Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

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

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


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Farewell

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 04, 2013

Homecoming Day

It's been a big day of homecomings.

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

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

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hello Ian

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

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

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


A few family items.

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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



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



Bye for now

Happy Hello Ian


Sunday, September 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reflection delivered at Carolyn's Dad's Funeral

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


This is the reflection with which I concluded the service.

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

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gone

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




Tuesday, August 06, 2013

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

A few random jottings on recent events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Going Home

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

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kevin's Back

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


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

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

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


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


Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

52 today!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Popdate

I'm reposting what I put on Pop's blog this morning on his behalf.

G'day, Marcus here again with a quick update on Pop.
He is going extremely well, recovering much quicker than I expected and making significant progress every day.
He's disconnected from all the tubes and lines and drugs and drips now and apart from it being a struggle to stand up is moving around freely. He went for two walks yesterday and climbed two sets of stairs each time.
He had made such good progress that the Dr said he might even come home today but I got a call from Dad this morning that there's been a minor setback with his wound opening up a bit so he'll be staying in hospital another day or two I suspect.
He is in very good spirits and has had none of the difficult and unpleasant after-effects of surgery that he experienced last time.
He must be getting better because he has started cracking jokes at my expense.and playing tricks on me!!!!!! But don't worry, I have his credit card!!!

My wife Carolyn is flying up from Victoria tomorrow for a five day break away from the cold and the stresses of home. Needless to say I am really looking forward to seeing her.

Can't close before saying, "Well Done to the SOCCEROOS who beat Iraq last night in Sydney and are on their way to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Go Aussies!"
I was watching the game while riding an exercise bike at the gym last night and let out a very loud yell when we scored the winner with less than 10 minutes to go!! Just as well there was only one other bloke there with me and he was just as happy about it

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Big Day has Arrived

Dad is currently in the operating theatre at Nambour Hospital undergoing surgery to remove a tumour in his bowel.
I am praying and waiting to hear any news.

I flew into Maroochydore at lunchtime yesterday, Dad picked me up, and we headed straight for the hospital so he could be admitted and begin the pre-op preparation.
He was in good spirits and feeling optimistic about everything.

After having my flight from Perth back to Melbourne canceled on Monday morning and being shunted onto the midnight horror flight Monday night I was not in great shape. I slept most of Tuesday then had a few hours to catch up with the family and pack and prepare for this trip to Queensland.
By mid-afternoon yesterday I had a headache and didn't fancy the drive back to Dad's place at Gympie, especially as I wanted to be back in Nambour this morning, so I stayed the night at Reed House, a patient and family accommodation service run by the Red Cross, next door to the hospital.

I said goodnight to dad about 6.00 o'clock and was glad to have a comfortable place to stay nearby and slept pretty well.
However, by the time I got to the hospital this morning they had already taken Dad into surgery, a lot earlier than we had anticipated. I was a little anxious about not having seen him but also glad that it was all happening and the waiting was over. I sought the hospital chaplain and found not one but three chaplain's in attendance who welcomed me and upon hearing my reason for being there gladly prayed with me for the surgical team and Dad's recovery. I felt comforted and encouraged.

If everything has gone well I expect to hear he is out of theatre in the next hour or two.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Back to WA

It's Saturday morning and I'm at Big Brother Alan's place in Perth having spent the week in WA prior to little brother Bruce's 50th birthday party. You know you're old when your little brother hits the half century!
This is the first week of 5 weeks holidays for me and I have been making the most of it and catching up with a lot of friends in WA.

Cam picked me up on Sunday afternoon and we headed for the CFFL mid-season draft at Michael and Rachel's place. Letchy, Warren and Steve were there in person, Peter and Josh joined us online and Kent and Collo couldn't make it. Draft nights are always a great combination of fun and footy talk. For me it is the chance to reconnect with my closest mates, The CFFL has been running for over 10 years so there is a great storehouse of history, shared memories, experiences, fun and mateship between us and I really value my rare opportunities to get together with the boys now that I live on the other side of the country.
I stayed the night at Warren & Laura's in Bayswater.

Monday was a public holiday in WA and I met up with Jordan in town and we took the train down to Fremantle to have lunch. He had been really crook all week with gastro and was still a bit tender. In hindsight  Mexican food for lunch perhaps wasn't the smartest choice we could have made! He survived and was hoping to make it to work the next morning for the first day of his new job at an Italian food wholesalers in Mt Hawthorn.
That night I met up with Chris at Subiaco and we went to the footy to see Richmond beat a disappointing West Coast. Bruce, Paula and Cody were sitting not far from us and were happy with the result. I was too but resisted rubbing it in to Chris seeing as she had shouted me the ticket and driven 800km up from Esperance to be there. We had some dinner in Leederville after the game then she dropped me off at Letchy's place in Ballajura.

Letchy and I had planned to go hiking on the Bibbulmun Track Tuesday and Wednesday but a mishap when I was driving the night-rider bus on Saturday night thwarted that. I slipped over on a pool of water while cleaning some vomit out of the bus(!) and landed very heavily, wrenching my knee in the process. I was limping badly after it happened and although it had improved by Tuesday, there was no way I could have hiked 40km carrying a 20kg backpack.
Letchy lent me his old Gemini and I went to visit our old friend Miriam in Innaloo. She is 93 but in remarkably good shape considering and was delighted to see me.
I had dinner with Mum and Alan before staying at Letchy's place Tues night.

I was up early on Wednesday, met my mate Bruce and we headed down to Busselton for the day. I did the driving because Bruce has a broken wrist, courtesy of an abseiling mishap on the year 9 camp and is off work until the end of August. I needed to do a house inspection in Busselton and talk to the tenants about our plans. We are considering selling the house so that we can buy a place in Ocean Grove so I arranged for a couple of real estate agents to come and do valuations on the house. After finding a few things I wanted in the shed we dropped into the high school so I could say g'day to a few people. I was heartened by the very warm welcome I received from a bunch of people and enjoyed catching up with Gaultie, Cam, St Nick and several others.
Bruce and I wasted no time getting back to Perth because game one of State of Origin started at 5.30 Perth time. After NSW had a rare win I went back to spend another night at Letchy's; with a midnight trip to the airport with Alan to pick up Vicki thrown in.

On Thursday arvo I joined the members of The Breakfast Club, Broady, Hugh and Phil for our first get-together in well over a year. I had hoped we might get away for the night somewhere but typically Broady let me down when it came to organization. Needless to say I gave him grief about it all night.
The Breakfast Club have been meeting together for 20 years so there is a very deep bond between us and we all treasure the times we get to spend together now. I led the group through a bit of a self-evaluation reflection exercise which I think was quite useful in helping us think about where we are in our lives across a whole range of topics. We started at an Indian restaurant, adjourned to an ice cream parlour then finished at a cafe but were kicked out of there at closing time and had to finish the reflection sitting in Hugh's car outside Phil's place. I slept the night in the "school room" in Phil & Julie's backyard.

On Friday morning Alex came to pick me up and we  went to meet Jordy for lunch in Mt Hawthorn. His new job is going well which is great news. From there Al and I went to a local op shop and bought a bed and mattress for Jordan who is currently living in a garage at a mate's place in Wilson.  We picked him up after work and delivered him and his new bed home. He was very grateful to have something proper to sleep on. We drove over to Morley to join the family for a birthday dinner at Sizzler for Bruce, Cody and Zander who had birthdays on consecutive days this week.

After dinner we returned to Alan's place and watched some footy then Alan Vicki and I sat down for a conference to discuss plans concerning Dad who is due to have major surgery on June 13.
We had previously put a plan in place but this had to be re-worked because of other family commitments for Vicki.
We nutted it all out which was useful and a source of relief for everyone.
In short, I'll be with Dad in Queensland from June 12-July 1, Alan will come over for two weeks from June 30 to July 12 and Vicki will go back up once her family have gone home in mid-July.

Tonight is Bruce's birthday party, the major reason I came over to WA but as you can see I have been busy and made good use of my time since I've been here.












Thursday, May 23, 2013

Annual Grammar Rant

Every so often my frustration with people's butchering of the English languauge pushes me over the edge and I take to the blog to vent.
I do not have perfect diction, or a superior command of English, but I do know the difference between correct and incorrect pronunciation of words like:

GOVERNMENT: The surprise being that it has two "N's" and should be pronounced goverNment because governments govern. They don't "gover" as in goverment. This is repeated so widely and incessantly that it's really no wonder people don't know how to say it. I hear it mispronounced every day by newsreaders, politicians, radio announcers etc . I even saw a car with signwriting saying "such and such has goverment funding" recently.
BUT, not content with this butchery, Mr Abbott, our Prime Minister in waiting insists on calling it the "Guvment" leaving out the middle syllable entirely. Between that and his neanderthal policies on the NBN he has no chance of gaining my vote but that's another story. (Sadly, he doesn't appear to need it!)

Talking of leaving out syllables, why do people insist on saying "Probly" when the word is PROB-AB-LY?

SIM-I-LAR-LY I get PAR-TIC-U-LAR-LY annoyed when people REG-U-LAR-LY substititue these words with
"Simarly", "Particuly" and "Reguly".

Now I'm on a roll I have to say IT DRIVES ME MAD  when people say "Austraya" when referring to our nation. The word is AUSTRALIA. It has an "L" in it. Trust me, I've checked. Not that you'd know it if you listen to the vast number of people who leave the "L" out. Again Mr Abbott is a regular offender.

While we're on the subject of missing "L"s, renowned football commentator Bruce McAveney is a chief culprit in another common mispronunciation. The word I know as BRILLIANT is bastardised repeatedly to  
"Bri-yant". No "L"s to be heard. 

Seeing as we're talking about football commentators, another pet peeve is the over-use of the adjective UNBELIEVABLE to describe everything and everyone who does anything remotely impressive. It is the adjective of choice, thus losing both its impact and its meaning.
Consider this selection of alternatives, all or any of which could be used instead of UNBELIEVABLE:
Superb, fantastic, extraordinary, impressive, tremendous, stunning, amazing, terrific, super, awesome, fabulous and excellent. There is no shortage of superlatives to choose from but they remain largely ignored.
I know football commentators aren't renowned for their command of the English language but considering they are paid to talk and we footy fans are thus subject to listening to them, surely they ought to master these basics and correct their annoying mistakes?

A couple more that I hear frequently and which I think have their origins in Britain are MED-I-CINE and PO-LICE but are often mispronounced as "Medcine" and "Plice"with the middle syllables abandoned.

I'm sure there are more, you've probably thought of some yourself, but having vented my frustration I'll put my red pen back in its holster and say good night.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Morning

It's 7.30am on my day off and I'm out of bed...things can only get better from here.

I am about to leave for Queenscliff to umpire two games of football, U/16 & Colts. It's been COLD the last few days so I've got three layers on and hoping it doesn't rain.

Once my duties are finished I'm heading up to Melbourne to see one of my best mates, and loyal reader, Birchy who is in town for a family event. 8 of us are going to the footy at the MCG tonight, Geelong v Collingwood. Regardless of ladder position or form this is always a BIG game but I'm quietly confident the Cats will win their 6th straight game of the season.

It will be great to see Birchy and catch up on one another's news.

In other news, Spike flew back to WA on Wednesday having been "offered" a job with a mate of his. Hopefully the offer will bear fruit. I'll miss him but he is a restless spirit and I suspect he'll be back and forth across the country for a while. Now who does that remind me of?

Pop is doing well and flying solo at the moment as Vicki has come home. His surgery is booked in for June 13 so I'm heading up to Queensland again on the 11th. We're expecting it to knock him around a fair bit based on the last experience. Vicki and Mrs Holt Press will follow a couple of weeks later.

Oops, out of time, gotta go

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Good Day Ahead

Vicki is coming home today which is good news in three ways:
1. It will be good to see her
2. It means Dad is well enough to look after himself for the next few weeks, the first time he'll be flying solo since he got sick.
and
3. Vicki will get home in time to come to the footy with us tonight: The Geelong v Essendon Blockbuster, with both teams undefeated after 6 rounds. A mate, Neil, is also coming to the game, along with Favourite Daughter and sport Boy. Shuld be a great game, and possibly another nail-biting thriller.

I've just had a couple of days off which was spent umpiring a school footy game, having a follow-up appointment to my recent gastroscopy -with the results coming back all clear- and cutting up firewood.
My love-hate relationship continues with the chainsaw!

Spike is doing better health-wise but is restless so on the "promise" of a job with a mate back in Perth is heading back to WA next week. I will miss him.

Gotta start work in 30 min, 5.56am. adios

Friday, April 26, 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

We've got to go back to Daylesford. Tuesday was a day off so Favourite daughter and I drove up to Bendigo to pick up Spike who had been house-sitting for a friend. Apart from lonliness it had gone well until the two dogs, Boomer and Frog had a massive fight on Saturday night that left both of them covered in blood and Frog requiring urgent attention from a vet. He handled it well in the circumstances but suffice to say Spike was glad to see us when we arrived to collect him. It would have been nice to do more in Bendigo than have lunch and check out a couple of op shops  but we were keen to get to Daylesford, because Daylesford is home to a massive Mill Market, an Aladdin's Cave of all things retro and collectable. I hunted around for an hour and although I didn't find any football badges, I enjoyed seeing all the cool old stuff.
By then it was getting dark and there was no time to have a look at the rest of the town but we all agreed it looked like a really lovely and interesting place and thus we would have to go back again for a better look.
The kids bought coffee and we headed for Geelong where we picked up another trailer load of sleepers and some noodles  for dinner. I've been picking up sleepers from a secret location and cutting them up for firewood with my latest toy, a chain saw! (manly grunts etc). In fact I've acquired enough to sell a few trailer-loads of firewood and still have plenty to keep Mrs HP warm in the coming winter.

I worked today (Public Holiday = double time = $ = :) ) I didn't go to the dawn service but I did enjoy listening to the ANZAC commemorations on the radio before the football. Today was the 98th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. There are no WW1 veterans left and even the WW2 vets are dwindling in number. I wonder how long the ANZAC ceremony will continue to be observed? The continued interest and support of children, young people and the general population suggests it won't cease any time soon which is a good thing but it will seem odd if we are still observing it in 50 or 100 years time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Update

I've gotta go to work in 5 min so this will be brief:

Dad is doing very well on his treatment regime.

Bruce and Paula came over for a week of footy and family visits and had a great time.

Bruce has gone on up to Gympie to spend a week with dad.

Vicki is home for a couple of weeks and we went to the footy on Saturday night to see the Cats record another great win to start the season.

Spike is house-sitting for a friend in Bendigo but is possibly heading back to Perth where there is the prospect of a job for him working with a mate.

Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy spent last week at Soul Survivor, a Christian youth festival and had a fantastic time by all accounts.

Both of them have seen a new doctor recently and gotten some clear dianoses of there health problems. Sport Boy looks like he has coeliac (sic?) disease which means NO gluten in any form or quantity, ever.

Mrs HP is busy working, spending time with her Dad and trying to keep the household together.

I've just had 3 days off and went to the footy with Broady who is in town for work for a few days. We went out for dinner afterwards and spent the entire day talking and laughing: I love hanging out with him.

Yesterday I took Vicki and Mum up to Melb to get stuff for the new house etc and we all had dinner with Broady again.

That's my 5 mins.

Cheers

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Cats V Hawks 10/10



Another classic game
Another brilliant win

Monday, March 25, 2013

Last Night in Gympie

This is my last night in Gympie for this trip. Mrs Holt Press and I are planning to be back in June when I have three weeks holiday and Dad is due to have surgery.
Things have gone well. I've taken on chauffeur/support duties while Vicki has been able to stay home and rest the last week. With no treatment over the weekend things were pretty quiet for all of us.
On Saturday we drove down to Tin Can Bay and had lunch with Dad's good friends Ken and Jackie. It was very pleasant and peaceful sitting by the water and sharing stories, laughs and good company.
On Sunday morning Vicki and I had a browse around the Southside markets before finding our way to The Palms for a look at where Pop first lived when he moved to Gympie.
In the afternoon I got busy in the back yard, whipper-snipping and then trimming the bamboo which has been a bone of contention with one of Dad's neighbours. With another neighbour's help I tidied it up and we took a trailer load to the tip. By the end of that exertion I was hot, sweaty and slightly sunburnt but satisfied with my efforts.

After the first week of radiation and chemotherapy Dad is holding up very well. So far there have been none of the "usual" side-effects: no nausea, no vomiting, no hair-loss (although with the latter it would be hard to tell). We are glad about that and hopeful it will continue. About the only symptom of the treatment so far is that Dad feels lethargic a lot of the time.
I've enjoyed spending the time driving Dad down to Maroochydore each day. Our conversations have ranged far and wide and been laced with laughter and reminiscences.
Today was particularly busy because as well as the radiation we had appointments for blood tests, PICC dressing, wound dressing, stoma condition, chemo canister changeover and to see Dr Alex, Dad's oncologist. In the midst of all that and because it took about an hour and a half longer than we'd anticipated, we forgot to move the car in the 3 hour car park and came back to find that the friendly parking inspector had left us a note just 10 minutes before we got there!
Pop took it in his stride and we went and had some lunch before driving home to Gympie.

By this time tomorrow night I'll be airborne and heading back to Victoria.
I start work at 6 o'clock Wed morning so I hope the flight is not delayed.

My Favourite Daughter will pick me up from Tullamarine. She turned 24 yesterday! 
It is hard to believe she's that old already. She is a beautiful young woman with a lovely spirit, a generous heart and a creative streak which she puts to use in her photography and her art and craft. I love her more than words can say.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reporting From Gympie

I'm back in Queensland to visit Dad for a week. Vicki is back here too after a brief return home to visit her new house. This means we can share the load a bit in helping to look after Dad. His radiation treatment and chemotherapy started on Monday and will run for 28 sessions in all, which with weekends and Easter will take it up until the end of April.
Treatment involves driving down to the radiation clinic at Maroochydore each day, about a 90 minute trip each way, and occasional trips to Gympie and Nambour hospitals. Thankfully there have been no unpleasant side-effects yet and dad is managing the travel and treatment regime very well. We are all aware that it may get difficult and unpleasant as it progresses so we are enjoying the ease of this phase with gratitude. I had my first lesson (hands-on) in changing his colostomy bag today which wasn't quite as confronting in reality as it had been in my imagination. Dad has adjusted to it very well and the whole process is handled with a minimum of fuss.
Me being here meant that Vicki could take the day off and stay home today which is a welcome relief for her. I'll take driver/companion duties for the next few days while I'm here. I fly back to Victoria on Tuesday afternoon and return to work at 6 o'clock Wed morning.
Wed night I "receive" my Christmas present when I achieve a long-held ambition: to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, at Rod Laver Arena. I have been a big fan of The Boss since the early 80's but this is the first chance I've had to see him live.

I have 11 days off work in total and on the weekend just gone Jordy and I hired a truck and drove up to Mum's place at Tatong to collect the remainder of Vicki's furniture etc. The trip went well and Jordy was a great help and good company. He liked Mum's place and even said he might go back up on his own for a visit.

Over the last few weeks I have been collecting old railway sleepers from a railway stockpile (with permission) and bringing them home to cut up for firewood. I burnt out the motor of the powersaw I bought on ebay because the wood is too hard so I've graduated and bought myself a chainsaw! Woohoo! (Imagine Manly grunts and gestures). With an abundance of good quality firewood for the winter not only should the notoriously poikilothermic Mrs Holt Press stay warm but we might be able to sell off a couple of trailer-loads of firewood as well. Jordy and I will split the workload and the profits on the venture.

Finally I can't blog without saying how much I'm looking forward to the return of the footy season with the opening game tomorrow night. The Summer hiatus is almost over. Bring it on.