Sunday, July 27, 2008

12 Months on!

A year has gone by since the last blog post. There are no real excuses except that life just tends to get in the way sometimes.
In that time, Isobel has grown, I have changed employers and Cat has given up work to be a full time Mum. There have been some adventures along the way of course, but generally, life has been fairly smooth sailing overall.
I'm currently having a couple of weeks holiday, so am going to attempt a few jobs around the house. A quick trip to Sydney next week for work will put a hole in the middle of it all, but I should be able to pen a few more updates as we go.
I've also put a new album of photos on my Picasa page - a chronicle of Izzy's growth over the last year.
Click on this link to view it: --> IZZY_UPDATE

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ballooning Nationals, Benalla.

We came 7th. Out of 24. Not bad - I was hoping for top 10, so pretty happy. The one downer was that we were up to 4th at one stage, but then I had a brain fade on the Wednesday arvo flight/task then never really recovered. A few cancelled flights after that didn't help, but we learned from the mistake - so next out for team Wrightie!
It was a fabulous week, the weather was mostly good albeit a tad wet when we first arrived. Benalla really needed the rain though and it greened everything up beautifully. Our digs weren't bad - a cabin with a good heater in a caravan park right near the airport and our neighbours were the 2 Kavanagh teams and Tim Steiner's team, so we had a good group to hang out with during the quiet times.
On the whole, I thought the event was a great success. Credit needs to go to the organisers; Adam Barrow & Gary Pask and their organising committee, a) for getting up and doing something, b) for getting it together in a relatively short time (5 months I think) and c) for laying down a strong foundation for future Nationals in Benalla. I'd never flown there before but was impressed by the relatively easy access to launch and landing sites, the friendliness of the local landowners (we only had one grumpy so & so who wouldn't let us launch from his property - maybe us waking him and his wife at 8.00 on a Sunday morning had something to do with it!) and the general way in which the local communities embraced the event. It's only my perception, but I don't recall any bad stories from any of the other competitors.
A good example of how well it was received was at the night glow on the 1st Saturday night. The chosen location was Devenish, a little hamlet about half an hour north of Benalla. It has a population of around 200 I'm told, yet about 3,000 people turned up for the event - not bad I say.
Apart from generally having a goodtime flying and socialising the definite highlight of the week was taking Isobel for her first flight. It was the Sunday after the awards night and it was a perfect morning for a balloon flight. Clear sky, frost on the ground and a light southerly breeze, the sort of conditions where one would expect to see a few balloonists out having fun. So it was odd when we took off to see that we were the only ones in the sky. Simon Beare and his mate Ferdinand came out to crew for us and we met up with a couple of friendly locals who had been observers for the comp - Paul & Kaye Berry. We had a great morning, everybody got to fly and Izzy is now an officially baptised balloonist!
You can see photos by clicking on this link--> BenallaNationals2007
An interesting story: I was pretty sure that at 4 months old, Izzy would be one of the youngest people to fly in a balloon, but also pretty sure that somewhere, someone would have flown a younger child. I found out that an English pilot, David Bareford, had inflated a balloon in the car park of the hospital in which each of his three kids had been born and flown each of them away at the age of a few days! Now that is a genuine balloonatic!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A fun day with visitors.

Some of you well know Yosh & Mayumi. For those who don't, I met Yosh & Mayumi in Japan last November at the ballooning World Championships. Yosh was part of the team I belonged to, crewing for Sean Kavanagh. Mayumi was part of Andrew Robertson's team. We soon became mates as I grabbed the opportunity to try and test out how much of the lingo I'd remembered from my time in Japan over 15 years ago. I think for Yosh & Mayumi, it was a great laugh listening to me butcher their native tongue! All that aside, they have made it to Melbourne on their great Aussie adventure after stops in Sydney, Canberra, and Perth.
Ballooning is a major driving force for these two, as Mayumi has her private pilot's licence and Yosh is in the process of training for his, so getting as much exposure to how we do it here in Oz has been fabulous for their experience and has also provided them with a great network of people to call on whilst here.
Anyway, I decided to show them some of the beautiful Victorian countryside north of Melbourne yesterday by heading up to Daylesford via Hanging Rock and Woodend. I have to admit, it wasn't the greatest day weather wise to be exploring the mysterious columns and caves of Hanging Rock, when we arrived there, the cloud was about 150 feet above the ground and the rain was going sideways! So after a quick peek at the "Education Centre" there and grappling with the boom gate at the exit in the rain, we decided to head to the relative warmth and safety of a yummy lunch at a Woodend deli.
A quick trip up the road to Mt Franklin for the most out of this world hot chocolate at "The Chocolate Mill" (it was the right weather for that at least!) and then a catch up with a mate Simon who lives in Daylesford. A most pleasant afternoon.

On the drive back to Melbourne, Cat & I cranked up the music and scared the bejeezuz out of Yosh & Mayumi with our raucous singing, so I think they were relieved when we arrived at our evening destination to meet Rob & Jan for a most enjoyable meal at our favourite Japanese restaurant. The prospect of dining at Kappo Okita intrigued everyone, because it's owner and head sushi chef is an Iranian guy named Fred! I can promise you though - his cuisine is excellent and I'm happy to say got the thumbs up from Y & M.
And of course, throughout the entire day's adventure, Isobel behaved like an absolute angel and loved every minute!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bye bye Butchy Boy.

It was a week ago today that we lost our beautiful Butch. His love of adventure and fascination with water his undoing.
From when he and Monty first arrived in October, my main concern was the traffic out on the road in front of the house. They always seemed very wary of that hazard however. Never would we have expected a half full swimming pool in a neighbours backyard to be the culprit. But alas, that's where Cat found him last Tuesday afternoon. It's been a very sad week in our house since.
The two boys have given us an enormous amount of joy over the past 8 months. After nursing them both through the ringworm saga (see earlier post - "Meet Butch & Monty") and deciding that they were definitely part of the family, we have thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow from the cutest and funniest of kittens into lovely, friendly, loving cats. They've been inseparable from each other, constantly playing and exploring together. They adopted Max our dog as one of their own and both took to Isobel with affection as soon as she arrived home.
Butch has been the more laid back of the two. While Monty can be compared with Dennis the Menace - constantly getting himself into mischief - Butch always found that a decent amount of sleep was paramount to a successful day. Often, he'd end up slipping down between the cushions on the couch, fast asleep on his back, four feet sticking up in the air, snoring like an old man!
As a kitten, he had this stumpy little tail which kind of curled under him when he ran. It turned into this most splendid and luxurious feather duster like ornament which we admired intensely and swore, upon his demise, that we would keep as a tribute to him. You'll be pleased to know that we backed down on that. He is now resting quietly, magnificent tail and all, in his favourite corner of the garden, a bottle brush planted along side him.
We miss him very much.
A little photo tribute to Butch is at:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


At last, I've worked out how to get a heap of photos so they can be viewed on this blog.
Click on for more shots of Isobel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Isobel Mae!

So Isobel is 11 weeks old today!
I'll be brief with this one as I'm keen to get some photos up for all to see.
For those who don't know the full story, basically our baby was due on the 13th of April but thanks to some intervention from Mother Nature, we were given relatively short notice (4 days) that a Caesar was in order. Bubs was to be fattened up on the outside. So, at 2.47 p.m. on Tuesday March 13, we became the proud parents of Isobel Mae. All 2.22 kgs (4lb, 14oz) of her.
The following 3 weeks we spent to-ing and fro-ing from the Special Care Nursery at Frances Perry House, where our little girl learned to feed properly from her mum and also a bottle. The whole time, we weren't able to see her little face properly due to the naso-gastric tube inserted in her nose through which she was being fed when it didn't quite work with mum or that bottle.
At this point I'd like to pay a tribute to the wonderful specialist midwives who work non stop during their shifts caring for all the premature babies and any others that are born with various medical issues. Not only are they fantastic with the babies, but also the babies' parents who are all going through various levels of emotional strain and hardship. Some, like us are having their first child, so are constantly relying on these women to teach them the right ways to go about caring for a little one. I believe that in many ways we were blessed due to the fact we had this wonderful resource to draw from, 24 hours a day, to guide us, answer all types of questions and generally support us through the whole time Isobel was there.
Having said that, we had it pretty easy. Isobel was born at 35 weeks and weighed a reasonably healthy 2 and a bit kilos. There were some babies in there that were born around 24, 26 weeks and weighed a mere 800 grams! That's not even 2 tubs of butter! Isobel was there for 3 weeks, I spoke to one mum whose baby had just come up to Special Care after being in Intensive Care for 3 months. She was expecting her baby to be in hospital a further 6 weeks. Every day, she was coming and going, just like us, to feed and care for her child as best she could. Our 3 weeks was a mere novelty in comparison.
On Wednesday the 4th of April, we brought our little girl home. Since then, she has been feeding, sleeping, growing and generally being a little star. At last weigh (last Tuesday), she weighed 7lb, 14oz. Last week, we got our first smiles and this week we're getting regular giggles and plenty of fabulous play time. There is certainly something to be said for experiencing for oneself what so many friends had tried to describe over the years, a whole new world of emotion has opened up inside. Photos to follow.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Gather ye Rosebuds while ye May"

Or "life, death and the confusion in between!"

It has been a very interesting last few weeks dear readers, my apologies for not keeping in touch. Five weeks ago, the mother in law suffered a stroke. Meanwhile, Little Wrightie has been growing - slowly but surely. Last week, I attended the funeral of a mate of mine's father. All fairly normal events in this world; they are the types of things that happen every day, everywhere. I don't seek sympathy, nor do I wish to use these things as an excuse for whatever lack of energy I may have suffered over the last few weeks. These things do however get one thinking.

I am now in danger of committing a rant. I hope you'll bear with me.

The wonders of new life, the sadness of old age and death. The regularity with which it happens. How significant or otherwise are we? Each and every one of us live lives full of our own adventures and dreams and dramas. None are more important than the next person's. Really, they're not are they? Then, one day, guaranteed, we will, each and every one of us, stop breathing, turn cold and die.

I don't necessarily want to sound so morbid, but I couldn't help but think over the last couple of weeks, of the movie "Dead Poets Society". I'm sure most of you will remember it. One scene in particular has always stood out in my memory. It's the scene where the boys meet their new English teacher for the first time. As I describe it, it should come back to you.

John Keating (Robin Williams) an alma mater of Welton College (where the film is set) invites the class to follow him outside the classroom into the corridor which is lined with glass cabinets full of old sporting trophies and black & white photos of the teams that won them. He asks one of the boys to read the first stanza of Robert Herrick's famous poem (it's at the end of this post) in which he advises people to take advantage of life when they are young. It's also here that we hear for the first time in the movie what "carpe diem" means - seize the day. Keating then asks the boys to look more closely at the photographs in the cabinets, at the faces of the boys in the sports teams. Faces the current boys have walked past many times, but never really noticed. He talks about how alike they are to the current boys - they have the same light in their eyes, the same haircuts, the same feelings of invincibility. Dreams and hopes of great things. The difference however, is that the boys in the photos are gone. They are "fertilizing daffodils". Keating uses this exercise to inspire the boys to make their lives extraordinary.

Pretty cool don't you think? The faces in the photos still haunt me.

The bit that struck me the most though, was not the "carpe diem" bit. It was the fact that the current boys had walked by the ghosts of the past without ever, really having given them any thought. The fact that each of those boys in those 60, 70, 80 year old photos were probably talented, bright, perhaps great achievers in their own lives, yet the current generation honestly, didn't particularly care.

In the last couple of months of my Dad's life, while he was still well enough to be at home, he showed me his collection of photographs. It was a small collection to say the least, two old processing envelopes with a rubber band around them. In these envelopes were contained no more than 20 or 30 mostly b & w prints of Dad and a few of his mates in his army and air force days during the 2nd half of WWII. Photos of training in country Victoria, New York harbour as they arrived by boat, the countryside of England close to where he was based with the Lancaster squadron and the White Cliffs of Dover, because he travelled there once and liked it. He was going to throw them out! He didn't think anybody would find them interesting!

How many such modest yet worthy men have come and gone in the history of this planet? How many great achievers have passed by unnoticed? How much talent has there been that has never been fully realised? Unless you're ever famous/infamous enough to have a statue made in your honour, or your photo/story published in a history book, who is going to remember you?

I find it puts the arrogance of some people into perspective a bit.

My mother in law, for all her less than positive character traits, (those of you who know her will know what I mean) was once a teacher. She was always brilliantly minded and a talented musician. Do you think the staff in the hospital looking after her know that? Do they see her as anything other than just another dribbling old woman wearing a nappy? Don't get me wrong, I believe the majority of nurses do a magnificent job and I don't expect them to know each of their patients intimately, but I hope you get the point of what I'm trying to say.

We are born, we live and then we die.

At the funeral the other day, what do the people who run the funeral parlour know about the man they are dealing with. What does the celebrant, hired to lead the service, care about the man he's hearing family and friends talk about? Is it just another day at the office for them?

Again I ask - in the greater scheme of things, how truly significant or otherwise are we?

I'd like to end this on a slightly more "up" note. As Keating points out, we have one shot at it, so we may as well make the most of it. I think it's safe to say that everybody's life, in one way or another, is extraordinary.

A progress report on Little Wrightie coming soon!

To the Virgins, to make much of Time

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he 's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he 's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Robert Herrick. 1591–1674