Christmas Letter 2005

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The 2004 Christmas letter was cancelled when it was still unfinished in May 2005. 2004 was a good year in so many ways that I've tracked down and finished what I started to write about it. Perhaps that will make up for this year's, which may read a bit like Life gets teejus, don't it? [1].

There have been good moments, but the overwhelming fact of this year is that on 9 July my father died. Of course it was inevitable, and he had a good, long life, and he's out of harm's way now - but it was still a shock, and a great loss to all of us who loved him.

Christmas on Boxing Day

Christmas 2004

Brian, Daryl, Annabel, Sian (inset), Helen (just off the plane from Holland),
me (inset, with dinosaur pipe from Annabel) and Dac

January with Helen[2]

Amy and Helen at the end of a dayIt was a bit frantic with travel, recording sessions, performances, and frequent phonecalls to Holland, but we had some quality time together. She caught up with her Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland relatives - fortunately Dad and Eva came down to Sydney for Daniel's third birthday party - and with friends. I was pleased to see Helen so happy, but found it hard to say goodbye.


Just as well I moved the arthroscopy from December to February! The aftermath was quite awkward, especially as I fell over 6 days after the operation. For ages I kept up the physio and knee exercises, but things didn't improve. In June, a scan revealed that the cleanup had achieved nothing, so I'm popping pills to stay mobile, and waiting my turn for a knee replacement. Meanwhile I'm back to swimming 3x a week, and my tapshoes are gathering dust. I'm still attending Silver Soles Cloggers social events, though, because I'm going back!

More good moments

Family History

Speaking of family history, I'm taking a break from it for a while. It's a big commitment, and I have far too many of 'em. This became glaringly apparent when I examined the categories I have for digital and paper filing. There were dozens. So many projects, so many causes, so many memberships - too much for the ablest person to handle. So I'm cutting back.

Even less correspondence? Well, put it this way: I plan on writing when I'm willing and able...


Helen's cat Saffy, who came to live with us three years ago, developed severe behavioural problems this year. Despite our best efforts - we even shelled out for an animal behaviourist, in the face of general derision - she was miserable, we were miserable, and the situation kept getting worse. Attempts to find her a peaceful home where she would be the only cat failed. We couldn't send her to Helen in Holland because the airlines require certification of health and the vet wouldn't give it. Even the RSPCA Cat Adoption Service wouldn't take poor old Saff. Sadly and full of guilt, we ended up having her put down.


For various reasons I've been broke this year. Another obstacle to finishing the work on the house is the paper mountain that has accumulated over the decades since my hands went bung. Last year's pain management course gave me the confidence to do things that hurt (within reason), so I'm ever-so-gradually going through my papers, books, and music, organising them, and flinging lots of stuff out. (Occasionally I scan copies into the computer and then fling stuff out.) It's a slow but joyful process!

Purple toenails with glitterI've been greatly helped in this project by Luciana, a decluttering coach [3], who has inspired me to keep going, providing everything from insight to systems to actually coming round and taking things away. My chief triumph so far has been to archive 24 years of C*mc*re brawling and stick it under the house, out of sight and out of mind. We've devised systems to deal with the ongoing paperwork, an emergency kit for the next so-called review, and even a media kit in case things get really silly. To mark this accomplishment, I lashed out on a pedicure, which (together with some very fine nailpolish from a friend) led to the celebratory purple toenails above.

I hadn't intended to do anything to the yard till the house was finished, but I lost another tree to drought and befuddlement earlier this year. After an "outdoor water tune-up" subsidised by the local water authority, I decided I needed a basic drip irrigation system. It's recently been installed, thanks to Lizzie, a final-year landscaping student, who provided exactly the kind of help I needed, right down to carrying the purchases when we went shopping. She also moved my last remaining rosebush ("Roses need sun. It was your neighbour's big trees rather than your neglect that killed them!") and planted a row of correa duskybells instead. Thanks also to Helen C who recommended, located, bought and planted a Manchurian pear tree outside my bedroom window to replace this year's casualty. I'm delighted to announce that it's getting watered!


Dac and I again visited South Australia in early May to see Dac's family and attend the Coriole Music Festival. This time it was Land of the Firebird, featuring twentieth century Russian (and French) composers - way out of my musical comfort zone, but fascinating.

In late September, Fiona and Ricky took me on a family holiday to Narooma, and one of the highlights was a whale-watching boat trip to Montague Island:

Montague Lighthouse growing out of Ricky's ear Fiona and Ricky bumping lifejackets Humpback whales waving Flukes! Amy and Daniel preparing to board the boat home

I'm looking forward to Christmas with Dac, Brian and Annabel, and to seeing Helen in January. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and wish you all the best for 2006.


[1]If you don't know this cheery song, the lyrics are to be found on this external page.

[2]More about Helen on her website: see performances and blog.

[3]More info about coaching and decluttering on Luciana's website, Life with Balance.

Page created November 2005; last updated 11 December 2005