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Saturday, December 31, 2005

D-Day minus 1.

Holt Press
We leave for Beach Mission at Augusta tomorrow (next year actually) so today has been spent packing and getting ready. We'll be away for 10 days, staying at Turner Caravan Park on the bank of the Blackwood River. There are 80 people on our team, 50 adults and 30 kids so it's a pretty big operation. The next 2 days will be spent setting up marquees and tents, a camp kitchen with multiple stoves and fridges, power and lighting to run a week of activities for kids, teenagers, adults and families. As the name suggests, we're on a mission from God. The team are Christians from a number of churches in Perth, Bunbury and Busselton and the aim of the mission is to share the love of God and the message of Jesus in a fun and user friendly way. The mission has a history stretching back over 40 years at Augusta and many campers book their holidays to coincide with the mission so that they and their children can join in the program. There'll be a movie night, a quiz night, a carnival and bush dance and a concert, a sandcastle competition, wine and cheese sundowner, riverside worship service and an adult candlelit dinner, as well as the morning program by the river each day; songs, drama, stories and games. Add in an adult coffee shop and craft group each morning plus a whole program of activities just for teenagers; caving, beach trip, games, spotlight, fugitive hunt, movie night and the teen tent open each night with music, games, ping pong etc and you can see it's a very busy week. We get big numbers of kids and families, eg. the carnival and bush dance usually attracts over 300 people. I am the Co-Director of the mission along with my mate Rolf who thankfully picks up a lot of the paperwork and admin tasks before mission. My strengths are in the up-front roles,ie. running events, public speaking, leading the team etc. The Holt Press family have been going to Augusta Beach Mission for over 10 years so it has become a much-loved tradition for us and the kids. Sport Boy has never known a Summer without going to Augusta.
Today I had to find a trailer to take with us after discovering the one I planned to use was no longer available. Ruth and Antony to the rescue with their dual axle caged trailer. Next I met up with Murray at Noel's place in order to load the marquee onto his truck, then to the school to load the stage modules we use for the concert. He's bringing all that gear down tomorrow which is a great blessing because we've often had to pay to have it transported in the past. Then I flushed the radiator on the Tarago and put some stop leak goo in it. The head gasket has blown on it but I'm hoping we may be able to nurse it through the next month until the new car arrives. I don't know if the goo worked but it didn't overheat while I drove it round for an hour. I'm heading down early in the morning so I can visit a couple of the churches to do some PR for the mission, the Co-Pilot will drive the van down later, so long as it doesn't overheat on her, she'll be driving by faith.
I dropped Sport Boy off at a friend's place to play for the afternoon so he wasn't under my feet while I was gathering and packing all the camping gear and things we need for the program.
I had to collect some first aid kits and the PA from the office this morning, it belongs to the mission and I look after it and get the use of it during the year, it's been very handy for things like Phat Phriday, and in the process I've learned how to set it up, another small victory for the technically challenged.
In between all those tasks I've also hung half a dozen pictures we bought in Perth, and some candle light holders in the bedroom and bathroom. I love hanging things and would cover the walls with photos and pictures if I could but the Co-Pilot is not so keen, she feels like they make the walls cluttered and over-power the room. At least I can have free reign in the study which is now the happy home of my Beatles portrait. I love The Beatles.
The good news is I'm just about ready. The car and trailer are packed. The paperwork is all done. Just remains for me to get away in time in the morning.
I'm not sure what access I'll have to a computer and the internet for the next week. I'm sure there must be internet access in Augusta but whether that stretches to a net cafe remains to be seen. I'm certainly hoping to keep posting while the mission is on.

Happy New Year !

Friday, December 30, 2005

Best present winner

Views may differ but in the opinion of Holt Press, the clear winner of best present was this T-shirt for my step-Dad Walter aka No.3. He is a great bloke and has been the best thing to happen to my Mum in years. They really love one another and are very good for each other. No. 3 has a great sense of humour so we knew he'd see the funny side of this gift and while The Bear Lady didn't have a magic lamp, it's no exaggeration to say that finding No.3 was the answer to her hopes and prayers. Their home in Bridgetown is hospitality city, we all enjoy our visits and are always welcomed enthusiastically. If you're ever in Bridgetown call in for a cuppa, tell them Holt Press sent you! Posted by Picasa

Holt Press Family Christmas 2005

As posted recently, nearly the whole extended Holt Press family gathered for Christmas on Wed night at BB the Accountant's house. Here's the evidence that a good time was had by all. Only Rebel Daughter and The Heir were missing from the WA side of the family. One year it would be great to have Mr and Mrs Farmer and Shannon aka Baby of the family, and Neil aka Tractor Man and their kids all come over as well. Who knows, we might even be able to lure Grandpa the Poet over for such an occasion. Posted by Picasa

Sneak preview of the new car

While in Bunbury I spotted this new Yaris at Toyota. It's a 2 door, we're getting the 4 door. The colour, as you will have recognised of course, is Tuscan Sunset which is what The Co-Pilot chose. The choice of colour has been much discussed around the Holt Press dinner table. Let me be the first to say, it doesn't look like this in real life! Nor on either of the colour swatch cards from Toyota! Posted by Picasa

Timber mosaic

The enlarged version of the timber mosaic mentioned below. This is better but still doesn't do it justice. Posted by Picasa

Some of Sal's art collection

We were admiring and discussing some of The Teacher and Engineer's art collection which includes an Aussie Town scene by Busselton artist Jenny Taylor, a Lichtenstein print, a lovely fabric embroidery and their newest piece a timber mosaic (top middle). This small version doesn't do it justice, I'll post a pic of it on it's own. This piece has inspired me to have a go at something similar (in style not quality)) The polished and decorated timber blocks are all set at different depths, giving it a very interesting 3D effect. One of my aims for these holidays is try my hand at a couple of art projects, I bought a canvas a few months ago with this in mind.
The Teacher made the starfish mosaic out of coloured glass, beads and sea shells. I really like it, it seems to me mosaics are a very accessible art form and I love colour and shape so perhaps I'll have a play around with that too.
On a much more modest note, while we were in Perth yesterday we took advantage of the greater shopping choices and spent a couple of hours at Whitfords SC where we bought some nice block mounted prints, including a Monet, a delightful Winnie the Pooh for Sport Boy's room, and being a teenager, Techsta chose a Green Day poster. I got a Beatles portrait for my study, and we bought a very cool picture for one of the family's Christmas present for next year! Definitely the earliest Christmas present I've ever bought but it was so appropriate we just had to get it. Thankfully they were having a sale. I don't know if it means I'm in touch with my feminine side, but I love shopping, which makes being on holiday a dangerous time, for the credit card!
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We were headed for home yesterday arvo when I suggested to that we call in and visit our old friends Sally and Warren, aka The Teacher and The Engineer and their son Callum. We only catch up once or twice a year so it was good to take the opportunity while we were in the neighbourhood and had a little time. Needless to say we had a lovely time which stretched to staying for dinner, then stretched further to staying the night so we wouldn't have to drive home tired. The boys had a terrific time together and the adults caught up on news, reminisced and discussed art purchases and projects. The Teacher is one of my oldest friends, we met at a drama and writing camp in year 11. She deserves a whole post of her own, more than one really, when I have more time I'll tell some stories. It's very nice to have such a long-standing friendship, over 25 years now. The Engineer and I get along well too though I'm not happy with him beating me at Twixt last night, especially as I was sure I had him, then one key move on his part swung the game 180 degrees. This collage contains the picture that she didn't want the world to see, of her in her pink pyjamas. Remember, you saw it first on Holt Press, we break the big stories! Posted by Picasa

The Boys in the backyard

Sport Boy, Techsta and Callum spent the afternoon playing and having a great time with all Callum's toys and gadgets, especially the air hockey table, and soccer in the back yard. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2 whole days without blogging!

I haven't had computer access for 2 days. That's probably the longest break between posts in Holt Press's long history, stretching all the way back to February! In my absence I notice the world has been able to carry on business as normal with nary a cry of "What's happened to Holt Press?" from the world's media or social commentators. Seems Holt Press occupies such a tiny and insignificant nanobyte of the blogosphere that the national security and economies of countries around the world are completely unaffected by my lack of blogging! This is a severe dent to the blogego, that part of the Holt Press psyche that would like to believe people not only read but actually care what goes on in Holt Press world. Somewhere between very little and not much looks like a more accurate measure of the impact and importance of my humble little blog.
Looks like I'm going to have to amp it up around here, raise the profile, get the PR department on the job, crank out some media releases and generally get this blog into top gear for the new year. Perhaps I can persuade the UN or whatever body is responsible for declaring days, weeks and years as the The Day/Week/Year of the Tree/Dolphin/Microwave Oven Repairman etc to declare 2006 as The Year of the Blog and maybe use Holt Press as the blogship or posterblog for the year.

Round about now is probably a good time to rein in my blogego and get my imagination under control and get back to the business of serious blogging. Apologies for my little flight of fancy, I'm blaming too much Christmas Pudding and the CIA, they're both easy targets. I know this because the CIA have been sending me emails for weeks with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in the subject line, closely followed by emails from the FBI claiming that I visit illegal websites. I'm not dumb, I know what's going on, I've read (reviews of) The DaVinci Code. It's a conspiracy and Holt Press has been embroiled in it for no good reason. Whoops, getting off track again, sorry.

Day of absence One. was spent at Bridgetown, home of my dear mother aka The Bear Lady and her faithful husband, aka No.3 or Poor Walter. We always love going to Bridgetown, it's a lovely little town and I enjoy browsing in the gift shops and art galleries up and down the main street. This however was a bit of a pastoral visit. The Bear Lady and No.3 had been returning from South Australia where they spent Christmas with my sister, aka Mrs Farmer and her family. All was well until a large kangaroo decided to play chicken with No.3's ute, leaving it (the suicidal roo) as another road crash statistic and the car undriveable. This occurred on a dirt road some 60KM SW of Hyden, a small town made famous by the very well-known but far less impressive in real life, Wave Rock. Thankfully neither The Bear Lady nor No.3 were hurt, but they were in a pickle, until just a few minutes after the crash when a man stopped to help and without hesitation offered to tow them back to Hyden. He was extremely helpful and refused to accept any money for his efforts or even for fuel. The Bible mentions that we sometimes entertain angels unawares and also suggests that we have guardian angels. I'm no expert on things angelic, but I'm willing to be persuaded that the help provided had some element of divine intervention.
With further assistance from a very helpful man at the insurance company they were able to hire a car and continue on with their journey home. Thankfully they had no further mishaps and got home OK but the Bear Lady was pretty shaken and when she rang to tell me about it got teary and upset. Perhaps a bit of post trauma shock kicking in. We decided to head over to Bridgetown later that day to spend the night with them. This proved to be a good thing to do and by this morning, after a good night's sleep, they were both OK and pretty much back to normal, that is, bickering one minute, kissing and laughing the next!

Day of Absence 2. today was spent coming to Perth for our Family Christmas Dinner at BB the Accountant's place, a joint production by Mrs BB, Miss Jane and the husbands. There were a few delays before we got here, mainly involving getting the Bear Lady's car fixed (not the ute) so they'd have a car to drive home in once they dropped the hire car off in Perth. It needed a muffler replaced which took place in Bunbury. The second delay was so that No.3 could stop and have an injection in his back. He's been suffering chronic back pain for a long time and even spent a few months getting around on a gopher but since commencing this treatment has been a lot more mobile and in less pain. I doubt the car V kangaroo encounter did anything to help his condition but at least he's better off than the roo.
Finally we all made it to Ballajura for the annual exchange of presents and the much looked forward to Traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings. It was wonderful, great food, great company and lots of fun and laughter. After dinner we watched some old home videos of when the kids were little, long before Sport Boy or his cousin Cody were born. There were lots of laughs over the kid's antics, and the adult's hairstyles and fashions, there was a predominance of mullets and tight shorts and several slimmer versions of the current models. My niece, aka The Dancing Queen was keen to be given a blog name so there it is. A pic will follow.
On the pressie front I received a very tricky puzzle called "A Rat in a Trap" which so far has proven too difficult for all of us who have attempted it. I will have to devote some serious attention to it over the next couple of days.
We are now all settled in at my other brother's place, The Tiger Tragic and his wife Miss Jane's for the night.
We'll return home to Busselton tomorrow after a little bit of shopping and a couple of errands.
We've enjoyed two special days of eating and celebrating Christmas with friends and family now.

Before I sign off for the night I must make reference to the biggest news story of the last couple of days, the death of Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer. Despite his massive wealth he was not able to defeat ill-health. I wonder, now that he has passed from this life to the next, what he thinks and whether he's happy with the decisions he made and the priorities he held in his 68 years on earth? I don't know, but I wonder. Rich or poor, we are all going to die, and at that moment, none of our wealth will be of any use to us what-so-ever, it just won't cut it when we face our creator. Interesting that Packer died the day after Christmas, the day we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, sent into the world to save us and to show us the way. The way to live, the way to God and the way to eternal life. I have no idea about Kerry Packer's religious beliefs, but I'm sure they are more important to him now than all the billions of dollars he accumulated while he was alive. Jesus said it would be better for a man to lose all that he had than to lose his soul and that a person's real wealth was not measured by the value of their belongings but by their heart.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Lunch

Sport Boy got an electric scooter for Christmas and he loves it. He started out pretty wobbly this morning but by tonight he was zipping around like a pro. Everyone had a go on it, and agreed how much fun it is. The BBQ at lunchtime was fantastic, marinaded chicken and prawns, sausages and salads, lovely weather, the family all happy, Rebel Daughter's boyfriend Dave there to share it with us, and the dishwasher to clean up afterwards. We met up with the Cramers and their folks down by the jetty for a while this arvo before heading back to their place for dessert, a choice of chocolate mousse, ice cream slice, pear and ginger slice, plum pudding, brandy custard and ice cream, mmmm!
A lively game of Pictionary followed with Jeanette's unique interpretation of the rules proving successful as she and the Co-Pilot won the game.
A great day was finished off nicely with a phone call from The Heir in England who received the parcel his Mum sent for Christmas. House MD on TV followed by The Panel Christmas Wrap Special which had plenty of funny moments rounded the day off nicely.

Thank you God for Christmas, for freedom and safety, for family and friends, for fun and food, for beauty and peace, and for Jesus, the Christmas child who became the greatest gift the world has ever received.
Thank you God for a wonderful day.
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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning at HoltPress

Lots of happy little vegemites at the HoltPress Home on Christmas morning.
Techsta got a mobile phone (please God help him look after it), Rebel Daughter got clothes and make-up, the Co-Pilot got a set of cane drawersand some pottery and Sport Boy got an electric scooter which he is currently riding up and down the footpath. (I got the lighthouse picture I posted a couple of days ago) Sport Boy dressed up as Santa until the beard irritated him too much. It's nice and relaxing. Jars of Clay on the stereo. About to fire up the barbie to cook the prawns and chicken. Just got to take Techsta to the servo so he can get some credit on his new toy! And to get some sour cream for the potato salad.
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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Betty Bargain Hunter struck again yesterday, the inflatable christmas tree I saw at Makro last week for $34, reduced from $49, was down to $17.50! Sport Boy and I set it up on the front lawn. Sure it's a little tacky but hey, it's Christmas and it was only $17.50, and, it has lights inside so it illuminates in the dark! WOOHOO! Doesn't get much better than that!That is until you go for a drive down Black Swan Ct and scope out the winning house in the Busselton Christmas Lights competition, very cool. Sport Boy loved it, he kept saying, "This is wonderful. Look they've even got a nativity scene. This is wonderful. It's astonishing Dad. They must have put so much work into it. It's wonderful"So nice to capture the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child. Posted by Picasa

Church Christmas BBQ

The church gathered at Noel and Steph's place tonight for an open house barbie. Stacks of people came and it was a good night. Sherrine, Steph Josh and Emily sang a few carols and Bonnie put on a puppet show. Santa even made an appearance although he got mobbed by the kids who eventually chased him down the driveway, most of the trying to get at his bag of lollies and one of them calling out, "you're a fake, you're a fake!" Don't want to name names but her Dad has a gardening blog! Sport Boy had a great time and made two new friends, Mike and Sam, who look like twins but aren't even related. Joshua, the youngest Kara really turned on a show when I got out the camera, a natural ham! There were several babies present and I had to reprimand the Co-Pilot for holding one for an extended period of time. The last thing I need is a clucky Co-Pilot. Posted by Picasa

One of the things I feel disappointed about is that I can't draw. I love art. I take pictures of pictures all the time, as well as sculpture and other media. I've started to assemble my pics in collages (thanks to the wonders of Picasa), for my own enjoyment, and to post.
This selection comes from the National Gallery in Canberra and features several of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly paintings, as well as a segment of Australia's most controversial painting, Blue Poles by Jackson Pollack. Gough Whitlam was castigated when his labor govt bought it in the early 70's for about $1.5m but he had the last laugh as it is currently valued at around $100m!
There is a wonderful sculpture garden at the National Gallery and a few kids and I went exploring and discovered some great stuff including the silver cone creation. It was fun getting them to interact with the pieces and to explore their shape and texture.
I buy pieces from students sometimes and had quite a collection before I left Perth. I gave several pieces away to friends and other people.
I bought a blank canvas a couple of months ago with the idea of experimenting and seeing what I could come up with. These holidays one of my goals is to break out the paints and have a go!
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Friday, December 23, 2005

Want to get rich? Ride a bike and go on a diet.

Cars are a great invention, great that is if you have a car repair business and want to retire early. The battery light came on in my car, a '91 Corolla, the other day and the manual gave the helpful and encouraging advice in dealing with this problem, "Drive straight to your nearest reapair shop"! Great. Just what we wanted for Christmas, a new alternator! The good news is that the 3rd place I took it to were able to fit it in and will have it finished by tomorrow for under $200. Sure that's $200 I could have spent on decor for Christmas but another place quoted $335 to replace it! ouch! The van is running as rough as guts too and with the new car not due to arrive until February it was essential to get mine back on the road as soon as possible. Lest you think I'm complaining let me assure you, I am. I like my car but they are guaranteed to keep you poor. On a brighter note I did drag the bike out of the shed and ride down to the shops to buy the paper the other day. I'd do it more often but we're playing weather lotto in Busso at the moment, it was cold and gray today and at one stage a torrential downpour struck. The weird thing is that 5 minutes later it had stopped and the sun was shining!
The Co-Pilot and I went Christmas food shopping this arvo. We're having a barbie at home for Christmas so decided to get a few extras to make it special, prawns, marinaded chicken, brandy butter, plum pudding, sparkling apple juice etc. Having loaded the trolley to the point of no return we joined a queue at check-out No. 6 and waited our turn. A girl approached and invited us to come through check-out No. 7 which she was about to open. The strange look she gave me when I hesitated saying "No, 6 is my lucky number" was worth the price of admission. After I'd paid the bill I said to the Co-Pilot, "It's costing less than that to get the car repaired!"

Diesel rang today to give me a hard time. He probably rang for some other reason but his primary agenda is undoubtedly to give me a hard time. They're coming down this way in January and will possibly come and visit us at Augusta, so long as he can time it to avoid having to do any work. I offered him the use of our place for a few days while we're away at Beach Mission. He told me that Afghan Man is back home in Perth but lying fairly low at this stage. I hope we might be able to catch up for The Breakfast Club before New Year especially if Hubie Doobie is available. It will be good to have the Afghan Man back in WA. His family have a property near Margaret River so we should be able to get together down south from time to time. I'm not sure if he's quit the U.N. his blog has been quiet for about a month so not sure what his specific plans are.

Talking of good friends, I got a Christmas letter from Paul and Vicki in San Diego today, complete with photos of them and their much loved grandkids Millie and Logan. It's always great to hear from them, and makes me wish I could get my act together for another trip overseas to visit them, perhaps in Hawaii where they have a house they've just spent a couple of weeks fixing up. Paul is the complete opposite to me in that he's fantastic with his hands and loves building/repairing/renovating/making stuff. I can identify a Phillips head screw driver and know that cars run better if you check the oil and water regularly. That is until the battery light comes on!

My specific plan right now is to pray and go to bed, I've been getting to bed later and later and the Co-Pilot is grumbling.


One of my aims these holidays is to find someone to do sketch potraits of Rebel Daughter and Techsta to complete the set. These two, of the Heir and Sport Boy were done at the markets in Joondalup last year and are both good likenesses.  Posted by Picasa


Here's the picture I got for Christmas, the bloke standing at the door of a lighthouse as a massive wave hits. The big question of course is, How come I've already got my Christmas present? Hardly seemed worth wrapping it when I chose it! It looks good on the lounge room wall.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005


The Co-Pilot has thrown herself into tidying up the bedroom and wardrobe the last couple of days and I'm very impressed with the amount of stuff she's disposed of. I've already taken two bags of clothes to the op shop. In fact she inspired me to sort out and tidy up my side of the wardrobe tonight! What a picture of domestic bliss! I really like our house. It's nothing out of the ordinary but it's comfortable and relaxed. I try and sit out in the front garden to eat breakfast as often as I can. There's trees and bush on the other side of the street which makes it pleasant. As we gradually work our way through the boxes and bags of "stuff" the house becomes less cluttered and even more comfortable. One of the best things we did was buy a dishwasher. It makes such a difference not having piles of dirty dishes waiting to be washed, and not having to spend an hour a day standing at the sink. It has reduced the Co-Pilot's stress levels significantly, which of course has a flow-on affect to the rest of the family Posted by Picasa


Gotta love this original piece of art produced by Sport Boy the other day. Andrew Jackson and the Poet would be proud of that spelling. I think it's safe to say he loves his sister too and her absence from the bottom line is just an oversight. I'm impressed with his eye for detail, the new slimmed down me, and Zac's dreadlocks are both very realistic. He has been very cute and cuddly lately. The first few days of the holidays were a constant stream of requests, "Can I get a friend over? Can we play squash/cricket? Can we go somewhere?" He's relaxed a bit the last couple of days and been a lot of fun to be with. I'm reading him a chapter each night of a book called Jack and Harry about two young boys who take off from home after being falsely accused of stealing a bike. They hit the road and get into some unlikely adventures. Sport Boy is really enjoying it. We bought it at the Busselton Show when we met the author who travels around selling it directly to people.There's quite a bit of dialogue with a couple of Aboriginal men who become major characters and it's a little hard to read as the author has tried to capture the abbreviations and accents. I find myself struggling to read it aloud sometimes but Sport Boy doesn't seem to mind. Posted by Picasa


I mentioned last week that we'd bought a new sofa, here it is! Everyone seems to like it and it's pretty big, big enough to seat three HoltPress family members comfortably. Sport Boy is reading "Captain Underpants"! He got a set of them from Granny and Grandpa for his birthday and has become an avid reader. Posted by Picasa


I used to make birthday cakes for the kids, not so much now that they're growing up, but this was one of my best efforts. Posted by Picasa


I'm on holidays, which means I can relax. Sort of. There's still Beach Mission at Augusta to come starting on New Year's Day and a few bits and pieces to get finalised for that, like arranging to transport the marquee to Augusta, Not a small job, nor insignificant considering without it we wouldn't be able to run the program. I'm also trying to get hold of a DVD copy of Jesus of Montreal which is proving a little frustrating too.

As I said, I want to relax and enjoy the holidays.

Which brings me to golf, and my love hate relationship with the game. I used to play every week, for years, but one day I decided that it was too frustrating and I would never master it. The thing that bugged me the most was my ability to hit a great shot followed immediately by a pathetic shot, with no predictable consistency. So, despite the taunts of my mates, I quit! And I haven't really missed it. I've played twice in about 4 years.

There are a couple of nice course near here and I think I'll probably go out for a hit sometime these holidays, perhaps with Steve and Dave if they've got time.

Which brings me to this picture, the card capturing my best ever day on the golf course, the day I hit 5 pars and a birdie and carded 39 for 9 holes at Marangaroo. The only time I ever broke 40 for 9 holes. I was on fire!
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Update from Fusion

As it's Christmas I’m posting a few more stories with a spiritual flavour than normal. It’s good to pause from the rat race and think about the bigger picture. The birth of Jesus points us to the love and presence of God in the world and the world sure does need some more of that.

We got an email update from Fusion today that had some good stories about the work they’re doing in different parts of the world. The Heir even got mentioned in dispatches.
UK DAYTRIP…THE LATEST!~ Well hello all, 0nce again another Daytrip and again that feeling of relief and satisfaction as you realise how privileged you were to be a part of having a significant impact on young peoples lives. We took a bunch of young people into the middle of Oxford and did a whole lot of team challenges and activities, with our feature activity being a photo scavenger hunt around Oxford. In their groups, they had to take photos of different things like 3 of their team members in a police car, all of their team in a skip bin or taking a series of 5 photos that tell a story of a romance, thriller or horror. It was a fantastic day with one of the local youth leaders here, Paddy, as the MC, he was more 'out there' than any Aussie I know and did a great job a building community and giving a really fun feel to the day. One of our staff, Zac Holt said, "It was the strongest sense of community I've felt on any Day Trip.” I am delighted to say that we had our first young person come on the Breakout through contact with our youth cafe. She has been coming since we opened the youth cafe and has found profound sense of belonging. It's been really special as the team have got to know her over the months and last week when the team invited her to the Breakout and she said she really would like to come but didn't have the money. So one of our team decided to sponsor her for the day as a Christmas present. She was really pleased and so excited to be able to go. She enjoyed herself so much during the day and got right into everything. And then at the end of the day as she heard the talk, something went off in her heart and she's now made a commitment. Praise God hey! She said to me on the bus on the way home, “It was such good day, I'm definitely coming to the next one in February!" I'm so thankful for all that God did on this breakout. I think there were about 6 or 7 that made commitments but I think most of them have…quite a few young people who were significantly impacted by the day, and many turned up at the Youth Church 'Mosaic' the next day and will soon be going into one of out Talk n Tucker groups. Thanks for all your prayers guys, we are all so thankful for all God has done and just the fact that we have completed 5 Day Trips and seen over 40 young people come to faith since we started in April is a massive boost for the work here. God bless, Timbo. (Tim Shaw)

The email came with a sad byline:
Please pray for Tim, he has just had news of the death of his mother in Sydney- he is returning as I write- it will be a sad Christmas for the family.

Over the last few years Fusion have become involved in a number of countries around the world, including Jamaica. Here’s a lovely story of faith in action from the Jamaican team leader, David Campbell.


Some of you would have received a short message last night to say that the day trip was wonderful, but that I was too exhausted to write about it and would write tomorrow morning.
This day trip was an adventure even in the whole preparation process, starting about ten days ago when I had my usual Thursday night meeting on the Internet with Matt Garvin (Fusion Victoria state director). I was very unsure about whether we should go ahead with it, seeing as I had not raised any money, we hadn't found a good venue and the two planning meetings I had tried to organise had fallen through because people had double booked themselves. As I tried to justify why it might not be right to do it, all my reasons sounded pathetic and it was one of those moments when you know your spirit will just not let you get away with giving up in favour of the "easy road".

I said to Matt, "Don't you just wish you could shut your spirit up sometimes?!" Thankfully you can't, so we prayed that God would just make it possible to go ahead. During the next week I spoke to several people from the team individually and got some ideas from them. They were all willing to come (some of them even giving up other important plans) and they began to put in what they could for the day to happen. One of them had suggested several places that we could go, and when I went to the Tourist board to get contact numbers they suggested another place that I had not even thought about. That one turned out to be the most suitable, so we went ahead and booked. The young people were starting to get excited, and we got a few donations from churches to help with the costs. The most touching of these donations was that some of the young people from Majesty Gardens (a very poor inner city community) had put together to buy 6 loaves of bread so we could make snacks. On their income, that kind of gift is a sacrifice.

However, the main source of support I had been relying on was unable to help in the end, so the money we had was still only about one third of the budget. Once again we had to try and work out if it was right to go ahead or not, once again I had lots of reasons why it was difficult to know ... and once again none of them sounded very convincing because my spirit was at it again!! Matt quoted "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you." He then asked two questions; "What does the Kingdom of God look like here, going ahead or calling it off?" and secondly; "What is the worst that can happen?"

Both were easy to answer: the decision based in the Kingdom of God would be to go ahead, and the worst that could happen would be that I would have to spend money that Liz and I have for our honeymoon in order to cover the expenses. I told him I could not make that decision without talking to Liz, but was willing to pray for the trip and finalise whether we would go ahead after getting in touch with her. So we prayed. I then sent Liz an sms to ask her to call, and when she did there was only a minute left on her card so I told her what the situation was and then got cut off. Anyway, in a few moments I got an sms saying, "if you are asking if you can use the honeymoon money; that's fine." God really has given me an AMAZING woman hasn't He?! I went out to get a phone card (even though it was 11:30) because I just had to call her back. So we talked, and once again prayed for the trip.

On Friday morning I had a call from England, to say that someone was putting some money into my account to help cover the expenses. Also, when I had bought the wedding rings, the jeweller had been so touched by what we were doing for his nation that he said any time we needed help, we should get in touch. I called him and he told me to come and collect a donation that evening. I then spoke to two church leaders and they both were very willing to help support and also made commitments to give us some money.

We collected the young people from the different communities, and then made the values for the day very clear. The journey was longer than we expected because of getting stuck behind several slow moving vehicles, and the driver then making a reckless overtaking manoeuvre and being stopped by the police (who had been two cars behind). They were extremely officious about it. When I came to talk to them they were insisting that they had to lock the driver up, and they took him and put him in the back of their van. Despite my protests they drove down the road with him, then stopped and he climbed out of their vehicle again. It turns out that they wanted a bribe but did not want to do it in front of the crowd. It was another sad reminder of why we need to instil better values in young people here.

Still, when we did eventually get there the venue was just perfect. There was a beach, a large play area, volleyball and a lot of space just to run around. We started with swimming and generally just exploring the area…straight after lunch we had a game of volleyball followed by "Ultimate Frisbee", before dividing into teams for some messy games. The two group games brought a wonderful sense of community, as leaders, older and younger children all played together. It started to rain during Ultimate Frisbee, and if there is ever a sign that Jamaicans are enjoying themselves it is that they stay outside in the rain! In fact as people slid about and got muddy the laughter level just increased. It was lovely.

All the games went down very well, as the young people continued to be so free in each other’s company. Kevon, one of the leaders, came up to me in the afternoon and said; "This is the best trip I have ever been on." As he said it another leader remarked that he had never been on a trip where all the boundaries had come down between people like that. He then said, "It is what you guys would call an open crowd." (Which is a term used in the Fusion training to describe what happens when the boundaries are gone and people are free to engage with each other - obviously it is making sense to some of them).

We then had a final swim to wash off, before changing into dry clothes for snacks and the "Bible Time". Tommy (one of the leaders) shared his story of being someone who was always ready for a fight, who just listened to his friends and followed their attitudes rather than thinking for himself and was constantly getting into trouble at school and in his community (Majesty Gardens). He was offered a gun by a friend in one of the gangs several times, but while thinking it through he was invited to a church meeting and was so impacted by the story of the person who spoke, that he decided to open up his heart to God. It is not always easy to keep the attention of young people from the inner cities (understatement of the century) but as he spoke they all listened closely and took it seriously. I then spoke briefly, and offered them the chance to make that same decision and show that they had, by raising their hands. It was one of those moments when you realise that people have realised what it really means to ask God to take control of their lives, and initially nobody raised a hand, although it was clear by the pregnant silence that some wanted to. I encouraged them not to worry about their friends, and three people raised their hands ... but others were looking at each other nervously to see if each other would do it. The most obvious of these were four guys from the basketball club, who clearly wanted the life that Tommy was talking about, but were not sure what each other would think. I just asked everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads and said one last time that if people wanted to make the decision they should raise their hands. In total 7 young people responded, 3 of them were these young men from basketball. It was a very significant step for them
So all in all it was an incredible adventure, and as we offloaded the buses in Kingston, people's faces (although tired) were visibly more at peace. Thank you all so much for your prayers and your support in all of this. It is always wonderful to know that we are in the hearts and prayers of people from all over the world.
God Bless, David.
One of my best mates, Marty Woods, is the Fusion Team Leader in the UK. I've never met anyone with as much passion and energy as Marty. He's travelling constantly and always has stories to tell of amazing things God has done, great people he's met and ways they've been used to touch people's lives. He was one of my lecturers when I did the Fusion course back in 1988 so it's pretty cool that my son Zac, the Heir, is now working with him and learning on the job in England. Marty married a wonderful girl called Jenny and they both really wanted kids. Sadly, they had a beautiful little boy Samuel who died during birth. It was a terribly sad time for them and many people in the "Fusion Family". They kept trying but even with IVF were unable to have another child. Perhaps that is part of what motivates Marty in his work with people and kids. 2006 promises to be busier than ever with the World Cup Finals in Germany, Fusion will be there, and with Australia having qualified for the Finals I'm sure there'll be even greater excitement amongst the Fusion team. Others will be in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games, and already they are preparing to be involved in Beijing during the Olympics in 2008 at the invitation of the Chinese Government. Marty will be a key person in much of that and perhaps the Heir will get to be part of it too. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

With apologies to Oscar Wilde, today we were Bunburyists

The Co-Pilot had an opthamology appointment in Bunbury today so wetook the chance to do some Christmas shopping while we were there. The whole HoltPress family came (except for the Heir) but we did buy him a present.

Spotlight, Cash Converters, EB Games, Crazy Clarks, Big W, Sanity, WA Salvage, Diva, Ed Harry, Godfreys, Subway, and three trips to McDonalds/McCafe later and we were done, the credit card got a well earned rest and we headed for home.

A few snippets and stories from the day:

SportBoy jammed his toe in the car door which brought tears but no permanent damage. By the end of the day his feet were "putrid" as the Bear Lady would say. The Co-Pilot and I have differing views on bare feet. I reckon it's a good thing, kids should be able to go bare foot as much as they like. In this instance, shoes may have prevented tears, and certainly less dirt, but there's a lot to be said for feeling free.

Rebel Daughter asked if she could drive. Her driving lessons have been spasmodic so it was a good chance to let her drive, and an education for her younger brothers! Kangaroo hops, crunching gear changes, stalls, and a generous sense of how much of the road to use made it an interesting and at times nerve-wracking journey. Sport Boy, ever the encouraging little brother, told her she'd been brilliant. If brilliance is measured by relief at getting home in one piece then he was spot on. I think RD is gaining a greater sense of respect for the challenge of driving. (For OS readers, Aussie kids all learn to drive manuals, ie. stick shift cars).

I saw a rare sight outside one of the shopping centres, and felt compelled to compliment the people responsible. An older couple, both smoking, extinguished their cigarettes then picked them up and put them in a rubbish bin! As I pointed out to them, most smokers don't bother and leave their butts all over the street, as evidenced by three butts right beside the bin. I think smoking is dumb, but at least these people had some conscience about their habit. They were a little surprised that I spoke to them about it, and I think chuffed that their good deed had been acknowledged.

While waiting in line at McDonalds a 13 year old boy with his arm in a sling came up to his Mum in line and said, "I think this happened because I didn't send that chail letter on". His mum dismissed the idea, pointing out that the injury to his arm happened 2 weeks before he got the email but he looked pretty worried and upset and unconvinced there wasn't a connection. After he returned to his table I asked his mum about it. He fell over at school and they thought his wrist was just sprained but had just been to the doctor for x-rays and discovered it was broken and would require surgery to reset it. The surgery is taking place tomorrow. The email was a typical bullshit letter promising the recipient bad luck if they didn't pass it on to 25 friends within an hour!!!!!! Man I hate thos things. I'm not a great fan of chain emails although I admit some of them are cute or touching, but I dislike the manipulation that accompanies them trying to force people to forward them on. This type is particularly obnoxious, pressuring people with threats and dire warnings and the notion of curses and bad luck if they don't comply.
I went over and talked to the kid for a couple of minutes. He was worried about having the operation, the pain etc. I tried to comfort him and let him know he'd be in safe hands. He was still upset about having broken the chain. I told him I'd had lots of similar emails over the years and that I NEVER passed them on, and my luck was holding pretty well. I said that the only power they have is the power we give them by believing in them and expecting bad things to happen. I asked him why would a friend want bad things to happen to their friends by passing on these sort of messages. I'm sure he wasn't fully convinced by my arguments but he did seem a little less upset by the time I left. I encouraged him to talk to his school chaplain if he was still worried about it. You or I can look at stuff like that and see right through it and dismiss it for the garbage that it is, but it's not so easy for an impressionable kid, especially when he's already had a serious injury. Hopefully next time some "friend" sends him a bad luck email he'll send it straight to the trash can.

While I was paying for a few items at Big W I was confused when the check out girl scanned the two bras the Co-Pilot had bought, 4 times. When I queried the docket she pointed out that one of them was to void another, leaving just 2 of them as being charged. That sounded OK but I mentioned it to the Co-Pilot and asked her the price. Turned out she thought they should be $7 cheaper each than the price were charged. Hmmm! Her vision was blurry due to the drops the opthamologist had put in them so maybe she'd misread the price tag but I decided to investigate further. Back to the bra dept to re-check the price. It was pretty hard to work out cause no tag anywhere corresponded to the check out price. I found a shop assistant and queried the price. She acknowledged the pricing was confusing and said take them to the desk and I'll authorise a refund of the difference for you. In the end I got $15 back. (This is the Readers Digest version of events by the way, it was more drawn out, there were 2 other shop assistants involved and it was made all the more confronting with me standing there with 2 bras in my hand). I felt pleased with the outcome though the price wasn't what I was initially querying. It paid to ask questions. Talking of which, I'll ask the Co-Pilot if she's willing to model the items in question for a blog pic. Unlikely but you never know!

We called in to visit the Whitehouses at Capel on the way home. They're a great family and have a lovely old house with a fantastic big back yard. Jackie breeds expensive cats and sells them over the internet. They've got 8 little kittens all bound for places around the country at about $500 apiece!!

I'd need a hobby like that to afford the things I found at Sanity. We love the West Wing and have the first one and a half seasons on video . I found the first 4 seasons on DVD at $120 per season! Not this year Josephine!

Techsta is happy because he traded in 2 PS2 games and used the credit as a down payment on the new Zelda game coming out in April.
RD was happy because even though her card transaction was rejected due to insufficient funds, the Co-Pilot was there to rescue her with the Visa card so she could buy the new hand bag she wanted. And she got to drive home.
Sport Boy is happy cause he got lunch at McDonalds and a new Crash Bandicoot PS2 game, bought with his own money, saved since his birthday.

The Co-Pilot is happy cause the whole family spent a day together without bloodshed.
And I'm happy cause they're all happy.

Beach Volleyball Hottie in action




It was cold and windy down by the jetty tonight, less than ideal weather for beach volleyball, but the Co-Pilot and her team braved the conditions and even had a win. I prefer to play my volleyball indoors so I was able to capture a few action shots. The Co-Pilot has good skills and determination but sometimes lacks confidence in her own ability. This applies to her volleyball too! She started playing many years ago when I was running 4 volleyball teams of kids from Chip Inn, a drop in centre at Warwick Church of Christ that I worked at for 5 years. The teams were called The Threat, Gunners (Guns and Roses were BIG at the time, nothing to do with Arsenal who are nicknamed the Gunners, or as we Spurs fans prefer, The Gooners), The Mutant Jellyfish and Damage. I needed another adult to help the kids get focussed and work as a team and the Co-Pilot did a great job in both regards. The Threat rose from C Grade to A Grade and won a few Grand Finals along the way. My mate Ryan and I played together in The Threat for several years. He's now living and working in London and I'm hoping he and the Heir will hook up some time while he's over there.
Rebel Daughter must have been doing some thinking. She asked us tonight about going back to school next year. That sounds like a good idea so long as she puts in a better effort than this year. There's no doubt that she's smart enough to succeed, it's just the rebel side of her personality that she'll have to rein in. The weekend in Perth with Mrs Gardener and the girls must have had an impact on her.

Secrets

You may have heard of the Post Secret project. I hadn't until "next Blog" randomly threw it up tonight. Frank Warren has been collecting home made art postcards sent in anonymously by people revealing secrets. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're sad, sometimes they're sexual and sometimes they are tragic. One or two made me feel disturbed. I guess that's part of the nature and power of secrets. There's a book containing nearly 300 secrets available from Amazon. There's a taste of Post Secrets at this online gallery.
Confession is good for the soul or Let sleeping dogs lie?
I've got some secrets which is why I'm awfully glad God offers mercy and forgiveness to those who ask.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Paperwork

One day before deadline and I'm just sending off all the risk management documents for Augusta. I don't expect it to be rubber stamped but I am hoping there aren't too many details I've missed. Scott still needs to provide the teenage program docs before it's all complete.
Also sending off my Fringe Benefit statement for the month and hoping it gets there and gets paid on time. Express Post says it will get there until you read the fine print and it's not so certain. Here's hoping.

Sports Update
Last I heard Brad Hodge had made 160 against Sth Africa, his maiden century in his 3rd test, good going.

Sleep and sports

I've just about finished the team handbook for Augusta, and the risk management documentation, two big jobs I'll be very pleased to complete. Slept for a few hours this arvo after last night's marathon. Thank goodness for holidays. Rebel Daughter is home again having had a fantastic time by the sound of it, shopping, the Ball, church this morning and being with a bunch of friends and good company.

Sports Update:
I can't really afford Foxtel but I'd sorely like to get it. I had to make do with the internet for my sports fixes today.
This morning the Giants beat the Chiefs in the NFL, Sport Boy and I watched the graphs, arrows and updates as they appeared on the screen. We had to leave for church before it finished byt New York won 27-17.

Tonight I figured I'd go down to the pub at Dunsborough to watch Spurs play Middlesboro but thought I should ring to check what time they were closing. 10pm, same time as the game was starting! Rats! Back to the computer which is a shame cause it was a thriller that ended 3-3, Spurs equalising twice and saving a point with just 7 minutes to go.

To ice the cake, Arsenal are losing to Chelsea as we speak. Not that I'm fond of Chelsea but they're far preferable to Arsenal!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Doodle Collage

I'm having fun making collages with Picasa while tracking the NY Giants game V the Kansas City Chiefs on the net, Go Giants Posted by Picasa

Pizza @ the Jetty, another day in paradise

Rebel Daughter has gone to Perth for the weekend. The Lawyer has gone to Capel for the weekend. That left The Co-Pilot, Sport Boy and I. 131888. Pizza to go, with a couple of Vanilla Diet Cokes and a slice of Rocky Road to share and down to the Jetty, Busselton's iconic landmark or should that be watermark?We had a lovely time. After the food we walked out on the jetty and saw a huge fish swimming around one of the pylons, never seen anything so big in real life!Then we played SLUG hitting catches with the cricket bat, and checked out the haul of crabs brought in by some wet-suited snorkellers. To finish off a top night we drove around Cloisters on the way home, admiring the Christmas light displays.  Posted by Picasa

Warning Warning

A word of warning to all you bloggers out there, be careful with your html!
A simple project to add a countdown counter to Holt Press turned into near disaster when suddenly my blog went haywire, lost colour, rearranged itself, had unusual marks and dumped the sidebar to the bottom of the deep blue blog! Somewhere along the line I must have disturbed the code and it didn't like it.
I should say that I tried inserting the code for the counter half a dozen times in half a dozen places, all without success, before it toppled over.
I tried to find the Help email on blogger but they've buried it in a deep and inaccessible place to put off desperate bloggers like me. I considered switching or renewing templates but thought better of it when the message came up that all amendments I'd made to it would be lost, blog roll, photo badges etc etc. Hmmm! Not good.
Thankfully I had a brainwave and copied and pasted all the html code for the entire blog into a Word doc so I wouldn't lose it. Then I renewed the template. (I thought about a new appearance while I was at it but I was too traumatised by the thought of losing everything to worry about cosmetics right now.)
Then I added all the bits of code I wanted to keep from the Word doc. And the very good news is that everything seems to be working normally again, with even a couple of cosmetic improvements thrown in by good luck.
We're breathing a big sigh of relief here at Holt Press let me tell you!
Not sure if I'm game to try the countdown clock again after such a near miss, all I wanted was to show how many days (and hours and minutes and seconds!) until the Commonwealth Games. It would have been cool but now I'm nervous!
This whole episode started about 4 hours ago and it's now 6.30am!!
I'm going to pay for that later!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Somewhere in the car Lord

There's a funny song called "Somewhere in the Car Lord" (by Pat Drummond I think) about a funnel web spider on the loose in a car causing terror and tragedy. About a week ago the Co-Pilot and Rebel Daughter came running in from the car quite agitated about a close encounter with a spider in the van. It had run across the windscreen but they didn't know whether it was inside or out, and they weren't hanging around to find out. I did the man thing and went and had a look but of course by then the spider had realised the impending danger and scuttled off into the darkness to hide. I figured it had been outside anyway and was no doubt scurrying home to Mrs Spider and the kids at that very moment.

Fast forward a week to this morning and the same cast of characters, act 2.

The girls had opened the back door of the van to get the bike out only to discover the renegade arachnid lurking behind the pneumatic door ram.

"Marcus, Help"

This time it was daylight and clearly not a false alarm. There was indeed one medium sized Huntsman spider, with no idea he was about to pass into the next world.

Quick thinking and decisive action was called for.

Rebel Daughter jumped on her push bike and took off out of there!

Rummaging around in the carport I grabbed a pot holder, hand made and embroidered by The Heir as a Mother's Day gift many years ago apparently, though I didn't know that at the time.
My ignorance would not go unpunished!

Huntsman are known to jump of course, and are reputed to have a nasty though not fatal bite. Most of the fear they provoke is the result of their size and ugly hairy legged appearance. The Bear Lady used to be completely terrified of them and was known to bring traffic and doctor's waiting rooms to a frenzied standstill upon encountering one. I've splattered a few biggies in my time, rescuing my mother from a state of rigid panic. I think she's over the worst of it now, maybe living in a country town has toughened her up, I don't know.

Meanwhile back in the driveway, I knew I needed a direct "hit" or the monster would be on the run again and all future car travel would be out of the question.

I took aim, mentally measured the striking distance, then lunged, pot holder in hand, grabbed the creature and squeezed hard, hearing the cracking of spider bones and feeling the squishy explosion of arachnid abdomen juices against the car. A couple more squeezes to finish him off and the job was done.

(In normal circumstances no animals or living things are harmed in the making of this blog. I take no pleasure in the killing of living things you understand, but sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do.)

Offering the now lifeless carcass as evidence of victory, was I greeted with the appreciative ooh's and aah's of a damsel delivered from distress by an act of chivalrous gallantry?

Not quite!

"That's my pot holder"!!

Yeah, and a dead spider, you know the one that was terrorizing you two minutes ago!

"Yeah, but Zac made me that"

It will wash out!

"I suppose"

The age of chivalry may have been mortally wounded by Germaine Greer but it was finally killed off by ingratitude!