Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Many happy returns, sis.

So we finally arrived at the dread day -- my sister's 60th birthday. 

The venue surprised most of the guests:  the loft over the Real Tennis Club opposite St David's Park.

Julie had been planning the event for months, but what we actually needed was twice as much time and twice as many helpers.   The 4 pm start was a bit of a debacle, but with a bit of good will things settled down into an enjoyable evening of music, food and chat.   Our minister said that Julie had the most diverse range of friends he'd ever seen and I suppose that was true.   There were old school friends, neighbors, members of the croquet club, ex-casino staff, even a couple of the science-fiction fan crowd. 

We borrowed a keyboard for Madeleine, and Nikki brought along her violin, so I didn't need to worry about playing any music for the guests.   We had the real thing, live and spontaneous.

As for the food -- well, we had a lot and people brought lots, so at the end of the evening we actually took home as much food as we brought.   Not the same food though!

Amongst the items at the party, we had a toast to the birthday girl from the Bishop of Grafton (who'd been at school with Julie), a display of photographs of Julie's life (which also included a hunt-the-chicken game - sort of like "Where's Wally?" with feathers) and a trivia quiz.   The final segment had three winners, who all scored eleven out of a possible twelve.    Just as well we had prepared several prizes. 

I had carried in a lot of drinks, but most of them were still left at the end of the day.   We used the beer and cider and some of the soft drinks, but there was a lot of wine that wasn't needed;   we used most of the personalized champagne that Julie ordered over the Internet though.   A lot of the people from church who had only been there in the afternoon stuck to tea and coffee.

So about 10:30 pm everyone had wandered off and a couple of our faithful friends threw themselves into cleaning up the place.   By the time we'd run the vacuum cleaner over the carpet and packed everything up, we were out of there by 11:20.  Thanks to Leon for helping us out by providing a third motor vehicle to drive all the stuff home.   He even took the helium balloons, which were a bit of a handful all in themselves.

So now we can start thinking about Christmas.   It was so hectic that we couldn't even get our heads around the Christmas season until the party was over.

We should just about finish the birthday leftovers by the time we have to start piling the turkey onto our plates....

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Time marches on...


So the seasons change. The fierce Australian summer has given way to autumn, and now the chill of winter can be felt in the air.

Not a bad thing, some people would say. This year we had record temperatures in my home town -- 42 degrees celsius, which is 105 degrees in the old Fahrenheit scale. That is way too hot for most people.  

I found it difficult to tolerate, since I have been tired nearly all year. My sister Julie and her livestock took up a lot of time out of every day, and her "night owl" lifestyle doesn't really mesh with mine very well.

Last year, for example, I had to abandon my annual contribution to National Novel Writing Month halfway through the 50,000 word project. This is the first time in six years that has happened. There are things that you can do on four hour’s sleep, but writing fiction is not one of them.

Apparently housework is another. The place is spiralling out of control and I intend to try and get a handle on things next week, starting with installing a Trashpak container so I can shovel the garbage out of the house and see it hauled away every month.

One of my friends recently commented “You seem to be busier since you retired than you were before.” She’s not wrong. There seems to be something on every day.

Even last Sunday wasn’t exactly a day of rest. Up in the morning to go in to church as usual, then after Julie and I grabbed a quick lunch it was out to the Anglican church at St John’s Park who were celebrating their 175th anniversary. Thomas Heywood is the first Australian musician in history to ever make a professional living as a concert organist and his usual enthusiasm was undiminished as he played the church’s newly upgraded organ. After an enjoyable hour of light classics, we called in to the church hall for a Devonshire Tea followed by a tour of the lovely Georgian-style church.

It was dark by the time we left St John’s Park. We went back to my place and I served up a light meal while we listened to WAMU’s “Stained Glass Bluegrass” show on the Internet. This actually airs on Sunday morning in the US but the time difference means that we can listen to it live on Sunday night!

After that, it was time to go to Julie’s place again to feed the animals again. Including travelling time, this takes about two and a half hours out of every evening, so a not inconsiderable chunk of each day. I try to make some use of the time we spend driving back and forth every day -- at the moment we’re listening to downloads of the BBC radio serial “The Archers” whenever we’re in the car.

In fact a lot of my entertainment comes from radio, live or streamed over the Internet. The analog television transmitters were switched off last month, and although I do own a digital television set, I just don’t seem to have had time to clear a space and set it up! Maybe next month.