Saturday, September 20, 2008


Dante and I inspecting the Canberra spring blossoms

I keep looking at a fridge magnet that Rose sent me last month. It reads “RETIREMENT – When you stop living at work and start working at living.” That’s my new definition for retirement!! Thanks Rose. So now I can say – Yes I am working – I’m working at living!

How Grandparents babysit!


Well the National Capital is always billed as an exciting place to visit and this trip lived up to that reputation. Sadly though, across the road from Ally one of her neigbours was murdered in a bizarre series of events that are still being investigated. Two bodies were eventually found and it seemed Struan and a young woman he was protecting were both murdered and then the house set on fire. You can read the story in Ally’s blog which also has a news clip.
Joe noticed smoke coming from the house and he and Bill went over to see if Struan was in there and needed help. They banged on the door and called out loudly but although they heard noises from inside they couldn’t get in. Ally rang the fire brigade which arrived in minutes. They kicked in the front door and soon there were three fire brigades, two police cars and an emergency service ambulance all with flashing lights in our little cul-de-sac. The neigbours gathered around in various forms of nightwear – it was after ten o’clock when Joe raised the alarm. Most of us were in bed and some asleep.

It was very sad when we realised that the occupants had both died. It took many days before we found out more details about the incident and learnt that it was a murder. The next morning the police had arrested someone who they seem to think is the murderer.
What was nice was how the neighbors rallied around each other and had supported Struan who had been through some hard times but was getting his life back on track after some serious misadventures with drugs. They were all so sad at his untimely death. He seemed to be a warm, intelligent person who had strong loyalties to his friends.

Ally and Mel heading off for a girls night out.

Canberra weather was magnificent and the spring blossoms were spectacular. The indigenous trees with golden wattle and the imported cherry and plum blossoms were everywhere. Ally, Dante and I walked to the shops, the park and anywhere where we could have some fun in the natural environment. Of course we did spend a lot of time in the great shopping centres that Canberra has. Ally is a Mystery Shopper so we HAD to go shopping.
Checking out the Aldi store

Bill and I having a dinner out!

Inspecting the boat - Yes I have been aboard!

Aside from that - Bill and I had a lovely time this visit. We dined out alone, we shopped with the family, we drove out into the country and up onto the mountains, we cooked and watched TV and we caught up with friends and family, we even did a spot of babysitting. We also inspected the new unit that Bill is going to rent for the next 12 months in line with his new contract. It is very close to his work at Woden and he will be able to walk to work and not have the long drive morning and evening which he is beginning to dislike. He will miss the companionship he enjoys at Ally and Joes and I am sure he and Dante will wonder where their best mate has gone! It has been wonderful to see the special relationship between Bill and Dante. They are very close.

Bill and I on a visit to a local farm to inspect an open garden

We had a lovely day meeting up with Christie Maskell and her family. Christie is now living at Swan Hill in Victoria and came to Canberra to visit an old school friend from Alice. They all came to a BBQ at Ally’s and we had fun wining and dining and watching the little ones play together. Christie has let her hair grow to its natural colour - grey! and it looks wonderful! Bill took the opportunity to show off his as yet dry boat! It reminded us all of many wonderful days around the pool at Maskells in Alice or in the back yard at the Duffy’s place.

Christie, Matt and family heading home.

Soon it was time to fly home again. Bill and I had breakfast at the airport and he went to work and I fly on to Sydney and Ballina. When I called him the next morning to ask how he was he said “I woke up feeling very sad this morning…” I was concerned as he did sound quiet and I said “Why?” He replied – “My wife left me yesterday.” I really enjoy being loved so much!
The good news is Bill’s test results from his recent procedure were all very positive and he is quite excited about his new job and his new abode. He has a busy few weekends to fill in while I am in Vietnam. This weekend he is moving into his new unit. Next weekend he and Joe are taking the boat down to Bateman’s Bay for its christening and the weekend after that he is going with Ally and Joe and some neigbours for a camping trip down the coast. He flies up to Ballina on the day we arrive back from Vietnam. We will have such exciting stories to share that weekend!


Having fun at Dympna's with Ruby and Christine

It was wonderful to walk back into The Shutters – my quiet, comfortable and relaxing home. Dympna met me at the airport and filled me in on all the gossip and news as we drove home. We had dinner that night and laughed and chatted till late. Then I had to get to work on my study assignment.

I am really enjoying my Theology study. My group members are interesting and stimulating and while I feel the pressure of competition I am finding it a very comfortable pace and really learning a lot I didn’t know about things that are so central to my being! This month I was working on a paper about the Monastic movement and its impact on the Church. Such wonderful stories there – disasters and atrocities but throughout the ages good people were always able to rise above the corruption and demonstrate that there is a way through and things can be great again.

My next section focuses on the current crisis in the Church and how they have arisen and how they might be resolved. It is a bit unsettling to read some of the issues but I continue with my optimism that good things happen if good people just do something!
I am still working on my final project paper for this unit. I was so inspired with the input from my children who all responded to my call for help. Ally has given my first draft the “once over” and suggested some changes. When it is complete I will share it with anyone who wants? It is about the importance of “knowing God” as opposed to “Knowing about” God. It has been interesting and inspiring to research.

Christine enjoying my balcony in the morning

During the week we had visitors from Queensland. Ruby Parker (nee Ryall) and her daughter Christine who is about Sha’s age came to visit. Ruby stayed at Dympna’s and Christine stayed with me. We had such a good time together. We sat up late talking and resumed again in the morning – I think we are soul mates. Soon we will know how we are related! They are heading out to Glenn Innes where someone is researching their side of the Ryall family tree.

Never miss a chance for a game of crib


When I first arrived in Ballina Dympna said – “Oh, by the way, I’ve booked us a ticket on a trip to Vietnam”. At that time I was too excited about my new home and the sudden change in my environment to think about it much. Suddenly it is time to depart Australia and fly to Saigon, Hanoi and all points in between!
Dympna and I and the several other ladies who are part of our little tour group that originated from the U3A have been meeting and planning our trip. We have been having little walking groups to test our fitness and getting to know each other. Our knowledge of Vietnam and our interest in the country has grown over this time. Last night we watched Michael Caine in “The Quiet American” an old movie from the past but which gave a good background on the last century for this quiet county which has suffered such atrocities.

On Sunday we fly out mid afternoon for Sydney where we will spend the night prior to a mid morning flight to Saigon – now called Ho Chi Minh City. We will spend a few hours there prior to flying on to Hanoi where our touring begins. We will then gradually travel down with two or three night stopovers in some of the regional towns. I am looking forward to learning more about this country and having it associated with things other than the Vietnam War.
Dympna and I couldn’t resist a final relaxing walk along one of the best beaches in Australia. We do live in a wonderful country – Vietnam here we come!

Love to all

1 comment:

Trish said...

Great to catch up on all your adventures Gem. I love reading all the news. Sha xxx