Thursday, May 31, 2007

Off to Parliament

Jordan, fresh from his stage triumph in The Boyfriend, now finds himself headed for a bigger stage, the Western Australian Student Parliament to be held in Perth in August. Jordy was selected to represent the electorate of Vasse and will join about 90 other students from around the state for a three day experience of parliament. They will hold debates and discussions in a mock parliament, getting a first hand taste of what the democratic system and electoral representation is like. It's a great opportunity and honour for him, although some of his preliminary legislative ideas, like his creative writing, have been on the radical side. Hopefully the experience will be both beneficial and fun and he'll make the most of it.

I loved going to things like this when I was a kid, especially meeting new people and having lots of long creative discussions. It was on a camp for talented English students that I met Sally and we've been friends ever since, not just growing up together, but getting married, raising families and now maturing! into middle age!

Our local member is Troy Buswell who was head boy at Busselton High School and has risen to be deputy leader of the state Opposition. It will not surprise me if he goes on to become Premier some day! He's offered Jordan his support and resources as he prepares for the student parliament. Apparently there is reading and preparation to do in the lead-up.


Before I go just a little boast; I maintained my 100% winning record at the Scrabble Club last night with another 3 wins.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Birthday to The Heir, and to Birchy

It's birthday season at Holt Press. May 29 is my son Zach, aka The Heir's, and one of my best mates, Birchy, aka The Full Quiver's, birthday.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to speak to either of them to wish them well, for different reasons.
I left it too late to ring Birchy, it was around tea time and with 5 kids to manage through the feeding/bathing/putting to bed routine it's no surprise that they weren't answering the phone.
I left a message but as he is a fairly regular reader of my blog, let me say it publicly, Happy Birthday Birchy, you're a great mate.
The Heir has been living in England for about the last 18 months so seeing him was not an option an
d my attempts to ring him failed for various reasons. Seems he has a friend visiting from Australia so has moved out for a couple of days so they can spend time together. On the plus side I did get to speak to Barabara who along with her family have been "pseudo parents" and have looked after our son for us. I tried his mobile but got a message saying the phone wasn't in service. I believe it is but suspect that the whole international dialling thing was a little too much for it's circuitry to handle. I tried to get him on Skype but no joy there either.

So, son, not for lack of trying, this is your official Happy Birthday Call-Out.

He has expressed a few misgivings about turning 20 and the expectations that come with such an ag
e. I know exactly how he feels because I had the same thoughts and feelings when I turned 20, and 30, and 40 and ... There's something about 20 that signifies a change, the end of the teens, the end of justifying your irresponsible behaviour on the basis that you're a teenager and don't know any better/haven't matured yet/lack self control/are invincible, omniscient and never wrong! I'll never forget the day The Heir was born, it was the most amazing and miraculous experience of my life. Almost instantly I felt a "weight" settle on me, of responsibility. Here was a helpless little baby totally dependent on us for everything, for survival and life. It was the start of a new chapter of my life that continues to be written to this day. He is 20 and living on the other side of the world but there is still a strong sense of care and concern and hope for him; that his life will be happy and healthy and holy. I used to hold him by his legs and hang him upside down as we walked around and he seemed to love it, never crying or complaining. We went to Victoria for 9 months when he was 1 and had just started walking. We took the Indian Pacific train and not long after we left Perth he lurched and fell in the aisle banging his head on one of the seats and getting a big lump over his eye. The rest of the three day journey was somewhat tense as I tried to prevent him falling over or getting hurt again. That's the thing about being a parent, no matter how much we love them or how hard we try we can't prevent our kids from ever getting hurt. And it's not just when they're toddlers, it continues on, quite probably for the rest of their lives, or ours, whichever comes first.
We spent 6 months at Kilmany Park in Sale studying youthwork with Fusion and now, 20 years on, The Heir has done the same course, now taught at Poatina in Tasmania, and is part of Fusion, who themselves have grown up and spread out across the world.

The Heir, as our first-born, suffered at the hands of our over zealous parenting and copped more smacks than the other three kids put together. He deserved some of them but certainly not as many as he got.

When we lived in Beckenham he slept in a cradle and if he woke up cryin
g would usually go back to sleep if we just rocked the cradle for a little while. The Heir was a devoted big brother to his little sister Sophie, aka Favourite Daughter.

This got me thinking and I set about rigging up a system with string and metal screw-in eyelets strategically positioned along the walls between his bedroom and ours that would enable me to rock his cradle from the comfort of my own bed! It sort of worked! But not really! A couple of good yanks on the string would send enough energy down the string to cause the cradle to jerk unevenly but no smooth rocking motion could be achieved! I'm sure that there were too many angles to negotiate and too much friction to overcome for it to succeed, but I'm equally sure that with some more refinement and a finer engineering brain than mine, the system would have been perfected. Maybe even patented! Who knows, I could have been sitting on a fortune by now if I'd just persevered with my remote control string operated baby rocking system!

Happy Birthday Zac, I love you.

We have been blessed with beautiful children and a friend, Stephen, took many waonderful pictures of them when they were little. Many of these I enlarged and framed and they still grace our walls.


The Heir and Favourite Daughter were very close and played together beautifully when they were little. We've got hours of video of them running around in the backyard, sometimes clothed, sometimes not!
Sadly they went through a less than amicable period in their early to mid teens when FD no longer thought TH was cool and gave him a lot of grief but happily they have gotten past that and get along really well again now. They are talking about travelling together overseas next year.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Pop

Happy Birthday Pop. My Dad turned 71 today which is amazing cause he doesn't look a day over 70.
This year a phone call was the best I could manage which is a far cry from last year's effort when myself, The Heir, BB the Accountant and my sister Vicki all flew over to Queensland to celebrate the milestone. We all had a great weekend together on the Sunshine coast and it's a bit of a shame we couldn't repeat it this year, but at least we had a visit from Dad for Jenna's wedding a couple of months ago.

I don't always see eye to eye with Dad, we disagree on many things, but I love him dearly and value him for his wisdom, experience, humour, generosity and love. (He reads my blog every day so I'd better say some nice things about him!!)

I have many many memories of times with Dad, right from when I was a little kid. He always took me to footy on Saturday mornings at the Geelong West YMCA Football League. My first year was in under 6's, there were only two teams, The Toughies and The Terribles and we played one another every week, wearing over-sized jumpers that we had to tuck in to stop us tripping over them. I was a Toughie and we played in green, the Terribles wore blue and it was typical swarm-ball football, all 36 kids chasing the ball at once trying to get a kick.

Later I played for The Terrifics in bright yellow jumpers with red collars and cuffs in the Under 9's. We won the Grand Final in 1970 and I won the best and fairest, I've still got the medallion on the pin-up board in my office. I'll never forget the Grand Final, we beat The Dazzlers by three goals.
I came 5th in the League Best and Fairest award that season, a kid called Ray Kwoon won it, one of the very earliest Asian kids to play Aussie Rules footy.

After we'd played in the morning, if the Cats were playing at home Dad would take me to Kardinia Park to watch Geelong. He'd stand on the hill behind the Barwon River goal and I'd swap between watching the game and sliding down the banks of the hill behind the scoreboard on cardboard boxes with all the other kids. My favourite player was Doug Wade who wore number 23 and played full-forward. He is one of only 5 players in history to kick a thousand goals in VFL/AFL footy although Dad reckoned he was a sulky player. Polly Farmer was in the ruck, Billy Goggin was rover, Denis Marshall was on the wing and the Cats had plenty of good players like Closter, Ryan, Newlands, Rosenow, Ainsworth and Andrews. They made the finals every year in the 60's.

Interestingly, years later my nephew Daniel was drafted by Geelong and played 17 games in an injury-plagued career and he too wore number 23. Now Nathan Ablett wears that jumper.

Dad was a Geelong supporter only by default on account of us kids and the fact we lived in the town. He started life as a Carlton fan even though his Mum, Nanny Falia as we called her cause she lived in the northern Victorian town of Nathalia which was a little tricky to pronounce, was a died in the wool South Melbourne fan. When BB the Accountant first took an interest in Footy he adopted Footscray so Dad started barracking for the Bulldogs who boasted Mr Football, Ted Whitten, and John Shulz and George Bisset amongst their players.
But, shortly after that, we moved to Geelong and BB promptly dumped Footscray to barrack for the Cats and I of course immediately adopted them. I was never old enough to have supported any other team so I'm proud to say I'm a life-long Geelong fan.
Dad though must have felt a certain loyalty to Footscray because he stuck with them, despite the fact they haven't won a premiership since 1954! which is an even worse record than Geelong whose last flag was in 1963. My lone claim being that I can at least say they've won a premiership in my lifetime, even if I was only 2 and oblivious to them at the time!

In his latter years and with his migration to Queensland Dad has switched allegiances again, to the Brisbane Lions, and has finally cracked it for a successful team following their three Grand Final wins in a row from 2001-2003. Not that he goes to the footy any more, and has to put up with delayed telecasts and minimal coverage in what is still a rugby-dominated state.


Lots of good memories and plenty more where they came from.

Happy Birthday Pop, I love you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cats 4th Win in a Row - A Beauty!


It was another great day at the footy for the Cats, beating Port Adelaide in Adelaide by 56 points!
Read all about it here.
I was able to watch it thanks to Dave, Foxtel and his BIG screen projector, All Good!

The Boyfriend



Everybody's doing The Riviera.

Jordy struggled a bit with the dance moves in rehearsals but I think he did a really good job last night.

The Boyfriend



Nick Mark and Jordan and an excerpt from "Safety in Numbers"

The Boyfriend



More from The Boyfriend

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Boyfriend



Jordy did a great job in the musical last night.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Morgan Head over Heels

Morgan celebrating on eof the team's 10 goals this morning.
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Sport Boy on the Ball

The Cornerstone 10's returned to their goalscoring best this morning with a 10-2 victory against Margaret River. After being involved in setting up a few goals I could see Sport Boy's hunger to score growing so I called him over and reminded him to keep working for the team and the goals would come. By the end of the game he'd scored 4 times!
The team played really well with some great passing moves transferring the ball from end to end and clinical finishing. Jacob scored one fantastic goal, arriving at the far post to hammer the ball into the net after a great set of passes and a cross from the right wing. A bit later Sport Boy was on the end of a similar move. It was amazing to watch really and the parents on the sideline were very impressed.
After the game the ref told me that Sport Boy was the best on the ground (He didn't know he belongs to me) (Or that his name is Sport Boy!) and that he moved really well and played very good soccer. It feels good when someone else affirms your child rather than it just being your own biased opinion!

After the game the boys explored the toy shop and lolly shop while Carolyn and I had a look around a few of the gift shops and galleries in Margaret River. As always I saw lots of things that inspired me to try new things in art including a wonderful submarine made out of timber and beaten tin and incorporating gauges and mechanical objects similar to the ones I've been collecting at garage sales.

Back in Busso I went to Bunnings to get a new shower head for the kid's bathroom to replace one that was leaking and dripping everywhere. Following on from last night's post I had no option but to buy a water-saving shower head, even though I know that they don't always give the most satisfying showering experience. That may in fact discourage the kids from staying in the shower quite so long!! And it also reminds me of a mate called Ben in Melbourne who earns his living as a travelling salesman selling shower heads! My mates and I always laugh about it, it sounds like such an unlikely way to make a living, but he seems to do pretty well out of it so I guess the joke's on us!

In about half an hour we're leaving for Margaret River to go and watch Jordy's play, "The Boyfriend". I've seen a lot of it in the rehearsals over the last few weeks but I'm looking forward to seeing the whole show in it's finished performance.
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Water

It rained tonight. I mean it really rained! Not for long, but when it rained, it poured. I was driving the taxi and even with the wipers on top speed visibility was very difficult. Huge puddles formed on the road and the car sent giant waves of spray sideways as I drove through them.

We're so much more aware of water now, with a major drought and much speculation over how best to ensure Perth's water needs into the future, that heavy rain is a real blessing.
A woman I picked up in the cab a couple of weeks ago told me that it takes rain water 150 years to get from the surface all the way through to the Yaragadee Aquifer, the major water source for Busselton and the south-west! Imagine that, 150 years of trickling and seeping and wending it's way through the earth! Any wonder there was such a fight to preserve it and prevent it being tapped for supplying Perth with 45 gigalitres a year. (To be honest, I have no idea how big a gigalitre is but I'm guessing it's more than I could store in my fridge).
I'd really like to get a rainwater tank and capture the water that runs off the roof and into the storm water drains. That alone would represent a considerable saving of water each year.
I can't claim to be very green but I do dislike waste.

Jordan had the second performance of The Boyfriend tonight, in Margaret River.
We're going to see the show tomorrow night, which will be our second trip to Margaret River for the day because Sport Boy has a soccer game there at 10.00 o'clock tomorrow morning.
It's 3.30 now so I'd best get to bed so I'm in some sort of shape to get up and get down there in time to coach the team.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Phil, A Real Writer

My mate Phil started a blog a couple of years ago.
Then he closed it down for lack of inspiration.
He recently spent a few weeks back in Afghanistan, a place he has spent a number of years as an aid and development worker along with his wife Julie.
This most recent trip unplugged the creative blockage and he has relaunched his blog.
It's not main stream.
It's left of centre.
It's not necessarily to everyone's taste.
But, it's well written and insightful and challenging and well worth an occasional visit.
He's exploring the medium of cartooning too.
If you feel so inclined you can get there from here.

Phil is trying to establish himself as a writer. He's had one book published, a non-fiction book entitled "From Under a Leaky Roof", an account of the difficulties faced by Afghan refugees in Australia. If you Google Phil Sparrow you'll find heaps of references to and reviews of his book.
(I've got a signed copy!)

He has now written a fiction book but has not yet been able to get it published.

All of this leads me to reveal that for most of my life I've thought about writing a book.
I know LOTS of people say that and I'm not claiming anything special by saying it, and nor have I done anything in order to make it a reality. But, Phil inspires me to want to make a serious attempt! The fact that I don't have a story or a plot or a clear idea what I'd write about or whether it would even be fiction or non-fiction are not deterrents! Either I've got it in me to be able to write a book or I haven't and the only way to test it is to have a go!
Now all I need is a deadline! And a massive kick start!

I don't know when it will happen, or even if, but the time has come to make the dream a reality, or to give it up and acknowledge I was kidding myself all along!
Decisions decisions!

Obviously blogging is a form of writing that I enjoy and have become very devoted to. The challenge is to channel that same enthusiasm and committment into a major project like a book!
With some 20 years experience in youthwork and chaplaincy I feel I have some insights and stories to tell but my leaning is try and write a novel. I've heard it said that all first novels are autobiographical to some extent. It makes sense that people write from what they know and their personal experience so I daresay that my "novel" would reflect some of my journey and career even if it wasn't the main theme or topic of the book.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Stars Align

Sometimes things all come together at the one time to create challenges and opportunities. It's been a bit like that the last couple of days.

I got an unexpected phone call today from Josh, my successor at Carine, with some potentially bad news about the Cool School Race Camp I run each year. Politics has reared it's head and the future participation of Carine is in doubt. Considering they usually have 80+ kids on the camp that's a significant issue!
At the same time I've been dealing with phone calls from a colleague who's experiencing some trouble in her job, seeking my support via WASSCA, the Chaplains Association.
Rolf emailed this week to start the ball rolling for the Executive for Augusta Beach Mission, suggesting we meet sometime in June.
And, on a greater or lesser level of importance, it's time for the mid-season draft in the Fantasy Footy League!

What all that means is that next Friday I'm going up to Perth for 4 meetings! I always try and maximise my time when I go up there so this is a pretty efficient way to deal with all the things going on at the moment, and it just happens to be a pupil-free day at school, even better.

Paul cam round tonight and we finally got down to work on teaching me how to update and manage the new website he's created for the Volleyball Association.
This is the first time I've been directly involved in the workings of a proper website, as opposed to a blog. Blogs are generally pretty user-friendly and simple.
The website, with it's html and myriad other technical elements is going to be far more challenging!
However, I did manage to make some progress tonight and have up-loaded some info, results, and info, and at about the 4th attempt, managed toi get it from my computer to the server and thus onto the web!
I hope it will become a really useful tool and conduit for all the people and teams who play volleyball in Busso. It's nothing special at this stage but it's a start. Feel free to cruise over for a look at the appropriately named www.busseltonvolleyball.net

The European Champions League Final is about to start and as a quasi pom when it come to soccer, Im barracking for Liverpool against AC Milan, with the game being played in Athens.

PS. Thanks to those who gave feedback about the two versions of the Blue Dog picture.
I'm also excited to report that one of my faithful readers, 2Peter, is coming to Busselton for a visit and we'll be able to meet face-to-face, my first encounter with someone met in cyberspace! Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blue Dog 2

The detail is a bit hard to see this small but if you click on the pictures they'll enlarge.
Readers, you may or may not like these, that doesn't matter, but I am curious which of the two versions you prefer. If you've got an opinion, leave me a comment.
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Blue Dog

Meetings for much of the day, which of course means doodling! I saw a picture in a magazine I bought that inspired me to have a go at something a little different this time and tonight I scanned it and coloured it and here's how it looks, in two different schemes.
(Blogger didn't want to upload it directly so I'm posting them separately via Picasa.)

After the Youthcare meeting tonight I went to see Zodiac, an interesting murder mystery, tracing a case that began in the late 60's and is still not officially solved. The crimes were random and brutal and left me chilled. It made me think I'm glad God is the final judge, the thought of such evil going unpunished is abhorrent.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big Day for Favourite Daughter

After months of erratic practice and in-car conflicts, today was the day Favourite Daughter went for her phase 2 driving test.
FD rejected our advice over the last few months to have 1-2 lessons with a driving instructor to identify any problems or behaviours that we, mere mortal parents, may have overlooked, or worse, passed on.
While acknowledging it was a good idea, a ploy I now recognise as paying lip service, FD never did have a paid lesson.
Which is not to say that she can't drive, she can, in fact she's improved out of sight over the last few weeks as she's grabbed every opportunity to get behind the wheel. But, getting a driver's license is a lot tougher than it used to be, a fact I'm not unhappy about considering the high rate of fatalities amongst young drivers, and I knew a couple of paid lessons would have been wise and useful.

So, to the long awaited day. I met her at the post office, gave her some last minute reminders, "stop completely at stop signs, don't speed under any circumstances, if you run someone over stop and check that they're OK before continuing on with the test" just simple common sense stuff. Then I prayed for her, mostly to help calm the butterflies in her stomach, and reminded her that lots of people don't pass their test the first time, hoping to cushion the blow if it came.
Ian the license tester was straight out of the license tester caricature book, gruff, lined face, hunched shoulders, mumbling voice, officious approach. For example, he was not prepared to accept that just because my car had a May registration sticker that it was still registered! Sure enough, onto the phone to headquarters to check the legality of my car.
"What's that? It expired two days ago?"
oh oh!
This didn't look good!
Don't get upset I told FD, it's my fault!!

Then, a stroke of good fortune. He gave the car the all clear, the 3rd party insurance runs for another 12 days, we could proceed!

Note to blogger: Renew rego when you get home!!
After further checks of indicators, brake lights and tyres (so glad I bought those new tyres last month, probably wouldn't have liked that bald one that had been on the front passenger side!) they were off. My little girl, now a legal adult, off to face her demons.

I prayed again then wandered in to the newsagent to browse.
It would be at least 30 minutes, probably longer.

Sat on the bench reading the paper when Favourite Daughter reappeared, smiling sheepishly.

"Dad, I passed!"

Fantastic, well done, BIG HUG.

"I don't know how I passed! I made so many mistakes. He said I just scraped in!"

Doesn't matter, you must have done well enough to pass. Congratulations.

"Do you have $20 so I can get my log book?"

I should have known! She'll be wanting to borrow the car next!

Actually, what comes next is 25 hours of supervised driving logged in her log book before the hazard perception test and the final stage when she gets her P plates. It took her 12 months to get this far so who knows how long that will take?

No, I know it won't take long, she's keen as mustard and I know exactly how she feels, I couldn't wait to get my license and booked mine in on my 17th birthday, the first available opportunity.

Now she just has to convince her mother to get back in the car with her!!!
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Inspiring Art

I've felt flat most of the day and vaguely irritated for no clear reason. I had a headache which kept me in bed all morning.
I'm still feeling the physical effects and discomfort from my operation during the week and that is bothering me a bit.

I spent most of the afternoon dozing, reading and watching art programs on TV from the relative safety of my recliner chair.
I particularly enjoyed a documentary about environmental artist Dan Horgan who along with another of my favourite artists, Andy Goldsworthy, creates sculptures and artworks out of things they find in nature, on the beach, in the bush etc.Dan Horgan working on his installation at Santa Barbara.
One of Andy Goldsworthy's rock cairns., very similar to some of Horgan's work, usually done in the natural environment, in forests, fields, beaches or mountains.


Feeling a little more inspired I screen printed numbers and "Miffy" logos on the new volleyball team shirts I bought yesterday. I used to do a lot of screen printing but this time it is primarily to get the volleyball nazis off our back!

This evening I worked on a couple of paintings and then hung some of my newer stuff on the walls. It is always surprising to see how much better a picture looks once you hang it.
I have quite a collection now and would love to sell some but don't have a proper outlet. Originally this weekend was going to see Wilma and I running a joint exhibition at a cafe in town but it has been sold and is currently closed and the project has lapsed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

1-0

The kids lost their soccer game 1-0 this morning due to a tactical error and very good defending by the opposition.
Chelsea beat Manchester Utd 1-0 in the first FA Cup Final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium, although United were unlucky to have a goal disallowed in extra time.

Geelong won their third game in a row with a 25 point victory over the Dockers.

The biggest story of the day was Jordan's stage debut in "The Boyfriend", a musical production at Augusta tonight. He came home buzzing and laughing and telling stories of his exploits, and rueing the fact he couldn't get the songs out of his head. It sounded like it went very well and there were 200 people there which really surprised us.
We're looking forward to going to the show next weekend.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blonde Encounter

Another late night in the taxi, transporting drunks and idiots around Busselton. Sometimes they are one or the other but sometimes they are both .
For example!
I sat outside one house for 5 minutes tonight (5 minutes of taxi time is like dog years, about 30 minutes to a human) blowing my horn and waiting.

Then I heard over the two way the customer ring back complaining that her taxi hadn't arrived.
Gavin told her I was outside waiting.

"What?"

"He's there now!"

"Is it still coming?"

"HE'S OUTSIDE NOW!!!!"

"What did you say? I can't hear you."

Click!!

I went to the door to issue a personal invitation.

Sorry for any stereo-typing or prejudices I may betray with this next comment,
but she was blonde.
And drunk.
And thick.
And swore like a trooper.

And I didn't laugh when she banged her head on the door as she got out of the cab, but I was sorely tempted!!!

Apart from this annoying encounter it wasn't a bad night.

One group I picked up included some insurance brokers in town for a conference, one of whom, Peter Bicars, turned out to have lived in Wudinna for 5 years and knows my sister Vicki and her husband Rex! Small world.

For the few readers out there who feel any sympathy for me in my post-op trauma, things have settled internally but the wound is taking it's time and giving me a degree of pain and discomfort I had not anticipated or known about. I'm thinking of going back to the Dr. just to check everything is as it should be.

To bed now: there's a soccer game in the morning, and then round 2 of the Cats V WA Double Header as Geelong take on Fremantle at Kardinia Park. I've been talking it up a bit, just got to hope the Cats don't do the usual thing and let me down!

Jordy's play premieres tomorrow night in Augusta. The rehearsals have been very good this week so it should go well. We're going to see it next week when they put it on in Margaret River (and the tickets are about half the price!)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Marginal Improvement

Clearly there's not a lot of sympathy out there in Blog Reader Land for a newly neutered blogger judging by the comments of the last couple of days.

I'm hanging my hopes on Dave's words of encouragement, and choosing to disregard the cynicism of the Full Quiver, though I can't quite get rid of that voice over the PA, "Mess to clean up in aisle 9". Sorry, it is a bit of an in-joke but if I explained you'd probably be nauseous.
Yes Cara I appreciate that in the over-all scheme of things, the women cop the rough end of the pain deal, but, if you had just kept your hands off the fruit tree back in the beginning things would have been very different! And The Heir should show a little more respect and gratitude for the fact he was conceived before this event or else he'd be nowhere, let alone swanning around England in funny hats!

I stayed in bed most of the morning, it seemed to be the safest place for me. I had to go to work for a Country Week meeting at lunchtime but I was moving slowly and gingerly. Everyday activities are awkward and painful, even sitting is hazardous, being an activity that requires a great deal more planning and care than normal, and walking is a slow and deliberate affair. Coughing, blowing my nose and sneezing are all dangerous and laughing is a health hazard. You don't realise how connected everything is until one part is altered, it sets off a chain reaction and everything's affected.

I had foolishly hoped that I would make a swift and painless recovery within 24 hours and be jumping around on the volleyball court by tonight. Ha! Not likely! I was reduced to the role of spectator, the 2nd game in a row I've missed following last week's delayed return from Perth.
At least this week we had a win, although the gestapo volleyball committee have deducted 2 premiership points because we were not in uniform!!!! Don't get me started on that chestnut again!!!!

Explaining my state of incapacitation to the three kids at home brought mixed reactions.

Jordan recoiled and said, "I wish you hadn't told me that"!

Favourite Daughter, wondering why I was unable to pick her up from work, when told the reason, asked "What's that?"
Clearly there were a few pages missed in her birds and bees education!
"It's an operation to stop me being able to have any more children" I explained.
"Why did you do that? So you don't have any more children?"
"Uhh, yeah!!"
and then an odd follow-up question, "Did it cost much?"
I have no idea why she asked that, and was in too much discomfort to pursue the matter any further.

Sport Boy asked what was wrong and I said I'd had a little operation and was sore.
"Where was it?" he asked naively.
"On my scrotum"
"What's that?"
Hmm, further evidence of inadequate sex education!
I explained.
"Oh!"
Once he was in the picture he was typically concerned and tender, saying he'd like to have a snuggle but didn't want to hurt me.

Fast forward 18 hours to soccer training this afternnon.
Sport Boy came over to me and said matter-of-factly, "Don't worry, I've told them you can't run around or kick today because of your operation".
Warning bells start sounding!
"What did you tell them?" I queried
"That you had an operation on your scrotum."
Look of discomfort and surprise on my face!
"Don't worry, none of them knew what it was"!!!!

"Well, that was a bit personal and private mate"!
Too late!
He was off kicking the soccer ball before I'd even had time to consider how a bunch of 9 year olds would comprehend this idea.
Seems it didn't phase them, or raise the slightest interest because nobody mentioned it.
I was relieved!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Post-Op

Don't be fooled, this is not a grin, it's a grimace!

Since this picture was taken the anaesthetic has warn off!!
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Ooooowwwwwccccchhhhhh!!!!!!!!

The scene of the crime
The instruments of torture
The suffering patient immediately post-op, unable to even read the newspaper!
I feel betrayed!
"It doesn't hurt, it's just a bit uncomfortable" echoed a bunch of people, over the last x number of years whenever the topic has come up.
Yeah right!!

It DID hurt
It still DOES hurt
It wasn't a bit uncomfortable.
It was bloody uncomfortable!

It was not pleasant at all!
Thank goodness it's a one-off event!

And what about the pre-op surprise? When the nurse asked me, "Have you shaved?"
No instruction or warning on that one!
Off to the shower I was sent with a nasty little implement ill designed for the purpose!
I was already bleeding before the Dr. even got near me!

I won't go into the gory details that followed, suffice to say that there was a lot of pushing and prodding and squeezing and puliing of various bits of my anatomy, it went on for quite a long time, and the pain has only increased since!
I'm confined to the arm chair, good for little other than aiming the remote control.

I had to get up to answer the phone, a 3 minute journey rather than the usual 5 seconds.
While I'm here (in the study) I'm blogging because once I sit down again I'm not moving!

It had better be worth it!!
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MRIs

That comet-like streak on the right is the tip of the syringe.

I know that my readers are an educated demographic and probably don't require any explanation of the scans posted here, but just in case some surfers have stumbled across Holt Press and are scratching their heads, let me explain what you are looking at.

These of course are MRI scans of my left ankle in which you can see the inflamed nature of the sub-talar joint. The theory proposed by the various physicians I have consulted is that this inflammation is the cause of my pain and immobility and that a dose of cortizone may provide relief and subsidence.

In order to ensure said steroid reaches the correct anatomical location three things had to happen:

1. A needle had to be inserted deep into my ankle joint.

2. MRI scans had to be taken during the procedure to ensure the needle was going into the right place, at the right depth.

3. I had to be very very still!

Of the three, the third was the most difficult!

A local anaesthetic was administered first, praise God, and then the needle was pushed further and further into my ankle joint. This was a VERY uncomfortable and disconcerting feeling.
Close examination of the scans will reveal the needle point penetrating my ankle.
The doctors were satisfied that they got it in the right spot, then administered the dose of cortizone.

I'm not sure how effective it has been or will be, it's still being monitored.

I know that the pain was not contained to the surgery!
After the treatment I was asked to pay the bill of $580!!
Probably a fair price on the open market but not one that I had been told about beforehand or prepared for!!

Thank God for Medicare, Australia's excellent public health insurance scheme, which will pay about 80% of the bill!

It's appropriate while we are on the subject of things medical to report that I am under-going another medical/surgical procedure tomorrow afternoon, of a somewhat more intimate and delicate nature.
Tomorrow is V Day.
Yes, after years of delay and avoidance, tomorrow is the big day when I am to be separated from my reproductive capacity! (I'd say sperm but most of my children read this blog)
Come to think of it, the fact that I've got so many blog-reading children is the primary reason for having this procedure.
At approximately 2.00pm the Dr will make the critical incision and do the deed!
I'm not looking forward to the procedure but understand that the side-effects can be quite good.

There is much division of opinion amongst my mates as to the virtues of vasectomys or otherwise, with Birchy, aka The Full Quiver, being the chief opponent, and Letchy and Cam the evangelical advocates.
There have been a couple of false starts on this particular adventure, several years apart, but the time has come and Carolyn is very happy about it.

In the interests of good reporting and honest blogging I need to hear from you, my faithful readers, whether you want a blow-by-blow description, pictures, graphics, maybe a YouTube expose, or just a discreet mention of the pertinent facts and acknowledgement of the successful completion of the mission?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No Monday Blues Today

It's always good to go to work the Monday after Geelong have beaten West Coast, working as I do with a majority of Eagles fans.

The day ended with football as well, a game between our kids from Busselton and the Clontarf junior team from Newton Moore in Bunbury. I went up as the extra staff member but ended up helping to umpire the game along with two young guys from Clontarf. It reminded me that I quite enjoy umpiring and perhaps should get back involved with it. I did a couple of seasons before we moved from Perth.

My ankle is feeling ok, post steroid injection, although the swelling hasn't gone down much. I really want to be able to play footy again for the masters so I need it to get better.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day. Jason is coming to school to do a series of seminar presentations to all 5 year groups and I need to be there early tomorrow to help him get set up, and it's also the interschool athletics carnival with Youthcare running the food stall so I need to give a bit of a hand out there too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers Day

After the great result in the footy it was always going to be a good mothers day, though perhaps not for my Mum who I think went to the game. She's a West Coast supporter!

I went out and delivered half the junk mail while we waited for Sophie and Jordan to get home from work then we went for a drive down the back roads to Dunsborough. We also checked out all the beach house mansions on Geographe Bay Rd with Sport Boy murmuring "Sweet House" and "Mansion" as we drove past each one.

It was a cold wintery day so nobody wanted to get out of the car even when we were ordering and eating dinner.
We had "Big Pig Pizza" from Dunsborough which was pretty good although it wasn't our first choice.
Carolyn had wanted Thai food from the Thai takeaway restaurant next door but a succession of hygiene episodes in the 5 minutes we were standing at the counter considering menu options eventually put us off!
In the space of 5 minutes one girl at the counter committed the following acts.
1. Did her hair in the mirror before taking up duties behind the counter.
2. Sneezed twice without covering her mouth.
3. Used a serviette to wipe/blow her nose.
4. Did not wash her hands.
5. Ran her fingers through her hair again.
6. Picked up a plastic spoon and fork by the "eating" end and wrapped them in a serviette and placed them in the box of cutlery for customers.
7. Picked her nose!!!!

This final act was the back breaker and we left! I contemplated asking to speak to the manager to highlight these events but decided not to make an issue of it, preferring just to spend our money elsewhere and leave the unsuspecting people of Dunsborough to their Thai food fate!!

We talked and laughed in the car and Carolyn lamented, not for the first time, that her jokes go unappreciated. My response was that's it's hard to appreciate what you don't recognise!!
Don't go giving me any grief about it being Mothers Day, Carolyn's not my mother!
There were two little kids in the car next to us while we waited for the pizzas who kept the kids entertained with a succession of comments about our respective cars etc.
We bought ice cream for dessert but decided it would be easier to eat at home than in the car.

Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy put their mum to bed while Jordy and I watched the footy on TV. I was impressed with the number of questions Jordan was asking about the football, a game he's never shown any interest in, but he divulged that he was bored!

I dozed in the recliner through Robin Hood and something else before waking up sufficiently to blog.
The final bit of good news for the night being that Tottenham beat Manchester City thus ensuring they've qualified for the UEFA Cup again next season after finishing 5th in the league.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We are Geelong


Oh Yeah!!!!
The Cats won by 6 goals!!!

I'm VERY Happy!!

Go Cats

Happy Mothers Day

Carn the Cats

Geelong, 40 points up at 3/4 time!

Looking good.

So long as lightning doesn't strike twice it's going to be a great day.

I'm still nervous!! I always am.

GO CATS

Saturday


I had planned to give an analysis of my injection in this post but I haven't had time to do any prep or research, I've hardly stopped all day.
After between 3-4 hours sleep I had to get up to coach the soccer.
Unfortunately there was a stuff-up with the fixturing and nobody told us that our game time had been brought forward an hour!!! The opposition came, and waited, and went before we even arrived! There were some pretty disappointed kids, no doubt on both teams!
We improvised with a 5-a-side scratch match and brought the parents on for the last 10 minutes to play in defence. I can see some physio visits looming!

After lunch Carolyn and Favourite Daughter went out for coffee and a chat, Jordy went to work at Red Rooster and Sport Boy and I went to the cinema to see Mr Bean's Holiday which turned out to be better than I expected. We were the only two patrons at the screening so finding a seat wasn't difficult!


We visited a garage sale on the way home and I bought some down lights which I hope might be able to be fitted to replace the fittings we have in the lounge room, which are not only unattractive but also chew up power and blow globes repeatedly.

Gavin rang me at lunchtime to see if I wanted to drive a cab again tonight so I've just spent the last 9 hours driving one of the maxi taxis around on a very busy night. There were two big parties and a home footy game and we were on the run the whole night ferrying people to and from and around their various social events. Favourite daughter rang me at about 1.00am hoping for a lift home and was surprised to realise that I was sitting in the cab at the footy club not more than 20 metres away from where she was standing at the time! I gave her and her Canadian co-worker Ian a long and convoluted lift home, having to squeeze it in around paying fares Drunkeness is in the main, an ugly state of being. I concede that there are all sorts of drunks, happy drunks, funny drunks, melancholy drunks, talkative drunks etc etc, but all of these are overwhelmed by obnoxious drunks, crude drunks, aggressive drunks, idiotic drunks, disrespectful drunks and violent drunks and I had a fair smattering of each variety in the van tonight. I confronted one group I was taking to Dunsborough, challenging them on their horrendous treatment of one girl in particular that we had just dropped off. To their credit they pulled their heads in and were pretty quiet the rest of the way home.

It was a profitable night which is the other bonus.


It's 4 o'clock now so I need to sleep which means I'll miss church in the morning. Hopefully I'll wake up in time to watch the footy, in the hope of seeing my beloved Cats be the first team to beat the Eagles this season! There's a bag of Freddos riding on the result with the soccer team, most of whom have the handicap of being West Coast supporters!

Truth be known I don't expect Geelong to win, but as ever I live in hope. I think Mum is going to the game as she and Walter left for Victoria this week for a month. The funny thing is Mum can't watch a game of football on the TV because of her nerves, she almost becomes apopleptic, but apparently doesn't suffer the same ill effects at a live game. Mind you, it must be a very long time since she went to a live AFL game!




Saturday, May 12, 2007

0

I had a cortizone injection into the sub-talar joint of my ankle this morning.

I do not recommend you try this at home.

Admittedly it was nowhere near as bad as the pain of the original injury which lead to all my troubles

But

It was a distinctly uncomfortable experience.

It's 4.40 am, I've just finished my shift in the taxi and I'm coaching the soccer team in the morning so I won't go into any more detail now, but I'll give you the inside story tomorrow.

Re. the cab, I kicked my first ever lot of customers out of the taxi tonight because I wasn't prepared to put up with their abusive attitudes. I left them on the side of the road with a 4-5km walk in front of them. Hopefully they spent some of that time reflecting on the consequences of their actions!



Did I mention that Carolyn has returned home? The signs of her return were immediately apparent. The washing basket in our room is not over-flowing, there was a meal cooked for dinner, and there was junk mail being folded without me getting my hands dirty, and the bed has had the electric blanket put on it!

Welcome home!

Friday, May 11, 2007

1

Grant at his farewell on Wednesday afternoon. I think he was genuinely surprised and touched by the level of affirmation he received and shed a few tears in the process.
John and fay Foran, friends from the old days when Mum lived in Kelmscott, now retired after 22 years as the Anglican minister there, and many years in Sydney prior to that.
Pieta, Phil and Julie's eldest child, at bed time last night, just before prayers.
Elijah with a picture he drew for me. When I asked him what it was he said, "it's an octopus......no it's not an octopus it's a horse......it's not a horse, it's a goat." And a goat it remained, as you can clearly tell just by looking at it.
A very cool motorbike on the freeway this afternoon. I photographed it initially for it's personalised number plate, then because it was cool, but I wasn't able to capture the coolest bit of all. As I went past it I saw a small dog sitting in the seat behind the rider, resplendant in a pair of goggles!!!!


Carolyn is home again.

Ironically, 3 of our 4 kids are not here to greet her! Admittedly The Heir has a legitimate reason, being as he is, marooned on a small island somewhere in the Atlantic, but because of the need to make suitable arrangements in my absence, Jordan and Sport Boy are staying elsewhere tonight. Jordy in M.R. following rehearsals, and Sport Boy at his friend Morgan's place. Favourite Daughter is home and was delighted to see her Mum but the rest of the reunion will have to wait until tomorrow.

I spent a very productive day in Perth, sorting out details for Country Week in the morning, having lunch with Broadie in Leederville, and delivering the Cool School Race Camp prizes to Duncraig High School this afternoon. My last task was to buy a small portable PA for use at Country Week, camps and assemblies. I found one at Kosmic in Osborne Park for a reasonable price then set off for the airport. This is where my plan came slightly unstuck, I hadn't figured on the congestion of peak hour traffic. I've been lulled into a false sense of reality by the complete absence of traffic jams or hold-ups in Busselton with it's sum total of 4 sets of traffic lights!
The Perth traffic was bumper to bumper.
Then I got a surprise sms from Carolyn to say they had landed early and she was collecting her bags and ready to go! It took me another 20 minutes just to get to the airport! Getting away from Perth was not looking easy or quck and my hopes of playing volleyball tonight were diminishing rapidly.

I tried Tonkin Hwy which had looked fairly clear when I went over the bridge on the way to the airport but I soon realised I'd been fooled again and we crawled for 20 minutes to the lights at Leach Hwy, where we discovered there had been a crash and the police had blocked the road.
Sadly, I found out later that two people had been killed on a motorbike.
That puts a bit of inconvenience and a missed volleyball game well and truly in perspective!


Carolyn talked much of the drive home, about Ray her brother, Michelle his house mate, the restaurant he works in, her adventures with Spider the dog, expeditions to the Adelaide markets for cheese and mushrooms and spices, a rain drenched excursion to a quilting shop that turned out to be closing down and thus there were bargains to be had apparently, a visit to The Jam Factory- some sort of artist's cooperative, meals Ray cooked for her, trips to wineries and much more. She obviously had a good time while she was away.
We stopped for fuel and food, Noodles from our newest favourite "restaurant" Wok-in a-Box!

As expected I missed my entire volleyball game and only just got back in time for me to fulfill my umpiring duties at 8.30. Our team, Son of Miffy the Cow, lost 3-0. Obviously I was greatly missed!


Carolyn, who gained two hours in transit on the east-west crossing of the continent has gone to bed and I'm about to follow suit.


Tomorrow morning at 9.30 I get my ankle injected with cortizone. Hopefully that will have a beneficial and healing effect.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2


Holt Press reporting in from deepest East Victoria Park, home of Phil and Julie, Pieta and Elijah, he of the wide eyes and calculated defiance! He consented to allow me to read him a story at bed time, "A New House for Mouse".
After getting everything I needed to do done at work this morning I left for Perth at 12.35 and just made it to Kelmscott in time for Grant's farewell. Hewas pleased and impressed that I'd made it. It was a good occasion with many positive affirmations and kind words said about him and his 11 years at the school. As one of the speakers remarked, it sounded a bit like a eulogy, but Grant's not dead! It is a good thing I reckon when we take the time and effort to acknowledge and affirm people and thank them for the impact they've had on our lives and this was such an occasion. A special bonus was that John and Fay Foran were there, he as the MC. John was the Anglican minister at Kelmscott for 22 years and they are close friends of my mum who used to live in Kelmscott. I haven't seen them for well over 10 years so it was good to catch up and exchange news and family updates.
I had my phone on silent during the proceedings and by the time I turned it back on I had 7 missed calls!!
One was from Broadie giving his usual lame apologies for not coming to The Breakfast Club, although he did invite me to drop in and see him for lunch or coffee tomorrow if I'm in the neighbourhood.
I made it to Phil's place in time to see the kids before they went to bed then Phil and I caught up a bit following his most recent trip to Afghanistan. He does development work so we operate in different worlds.
At 9.00 we ventured out to the movies and saw a very good new Australian film called "Noise". It's pretty heavy, dealing with the aftermath of a massacre on a suburban train in Melbourne and is very well acted and made.
We were both amazed at the amount of nightlife happening in Northbridge for a Wednesday night and stopped in for a kebab on the way home. It was quite tasty but I made a mess of it, spilling sour cream and tomato all over the place.
I spoke to Jordan earlier and it sounds like the house is still standing in my absence.
Sport Boy is staying with friends from church for the night. Sophie was at work when I rang. She's been in bed with a cold most of the day so I'm impressed that she got herself to work, although from a hygiene perspective perhaps....
I have a number of small jobs and things to attend to tomorrow before collecting Carolyn from the airport and high-tailing it for Busselton, hoping that I might make it back in time for my volleyball game. Not a strong likelihood I'll get there for the start but hopefully I'll get some court time.
It will be good to have Carolyn home again, I hope she's had a good rest and feels refreshed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

3 days to go

Normalcy is just three days away here at HoltPress, that's how long until the wife and mother of the family touches down after her jaunt to Adelaide. Things continue apace in her absence.
I've decided to go to Perth tomorrow and then pick Carolyn up from the airport on Thursday arvo. She could catch the bus happily enough but there are 3-4 things I can get done in the city and I'm timing it so that I can go to a mate's farewell at Kelmscott. Collo is leaving chaplaincy after about 15 years and I'd like to be there to mark the occasion. Hopefully I'll manage a Breakfast Club meeting while I'm up there, and do Country Week prep on Thursday before Carolyn arrives.

Tonight was spent ringing people, makeing arrangements and rearrangements regarding the kids. Favourite Daughter can look after herself, as can Jordy mostly but he has to go to Augusta on Thursday night for rehearsals, the big musical is on in a week and a half. He'll stay the night in Margaret River and come up to school on the bus Friday morning.
Sport Boy is staying with friends tomorrow night and we'll probably pick him up on Thursday night when we get home. I think I've covered everything, at home and at work to free me up enough to be able to go.

Just gotta hope someone remembers to feed the rabbit! Having protected it this long it would be a shame to drop the ball in the last couple of days!

I was interviewed on ABC radio this morning, talking about chaplaincy in schools and issues facing kids. It went pretty well until the end when I said "thanks Gillian" to the host whose name is Janine! When I realised I rang back to apologise. The producer said not to worry about it, someone else had called ger Geraldine earlier in the show!
Not sure how to do it but if I can work it out I'll post the audio of the interview, which I recorded!

Tonight I went to see "The Last King of Scotland", a heavy and disturbing film about Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin. Not for the feint-hearted!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Stamps!!


Happy Birthday to The Heir. Your "present" cost me $120 today, in postage!!!!
The toy had better be worth it!!

4

I do not feel the need to justify myself or defend my actions but seeing as my reputation is being questioned and the commentedians are harrassing me, here is genuine proof that the rabbit, one Starsky, is ALIVE and WELL, and that Sport Boy is suffering NO ill effects from the extended separation from his mother who is now just 4 days away from coming home.

Monday, May 07, 2007

5

It's been a very good day.
Not only did I manage to get up in time to go to church this morning, I actually got all three of the kids there too!

After church we cruised a garage sale where I bought 4 trays of tools and odds and ends, with a view to using them in some artworks, for a bargain $20, including a big bench vice, something I've wanted for a long time and never gotten around to buying.

Then we went into town and had lunch at The Vasse Cafe, sharing gourmet pizza and wedges, followed by fancy ice cream at home for dessert. All day there were lots of laughs, the kids telling jokes, mucking around and playing together. I asked them if they were missing Mum and if so why. Favourite Daughter said she missed having her to talk to. Jordan missed the home baked cookies and treats after school and Sport Boy said he just missed having her home. He was a little sad.

After lunch Jordy went to see the new Spiderman movie and Sport Boy and I went round to Dave's to watch the footy. I tried to get him to talk me out of it seeing as every time I go round to watch either Geelong or Spurs they lose! Thankfully he lacked the necessary powers of persuasion because the Cats had a day out, in fact they kicked the 8th highest score in VFL/AFL history to beat Richmond by 153 points! Of course, the shellacking needs to be looked at in perspective, Richmond were 0-5 for the season already. The real test comes next week when Geelong play West Coast who are unbeaten and sitting on top of the ladder after 6 rounds.
During the breaks Sport Boy and I played with Dave's wonderful race car track!

As I said, a very good day.
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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Am I Cool or What?

Sport Boy was transformed into Disco Boy for last night's party and didn't he love it!!

You looking at me?

A casualty of today's Half Ironman Triathlon at Busselton. I was on duty as a volunteer for a few hours this afternoon. I was a "catcher", waiting at the finish line to assist and support the triathletes as they finished, removing theior timing bands from their wet and sweaty ankles, trying not to pull any hair off with it for those who hadn't shaved down for the event. Pitiful as it sounds, I was sore and tired at the end from the continual kneeling! These people had just swum, ridden and run for the last 6 hours and I was struggling with a few knee bends!! As I said, pitiful!!

I chatted to this competitor after the race and asked him how much his bike cost? "Oh, it's only a cheap one for this sort of thing, about $5500." Right!!! He told me that the top guys are paying over $3000 just for the carbon wheels on their bikes!!!!!

Sport Boy was best on ground in this morning's soccer game at Dunsborough, he threw himself into everything, running, chasing, tackling and doing everything he could in the quest for victory. We went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down by half time. He got tackled and tripped and fouled repeatedly throughout the game and had to go off hurt a couple of times. When he came back on with 7 minutes left he won a very tough contested ball in midfield, beat a couple of players and sent a brilliant pass through to Ben C who beat a player and shot from distance to score the equaliser ; one of the best goals the team has ever scored.
It was a nail-biting finish with Cornerstone doing most of the attacking and Dunsborough defending desperately. Then, with 14 seconds left on the clock, one of our kids gave the ball away outside the penalty area and a Dunsb. kid pounced to score the winning goal! It was pretty disappointing after the fightback and I was kicking myself for not having taught them what to do in such a situation, to just clear the ball into touch and regroup in defense! Next time.
It was a great game none-the-less. Sport Boy came off a little worse for wear, with a sore knee, and a few scratches in a very private area as a result of a clumsy challenge from one of the opposition! He was a bit distressed when he undressed for a bath and discovered the injury. It wasn't serious but it's never pleasant being injured anywhere in the groin region.
He spent the afternoon playing at Jack's while I was at the Ironman which no doubt contributed to his tiredness, the results of which are clear to see.
Ah! The junk mail! There's a massive 17 pamphlets to fold ready for delivery this week. That's because I'm combining the weekend and midweek deliveries in order to save a bit of time! Well that's the theory!

I had a call with Carolyn tonight who is having a lovely relaxing time with Ray.

NB. The rabbit, despite my best efforts at neglect, is still alive!

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