Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sherbrooke Forest







These were all taken about a 10 minute drive from where I live on the outskirts of Melbourne on the Sherbrooke Falls Track near Ferny Creek.

Homecoming

Son number 1 is on a weeks leave from Duntroon as of yesterday. The last two times he was down he stayed with me but spent a fair bit of time at his mothers which was of course "home". This time home is no longer available to him because it's occupied by a stranger and he has said that he will be staying with a mate rather than with me. Odd that now the daughters are accepting of my new living arrangements that my sons seem to be struggling with it.

Son number 2 is heading off to Townsville tomorrow with a couple of mates. He's told me he has work lined up and that for the first few days they'll be bedding down at a friend of a friends place until they can find one of their own. I've also told him that if it doesn't work out and has to move back here that I have a spare bedroom he can have.

I am sad that both of them are having trouble with the situation and I fully understand that maybe they think in some bizarre way that if they accept it they would be betraying their mum. But I'm the only one who has done that and that can't be changed. I trust that in time they will come around. At the very least I am hoping that son number 1 will be around for dinner maybe tomorrow night, and I'm sure we'll at least go to a movie this week, most likely on tightarse Tuesday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Workless Saturday


Not much work will get done in Melbourne this afternoon, it's AFL Grand Final day and even if you don't barrack for either of the teams competing, 90% of the population will be sitting down in front of the TV watching the game.

I barrack for Carlton - the not so mighty blues these days having finished near the bottom of the competition for the last five years. But despite that my club is still one of the most powerful in the competition and we all live in hope that a climb back up to premiership glory won't be far away.

I had no choice about what team I followed and nor have my kids, my oldest son Luke being given his first footy jumper when he was a day old. But that's not uncommon, if you're born, raised in Melbourne or adopt it as your home, you will have a football team to follow. Admittedly, some will be more passionate than others, but an early conversation starter when you meet a stranger is still "Who do you barrack for?" Everyone knows that the person asking the question is talking about footy.

We have a national competition now with teams from all the mainland states involved in the competition but when I was growing up it was a suburban league and my family followed Carlton because that was where they lived. The tribalism has survived the relocation of teams and the intermingling of the barrackers in suburbs way beyond those where the game originated.

Carlton's home ground used to be Princess Park, it still is used as a training venue but the game and it's requirements for corporate hospitality overtook that and all of the other suburan grounds that used to be used.

I loved school holidays in winter when I was a kid because it meant that I would spend time staying at my grandparents and on Saturday afternoons my Grandad and cousins and I would head off to Princess Park to watch the game. There weren't many seats in those days and if you got their a bit late it was pretty hard to see anything when I was still wearing my kids height. We'd spend a bit of time picking beer cans up off the ground and building a platform we could stand on that would give us another 6 inches in height. I remember the smells too - the intermingling of beer and cigarette smoke; the smell of meat pies and tomato sauce which either burnt your tongue when you bit into them or were on the cold side of warm. The sound of the lolly boys calling out - "Drinks, lollies, chocolates, peanuts and potato chips. The winds were cold and the rain sometimes sleeting but that didn't matter we were there to watch our heroes.

The cheer squads sat behind the goals at opposite ends of the ground. They carried 6 foot long sticks with massive amounts of streamers in club colours taped to their ends that would be waved after our side scored a goal or in an effort to put off the opposition if they were kicking down that end that quarter. These were called floggers and we made a few attempts to make some as well but they were never as large or as colourful as those the Cheer Squad carried. You could always tell who was in the cheer squad because they'd be wearing their duffle coats with countless badges with player names and numbers sewn onto them.

I have been lucky enough to have my side win 8 premierships in my lifetime which is roughly one every seven years, and I have also been lucky enough to see a couple of those live on this last Saturday in September at the MCG [the Melbourne Cricket Ground]. This is one of the great sports arenas of the world and if you live in Melbourne it's simply called "The G".

I saw several Grand Finals in a row when I was in High School. My mate David Palmer and I would get up early, catch a train into the ground and hang around the Salvos who would be given tickets that people couldn't use and then give them to people in exchange for a donation. We got into the ground with standing room tickets for a few years in a row. In 1972 I went home happy when Carlton beat Richmond and in 1973 it was David's turn when the result was reversed.

When I was in the police force I also saw a couple of Grand Finals in the 80's when I was on the close personal protection team for the Prime Minister. They were good jobs because once he was inside his Federal Police gaurds stayed with him while we could go off and watch the game. And finally I was able to go to last years game as a guest of one of my works sponsors.

These days Grand Final day is much more of a social event than it was in the 70's. Back then far more supporters of the participating clubs could get tickets, today 70% of the available tickets go to corporates and members of the AFL and the Melbourne Cricket Club. Still the atmosphere is as good today as it was all those years ago. You can still get a beer and a pie with sauce, but also such eclectic foreign items and pizza and even sushi if you so desire. Thankfully, smoking is now banned inside the ground. Floggers have also been banned but people will still wear their club colours, although I haven't seen a duffle coat in years.

I'm not lucky enough to be there today but I am sitting in my loungeroom in a comfortable chair and I'll be barracking for the Victorian club in the game, the Geelong Cats, and hope they absolutely belt those upstarts and relative newcomers form Port Adelaide.

If you want to get a taste of Melbourne and learn a little bit about footy in general and this special day in particular then checkout the three Youtube videos below. The first two were used on TV, "Up there Cazaly" in the 70's, and "Thats what I like about football" in the 90's. The final one is by Paul Kelly and whilst not about football does capture some of the essence of Melbourne and that area around "The G".





Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Of Fog


My friend walksfarwoman at Kissing the Dogwood has written a wonderful post about a person from her past and in the comments mentions that the memory came flooding back when she saw an advert for a forthcoming program. It’s often the way that memories do come seemingly unprompted and reading that post triggered some for me too.

My mate Fog lived around the corner from me in Box Hill South on the Golf Club Estate. We went to different Primary schools but the same high school and in the early teen years I would call us acquaintances rather than mates. I don’t know when that changed but at some stage we began to circulate in the same circle of friends and started to socialize outside school.

Fog was a corruption of his name – Geoff spelt backwards, which although was actually FFeog got shortened very quickly to just Fog. And he was anything but foggy, he was one of the brightest persons I have ever met, with a keen wit but an underlying ageness about him that in retrospect made him way older than his years.

Fog introduced me to music. His bedroom had the best stereo system I had ever heard to that stage and we spent many a day sitting in arm chairs listening to the Eagles, Genesis and Yes to name a few. I well remember the excitement of listening to Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and later Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. There were days listening to Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Focus, ELO and Supertramp.

Every Sunday night Fog would turn up at my place after dinner and we’d sit and watch a Sunday night movie on the telly. This would happen without fail and continued really until I got tied up with a girlfriend who was to become my wife.

Fog had terrible eyesight and a bad back. I wrote about my first bushwalk here, where his back became an issue for us, but far more of a long term issue for him. [That's him leaning on the car door in the photo above.] I remember talking about the future at times with him and he stated very early on that he would not have children because he didn’t want to pass on his bad genes to the future of humanity. Can you imagine making that sort of decision in your late teens, it staggered me at the time but it was easy to write it off because that was just Fog. He could say those sorts of things, mean them and you knew that it was likely that he would follow through on it.

At some stage in High School he took to wearing a grey dustcoat and a peaked “CAT” hat. In those days baseball type caps weren’t common in Australia but Fog wore his everywhere.

We went to different universities but unlike some of our other mates we continued to live at home. Still it was around that time that we started to drift a little apart I think. We were moving in different circles of friends, he was making firmer friends amongst his uni mates than I was and I was in a relationship with my future wife and as sometimes happens, the mateships can often begin to take a backseat to love.

Fog went to Nepal when in his early twenties and I remember he came back around 3 stone lighter than when he left after a bad bout of dysentery. I remember him proudly telling me that he had buried his old dust coat in a glacier at Everest Base Camp – not something anyone would probably admit to in these more enlightened days.

Fog was a groomsman at my wedding in 1982 and when my first son was born in 1984 and the burdens and excitement of fatherhood began to encroach on my free time, Fog and I drifted apart. We didn’t see a lot of each other over the next few years. Fog continued to work at the same institution at which he studied and moved into a house around the corner from work. He began to drink heavily and his bad back meant that he did little exercise and as a result his weight ballooned. He called the front bar of his local pub his loungeroom.

In 1997 I was at work one day and got a call from another mate who told me that Fog had been found dead in his house, having had a stroke and dying alone on the cold tiles of his bathroom floor. He was 39 and I still miss those early days. When I hear Supertramp or Genesis these days those good times come flooding back.

Don Henley - Taking You Home

Just because I love the song and it is of the love of a father for his children

I need a Holiday

I spent a week at Narooma with the kids between Christmas and New Year last year. It was a strange holiday marking the beginning of the end in so many ways. We had spent 13 years of Christmas holidays in that same camping ground where the kids had learnt to ride their two-wheelers and to roller blade and where I had lounged around and devoured many books. But last year was the first without being a family and it was sad and uncomfortable by turns, and there was a need to try and put on a facade of normalcy for my two daughters in particular.

They are still going this coming Christmas, at least I hope they are. E said to me a couple of weeks ago that L didn't want to go but that wasn't fair, because she still wanted to and why should her brothers and sister get to choose the time when they stopped coming but she didn't. I said that I would continue to take her if her mother didn't want to because once they give up the camp site they will never get it back.

Anyway, for the most part Christmas last year sucked, and it's been an even bigger year emotionally this year than last in some ways. At the moment I feel tired and just want to take some time off to relax. So I think in early December I'm gonna take off to Tasmania for a week, just drive around, do a few bushwalks that are neither too long nor too strenuous and take a lot of photos. I can't go any earlier because some of my staff will already be away.

That's the plan anyway and it's good to have some plans.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Your Parents Must Be So Proud...

Skipper at My Life Starts at Forty has written a post with the title "Your parents must be proud..." in which she states that she believed she could never live up to the expectations of the comment and as a result rebelled to make her own way.

I lived with people saying much the same thing to me as a kid or having Mum in particular saying that other people had told her she should be proud of me. I was never sure why that was the case. But I did feel the weight of expectation, always scared to speak my mind or disobey. If I was told to be home at 11pm I made damn sure I was.

But was it really fear or a desire by me to live up to the expectations of other people? I was told around 10 years old that I was the man of the house and I had to look after my mother and sisters. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out what that meant. Unlike Skipper I didn't rebel, I conformed, maybe that made people proud of me, maybe it turned me into the boring anti-social nerd I sometimes feel I am.

Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
Charlotte Bronte

And perhaps not only the event but the life itself will not match the expectation in the long term. I find myself wondering about how my kids will turn out, whether they will succeed or not in whatever they may choose to do, and I try very hard not to put the weight of my own expectations on them like I had placed on me. Whilst I hope that things will turn out better for them than perhaps they have for me, we all make our own way, with our own mistakes. Hopefully when we fall someone will be there to offer their hand and help us up. But only if we want it.

So whilst I think that, unlike Skipper, I tried way too hard to live up to other people's expectations with a desire, if not to make them proud, at least not to disappoint them, I hope that my kids escape the need to think they owe me that. At the end of the day I'll be proud of them anyway.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not popular - Just the Watcher

I was a little flattered by a couple of the comments relating to the photo of me as a 17 year old in the Sun Days post. Actually I was very flattered because even with the David Cassidy haircut I wasn't the most popular guy in the school. In fact throughout my entire school life I had one girl friend for a period of a couple of months in Fourth Form - Year 10 in today's language.

I was actually extremely shy and had a lot of trouble even talking to girls - in fact I was one of those blokes who hung around in the background and if we were ever seen in a mixed group of boys and girls it was because the girls were usually the girlfriends of my mates not mine. There was only ever one girl who showed any interest in me and I was terrified when I was told out it. What should I do? How should I react? If I opened my mouth would she run a mile?

Thinking back on it that shyness was a huge social liability. I was scared to go to parties and when I did I tended to stand in the corner as an observer rather than as a participator. Some of you who have been following my blogs for a while will know that my Dad was an alcoholic and as a result of that I remember promising my grandmother at a very young age that I would never drink, a promise that has held true to this day. That meant that in social situations I never got to the stage where my inhibitions and hangups were ever forgotten.

From a very early age I kept a tight control on emotion and whilst my mates were doing the things that teenage boys generally did I became the Watcher. I struggled to read out loud in class when asked, and didn't put my hand up to answer any questions unless I was absolutely sure I was right and even then it terrified the life out of me. This fear of public ridicule manifested itself in a shyness so that I think I appeared more the shadow of a school kid than one the girls would look at and think I might have been worth getting to know. I wrote a post about my first kiss a few months ago and again looking back the fears associated with that never really went away.

So to the two ladies who commented on the photo, that young man from 1974 thanks you, it was a nice and unexpected ego boost. If only I knew then what I know now maybe the watchers alarm clock may have gone off a little earlier.

Only Eczema

Thanks to everyone who left messages for me - as it turned out the skin thing was simply eczema and could have been left but based on past history was better out and checked than left :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Job Interviews

We have advertised a new position in the past couple of weeks for a Junior Programs Coaching Coordinator. In brief they will be primarily responsible for overseeing our junior representative program including appointing coaches to teams, dealing with player and parent issues etc. In addition they will be expected to develop and implement programs to assist our junior domestic clubs, of which there are 18 containing around 700 teams of kids from 5 years old to 20.

Apart from a number of applications from Australians I have received some from Germany, Barcelona, Nairoba and Kenya, as well as one from a Scot living in Canada. I told the Chairman I thought it would be important to observe and interview these people in their native environments but he wouldn't be in it.

Musical Monday - Into my arms

Here's a chance to promote an Aussie musician who I suspect is unknown to most of you who read this blog. Enjoy "Into my arms" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Aching Tonight

I have spent the weekend shifting the last of my property from the family home - books, comics and fish tank. I had hoped to finish this weekend but there were a few unexpected holdups like a run to the tip to empty a trailer full of rubbish and the lack of electricity at the house which meant I couldn't keep going last night because it was getting hard to see.

L has rented the house to a work colleague of hers and there were things I wanted to keep so had to move them. I have found out how unfit I am sitting here now, muscles aching, on a weekend when I wasn't supposed to lift anything because of the stitches in my shoulder [for that story see here] .

I still have a few more boxes of books to collect plus my record collection which will all have to be done next weekend now. I also have a shed full of stuff I haven't touched for years so I'll have to do that in the next few weeks too.

I don't think the fish have been looked after much in the last few months - there were only 11 left alive and the tank water was very cold because the electricity had been cut off a day or so earlier. Three more fish died in the move and I expect that some more may yet succumb to the shock of the move, although they're all looking reasonably happy at the moment, that is if a fish can look happy. That's not a criticism of anyone because I know they all would have been stressing about the move. It's not every day that kids move out of the only home they've ever known so I understand why fish weren't a priority.

Incidentally I did notice the budgies the girls gave me for my birthday last year were gone. I had dropped them at the house over Christmas and left them there primarily because L had told Erin that she'd get an aviary built for them. Once the move was organised that wasn't practical of course so they were given to L's niece. Not really sure why I wasn't given the option of taking them back. Maybe I got asked, but I don't remember it happening.

Erin did ask me in to see her new room yesterday morning after I dropped her off. I hope they settle in quickly to the new arrangement. I have offered for them to stay in my spare bedroom any time they wish to but that's not likely to happen.

Sun Days


Way back in the days of my youth, before the hole in the ozone layer appeared, before we thought too much about global warming and the knowledge of my own mortality lay somewhere in the distant future, I was a sun worshipper. I wasn't alone of course, all of us here in the land downunder spent summers tanning. No such thing as 15 spf in those days, we had things like coppertone and our favourite, coconut oil.

Despite the days spent lying on a footpath turning every fifteeen minutes and slow basting in the sun I can only remember two really serious sunburns. One occurred one summer school holidays when I had a job watering the greens at the local golf course. Out in the sun all day for weeks I ended up badly blistered on my chest from the sunburn. I think I was about 16 then, about the age I was in the photo here.

The second time was an Australia Day weekend in January 1978 when I spent the holiday weekend with mates at Torquay on what is now called the "Surf Coast". That was a blistering weekend too only that time it was the shoulders that copped it.

Mum would make up a concoction of tomatoes and vinegar and bathe the sunburnt areas with it. I have no idea what that did except disguise the summer smell of sweaty feet. My sister Karen and I used to have a competition each summer to see which one of us would get brownest and on most occasions it was me who won. Maybe she was more sensible than I was, but after the first few weeks of a normal summer I no longer burnt I did just go darker with each passing day in the sun. I hated that my skin was the type that pretty soon returned to normal once we went back to school in February.

Around 8 years ago I had a sqamous cell carcinoma cut from my right collar bone. On Friday I had something that looked pretty similar cut from my left shoulder. I get the results next Friday, but I guess it is the price of those many early Sun Days.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Three Brave Ladies

Three very brave women have passed away this week in Melbourne and I couldn't let their passing go without mentioning it.

Firstly, two days ago 91 year old Rachel WIlliams died. A coward bashed her whilst she lay in bed after he broke into her house through her bedroom window back on 13 August.

Yesterday 26 year old Claire Oliver died of melanoma after several visits to a solarium a few short years ago. Over the past few weeks she has spoken out bravely about the risks of these establishments and as a result the Victorian government will introduce new legislation to enforce a code of conduct. She appeared in newspapers and TV in the week of her birthday [25th August, also that of my son] not knowing if she would make it to 26 or not.

Finally, Dr Ellice Hammond, aged 37 died three weeks after the birth of her daughter who survived because she refused life saving treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, which she was diagnosed with when she was 20 weeks pregnant.

All have shown remarkable bravery in very different circumstances and that inspiration alone should be enough to ensure that none of them have died in vain

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An old Crisis

From an old journal - Thursday 8th July 1991

I mentioned to someone the other day that it was my birthday last Sunday and after I said I was 34 they said "Have you gone through midlife crisis yet?" Well firstly I didn't think I'd reached a crisis until I realised that 34 years old is pretty close to the middle of my life. So now I am in crisis.

The Diggers


From an old journal - Friday 13th April 1990

I'm writing tonight with Neil Young's "Harvest" and "After the Gold Rush" albums playing in the background. I'd not played them for a long time and even after nearly twenty years they still stand up well and they bring back a lot of good memories.

In the mid 1970's as a poor student neither I nor the group of mates I had which were collectively called "The Diggers could afford to go out very often. So we spent a lot of long nights at various peoples places gathered in the lounge room singing Neil Youn and James Taylor ballads, and Ausiie bush music to the accompaniment of a couple of guitars and occasionally a piano or a recorder. None of us were great singers but we had fun and it didn't cost much. I forgot to say that Bob Dylan's music also featured heavily.

Those memories are precious to me. The group of mates that were at school together for twelve years had yet to break up and although I still see some of them, the varied experiences of the ensuing years has in some ways put a barrier between us that even those memories can't fully break down. I suppose that's why I value Ian's friendship so much although we don't see a lot of each other now, our families are growing up together and even if links between them aren't strong they're still there. Our holidays together once a year is what keeps them going.

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Postscript
We spent a number of Easters on holiday together and several Christmas holidays at Narooma but those days, like the loungeroom singalongs have passed.

I see very little of anyone from those days at all now. Ian and I speak occasionally but it would seem that Lyn is who they are maintaining the friendship with. I wonder whether it is possible to do both. Certainly it must be uncomfortable for them and it shouldn't be a matter of choosing between us. I guess things will work themselves out over time.

Where do the years go?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wonder

.
I spoke about the novel Boys Life by Robert McCammon in this post a while back, but I re-read the poem that begins the story and I had to re-post it here.

The Poem Introducing Boy's Life
by Robert R. McCammon

We ran like young wild furies,
where angels feared to tread.
The woods were dark and deep.
Before us demons fled.
We checked Coke bottle bottoms
to see how far was far.
Our worlds of magic wonder
were never reached by car.
We loved our dogs like brothers,
our bikes like rocket ships.
We were going to the stars,
to Mars we'd make round trips.
We swung on vines like Tarzan,
and flashed Zorro's keen blade.
We were James Bond in his Aston,
we were Hercules unchained.
We looked upon the future
and we saw a distant land,
where our folks were always ageless,
and time was shifting sand.
We filled up life with living,
with grins, scabbed knees, and noise.
In glass I see an older man,
but this book's for the boys.

Copyright © 1991 by Robert R. McCammon. This poem originally appeared in the Pocket Books hardcover edition of Boy's Life, first printed in August 1991. From Robert McCammon.com

Who among us has not known the freedom of the magic steed between our knees, or climbed Jack's beanstalk, battled dark knights, and rescued maidens fair [even when girls had germs]. Sailed far worlds, flown from the roofs of sheds with capes stiff behind us, spoken to our dogs like best mates, stared from the roof of our house to far distant lands. Caught the larva of dragons in ponds surrounded by blackberries and found only by treading a maze while clothes were tugged by thorns and spiders and snakes lurked hidden in scrub. These are the things of a Boys Life and I wonder when the mundane arrived to chase away the excitement. Or even if it has really gone forever.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hiatus Ended

I spent the weekend in Brisbane, flown up, accommodation paid for and car hired by Basketball Queensland because they invited me to speak at their Annual Conference. Firstly I should say that it amazes me that people think what I have to say is interesting. But, when I think that, I have to remind myself that my State body named Knox as the Association of the Year for 2006, the national body named us the "Large" Association of the Year for 2007, and, on a personal note, I have been named administrator of the year by the state body for both 2005 and 2006. So I guess I must be doing something right.

Still, readers of my other blog will know that one of the manifestations of the so-called midlife crisis is a major problem with self esteem. I am learning to deal with that.

For a society that is as homogenous as Australia is, in the big cities at least, I am constantly intrigued by the physical differences in people in both Sydney and Brisbane compared to Melbourne. I really think there are emerging cultural differences between the cities, or maybe they have always been there. Perhaps it has something to do with the types of sports we favour, or maybe the weather or even the geography. Or perhaps it is simply the unfamiliarity of a strange city that heightens the feelings of difference.

One thing I did learn was that the sport of basketball has the same issues up there as we do here - referees, coaches and lack of venues are the three overriding problems the sport faces.

I also caught up with a young bloke who used to work for me but who moved up there a few years ago with his girlfriend, only to break up with her a month later. Almost a year ago he went swimming with some mates in Surfers Paradise, and on diving into the water, shattered a vertebrae on a sand bank. He was extremely lucky not to have drowned but is classified as a partial quadraplegic being paralysed from his chest down. It was a shock to see him in this state for the first time. Whilst I have spoken to him on the phone, chatted on Yahoo and exchanged emails over the past year, to see a bloke who was full of life and a good athlete, now confined to a wheelchair was hard.

I have to say his attitude is fantastic, he joked about having shrunk 50 centimeters, and is remarkably realistic about his situation and his future. He is an only child and his mother lives in Melbourne, but he has no intention of returning to live down here, and that I think is testament to the support network of friends he has up there. I will put the word out in the basketball community in Queensland that he is looking for work, even in a part time capacity. One problem he has at the moment is that he is having bad muscle spasms which limit his mobility further but that may settle down over the next twelve months and there are some surgical options which may work for him down the track a bit.

Sometimes we can sit around and mope and feel sorry for ourselves when minor irritations occur. It is inspirational to see some people overcome enormous adversity and take so much pain and frustration in their stride.

Lonesome Home

This past weekend L and the kids moved out of the family home. It was inevitable but not something I wanted nor welcomed. I left there myself more than 18 months ago as a result of a number of things but I am learning to attempt to live without regret. I do believe that in the long term it was the best decision for all of us.

Nonetheless, with someone new moving into my old home next weekend I can't help but feel saddened. That is the house where we brought our four children home, where the birthdays and Christmases were celebrated, where the remains of five beloved family pets are buried. It echos with memories of that past life, of happier times when there were hints of a different future lurking just beyond tomorrow.

It has given a sense of place to my life for more than 25 years, more than a house, it was home in the true context of all that word encompasses.

So it is now yet another step along the way of moving on. I have signed over the home to L and she is in the process of paying out the joint mortgages and taking one in her own right. The house is hers now, or at least it will be when the paperwork is fnalised, and I don't even really have any right to comment. I hope that the new living arrangements work. I hope the kids know that they can live with me if they wish to. I trust that the love of parents is more necessary and comforting than the physical reality of a house.

I want nothing more for all of us than the belief that at some time there will be a new home somewhere, somewhen.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A short hiatus

I've packed my sunnies, shorts and thongs and am heading off to Brisbane, Queensland to talk at a basketball conference tomorrow. Just found out it's been raining non-stop up there for the last three days with more to come over the weekend so that clothing won't be necessary. Lucky I'll be inside all weekend anyway. Don't miss me too much ;)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Scientology and Blog Catalog

Now to the best of my knowledge I have never mentioned Scientology on this blog before. Truth is I know very little about it other than Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are practioners. I did however, read L Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth when I was a kid.

Now I have been a member of Blog Catalog since fairly early in my blogging life but I have to say I hadn't noticed a related blogs section on the right hand side of this blogs page before today. The three blogs this widget says are related to this one are -

A matter of perspective which is a fellow Aussie blog so I can see some connection there.

Palo Alto Scientology Mission and

Soma Scientology Mission


I for the life of me can't really see any connection to those last two. So I invite any of you to find a link or any readers who also happen to be Scientologists to perhaps explain what they may see as a link. Secondly, if you're a member of Blog Catalog, what are your "related blogs"?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The old and wise

From Journal 1 12th March 1986

It's Funny but when I was a young child I considered my parents to be old and wise. Now when I am a parent I certainly don't feel old and at times not all that wise. Being a father has made me realise that the twenty or thirty years age difference between most children and parents is not all that great a time.

Already Luke is two years old and Glen over six months and time sems to be marching on ever more quickly. Lyn and Ioften refer to the things Luke used to do as a baby as Glen reaches and passes through the same stages. This is not an attempt to be maudlin and shows no regret because each day brings new joys, but I often wiinder how one can be nostalgic for things that occurred such a short time ago.

Having children has also reinforced that feeling of mortality and the sense that life is short. I lost Pa Joyce when I was 17 years old and I was lucky. Most of the kids I knew had lost grandparents a lot younger than I was at the time and some of them had lost parents as well. If Luke is that lucky that means my parents or Lyn's parents may die some time in the next 15 years and that does make me sad.

By the same token children give one a certain sense of immortality for as long as they live the memories of their loved ones linger on. I hope Luke and Glen are at least as lucky as I was.

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Postscript
They weren't. Lyn's father passed away as a relatively young man of 56 in 1989, six weeks before the birth of my first daughter , my Dad in 2004. Both their grandmothers are still alive, my Mum at 77 years of age and Lyn's at 74.

Truth

I have never considered myself to be a particularly judgmental person but have been judged myself. I have never believed that the opinions other people offer me are necessarily the truth, they may be, but I have found it a far better option to make up my own mind about things.

I have been guilty of passing judgment, and I have even been guilty of offering a personal opinion about other people and their behaviour at times, but one thing I have learnt over the past few years is that even my opinion is only one possible version of the truth. That is the real key to truth. Personal experience, past behaviour, environment and genes all come together in a mix that means no two people ever experience the same thing in exactly the same way.

On my mothers birthday a few weeks back, my sisters their kids and mine sat around the kitchen table talking about our memories of childhood. My sister mentioned a few things that happened that I have absolutely no memory of. In fact if I was asked if things happened the way in which she believed they did I would have to say she was lying. Reality is that as kids our view of the world in which we live is not fully formed. Things said, or behaviour observed occurs in a far different context to the way we view things in the adult world. I know now that for my sister her truth is just as valid as mine for those events.

Therefore the opinions people hold of others are formed in ways which are coloured by their own perceptions and realities which may be a truth, but not necessarily the only truth.

When Mark Twain said "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything" he was only half right because the problem is your memories are only your own very individual truth. So there are many roads to truth and we really need to remember that when we listen to the gossip of others who offer opinion cloaked as truth.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sydney





Red Letter Day


Here in Oz it is Fathers Day. I spend every Thursday night with my daughters and they asked me what I wanted to do today and to be honest I didn't really care what we did as long as I got to hang out with them for a while. This is the second fathers day since the split so things are different to before but I guess the trauma is easing a little.

Anyway Daughter 1 said she would call me this morning and she did and she and Daughter 2 came around about 12:30 this afternoon. Now for reasons I won't state here that is the absolute best Fathers Day present I could have hoped for. It was an extrememly difficult thing for them to do and I will be forever grateful that they came and I hope that it will be easier from now on.

We went from here to the nearest shopping Mall where we had lunch and then they bought me a few books for presents. Just for the record and so you may get an inkling of what I like to read they were - Ink by Hal Duncan, The Hard Way by Lee Child, The Collectors by David Baldacci and Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly.

We were supposed to meet son number 2 there but he rang and said that he had to take a mate home and that he would drop around here later on. Well it's 8:30pm and I don't think that'll happen now, so we're still in a bit of a cats in the cradle moment there.

Son number 1 is off in the bush somewhere in Queensland and I think won't have phone access until next Friday whereupon I know he will call me.

So my darling daughters as I said to you both today. I know how hard it was for you both to come around here today and I truly appreciate it and love you very much. Thank you both!