Mortality (again)

Monday was a day of … news. When I called Blaine in the morning to ask if she needed us to do any babysitting this week, I found out that Tom has a sickness in his tummy:-(

That afternoon Jeanette called and said she had a nasty pain in her tummy. Rob and I both advised her to go to the doctor. That evening Christopher called and said Jeanette was in hospital for tests for possible growths in her abdomen.

By Wednesday Tom was feeling better and Jeanette was being booked into hospital for abdominal surgery to remove the growths.

A worrying time for us all…

What a Weekend!

It began on Friday evening with dinner with friends – about 40 of them packed into a small noisy restaurant. Actually we took over the whole restaurant! Two of our sailing friends, Peter and Jean Stallwood, organised a dinner with fellow cruisers. Although difficult to hear we enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Up early on Saturday to pack in a short sharp walk before leaving by 8:30 for the sailing club to launch Dusky Dolphin after her maintenance session on the hard stand. Although Rob had asked for the boat lifter to lift her and stay put, when we arrived the lifter was already making its way to the launching ramp! Rob leapt from the car, raced over to the lifter driver and the lifter’s slow crawl towards the ramp stopped. So there was Dusky Dolphin, suspended in the middle of the road through the hard stand area, and we had to climb up onto her to fix the rope for the swinging keel. One of the workmen hauled a ladder over and Rob, thankfully more confident on his feet than me, climbed up and managed the step across to the stern of our boat which was swaying in her slings.

A few climbs up and down later, plus the usual skinned knuckle, and the new rope and shackle that Rob had put together at his desk during the week were firmly in place. In the meantime I applied anti-fouling to the keel and a couple of spots which had been missed. Even this required climbing up the ladder and hanging out into space with the paint brush! Without further ado, the driver returned to his cabin, the lifter completed its journey to the ramp and Dusky Dolphin was slowly lowered into the water. Rob and I walked across the plank to the boat and then Rob clambered into the tiny engine bay to check that the stern gland wasn’t leaking.

It was!

We asked the driver to lift the boat out of the water again so Rob could work out the problem without getting wet. Our satchel of manuals was unearthed and manuals thrust aside until Rob found the one for the stern gland. Then it was back into the engine bay for Rob, this time with a towel to cushion his chest and stomach from direct contact with all the knobs on the top of the engine. I have to hand it to him, he’s certainly cool under pressure – must come from his years in the operating theatre and intensive care. While waiting I listened to the driver and his helper planning out their weekend as they too waited – “Make sure she brings along her sister,” was one gem I heard. Soon Rob emerged, with a glimmer of his smirk this time, and I knew all was well. “Please lower her into the water,” we called out of the companionway.

The next challenge was getting her into her pen. With a strong cross-wind Rob had great difficulty getting the bow on a good course into the pen. He managed that well, but then the wind took over and she was pushed to the side. However Rob is very good with this. Pulling on the mooring ropes and keeping the propellor going he got her more or less in place without damage. We tied her up, closed the seacocks and locked up the boat, leaving the mess to tidy up some other time.

Back to the car and back to our place in time to babysit Tom while Tristan, Blaine and Alythea went to a wedding. They had been there for a while by the time we arrived. Showers had been had, Blaine was feeding Alythea and Tom was ready for lunch after a busy morning that had included a swimming lesson and visit to a celebration at Tristan’s old school, Rosalie. Jeanette and Christopher had arrived to see them, especially Tom. Tom knows where we keep his food, so chose what custard he would like, and then headed for his high chair. We fed him with Rob’s bread (which Tom also loves) and custard. By then Tris, Blaine and Alythea were dressed and ready to go.

We all trooped out the front to wave them off, and once Jeanette and Christopher had gone home to entertain their friends and Rob had gone to buy something for our lunch, it was just Tom and me. He was tired after his busy morning and ready for his nap. I thought he might like a cuddle before going into his cot, but he told me very firmly that this was NOT on the agenda. So I asked him if he would like to get into his cot. In reply he reached out towards his little bed, so, armed with his monkey, he snuggled down under the blankets. I patted him a wished him “Night night”. After wishing me “Night night” he went straight to sleep.

And I finally had the chance to have a shower, wash off the blue antifouling paint and get into clean clothes.

Rob and I enjoyed barbecued salmon for lunch, then it was time to get round to the post office to post more of Elwyn’s things over to UK.

By the time I returned Tristan and Blaine were there. Alythea hadn’t settled during the wedding ceremony, and there was an hour’s wait until the reception, so they decided to come back and try to settle her. After a couple from Freecycle arrived to pick up the coffee table we had offered (it was one of our first pieces of furniture, but we haven’t used it for a looong time) we enjoyed a cup of tea together, and Tom loved the biscuits.

Tris and Blaine took Alythea (still not settled) for a walk with Tom, and she finally got to sleep. So Rob and I left Tris and Blaine to have some much needed quiet time together while we took Tom for our weekly vegie shopping.  He loves shopping and was a great help:-)

Then it was back home to get an early barbecue dinner for us all. Tris and Blaine looked better for their quiet time.

As we all sat around the table, with Jeanette and Christopher, I wondered that it had been like when Rob and his brothers and parents had sat around it. There wouldn’t have been grandchildren…It was a good gathering, and Alythea slept long enough for Tris and Blaine to have their meals. We finished with chocolate icecream – Tom DID get some in his mouth, although looking at his face you wouldn’t have thought so!

We all helped with packing up their car, waved them off, had a bit of quiet time and went to bed.

Sunday was an early start, with a walk in the north part of Bold Park that we haven’t done before. We were blessed to see a pair of rainbow bee-eaters. They must have been establishing their burrow-nest nearby. With their bell-like calls, their wings bronze against the light and their jewel-green bodies they are gorgeous. Back home for breakfast before Heidi and Lance (met through Freecycle) arrived to pick up the bricks. I had worked hard during the week to finish lifting the brick paving we didn’t want, so the bricks would be ready for Sunday. They arrived before 9, with their 2 children, and Rob soon had us organised into a chain gang to get the bricks from their stack into the trailer. The children were fascinated with the wood slaters, earth worms, baby crickets and strange chrysalises that emerged from the brick stack.

Next it was off for a sail. With a good breeze we sailed south into Cockburn Sound, enjoying that romping feel that happens when conditions are right. At the dinner on Friday night some friends had said they would be sailing in this area over the weekend. We thought it would be nice to meet them on their sail and go with them back to the club. However, although we got most of the way down to Rockingham there was no sign of them. So we turned around and headed north. We had things to do at home so it would be best to get back earlier than we had planned. The wind had eased so Rob helmed and let me have a nap. After I woke we had dolphins swimming in the bow wave. Magic:-)

Almost back to the club and the wind was picking up again. We heard on the radio that  some of our sailing friends were just leaving Rottnest to return to the club. We looked at each other. Things waiting to be done at home, the wind was getting better, friends to sail with…it only took a few seconds to decide what should be done! We turned round into the wind, radioed the sea rescue with our change of plans, then it was off to Rottnest!

Well that was one of the best sails we’ve ever had. Romping along at 7 knots, the sun sometimes breaking through the grey clouds that had hidden it for the rest of the day, it doesn’t get better than that. When we met our friend Bernie and Sue’s yacht we turned round again and sailed with them. Of course there was some competition and it was a good opportunity to practice our sail trimming, but best of all was flying with the wind. All too soon we were approaching the club. Bernie brought his yacht up close, waved, and then both boats had to have sails brought in ready to enter the harbour.

Quick clean up, then off home for a late dinner.

Phone calls made, system maintenance going on the home office network, cats patted and we sank into chairs to enjoy smoked salmon and well-earned drink before dinner, listen to music and bed.

What a weekend! Tomorrow it’s back to work for a rest:-)

Letters with Judy

Dear Wendy,   I am sorry to have taken so long to answer your letter and sorry, too that you have been ill.   Hope you are better now and the new arrival – Alythea – pretty!!  is doing well and the family adjusting – quite a thing to be stretched!   You have probably heard of my fall and the damaged ribs – not a nice time – but getting better now.    My G.P. fixed me with a very efficient team of carers plus O.T., nurse, physio all advising so I was O.K. at home – very easy in this flat of course.   Jenny Morris was also superb – came and stayed the night at first, – I found it so hard to move!!    I think the old house is all set to go at the end of the month which will relieve us all  – dear old place!!  – a nice man buying it who really loves it.   Great to have had a talk to Elwyn.      Lots of love to you all.      Judy


Wendy Campbell wrote:

Hello dear Judy

Babe and parents are settling into life now. Tris went back to work this week so they have begun the recreate the routine around that. Tom had a hard time of it all to start with. So many changes and he does not yet have the language to put some meaning around it all. We had to give him lots and lots of love. No trouble there with everyone around. The last time we had him was for the night last week. Tris, Blaine, Alythea and Tom all came for dinner, then Tris put Tom to bed in his cot here which he is coming to know well, then they went home. Elwyn gave him breakfast as she has got used to doing, then Jeanette, Christopher, Elwyn and I took him to a beach playground that Elly had spotted and really wanted to share with him before she returned to UK. Tom had a ball there, including a face plant in the soft white sand when he came flying down a slide. Apart from spitting out the sand as he got up he wasn’t worried:-) Then Jeanette and Elwyn took one hand each and took him for a walk along the beach, shoes and trousers off, making little splashes in the water when it reached him. We finished with morning tea at the cafe there where he had his first “baby cino” – frothy milk in a tiny coffee cup, which Jeanette taught him how to hold. Being surrounded by so many adoring “fans” meant that he shifted from the crotchety, insecure little man who had arrived at our place the previous evening to his more normal, generous, light-hearted self by the time he went home. And that was our role the entire time during the lead-up to, during and after Alythea’s birth.

Tom is very affectionate with Alythea, but makes sure that he gets the cuddles he needs too. It’s been fascinating observing this process as a grandmother. From Tom’s point of view there is absolutely no reason why he should accept or have affection for Alythea. It was not his idea. Yet Tristan and Blaine have prepared for this for a long time, and he has gained confidence by learning that he can stay away from them (eg with us) and they will come back. And they teach him by example more than anything how to relate to Alythea, which is the very best way to teach anything. So all is settling…

However it’s all taken it’s toll on me and this week I came down with my first chest infection since my heart operation in 2001. A salutary lesson!

Glad all is well with you and from your words about Arthur’s house I gather it has found it’s new owners. Wonderful!!!

Luv to you and Rosie,


—————————————————————————–From: Judith Ellis

Sent: 21 September 2006 12:45 AM

To: Wendy Campbell

Subject: re your new website

Hello Wendy,

                I have tried several times to get your new website about your new granddaughter,  but just keep getting Rob about the sailing magazine!!   Am I doing something very wrong?   I hope all is going well with the babe and parents are happy.   I wonder what Tom thinks of his sister??   All well here just still busy with the house.   Theresa and Geoff are down this weekend – more sorting and packing!!   Fortunately they are very amicable over the whole process.

                Lots of love,      Judy

Itโ€™s Tristan!

Tonight, as Rob and I were chatting about out day over a pre-dinner whisky, we heard a key turn in the front door lock. That could only be one of our children, we thought as we looked at each other, silent now. The door opened, closed, and footsteps clumped through the hall, across the room that has become Tom’s playroom, and a smile peered around the doorway into our family room. It was Tristan!

But he was unrecognisable in smart blue shirt and black trousers! The exhibition he had spent the past few weeks organising for his company Geoforce had been on that day, and he was on his way home. Thought he’d pick up some roof tiles as we had some spare, plus some disposable nappies as they had run out.

As we saw him out to his car with his booty, I thought what an amazingly big-hearted man he has become, after coming home from hospital all those years ago – a tiny babe, too small to cry…

Jeanette & the Website

For the past few weeks Jeanette has been working hard on the Glastonbury web site. A very talented programmer as well as a gifted designer, she has been translating the vision that Bronwen and I have into something that is enjoyable and easy to use, and is backed by disciplined and innovative code.

Yesterday we had another of our weekly meetings, and she deftly applied the changes we all agreed to as we talked! Elwyn had started this process while she was in town, and Jeanette was taking it to new heights.

It’s good to be working with her – she’s such a talented, nice person:-) Actually all our children and children-in-law are!

Meeting up

Today Rob and I enjoyed a lovely long Saturday walk in Kings Park – a great way to spend a Saturday morning after a busy working week. Towards the end Rob went on ahead – he powers up hill faster than I!

As I came towards the top of the hill I looked to expecting to see Rob waiting for me where he usually does. He wasn’t there. Strange…Then I noticed someone wearing a back pack like Rob’s (we walk with our bush-walking packs) carrying a baby and walking next to someone else…

It was Tristan! And Rob was carrying Tom! What a lovely smile from Tom as I reached out to give him a hug:-)

So of course we met up at Zamia Cafe for brunch. And this was the first time Tris has seen Tom enjoyed a baby cino. The Tristan we know and love was back. The terse, pale face of last Saturday was gone. He was entranced with the cino and took a photo on his phone of Tom’s face and its circle of white froth. Tom must have been having a growth spurt because he ate everything he could get his hands on, between sips of his baby cino. It was a good gathering.

Then back to our place for Tris to pick up a ladder, by which time Tom was totally confused about where he was going! However he gave us a big wave with his very elegant style as he and Tris took off back to their home.

A lovely start to the weekend:-)

With Friends

Tonight we shared Frank Daly’s 70th birthday party at the Weld Club.

We got to know Frank and Lucinda as fellow cruisers at the Fremantle Sailing Club. When he was Commodore I spent time with him as a fellow board member. Then he introduced me to Rotary when he was President of the Perth club.

So there are lots of connections!

So last night Rob and I arrived in suitable “glad rags”, and discovered a sort of outpost of the Fremantle Sailing Club! Plus Frank and Lucinda’s family who had flown in from around the world. It was a joyous occasion, especially so because Frank treats everyone with the same courteous respect.

Rob and I felt incredibly privileged to share this very special occasion with his family, some of whom had flown in from round the world, and friends at his private club. Although Rob usually shuns occasions where he may not know people, this time we knew that many of our cruising friends would be there. They were; it was sort of like being at the sailing club.

Frank has a special way of making people feel welcome and at ease. And Lucinda is always at his side, welcoming everyone in her warm, friendly style.

It was a lovely occasion.

24 hours with Tom

In an effort to help Tris and Blaine get back on their feet after all the stress and lack of sleep, we offered to have Tom for the day AND night.

Rob duly picked him up in the morning, and met Jeanette at a new playground he had spotted on his may to Mercy Hospital recently. They had a great time, and Rob didn’t bash his head this time. Jeanette took Tom back to her place for lunch and a sleep, then on to our place for the afternoon and night. Tom was very happy, and Jeanette was now more comfortable with looking after him.

I took Tom round to the shops for some odds and ends, past the house where he always picks an orange nasturtium, then on to the playground. He was off and running! “Ducks,”  he called as he raced down the hill to greet them. Up and down slides, peek-a-boo on the play gym, back and forth between the 2 playgrounds – he was very busy, and I was busy keeping him safe. When his pace slowed I popped him in his pusher with a snack for the journey home. He was quiet now.

He ate a huge dinner, then sat on a chair in our family room with a book as Jeanette, Rob and I enjoyed our end-of-day chat and drink while his bath filled. Tom loves choosing his toys that will share his bath. That done it was in and splashing for him and Jeanette!

Rob read aloud while Jeanette nursed Tom as he had his bottle. While I got dinner I turned on the baby monitor to eavesdrop on Rob reading. He used to love reading to our children when they were young, and he has the same lovely style with Tom:-) Then it was sleep time for the little man.

Tom woke about 11, but settled as soon as I gave him a hug.

He was awake at 6:30 when we were. As I’d promised Rob the night before, I changed Tom’s dirty nappy before racing off to a breakfast meeting. Rob gave him his breakfast then took him to Kings Park for a play and eat. When I got back I was told that Tom had eaten half of Rob’s croissant – not good for Rob, but good for Tom:-( Then it was home time.

As I waved to Rob and Tom I reflected that I would miss seeing so much of him, but was so happy for his family that things were settling finally. And perhaps soon I would get to know Alythea…

Theyโ€™re back!

Rob and I were sharing breakfast this morning, and we heard one – a rainbow bee-eater in our back yard! Yay!

From the little eyrie we’ve created in a corner of our bedroom, for a small breakfast table and two chairs, we can look out the floor-to-ceiling windows into the trees that fill our garden. This time we couldn’t see it, but we certainly heard the little bird. Having made it’s annual migration from Asia to our south-west, it was feeding (on bees and other insects) before heading further south. Or perhaps this one will stay in the area. Here’s hoping:-)

Their calls, bell-like, are so distinctive that they can’t be confused with anything else.

And when they come, early every October, it’s time to rejoice. The winter has passed and summer sailing beckons…

Opening Day

We have taken part in a number of Opening Days at our club now. They are a bit daunting. We have to sail Dusky Dolphin, with the racing yachts at close quarters, past the VIP boats where dignatories return our salutes, all the time keeping our boat safe from collision!

This year was as challenging as usual, but somehow we have become used to working as a team. And we are much better at handling Dusky Dolphin close to other boats. We had to concentrate, but all was fine.

As we sailed out afterwards into Cockburn Sound, I felt as if we had passed something. This wasn’t a challenge any more.

It was time to go further afield…

Tasmania perhaps…