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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Parent Night, Pizza and Pictures

I spent most of today receiving and counting money, the proceeds of the Country Week fundraising raffle. Counting, bagging and banking over $5000 and checking off dozens of kid's raffle books on my manual list and the computer. It was a messy process and one I'm not certain I did without error, at times there were 10 kids in my office and several thousand dollars in cheques, notes and coins spread all over my desk.

Once I'd dealt with the money I burned a couple of disks of pictures of the Uluru and Melbourne trips in preparation for tonight's parent night. I ordered 18 pizzas, drinks, chips, biscuits and mud cake and ice cream in order to feed the dozen teenagers and their families who came along. I managed at the third attempt to find a way to make the data projector do it's job so I could show pictures from the two trips. In a quirky coincidence, where I randomly selected a series of pictures to capture the highlights and tell the story of each journey, I ended up with the same number of photos from each trip, 205.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the night, with lots of laughter and comments throughout as I recounted the story of two special but very different experiences. Several of the parents expressed their thanks and gratitude at the end which is always reassuring and affirming, knowing that people appreciate the things you do for them, and in this case for their kids.

After two unsuccessful attempts to disarm security panels I wasn't game to try a third time in order to get the ice cream out of the freezer so we went without dessert but all the Tim Tams went and considering there were about 6 full pizzas uneaten at the end of the night I don't think anyone other than Sport Boy was disappointed.

Digital cameras, computers and data projectors make these sort of presentations dead easy and very effective. I only burned the disks about two hours before the parents arrived. I enjoy speaking to groups and found it easy to relive the experiences as I told the stories with pictures as prompts.
I also got to show people my Uluru painting and there seemed to be general approval.
Carolyn came along, bringing Jordan and Sport Boy who of course both came with us to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. A night off from the kitchen, with pizza for dinner was a nice bonus and she said she really enjoyed the night. It was certainly a good move to have a parent night that combined the two events and should help promote my work in the school and also increase knowledge and awareness of the Uluru trip next year.

I need to start thinking and planning about my next big project: taking a group to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing!!
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A Pair of Blogging Desperados were spotted at Brisbane airport on Monday night, grabbing some cyber time just minutes before departure!

20 minutes for $2 was a good deal but the mouse caused Pop some frustration. I managed to fire off a post before boarding the flight for Perth. We were too late getting to the airport to check in to be able to go on to a restaurant for dinner, not even Hungry Jacks, so had to settle for the limited range and exorbitant prices of airport food. I had a reasonable chicken caesar salad, the boys all had mini pizzas from Eagle Boys while Vicki had a toasted turkey sandwich on Turkish bread, a "Turkish Turkey" perhaps? I think Alan regretted the pizza choice because he felt crook and almost threw up toward the end of the flight.

It was a seriously uncomfortable flight, squeezed into a window seat with minimal leg room, unable to sleep. The bloke in front reclined his seat, further reducing the space for me to sit in. I know everyone has a right to lay their seat back but I'm always a little reluctant to do it, mindful of restricting the person behind me. I turned and asked if it was ok and the girl behind me said it was fine but I rarely see anyone else show the same consideration for others and I've certainly never been shown the courtesy of an enquiry or at least a forewarning of what was about to happen.

I read a sports magazine for an hour, occasionally getting the nods but never able to get to sleep properly. I eventually moved to another seat that appeared vacant but which was reclaimed by another passenger shortly after. The hostess, taking sympathy on my plight moved me to the seat behind and then returned a minute later with the welcome news that one of the exit row seats, with extra leg room, was available. I gladly accepted this offer but felt frustrated that the girl at check-in had told me there were none available! I could have stretched out, and perhaps slept, from the time we left Brisbane. At 6'2", normal economy class seats are pretty uncomfortable but the bloke in the seat next to me was a good 6" taller than me, he would never have fitted in a standard seat. The strong headwinds as you fly west make it a much slower trip on the way home and I was both bored and uncomfortable for much of it.
Don't want to complain though, we landed safely and that's far and away the most important aspect of flying, comfort comes a distant second in terms of importance after safety.

Alan's daughter Jenna picked us up from the airport and they dropped me off at Cam's place in Belmont where I'd left the car. It is great to have good mates and very handy if one of them lives near the airport.
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It's a sign!

We stayed at Sunrise Beach which was just a few kilometres up the road from this more impressively named beach on the Sunshine Coast.
We nearly missed out on getting a picture and Dad wasn't rapped about having to pull up quickly for this photo opportunity but I'm glad he did, it is a nice addition to my collection.
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Jelly Bean Scramble

History was recreated in Noosa on the weekend when the Holt kids had a jelly bean scramble, the first since we were kids. With Zac substituting admirably for Bruce, we awaited the ceremonius scattering of jelly beans across the living room floor then dived into action in an attempt to grab as many of the little coloured sugar bombs as possible. The Jelly Bean Scramble dates back to a time when Big Pa (Dad's dad Merv) would come down from Queensland for a visit and would always bring a bag of jelly beans. With us four kids eagerly awaiting the moment he would open the bag and throw them upwards, scattering them to the four corners of the room, with us in hot pursuit. Black and red ones were highly sought after but the real prize were the green ones because they were Dad's favourite and he would show great kindness to those children willing to offer up the green ones to him.
At Pa's funeral a few years ago I produced a bag of jelly beans and we held a jelly bean scramble in his honour.
NB Despite not liking jelly beans, the Heir managed to grab the biggest share of the prize with 17 beans.
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The girl in Red

We had dinner at "Red" restaurant in Noosa on Sunday night, this young lady was our waitress, it was only her third day in the job.
The Heir and I shared a steak and bbq'd prawns, yum. Posted by Picasa

# 30 My second attempt at a birthday painting for Dad, he didn't like the first one, that's ok, neither did I

I don't mean # 1, a couple of posts down, I mean the first painting I did while we were at Noosa, on Saturday night. (I won't be blogging a picture of it unless major reconstruction occurs!) I really like this one and it fitted pretty closely with the preferences and tastes Dad expressed. I did one for Vicki too but in the rush to finish it and get going to the airport for our flights I didn't get a picture of it.  Posted by Picasa

Skirt Boy loose on the streets of Noosa!

The Heir put on his best outfit for the birthday dinner, his kilt!!
It reminds me that when I was at high school I got into trouble with the principal for being out of uniform and wearing a bow tie and cummerbund to school!
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#1 finds a home

My first painting now taking pride of place in Dad's living room despite the damage inflicted on the flight from Perth. See if you can spot it! Posted by Picasa

3 generations of Holt Men

I love generational pictures like this. It was very special celebrating Dad's 70th birthday on Sunday and The Heir's 19th birthday on Monday all together. Now I'm back home in WA, The Heir is on a plane bound for England as we speak, and Dad will be heading for home at Gympie. Posted by Picasa

Lots of smiles for Pop's birthday

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Dad and Greenie, mucking around as usual

Warren Green aka Greenie is Dad's best mate, they met over 35 years ago when Dad and Julie started managing the BP service station in Cavendish Rd Cooparoo (sp?) and Greenie was a customer. We had a good day on Sunday, some markets at Noosa, a visit to Dad's place in Gympie, back to Noosa and out to a restaurant for dinner. I drove in the car with Warren, at times a nerve wracking experience! and really enjoyed catching up with him, not just the latest news, but several stories about things in his life I'd never known, including that his sister Denise is a very successful artist who has works hanging in galleries all round the world! Something for me to aspire to!!!!
Hearing about Greenie's family, the tragedies in his other sister's life, 2 kids lost in tragic accidents, and his reunion with his own daughter after an 8 year absence was a special experience. I lived with Dad and Julie for three years when I was a teenager so I've known Warren a long time too.
As you can see from the pictures, he and Dad muck around a lot, they're always joking and laughing and Sunday was no exception.

When we got home from dinner and Warren had left to return home to Brisbane Dad remarked on what a gem Greenie is, "I couldn't ask for a better best mate". That was a nice moment.

PS. Hi Greenie if you're reading this!
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There's a bear in there

Alan, Vicki, Dad, Me and Zac outside Dad's place in Duke St Gympie. Dad is a big John Wayne fan so the street name is appropriate. Can you spot the bear? Posted by Picasa

Dad's favourite spot these days, in front of his computer

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Reminiscing through 70 years of memories

Pop perusing the beautiful scrapbook mum made for him to mark his 70th birthday. It's full of wonderful stories and photos and long kept secrets and anecdotes collected from family and friends from all around Australia. Posted by Picasa

Moments after the trap was sprung

Dad grinning at the airport after first Alan and then I appeared, to surprise him for his 70th birthday. By then he started looking around nervously wondering who else might materialise! Posted by Picasa

Some of the surveillance photos taken from the security cameras at Brisbane airport on the morning of The Birthday Sting

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It was too cold to swim but Alan did get his feet wet

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Dad and Vicki @ Noosa

The weather was a lot cooler than we expected, I'd have frozen without my polar fleece school top! We went for a short walk on the beach until Dad convinced us that it would be dark in another 15 minutes. There are no twilights in Queensland! Sure enough, quarter of an hour later the whole place was black! Posted by Picasa


My sister Vicki on the beach at Noosa. She looks great, having lost 27kg in the last 6 months, how's that for impressive? We stir her about her rabbit food diet but it's worked brilliantly.
She and Dad are very close, as he likes to say, "She's my favourite daughter".
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With dad and Alan at Noosa

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The trap is set

The Heir waiting outside Brisbane airport for Grandpa Peter and Auntie Vicki to arrive just after sunrise on Saturday morning, surrounded by a suspiciously large mound of luggage. Dad took one look and thought, "Zac, you're not as efficient a traveller as your father, he went round the world with just one backpack". The cardboard package contains my painting for Dad, we didn't realise then that it had been damaged in transit, something having been dropped on it I guess! Posted by Picasa

Home safe and sound

Holt Press
I'm home again from my weekend in Queensland for Dad's 70th birthday surprise. More pics and stories on that later. Time for bed now, following a 5 hour flight back to Perth then a 3 hour drive home to Busselton. Got home at 3.30am. The last 40km was the hardest, I got very tired and was driving at about 60km/h with the window wound fully down and an icy wind blowing straight off the Antarctic into my face to keep me awake! I was pleased to get home safely.

Have been blogging while I wait for my electric blanket to warm up. Work is going to be a struggle tomorrow!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Brisbane airport

Holt Press
We're all at the airport awaiting departure after spending the weekend in Queensland for Dad's birthday. Alan and I are flying home to Perth tonight. Vicki leaves for Adelaide tomorrow night and Zac jets off back to England tomorrow afternoon.
We've had a great time, lots of laughs and stories. I painted a couple of pictures, one for Dad, at the second attempt, he didn't like the first one, mind you neither did I ! and one for Vicki. In the end they were both pleased with them.
We've been called to board so I'll have to get off now. 5 hours flying followed by three hours driving time back to Busso means it's going to be a long night.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

SURPRISE! Happy Birthday Pop!

Holt Press
All can be now be revealed about the big surprise. I'm in Queensland having flown over on Friday night with my brother Alan BB The Accountant and my son Zac, The Heir. Along with my sister Vicki we've all come to Queensland for my Dad Peter's 70th birthday. He knew Vicki and Zac were coming but Alan and I's arrival took him completely by surprise and it worked beautifully. His initial thoughts that Zac couldn't possibly be taking ALL THAT luggage with him to England on Tuesday proved true as first Alan and then I emerged from hiding. His jaw dropped! Then he got suspicious and started looking around to see if anyone else was going to appear. We all SQUEEZED into his Subaru and headed for Noosa where Vicki had booked us all into a suite at a holiday resort right by the beach.
We've been having a great time with lots of laughs and stories.
We spent about an hour sitting with him as he looked through the scrapbook of his life made by my mum Jacqui full of photos and stories from all his family and friends from around Australia. "I'm most impressed, thank you very much" was his response. I'm sure he'll take a longer time and have a more thorough read of it once all the visitors have departed on Tuesday.
I brought over my first painting which Dad bought off me. I packed it in a box padded with a sleeping bag and marked fragile. I was horrified when we opened the box to discover that something heavy had been dropped on it and caused a 4 point tear in the canvas! Ironically it is in the shape of a cross! Dad was not too bothered though and we've done a bit of a repair job with tape. Ideally I'd touch it up a bit but I don't have the right paints with me. Not to worry, we've come up to Dad's place at Gympie and he's hung it in a prominent position in the lounge room.
His great mate Greenie has come up for the day as well so there's the usual inane carry on and laughter happening.

The most common phrase in response to questions/suggestions is "I'm an old man now you know!"

I fly home tomorrow with Alan.

Sports Update
I talked to Carolyn on the phone and found out that Sport Boy's soccer team won 6-0 yesterday and he scored three goals, proving that the coaching has very little to do with it!!

If you want to read about the miserable debacle at Kardinia Park yesterday or the pathetic excuse for a football team that is Geelong, go to www.we'rea bunch of loserswhowon'tmakethefinalsandwillneedanewcoachbeforetheendoftheseason.com

Friday, May 26, 2006

From The Taffrail

Holt Press
Have just called in to Sally and Warren's place to check my bank balance, still not good news!
Of course I couldn't resist the chance to blog as well.
The Big Brekky went well, I cooked pancakes for 70 kids, 8 1/2 litres of pancake mix later they were all fed and the bell went so we could send them away, there wasn't a sausage or a dribble of fruit juice left, just a couple of pieces of cold toast and some watermelon scraps that the seagulls were fighting over. In fact, one of the gulls must have been too pre-occupied with the Big Brekky scraps and got squashed by a passing car, his glazed eyes staring vacantly down the road as he lay lifeless on the bitumen, a victim of his own hunger or greed!

Just time to drop off the salvaged painting for my secret friend before hopping in the car with Carolyn and driving to Bunbury to rendevouz with Mum and Walter. We proceeded to Perth, with Walter scaring both Mum and I with his attempted passing manoeuvre while over-taking an over-size truck. I was relieved when we arrived safely!

From Joondalup I took the train to Oats St to collect my car from where The Heir had parked it so I could get to the WASSCA meeting in Willetton.
That out of the way it was just a short journey to Sal's place so I called in. She greeted me with the invitation "Do you want to come to a quiz night?"OH Sal, don't tempt me! I've got plans for dinner at Cam's and watching the footy with a few of the boys but how I'd love to go to a quiz night!!
I'm sorely tempted, but I need to stick to plan A. The irony is that numerous times I have rung Sal the day of or the night before a quiz night to ask her and Warren to join a table. We've won 2-3 together in our time. But tonight, with the shoe on the other foot I've had to turn her down! Rats!


Holt Press
I'm feeling frustrated. I sprayed my painting for my secret friend with varnish, as I have done with all my previous paintings, ready to take to work tomorrow for the final day of secret friends week. But to my horror and dismay, the varnish caused the black marker lines to run! thus creating a black streaky mess across several of the colour panels! I wouldn't say it's ruined but it's certainly not in a fit condition to give as a present! I'm going to try and restore it but don't really know if it'll work, and time is against me, it's already 12.30 and I've got to be at school early for The Big Brekky, then I'm off to Perth for a meeting and some stuff on the weekend! Not exactly the sort of schedule that will accommodate art restoration!

Add to this some financial woes, we are really broke at the moment and this situation was compiunded by a bank error in which a $1600 payment on our credit card from my fringe benefit account at work was wrongly reversed, pushing us over our credit limit and incurring fees and interest! It has been reversed back now to it's rightful status but it has put us under pressure this month and along with a couple of big bills and payments such as $700 towards Jordan's school trip to Sydney and Canberra that fell due this week, we're skint! I was due to be paid today but when I checked the account on the net an hour ago it hadn't come through, but of course the school fees direct debit was extracted right on time, pushing us back into the red! aaaagggghhhh!!!!
I'm the first to admit I'm not great with money, but sometimes circumstances conspire against you that don't make it any easier!

On a brighter note I enjoyed volleyball tonight, we didn't win, in fact we haven't won a single set in the 4 games we've played so far this season, but we're playing better each week and it was a fun game, I even made a couple of good blocks and spikes.
Sport Boy missed soccer training this arvo due to a rolled ankle earlier in the week. We're hoping he'll be ok to play on Saturday, I can't imagine the frustration and disappointment if he misses a game! Jordan's knee is bothering him so running and playing soccer are proving a challenge for him too.
There was a mishap at soccer training resulting in one of the girls being pushed forward and banging her head against the kid in front and splitting her eye brow open. She was pretty distressed and needed some medical attention and TLC. The frustratiing part of the incident is that the perpetrator was the same kid who tackled and hurt Sport Boy a few weeks ago when we thought he had a broken collar bone. The kid is careless and rough and difficult to communicate with. I had to tell him tonight that if there's another incident where he hurts someone he'll be suspended from the team for a week. Obviously I don't want to suspend anybody but I can't let him keep on hurting other kids by his physical roughness and lack of care.
I told his parents about the incident and thankfully they were supportive of my stand. I hope he can think about his actions and modify his behaviour, for his sake as well as the other kids, but I have my doubts about his capacity to do it!!
I won't be there to coach the kids on Saturday as I'll be away so one of the Dads, Graham is going to look after them. I told them tonight they're not to fall back into old/bad habits, and to stick to the way they've been playing. (3 wins and a 26-0 goal differential so far!) They are good kids with quite a bit of talent but they need a lot of encouragement and reminding to do the right thing and not just play swarmball! I'll be interested to hear how they get on.

The Heir left Busselton today. He's taken my car and gone up to Perth to visit a few friends. I'll see him tomorrow before dropping him off at the airport tomorrow night. He's flying over to Queensland to visit his Grandpa (my Dad) for his 70th birthday on the 28th May. As The Heir's birthday is the day after on the 29th they'll probably have some sort of double celebration.
It was good to have him here if only for a few days. Unfortunately Sophie has not been as helpful or easy to get along with as we'd like since he's been here so we didn't get to have as much quality family time as we wanted although Zac did go and stay the night at her place on Wednesday and cooked dinner for her and her housemate.
Raising children is a constant round of challenges and problems, interspersed with moments of laughter, light and joy.
They are seldom all "good" at the one time, but I guess on the bright side, they are seldom all "bad" at the same time either!
More prayer required.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Verbal Combat

Today we had a drama production called Verbal Combat performed by two actors from Brainstorm Productions. It was excellent, brilliantly written and very well acted, capturing the tone and culture of year 9 at high school almost perfectly. 4 characters, played by 2 actors, dealt with bullying and harassment in the context of a new kid at school. It was disturbingly accurate at times and I'm sure it had some of the kids squirming in self recognition. In fact, there were a handful of very disruptive kids and the observation afterwards was that they were probably the ones most "exposed" by what they were watching. It is a source of frustration to me that even when you offer kids something special and valuable and break up the normal routine of school that a small number will be ungrateful and disruptive and serve to lessen the impact on others. I may be getting older and more impatient, or kids may be getting more disrespectful and difficult but it did take a little of the shine off what was otherwise an excellent production.
We've got them back tomorrow afternoon for a repeat performance with the year 8's, I hope they are a little better behaved.
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Action from the Big Footy Game on Sunday arvo, no not the Eagles! The Busselton Magpies V Collie Masters Rules

The guy on the burst in the red jumper is Mozzie, one of our players who filled in for Collie cause they were a few players short. It was good he played and we had two full teams but I could have done without him bursting clear to kick two goals in the last quarter! Just as well for him we held on to win. The worst part of the day was having to play in a Magpies jumper the day after Collingwood had thrashed Geelong by a record margin! Ironically Mozzie barracks for the Cats too. He told me he refused to wear the black and white in protest! Posted by Picasa

The Busselton Hulk!

Here it is, the first photo published verifying the existence of a disturbing creature, The Busselton Hulk, a large lumbering being purporting to play football in the SW Masters Rules competition. Bereft of speed and with the turning circle of the Queen Mary, The Hulk is confined to the backline where he makes sad attempts to thwart opposition forays into the forward line.
Every now and then, to his own and everyone else's great surprise he does indeed manage to repel the footy, even on odd occasions taking marks and clearing the 50m with penetrating passes. But not often. Usually he intersperses ineffectual resistance with day dreams of yester year when he was a half decent footballer with half the bulk to cart around.
Aahhh! Lost youth!
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#28 (maybe, if anyone else is counting)

I finished this one last night, it's for my secret friend at work. Note: Not imaginary friend, secret friend, someone I'm doing nice things for in secret this week, just as someone else is doing nice things for me. I've received a tube of Pringles, a packet of jelly bellies, some Lindt chocolates, a pair of Geelong wristbands and 2 plastic stand-up Bratz toys! Score!
For my part I gave my SF a soft Nemo toy, some lollies and a card and today left notes in 20 people's pigeon holes asking them to tell my SF she's great/cool/a champ etc. I heard back from one that my SF was having an awful day and my message had really cheered her up!
I hope she likes her painting.

I took the plunge today and entered two paintings in my first ever art exhibition/competition to be held at Margaret River over the June long weekend. It would be very cool if someone bought one or both of them! Posted by Picasa