Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Dorney House

Yesterday was the 2nd day of Open House Hobart, when a wide range of government and commercial buildings and private homes are open for inspection. We chose the Dorney house, which sits all alone in the bush on Porters Hill. Interior photos from its heyday can be seen here.

The site was chosen for a concrete defensive fort in 1910. The house (and its two predecessors which both were lost to bushfires) was built on top of the obsolete fort. This third house dates to 1979. Esmond Dorney was an eminent architect, and he built the house for his own family. His son Paddy, also an architect, was there yesterday speaking about the house and answering questions.

Paddy said that the original fort had 6" guns, while the Dreadnought-class battleships which were the norm in all major navies by the time the fort was completed had 9" or 10" guns. One of those ships could moor out of range of the fort and bombard Hobart in perfect safety; so the fort was obsolete from the outset.

The river view sweeps from Bruny Island all the way around to the city of Hobart, about 200°, then across mostly vacant bush from there back around to Bruny.

That's Michael 3rd from right

Photo: Campbell Ship, borrowed from here

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Letter to Ibey

In April 1974 I had recently started primary school. About five weeks had passed since my 6th birthday and I wrote this letter to my grandmother Ibey, Dad's mother. She lived in Launceston, 2 hours drive away, but was visiting her other grandchildren in Sydney.

The spelling is terrible but in quite an interesting way. How was I hearing the word "hope" that I thought it might have a w in it? Note that after writing "preznts" I went back and added the e that was obviously needed between t and s. Were my other presents "vere niys"? I really don't recall now. 

I still stand by "Fised" as the name for that subject; I remember fairly clearly learning that it actually was nothing to do with soft drinks. 

Thank you Ibey, for keeping my letter for the rest of your life. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Hattie Rees 2002 - 2019

We said good bye to our dear old cat Hattie this evening. She was a wonderful friend to us for such a long time, through babies, two house moves, getting a big foolish dog, the dog's friends dropping in to visit, the babies growing into teenagers and their friends staying … through all that she maintained her sturdy poise.

Hattie had several favourite places to hang out, and tonight we laid her to rest in a nice shady spot under the mock orange that she liked a lot. We can talk to her as we hang out the washing, just like we used to.

Thank you Hattie, we love you x

Chris, Elf, Marcus and Michael

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Di Fuglsang 1949 - 2019 RIP

Yesterday I attended a funeral for a colleague from the Monatgu Community Living board, Di Fuglsang. I have been on the board about three years and have only known Di that long, but she was so welcoming and supportive to me and all new board members, I really appreciated her kindness and generosity.

I wish I had known Di better. I knew that she had been a pioneer in setting up the Association for Children with Disability, and through her daughter Isabel (a resident with Montagu) she had deep lived experience of caring for a disabled child. Di was one of the group of parents that set up Montagu, where Isabel and other young people with intellectual disability could live in shared accommodation with 24-hour support.

But yesterday I learned a lot more about Di, and how she supported and inspired so many people in her life. Her order of service consisted of excerpts in Di's own words, including parts of this interview with Prue Batten which I have just read in full.

I learned through the years of caring for [Isabel], a level of patience and tolerance that I previously didn’t know I possessed. This in turn helped me cope with my “lot in life” and made me realize that happiness, firstly in little chinks, and later in further vast chunks, was there for the taking if I would just focus on the right thoughts. I had finally learned that it was my attitude, not the events themselves, that determined my level of happiness.
My friend Manuel Duharte spoke movingly and affectionately at the service. He worked with Di over a number of years, and was appointed CEO of the Association when Di was the chair of the board. He mentioned something her family later enlarged on – Di's habit of diagnosing your maladies and prescribing the best remedy. This earned her the fond nickname "Dr Bullshit".

Di stood down from the board about a year ago due to ill health; then in June, only nine months ago, she was given a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. She withdrew into her family circle to spend as much time with them as possible. I have been thinking of her often, but was quite shocked to hear ten days ago that she had left home for the last time, going into palliative care. After a few days constantly surrounded by family, she passed away peacefully.

Thank you Di for your kindness and wisdom. Go well.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tuesday Night Soccer 1.1.19

We all waddled back to indoor soccer on New Year’s Day after a week or two of overeating and over-drinking. Or maybe that was just me. Liam was back from Canberra for Christmas, and we went for a beer afterwards to celebrate.

I played pretty well (scored five) until I was poleaxed. Pat was positioned to head the ball into attack, and being quite a bit taller I decided to contest it and pinch it off him. He didn't know I was there, pumped his elbows to get a bit of extra elevation, and got the point of one straight in my eye.

He missed my brow and my cheekbone, it just went squoosh right in the eyeball. Which sounds horrible but turned out to be quite lucky. My vision wasn't blurred, my contact lens came out but went in again OK (once Cam found it). And there was hardly any bruising or visible swelling.

But I know that there has been some swelling because my top lip and a few teeth went numb, and that's a result of a nerve being compressed. 9 days later there is still some numbness but it's good to know it's gradually coming back – I went to the doctor and cleared myself of any damage.

Black: Adrian, Mike, Young Sean, me, …?
White: Steve, Liam, Pat, Cam

Goals (3 left, 2 right);
  • Out on the right looking for someone to cross to; instead I just leaned back and toed it into the roof of the net, almost took off Cam's head.
  • Hovering around the defence just trying to drag them out of shape, I found a little space and Adrian put a lovely weighted ball through that I could just step in behind, one touch to control and then finish. I shaped my body to put it to the right corner, but swung slowly enough to wrap my foot around the ball and actually pull it to the left corner instead.
  • Solo run past two guys dribbling with my right - I think I did a double shuffle past the 2nd and finished with my left.
  • Close up 1-on-1 with Pat in goal, again a little double shuffle and poked it in with my left
  • Late in the evening once we'd said 'next goal wins' – a firm pass hit me close to goal and I think I dummied on the right then hit it with the left. Was a bit surprised myself.
Then we went and had a few beers. Although I didn't get ice on the eye for a couple of hours after the injury it has never blown up into a noticeable 'black eye'.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

I manage to not drown

Elf and I took the wave ski to Sandy Bay for a paddle on the Derwent the other morning. Well, I was going to paddle and she was going to read on a park bench. I left the life vest in the car – I paddled out then remembered it so I came back in, and Elf had it. I put it on and went back out.

This was the day the first yachts were finishing the Sydney Hobart race, so there was a fair amount of action out on the water, and a helicopter or two overhead. It was pretty choppy, and reasonably hard work going against the swell.

I decided to just paddle out to the last mooring buoys, about 500m, then take in the view of the yachts coming upriver. After a while I turned 180° to enjoy the view back to the shore – this is when you are likely to get flipped over but I did it quickly and successfully.

After a while I decided to turn 180° again and this time – flip. I was in the water. We have a tether on the paddle, so that was one bit of good preparation. And I had the vest (not on as tight as it should have been though – it went up around my head straight away). I got hold of the strap on the side of the wave ski and just hung on for a bit while I considered options. I quickly realised that climbing back on was not going to be easy.

The good thing about a wave ski is they are very simple things, you sit on top of them and they are very buoyant. They are sealed, and won't fill with water or capsize. I needed to get back onto it but I didn't need to get back into it.

I started sidestroking towards the shore just to make some progress. I was staying calm fortunately. A motor yacht went past in the distance with a few dozen people on it, some looking my way. I thought I could wave to them, but things seemed to be under control – so I would save myself the embarrassment and just keep slowly swimming and hanging on.

Once I got to the next set of mooring buoys I grabbed on to them and had a little rest. If the worst happened and the wave ski got away from me while I was trying to climb back on, at least I had the buoys. Then I started trying to get on.

I have done this once in shallower water, (where you can get some purchase on the seabed) and I remember ending up with my head at the bow end. You can sort of roll over sideways OK if you are face down, but if you are oriented the wrong way its hard to fix without falling off.

So I got my head to the correct end towards the stern, and pulled my top half aboard, and grabbed onto the elasticated luggage straps right at the back. Then getting my legs swung aboard took so long. I really thought I'd be coming off it again at least once, but eventually I was face down on the thing, out of the water.

Another little rest. Then I did the roll over thing and I was face up, but sitting much too far forward. I managed to scooch my butt back into the seat, pulled in the paddle and ta-da, I was on my way back to shore. They really are very stable and forgiving craft, and it just underlines how incompetent I was letting myself get dumped out.

All through this I imagined Elf had seen me and was having conniptions about my safety. As a full and frank record of the events I must reveal that she was actually entranced the whole time by a great dane puppy.

2 days late I am a bit muscle-sore from all the struggling, but none the worse for wear.