Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mother Mary Passed Away This Afternoon

Carolyn rang me just after lunchtime with the news that her Mum had died just before 3 o'clock this afternoon (eastern standard time).
All of the family were gathered around her and she passed away peacefully, surrounded by the love of her husband of 61 years and four of her children.
Carolyn said there had been a strong feeling amongst them that today would be the day and they share a feeling of relief that the difficult journey has finally ended and Mary is at peace.
Right near the end despite being unconscious for the last couple of days they heard her say "Alan". Carolyn took the boys outside and left Alan and Mary alone for the final minutes of her life so he could say his goodbyes in private and when they returned he said "I think she's stopped breathing" and sure enough, she was gone. Carolyn feels very grateful to have been there these last couple of weeks and says there has been a tremendous amount of love and closeness between them all and that she has been amazed at the qualities she has seen in her brothers and her Dad throughout. At the end Alan gave each of his children a long hug and told them he loved them.

I was in the gallery when Carolyn rang and had tears streaming down my face as she told me everything that had happened. The two ladies who came in to look at my art must have wondered what was going on.

I broke the news to the kids when I got back from the afternoon bus run. Zac and Sophie were anticipating it and took it calmly but Paulie broke down and hugged me for a long time; then he started praying which was very touching. Sophie shed some tears later as we talked about the feasibility of going to the funeral, expressing regret that she hadn't been able to start her trip yet and had missed out on seeing Granny before she died.
Jordan has gone to Perth for the weekend so I had let him know by phone.

Mother Mary was a lovely, funny, bright-eyed caring lady and a wonderful mother, wife and Granny. We will all miss her.
May she rest in peace and may there be rejoicing in heaven as she enters the place prepared for her by her Lord and Saviour.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rules on the Bus

Mother Mary has been moved to a palliative care regime, not sure if the location is different but the treatment will now be about pain relief and comfort as she draws closer to the end.
It's been pretty stressful and emotional for Carolyn and the family and especially Alan. He and Mary have been married for over 60 years so I can only imagine his depth of sadness at the thought of losing his life partner.
Carolyn only got an hour's sleep last night due to Mary's frequent waking and discomfort so tonight she is sleeping at home and keeping her Dad company while Trevor takes the night shift at the hospital.
Sport Boy was pretty sad when I told him the latest news.

We have all been very busy preparing for the art exhibition, the kids have been a great help. It's about 80% ready with two days to go and no doubt a bunch of last minute things I'll think of to do. It has cost a bit in equipment and materials to set it up so I hope there are some sales to offset expenses!

I had some issues with kids swearing on the bus yesterday so I decided to take a pro-active approach to the problem and adapted the words to that old classic song, "The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round"
Here's the result:
The rules on the bus
Are "Do what's right"
Don't swear or fight"
"Just sit tight"
The rules on the bus
Are fair and right
All the way home

The rules on the bus
Make really good sense
So don't be dense
Or make me tense
The rules on the bus
Are a safety fence
All the way home

The rules on the bus
Are pretty straight forward
And shouldn't be ignored
Or make you bored
The rules on the bus
Will take it forward
All the way home

The rules on the bus
Aren't strict or wrong
They're fair and strong
So just go along
With the rules on the bus
Written in this song
All the way home

Saturday, February 20, 2010



After talking about it for a long time, I'm finally holding my first solo art exhibition.

It will open on Thursday 25 February and run until March 15.

The venue is 4/65 Queen St Busselton (although it fronts onto Kent St), in between More Cafe and Essence Florists.

The exhibition will run for just over two weeks and will be open until 8.00 each night.

I've called it "Maybe...Definitely"*
Click the link to see a selection of paintings and drawings on my art blog, "Marcus' Art".
There will be an eclectic mix of drawings, acrylics and mixed media pieces. Hopefully something for everyone!

The "official" opening will be on Thursday 25 Feb at 6pm. You're all invited to come along, there'll be wine and nibblies and cool drinks and stories, and hopefully people! The icing on the cake would be people who want to buy some of my art!!
A local businessman has generously given me short term use of an empty shop in an excellent location and it is a perfect space for an exhibition. I've spent the last couple of days preparing for the exhibition and have plenty still to do! I've put up picture rails all around the walls and once I've painted them I'll be able to start hanging.

I'm feeling very excited about it and looking forward to seeing people's response to my work. And whether interest/appreciation will translate into purchases! 

One of the reasons I've been able to devote so much time to it is that after two tumultuous weeks in my job I am no longer working for the bus company (as supervisor) I will continue the school bus run morning and afternoon each day which will leave me free to pursue and develop my contracting work and business ideas.
The job was far more complex and pressured than I was told and despite working extremely long hours my efforts were largely un-appreciated. There was minimal support and inadequate resources and even though I was working 60 hour weeks I was only paid 25 hrs a week for the supervisor component. Combined with the extra responsibilities for the Leeuwin Estate concert last weekend I worked an 89 hour week.  I've realised that it wasn't what I really wanted to be doing and that it's time for me to really focus on  the things that are important to me and doing the sort of work that I value and am good at. This includes running programs for the school and developing my own projects such as "Behind the White Crosses" and the "Cool School Race Camp". It also means I can have a go at developing my art as a business. I have a one month agreement on the building for the exhibition but would love to be able to take on a longer lease and have a go at running a combined gallery/gift shop and office base for my other pursuits. I'm not going to over-commit but the thought of having a go at it has got me really excited. The opportunity and location are both ideal, the question is the viability.

Mother Mary's condition hasn't changed much the last couple of days, not better nor worse. She is weak and tired and struggling to manage the most basic of everyday functions, sitting up, walking, eating. On the positive side she is awake and lucid and Carolyn has had some good conversations and times praying with her. Carolyn sleeps at the hospital each night but is finding it pretty hard to see the condition her Mum is in and the struggles she is having. It is a day by day situation. I know it is not easy for her but I am very glad that she is there with her parents.

* Explanation:   Talented? Maybe....Prolific? Definitely
What I may lack in quality is compensated for by quantity!!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mother Mary: the latest.

Not much has changed in Geelong, Mary is still seriously ill although her condition goes up and down during the day. She is conscious and talking although uncomfortable with the tubes and swollen tongue and still not really eating. However she is not passive, Carolyn said she was grumpy today when things were taking too long or the staff weren't able to do much to relieve her discomfort.
She had a lot of visitors today as the family gathered from around the country. Ray has come over from Tassie and the grandkids have all been in to visit. While this is a nice thing it is also tiring for Mary, and I wonder how she is interpreting it all. I'm not sure what she thinks about her condition. Over the last couple of weeks she has been at times disoriented and confused on top of the physical deterioration.
Carolyn spent the night at the hospital last night and is doing the same again tonight; the staff have put an extra bed in the room for her. 
She is staying with old friends of ours, Russell and Lucy whom we met through Fusion about 20 years ago. Russell spent a number of years as a school chaplain in Wangaratta and then Geelong and is now a hospital chaplain at the same hospital Mary is in. And they live two blocks away from Alan and Mary's place in Grovedale so the convenience factor is way up there.
It is very much a day by day situation with no way of telling which way it will go.
Thank you for all the messages of support and love.

BTW, I tried finding the Paul Kelly song mentioned by an anonymous commenter but had no luck. If anyone has any helpful hints on how to track it down let me know.

The family are surviving pretty well back here in Busselton. I'll update on the latest big happenings at Holt Press in a day or two, suffice to say there has been considerable upheaval and emotion of late, as a result of a combination of sadness and grief in Geelong and dealing with a traumatic experience back here, followed by a piece of wonderful news which has lead to a  new sense of hope and vision.
Sorry to be vague but I will blog about it all shortly.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mother Mary

Carolyn (Mrs Holt Press)  flew to Melbourne on Monday and arrived in Geelong today. Sadly her Mum's health has gotten worse and the outlook isn't very good. While on the phone to me this afternoon there was an emergency call to Mary's room and it appears she has suffered a number of small strokes. She hasn't eaten anything for several days, her tongue is swollen and she has no appetite or desire to eat. There are now several tubes attached to her and she is uncomfortable and distressed. At her age there comes a time when the body's systems start shutting down and isn't strong enough to keep on living. We are hoping and praying that she will recover but I fear she may not last long. I am just so glad that Carolyn got over there in time to see her and be with both her parents at such a difficult time. It has been a pretty emotional time on both sides of the country. Sport Boy was very upset to hear about Granny's deterioration and asked if he could talk to her. I said I didn't know if it would be possible. We all held hands and prayed for her and Grandpa and for Carolyn and the rest of the family this afternoon and again at tea time.
Mary is a lovely lady and she and Alan have been very generous and kind to us throughout our marriage and as we've raised our family. It has been very difficult and stressful for Alan. He turned 91 today and is pretty well both blind and deaf now. We always thought he would be the one most likely to die first as he has had quite serious health problems for a long time, almost losing a leg because of poor circulation  many years ago.
Carolyn said she has been holding his hand as they walked to different places at the hospital today and he said "I'm really glad you're here." (They had both discouraged Carolyn from going over when Mary first got sick a couple of weeks ago so she was a bit nervous about how they would react when she arrived.) I had urged her to go as soon as possible and am very grateful that she made it in time to spend what may be her Mum's last last days with her. Carolyn is the youngest of six children, four brothers, Charles, Raymond, Trevor and Alan and a sister who died at birth, Kathleen. I'm sure there will be a joyful reunion of mother and daughter in heaven but one of the saddest parts of the current situation is that Carolyn's brother Alan hasn't had any contact with his parents or the rest of the family for over 20 years and this has been a source of great sadness for Mary and Alan Snr. To be on the verge of dying without having seen her youngest son in two decades is beyond heart-breaking.  There was no big fight or disagreement or discernible cause for estranging himself, he just walked out of their lives without saying a thing. He has had incidental contact with 1-2 of his brothers a couple of times over the years but I doubt he has any idea that his mother is gravely ill. I can't think of anything better than if he were to come and see her while there is still time. May God prompt him and move his spirit to that end.

Favourite Daughter and Spike have been arguing and unhappy with one another recently and I said to FD today that while there will always be conflict and annoyances within the family, I couldn't bear it if any of our kids became embittered with their siblings or us their parents. We all do stuff that bugs others but hopefully no disagreement is so severe as to split the family.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul
And leads me in paths of righteousness
For His name's sake
Yes though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For you are with me
Your rod and your staff they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil
My cup runs over
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23

There is other big news at Holt Press land but it can wait. Everything else pales into insignificance compared to the events transpiring in Geelong at the moment.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Profits and Saints

Remember those cricket cards I put on ebay? The ones I found in a dumpster bin?
Guess what, someone paid $71 for them. Not only that, there was a bidding war in the last 5 minutes of the auction.
With 6 minutes to go the price stood at $29 and I would have been quite happy with that, but it zoomed up to $71 as the final seconds ticked down! All right! Howzat!!

The New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl in their first ever appearance in the big game. They were the sentimental favourites in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina although I didn't think they'd win.
It felt a little odd cheering for the Saints!

Work continues to be challenging and intense but I feel like I'm making some progress and learning the ropes. This weekend is one of our biggest contracts of the year, and one of the south west's biggest events, the Leeuwin Estate Concert. Boz Scaggs is the star attraction. Remember him? Anyone under thirty can be forgiven for never having heard of him. We'll be running 65 buses and coaches full of concert goers from Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River and Augusta. The well-to-do in sponsor coaches and the common people in shuttle buses. I'll be working all day and night Saturday as a supervisor and again Sunday as a driver.

Mrs Holt Press' Mum, Mary has been quite ill recently and had to have emergency surgery yesterday for a ruptured appendix, quite an ordeal for an 86 year old. Mrs Holt Press is going over to Victoria on Monday to visit her Mum and Dad while her Mum recuperates and will also take a trip to Bruney Island, off the southern coast of Tasmania (iceberg territory) where her brother Ray has opened a cafe and shop.
Hopefully Favourite Daughter will help me look after Sport Boy and manage domestic responsibilties in her absence. And hopefully Mary will make a good recovery. It has been pretty stressful for her Dad who is himself 90 and pretty well deaf and blind now, although still manages to get around pretty well.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


This is Richard, who I first met when he came to our garage sale in Dec. He asked if I had any old watches and as it happened, I did. He repairs old mechanical watches and I had a few that were good for him. In return he gave me some quartz and battery watches which I use in my art. He dropped round again a couple of weeks ago with a few more he had found and was pleased to find that I also had found a few for him while we were in Esperance at Christmas. You know how sometimes you meet someone and you hit it off and like them immediately? That's what Richard is like, a really nice bloke, and so is his wife Anne. They were pleased to hear that I'd found a job (the topic had come up at the garage sale) and Anne surprised me by saying she had been praying I'd get a job! I felt blessed and grateful. It's one thing having people who know you pray for you, but to have a virtual stranger say she'd been praying for me was quite special.
I hope we'll get to know them a little better, they suggested we catch up for coffee next time. I look forward to it.

Anyone who knows me knows I love scrounging around for things, whether it's garage sales or swap meets, after football games and sporting events, bulk rubbish collection suburbs or even in dumpster bins. I'm not proud! I've found lots of interesting things in all of those places. One such item was this box of unopened cricket cards with over 60 packs in it, retrieved from a bin behind a newsagents a few months back. While it's still cricket season I decided to put them on ebay and am happy to report that with 20 hours left to go until the auction ends the high bid has reached $26!

Meanwhile, back when we were in Esperance I was amused by the combination of signs on this mobile breast x-ray unit on the back of a truck. Sorry it's on its side, it shouldn't be!

Friday, February 05, 2010


Whew! Friday night and the end of the working week! Another 12 hour day with constant brain challenges!
Not that big a deal by many people's standards I guess but in a new, complex and demanding job it's been pretty intense, not just today but all week.
Thankfully I'm not driving the taxi tonight although I am driving Saturday night.
Tonight Mrs Holt Press and I are going to the movies in Bunbury to see "Up in the Air", the new George Clooney movie which is supposed to be pretty good. I'll let you know if it is.

I won't spend too much time on it but I have to say, "What an idiot Matthew Stokes is!"
Dumb, dumb, dumb! 
Busted for cocaine trafficking!
His AFL career in tatters.
Wrecked his chances of playing with the best team in the league in their best ever period.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
And, I really hate drugs!

NB. For those who may not know, Matthew Stokes is a Geelong premiership player.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How's my new job going?

I feel like I've jumped in the deep end of a fast flowing river and am working hard to stay afloat and keep my head above water.
Morning and afternoon school bus runs sandwich coming to grips with all that's involved in supervising the depot.
Today that meant getting the kids on the Number 9 bus to school on a bus that wouldn't start then wouldn't run and then didn't go where it was supposed to, the last thing being the result of driver error! Next came running a driver's meeting at 9.30, then attending an operations meeting in Bunbury at 11.30 and some induction time after that with one of the Bunbury supervisors before racing back to Busso for the afternoon school run and a town service run to Geographe.
The job seems to involve a lot of problem solving, responding to issues, questions, complaints, concerns, policy implementation, breakdowns, repairs and maintenance, while keeping a large team of drivers happy and employed and ensuring that the mechanics are onto all the work needed to keep the 25 buses on the road! Adjusting to early starts and long days is also a significant change for a chronic night-owl such as myself.

All in all it is challenging!

Hopefully I'll get the hang of it all soon. 

Tomorrow morning's major task is getting the next fortnight's rosters done, a complex arrangement of Drivers, Vehicles, Services and Times.

Not much time for anything else at present.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bottle Tree

Roger Federer won the Aussie Open and his 16th Grand Slam title at Rod Laver Arena tonight, that's Rocket Rod Laver's bust outside Melbourne Park. Rocket won the Grand Slam twice, all four major tournaments in the one year, and that remains the only mountain for Federer to climb now. He is already the greatest tennis player of all time and some were even arguing tonight that he is the greatest athlete in the world. Hard to argue against I guess.

A few catch-up pics of Spike and Sport Boy's bedrooms after the rearrangement. Spike's mates have more room to play X-Box now!! Sport Boy has little choice but to barrack for the Cats seeing as I've hung my excess Geelong pictures in his room, although I did buy him a Dockers jumper for $5 at a garage sale this arvo!

He helped me with my first outdoor art installation, "Bottle Tree" last weekend and this arvo I took Favourite Daughter and Mrs Holt Press out to see it. It's on Carbunup South Rd if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. The photo doesn't do it justice, there are 35 coloured bottles suspended from the tree and when the sun catches them and the breeze blows them it looks pretty cool!
FD and I are thinking about other items we can hang in trees to create our own art trail around Busselton.

A few more recent drawings. I just finished a big one today which I've been working on for a few days, and also did a lot of work on a new mixed media painting I've been planning for ages which utilises 95 of the watches I've been collecting for months.


School starts for Sport Boy and all the local schools tomorrow which means a big day for me making sure all our school buses get out on time. After two nights in the taxi over the weekend the early starts are a challenge so once things get back to "normal" I'll probably quit the cab driving, we just need to get some money back in the bank first.