Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Letters From Grandpa, other notes

Grandpa didn't write any more letters after this & Dad is looking for A.M's letters which were hopefully amongst the papers my aunt kept after he died.  We hope to find them to complete the story!

Grandma died when I was 16, in 1987; grandpa died 9 years & 1 day later, while A.M. was on exchange with us.  She & Grandpa had quite a bond as you can see from his letters.  I don’t think he wrote to any of our other exchange students.  

Grandma & Grandpa moved off the farm prior to 1983 (I can’t quite remember how much before, but while I was in primary school) & moved into the town where I went to high school approximately 20kms from the farm.  Prior to that, they lived on the farm in a house around the corner.  

Our farm was L shaped, the main house where we lived had its driveway on one road & the other house had its driveway on another road, but of course you could walk, motorbike or horse ride across the paddocks between the two.  

Originally it was a soldier settlement & they were two small farms - not sure which one he bought first, Kyle probably & Wandumi, when Dad came on board.  He name both (Kyle & Wandumi) after places he fought in in PNG & felt the landscape in PNG the most beautiful he’d ever seen.  He also spoke fondly of the Fuzzy Wuzzies, when he finally started to speak a little of the war in his later years.  

Grandpa built the house I grew up in; I think he wanted to be a carpenter, but when he returned from the war & proposed to my grandmother, she said she’d only marry him if they farmed (dairy cows) as that was all she knew in life.  

I am such a bad blogger, I forget to label my posts so I am probably repeating myself, so SORRY.  I don’t think I’ve blogged much about this Grandma before, but she was the first person I ever remember treating me as a person, rather than a kid.  She would actually listen to what I had to say, think about it & then respond; just like she did with (most of) the adults.  

I loved her dearly & felt she was the only person who “got” me, besides my friends, which was a huge thing to me as an angsty teen.  I still think of both of them regularly & wonder where they are & if they can see me & if they are happy; I hope they’re somewhere warm with an eternal sunset, no flies or mozzies & lots of mangos.  RIP guys.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Saturday morning dawned cool & overcast with a slight breeze.  Perfect running conditions.  I'd had an inkling that I just might consider running the 10km a week early & after a 10 hour sleep, once I felt the conditions, I knew it was time to give it a crack.  

I ran the first 5kms keeping my heart rate under 130 beats per minute.  This was to keep me calm.  I wasn't aiming for a fast time, I was aiming to complete the distance.  It really is a mind game this running caper: I had little bouts of anxiety which made my heart rate increase & my chest tighten.  Why was I anxious you ask?  I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it!  Yes, I know I'm an idiot.  I've trained for it & was more than ready.  But that doesn't stop the doubt.  I had a couple of stern chats to myself like: "What's the worse that could happen?  Having to walk the last couple of kms?  You idiot!!  Big Deal!!!!  Think of those Biggest Loser Contestants running up that big sand hill; if they can do that, you can do this BooYa!!!!" 

Once I'd reached the 5km mark, I knew I could finish & picked up the pace a bit, keeping my heart rate under 140 bpm.  The furthest I ever run before was 8kms, so it was only 2kms more than that & I regularly run 6.5kms in the morning, so only 3.5kms more than a regular run.  See what I mean?  I knew I could do it, but my mind was holding me back.  With around 1.5kms to go, I changed my music from calm & soothing to rockin' & went for it, powering home.

I spotted Plumbing Boy turning out of our street as I was running towards it & held up both hands flashing all 10 fingers at him with a big grin on my face.  He wasn't really sure what I was on about but tooted & waved & went about his business.  I continued to pick up the pace & made it home in 1hr 14 minutes & 42 seconds.  Plenty of room for improvement there, but I did it.  10kms.  All by myself.  HA!!!!  Yes, I was pretty stoked.  

After catching my breath & skulling some water I called PB & asked him if he got my message.  He said what message?  Did you see how many fingers I was holding up when I was running towards you? Ahhhhhhhhh You just did your 10K????  Well done!!!!!  I wondered what that meant & what was taking you so long!!!!

I spent the rest of the day helping PB doing a bit of manual labour, basking in my accomplishment.  My legs were a little sore Sunday, but good sore.  I ran again Monday morning, but had this morning off as I had to get PB out the door with lunch & breakfast on the road by 5.45am.  

Next on the agenda is to run an official 10km fun run in April with an improved time.  If you've ever thought about running, I'm not such a bad example.  I can still remember not being able to run for 1 minute, let alone 1 hour.  Whether you sign up with UpandRunning, or jog a block, walk a block & increase that distance yourself in your own time, getting out there in the fresh air is something fabulous you can do for yourself. While I don't enjoy ALL of EVERY run, the after buzz is worth every second of it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Letter 3

Dear A.M.

Hi, how is life with you?  Sorry I am so ling in answering your nice Xmas card.  I sent you a packet for Xmas in 1992 and it was returned to me with a note "person not known at this address".  So I see you have changed your place of abode.  This year has not been a good year for the garden, too dry early then too wet in the summer.  We only had 10 days of sunshine.  You cannot eat tulips or lillies.  Plant some beans, tomato’s & carrots.  Yes, I am still in Terang.  I have been busy renovating some old furniture.  I made a cedar sideboard for (my sis), an auto tray for (Dad’s sis, which I have here in the office) I am now doing two old chairs for (2 of my girl cousins) for their bedrooms.  On Saturday night 16/4/94 we are having a party in Warrnambool for (my M&D’s) 25th wedding anniversary.  (My sis & husband) have shifted next to Wandumi & (sis's husband) is working for (my Dad).  They were milking 175 cows, (Dad) bought the place next door 200 hectares, they hope to milk 220 cows next year.  (my Mum) called in last night, I was able to give her tomato’s, zucchini, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, lettuce, capsicums, cucumber and butternut pumpkin.  It is cold & wet today and I am inside making green tomato pickles & tomato relish.  I have just made a big pot of veggie soup.  I just had a ring from (my Dad) wanting to know if I had your phone number.  I had a phone number but I think it was your old number.  He said it was your birthday.  Many Happy Returns, Good Health & Happy Years to come.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Letter 2

Dear A.M.

So sorry I am late in answering your last years Xmas letter.  But I have had a very bad year.  First of all I went out to Wandumi (my Dad’s farm, previously Grandpa’s farm) to help (my Dad) who had to put in another milk vat, as he was to milk more cows this year.  We had to fill in the front of the milk room with a brick wall and line the ceiling with cement sheets.

We had nearly finished when I fell & broke my left leg & hurt my right shoulder.  (My Mum) put a split on it & drove me to into Terang for Xrays.  Then she had to drive me to Warrnambool for more Xrays to confirm that it was broken.  The doctor put a full length plaster on it (my leg).  They sent me back to Terang & I spent 10 days there in hospital.

Then I spent three weeks out at Wandumi with (my M&D).  (My Mum) had to put a garbage bag over the plaster on my leg & put tape around the top to stop the water from getting on the plaster while I had a shower sitting on a shower chair.  

After I had the plaster removed from my leg I went to Queensland.  A friend of mine, who used to live in Ellerslie (5kms from Wandumi) had made arrangements to go to his granddaughters wedding at a small place called Molambah, it is a coal town.  Molambah is 200kms from Mckay.  The whole area around the district is all open cut black coal.

Page 2
I flew from Melbourne to Brisbane, my friend met me at the airport & drove by car to his place at Caloundra 100kms from Brisbane.  Caloundra is a seaside resort on the sunshine coast of Queensland.

The next day my friend & his wife & I drove from Caloundra to Molambah 1100kms stopping one night in a motel on the way.

After arriving at Molambah my leg stated to ache so to the Dr I went, he said you have blood clots that cannot be treated here.  

So I was sent to Mckay hospital 200kms away for treatment.  I spent 10 days there with a drip in my arm.
After a month as a day patient I was sent home.  I am now back at Terang (at home).  I have to have a blood test every 3 weeks to make sure my blood does not clot.  I am on 10mg of Warfarin a day.

(Dad’s sisters family) are shearing at the moment. 33,000 sheep this year.  Wool is not selling very good just now, the wool board is buying most of it and stock piling it until the price goes up, they have over 4,000,000 bales stored.  Xmas is nearly hear again, the sun is starting to get hotter here & the garden is starting to look much better & your sun is getting colder.  Must close now, wishing you, your family & your friends a mery Xmas and all the best for 1991.  Blue

Grandpa also sent this little map of to show A.M. his travels....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letter 1

I've amended names/details (in blue from my point of view) to enhance understanding of the family relationships & protect privacy.  Otherwise it's all as he wrote, spelling, punctuation & all......

Dear A.M.

I am sorry that I took so long to answer your long letter full of news.  You seem to be having a wonderful time with your sheep.

It has been a very wet winter here this year.  It is raining at the moment, 1st of December. ( My Mum & Dad) have a girl from Denmark this year, speaks very good English (Aust).  She has been up to (Dad’s sisters) to see the shearing.  (Dad’s sister & husband) who will shear 30,000 sheep this year.  She said that is all the sheep they have in Denmark!

In July this year I had an operation to have a lens put in my left eye, it was done with a local anaesthetic in Hamilton hospital and now I don’t have to wear glasses.  My right eye was done 8 years ago but was a failure.  I am now able to drive my car again.

It was three months before I could do any work bending down, but I am back in the garden again.  

I went with some friends of mine to Queensland for a month at a seaside place called Caloundra 100 miles north of Brisbane.

It was 47 years ago that I was in Caloundra.  We were there in the Army during the 2nd world war, it is a very different place now.  It is a holiday resort all the way from Brisbane. 

Page 2:
My hands are not as steady as they used to be.  This is also to wish you all the best for the 90’s.










Most people knew my Grandpa as Blue, a nickname he received in his teens, due to his red hair.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letters From Grandpa Intro

I guess I should (re) set the scene.  When I was growing up we lived on a dairy farm around 3 hours from Melbourne.  During my high school years, my parents employed international agricultural exchange students to work on our farm.  In exchange for board & meals, they worked on the farm & helped out around the house.  The students we applied for were supposed to be 50/50 – 50% agricultural & 50% home help.  In reality, they all preferred the farming than the house work!

I can no longer remember the exact order they came, but the first was a girl from Canada (who’s since been back with her family on a holiday, then came for a year on a work visa, living in Grandpa’s house; & one of her daughters came out on the same exchange a couple of years ago).  

Then I think another Canadian, then a Norwegian girl, then another Canadian A.M. (but from Quebec this time '86/'87)  who has recently returned on holiday bringing the letters my Grandpa wrote to her on her return home.  Then a Danish girl (who is currently spending a year here on a work visa with her family in NSW); then a couple more Scandinavians, but as I’d moved out of home by now my memory is a bit sketchy; I was living in the city & didn’t go home so often.

There was a break of exchange students for maybe 5 or 6 years as my Sisters husband (at the time) decided to join the family business & work with/for Dad who purchased more land & cows to accommodate in 1994.  After a few years, brother in law decided that farming was not for him & he & my Sis moved elsewhere while he continued to milk cows on a relief basis for other farmers (they separated around 2001). 

With the added pressure of more land & cows came 3 French boys on a different exchange program, each staying approximately a year.  After them, Dad hired a full time local trainee/apprentice who worked for him almost until they sold the farm. 

Mum & Dad did a 3 week European trip in the early 90’s (while still having students from the original exchange program) & came home via Scandinavia & Canada, visiting each & every one of the students we’d had, meeting their families & seeing the sights they’d heard about from them.  Last year they did a trip to the UK & came home via France to see our Frenchies (as Mum likes to call them).  You can read more starting here as I blogged all Dad’s emails!

A.M. bought her Dad out for a 30 day trip this Dec/Jan, encompassing new years in Sydney, driving to Canberra, then Melbourne, then Adelaide; flying to Perth, back to Sydney, then to Uluru & back to Sydney before heading home to Quebec.  They couldn’t get a flight from Perth to Alice for love nor money, hence the too-ing & fro-ing.  

As I said, with her she bought the 3 letters my grandfather wrote to her after she returned home.  The first dated 1/12/1989, two years after she left, which I post for you tomorrow!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Running Goals 2012

2012 Fitness/Running Goals

10km Virtual – Saturday 25th February 2012 (or the following Saturday).

10km Formal – Saturday 15th April 2012
VRR & Blue Ribbon Foundation Angela Taylor Memorial 8.30am

10km Formal – May 27th 2012 Sri Chimnoy Newport

12km Formal – October 28th 2012 Sri Chimnoy Maribyrnong

6km/10km Formal – Sunday 6th January 2013 (depends if any of the family want to play as it's in Warrnambool!)

Basically I'll continue on as I have been with my training.  Physio wanted me to get 6 months of solid running under by belt/feet before training on inclines or speed work.  

I want to run 4 - 5 times per week every week.  Distance will depend on how I'm feeling.  I'm not sure how I'll go as the weather gets colder & wetter.  I've run in the rain a couple of times now & quite like it.  Summer rain is a hell of a lot nicer than icy winter rain, especially when its blowing a gale!  I'll persist with running until the weather gets the better of me (it may not!) then look at the swimming thing.  

I'm hoping that 2012 will be the year of running for me!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Operation BW - final revision

Last year I embarked upon operation babewatch - yeah, lame I know!  I was hampered by injury & revised goals back in November as follows:

Phase 3: weeks 17 - 21
21st November - 25th December
Starting Back after Injury:

Objective: increase distance from 1km running at a time to 5kms on treadmill over 5 weeks incorporating outdoor running slowly. 

I think I only did a week on the treadmill  & ended up doing the rest all outdoors using a combination of walk a block run a block, increasing the running til 5/12 where I started running 4.5kms straight.  Did this til 17/12, running 5 mornings per week.  Recorded everything properly from 29/11.

Xmas Party Babeness
Objective: maintain fitness & weight
Exercise: Run twice per week; weights once per week, step once per week
Other: look into swimming lessons for summer

I was physio diagnosed with RSI or as he told me it is now called, chronic over use syndrome, in my right elbow/forearm.  No weights.  My gym doesn't run step classes & in the end I couldn't manage to get my shit together to find a step class that suited me so continued to run upping the distance to 5.5kms 5 times per week.  Haven't done anything about the swimming lessons yet - I wanted to run my 10km first. 

Phase 4: Weeks 22 - 30
26th December - 26th February 2012

Summer Babeness
Objective: improve fitness, looking towards diving fitness; maintain weight
Exercise: swimming
Run 10kms 2 x times per week
Pump Or Weights 2 x times per week

Am currently in this phase.  In December I ran a total of 89 kms & walked/ran 28 kms.  January I ran 101.20 kms & walked 31.5 kms.  My longest run to date was 8.2 kms 18/1.  I've been alternating between the 5.5 & 6.5km loops since the beginning of Feb 4 - 5 times per week.  

Since starting the challenge I've dropped 3kgs & have been sitting between 62 & 63 kgs for the past month.  I've had a few social events over the past 3 weeks so haven't been as good with my nutrition, but that's OK.  Bali is is 5.5 weeks away so I'll plod along until then & set some new goals when I get back.  If I can drop another Kg or two that would be nice, but I won't be too upset if I don't.  We're going with my sister who's a bit of a stick figure so that is a motivating factor.  

Despite having felt quite good about my body recently, on Saturday night I went to a 21st birthday & was surround by stick figures & felt like a bit of an elephant!  Totally ridiculous I know.  But its funny how your mind can turn the tables on you, leaving you feeling self conscious & not so proud of all the hard work you've been doing.   I'm past it now & ran a 6.5km PB on Tuesday of 41.45 minutes!  Fresh legs - having had 2 days off in a row - made a huge difference & I was playing a faster play list on my pod.  Whoop Whoop!!!!

I'm hoping to run the 10km before we go away, but couldn't work it in with a proper race, so will do a virtual one; then a proper one when we get back.  Will post my running goals for the year on Monday.

Phase 5: Weeks 31 - 33
27th February - 18th March

Beach Bali Babeness
Objective: Primp, buff & polish.
Exercise: where ever possible; maintain weight

Am starting to get a bit excited about Bali.  I don't think we'll be doing much scuba diving though.  The area where we are staying has crap diving & to get to the good sites is either a 3 hr minivan ride (each way) OR 50 minute speed boat (each way).  Plus we are travelling with non divers, so not even sure whether to take our gear as i'd imagine we'll only have one day to dive.  I guess we'll decided a bit closer to the trip.

That's the wrap up for now!

PS forgot to mention Plumbing Boy has decided to take up running also & has made it around the 5.5km loop non stop twice a week for the past two.  He also bought me my very own gortex rain jacket so I don't have to share the smelly boy one!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's a camping we will go.............Plumbing Boy & I celebrated Australia Day by going walkabout approximately 1 hour from home to Wombat State Forrest for a spot of camping.  Well, he celebrated more than I did!  I dropped him off Thursday & came back home as I had to work Friday.  I did help him set up the kitchen first. We bought this little bewdy from ebay a few weeks ago & it's bloody awesome!  PB has hooked up a pump action water bottle so when I turn the sink tap on, I have water!

He hooked up his shower - he informs me that dirt bike riding is sweaty work, especially in 27 - 33 degree heat.  One of the best pieces of camping equipment we bought - drop the battery operated pump in the collapsible bucket & water comes out the shower rose!

 Like his improvised soap dish holder?  

 I returned Friday night after work, PB lit the fire, while I got comfy.

 We cooked up a bit of a BBQ, enjoyed some NZ cider & kicked back under the stars until our peepers wouldn't stay open any more.

I wandered some bush trails & 4WD tracks while PB went for a ride on Saturday morning.  We spent Saturday arvo reading our books with our camping chairs parked in what water was left in the creek to cool our tootsies!  I'm currently reading Paul Kelly's "How to Make Gravy" - which is a memoir of 100 of his songs performed in alphabetical order over a 4 night series of shows, mingled with story telling along the way.  It is brilliant!!!!  He is such an amazing writer & really brings Australian history & culture alive.

I think I forgot to tell you I recently read Kasey Chambers biography "A Little Bird Told Me" which I enjoyed immensely & may or may not have teared up in the first page (& almost every chapter there after!)  I realized I didn't have a couple of her albums, so downloaded them straight away & have been torturing everyone in the office with Kasey on repeat for the past couple of weeks!

Back to camping - here is where I walked on Saturday - there were some mighty steep hills - the photos' don't really do them justice - it took my legs almost a week to recover!  Running on flat ground is pretty easy in comparison!

I'm glad I didn't encounter this critter (above) when I went on this walk (below).  I suspect his colorful spiny bits may not be as friendly as they look!!!

 Sunday PB had arranged for a mate to come for a half day ride, so I went hiking again, this time on a walking trail to St Erth, a diggers club with a fabulous garden.  The trail was approximately 9kms & took me 1hr 40 mins.  Most of the trail was pretty clear except about a 15 minutes section along the creek which was overgrown with prickle bushes & thistles which I cursed.  a lot!  I finally saw a Kangaroo & a Wallaby.  PB had seen heaps out riding.  He also had the pleasure of meeting & watching an Echidna try to burrow away from him in fright, then relax & waddle off into the bush.  Lucky bugger.  

I didn't see a single solitary snake which surprised me; I did encounter lots of spider webs across the track & as I was first through for the day, managed to walk through lots of them.  I'd imagine I looked pretty funny at some points swatting them off my arms, legs & face like a crazy woman - I was worse than swatting flies at times!  I didn't actually see any of my 8 legged friends either!  I did see a shite load of butterflies though.  At one point I think I counted 50!  It was like being in the butterfly enclosure at the zoo, but only a couple of varieties of butterfly.

After wandering around St Erth for an hour, I hiked back to camp on the road as it was a shorter route (5kms) to meet the boys for lunch, then pack up camp & head back to the big smoke.  It was a great spot & so close to home!  We realized we'd not been camping in around 3 years, pretty much since some bastard stole our Rodeo Ute!  We had to take the old work Ute - no air-con, no power steering, grotty as buggery, but for a 1hr trip it wasn't so bad (asides the seat belt strangling me & the hole in the seat when I had to drive)!

I think we'll be doing this again real soon!

BTW I'm typing this in Chrome.  Dunno if it will affect you guys out there, but much easier to upload photos & blog.  I'm almost converted!