Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Charmed Life of Highriser

I am worried about Mother. At her maximum, she weighed just under 80kgs. She is now 45kg, 100 lbs for those who use such measurements. Her face, brain and vital organs remain the same, but her body has shrunk. She is just so terribly frail.

Tradie Brother is not working and drinks an awful lot. He is a daytime drinker.

I tried to call Sister last night, on her landline and mobile phone. She did not answer and did not call back, although I did leave a message, see you on Christmas Day.

Step Mother's partner's wife died from dementia. He suggested to Tradie Brother that he is seeing signs of it Step Mother. She came home one evening and left her car running and the lights on in the garage. She is becoming increasingly crabby. We did not see signs of it when we were in her company at the wedding.

We went into town for me to take a couple of photos and to have dinner. I quipped before we entered the restaurant, we must not over order this time. I may have said that before, but R just exploded and stormed off and went home. I dined alone and very nice it was.

As I walked on my own down Bourke Street to catch the tram home, I saw nobody as old as me in the city. Once I reached Swanston Street I had a little time to wait for a tram home. The city was busy and pumping. Buskers galore. People laughing, joking, chatting and all sorts of languages. So many had multiple Christmas shopping bags.

The sad old man just sat at the tram stop playing with his phone until a tram arrived.

When two tribes go to war

This screenshot from Google Maps shows the area where Sister and Bone Doctor live on the Bellarine Peninsula. You may have to click on the map to see the red line. As you can see there is a huge area to the left of the red line, with a small coastal area to right.

The large area is the City of Greater Geelong local council area. The small excised coastal strip is the Borough of Queenscliffe (sic), with it two towns Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale and is where Sister lives.

Although there is a golf course on Swan Island, I believe it is Crown land and under the control of the Department of Defence. I think you have to have specific reason to be allowed on to the island. 'Dey have soldiers with guns 'dere'.

The gap of water between Point Lonsdale and Fort Nepean is known as The Rip, where there tidal water flows in and out swiftly through the Port Phillip Heads into the bay. All ships have to be piloted through the heads as it is very dangerous. Melbourne has the largest port in Australia, so commercial shipping and recreational shipping, along with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry make it a very busy place for shipping.

The Borough of Queenscliffe is on a road to nowhere, that is, you do not pass through it to get to anywhere except if you want to use the Queenscliff to Sorrento car ferry across to the other side of the bay. Queenscliff was once a prime holiday destination for the wealthy holiday makers from Melbourne, who used to arrive by steam ferries and perhaps later by train, and hence it having come about for wealthy holiday makers, it has some very beautiful old and historic buildings.

While not everyone in the Borough is wealthy, Sister Bone Doctor are what you would call comfortable though they live quite modestly, there is huge wealth in the Borough, but it is of the quiet non ostentatious kind of wealth. This makes it a very desirable place to live for some and although I wondered why Sister bought a house there, I am pleased she did now that I know the area. Their house has appreciated far beyond the average house price in Melbourne. As usual I will be prone to exaggeration, but the greatest crime in the area where Sister lives might be a visiting dog owner not picking up after their dog. No local person would dream of doing such a thing. It is pretty well compulsory to have a dog and to walk it along the beach path.

Now see the inland straight border of the Borough. The line runs along Fellows Road, which was the limit of any residential housing in the area, but not any more. As I said, to the right of Fellows Road is the Borough and to the left the City of Greater Geelong,  The area was mined for shell grit many years ago and so is classified as degraded land, yet on the degraded land nature made a useful place for birds and other wildlife.

Ah, but along come developers with huge plans for a new development on the 'degraded' land. The local community got into a stew about the matter. I expect business people probably did welcome the thought of the newcomers of the estate spending money in the town, but most local residents did not.

There were studies, there were panels, there was ministerial intervention, there were committees and of course fierce lobbying by both sides. If it had to be redeveloped, the plans ended up being quite strict, especially the environmental aspects. I am having trouble finding recent information but one proposal was approved, against regulations about connecting inland canals to the sea. I understand that the developer had to pay a 120% bond of the cost of all environmental works. Developers are well known for walking away from such things, so I hope this stood. But now while some of the project has been completed, ownership has changed and I am at a loss as to how things stand now. Hopefully Sister and Bone Doctor may be able to fill me in, although they haven't been active against the development.

Of course the good residents of the Borough are far to politie to publically react if they asked the question of someone about what part of town they lived in and the answer was in a street on the Geelong side of Fellows Road, but mentally, they will think, oh, that new housing estate.

Not in my backyard? Elitism? Snobbism? Probably all of those, but the the residents of the Borough of Queenscliffe have something very special in the area where they live and I don't blame them for wanting to protect what they have.

Of course the council rates for all the new properties will go to the City of Greater Geelong, but the Borough will be bearing quite of bit of the costs for the new residents

Friday, December 21, 2018

Movie Titles

Regardless of whether I saw the movie, and if I did, whether I liked it, there are some movie titles that really appeal to me, enough at times to see the movie just because of the name, and I think I have a new one. There are probably more, that I don't remember now.

Some from the past have been, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, Sleepless in Seattle, Hotel New Hampshire, You've got Mail, Throw Momma from the Train. I've seen all of those except I think Sleepless in Seattle, including another excellent movie with a good title, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Same Time Next Year is another.

But there is a new kid's animated movie to be soon released and the title just really makes me want to see the movie. I will consult my cultural advisor about all things of young pop culture, Little Jo, on Christmas Day. She came to the fore recently when I asked her about Fortnight. Her mothers' had no knowledge of the game, but Little Jo knew all about it and said it is a terrible murder game, but that the dance moves that go with it are good. I already knew this, but it was interesting that she knew about it. Show us the dance moves, asked Sister, and Little Jo did.

Ah, so the movie title. It attracts me immediately. I am not watching it in case I will see the movie but here is the trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet. The internet is pretty well unbreakable and that is one of the points of it, so it would be interesting to see how Ralph breaks it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Highriser Photos

Photos from the phone and camera are downloaded to the desktop computer. Once there and have been used for any purpose, they are uploaded to Dropbox. When I reach the limit of Dropbox's free storage limit, I burn them on to dvd and then copy them to another dvd. With variations, I have done this for may years.

You see the photos I use on my blog, but many are personal photos, of family and friends etc.

I read that there was an original forecast for the life of a dvd of about ten years. This was very conservative and disks are lasting much longer. Nevertheless, I decided I would also upload all the photos to Google Drive. Drive has a generous enough free storage limit, and I have uploaded all digital photos from DVD from 2004 to 2008. Once I reach the free storage limit, I will pay for more space.

As I said, I burn two dvds of photos, one as a back up, and I randomly check a few folders on the burnt dvds to make sure the photos are there. I don't know if it was a bad burn at the time and I missed it, or the dvds are not holding up well, but I have lost some photos. I really think the dvds are failing.

Recently, I have only used Sony dvds, but in the past I have used Imation, Verbatim, Maxell and TDK.

Fortunately I only bought two single TDK dvds, as they are the ones that have failed. Unfortunately, I actually must have bought four, as the back up dvds are also TDK and they too have failed.  It is only the first four folders on both disks that have failed and I retrieved some photos from them, like photos of the late Dame at her 83rd birthday. She died less than six months later. We are all there in the photos, but not Dame M. Failed photos. Little Jo, face down and bum up and sound asleep on R's bed at the age one, gone. I may have such photos saved elsewhere or on FB.

So, TDK really has done amazing things to my system and they are not good.

If you want to save photos, back up, back up again and then back up once more, using a variety of methods. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Wedding part 2

Well, I can't really show you photos of the wedding here. The Minister of the church had conducted a blessing of the animals in the church, where people bring their pets to be blessed. Tradie Brother wanted so much for his dog to attend the wedding, and he did. The Minister had no problem with a dog in church.

Now, have you made false assumptions as I did? The Minister of the church is a married woman. It was the first same sex marriage in her church. She has in the past been very gay friendly towards the local community. I spoke to her briefly afterwards, telling her who I was and that I had been in same sex relationship for a number of years. How long, she asked? Ok, you know all about the battles for same sex rights, and the step back at the height of the AIDS crisis. Indeed I do know. I pointed out to her that I haven't been a great gay activist, but at times in my own way got stuck in. The church website is quite impressive.

She said that she owes a lot to the women before her who made it possible for her to be in the position she is now.

She conducted the marriage ceremony beautifully. There was a little religion in the ceremony but nothing too much to spook the non believers. Mother complained about the welcome to country beginning, a standard tribute to the Aboriginal custodians of the land before we white fellas came. Standard practice now Mother, I told her, live with it.

The MC was Sister's straight female friend, who chose her wedding dress. She was great. Another good friend of Sister's and part of the bridal party spoke and she must be Catholic and I am afraid what she said in a religious context rather went over my head.

Little Jo spoke about Sister's and Bone Doctor's first marriage in Canberra, five years to the day earlier. They were the last couple to be married in the ACT.  It was quickly outlawed by the Federal Government and their marriage annulled by the nasty John Howard. Little Jo wrongly said it was Tony Abbott, a later former Prime Minister, which did bring boos and hisses of support from those present. I didn't know at the time, but it was an unrehearsed speech.

Rings were exchanged, vows to love, respect etc were taken, without mention of obeying. (Bone Doctor knows better than to not obey Sister) You may kiss the bride. I now pronounce you as a married couple. Cheers rang out.

Then there was signing of the official documents. Who are those people up there? Ah, Little Jo's bio donor father and his wife.

As I have said, they have lots of friends who do things for them for cheap rates. A decent mention was made in the service about what Sister and Bone Doctor do for the local community. If you remember, Mother complained about them never being home when she stayed there. That is one of the reasons. A group of scouts was in attendance for part of the service, no doubt Bone Doctor's troop.

Sister thought it fit to invite our late Step Father's daughter and her husband. They are probably in their sixties, and while it was a bit hard for them as they knew few people, I think they liked that they came. He is a farmer and bigwig in peak farming organisations, so I think it it is safe to conclude that they would be on the conservative side of social matters and politics, yet the country farmers were at a same sex wedding. Bone Doctor's family did not bat an eyelid at the same sex wedding. I hope it was because they are tolerant, rather than just not caring. Bone Doctor's Uncle spoke about how sports competitive Bone Doctor is. At some point in his life he realised she could beat him in rugby. Her Father asked how many people had seen Bone Doctor in a dress, and more hands than he expected went up, including ours. We saw her in a clingy dress and with her slim but still feminine figure, she looked terrific, perhaps like a 1920s flapper. She went to a conservative posh private girls school for her secondary education. She was incensed that she could not wear trousers at school and soon had that policy of girls having to wearing dresses changed. While she was not welcome at Australian Rules Football, she realised there were no female restrictions at rugby, so that is what she played.

Sister put up a video clip on FB today. Most of the first part of Little Jo's performance was cut out. I expect that was because she scratched her crotch three times, that I noticed. It was very distracting from a fine performance. After Little Jo started, a tenor cut in (quite an attractive bloke in a nerdish kind of way) and as Little Jo stopped, then he stopped and a soprano, who is the adult daughter of Little Jo's bio father sang. Then it went to all of them singing together. It was magical. Many have recorded the song but I believe the sublime original was by The Carpenters.

After the signing of documents, where there had been complete silence aside from a little gurgle from one of the twins, suddenly music burst forth from the speakers and all 80 of us clapped, laughed and cheered as Sister and Bone Doctor danced down the aisle, with Sister singing along at the top of her voice to this track. Gosh it was a great wind up to the wedding ceremony.

Afterwards there was a terrific serving of nibbles and drinks, and boy did I need a drink. Then the main meal buffet, all good. A live guitarist performed who was really good. There was much dancing and frivolity. R took Step Mother back to the cottage and returned but it was then wind up time at 10pm, although things certainly weren't shutting down. One interesting thing happened that I did not understand until later, Sister served Bone Doctor a morsel of wedding cake on a long knife. People were calling out no, but it went ahead. I guess it is an ultimate act of trust.

We left and spent the next two hours outside back at the cottage with a bottle of Scotch while we sorted out the world and our lives. Neither is any better for our efforts, but that is what we do. Bed by midnight and I did not wake until 6.30.

Tradie Brother was taking Step Mother home the next morning and arrived at our cottage at 9. They departed and we realised Step Mother had bought up big and cheaply on Apple Cider when we stopped along the way at Dan Murphys, one dozen small bottles, and she had left them in the fridge, so we called them and they returned in about ten minutes to get them.

We left the cottage at check out time, 10, and caught up briefly with Sister and Bone Doctor, Ex Sis in Law, Hippie Niece and The Twins at the church hall where a clean up was happening. I still can't tell the twins apart. Via a lunch stop again at Routleys Bakery, with not a hot tradie in sight, we were home by 12.30 and rested for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bikies and their lovers

The wedding post, part 2, needs some polishing. You will have to make do with this for today's post. It has sat around long enough for emergency purposes and today is the day. 

A snip from a newspaper. 

Acting Sergeant Trueman told a court hearing that police raided the clubhouse several times, including in June 2014 after they received a tip "that the Gypsy Jokers (a bikie gang) had stolen an alpaca and were having sexual intercourse with it".

What???!!! And they say gays are queer. Though I must say, Cleo is quite pretty.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Great Niece Duty

Last night, Saturday night we met up with the widower of our late friend, the Fijian Indian, to celebrate his birthday at a pub. Ten people were there to celebrate, although most did not know it was his birthday. It was a great evening, and R won $40 on the pokie machines, well $45 but he put $5 back in and then sensibly took the $40.

Sunday morning we were up early to see great nieces' perform their dance routines, starting at 10am, an hour's drive away. It was a three and a half hour show with a twenty minute intermission and it was really terrific. The costumes were amazing, most of the performers really good. It was not unlike a School Spectacular. It was so professionally presented. Little Em, at about two and a half years old had two gigs, one as a doggie in How Much is that Doggie in the Window, and in another performance where she was mermaid. She was the youngest performer and didn't do too badly.

During the finale, family made the mistake of calling out to her, and so she knew where we were in the audience and kept moving from her stage position towards us. One of the senior performers pulled her back and took her offstage and then brought her back in her arms on the far side of the stage.

The whole thing would be repeated in the afternoon and we did not have the stamina for another three and a half hours, mostly the same but with some differences, so we missed seeing the oldest four year old great niece perform. They will be in the same group next year, so if we go, we will see them both.

The performances were of quite a high standard, costumes just brilliant, the lighting, sound and staging great. We had ballet, jazz ballet, hip hop, tap, rap, and all things in between. Did I mention that we saw three and a half hours of it.

Notes: The Frankston Civic Centre is great. Dance Lab, with a hundred or two hundred students is really good.  There was a good bit of tap dancing, which I thought might have been old fashioned. Tap dancers cannot exit the stage quietly. It was disappointing to see only about six boys among the hundred plus performers. None of them had the flair that is required for an on stage career. The oldest, a teenage lad, only performed in one rap number and the finale, and he was really quite good, and there was nothing feminine about his performance and so many young lads could do the same. Boys can be effeminate ballet dancers and can just dance brilliantly to rap music, and I expect some things in between. Get your sons and grandsons onto stage, Mrs Worthington.

Casting back two or three decades, for a number of years at the same venue we saw Firefighting Nephew, Oldest Niece and Hippie Niece perform on the same stage. Now we see their children. All has changed, but nothing has changed.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Building a community

It was the inaugural Friday drinks and nibbles at our building. I stepped into the lift twenty minutes later than I should have coming back from work as Melbourne had experienced flash flooding and huge traffic and public transport delays. The social meeting was for 6 and it was now 8. A couple, an older white man and an older Asian women were in the lift and they had been to the Friday night drinks.

They had an empty plate with some food residue on it and two empty wine glasses. They told me they had a great time at Friday night drinks and nibbles and would have stayed longer, except they met a couple who like playing mahjong, and were so going off to meet up with them for a game. A clacking of the tiles, so to speak.

So, the inaugural Friday drinks and nibbles thing might turn out to be a great success in the future. I hope to to attend when I am free. 20 second lift conversations are all very well, but actually having a good chat must be better. I just have to convince R. But as the old guard of the building committee people has moved on, or has been moved on, maybe he will give it will give it a try. Goodness knows, we need more social connection.