Christmas Letter 2002



My splendid niece turned three in June, and I was very happy to be able (see next entry) to spend ten days at her place, supervising bathtime and participating in numerous celebrations. In late September Amy's ballet class had a big concert, so I visited again to see her being a South Sea Island Pearl. 2002 pix will take you to photos and a brief commentary on these and other events.

"Better living through chemistry"

The year got off to a good start with my long rest-cure in Melbourne (see Trams). Unfortunately the trip back undid all the good work, then some unavoidable stairs uncovered yet another mobility problem. I led a very restricted life indeed in the first half of the year: could barely go out, missed two Sydney visits from Dad and Eva, missed the first five months of my new nephew, couldn't visit Helen. It was looking as if I would miss Amy's birthday as well, when I finally got some effective help.

Turns out my left achilles tendon is calcified. (Dire consequences for such a little damage!) The treatment consists of massage (ouch!), horrid stretching exercises (ouch!) and an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic drug so I can do the exercises, put up with the massage, and walk. (See Rambling about the countryside.) It actually works! All the other things that make me grumpy and immobile are somewhat less painful as well, and the doctor has mercifully agreed that the increased mobility is a worthwhile trade-off against possible risks.


The Sacred Cod of Massachusetts Helen (who is currently sitting at my desk) insisted!


is back in permanent work, and in between, he's enjoying online games, the odd TV show or DVD, Star Trek videos kindly lent by Milo at work, going to the cinema every Wednesday night, and passing crazes. There have been big torches and a very strong blue light; there have been many books; at the moment it's lego and a tiny remote-controlled car. Despite a chronic shortage of time, he continues to be involved in many Upgrades from Hell, and is only now thinking of getting off the local PC Users Group editorial team, which he's worked on for the past decade. See also Rambling about the countryside.


2002 was to be the year of renovating and possibly extending my house. Heaps of things need fixing, accessibility has become a fairly vivid issue, there's no storage space left, and there's nowhere to put visitors.

I researched numerous possibilities, talked to zillions of people, and finally decided to start out the back, with an additional bedroom plus ensuite bathroom and a small deck with a ramp. This would have solved my access problems at a stroke, added some storage space, and freed up a room. Trouble is, the estimated cost trebled between the sketch and the formal plan. Now I'm thinking again.

Progress has been made, however: ceiling insulation which - in this long, hot summer - started proving its worth the very day it was installed.



Geoff & Marie

pop up from Mount Beauty from time to time, to check out the secondhand bookshops for Moggie's Books. Their predilection for going out to breakfast is popular round here. Claire came with them last time to celebrate the handing in of her honours thesis in archaeology. Wonderful to think that Claire and Helen have been friends since they were three and two respectively! Check out the snaps under Cafe Life 1 & 2, and also the historical photos.


is still in Melbourne and still working hard. She's studying for a Masters degree in Music at the University of Melbourne - gave up her part-time job at the pub, seems to have multiple rehearsals and performances every day, occupies the position of Senior Choral Scholar at Newman College, and teaches singing as well. She plans to go overseas at the end of her course (mid-2003) to pursue her career as a professional singer. (Some songs, reviews, and more info in the Helen section of this website.)

I visited her in Melbourne twice this year (see Trams for more information) and she came home for my birthday in February (a quiet dinner at Rama's to celebrate "playing with a full deck") and for Easter, then joined me in Sydney in June, and is now (to my joy) home for quite a long Christmas stay.


Canberra drivers


Two prawns...

Keeping in touch

See also Unanswered email. This letter is still the closest I'm going to get to keeping in touch, and it also has to serve as my reply to those who replied to last year's. Thank you for keeping in touch!


See Cafe Life 1


For the first time in many years, I didn't see Dad on his birthday, because I'd just got back from Melbourne. Eva suggested meeting in Moree for a late birthday celebration, and I was very grateful she did. I don't think we'll be repeating the experiment - the baths disagreed with Eva's skin - but taking the waters was good for me, and it was great to see D&E.


Fiona and Ricky's son, Daniel Andrew, was born on 18 January 2002 in Sydney and christened in June. He was tranquil and obliging during his first ten months, leading Helen to theorise that he was going to devote his life to making his big sister (Amy) look naughty by comparison. Now that he's crawling and getting into everything, and going through that stage of wailing whenever his mother isn't in sight, we can rest assured he's not a changeling after all.


Helen acquired a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) and when I saw what she could do with it - take all her addresses and appointments about with her, make notes and lists, answer email, read books - I got one too. No more printing out calendars and contact lists before a trip! No more carting a heavy book everywhere I go! I adore our suave, sortable shopping list that gets shorter as we go along, and being able to save newsgroup messages as an e-book and read them in my comfy chair.


We now have three (having inherited Helen's Saffy) and a small cat prison to lock them in at night. More details in the cat section of this website.


Pretty quiet on the quiz front!

Rambling about the countryside

Dac's doctor said something awful to him about five 40-minute walks a week, to include a great deal of going uphill. I rashly agreed to go along for company. After many stumbles and one fall, I now take my trusty stick and manage reasonably well, if slowly.

We count the weekly nightmare of grocery shopping as one walk. We have yet to manage four more in one week, but we've come close, and have covered just about every street in our suburb, bits of neighbouring suburbs, and bits of neighbouring hills as well. Living on the side of Mount Taylor, we're ideally placed for walking uphill: even if you go downhill to start, you've got to climb to get home.

The only time available for all this walking is before work, and at present it needs to be before 7am to avoid the heat. (Well, perhaps we could go at night, but I'm sure I'd fall over in the dark, even with the stick!) It's pleasant seeing all the people out watering their gardens or walking their dogs. Most of them smile and say Gday - it's like belonging to some secret club! One day Dac veered over to a woman who was walking what I'd assumed was a little white fluffy dog. "Is that a rabbit?" I heard him ask, and sure enough, it was - quite a big rabbit, actually, in a harness.


I still swim laps three times a week, for mobility. I hate it. A wise woman once said to me that there was no point in hating something I had to do: I'd be better off telling myself swimming was just fine. I've tried, but unfortunately I just don't believe myself. I hate swimming! You can read all about it in this big rant.


After Christmas last year, I spent a month in Melbourne with Helen, whose grandmother kindly lent us her house while she was down at Anglesea. (And Neens kindly lent us her house for our final week.) Helen, thinking she wouldn't be busy in January, was in charge of catering and morale. I pottered around playing with her new laptop, doing some desultory housework, dipping into Oma's excellent guest bookshelf, and catching up with Melbourne friends. (Dey has some pictures on her website.) The time turned out to be reasonably hectic, but we were happy together, and I enjoyed the escape from routine.

In the brief visits I'd made to Melbourne before H moved there, I'd gained the impression that it rained quite a bit. Now I'm prepared to say that, compared with Canberra, it rains almost constantly. Some days it rains every ten minutes. If I lived there I'd have to own an umbrella. In January 2002, there was rain, and a couple of really hot days, but mostly there was cold. Luckily I found my way to the factory outlets at Richmond, where I was able to buy some warm clothes.

When I say I found the factory outlets: I have no sense of direction and a bad memory for places, so it's always an adventure driving when I'm away from home. Imagine being hopelessly lost, sandwiched between hulking great trams, in constant rain and heavy traffic, and you'll understand why I ended up refusing to drive anywhere. H worried that I was getting agoraphobic in my old age, but it was just a matter of survival.

In August H invited me to attend assorted concerts and her confirmation in the Catholic Church, so I flew down for a 10-day stay in her tiny second-storey flat. We managed the togetherness - and I managed the stairs (with limited trips and my stick) - pretty well. I was more reluctant to drive than ever: our rent-a-wreck, hired to transport me and my swimming bag about, stalled at every traffic light. So I walked to the pool, trailing my swimming stuff in a shopping trolley, and it was fine. Being able to manage steps with the help of my stick, I was therefore able to use public transport, and discovered the good side to trams and buses in the Melbourne traffic.

I'm planning another visit in February 2003, now that I know I don't have to drive in Melbourne!

Unanswered email

I handle a great deal of email every day, but it's all to do with WEL (see Web stuff). Once I've done that, I'm done. I recently solved the problem of an overflowing Inbox by moving all the messages somewhere else and starting again, vowing to keep the unanswered list down to one screenful. So far, so good, but no one should hold their breath!


Elspeth Young died in August. She was a close friend of Annabel's, a trailblazer in her professional life, a keen singer, and a warm and witty companion. I'm one of many who will miss her and remember her with affection.

In October there was a gathering to mark the anniversary of the death of Helen Leonard. I've been unable as yet to put my farewell into words - the WEL pages in her memory are my contribution.

Web stuff

came close to finishing me off last year, so I instituted some guidelines for submissions to the WEL website, and I've been following them, as have one or two colleagues. The others account for much of my email correspondence. I've done less this year, and the website is still there, and so am I.


Brian, Daryl, Dac, Helen ...
Christmas 2001
... Sian, Annabel, me


All the best for 2003!


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Page created 21 December 2002; last updated 24 December 2002

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