Aug 6ย  2012

I arrived back in Melb on Saty July 21 & it has been non-stop ever since. 2 weeks ago I moved into my new condo. Shortly after that news came that All SS parishioner & good friend, Dennis Avery, was seriously ill. I had seen Dennis in hospital just before I left SD, but had no idea he was really unwell. He died on Mon July 23. A wonderful man in so many ways, he was very generous to the parish during my time as Rector, & also to me personally. An unassuming christian gentleman, he loved life & had a smile & laugh to match.

The move into my new home was a major exercise, but everything went without a hitch & on schedule. It began at 2 am on the Sunday, when I woke up from jetlag. I took the opportunity to shift my clothes, which involved 5 trips from the rented flat to my condo – a 10 min walk. The sight of me carrying big plastic bags filled with clothes must have looked suspicious at that early hour, but a passing police car did not stop me. That a/noon I bought a fridge & washing machine…..no more laundromat!

Monday morning my good friend, David, borrowed his nephew’s truck & we shifted all the things I had in storage since I left Melb in 2003. 50+ cartons plus small pieces of furniture then had to be carried up 2 flights of stairs……..I felt it that night! At 2 pm I went to the flat, as removalists were scheduled to shift my things from there. That didn’t take long. That night I slept in my new home for the 1st time ๐Ÿ™‚

I was up early Tues, & began the process of unpacking over 70 cartons. At 9 am I went to the flat, as cleaners were booked. Necessary if I was to get my bond back. Unpacking continued until the fridge & washing m/c arrived, after which I walked to Prahran to submit my application for the government pension……..a defining moment! Wed morning more unpacking & in the a/noon I went to IKEA. I had checked them out in May, along with some Asian importers nearby, & knew what I wanted, I bought desks, chair, bookshelf, etc for my study – then down the street to purchase a chinese cabinet. This is to display the many chinese artifacts I collected in SD, as well as holding my crockery, etc. The cabinet arrived that night & I had fun filling it. IKEA packs arrived next morning. I realised I needed another cabinet to hold glasses, etc – so back to IKEA! On Friday a man advertising as flatpackwizard came to assemble it all. He did a gr8 job, but had to return on Monday to finish the jobs, which included hanging my pics. I was now down to 20 cartons & had already decided to get rid of some things.

By the w/e I was feeling settled in – tho my books had yet to be unpacked. Monday the flatpackwizard returned – but there were still more to do, such as a kitchen towel rail (why wasn’t one already there?). I also had shopping to do, incl simple things like scissors. It wasn’t until Wed, with just 8 cartons left, that I started to feel settled in. However, I needed another cabinet in the living room – so back to the asian importers for another chinese cabinet! That night everything looked lovely. I was living in my new home ๐Ÿ™‚

Thursday night I went to a reception for the 2013 programme of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I was a subscriber to the SD Symphony & wanted to continue this now that I am back in Melb. It was a quick tram ride – my 1st “outing” from my new home. As I drank their wine I treated it as my celebration. Friday I went to Mass at All SS, carrying 2 bags of things for their garage sale that I decided I didn’t need in my condo. Saty was football – in the a/noon I watched Port play so badly against W Sydney that the coach & club president have announced their departure. In the evening I went to the MCG to see C/wood narrowly win against St K. Sunday I was deacon at High Mass & later 4 good friends came over for a celebratory a/noon tea. Monday morning the plumber came to replace my HWS….I didn’t see that coming!

So now I live in the home I bought for my retirement way back in 1995. There are a number of coincidences about it. It is on the Esplanade, St K – I lived on the Esplanade at Sema4 from age 8 until I was ordained (apart from when I lived in london & for a brief period in 2 flats). The block is called Mandalay – that is the name of the mansion in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, one of my favourite novels. In the 1950’s we went on a family holiday to Melbourne & stayed in The Esplanade Hotel, St K – which is just up the road. And growing up in Salisbury there was a family shack at a beach hamlet called St Kilda. So it all feels so right!

Thurs 9

On Tuesday I attened the Festival Mass for the Community of the Holy Name. CHN is an Australian religious order for women & I have had a long association with the sisters, but never in a formal way. I goes back to the 1960’s, when CHN ran teh Adelaide diocesan retreat house. As a young man I was very involved in the house & got to know the sisters well. 2, now departed, Srs Joyce Anne & Gloria, became good friends. I have always said that they prayed me into the prietshood. I was invited to attend the Mass by St Hilary, who worships at All SS. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane. All of the sisters were pleased to see me & find out what I am doing.

When I got home I went to the local Op Shop & bought a small cabinet for my study. This is to hold my photo alubums & display my framed photos – a pictorialย catalogue of my life.ย Now all I wait for in my unit is a dining table & chairs.

Now that I am settled into my permanent home it is time to travel!!!!! Today I fly to Sydney for 4 days. The purpose is to attend the C/wood vs Sydney game at the Olympic Stadium on Sat night. Sunday I will attend Mass at St James’ & afterwards have lunch with an old friend, Fr John Stewart, & the other clergy. I will also get up early on Monday to watch the Olympics Closing Ceremony.

Fri 17

I went to Sydney on the w/e when they had their worst weather. The wind was so bad on the Friday that walking along the street my suitcase took off, with me hanging on for dear life, like Mary Poppins! The footy on Saty was an exciting, close game, with C/wood winning at the end. Sunday Mass was nice & I enjoyed lunch afterwards with a group hosted by the Rector.

I flew back on Monday & when I got to my condo I really felt I was home. It is 3 weeks since I moved in & a few things are still needed. On Wednesday I bought myself a new computer & organised an internet company to connect me. That will happen next week. Thursday night I went to the Melbourne Symphony concert. This was #2 in a 3 concert series by MSO to celebrate their return to the Arts Centre Concert Hall, which has had $128.5 million spent on it by the state government. I was very impressed with the renovations, particularly the vista & entrance on the river. I was equally impressed by the concert: Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony & Wagner’s die Walkyrie Act 1. I was particularly interested in this (my first experience of The Ring Cycle) because I have booked for the complete performance of the Ring here in Melbourne next year.

Another job this morning – the plumber came to change the hot water hose for my new washing machine. When it was installed the men broke it & even tho I have a warranty, I would have to pay for a house-call to get them to fix it. The plumber was happy to do it for nothing (my having just paid him $2,420 for the new HWS)!

This w/e there is footy, of course. C/wood play Nth Melb on Saty night & I may also go to the big Sat a/noon game at the MCG. Sunday I shall watch the Port Adel game at the pub with my Port friends. Sunday morning I will be at my old parish, St Mark’s. Bishop Andrew St John, my friend from NYC, is the visiting preacher & the Vicar invited me to be there. I won’t be doing anything – just robed in the sanctuary for decoration ๐Ÿ™‚

Thurs 23

My return to St Mark’s was a very happy occasion. I was bishop’s chaplain & seated in the sanctuary with bishop Andrew. There were about 80 in attendance & the Mass was very good. They celebrated the Assumption & the music was excellent. It felt like the St Mark’s I knew as Vicar. Afterwards there was a wonderful morning tea. An enjoyable lunch followed in the vicarage – it was nice to be a guest in the house which was my home for 18 years. In the evening I attended E/song & Benediction for the Assumption at St James’ E St Kilda, where I was made very welcome. More church in 1 day than I have had for awhile!

The week has been uneventful, apart from Bishop Andrew visiting for a/noon tea on Tues. He did like my new home. Wed night I went to the final Symphony concert in the series to celebrate the opening of the concert hall. It was called Act 3 – a mystery programme which was part of the tradition established by Maestro Markus Stern when he was MSO conductor years ago.

We began with world premieres of compositions by 2 young Australian composers. Both were composed for the opening of the hall – the 2nd, by Julian Langdon, was superb. The 2nd half was Messiaen’s Illuminations of the Beyond. This was also appropriate, having been composed after his visit to Melbourne in 1988, when he went to the Dandenongs to listen to the birds!

Fri 24

Today I go to Adelaide for the w/e. I wanted to attend the last home game of Port Power. They have had an awful season & this is a time when loyal supporters need to rally round. I shall catch up with old friends at the footy & also have dinner at the Football Club with my cousins & attend Sunday Mass at St Paul’s, Port Adelaide. I fly back Monday.

Saty Sep 1

I returned to St K on Monday night. Tues was a day of chores – washing, shopping, cleaning, bills. Wednesday morning my computer was connected to the internet. I have been patiently waiting for this gr8 day! Now I am online after 12 months of the iPad. And I can print from the internet……no more internet cafes. But all was not plain sailing. An iMac is a whole new world to me – & I spent most of the a/noon on the phone to Apple. Friendly operators solved my problems.

Thursday saw the arrival of my dining suite, at last. A lovely solid cedar table & 5 nice “Mothers Union” chairs, complete with MU on them. Everything fitted perfectly into the dining space, & I re-arranged my furniture in the living/dining areas. It looks like a comfortable home now. To celebrate, my oldest friend, David, came over for dinner. Before that I spent the a/noon on the phone to Apple. The problem this time was my calendar. When I linked my iPad with the iMac, all the appointments/notes changed to the next day. It seemed crazy….then a comment from a supervisor who was trying to solve it made me realise that the iPad was American, but the iMac was Australia. Soย when they linked up all theย times changed 17 hours. After 4 hours on this problem the supervisor said that the solution was for me to change each appointment individually myself!

By Friday night I had mastered the iMac – tho odd things still puzzle me, causing more phone calls. Saty morning I said the 9 am Mass at All SS, then went shopping. Saty night I am off to the MCG for C/wood vs Essendon……one of several games affecting the make-up for the Finals.

Sunday I am Deacon at High Mass. Then it is off to the MCG for Port Adelaide’s final game for the season.

Fri 7

I have had a busy week, with dinner parties every night. This has been a final touch to moving in & making it feel as if it really is my new home. I have really enjoyed preparing for the meals, hosting them, having old friends over & showing them my home. Everyone has loved seeing it & the way I have decorated & set it up. In the midst of all this I found time to go to an Apple tutorial & have lunch with a retired priest who lives in the next suburb. Tonight I am off to the MCG for the footy – the play-offs in American speak!

Mon 10

Saty was All SS garage sale – to which I had contributed lots of things after my move. I came home with more things! I also bought raffle tickets – whilst complaining that all the prizes were for women. When the raffle was drawn, I won 1st prize. So I swapped the beautiful doll for prize # 7 – chocolates!ย Sunday Mass I was Deacon again. The weekend’s football matches have seen upsets aplenty & amazing 1st quarters for all 4 games. Sunday evening Iย had a dinner party for 5 friends.

Today I fly to Sydney for the SSC Synod. I haven’t attended an Australian Synod since 2003, when I was the Provincial Master. I look forward to meeting all the brethren again. I am to say Mass of BVM & preach on Wednesday. I return on Friday.

Thurs 13

We had a very good SSC Synod. Not a huge attendance – the membership of the Australian Province was over 70 when I was Australian Provincial Master, but is now about half that. It was good to catch up with old friends, as well as make new ones – & I was warmly welcomed back to Australia by the brethren. It was wonderful to sing the Offices & participate in Mass with fellow priests & was a privilege to say Mass & give a homily on the Wednesday. I was appointed to the position of Regional Vicar, which carries with it responsibility for all the brethren in Vic, SA, WA & Tasmania. So I am back with an SSC job!

We have had 3 lovely sunny days, but this a/noon it is overcast & raining. Tonight I stay at the Intercontinental & fly back to Melb tomorrow.

Sat 22

It has been a busy week. I returned in time for the football on Friday night (which I listened to on the radio) & I went to the game at the MCG on Saty night – C/wood triumphed over West Coast! Sat morning I said Mass at All SS & Sunday I was Deacon at High Mass. With the help of Mark from the choir I am starting to sing the Gospel well. Old friends came for lunch & dinner on Monday. Everyone likes my new home & is happy to see me settle back in Melb. Wednesday night I gave a talk to a group trying to raise money to restore a church in Auburn. They wanted to hear about my success at St Mark’s & showed great interest in what I had to say. It was my 1st “official engagement” since I have been back & enjoyed doing it. I was thanked for my enthusiasm & many said I had inspired them. I came home with a bottle of wine & home-made cake & biscuits (cookies to Americans!).

Thurs was the funeral of a Port Adel footballer aged 22, accidently killed at Vegas last week. His death affected many people, & I have been quite saddened about it – esp as he was such a good person. In the evening I went to the Melb Symphony. The program was 2 works by Dvorak & Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony – the Pathetique was both moving & uplifting…….a fitting finale to a sad day.

Fri I had one of my oldest friends & her husband here for lunch. In the evening I went to the C/wood FC to watch on TV the game from Sydney. They lost & so have missed the Grand Final. Saty I said Mass at All SS, with special intention for All SS, SD – Fr McQueen is inducted as Rector today. It was also the 47th anniversary of my mother’s death. In the evening I went to the footy – an exciting game that had the crowd roaring.

Sunday I am Deacon at High Mass again. Afterwards I am having 3 lovely ladies from All SS here for lunch.

Sunday 30

It’s been a busy week. Monday Val & Rod – who came to my Induction at All SS – came for lunch. Tuesday Fr James & Annabelle + another couple from All SS came for dinner. Wednesday I did the dishes, washing & cleaning! Thursday my neighbours from when I was in Fitzroy came for dinner. Friday my old friend from seminary, Fr Tim Gibson, came for lunch. He is retiring in Dec, so we had lots to chat about. In the evening I went to the Apple Store for another tutorial.

Saturday was the AFL Grand Final…….& what a game it was. It had all the colour & fun we expect – a real festival of footy. And it was one of the best Grand Finals in years, with each team taking the lead in flashes of brilliance. The last 1/4ter was frenetic & the noise from the 99,6873 crowd was fever pitch. Sydney won in the last minutes of the game – the underdogs had beaten the talented favourites. It was a gr8 spectacle of our Australian game & I know why I love it ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday I was Deacon again at High Mass at All SS. Fr James mentioned I was going away for another trip & I was wished a nice trip & travel blessings. In the a/noon I packed & had an early night. Monday I fly to the US. This is exactly 25 years since my 1st visit to the US. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I have 2 days in San Diego, then fly to London. After having the w/e there my friend Joan takes me to Walsingham, where I will be on the staff of the Shrine for 4 weeks. This is a way of my saying “thank you” for my wonderful years as a priest. I intend to keep my Blog up whilst I am there.