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Sunday 6 January 2019 First Sunday in Epiphany

Not a great deal has happened since the start of this new year, but I thought it best to acquaint you with what has happened anyway.

    We disembarked from Pacific Jewelon  29 December 2018 and made our way back to Newcastle Airport aboard a JetStar A320 airliner.                                         

Jock went wild with delight to see us. Tonkie, in the manner of cats, was subdued, but gave a startled miaow when I called him. He spent most of the rest of the evening riding about on my shoulder. He was much pleased to have his old servant back again, although sadly it was not for long.

    Our Tasmanian adventure on Pacific Jewelhad been saddened by the sudden death of Janet’s sister’s husband Laurence Aassef in Tamworth, the day before we left. Janet debated long whether she should go with me on the ship, or go to her sister, to whom she is quite close. Finally she decided she should go with me, aware that Linda was in the caring hands of many loving family members and friends, including her Church friends, for she and Laurence have attended Tamworth Presbyterian Church these many years. Janet’s decision was motivated by the knowledge that her husband has a propensity to vagueness. Fearing that I may well trip on the anchor and fall overboard, or be stranded on Kangaroo Island or somewhere equally remote, she came with me. Much as I wanted her to be with her sister, I was pleased, for she is an excellent organiser.

    We spent the following day resting after our eight days at sea and wanderings around the wilds of Tasmania’s shopping malls in Hobart and other places. We also caught up with the numerous calls that had come during our brief absence and wrote letters various and paid bills numerous. I was delighted to receive a note to say that one of my short stories, called “Time Flies” had received a commendation in a short story competition.

    The following morning, December 29, we were on our way to Tamworth, to Linda’s home in the new retirement village called ‘Broadlands.’ We had an uneventful trip. When the two sisters saw each other, sad memories were revived and sympathetic tears were shed. Linda is handling her grief well – most of the time. Her new home in the complex is really lovely: spacious and gracious. We were very impressed with the quality and the style. Linda and Laurence had rid themselves of most of. their own furniture and purchased new, to suit the new home, and it’s lovely. Thank heavens they’d managed to do all those sorts of things before Laurence died, so now Linda is free of the worry of it all.

    We stayed with Linda until Wednesday 02 January.  Each day we were there, 

Grief, however is a companion not willing to leave too readily.

    On Monday (New Year’s Eve) I drove your mother and Linda to a shopping centre. On the way out of the village I managed to hit a large boulder and did significant damage to the car. Linda’s neighbours were just behind us when I did it. They said at least a dozen cars have hit the same boulder which is right on a sharp left-hand bend, not far from the exit gates. Drivers are inclined to concentrate on the gates. I didn’t even notice the boulder. Anyway, the car is driveable so there is no structural damage. On the instructions of the insurance company I took it to Belmont to be assessed.  

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    My brother Bill and wife Jenny were  here on New Year’s Eve, heading south after being on holidays up north. They arrived at Puddlebyshortly after we did on Wednesday. They were in their big motor-home, towing a Suzuki 4-wheel drive so that they can explore when they pull up at a caravan park without having to move the motorhome. Bill was in terrible pain from a knee injury. They were going to stay a few days but left for Canberra after two or three days after Bill made an appointment with his Canberra doctor.  Jenny and Janet of course got to the shops on at least one occasion, hurrying off eagerly, clutching their purses.

    I spent some of yesterday doing final preparations for the Service at Wangi Uniting Church on 6 January – Epiphany Sunday. They call me in occasionally when they are desperate. That Church has a small band and singing group and sing mainly choruses, but we had a couple of Epiphany-flavoured hymns – or carols, including “We Three Kings.”

Janet Heather, Alison and friend Ken were at the Service too, and in fact Heather read one of the lessons. It all went quite nicely and afterwards we went off to “Vita” café here at Wangi Wangi for a coffee.

    Also as I write, Tonkie is on my desk, within a few inches of the keyboard, reminding me that the time has come for me to feed Jock. In this house, Tonkie is a major player and always insists on getting a taste of Jock the border collie’s dinner. In the manner of cats, he likes to sit on anything I happen to be doing on the desk and also likes to type byy walking over the keyboard. It’s amazing, what he can type sometimes. As with all cats, he is very clever. I once read that the composer Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” remained unfinished at his death because cat always insisted on sitting on the manuscript… I wonder if that is true, or not?

    In the meantime, keep well and God rest ye all safe and well all the days of this bright New Year.

    PS: Ref that fearsome photo, taken in Orkney a few years ago: That is mad Tony Bloodaxe, yelling victoriously, after a short but fierce battle with the Orkney warriors. They made a frontal attack as we landed, waving the dreaded Orkney cones, with buckets and buckets of Orkney ice cream to back them up. Finally, with my trusted 2IC, Nils Thorfinn (which means “skull splitter”) we prevailed and managed to give our foes a good licking … (burp).

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