More about 2011 [1/3]

The letter... proving remarkably difficult to write this time. That generally means the idea is fundamentally flawed and I should come up with a new one - which hasn't happened, unfortunately. Hardly anyone reads it anyway, but that's not the point. The record goes back to 1999 and I don't want to stop now.


My favourite pic from my blog:

Dac with a round tree in Page
Dac with a round tree in Page

I write reasonably regularly in the blog, which is called Weekend Walks: part of a strategy to keep myself walking. Side effects include finding formerly unseen places in Canberra, and finally learning something about this town I've lived in (and loved) for 40-odd years. Here's a photo (for Helen) which hasn't appeared there yet:

Ainslie cod
At the Ainslie shops


Because of my back, I didn't make it to Sydney in 2011. My dear sister Fiona came down whenever she could, mostly with Amy (now 12) and Daniel (now 10).

Aviary at Federation Square
Fiona got us vouchers to the Aviary

One of my best memories of the year: in the July school holidays, we took Amy and Daniel to the ice skating rink in Garema Place. Amy has had skating lessons and Daniel hasn't, so she stayed by his side, supporting him whenever he wobbled, for the whole two-hour session. What good siblings!

The whole family turned out in October to watch me clogging at Floriade - which is just as well, because I'm not doing it ever again!

Jill and Andrew B were here for a decent stay in February-March. Jill came on two Weekend Walks (Kaleen and Palmerston), having been a stalwart commenter on my blog from the beginning. Jill is an academic and a formidable writer with her own blog, so her support makes me very happy.

She also accompanied me to the annual Pamela Denoon Lecture and to an Art Song concert, where we were pursued all around the Wesley Music Centre by A Stalker. (I was so daunted that I missed all but one of the remaining Art Song concerts of 2011.)

At the other end of the spectrum from pursuit: in April, Marc was here for the first time in 14 years.

And Dac's sister Julie came to Canberra for the first time, with her partner Gez. We took them up Mount Ainslie for an overview because I hadn't yet had Mount Pleasant revealed to me.

More about the revelation of Mount Pleasant under Concerts below, and more about Julie and Gez under Trains, of which they prove to be fans. It's good to find one is not alone!


Daryl was here twice in July and again in December, when he was kind enough to take us out for Christmas dinner.

Scenes from an Eaglehawk Christmas
Annabel, Daryl, and the Colquhoun Family sign | Connie and Daryl | Daryl channeling Noël Coward | Dac & me


In August, Helen came home, after eight years in the Netherlands. She spent five days with me soon after her arrival, then returned to Melbourne, where she and Chloe were waiting for their Great Dane, Teesy, to get through quarantine.

Pictures from AQIS
Chloe and Helen visiting Teesy at Spotswood

Teesy was in prison for a month, with only two visiting days a week. It could have been an agonising time but, thanks to the hospitality of Helen's Aunt Lindy, H & C had a comfortable base. They organised whatever they could before travelling to Tasmania to take up residence on their land.

I went down to spend some time with them in Melbourne and Anglesea. Unfortunately I reckoned without my back, which had been OK for a week or two. It didn't stay OK.

We managed to visit CERES - Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies, built on a decommissioned rubbish tip that was once a bluestone quarry. Repurposing and sustainability are very pertinent to H & C, as you can see from their blog.

At CERES: Helen | Chookies | Chloe on top of an adobe hut

Helen with phone signal

Helen (left) visited me again in early December, after singing in the Newman College Advent Festival.

While she was here, she was a perpetual motion machine, clearing her stuff (and anything else we were prepared to part with) out of the garage so that I can carry out New Year plans of turning it into a room. And clearing out her caravan so I can dispense with it. (For many years it's been unusable because of leaks.)

Those possessions she decided to keep are now stashed in a garden shed - which, despite rain, hail, lightning, blackouts, and an early Christmas celebration, she built in a weekend. It was a tour de force, and I was no help at all: hardly able to move because of back spasm. Brian, on the other hand, drove several uteloads of rubbish and recycling to the tip for us.

The trashpak I hired in November was full on the first day of garage-clearing, but is still out there awaiting collection. The firm gave me the wrong account number, my payment bounced, and I didn't realise for a couple of weeks, until my bank let me know they'd fined me $11. (!) Even though the firm then reduced their bill by $11, they weren't doing another collection in my area till mid-January, so here we are. Just one of those boomerang errands that render all our days so productive...

Helen says she's coming back in February to get her stuff. I am looking forward to a visit with more time to relax together.

Early Christmas with Helen

I made Brian and Annabel agree to do the whole thing (kugels and all) on 10 December, while Helen was here. (Unfortunately Daryl was in Melbourne, but he looked after us on Christmas Day instead.) This was entirely to suit me: as well as having my daughter with me, I'd still have my support systems in place; I might get to the New Year in one piece.

(As it happens, I was not in one piece on 10 December, but I gradually got better before 1 January.)

We had a great day. Judy joined us (the only opportunity Helen had to see her) and we limited ourselves to homemade cat presents (or, for Helen, a dog present). The weather wasn't too hot, all the shops were open so we didn't have to be desperately well-prepared, and the dreadful Christmas rush hadn't really got into full swing. Annabel and Brian have both said since that they thought it was a Good Thing having early Christmas. I hope it'll become our new tradition!


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Page created 31 December 2011; last updated 11 January 2012