April 2012

Mon 23

I arrived safely back in Melbourne on Friday 13th. Very jet-lagged – no doubt due to being in Germany on Easter Monday, then 24 hours in San Diego, then back to Melbourne. I had brought back 2 suitcases of things & only one thing was damaged. It was good to be back in Melb & I went to the MCG that night to see C/wood get defeated by Carlton (unfortunately). Saty I joined the Vic PAFC Supporters Group at a Sth  Melb pub to watch the Port Adel game on the big screen. This is a new group I have connected with – altho I was the 1st person in Melbourne to join up when Port Adel made their push to join the AFL 20 years ago, & was on the Vic c/tee then. They are a fun group of people, mainly ex- Sth Aussies who have moved to Melb.

On Sunday I was welcomed back to All SS. Several people were interested to hear about  my time in Germany. I then had a busy week, with various financial matters to be organised for  my official retirement when I turn 65. I managed to catch a movie on Tuesday & on Thursday went on a long walk to the Ikea store. This was my 1st visit to Ikea – & what a store it is! Not having any reason previously to shop at Ikea, I had no idea of how big it is. My purpose was to check out things that I will want to buy when I move into my own condo in 3  months time. Saw some marvellous things & made a mental note of what I will want to buy.

On Sat 21st I went to to the footy with the Vic PAFC supporters group. We had seats 6 rows from the front, behind the goals. It reminded me of going to the footy when I was in my teens. Unfortunately Port Adel lost….to C/wood! After the game we went to the Port supporters gathering where we were addressed by club officials, with some players present. They all looked so fit…….& so young!

Sun I was Deacon at High Mass at All SS. In the a/noon I went to the MCG for the Jim Stynes tribute footy match. The tribute was very moving. On Monday I visited my old friend, Sr Angela. She invited me to stay for lunch & I met some of the staff. The rest of the week is busy, with Anzac Day on Wed – the big C/wood vs Essendon game, which I often came back from San Diego for.

Thurs 26

Monday night I went to a community consultation at the St Kilda Town Hall. This was to comment on Council plans for the St Kilda triangle – a large block of land on the seafront opposite the condo that I own on The Upper Esplanade. A few years ago the Council accepted a proposal for a developer to build a huge shopping/cinema/ entertainment complex. The St K community was up-in-arms – they are not to be trifled with on such matters! Consequently the Council was voted out & a new Council started a community consultation process. It is very gratifying for me to look forward to this development opposite where I am going to live. There is a website for this: http://stkildatriangle.com

It was nice to mix with other people from the community & the Council. But the nicest thing was the supper…..Council suppers always have the best food 🙂

Anzac Day dawned on Wed with awful weather – very wet & cold. Nevertheless, I eagerly set out for the big football game at the MCG. And what a game it was. A wonderful battle with gr8 skill shown by the players in winter conditions. As always, the ANZAC ceremony at the beginning was moving – 87,000 people keeping a minute’s silence is an awesome experience. Of course they weren’t silent after that, & as the game wore on the noise increased. The last 1/4ter was gripping & tense & – Thankfully C/wood got a goal in the last minute & won by a point 🙂

On Saturday I fly to Adelaide for the w/e. Sunday I go to Mass at St Paul’s, Port Adel, then to the big Showdown game between Port Adelaide & that other Adel team. On Tues I go to Winkie, on the River Murray, to stay with good friends, Ann & Garry. Ann & I share the same b/day, so we will celebrate in advance our 65th.

Sat May 5

I am back in Adelaide after a relaxing 4 days in Winkie. Ann & Garry were marvellous hosts. They have a 4 acre property with vines, fruit trees, veggies, roses & hundreds of native trees & shrubs. Birds sing in the morning & kangaroos can be seen. I slept well & enjoyed Ann’s cooking. On Wednesday they took me thru all the towns in the Riverland, which I had not visited in over 35 years, That night Ann’s sister, Denise & her husband, Neil, came for dinner. I hadn’t seen Denise for 45 years, so lots to catch up on. Thursday we went to Katarapko National Park & that night had a campfire on the back lawn.

Sun 6

This morning I went to Mass in St Mary’s, Lower Nth Adelaide, celebrated by Fr John Fleming. I have known Fr John for over 40 years & he has been a good friend whose advice I continue to value. The Mass was very good & his sermon very challenging to me. In the a/noon I was off to Footy Park for the Port Adel v Richmond game. A very disappointing performance by Port….it is going to be a long footy season! The dismal result was balanced by the fact that right behind me was a young guy from San Siego, decked out in Port colours. He was here on holidays staying with his cousin, who came to Adelaide from NYC 20 years ago. She is a Port supporter & lives in South Tce, Sema4 – the street where I used to live. It is a small world!

On Mon I fly back to Melb. A busy week awaits, with various practical things to organise & some dinners with old friends. In 10 days time I fly back to SD for my b/day celebration 🙂

Mon 14

Since I got back from Adel it has been a week of practical things to do with finances, bills & property. Most importantly, I have taken 1st step in getting government aged pension after I turn 65. Sunday I was Deacon at All SS. I was told that I sang the Gospel well – but I can’t remember if I censed the book! Geoff, an old friend who served with me at St P’s, Port Adel came to Mass, & then we drove to his place for lunch. His partner, Sharon, served a wonderful lunch. Later I joined the Port Supporters group to watch Port get defeated by Fremantle 🙁

On Wednesday I fly to SD to celebrate my 65th b/day on Friday. A party is organised to celebrate my b/day. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to celebrate it, but decided on SD & am looking forward to it. On Sunday I go to New Orleans for 2 days – my b/day treat to myself. My celebrations will continue – on May 23 I am going to London for 12 days 🙂

Thurs 17  Ascension Day

I arrived safely in SD late yesterday a/noon. A bright sunny day greeted me – it is good to be back! Tonight I am saying Mass at All SS at 6 pm. We celebrate the Ascension of OLJC – but in Australia it is already Fri May 18……so I will be saying Mass on my b/day 🙂

Sat 19

So now I am 65! My b/day started well. 22 at Mass for Ascension Day. I woke up early Fri morning to catch the last 1/4ter of the C/wood game in Melbourne. They won with 2 goals kicked in the last minute! I had a lazy day, treating myself to brunch at a favourite cafe near All SS. In the evening a party was held for close friends & it was a wonderful night. Now I have lots of wine & chocolates to take back to Australia! The day finished with me following the Port Adelaide game on the internet. Another b/day victory, with Port coming from behind half-way thru the last 1/4ter & kicking 5 goals to win by just 2 points. How I would have loved to have been there….but if I had they probably would have lost!

My b/day celebrations continue tomorrow – I catch a 6.30 am flight to New Orleans. It is one of my favourite cities & is my b/day treat to myself 🙂

Tues 22

I had a nice, relaxing time in New Orleans. Weather was warm & Bourbon St was in its usual party mode. The manager of the Intercontinental, knowing it was my b/day, upgraded me to a suite the size of my St K condo. For my San Diego friends, the condo I own in St K is the same size as my SD condo. The hotel suite included a dining room with a setting for 8. Anyone for dinner?

Tomorrow I fly to London, arriving early Thurs morning. For the w/e I will be staying at the same hotel near Westminster Abbey where I stayed for the royal wedding last year. My b/day celebrations continue on Saty, when I will have brunch with my friend, Joan. She was at my 60th in San Diego.

Fri 25

The b/day presents keep rolling in! There I was on Wed morning, sitting in economy waiting for my flight to Houston to leave. A United agent announces that they are oversold & if anyone would like to take a later flight to Chicago they would get a $250 voucher. No-one stepped up & I wondered about going on to London. I went forward & mentioned that I had a connecting flight to London in business class. No problem………they found me a 1st class seat all the way!

Both flights were delayed – which meant that instead of arriving at 7 am I got in at 11.30 am…….much better for checking in at the hotel. I caught the tube in & it was glorious summer sunshine. I was glad to be back in London. My hotel is the St James Crowne Plaza, where I stayed for the Royal Wedding last year. After I checked into my room I went for a 3 hour walk – past Westminster Abbey, up Whitehall & the The Strand (& past the office where I worked in 74/75) then up to S Paul’s. I returned back thru the West End & finished up at St Mary’s, Bourne St, for 6.30 pm Mass, where I was welcomed back by the Vicar, Fr Cherry, & old friend Henry. The walk had its effect – I slept like a log & awoke at 7.30 am. Hopefully I am over jet-lag already

Today I caught the train to Windsor & spent the a/noon exploring Windsor Castle. I last came here in 1974, but remember nothing It is an amazing place – truly living history & very relevant for a monarchist like me. St George’s Chapel is wonderful – obviously a house of prayer & worship in good Anglican tradition. The Royal Standard was flying, so the Queen was home. Not receiving visitors tho!

Mon June 4

London is abuzz for the Queen’s Jubilee & I am enjoying it very much. The streets & buildings are decorated with red, white & blue bunting & flags, & there are as many British as tourists in the capital. I have been enjoying walking around the familar streets & parks & catching up with old friends. On Sat 26th I had brunch with my friend, Joan, to celebrate my birthday yet again! Pentecost Sunday I attended High Mass at St Mary’s, Bourne St, with Joan. Parishioners welcomed me back, remembering I had preached there 12 months ago. A parish lunch followed, & after that I was taken to a 400 year old pub behind the Royal Courts of Justice, the 7 Stars. The publican is a larger-than-life Aussie, Roxy Beaujoulais! She came to London in 1973 & never went home – so we had lots of things to talk about.

Monday I went to stay in a flat off Russell Squ. This was a birthday gift to me from an old Fitzroy friend, Alan, who manages it. It was very nice of him, & a lovely base for the week. During the week I spent time with Alan as well as exploring London & attending Mass at various churches, incl a special one in Holborn to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee. Music from the coronation was sung by a good choir & a lavish supper followed. On Wedneday I had lunch with Phyl, with whom I worked in 74/75. She is now 82 & we have kept in touch all these years.

On Friday I left the flat & checked in at the Holiday Inn, Kensington, where the All SS pilgrims stayed in 2007. That night I walked to the Royal Albert Hall to attend an Elgar concert. It concluded (of course) with his Pomp & Circumstance March, & at the end we all stood & sang “Land of Hope & Glory” – a fitting start to the Jubilee w/e! Sunday Joan & I attended Mass at St Alban’s, Holborn, followed by lunch at the 7 Stars. I then went to Chelsea to watch the royal procession along the Thames. I was on a bridge when the royal barge went past! The weather started to get nasty, so I returned to the hotel & watched the rest of the flotilla on TV. A much better view – esp with the rain pelting down. But HM continued standing & enjoying it all. In the evening I ventured out to some pubs to catch the atmosphere. It was gr8 seeing all the Brits decked out & enjoying the Jubilee, even if it was wet underfoot.

Tonight is the royal concert at Buckingham Palace, which I shall watch on TV. This morning at breakfast I chatted to a lovely English family who had got 2 tickets to it! Tomorrow I fly to SD. I look forward to being back, & celebrating the centenary of All SS next Sunday.

Sat 9

I landed safely in SD on Tuesday night & was greeted by the United agent (who remembered me) with “Welcome back….it’s June gloom, but you would remember that”! In fact the days have been gloriously sunny – the perfect SD weather that I remember well. I am a little jet-lagged, so falling asleep about 8 pm & waking up at 3.30 am!

Wed morning I collected my mail, which included the gift of an ipod from United Airlines (for passing 2 mill miles!) & my new credit card. This meant changing all my automatic payments (about 8 ) incl sites that I use to book hotels, flights & hire cars. The one that I could not do online was Optus – my Aussie cell-phone. Oh well, they will find out when my monthly debit is not accepted! I then called into the church office to look at Sunday’s bulletin. It is a very lovely booklet, complete with colour pics. The music looks wonderful (some of which I suggested). There is just 1 Mass at 9 am, followed by a catered brunch.

Thurs morning I did my sermon for Sunday. Am very pleased with it. I think I shall also involve the children before preaching – depending on how many are there. On Thurs & Fri a/noon I visited parishioners & was served some delicious a/noon teas. Fri night was dinner with my hosts – a wonderful family gathering. The children are rapidly growing up!

Today I go to the church for a rehearsal for tomorrow’s High Mass. I am the Celebrant & the rector-elect, Fr McQueen, is going to be the Deacon. He & his wife are in town to check-out housing, etc, so it was an opportunity for him to be involved in this very significant celebration. Also very symbolic, with the Rector Emeritus celebrating & the Rector Elect assisting. After the rehearsal there is the monthly Rosary followed by the Society of Mary Mass, which I am saying. Fr McQ is staying for that & the lunch (a good opportunity for him to see an important aspect of the parish) after which he & I are going to meet. He will have many questions for me & I hope that I can give him much useful information.

So to the excitement of Sunday’s Centenary Mass & celebrations 🙂

Sunday 10

What a wonderful day I have had! The church was packed for a truly magnificent Mass, with 26 in the choir & 12 acolytes. The music was fantastic (with a bit of Royal Jubilee flavour). We processed in to Parry’s “I Was Glad”. The choir also sang Stanford’s Psalm 150 & for the Offertory, my favourite anthem by an American, “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord”. During Communion they sang Elgar’s “Ave Verum” & Vaughan Wlliams’ “O Taste & See”. And the congregation enthusiastically sang the hymns & Healy Willan mass setting. I was pleased with my sermon, which will be published when the video of the Service is edited.

An interesting aspect to the Mass was that the Rector-Elect, Fr McQueen, was the Deacon. This was wonderfully symbolic, with the former Rector as Celebrant & the new one at his right hand. Afterwards he said he was glad they called him to be Rector & not the Deacon! The Service was followed by an excellent brunch. It was truly wonderful to be back at All SS, celebrating High Mass – & a little emotional for me, esp when it came to blessing the children at the altar rail. My, how they have grown! And so many people pleased to see me again 🙂

Dinner with Fr McQ, his wife & 3 parishioners concluded a beautiful day. Tomorrow I pack up the last things that I have had in storage here. I will be checking in a huge suitcase & breakables will be in my carry-on. I fly back to Melbourne on Tuesday, arriving there Thursday.

Wed 20

I arrived back in Melbourne safely – a little jet-lagged for a few days. My 16 lovely glasses survived the trip in my carry-on &, as usual, TSA inspected my large suitcase! There was much to organise on my return, as in 5 weeks I shall take possession of my condo. The weather has been typical Melbourne winter, which is a bit of a shock to my system! Sunday I went to Mass at All SS & was welcomed back from the pulpit. In the a/noon I joined the Vic PAFC Supporters Group for the Port Adel game at Docklands stadium.They were pleased to see me back, too – esp as I had some of my birthday choccies for the girls! Port played terribly, which was disappointing, but it was still a fun a/noon. This week I have been catching up with old friends & continuing to organise things for my move – not least my finances. But to add some excitement, last night there was a 5.3 earthquake that shook Melb. It was the 1st I have experienced in Australia, reminding me of several in SD during my time there.

Mon 25

A huge downpour of rain on Thursday left me with sniffles, which soon developed into a heavy cold. I attended the SSC Mass & chapter meeting that night, but thereafter I continued to feel worse. This made the w/e a bit of an ordeal, but I did go to the MCG Saty night for the big C/wood v West Coast game. It was an excellent game – but I left at 1/2 time, getting home in time to listen to the exciting last 1/4ter on the radio. Sunday I got to Mass, but shivers had developed, so I spent the a/noon in bed. This morning I went to the Dr. A sure sign I am sick is that I caught the tram, rather than walk. He said there is nothing to be done, so I just have to grin & bear it!

Fri 29

It has taken all week to get rid of this cold. Hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow, so I can go to the footy at the MCG & be Deacon at High Mass on Sunday. Monday I fly off to the US. This is to collect the last of my things in storage in SD. I will also be checking out a locum job for 2013, as well as visiting NYC, Baltimore & Vegas. I return July 21 & move into my new home that week. I can hardly wait!!

Tues July 3

I arrived safely in SD after nice flights. Had 6 hours on the long fight! Nice sunny weather – my cold has now disappeared. Today I had various jobs to do & visiting. Tomorrow I attend a traditional July 4th BBQ at home of good friends from All SS.

Wed July 18

I have had a wonderful 2 weeks travelling around the US. However, airports have been crowded & flights delayed – so I made a mental note not to fly in the US in July again! After a pleasant few days in SD I went to Baltimore for the w/e. Unfortunately the cold I had in Melb returned & I spent the w/e coughing. It was also very hot, so I spent most of the time in the club lounge. I then went to Las Vegas for a few days. I stayed at the Venetian – an incredible place. The heat & coughing did not stop me walking along the strip & thru the various hotels – but I did spend a lot of time in my huge suite & the VIP lounge, where I was served drinks by a butler 🙂

Friday I flew to NYC. This flight was another chapter in my amazing travel stories, as I found mself seated next to a Hollywood star. I did not know it, tho – she just seemed like any other nice young woman. Introducing herself as Lucy, she offered me her newspaper, giving no hint of her celebrity status. Several hours later the Purser commented that she loved her last show. So I asked her what she did, & she replied, actor/singer. She was still unassuming & gave no hint – except to say that she was in a new TV series called Elementary. Later, I asked the flight attendants who she was. They replied that she had been in Charlie’s Angels & Ally McBeal. This still meant nothing to me. altho I did remember one of the Angels was Asian.

I decided not to pry any further, figuring she was probably enjoying talking to an Aussie who didn’t know who she was & didn’t want her autograph! We continued chatting & when she discovered that I was going into NYC from the airport by subway, she insisted I come in her car. I protested – but not too much! I could not believe how trusting she was. Nor the fact that after 9 years in the US I had finally met a movie star!

Coming off the plane, Lucy was met by an agent with a cart. We climbed aboard & were driven thru the terminal & out to the curb, where her private car & driver were waiting. As we waited for her luggage I decided to reveal who I was – which resulted in a long conversation about religion & faith. We eventually got to Chelsea, where she lives. She said it would be easy to get a cab to my hotel from there. But that was not the end of it….she actually got out & hailed a cab for me! A warm embrace followed. As I drove off I could not believe what had just happened. When I got to the hotel I told the guy who was checking me in that I had just got a ride with a movie star from Charlie’s Angels called Lucy. He instantly replied, Lucy Liu! So that’s who it was 🙂

I flew back to SD on Monday, with delayed flights getting me in at 12.30 am. I have had 2 days sorting out practical/personal matters, as well as attending Mass at All SS & meeting with Fr McQueen, now officially there as new Rector. And I have now packed up the last of the things from my condo – 2 nice breakable jugs & an All SS plate. I was thrilled to be able to fit them all into my carry-on, which means no bags to check in (which I had assumed).

I fly back to Melbourne tomorrow, arriving Saty morning. I will be receiving the keys to my condo & will go & check it out. I also hope to get to the MCG for the big C/wood v Hawthorn game in the a/noon & to meet with my Port supporters group in the evening to watch the Port Adel game from Darwin. After Mass on Sunday I will spend the a/noon at the condo, working out what things go where, cleaning cupboards & bringing a few things in. The actual move is on Monday, when I will move my flat furniture & all the things that have been in storage since I left Melb in 2003. It is very exciting – but also a little daunting as I contemplate a really busy week ahead.