Monday, April 30, 2007

Perth and Back

It's been a big day. After the late finish courtesy of the cab and the cricket I slept in as late as I could, then made the mistake of listening to the football. Geelong lost again. They're not going to make the finals. Mark Thompson will be sacked. The season is headed for more disappointment. Woe is me! Why was I born a Geelong fan?

Carolyn packed her clothes and I packed the kids in the car and we set off for Perth, in intermittent heavy rain. I don't know if the drought has broken but there has been plenty of rain in the last couple of days and it's extremely welcome, even if it makes driving a little more hazardous.

No time to stop for food so Sport Boy wasn't happy but I did grab some fries when I stopped for a toilet break at the start of the freeway. First stop in the city was "Off My Tree" a shop selling dubious items, so that Jordan could buy a very expensive belt! The cost of fashion!
Next stop, the Art Gallery to see the Young Perspectives Exhibition, featuring work from year 12 students from WA High Schools. It was FANTASTIC! So much brilliant artwork. Even Jordan found a few things he liked. I particularly liked a couple of big bold brightly coloured portraits, and a brilliant rendition of the London Tube map describing the life of a student at Melville SHS. Hard to describe, better to have a look yourself. Click here then open the interactive site to scan through all the pieces in the exhibition.

Much to Sport Boy's relief we then went over to Vic Park to get some dinner, a Jesters pie for him and Noodle Box for the rest of us. Seeing as we were in the neighbourhood we dropped in on the Brauns. Andy is away in Tassie but Rose and two of the girls were home so we had a quick visit and ate dinner there before heading over to Cam and Louise's place in Belmont to drop Carolyn off. Cam's Mum Anne was there too, first time we've seen here since we went and visited her at Albany nearly two years ago so it was lovely to catch up with all the Teros.

Goodbyes said, the boys and I headed for home. Sport Boy slept most of the way while Jordy and I talked about jobs and careers and youthwork and uni and music and lots of stuff. It was a good trip and he seemed to enjoy the opportunity to chat. There were plenty of laughs and stories on both legs of the journey, particularly when he regaled us with impersonations of Dr Tran clips from You Tube. Typically dumb adolescent humour, made much funnier by his accents and enthusiasm.
As we were driving to Belmont I asked him to get the street directory from under my seat and with much groaning and huffing and effort he finally managed to retrieve it, and said "I farted three times trying to get this."
A classic example of "Too much information!"

Carolyn leaves for Adelaide in the morning.
She'll be away until the 10th.
Will we survive?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


It's been a busy day, starting with Sport Boy's soccer game this morning, a 15-0 victory in an obviously one-sided game. Although the other team were'nt very good, our kids did play exceptionally well, stringing together many passing movements and finishing well. Sport Boy scored 5 goals and was pretty happy afterwards! There'll be much tougher games to come!

I was on roster at the gallery this arvo which was extremely quiet, no sales all day, but I did get to work on a couple of paintings while I listened to the footy.

Tonight I drove the taxi, in fact I've just finished my shift. It was fairly quiet but a hail fare on the highway turned into a jackpot when the three young men asked me to take them to Bunbury! The total fare came to $106! Sadly their intentions in Bunbury were not very honourable!

I was pretty tired and a bit concerned about staying awake on the long trip (50km each way) so I stopped for my second Vanilla Diet Coke of the night and listened to the cricket with the windows down. Adam Gilchrist was superb, hitting 149 runs to help set up what should be a match-winning score in the World Cup Final.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quiz Night

Sorry this picture is so dark, the Blogger-Google-Picasa love triangle seems a bit dysfunctional tonight and this looks like the best I'm going to get!
You'll have to trust me when I say that the picture shows a room full of smiling happy faces at tonight's quiz night at the Esplanade. According to the members of the BPW (Business & Professional Women's Association) for whom I was running the night, it was "brilliant". Modesty prevents me from confirming this affirmation personally but who am I to question their judgement? The night did seem to go very well and to plan and I enjoyed myself in the process, all good signs.

Certainly the quiz night went better than events earlier in the day when I continued to have computer frustrations based on my prolonged enforced disconnection from the network due to software changeovers that have taken nearly 5 weeks to resolve! I had to work on another terminal in the front office to get the Country Week Pricing Sheet finalised and was so tied up getting that done that I COMPLETELY FORGOT my doctor's appointment!!! Considering there is usually about a two week waiting time to see this Dr I was pretty frustrated!

Things brightened when I "vented" (gently) my frustration to Rae the Principal and she referred me to the "Sweeper" (IT Guru down from Perth to help with the installation and associated problems) who proceeded to correct the problems I was having and successfully reconnected me to the network, got my email up and running and in the process made my day.
There were only 270 emails in the backlog awaiting my attention!

No time to deal with anything except the urgent stuff before I set off for Dunsborough for my rearranged Dr's appointment with an alternative Dr. As expected he confirmed the results of my blood tests as showing I have low testosterone levels and gave me a prescription to commence replacement therapy, and a second for anti-inflammatories, plus a referral to a counselor who comes highly recommended. I celebrated the end of the school week by buying a packet of chocolate and raspberry Tim-Tams and reading art magazines in the newsagency.

Quiz Night Poetry Challenge

I set the teams at the quiz night the challenge of writing a poem with a minimum of three verses with four lines each, containing a number of designated words and topics.
The response was impressive and amusing, with a mixture of humour, romance, pathos and the bizarre as people tried to include the required content, or construct rhymes around it.
Here is the winning entry which was based on audience response. The mandatory elements are highlighted.

A Brush With the Law by Table 12

I thought I'd just remove my pants
And shimmer through the night
But as I streaked across the road
The oldies died of fright

The cooking stopped in kitchens
And artists dropped their paint
And kangaroos in paddocks
Collapsed into a feint

The policeman said "explain it"
As I turned a shade of red
"It must have been marijuana scones
They went straight to my head."

My Mum she likes to cook them
And I took some for my lunch
And now I'm stuck in this small cell
With bikies and that bunch

I want to call my lawyer
To unchain me from this bed
And tomorrow when I raid the fridge
I'll steal two pies instead!

and another offering which was pithy and funny but disqualified for brevity.

I saw him remove his jacket
He shimmered pale in the light
I thought of fresh green mint
I'll explain, I'm having spuds tonight.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Plug for Overheard in Pittsburgh

I occasionally surf around "Overheard in Pittsburgh" and every now and then there's a real gem, like this one!

New Seasons

Laurie with his three kids, Travis, Beau and Kara

I had lunch with Laurie today, we go back a long way, to pre-chaplaincy days, when he was running Warriuka white water rafting and abseiling camps for Scripture Union and I was working with Fusion, back in the late 80's. We did some great camps together and built up quite a bit of legend and folk lore which will have to wait for the book. He went on to become a chaplain at Rockingham which piqued my initial interest in the field and when I started at Carine we continued to work together, pioneering Wilderness Intervention Programs (WIPs) in WA. He moved on from there to complete further studies at Uni in order to become a clinical psychologist. He and Sonia moved down to Busselton after Sonia's mum died a few years ago. When we moved we re-established connections with them. Laurie has been my supervisor, and has fought a fruitless battle trying to get me involved in outrigger canoeing which is one of his passions. He loves the water and has a yacht which I went for a sail on last year but I'm not much of a boatie so I remain unconverted. Laurie reads my blog from time to time so he was aware of some of my recent struggles and that was the major topic of conversation over lunch. He made a couple of suggestions and recommendations regarding counselling options which I will follow up on. For those who are interested in the small details, we ate at "The Food Room" behind Red Rooster, I had a chicken schnitzel burger and it was very nice, washed down with an Agrum.

Term 2 heralds the coming of winter and the change of sporting seasons. That means soccer season for the kids and I am once again coaching Sport Boy's team, the 10's and under. We've got a few new players this season, and most of the kids from last season are back and showing signs of improved skills and concentration, especially the girls. Ironic
ally, Stu, aka The Gardener, is coaching the 11's and they are short a couple of players so we may have to give them a couple of ours! I'm reluctant to break the team up, they've been together for a couple of years now and are starting to gel and work together. Sport Boy has been hanging out for this, he started wearing his soccer gear two days ago and had it all laid out in his bedroom last night ready for today, although he is disappointed that his beloved number 11 shirt is missing from the bag of team shirts!

Volleyball restarted tonight as well, my first serious sporting test since I broke my ankle in last year's finals. I'm glad to report that it held up pretty well although I confess I was being ultra careful and was quite nervous each tiome I jumped up at the net. We're short one player and had to have a fill in tonight, Wade from school. He played really well but unfortunately has his own team and can't play for us regularly. We're on the hunt for a 6th player to complete the team. Despite these uncertainties, and losing the first set, we came back strongly to win the second set against Breakaways and then went on to record a solid win in the 3rd to take the game. We had a new girl, Magda playing tonight and it was great having a good setter consistently putting up good balls for us to hit. My serve was rusty in the first set but soon got warmed up and I was getting some good power and accuracy and causing some problems for Breakaways.
I'm due to have a cortizone injection in my ankle sometime in the next couple of weeks to reduce the swelling which still hasn't fully subsided since the injury last September.
I also need to see a physio because my neck and shoulders have been bothering me for the last week or two and getting back into sport will probably aggravate them further unless I get some treatment.

I have a Dr's appointment in the morning to follow up on my blood test results, which probably means starting on a course of testosterone tablets. I also want to get some anti-inflammatories and a referral to the physio for my neck, and to a counsellor so it will be a busy appointment.
Saturday morning is the first soccer game of the season. I've swapped my regular Friday night shift in the cab to Saturday night. Tomorrow night I'm running a quiz night for the local business women's association.

Sunday we're going to Perth to drop Carolyn off as she is flying to Adelaide on Monday morning to go and visit her brother Raymond and possible the rest of her family for 10 days. She's been a bit anxious about whether I'll manage all the household tasks and running the kids around to sport, rehearsals, work, school etc. I hope she just relaxes and goes away and has a good time with her family and doesn't spend her time worrying about me/us. We'll be fine. I've got Dominoes number programmed into the speed dial of my phone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Crossed Paths

Blast from the past. I was at Bunnings this afternoon and brought home something unexpected, which come to think of it is usually what happens when I go to Bunnings, but in this case it was truly different. I bumped into our old friends John and Tracey Cross, who we haven't seen for probably about 15 years! We used to go to a Marriage Study group together, along with 2 other couples, Rick and Andrea, and Dave and Mandy. This was before Carolyn and I even got married. The group was so good that we continued it on as a Bible study group for a few more years, combining it with a game of squash beforehand! That's different! They moved to Bunbury years ago but we lost touch, they didn't know we'd moved to Busselton so it was a big surprise when they spotted me in the hardware store. We swapped addresses and they came round for a coffee and to see Carolyn who was thrilled to see them. We spent an hour catching up on one another's news, updates on the kids etc. They have 4 kids too, all about 1 year older than ours in the stagger.
It was great to see them, hopefully we can stay in touch.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The ANZAC ceremony at school went well this morning. The school does a great job holding the service, with a respectful solemnity befitting such an occasion. My prayer at the conclusion of the service is one of the few overtly "religious" things I do in my role as chaplain but I'm always keen to make it accessible rather than alienating, and to find a way to link Australia's armed forces and those who gave their lives in defence of our freedom, with the example of Jesus and his sacrifice on our behalf. I received positive feedback afterwards so hopefully I achieved my aim.

This afternoon I led the funeral service for Mary Pearce, an 86 year old lady whose granddaughter goes to the school. I had to do the funeral for another of her grandchildren, Kori, who was killed last year and because of the relationship I've developed with the family they asked me to do today's service. I've posted the biography and my message from the service. The most special part of a funeral to me is when the people closest to the deceased share their stories and memories and today was no exception, with one of Mary's daughters, Glenda, doing a wonderful job in eulogising her Mum. The description of a kitchen full of good food and constant baking and treats her Mum provided for the family every day almost had my mouth watering during the service.
I had never met Mary but by the end I felt like I knew her. Sadly she suffered from dementia so the final years of her life were difficult for her family as she lost her memory and normal functions. It makes me think that we should never take for granted our gifts and faculties, and should always be grateful and thankful for the people we love and who have cared for us, especially our parents.

Biography: Mary Pearce 15 November 1920 – April 20 2007

Edith Mary Pearce, known all her life as Mary, was born at Bridgetown on November 15 1920 to parents Alfred Alexander Ryall and Gertrude Amelia Wright. Mary was the only daughter in a family of six children and three of her brothers are still alive.

Mary was raised in the farming district of Kojonup and Orchid Valley although she lived with her Aunt Selina while she went to school at Balingup and later Whakinup.

When Mary was 14 a certain Walter Pearce moved into the district looking for work, arriving with a pushbike, a tent and a watch. When everything he owned was lost in a fire his only possession was a suit left at Mary’s family’s home. Their friendship developed and they were married in Fremantle in 1940. Shortly after they were married Walter went away to the war and Mary stayed with family on both sides. In 1941 Kathleen was born and Mary’s career as a wife, mother and home-maker was begun. Kathleen was the first of 9 children, the others being Jim, born in 1946, Eileen in 1948, Glenda in 1950, Rhonda in 1953, Susan in 1954, Rose in 1957, Sandi in 1958 and Tony the baby of the family born in 1962.

The family remained in the Orchid Valley area and Walter built a house there in 1960 which remained their home until he retired in 1971 and they moved to Busselton. Mary watched her family grow and spread, with the kids covering much of the south-west of WA and producing 22 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.

In 1997 Walter died, he and Mary had been married for 56 years.

Not long after this Mary developed dementia and was no longer able to care for herself on her own. She moved into Ray Village where she spent the remaining 10 years of her life. The illness that had afflicted her took away much of her memory and ability to communicate but she remained attentive and alert during family visits, watching her children and family intently. Mary passed away peacefully last Friday afternoon, with 6 of her children surrounding her, grateful that they were able to be present with her and say goodbye after a long and happy life in a close and loving family.


A few months ago I stood in a similar position to this as we farewelled Mary’s grandson Kori. Funerals tend to be sad occasions but there is a marked contrast between that day and today. Kori’s death was tragic and premature, the cause of immense sadness and heartbreak for his family and friends. Mary’s death, while sad, is not a tragedy. It is the natural culmination of a long and happy life. Just as all people are born, so all people must die. Life and death come and go like the seasons, they are the natural cycle of existence. It is interesting to note that on the same day Mary passed away, another great grandchild was born into her family.

Mary lived a long life and had many children. Her joy in motherhood was multiplied 9 times, and then increased again and again with the arrival of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

So while her family will miss her and feel sad that she is gone, they can also be thankful for the many years they had with her, for the love she gave to each of them as they grew up and made their way in the world. There are few things more satisfying or gratifying than the feeling a parent has in seeing their children grow to maturity and independence. Mary, along with Walter, shared 56 years of marriage and parenthood. That’s a wonderful investment in their family and in the future and the fruit of it is right here in evidence before us today.

In our modern world, qualities like commitment, loyalty and steadfastness are less common and less valued. Marriages break down, families are split, children are damaged and communities are fractured because we live in a throw-away world. Mary and Walter were from a different age, where marriages endured through bad times and hardships. They didn’t give up when the going got tough. They stayed committed because of their love and their values.

We could do a lot worse than follow their example. Love and loyalty are valuable commodities. They may not command much in the economic market place, but as ways to live and how to treat people they are precious beyond measure.

The name Mary is synonymous with virtue, faithfulness and devotion. Mary the mother of Jesus was chosen because of her good character and faith. God knew that when his son was born on earth he would need good parents to look after him and teach him and raise him to be a man of character and integrity. He chose wisely and entrusted the most important baby ever born into the care of a young peasant woman named Mary. Parenthood and the care of children is vitally important to God and he warns us not to take the responsibility lightly or to do anything to harm children. I’d like to think that Mary Pearce followed the example of her namesake, that she took special care and delight in raising her nine children and that in so doing she brought joy to the heavenly father and blessing upon herself.

Whatever age we are, whatever our circumstances, whether we live to be three or a hundred and three, we are special and valuable to God and he has hopes and plans for our lives. Our task and challenge is to discern those plans and to enact them, in order to make the most of our lives and of the opportunities and gifts given us by God. I thank God for Mary and the great love she demonstrated in the raising of her children and the care of her family.


First day back at school after the holidays and all went well. I spent half the day working on Country Week, phone calls, bookings, spreadsheets and raffle tickets. The other half was devoted to preparations for the funeral service tomorrow. I finished writing it tonight.
Tomorrow morning is the school's ANZAC ceremony as well, my involvement is to pray at the end of the service.
In light of those two important events, and the later finish than planned, I'd best get to bed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chaplain's Retreat at Fairbridge

Some of the people I spent the last three days with. No time to blog now but I had a great time, lots of good things, great stories, much fun and laughter.

Fairbridge was built as an orphanage for British children following the war and is now a conference and tourist accommodation centre. We stayed in 2-3 cottages which have several bedrooms and shared living areas, there were about 15 of us in our cottage, all blokes except for Dave's wife Nicole, they are both chaplains so got special co-habiting privileges.

I roomed with Birchy and Cam so there was plenty of talk about football, and many noxious emissions. I was beginning to think Birchy had some serious intestinal problems by the third day. In order to prevent further air pollution we hid his second can of baked beans in the freezer. When I went to bed on the second night I discovered it had been sabotaged with sugar and foreign objects. After cleaning up the mess I was forced to mete out some discipline with my pillow, but failed to notice the light hanging in the way of my first swing! The resultant noise reverberated throughout the house and drew questions the following morning. I went to bed grinning, only to burst into raucous laughter moments later when the air was split by another thunderous fart. This all followed a marathon 6 hour sitting of Trivial Pursuit. Abandoning the traditional battle of the sexes we adopted random odds and evens teams based on our birthdates. The odds won the first game, after which a number of people retired for the night. The second game became a City v Country chaplains contest with the City team narrowly winning. Nearly all the remainder went to bed after that, leaving just the die-hards to fight it out in a 3rd, modified game with a piece of pie for every correct answer. Cam and Birchy took on Justin and I and it was a close battle, with the good guys emerging victorious amidst much complaint and derision from Cam and Darren citing "easy questions" on the winning card. We then duelled it out over a few more cards before finally retiring at about 2.45am.
I love Trivial Pursuit. It's not a game everyone enjoys but I can't get enough of it and big games with big teams and lots of argument and discussion and laughter are a highlight of the retreats every year.

It wasn't all fun and games though. There were some great worship and singing times. Nick played guitar and a couple of people led the singing. That's always my favourite type of worship, simple, accoustic, strong voices, in a camp hall somewhere with a bunch of friends and like-minded people.

Geoff Westlake provided the teaching input and it was fantastic. He is one of the best speakers going around, he's highly intelligent but eminently practical and further adds to his credibility because he puts his theories into practice in the community development project they call Cheers in the perth suburb of Banksia Grove. His stuff makes great sense, reflects the different needs of this post-modern community, and resonates with people both Christian and non-Christian. On the last day I organised an offering to give to Geoff for his family and ministry and people responded very generously.

I spent some of my time painting, working on three different pictures, and Cam also did one.

On the last day as we were saying our farewells I invited a couple of people to share their stories with the group and it provided a very special and emotional finale for the retreat.
Doug told us he was leaving the next day on a trip to Thailand for an ANZAC Day pilgrimage to the Burma Railroad and Hell Fire Pass where his Dad had been a prisoner of war. His Dad died at age 52 so it will be a very special trip for Doug to go to the places where his Dad fought and suffered. He will be helping to lead the dawn service on ANZAC morning in one of the places where Australia soldiers helped establish the ANZAC spirit and tradition.

Then Gary shared with us about his impending trip to England in October to meet his birth-mother for the first time along with 2 half-sisters and a brother he's never met. He wants to make connections and tie up loose ends. By the time they finished speaking I was in tears, and I wasn't alone. Afterwards another chaplain came up and introduced herself and told us about her own experience and that she has never met her real father. She was touched by Gary's story and looks forward to a day when she too will be reunited and reconnected.

There are so many people with so many stories, we seldom know what goes on beneath the surface and it's only when we have the time and opportunity to really listen and get to know people that we find out. The retreat gave us just such time and opportunity.

On Friday night in the cab I picked up a couple of young ladies and one of them, Melissa, recognised me as the chaplain. She no longer goes to the school but while she was there her Mum had died and she had come to see me to talk about things. She thanled me and spoke glowingly to her friend about the help and support I'd offered to her at the time. It was good to see her and affirming to hear the things she said about me and my work at the school.
Later on I picked up a young bloke and his girlfriend and he also recognised me from school. He was pretty drunk and not feeling very well but he asked for my number and whether he could ring me to talk about stuff because he had a few "issues and problems".

This afternoon I was called to go round and visit a family I know because their grandmother died on Friday. Their son Kori was killed in a car crash last year and I did his funeral and now they've asked me to conduct her funeral service too. I spent a couple of hours with Rhonda and 4 of her siblings (there are 9 kids in the family! 22 Grandkids, 19 great grandkis) planning the service. It will be on Tuesday afternoon.

Coming on top of the highs and emotional experiences of the retreat both these encounters were helpful in reassuring me and confirming that I'm in the right place and doing the right thing. At times I have struggled and had doubts about whether I should still be a chaplain but these incidents encouraged me to believe in myself and what I'm doing.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Glass and Wood

Today was my last day working for Dave in the glass factory and in honour of the occasion I got my first glass splinter! I punctured the tip of my right ring finger and spilled blood, darn it! I spent afternoon cutting metal frame material in preparation for making flyscreens and had to dodge sharp pointy flying metal that the saw sometimes flicks out at high speed after cutting the mitres!I had ear muffs and goggles on for protection.

This inspired me to use the mitre drop saw when I got home to start making a frame out of some old jarrah for Sophie's mirror. It has been standing against the wall in her room, broken and jagged, so I t
ook it in and cut it and bevelled the edges to make it safer. After cutting the timber and cleaning it up with the electric plane Dad gave Carolyn for her birthday I got inspired to try out my router and router table for the first time.
Hmm! Not so simple! I had to take it apart in order to work out how to attach the blade, not once but twice. I finally managed it just as it was getting dark and I was about to leave to take Jordy to Margaret River for his rehe
arsals so I only had time for one go at it. I worked it out but the router bit is not the shape I need. I'll have to look for one at Bunnings so I can put the rebate in the frame before I put it all together.
This will have to wait another few days now because I'm off in the morning for a three day chaplains retreat at Fairbridge, near Pinjarra.

Not sure about internet access at Fairbridge so blogging opportunities may be limited, we'll see.

I'm rooming with Cam and Birchy so I'm guaranteed to have a good time, plenty of fun and sport in between the serious bits and the annual Trivial Pursuit Challenge Battle of the Sexes to look forward to. I'll be taking my paints as well although I'm a little short of canvases. I may need to stock up in Bunbury on my way through.

I can't sign off without mentioning the shooting massacre in Virginia this morning. It is hard to comprehend these sort of events. The fact that there have been so many and that they continue to happen is damning. How the gun culture and gun lobby can continue with such power in light of these tragedies is astounding to me, unfathomable.
If you haven't seen Michael Moore's "Bowling For Columbine" and particularly his interview with Charlton Heston, president of the NRA let me recommend it to you as both enlightening and chilling!
Why these sort of people want to take out a whole lot of people as well as themselves is too hard to understand. I pray for comfort for the victim's families.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Latest works from the Holt Press Art Studio

These two are framed on old jarrah weatherboards I got free from a garage sale (at Ron's place)
The buttons came from Spotlight!!
There may still be more work done on this one.

Monday, April 16, 2007


A lady at church this morning talked about the battle she and her husband are in. He has cancer. He had a brain tumour. He's had about 15 lots of chemotherapy. He wasn't expected to live beyond 2006. The good news is that to the Doctor's utter astonishment, the tumour is gone.
The bad news is, another has appeared, bigger and in a worse place, completely inoperable.
She asked us to pray for them, likening it to a boxing match and the start of another round. I've known about their situation but today it really hit home to me in a much stronger way.
I am guilty of getting inordinately upset over things that ultimately matter very little.
It is sobering and provocative to contemplate other people's situations and realise the struggles they face are to do with survival; life and death.

In light of that, the result of a football game seems unimportant.

Having said that, I am pleased the Cats had another win this arvo, beating Melbourne by 52 points. The season is looking a little more promising.

I spent the afternoon on roster at the gallery, painting and listening to the football. It finally started to rain in Busselton today but surprisingly that didn't deter people visiting the gallery, in fact it seemed to lead to an increase in numbers!

Tonight I went over to Dave's place to watch the soccer from England on Foxtel, Tottenham drew 3-3 with Wigan afeter going behind three times! Could have been better, could have been worse!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to make a window

A simple step by step guide to making an aluminium framed window as demonstrated by your local tool guy.

1. Measure the glass, remembering to calculate the size 2mm shorter than you actually need due to the thikness of the glass cutting tool.

2. Position set square and hold firmly in place but not so firmly as to snap the glass, and don't let it move while you're cutting or the piece of glass will be useless for the window you're making but good as a demo model of what not to do.

3. Placing thumbs and forefingers either side of the score-mark lift the glass and snap with an upwards pressure. This is very cool fun and everyone should do it once in their lifetime.

4. Roll out rubber edging and slide onto edge of glass all the way round, being careful not to carelessly slide fingers or knuckles along the glass as this usually results in blood flowing.

5. Slide fur lining strips into the pre-set grooves on the frame, using the start a small section then pull through fast method as demonstrated by Dave, much more effective than the push and prod method favoured by the inexperienced amateur.

6. Position the frame sections onto the glass using a wooden mallet to persuade them into the correct position, don't worry, you can belt it pretty hard, it won't break, but try and get it centred or the next step will be problematic.

7. With all four sides of the frame caressed into place with afore-mentioned wooden mallet, dip screw in vaseline and using electric drill screwdriver, secure frame together at each corner, paying careful attention to whether the screww goes into the right groove on the frame. Failure to do this can result in severe munting of the frame.

8. Hammer plastic mouldings and wheels into place to enable sliding window to slide.

9. Place completed window on stack with other windows and start again from instruction number 1.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Friday the 13th

I made windows and doors all day, although it would be fair to say I made a mess for part of it. Some of the aluminium frames I've been assembling had been cut to the wrong length. Dave showed me a punch/press designed to cut the ends of the frame struts and sashes. It's a clever but cumbersome piece of machinery which I had a lot of trouble manipulating, especially when it bent pieces of the metal it shouldn't have during the cutting process, rendering them jammed in the press! Much effort was required to extract them. Much time was lost in the process. Dave decided to ring the supplier and get them to replace the pieces they'd messed up. Good idea.
I turned my attention to assembling doors! Hmmm! Not as easy as I hoped, or as easy as Dave suggested it was! Much trial and error with the first one, some improvement with the second and gradual streamlining of the process with the third and subsequent doors. By knock-off time I was not unhappy to have seen the last of glass and metal for a few days.

Home for a couple of hour's interlude, then off to work in the cab for the usual Friday night shift. It went well, I made a good amount of money, and I only felt like punching one passenger! (There were two or three others whose mouths I wanted to wash out with soap!)
This one bloke got right under my skin and then started abusing me. When he threatened to punch me in the head I thought, "Two can play that game and I reckon my sober effort would be more convincing than your drunken one!!" I resisted the urge, telling him to shut up instead, and drove off, fuming inside! He was not a pleasant young man and he did not provoke a good response from me! Thankfully nothing worse eventuated and the rest of the night went peacefully enough.

I'm very tired. I wonder why?
I'm looking forward to bed and really hoping I can sleep in for a decent length of time.

Sport Boy comes home tomorrow. Sophie will be especially pleased, she really misses him.

I've invited Birchy to come and watch the footy tomorrow night, with the family, for a BBQ, or without, for just a blokey night of footy! Either way will be good, although if they come for a barbie I'll have some major cleaning up to do on the patio!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tottenham Eliminated

Spurs are out of the UEFA Cup.
Despite drawing 2-2 tonight they lost to Sevilla 3-4 on aggregate!
Darn it!
Conceding an own goal in the first three minutes didn't help and letting in another goal 5 minutes later virtually killed the game.
To be fair Sevilla played fantastic football and looked the better team, especially in the first half.

Thursday Night

Another day at the glass factory making windows must have influenced me because when I got home I set about drilling several holes in the walls in order to hang paintings and photos around the house. We already have plenty of stuff on the walls but the stockpile of pictures has been building up so it was better to hang them than have them cluttering up the front room (and going unappreciated!!)
Jordy had rehearsals in MR tonight for his play. Sophie had the night off work cause she wasn't feeling well. Sport Boy is still away at Nan and Walter's.
The new season of The Amazing Race All Stars started tonight so Carolyn and I are happy.
It's not everyone's cup of tea I realise but one incident really made us laugh.
The New York team Kevin and Drew were driving to one of the destinations when one of them said, "Peru sure is a nice place" to which the other replied, "I'm sure Peru is nice, but we're in Ecuador".

I'm getting up early in the morning to watch Tottenham play Sevilla in the UEFA Cup quarter-final 2nd leg. Come on you Spurs.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Long Day

I've just finished a 7 hour shift in the taxi, which followed an 8 hour day working for Dave at the glass factory! I've done 2 days for Dave so far, helping him out with a staff shortage. He's got lots of work and no workers so I offered to give him a hand, he has contemplated closing the business down because of the difficulty in finding employees so I figured I could lend him a hand for a few days. I've been assembling windows. More work with my hands! I know! Hard to believe!
The frames are all cut and ready, I just have to measure and cut the glass, then put them together. I'm getting the hang of it and I think I finished about 10-12 today. Cutting the glass is fun although handling the big sheets is tricky and a little nerve wracking. Hopefully I'll get as far as assembling some doors tomorrow, with toughened glass, for showers and bathrooms.

I don't normally drive a cab on Wednesday nights but Gavin rang yesterday and asked if I could fill in. The money is handy so I said yes. It was a steady but quiet shift. The real drama happened outside the pub while we were waiting for fares. Two big fat drunks had a punch up in the middle of the road. It was pretty nasty and a mob of blokes got involved, mostlry trying to pull them apart and stop it but at one stage I thought an all-in-brawl was about to erupt so I called 000 to alert the cops. Next time I drove past the pub it had quietened down, not sure if the police made it or not.

Final piece of good news for the night is that I've managed to get the DVD Dave did for me of the Geelong v Carlton game from the weekend to work, on the computer, so I'll be able to watch and enjoy the game. I'll invite Stu round to watch it too, he can deliver my Vanilla Diet Coke and Easter Egg at the same time!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Lyn must have been tired to be able to fall asleep in such an unusual place and position.
Bridgetown is a very relaxing place and sitting in front of the fire watching TV can have that effect.
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Free Haircut

One bonus of going to Bridgetown was getting Mum to cut my hair, a task she has been doing for the last 15-20 years. She's saved me a fortune in barber's bills and she does a good job. Mind you I'm not a demanding customer and don't insist on the latest trendy hairstyles, just short back and sides and use the trimmer as much as you want. She even remembers to be careful and watch out for the lump on my temple hidden in my hairline. The way my hair is receding in that region it won't be too long before my lump's camoflague is gone! It's a mole of some sort. I had it checked out once and the doctor said it was harmless. Hopefully he was right. It's been there for years without causing me any trouble.

Sport Boy has extended his stay with Nan and Walter and they are off to Windy Harbour for a couple of days. He sounds like he's having a great time.
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Well Done Mum

I bought a game at a 2nd hand shop in Bridgetown for $2. You have to balance as many plastic figures as you can on top of one mounted in a base. We didn't have great success the first night but the following morning Mum managed the feat on her own, and was justifiably proud!
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter in Bridgetown

We're home from Easter in Bridgetown but we left Sport Boy behind so he could stay a few more days with his grandparents. He loves it there and they love having him around. He and Nan spent most of the day playing a word game together on the computer, they enjoyed it so much they bought it!
We had our traditional game of squash-soccer at the Boat Park with Uncle Alan yesterday.
I stayed up all night to watch the US Masters in the hope that Stuart Appleby would break Australia's duck there but it didn't happen!
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Christ died on the cross and was buried in a tomb which was sealed with a large rock and guarded by Roman soldiers.

Then, the miracle occurred.

When his followers came to the tomb on Sunday morning it was open and his body wasn't there. The rock had not just been moved, a literal translation would say it had been thrown aside.

Then Jesus appeared.

He was no longer dead.

His body had been raised back to life. For the next 40 days he met with and taught his followers, proving himself to them.

The resurrection of Jesus is the single most important fact of Christianity. It demonstrates God's ultimate authority over life and death, and validates Christ's death on the cross as having been an acceptable sacrifice on behalf of humanity, paying the price for our sins.

It is also the foretaste of the promise given to all believers, that we too will rise again after death and enter God's Kingdom.

If the resurrection is not true Christianity is a complete sham because all of it's claims and teachings centre on it. St Paul, the greatest of all Christians, said without the resurrection his faith was worthless.

Today I give thanks to God for his incredible gift, his amazing grace, his wonderful mercy.

I look forward to that day when I go to meet my maker and lay eyes on Jesus my saviour.
While I'm not in any hurry for it to happen, it holds no fear or apprehension for me. God's promises are faithful.

I've enjoyed a little bit of chocolate today but the true meaning of Easter overshadows even the pleasure of chocolate!

Blogging from Bridgetown

We decided to avoid risking the kangaroos and the Easter Traffic last night and delayed our trip to Bridgetown until today. 14 people have already been killed on Australian roads since Easter started. Something strange happens when people drive at Easter, every year a huge number of people are killed on the road so we took the safer option today.

It's always fun and relaxing at Mum and Walter's place. We went to a garage sale at a house belonging to an artist which had a wonderful garden, featuring a walkway and deck nestled amongst dense shady trees and shrubs and bushes. She had several paintings for sale which had me interested. Sadly, while we were there a gust of wind blew one canvas over and it landed on the corner of a table causing it to tear!! She managed to contain her disappointment pretty well but I could feel her pain.

Carolyn and I went down the street to look around the shops in the main street and I bought her a jacket which she loved! This was on top of a bracelet I'd bought for her at another place! As the lady said when I paid for it, "Just think of all the brownie points you've earnt"!!
Absolutely right!!

I tuned in to the football on the web to hear the broadcast of the Geelong game and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Cats chalk up their biggest ever score and highest winning margin against Carlton. Winning was good but the icing on the cake was the wager I'd had with Stu the Garden Blogger about the game which guarantees me a Vanilla Diet Coke and an Easter Egg as my prize.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Good Friday

Today is the day that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ, the oddly named Good Friday.

It was an unusual day in history.

Jesus, a Jewish teacher, had only been "known" for three years.

He taught people about God in way that was new and different, revealing a personal God, not just an arbiter of rules.

He touched sick people and healed them, e
ven those with leprosy, the AIDS of his day.

Jesus did miraculous things, verifying his authority over the earth and it's elements; turning water into wine, walking on water, feeding huge crowds of people with a few fish and a bread rolls, restored sight to blind people and much more.

He went further. He raised people who were dead back to life, literally stopping funerals and digging up graves to restore people from death.

His teachings were inspired. They carry weight to the present day and are believed and observed by millions of people throughout the world, not just Christians.

When questioned he stated that the whole of God's laws could be summed up in two simple rules. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbour the sa
me way you love yourself.

Like him or not, agree or disagree with the Christian faith, I challeng
e anyone to apply those two rules and not find peace and meaning and fulfillment and become a better person. If the world truly embraced those two rules it would be radically transformed.

But, in a foretaste of the trouble that would follow and echo throughout the centuries, the religious leaders of the day were threatened by his popularity and following, confronted by his relationship with God and jealous of his power and authority. So, they killed him.
Late one night they bribed one of his followers to betray him, arrested him, and brought him to trial. They falsely accused him, called witnesses who could not agree or prove any wrong-doing and threatened him with death unless he repudiated his claim to be the Son of God.

I've seen a few real life trials, and plenty on TV and movies, but never one like this. Why was this one different? Because Jesus did not say a word to defend himself. Despite the lies and false accusations made against him he remained silent, allowing them to carry out their sham trial and their supreme act of injustice.

History, the Bible, and witnesses all concur that Jesus had no crime or sin ever recorded against him. He was completely innocent. King Herod and Pontius Pilate both admitted this fact, saying they found nothing against him, certainly nothing worthy of death. But the religious leaders stirred the crowd and turned them against Jesus, demanding that he be crucified. Still Jesus did not protest his innocence or defend himself. He allowed them to carry out their evil actions, right through to a barbaric death by crucifixion, impaled on a cross with spikes through his hands and feet, left in excruciating pain to die of suffocation when he no longer had the strength to raise himself up to breathe by pushing against the spikes through his feet.

It was an horrific way to die. And yet, despite the enormity of the injustice, even on the cross Jesus continued to show love and compassion for other people, calling on God to forgive the very people who were killing him, because they didn't know what they were doing.

Impossible as it is, try putting yourself in Jesus's shoes and consider your reactions in the same circumstances.
I daresay you would not have acted in the same way.

You would not have stayed silent at trial.

You would not have prayed for your killers to be forgiven.
You would not have quietly accepted the death penalty for something you didn't do.

This was no ordinary death because this was no ordinary man. Jesus knew their was a plan. There was a reason he had to die. He knew that his death was planned by God as the single greatest act in the history of mankind because through his death God was able to offer forgiveness to the world for all of it's sin and rebellion.

A little known detail of the crucifixion is that at the moment of his death on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The barrier which had always existed between man and God's presence on earth was torn apart, removed forever. It was as if God himself reached down from heaven and ripped it up, opening the way for man to have free and unfettered access to God. Prior to that, entry to the Holiest place was punishable by death! Now it was open for anyone to come in. It was a symbol of what Jesus achieved by his death, opening the way for people to come to God, by faith and trust in him and what he did on our behalf.

Another thing that is probably not well known or appreciated is how quickly these events took place. The whole time frame from arrest to crucifixion was about 9 hours, with a further 6 hours until Jesus' actual death. We are so used to criminals spending 10-15 years awaiting execution it's hard to conceive that such an important trial and execution was carried out with such phenomenal haste.

It's an amazing story, an incredible event, and the reason, quite rightly, today is known as Good Friday.
It was a bad day for Jesus personally, but a great day for the world.

The full extent of it's significance was not understood however until Sunday.

In one final irony, I am quite sure that the vast majority of people who celebrate or observe Easter this year will concentrate on chocolate easter eggs as the major symbol and meaning of the holiday!

That's amazing!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Holidays Have Begun

The Holidays have begun, starting with Easter this weekend, then the two week term break. One of the best things about working in a school is the regular cycle of work and "holidays". I am still at work during the three term breaks but obviously with the schools closed, the nature of my duties changes significantly and there is plenty of scope to use my time creatively.
We're going to Bridgetown tomorrow for a few days.
Then I'm working for a mate in his glass factory helping makes frames and windows for a few days to help him out of a bind, he's got plebty of work but not enough workers so I offered to give him a hand.
I've got 4 doctor's appointments in Bunbury for a series of cortizone treatments on my still injured left ankle. I really hope it can improve enough to allow me to play volleyball again in a few weeks time.
At the end of the second week there's a three day chaplains retreat at Fairbridge. I'm rooming with Birchy and Cam and I think we're all looking forward to hanging out, and playing plenty of sport in between teaching sessions and prayer times.
And just in case there is a moment of spare time in the next fortnight, Sophie and I are going to paint her bedroom.
Throw in a couple of taxi shifts and by the time school restarts I'll be looking forward to going back to work so I can have a break!!!
Keeping busy and having plenty to do suits me fine, I get bored and fall asleep if I haven't got a task or a job to work on!

The taxi shift went well tonight, I drove one of the maxis and was kept pretty busy with a constant stream of customers. I pulled the cab over and warned one bloke that he'd be walking if he didn't quieten down and discontinue the swearing and obscenities. Drunkenness is no excuse for the sort of filth he was spewing out. The cab was full of girls for whom he had no regard nor respect. He did quieten down significantly, with on-going reprimands from the rest of the group. A couple of the girls thanked me when they got out for my having said something to him about his behaviour.
Apart from that the customers were well behaved and a pleasure to drive.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I had my first appointment with a counsellor this afternoon which is a significant step for me and hopefully will be a part of my contnued recovery from the "depression" I experienced a few weeks ago. I have a good friend who swears by counselling as a really helpful thing in sorting out and dealing with stuff. I haven't been that enthused about it prior to now but this time I'm approaching it with an open mind and a willing attitude. The irony is that "counselling" is part of my job, albeit not a major part, but I have resisted trying it for myself! Having said that, I have seen counsellors in the past and not been impressed or "helped" which tended to innoculate me against the whole thing a bit. The first session went well I thought and I have some home work, some stuff to reflect on about disappointment and vulnerability.

The kids have broken up for the holidays. I've got one more day to go but as it's a student free day with the teachers doing professional development it will be a quiet one for me. I'm driving the taxi tomorrow night rather than on Good Friday which looks like being a quiet night with most places closed. We're going over to Bridgetown for Easter with Mum and Walter although with Sophie and Jordan both working only Sport Boy will be coming with us.

I wonder how many people will look past the eggs and chocolate and think about Jesus and the cross and the empty tomb this Easter?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Green Box

This is the other painting I completed last night. It looks very effective on the green wall in our lounge room. The colours in the photo don't do it justice but it gives you the general idea.
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Craig & Jenna's Wedding Present

I decided to add something personal to this one and I'm pleased with the result. The writing was a bit tricky to start with so the first few words are a bit wonky but it got better as I got the hang of it. Hope they like it!!
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Eternity Completed and Improved

This is one paiting that definitely looks better in real life than on the blog but even so now that I've finished it off properly it looks much better. If you click on the photo it will enlarge I think. It was very fiddly, but I'm very happy with the effect.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday Wrap

I had another blood test this morning to double check my testosterone levels. If they're confirmed low by the 2nd test I'll get a prescription for testosterone tablets, and see what happens. As Letchy said to me on the phone tonight, Ian Thorpe could do with a little of my condition! I really hope he is clean. I hate the thought of his gold medals being tarnished. I so much want to believe that Australian sportsmen and women don't use performance enhancing drugs. I know it's naive to expect them all to be clean but a national hero like Thorpe being exposed as a cheat would be tragic.

I had my most productive day in ages, finally getting some jobs done and phone calls made for Country Week, stuff that I've been avaoiding or struggling with for a while, and I made some good progress too which was heartening.

After work I finished off the roof on the pergola, it didn't go completely smoothly but I got there in the end. Then I borrowed my neighbour Alan's trailer and went with Sophie to pick up a bed that Claire is giving her. When we got to the house the guy there asked "Is Claire moving out?" An awkward moment as two strangers appear on the doorstep to take away some of the furniture! Apparently Claire hasn't been there in about a month! Such good communication between housemates!

While Carolyn went out to her book club I spent the rest of the night painting; I finished two pictures that I started last night. They both look good but I'm a little frustrated because one of them doesn't fit in it's frame properly. Not sure what I'll do about that little problem, I'll probably have to make a new frame. Another excuse to use the new power tools! Alright!

Sophie discussed how we can paint and decorate her room. She's been waiting a fair while so I don't want to put it off any longer. With the holidays starting next week I'll be able to get stuck into the painting then. She asked me if I could do some really big canvases to go on the walls and told me which styles she likes from the stuff I've done. It's nice to have her so interested in domestic/family things.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Look at Me! Doing Something with my Hands!

People who know me, and even people who don't, know that I am not a man with great practical skills or mechanical ability. I am basically a "Hammer Mechanic".
I can check the oil, change it if necessary, have managed to flush a radiator a couple of times, and have not needed roadside assistance to change a flat tyre, but that just about sums up the list of my achievements when working with my hands. (Yes I can do other things, but working with my hands is not on my C.V.)

There's no gentic excuse, my Dad can weld and build sheep yards and fix broken axles and all manner of other blokey tasks.
I've got mates who can whip up a piece of furniture made out of scrap materials and timber scabbed from roadside pick-up piles.

Birchy wields a pair of electric drills the way Jesse James wielded six-shooters. He built the best shed and pergola I've ever seen, as well ast tables, floors, etc.
Letchy dug his own bore and built a firepit in his backyard.

Phil has turned an ordinary old house in Vic Park into a great 2 storey home with landscaped backyard and chook pen, and he's written two books.
My mate Paul has renovated houses in San Diego and Hawaii (and as you can see, is an expert fly fisherman)

But me! I have never built anything.

Until today
that is!!

Yes, today is a proud day at Holt Press because with my own two hands I have completed a "construction job"!
I replaced the lattice on the pergola roof with zincalume. Not a big job I admit. Not a highly tecnical job it's true, but a construction job all the same, and I feel good about it! Yesterday I was feeling less than confident. Things were not going that smoothly. Screws were being mangled, nails were bending, lengths of timber were shrinking somewhere between when I measured them and when I cut them. I got a nasty splinter in the bendy part of my ring finger. Timber was not feeding through the power saw smoothly, etc . But today was a day of triumph.

I got the battens in place and they basically did what they were supposed to do, ie. create a downward slope so that the sheets of corrugated iron I was securing to them would fall away at sufficient angle for water to run off the roof in the right direction.
I managed to drill all the holes in the right places and then in a sweep of veritable roof carpentry panache, I attached it with tek screws that disappeared in a buzz of electrical wizardry beneath the power drill.

It was so easy!
It was so effective.
It was so fun!

I could learn to like using power tools! In the end I ran out of light and time so there is a little bit left to do, a few more screws to p
ut in, the sections of existing roofing I had to loosen in order to get the drill in position have to be reattached, the mess has to be cleaned up, but 90% of the job is done, the roof is firm and secure, it looks good and a much larger section of the patio is now rain proof.

I feel good.
Certainly a lot better than I felt after watching Geelong lose it's opening game of the footy season to the Bulldogs!

But let's not dwell on unhappy things!

Today is a day of celebration, of manly achievement, of successfully wielding power tools, of making things with hands. Maybe some of that low testosterone level will have even have received a natural boost in the process!