think I'll try and put it to use at school, it's a great resource and stimulus towards helping Dad's be better Dads.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cool School Race Camp 1

The Carine version of the Cool School Race Camp started today so I'm heading up to Perth with TH and FD to check how it's going, and to do the briefings for the two Perth schools who'll be joining our camp next week. We'll finish off the prep, drop off clues etc ahead of next week. I'm not ready yet but I'm making some progress.

I went to the Dr at Dunsborough today and he confirmed what I suspected, I have tennis elbow. Voltaren and a bandage are supposed to help. I had a blood test to check on my testosterone levels, and discussed starting some medication to help address a chemical imbalance and hopefully stabilise my emotional health. We'll see.

Dunsborough was full of school leavers and I felt decidedly over-dressed! Bikinis and towells and low slung shorts were the dominant attire! Hopefully they'll keep themselves out of trouble!

I had a YouthCare meeting tonight, followed bya catch-up over a drink with some of the other chaplains. We went to the Ship and sat in the bar where my paintings are hanging which was a nice feeling, the others liked them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Movember

You probably know that this month is Movember and blokes all over Australia have been growing mo's to raise money for men's health issues like prostate cancer. A mate at work, Patesy, has been leading the charge and sent this reminder to everyone the other day. I liked the picture so much I decided to blog it (and to make a donation).

The value of the blog was shown again today. While I was watching the soccer with Dave last night he said, "I read on your blog the other day that you've bought a shed, if you need a truck to move it you can use my work truck". Dave runs South-West Glass, behind Bunnings in the LIA, so this afternoon The Heir and I borrowed the truck, which has those handy stands for transporting glass, and headed down to Quindalup to pick up the shed we dismantled on the weekend. We managed to heave it all over the fence and load it successfully without mishap or bloodshed, although that run ended when we got home and in the process of unloading it I re-opened a cut on my finger whilst digging out one of the retic pipes we need to move in order to get the shed into the space between the carport and the fence. That will be it's home for a few weeks until I manage to recruit (con) a few mates into coming and helping me put it up. Mid-January is looking most likely!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rock-A-Bye Baby

Favourite Daughter bought me this hammock chair for my birthday. She and the Heir set it up the other day. Looks comfy doesn't it.

My Sunday consisted of Church, painting, junk mail, cooking a BBQ for tea and going round to Dave's to watch Spurs play West Ham. It finished 1-1 but Tottenham missed a penalty in the last minute that would have won them the game!

On Friday afternoon I conducted the funeral of the young bloke killed in a car crash last weekend. It went pretty well but like all funerals of young people, was underscored by the feeling of tragedy and waste.

This is what I wrote on the order of service:


Garry, Carol, Brad, Josh and Rebecca and all of Jared’s extended family thank you for being here today to remember and celebrate Jared’s life and to join them in saying farewell.
Jared was a happy, easy-going, kind natured young man. Always willing to help out or lend a hand.
Quick witted, with a quirky dry sense of humour.
A quick learner, a good worker, a loyal mate and a much loved son.
There are no words of comfort adequate to console the heart-break his family feel. Theirs is a tragic loss of a young life, barely begun and brimming with potential It is a stark reminder to us all that we are fragile and that our time on earth is neither promised or certain.We should remember this and make certain that we value the time we have. We should prize our relationships with family and friends.
We should not take for granted any opportunity to show care, to do good and to express our love for the people who mean the most to us.
We should recognize that we are only a small part in God’s creation and that we have both freedom and responsibility in the way we live, the things we do and the way we treat other people.
It is no cliché to say life is short and we must make the most of it.No day should be wasted. No chance to love or be loved should be passed over. Our lives are fragile. Do whatever you can then to look after yourself and to take care of those



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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Local Heroes

The Heir and I have just returned from fighting a fire and saving the neighbourhood from going up in flames, or a small patch of bush near the drain at least. Mrs HP went to pick up Fashion Boy from a party (One of those wild moustached drawing parties!) when she rang to say there was a fire burning down the street and that we should go and put it out. The "little" fire she reported was well alight by the time we got there so I called 000 to report it then with the help of another bloke who'd stopped the three of us managed to beat it out with tree branches. It wasn't near any houses but it would have burnt a significant area if we hadn't extinguished it. The fire brigade arrived a few minutes later, took a look, then put their lights and siren on in a peculiar piece of timing.
They proceeded to give it a good soaking to deal with the remaining coals and embers.
Our good deed done for the day we headed for home.

We had been out at a quiz night at the hockey club and came from 5th with one round to go to storm into 3rd place. That scored us an assortment of prizes which we had to divvy up. We got a digital camera that will make a good present for one of the kids.

The big news of the day is that we have a new government in Australia with the Labor Party winning and Kevin Rudd becoming the new Prime Minister. The most amusing part of the whole deal was that the sitting PM lost his own seat, only the second time it's happened since federation!

I spent the afternoon dismantling the shed in Quindalup. Stu aka The Gardener and The Heir helped. Stu was the brains of the organisation, with me happy to follow his lead. The Heir provided material assistance, going to buy me a new key chuck when mine broke, and then when that one broke! going to get a stronger one from Bunnings back in Busselton.
While he was away I managed to fall off the wheelie bin I was standing on drilling out pop rivets and cut and scraped myself in a few places. The bleeding has stopped but my leg and arm are aching.
We managed to get the whole thing apart. The next stage is transporting it back to our place. We'll need a large trailer to do that.

Unfortunately there's been no progress on getting Sport Boy's bike back. Mrs HP did get busted inspecting a couple of bikes laying on the front lawn of a house around the corner though! The lady in the house was very nice once she explained what she was doing!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Terrible News for Sport Boy

One day after celebrating his 10th birthday, Sport Boy's day ended terribly. He came out of the rec centre after his basketball game to find that his new bike had been stolen!!!

He was understandably distraught and heart-broken, not to mention "furious".

We all went out in two cars and spent the next 2 hours scouring the neighbourhood and surrounding areas looking for it but sadly didn't find any sign of it.

We'll check out the local school bike racks tomorrow and report it to the police.
Hopefully with a letterbox drop and letters to the papers someone may be able to tell us where it is.
Sport Boy has offered all of his savings as a reward!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Exciting News from the Holt Press Art Department

On Monday I had another phone call from Ramesh, the restaurant manager at The Ship Hotel and Resort concerning my paintings. You may remember that he first called me while we were at Surfers Paradise a couple of months ago expressing an interest in having my paintings on display at The Ship. When we got home I went and saw him and we discussed it further but by then another artist had brought some paintings in and it was uncertain whether they still wanted mine.
It turns out they did!
So on Monday night, I loaded up the car with 11 pictures and a drill and along with The Heir and Favourite Daughter went down to The Ship to show them my work. To my amazement they liked all of them and gave me free rein to hang them all!! As you can see from the photos, they are principally in a large function room. A couple more hang in the bar and the restaurant.


Tonight we took Mum and Walter down to show them how it looked. Ramesh was there and treated us like "Royalty" bringing us complemetary nibblies and a plate of appertisers as we had a drink and enjoyed the ambience in the hotel! Wednesday night is Curry night and although we couldn't stay for dinner because of Sport Boy's birthday, Ramesh insisted on giving mum some curry to take home with her.
He introduced me to the owner of the hotel who told me they are very keen to redecorate the lobby and invited me to hang another half a dozen paintings as soon as I'd like! They are in the process of seeking a 4 1/2 star rating for the Resort and apparently consider my art will help them in achieving their aim!!! That along with the extensive renovations and building plans currently going on!

This picture is entitled "(There are) Many Paths (but only one way)" and the family and I enjoyed the humour in it's placement, on the wall nearest to the sign pointing to the toilets!!

The paintings will be available for sale. I don't expect to sell many through this, most people go to a pub for a drink, not to buy art, but it is great exposure for me in getting my pictures seen by a wider audience and perhaps the odd visitor or tourist may like what they see and decide to take one home as a souvenir!! Whatever happens, it is a buzz to see my art on the walls and to see it appreciated by more than me and my family.
(Prices available on request!!)

Birthday Boys

Nov 21 is a double celebration in the Holt Press family, being a birthday shared by Sport Boy and (Poor) Walter. He and Mum came over from Bridgetown for the special occasion, and to deliver SB's main present, a bike they've been storing at their place since I bought it in March. We had fish and chips for tea, a birthday request, followed by delicious chocolate cake.
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Brothers

It was Mad Maths Day at Sport Boy's school today and family were invited to come and join in the maths games and activities. I was in Dunsborough on a family visit to prepare for the funeral on Friday but Mrs Holt Press, The Heir and Favourite Daughter all went, and appeared to enjoy themselves. The basketball was one of Sport Boy's birthday presents so naturally he wanted to take it to school, and spent a couple of hours after school shooting hoops!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Delay Ahead

Not tonight (Josephine).

Sorry, the big exciting post will have to wait one more day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bed or Blog?

I was torn between bed and blogging tonight, and blogging won, but only for a minute. I'm catering for a breakfast for the school cleaners tomorrow morning so I need to be there early and considering I struggle to get there on time, early will be quite a challenge!

Just want to give a heads up about a very exciting post tomorrow, won't reveal details here but it's got something to do with a ship.

It is only two days until Sport Boy's 10th birthday!! Our last child is about to enter the age of double digits! Only 7-8 years until we're "Empty Nesters"!!

It was an unseasonally cold and windy day in Busso and that brought some greater than usual feral behaviour out of some of the kids. I've observed Windy Day Syndrome over many years. You can guarantee the kids will be rattier if the wind is up!

It is also just a few days before we vote in the federal election and tonight I explained to favourite Daughter, who will be voting for the first time, what's involved in the process of voting. I know there's a tendency toward cynicism about politics but I believe the democratic freedoms we enjoy in Australia are one of the things that makes our country so great.

I was contacted by the funeral company in town today with a request to conduct the funeral service for one of the kids killed in the car crash on the weekend. It will probably be held on Friday. That will add to an already busy week.

I don't normally blog about Mrs Holt Press but there was an amusing incident this afternoon worthy of sharing. We went into town so I could pick up a painting from the gallery and Mrs HP said she needed to go to the supermarket to buy a lasagne for dinner. I adjourned around to Jacksons to buy some rollers and a couple of tubes of paint, under instructions to return when it came time to pay the bill as she'd left her purse at home. (A little trick she learnt from her father-in-law!) Once I'd paid for the groceries, about $120 worth, and we headed out to put them in the car she turned to me and said, "Oh, I forgot to buy the lasagne"!!
Glad to say that it was very tasty and worth the effort of a return trip through the check-out!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Disturbing the Peace

Dragged myself out of bed and made it to church this morning and was glad I did. The preacher was 79 years old and full of the joy and love of God. BB and Aimee came too which was nice.

I had a frustrating afternoon. I'd loaded up the bike to begin the junk mail round then discovered I had a flat rear tyre. The rear wheel with it's deraullier gears and bike rack is considerably harder to remove. I found the puncture but without an adequate repair kit had to get a lift down to Bunnings to buy one. I repaired the puncture and refitted the wheel with Fashion Boy's assistance only to find we'd somehow managed to break the valve stem and the tube was rendered useless!
There ensued a fruitless search around the shops of Busselton, those that were open, looking for bike tubes. No go! None were to be found! Giving up I returned home and in desperation pulled an old tube out of a wreck of a bike behind the shed that hasn't been functional for years. To my utter surprise, it was intact and stayed inflated, passing the bucket test with flying colours.
With "new" tube fitted and the wheel back in place I set off to deliver the consumer's companions. I needed to get it done because Fashion Boy needed the bike after me to go and do his new round in Peppermint Park. The lack of money has prompted desperate measures in the Fashion Boy economy, thus he has re-embraced the joys of junk mail.

Tonight I went to a commissioning service for two new chaplains in the local primary schools. At one stage there was some lovely orchestral music playing, accompanied by pictures of sunsets and trees. The presentation was chosen by one of the new chaplains and entitled "Deep Peace". I had to laugh when half way though the reflection the sound of the churches answering machine could be distinctly heard throughout the auditorium. Not to be outdone, a banner in the foyer then blew over, the wooden pole crashing noisily onto the slate tiled floor! It seemed an apt metaphor, a school chaplain's peace being noisily interrupted by a telephone and a jarring unexpected crash!

After the service I got a lift home with an old couple, Len and Eunice who were our neighbours at Harvest Rd when we first moved to Busselton. They are a lovely old couple, full of stories and fun and the kids and Carolyn were all pleased to see them. Eunice stayed for a visit on the proviso that I recorded the final episode of Rain Shadow and gave it to them on a DVD!

I have a meeting at school in the morning to discuss the possible impact of the weekend's car crash and double fatality on the school. In light of the ages of those involved we don't expect a huge impact but no doubt there will be some.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Good and Bad of life in Busselton

Ah the joys of sleeping in on the weekend! I reckon more people would go to church if it started later and they didn't have to get up early on a Sunday morning. I've got no proof, it's just a theory, but I'm pretty confident about it.

After my leisurely rising I turned on the radio and heard some very sad news. Two young people from Busselton were killed in a car crash last night. They were standing up in the back of a ute which rolled over. Alcohol is suspected to have been an influence. No names had been released at that stage so I rode into town to see what I could find out, fearing the worst, that they were kids from school. Finally the grapevine started to work and one of the kids from school rang me to let me know who the victims were. I didn't know the kids but I do know the driver as he was at the high school when I started there. Favourite Daughter knows him as they were at school together.
It is a terrible tragedy and another reminder, as if we needed any, that young people cars and alcohol are a deadly cocktail and the Superman Syndrome, the mistaken belief kids have that they are invincible, is just as prevalent as ever.
There will be at least three devastated families in the town and the shock waves will reverberate for a long time. Another girl who was in the car has serious injuries and is in hospital in Perth.

The rest of the day was much brighter, with a number of interesting vignettes.

As I rode through the McDonalds carpark this morning, three young girls asked for my help. Their bikes were all locked together and the key wouldn't work. Closer inspection revealed that the lock had, to use the technical term, crapped itself, and was no longer serviceable. I borrowed a pair of what turned out to be well past their use by date bolt cutters from the tyre business across the road and after a good deal of effort was able to cut through the lock and release the kid's bikes. My good deed for the day done, I continued my mission for information about the crash.

I stopped a couple of girls I know from the school to ask if they'd heard anything and was then verbally accosted by a bloke sitting on a park bench who was intent on me asking him for whatever help I might need and when I declined his "offer" he continued a stream of low-level invective in my direction. When the girls walked away and I explained what I was doing he settled down and apologised.

Then I ran into Graeme, the principal at Fashion Boy's school and told him we weren't happy with their school policy and it's insistence that he have matching piercings in each ear which had resulted in him being excluded from a lesson yesterday. Consider the strange logic wherein a conservative Christian school insists that one of it's students gets their ear pierced, in order to match the other ear! He was both bemused and diplomatic. While I was talking to him Carolyn arrived, which got me into trouble because she had told me to stay out of it and she would talk to the school on Monday because she didn't want me to get mad at them! I was very measured and polite! Nothing for her to worry about at all!

At 1.00 o'clock I headed down to the gallery to do my rostered shift on the desk, only to find Sharon, the manager, there because she thought my name had been crossed off so she was going to cover the desk. I decided to stay, allowing her to paint in a back room while I painted at the front desk. It's a good way to pass a few hours while "on duty" and I was encouraged by the news that another one of my paintings had sold during the week, a large picture I called "Google Earth", for $350! It still amazes me when people like my paintings enough to want to buy them. I called Carolyn and asked her to bring down another one to hang in it's place. May as well strike while the palette is hot!!

I sometimes ask visitors as they leave if they'd seen anything they liked and was chuffed to get a response from one little girl today who was there with her parents when she said she had liked the one with the green squares. "I did that one" I said proudly but even when I offered her a discount she wouldn't part with her pocket money! It was a fun exchange and reminded me of how enjoyable repartee and customer service can be. I wouldn't like to be a salesman but I have thought at times a job in customer relations could be fun.

The Heir and Favourite Daughter surprised us all this afternoon by cleaning and tidying the patio! They were very industrious, sweeping and raking and cleaning and blowing and rearranging and by the time they were finished it looked so good we decided to get fish and chips for dinner and eat out there! The only sour note was when they lifted Sport Boy up so he could stomp down the sweepings in the bin and banged his head on one of the rafters! He was not happy and took a good bit of consoling and snuggling before he regained his normal good humour. He is nursing an egg on the top of his head.

This evening BB the Accountant and his daughter Aimee arrived to stay for the night. Aimee is clocking up hours on her log book for phase two of her driver's license so a 4 hour drive to Busselton and back tomorrow will give her a good chunk of what she needs, as well as valuable experience on the roads.
BB brought our tax returns down for signing so he can submit them next week, a service he provides for which I am deeply indebted and appreciative. There was a nice bit of serendipity with mine.
Prior to going away on my LSL trip I had worked hard to save as much money as I could to pay for all the airfares, hire cars, accommodation, theme parks, football tickets and associated costs incurred in 6 weeks away from home. By the time we got home the balance in the holiday savings account was down to $507.
While I usually get a tax refund, this year because of the taxi driving I knew I would get a tax bill, I just didn't know how much. I had put money away for it, in the holiday savings account!
When BB gave me my papers to sign they revealed that my expected tax bill is $505!

We finished the night with a game of cards. Our standard family card game is midnight and I managed something I don't ever remember doing before; going through all ten rounds without busting! A "perfect score" so to speak.

We played musical beds tonight. BB is on the fold-out sofa bed. Aimee is in Sport Boy's bed. Sport Boy is on the other couch. Favourite Daughter was not feeling well so she's asleep in my bed, next to Carolyn, who I'm glad to say has finally shaken the migraine which has severly afflicted her for the last three days. All of which which means I've been relegated to sleeping in Fashion Boy's room, with all the olfactory risks that entails! Somehow in all the rearranging and accommodating, the Heir managed to retain his own, double, bed.

Last word goes to the Australian Netball team who this afternoon defeated arch rivals the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the final of the World Netball Championships and managed to get me excited about watching women's sport. I don't mean to be sexist, but it is rare for any women's sporting event to get my pulse rate going. I'm glad to say this afternoon's netball game achieved it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buster the Fun Bus


While I was in Perth last weekend doing preparation for the Cool School Race Camp I searched for more examples of Public Art which forms a key part of the camp, with the kids having to travel all over Perth searching for things and taking photos to score points.
I went looking for a sculpture I'd heard about of C Y O'Connor at South Beach.
O'Connor was the engineer responsible for building the water pipeline from Perth to the Kalgoorlie goldfields in the 19th century. It is a tragic story. On the day the water should have flowed into Kalgoorlie it didn't arrive on time and in a rash and heart rending decision, O'Connor, in despair, rode into the water at South Beach and committed suicide. The ironic part of this story is that just a couple of hours later the water started flowing into Kalgoorlie and has been flowing ever since, a testament to his vision and skill that sadly came just too late. This unusual sculpture pays tribute to a West Australian legend.

As I was looking for the sculpture I happened to find Buster the Fun Bus, a mobile play van that operates in the Fremantle region, providing resouces and play-leader for pre-school play groups in the morning and after school games and activities for primary schoolers.


The reason this is significant is that in a former life, I created the original Buster the Fun Bus!
When Fremantle hosted the America's Cup defence in 1987, money was given to the Fremantle Children's Service to establish a mobile play van to operate in the Fremantle region. Thanks to Dennis Conner, Australia lost the Cup at the first opportunity, but Buster is still going strong.


I was employed as the co-ordinator of the project and had the job of outfitting the van and supervising it's preparation, and painting which was done by the prisoners at the Fremantle Prison, which has since ceased operating as a prison and is now a popular tourist attraction. They based the images on various characters from children's books but a few of them looked suspiciously like they were the product of hallucinatory substances! I'll never forget the feeling of driving Buster for the first time, I had a grin from ear to ear! You couldn't help but feel happy driving such a cool looking vehicle. I got to spend lots of money buying games and toys and art equipment and all manner of fun things to do with kids.


I had two part-time staff working with me, one in the mornings with the little kids and another in the afternoon with the bigger kids. Buster the Fun Bus, a name I came up with, was an instant success and we attracted large crowds of kids wherever we went.
I was very pleased then to see that some 20 years down the track, Buster is still running and still attracting lots of kids.
The present Buster is the 5th incarnation and as you can see is not quite as colourful and psychadelic as the original.