A month of family and friends – so good, so cherished

Dear Kids

It has been a month of family, friends and fun; a wonderful end to winter in a world getting madder by the day.

It started with Kayla making a surprise visit home for a week from 16 July; I picked her up from the airport late morning and we had time for a  coffee  and a “catch up” before I dropped her to Mart’s place and then came home for a rest.

Even a trip to the airport is enough to tire me nowadays; but I was up later in the afternoon so we could go for an early dinner at Suzuya. I was not going to miss the opportunity to spend this borrowed time with my youngest daughter and it was wonderful for Billy and I to have her to ourselves for the night, I think HK is much tougher than she thought  but she is a trooper.

Kayla and Mart headed down to Royal National Park on Sunday while I spent a day at home, trying to understand the world, we now live; in following the atrocity in Nice on Thursday and then the coup in Turkey on Friday.

We headed out late in the afternoon  to catch up with old friends Mark and Scott for a coffee late in the day, before coming home for Billy made a terrific risotto for dinner.

On Monday I woke up to  a very thick low fog blanketing the harbor; only the very top of the Darling Point towers were visible and Garden Island was totally shrouded.

It was really a day of rest; the tiredness is my constant companion today; there is some pain but it is tolerable.

My old friend Russ keeps sending through politically incorrect jokes to enliven my life; I wonder sometimes how such a dedicated “Leftie” can justify some of these missives, but they are funny, and; because you know the heart is so good, no offence is ever taken. I open them like a naughty schoolboy, furtively scanning Playboy.

I had an appointment with JB on Tuesday morning; it is always good to see John; he has been with me for most of my journey through this period and it would be hard to find a better doctor to have on your side.

Wednesday morning, I was up at 5.00 am to get the Orange Sky van from Ashfield, I had breakfast and then collected Kayla so she could spend the morning with me washing clothes for the homeless in Woolloomooloo.

Kayla seemed to enjoy her morning, chatting with our “friends” and amusing Yvonne, Dianne and Gavin with totally fabricated stories of her Father’s OCD.

Orange Sky has become very important to me over the past few months, it is a great leveler. How can you feel sorry for yourself when you are dealing with people who have no family and nothing material to call their own? It was wet down there this morning and we had a lot of bedding to wash and dry.

Thursday was wet and gloomy again; Kayla and I had breakfast in Roslyn Gardens before she headed off to work in the City and I came home to a day of hack work.

Friday, I caught up with Ashley who has been helping me with this blog and has become a good friend, I am growing to really love the time I spend with my tattooed “Hula Hooper”.

I called Jassy to boast about remembering her birthday, I sent a card and some money to her today – four days before the day – a new record LOL

I  had breakfast with Kayla on Saturday morning before doing an Open House at 11.00 am.

Breakfast was one of those funny coincidences of life,  Kayla and I were laughing about her bingeing on the new series of “Rake” while she was here when we realized Charlie Waterstreet, the co creator of the series was sitting at the next table. He probably thought we were being terribly pretentious but, in truth; we did not know he was there until he got up to leave.

Billy helped me with the Open House, but even just the one OH is enough to drain me for the rest of the day now, so I came home to a wasted afternoon on the couch

I dropped Kayla to the airport early on Sunday morning; parting was sad, we have shared some lovely moments as well as a lot of laughs over the past week.

It seems that every time I say good bye to the kids as they head back overseas; the Grim Reaper is looming and the question as to whether this will be the last time hangs silently in the air

We have defied all the odds to date and I don’t intend missing Kayla’ next visit home!!

The rest of Sunday passed in a fog of memories; smiling thoughts tinged with regret.

I was awake on Monday and heading out to the corner for coffee  a bit after 7.00 am, it has been a particularly good night, finally things have settled down, it has taken a while this time but I am feeling better than I have for almost a month.

It is a crisp cool morning but much warmer than the last couple of days, I felt a bit over dressed but at least I was very warm,

I spent the morning at the desk, following up on a lot of things before going to meet Affy at Roslyn Gardens for lunch. It is always terrific to catch up with this very dear man, we have known each other for over thirty years; honesty and love define this friendship .

I remember talking to Affy one day, long ago; I was telling him that I think I handle failure better than success.

His reply was succinct: “Well you have had more practice at Failure!”

Billy came over later in the afternoon and I spent the evening watching a sad Australia Story on a young Iranian refugee, imprisoned in this country  and banned from returning to her own.  The brutal Four Corners episode, dealing with the treatment of youths in prison in the Northern Territory  followed; I fell into a troubled sleep disgusted with what is happening in this Country.

I spent the first part of Tuesday composing a letter to the Editor, following the exposes of last night;I know it is just a pittance but we have to try.

Dear Sir 

It is a very long time since a night of television has had such a profound impact on me, as did the ABC last night. (Malcolm Turnbull calls royal commission into youth abuse at Northern Territory’s Don Dale detention centre SMH 26/07/2016)

It was a damning and shameful expose of the stupidity and culpability of Government in this country.

First; we had the Australian Story on the brave, young Iranian lady who does not qualify for refugee status because she was raped by her family and not the State! She is forced to live a life of imprisonment in detention centres, despite completing her High School education and marrying the man she loves in Australia.

This lady would and should be an adornment to this country, but instead; because of red tape and the self-righteous posturing of our Immigration Minister, she lives in no man’s land, while hers and her husband’s lives are destroyed; little piece of heartbreak, by little piece of heartbreak.

Then; on Four Corners we had the shameful piece on the detention and abuse of young offenders in the Northern Territory.

Tear gas used on young teenagers in captivity, with no possible means of escape!

Young boys stripped of their clothing while being violently held by prison Guards!

Hooded boys held in “electronic control devices” for hours on end!

Pictures and tape of the Guards total contempt for the people they were entrusted to care for!

If this happened in the Middle East or a Police State, we would be shocked and horrified. That it could happen in this country; terrifies me.


I met George H for a coffee at Trop at 10.30 am; George is a bit shattered at the moment, I hope I did manage to help him a little this morning, anyway; it was good to catch up with a dear old friend.

I did get some work done in the afternoon before the shutters came down and it was time for a rest.

I have been very tired today after a really good day yesterday.

I did not have to get the OS van this Wednesday morning; Gavin took it home last night and is bringing it this morning, so I slept in to 7.00 am.

It was busy there today, we did 9 loads; I am still very tired and very thankful Gavin is taking the van back.

I came home and rested after churning through a stack of emails.

I woke up before 7.00 am on Thursday faced with a very   21st Century Problem! The phone lines to this side of the street have been cut because they are working on them and I have no internet access.

I sent a message to Steve for his Birthday and spent most of the morning doing rental Statements:, at least I could get them done without the internet.

I did manage to get a dongle and be back on line by later in the evening, before I crashed into bed. I don’t handle things going awry very well now

Friday was spent in a flurry of activity, getting things ready for the end of month accounting and double checking everything;, I don’t trust myself to get things right any more and these things take much longer than they used to.

I got a few other jobs done before sending my spoof letter on Hilary over to JB; I hope he got a laugh from it; I don’t really expect it to get a run.

Dear Sir  

Barack Obama may well have endorsed Hilary Clinton as the most qualified person to ever run for the White House (Obama embraces the sane choice SMH 29 July) but I can’t help feeling she missed a great opportunity by not nominating her husband as Vice President.

Bill is eminently qualified on both counts; he is an ex-President and he has proven he is not too bad at Vice either.

Cigar, anyone?  


Suzana called later in the day, I was on my way to Leichhardt to get a  child’s seat for Otis  to use when they arrive on Monday and she kept me company for most of the trip. It was great to talk to her and catch up on what she and Pete have been doing; as the mother of twins about the same age as Otis,  she was a wealth of information in my quest for this damn seat!

I was surprised to pick up the paper on Saturday morning to see that my letter did get a run. I had not been notified due to the ongoing issue with the internet.

The morning was spent sending out all the statements for the end of month and then Billy and I caught up with John M for lunch at Petrol.

It is always good to have a dose of John’s sardonic and and sometimes caustic view of the world.

I got a message from Annie; they have been with Kayla in HK for the past couple of days and have taken Otis to Disneyland today, they look to be having a lot of fun

Billy make pork roast for dinner, it was to die for! He got the crackling to perfection today, so i guess my future efforts in this regard  will be judged very harshly LOL .

Sunday Breakfast with Mark H has been a very longstanding tradition. Whilst we don’t make it every week, we manage at least a couple of time per month. It was great to see him this morning  and to catch up on his news and travel plans at the end of August.

I was trying to fit Otis’s car seat when I came home. Thank God Billy arrived and showed me how to do it. His efforts cost me a lunch at Tiger Bakers after I had spent the rest of the morning doing the rental payments; checking and double checking for the mistakes I know, I am now very capable of making

We rested for the afternoon, it was nice to just loll around and spend some time with Billy without either of us having to go anywhere.

I was at the airport just half an hour after Annie’s  flight was meant to have landed on Monday morning, but they had had got through Customs very quickly so they were waiting in the Arrivals Area when I arrived.

It was great to see Annie and Wally and very special to cuddle little Otis.

There  is something so very special about greeting a grandchild you have not seen for a while (in this case, almost two years) there is a moment of uncertainty before the smile forms and they throw themselves into your arms.

In something of a record; we managed to get out of the airport without paying for parking, miracles do happen!!

We went to Trop for a coffee and a light lunch before coming home, I am having big trouble with the End of Month balances so Wally helped me a bit with this; what a way to welcome family from the other side of the world!

Annie , Wally and Otis are staying with friends out at Newington; I drove them out there later in the day, before coming home and crashing.

Two car trips in one day is more than this body can handle at the moment

I was dog tired after a big and joyous day, Billy left around 7.30 pm and I was in bed before 8.00 pm

I was so tired but I did manage to get the crossword out and I even finished the daily Sudoko; who says my brain is turning to mush!.

I spent Tuesday  morning doing a lot of boring work things before heading down to the Art Gallery  to meet Steve and Felix for lunch.

It was terrific to catch up with the boys; unfortunately Steve had an appointment at 4.00 pm so we did not get to see the Archibald as we had planned, we figured it was better to sit, talk and relax rather than to rush about.

Jassy called for her weekly catch up after I was home  and we had a good laugh about the antics of little Estelle and her big brother Horatio; they had done really well at Nippers training on Saturday and were both as proud as punch.

I needed a rest, so the afternoon after I got home was spent on the lounge, I have a huge day tomorrow.

Billy came late in the day and I made dinner, my old mate Jack from Wagga called  while I was trying to cook,I haven’t spoken to Jack  for ages so any thought of culinary detail was thrust aside, as two old friends chewed the fat. It is really good to see Jack doing so well after his big scare last year.

It is Wednesday again and  I was up a bit after 5.00 am to head out to Ashfield to get the Orange Sky van, I had a pretty bad tumble as I was trying to get the key in the gloomy early morning dark. I lost a bit of skin but most of the damage was to my pride.

It was busy and wet at Woolloomooloo this morning.

Annie, Wally and Otis came around 11.00 am, Otis was a bit of a hit with our homeless “friends”. Annie and I took the truck back out to Ashfield and then came home to pick Wally and Otis up before heading to Mad Pizza for lunch.

I badly need a sleep but I have an appointment at 4.30 pm so rest will have to wait.

Annie, Wally and Otis  took the car to go to dinner with friends after  I got home, so Billy and I made a quick dinner before I fell into bed around 8.00 pm.

Thursday dawned  cold, wet and windy with a misty haze across the Harbor but I did manage my walk for coffee and the papers without getting too wet.

I got a few work things done in the morning, spoke to Affy about a little job he wants me to do for him and caught up for a bit, with George D as I met him with the keys for a cleaning job he is doing.

I am really tired and to top things off I just broke my chair! I tried to fix it but it is too heavy and I think my last fix has become the last fix for the poor old thing.

Annie, Wally and Otis have gone to the wildlife park for the morning, Annie sent me through some photos of a very skeptical Otis with a Koala  and another; much happier one  of him with a Kangaroo.

They came home about 3.00 pm and we headed to Officeworks to replace my damaged chair.

I had a short rest when we got home, before heading off to St Vinnies for my latest MRI.

On my count, this is number 25 over the past eight years; I must have a head like Fukushima LOL

There is something totally mesmeric about the rat a tat tat of the MRI machine and I fell fast asleep.

After being rudely awakened, I walked up to meet Annie , Wally, Otis and Billy at the Mexican restaurant for dinner, it was a good  fun night. Billy dropped me home and he took the kids back to Newington while I staggered up to bed.

I spent much of Friday morning trying to fix a few problems that have arisen with some properties due to the wet and windy weather before heading out for an appointment. I wanted to get these things sorted because I plan to have a coffee with Ian while I am over at Redfern.

Ian arrived at the coffee shop a bit after me; wet weather and wheelchairs are not a good mix!

It was wonderful to see this truly inspirational man, he has battled MS for well over 20 years now but handles his problems with more grace then I could ever muster.

We did the crossword together and chatted for over an hour before duty called and I had to come back and do some work.

This fucking tiredness has clasped me round the neck today, so I rested as soon as I got these things done.

Billy came and made a roast chicken dinner for us, this was bloody lovely because I really did not feel like cooking anything tonight. I had dinner and was in bed almost straight after; Thanks Billy!

Saturday was cold wet and misty, I watched the  Opening Ceremony of the Olympics as I rested on the couch. Lots of bare bums, poor quality dancing and singing until the Global Warming feature which was really very good.

I did some work before Billy dropped in about 10.00 am for a short visit and then I headed out to Newington to pick up Annie, Wally and Otis.

The trip out was a nightmare and I was stuffed when arrived after 12.30 pm, the Opening Ceremony was still on, it is an absolute saga.

We grabbed some lunch on the way home, Ali has a hankering for Red Rooster today; strange tastes that girl!, Thank God she was doing the driving because I was absolutely stuffed.

We were back here around 3.30 pm, Otis and I had some special time together on the couch in front of the TV  while Annie and Wally went for a walk, her back seems to be bearing up very well after the operation but I know it does get very tight and sore especially after two big flights.

Billy came around 5.00 pm and made dinner for all of us before we took the kids to the airport for their flight to Melbourne, it has been truly wonderful to have them here in Sydney for the last six days. I will se them again when I am in Melbourne next weekend

Willy and I were back home a bit after 8.30 pm and I went straight to bed.

Sunday was another drizzly and cool day but I had had a very good night, so was feeling no pain as I walked to the corner for my coffee.

I spent the early part of this week doing the things that needed to be done for work and then on Thursday afternoon I left for Melbourne.

My old mate Russ picked me up from Avalon and we grabbed a coffee and chatted for an hour before Sascha and Douglas picked me up.

I am staying with Sascha for three days; it was great to see Annie, Wally and Otis again, they seem to be enjoying their time in Melbourne, Annie catching up with her sister and Mum, while Otis plays with his Melbourne cousins.

Jassy picked me up on Friday morning so we could head over to Williamstown for lunch at our favourite Italian place, I went back to Jassy’s to see Jorge and to have a rest before the kids got home from school, it was wonderful to just spend time with Horrie and Esty until the rest of the family arrived for a big family dinner. It was the normal raucous gathering with kids showing off and adults arguing about all sorts of things, in short; a wonderful night!

Saturday started with Annie and I having a walk around the lake area before we got ready to go and watch Esty play netball, she did really well and it felt terrific to have almost the whole family there to cheer her on.

Jassy, Horrrie and I went to do some shopping in the afternoon with Horrie convincing me he could not live another day without the new “78 Storey Treehouse”, book. Of course Grumpy did not need a whole lot of persuading!

Sascha and Douglas had everyone for a roast dinner tonight; Kayla called midway through and demanded a group photo.

It was an early night because the kids had Nippers swimming comp in the morning.

Sunday saw us all on the road heading off Geelong to watch Horrie and Esty do their stuff in the pool, results were mixed but they tried their hearts out, we headed off to grab some lunch on the waterfront before Sascha, Ali, Wally and Otis dropped me back to Avalon for the flight home to Sydney.

I had some time at the airport before my flight and spent this time reflecting on the past few days and the wonderful times I have spent over the past month with family and fdriends

It is hard to be dismal about the future when you are surrounded by love and good people, I am a very lucky man.

It suddenly dawned on me as I was writing this, that i have reached a level of contentment with my life, I never thought possible.

I can look at my weaknesses with equanimity.

I can regret deeply, my failings as a brother, son, husband, father and friend whilst still being so grateful to have shared my life with these people.

I can forgive myself for the hurts I have caused, whilst not losing sight of, or feeling deeply responsible for; the damage I have caused to people I love so much

I can be angry with myself because I let little people derail my life, but in doing so, I can realize how much I have learnt from those failures.

Is this what this unexpected hiatus has been all about?

A chance to make peace with myself!


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