Sunday, February 24, 2013

Last Day in Gympie

Vicki and I are about to leave for Nambour to see Dad. He had a quieter day yesterday, with a lot less medical information to digest. Vicki stayed home and rested for the day while I visited him. I'm flying home to Victoria tomorrow morning so she will be doing the heavy lifting after that.
There is a plan in place for Pop's treatment, now we just have to pray and wait for each stage to be carried out. It is going to be pretty tough on him I suspect considering how much this first episode has knocked him around.
His best mate Warren aka Greenie is coming up to see him today and then I will hitch a ride back to Brisbane with him in order to make my flight tomorrow morning. Back to work tomorrow arvo!

Thanks for those who are praying for Dad.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Dad

On Tuesday night I got a message to call in and see my sister Vicki on the way home from work.
She had bad news. Dad was in hospital having had emergency bowel surgery the day before.
And the Dr thinks he has bowel cancer.

Wow! It came as a hammer blow! Pop had only been down to visit a few weeks ago and suddenly he's in ICU following major surgery and has cancer!! It was hard to comprehend.

Between us we rang the rest of the family and some close friends to let them know about dad's condition.
Vicki and I both agreed we should fly straight up to Queensland to be with him which we subsequently did on Wed afternoon.

He is in Nambour Hospital and is receiving wonderful care from the amazing staff. He is weak and tired, runs out of puff and has little appetite but has improved a bit each day. At present he has a colostomy bag but we are hopeful that that won't be a permanent thing. Today was very busy with a procession of doctors and other medicos coming to see him to discuss his treatment and management. It is likely that he will come home early next week but that will be followed by a succession of procedures, starting with further tests then radiation and chemo before another operation to remove the tumour. This should happen over the next 3-4 weeks.

It has been a traumatic and emotional time for Dad, and for  Vicki and I and we are glad we were able to come and be with him. For a man who has enjoyed remarkably good health for most of his 76 years it has been very confronting to experience such sudden and serious problems.
Equally it has been confronting for me to see my Dad in this state, to see his vulnerability and mortality. My feelings and love for him have never been stronger, nor more necessary as we try to support, comfort and care for him.

I have to fly home to Victoria on Monday to go back to work but thankfully Vicki is able to stay on and help Pop with all that lies ahead in the next few weeks. She had just moved into her new home and was expecting the movers to deliver her furniture the day we left so the timing wasn't great for her. Needless to say, even something as big as moving into her new home was never going to be more important than caring for Dad. She's doing an amazing job. I wish I could stay here and help her with it but the economic necessities of life can't be ignored.

Monday, February 18, 2013

They Said It Can't Be Done!

This story starts over 100 years ago with the beginning of "Thomas Jewellers" an institution in Geelong. Situated on the corner of Moorabool and Malop Streets it has enjoyed primacy in the city for over a century.
Thomas recently underwent a makeover, rumoured to have cost over a million dollars! I've never been into the shop but the outside has certainly been spruced up.
 A few months ago, while the refurbishment was still going on, I was driving the Nightrider bus which takes the pubbers and clubbers home to the coastal towns around Geelong through the early hours of a Sunday morning. That's when I spotted something interesting in a skip bin outside Thomas.  NB. This is not THE skip bin in question, it's just an example of A skip bin for the sake of the post.

It was a wooden cabinet which I'm guessing had formed part of the old counter. It appealed to me so after the shift I went back and hauled it out of the skip bin and brought it home in the back of my station wagon.

I particularly liked all the different sized and shaped hutches and a vision formed in my mind of transforming it into a bookcase by sawing it in half. From side to side. To form two "identical bookcases which might even sit one on top of the other.
But how to do it? Cutting something like this cabinet with all of it's shelves, struts and dividers would be tricky.

That's when I thought of "Redgum & Iron", a very interesting business in North Geelong that cuts up great big slabs of redgum and sculpts stuff out of rusty iron such as old railway pins. Surely they could run it through one of their big saws?
No, turns out they couldn't! 
"That's a %*@> of a job mate a real %*@>, can't help you"
Fair enough. Back to the drawing board.

What about a chainsaw? Chris next door has one and while he was willing, he was very reluctant.
"It'll just chew it to pieces Marcus!"
What to do?

Obviously it was a specialist job, requiring specialist tools. Time to hit ebay.

A circular power saw should work for the outside.
Lo and behold, there's a power saw going for $20 in Gympie.
Pop lives in Gympie!
45 minutes till the bidding closes.
Ring ring.
G'day Pop, can you go onto ebay and look at something for me?
20 minutes and half a dozen attempts later we were finally looking at the same item! 
Pardon the pun but we were cutting it fine!

Yeah it looks alright Son and yes I can bring it down with me in January if you win it.
Thanks Pop.

I was the only bidder so for $20 and a personal courier to transport it a couple of thousand km I had the first tool I'd need.

 Next on the list was a jigsaw which I managed to get at a garage sale for $10.

The final and critical tool was Mum's "Renovator". You may have seen them advertised on TV. I can vouch for them as being a very handy and adaptable cutting device.

 Employing the help of my trusty sidekick Sport Boy I set to the cabinet with a succession of power saws.
Note the combination of safety glasses and steel toed socks he chose for the job!

 A precision job like this one requires careful measurement!!! In reality I was just trying to establish a line to follow with the saws.
Sadly my photographer went out just after this and didn't get to capture for posterity the brilliant manouvreing and dexterity of my woodworking skills!
 Suffice to say it was tricky and required a high degree of problem solving, not to mention the semi-dismantling of the cabinet, but after an hour or so I had achieved the first part of the task: The cabinet was separated into two roughly equal parts. The final cuts, made in the narrowest sections were achieved using the Renovator with the blade turned back towards me, quite a neat trick if I do say so myself.

Next came the reassembling. A hammer and a packet of nails and another hour or so and voila, 
"half-cabinet A" was back in one piece.
That was enough for one day. I put the second one together the next day.

 Next came the sanding and tidying up. Admittedly the back of each cabinet was pretty munted due to the difficulty of getting to each surface and section but as they will spend their lives hidden up against the wall I was not worried about that. A couple of hours of sanding had them both in good enough order to be moved inside although the second one had to await a spray of varnish.
They now stand neatly and proudly against the wall in the lounge and I have to say I am VERY PLEASED with myself! And Mrs HP likes them too.

So, to all the scoffers and doubters and those who said it couldn't be done: I did it!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

World Series Poper

You may have heard that the Pope has resigned. First Pope to do so in 600 odd years apparently. Normally the Pontiff's retirement party features a coffin. Not this time.

My mate Al is a committed Catholic. In fact a few years ago when Pope Benedict visited Australia Al and I went to see him in Sydney (along with a couple of hundred thousand other people).

Upon hearing the news yesterday I sent Al a text.

No more German Shepherd

After a bit of repartee Al came up with the brilliant idea that:

The modern church should hold a "Pope Idol" contest to choose a successor.
He also offered "Pimp my Pope".

I liked the idea and so we started brainstorming Reality Style TV shows to choose the new Pope.

Me:  "The Choice"

Al: "No Queer Eye for the Vatican Guy"

Me:  "Savivor"

Al: venturing away from the reality genre- "How I met your Pope"

Me:  "The Amazing Grace"

Me:  "Masterchief"

Al:  "Two and a half Popes"

Me:   "My Pontiff Rules"

Al:  "Extreme Popeover"

Al:  "Law and Odear we need a new Pope"

Me: "Popey Days"

Me:  "The Vatican wants a Pope"

Me:  "Vatman"

Me:  "The Biggest Pray-er"

Me:  "Dancing with the Cardinals"

Al:  "So You think you're Infallible"

and my personal favourite

"World Series Poper", with the tagline  "Just gotta play the Cards right"

We kept ourselves amused for over an hour!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Garage Sale @ Holt Press

I love garage sales.

I love going to them and I love having them.

Yesterday we had one, partly as a result of going to too many of them!

It was successful in both of the critical factors that determine a successful garage sale:

1. We got rid of a lot of stuff we didn't want

2. We made some extra money, in this case about $400.

The car is loaded with the leftovers ready for delivery to an op shop.
The garage is much less cluttered.
And I met lots of people and had a good time.

Talking of a good time, let me recommend a movie that Mrs Holt Press and I went to see this afternoon.
"Silver Linings Playbook". We both loved it. It's about a man coming home after being in a mental health facility to live with his parents, played by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver who has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance. Well worth seeing.

I start work at 5.30 tomorrow morning so...good night!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Pics & Pieces

 This is not my original idea but having seen it on the net I couldn't resist spreading a little of my own Christmas cheer.
 Don't we all?
 Traffic disruption on a recent #30 in the bus. A runaway truck trailer crashed through a fence but they were lucky!!!
Yes lucky. Check out the retro cars in the front yard and it missed them all!!!

Monday, February 04, 2013

What are you trying to do? Kill me?

My body is in a state of shock.

No, not as a result of the COATC Diet.*

Rather because it was subjected to two hours of strenuous exercise today at a footy umpires training day!
They warned those of us unused to physical exercise that we might pay for our exertions tomorrow.
My body decided not to wait that long!

Mrs Holt Press kindly rubbed some Elmore Oil (snake oil?) into my back to deal with the worst of it.

Tomorrow could be unpleasant although mercifully I don't start work till after 3.

That in turn means I can watch the Superbowl in the morning. Go Ravens! (Sorry Paul if you're reading this!)

* Diet update: I am doing pretty well in avoiding all those sweet and tasty things that I used to indulge in but need to add exercise to the regime to start burning away the accumulated layers of fat. My good mate Birchy has had a lot of success with the "Every Other Day Diet" and has sent me some notes on it to encourage me to give it a go. (Thanks Birchy).
The Biggest Winner is up and running at work with 6 of us participating. A small but none-the-less encouraging beginning. 

I have a backlog of blog posts to write but having gotten out of the habit of regular blogging it is not so easy to get back into it. Also our internet connection regularly fails despite the big bucks we pay for it. 

The main "event" of the last few weeks was Pop's visit. He ventured south from Gympie and stayed with us for about a week during which time we did some really good things, which I intend to blog about once I get the pictures uploaded. 

Mrs HP's Dad was in hospital for a few weeks after a couple of falls but he has returned home now with an increased level of care and support.

Sport Boy has gone back to school for the start of the new year.

The Heir finally got justice in a dispute with his former employer thanks to the aid of Fair Work Australia.

Favourite Daughter is having on-going health struggles but has had 2-3 photography jobs recently and is going into a partnership with a friend taking photos.

And Spike is planning to come back to Victoria shortly. Things haven't worked out as well as he hoped back in WA and he too has health problems which will be helped by having some stable accommodation and the love and support of his family.