April 2004
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The story continues ....

The month started with a Scouts trip to Wee Jasper for abseiling & caving. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the abseiling, although the climbing back up again is always a pain. And I needed to get back before the caving started. The photo of my feet is taken halfway down the abseil drop, showing nothing underneath them except the cliff face.

After a few (almost) frantic days at work finishing off programs before I left, I'm now finally on the plane to the US. It's funny being able to update this page mid-flight. Can't post it to the site, but I can at least update it on the laptop.

Julie & I had dinner with her sister Nancy & her husband Jim on Friday evening at the Outback, which is a chain of "fake" Aussie restaurants. The waiter made the mistake of saying that "Aussies don't come here", & if & when they ever do, they just laugh. I did! It's really just American food with Aussie names. The next morning, Nancy left this message on her answering machine.

This paragraph is being updated from the home of my new daughter April & her husband Mikey, with whom I played golf for several hours today. It's nice to know that I can still hit a ball (straight)! We've just finished dinner with them & Julie's parents, Bob & Ada, Mikey's father Michael, & Mikey's grandmother Kay. A&M have a wireless network in their home - cool!

Over the past month or so, April has been badgering both of us for details of how our relationship started & developed, & last night we found out why. She had put a HUGE amount of effort into creating a scrapbook for us, which even included comments from family members & some of our work colleagues. As soon as I can get near a scanner, I'll post a copy of one of the pages. And Julie has dug out her old photo albums, so now I can put her "album" up here properly.

Nancy & Jim have just advised us that we're going to be Uncle Rodney & Aunty Julie in September.  Details are here - it's their first.

Even with my newly rediscovered confidence, I have found that just the slightest mishap, like getting lost (remember this is the guy with the built-in GPS system), can completely throw me back to the middle of last year. The intensity of the emotions produced by this process still take me by surprise.

By far the highlight of the week has been the ferry ride in brilliant sunshine to Whidbey Island to stay overnight with Bob & Ada. Their house overlooks Useless Bay & further out to the shipping in Puget Sound. You need to look at a map to see that Seattle is quite along way from the ocean & all shipping enters & exits via the Sound. On the way down to the ferry terminal, I had the laptop switched on. It's amazing how many wireless networks it picked up along the way. One of them even allowed me to connect to the internet (briefly) as we drove past.

Our time at Bob & Ada's place was just the ultimate in "relaxing". By the time we walked off the ferry on the way back, we were not really wanting to crank up again & prepare for the inevitable departure. Never again do we want to be apart for this length of time. We have gathered most of the paperwork we need for Julie's visa application & expect to have it submitted by the end of this month. Then we just wait for 3 to 4 months for the approval.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed some more time with Mikey & April at a Mariners game, which they won, 5-1. The flight home was of course very long - all up it's 26 hours on the go, particularly since I usually plan in longer stopovers than really necessary, but I've been stuck before with not enough time for transferring.

I keep getting loaded down with a pervading feeling of sadness. While I'm very happy with the way my life is panning out, I seem to be missing Doris more than usual lately. I'm also feeling frustrated that my memories of her seem to be fading. It's like I want to hold onto all of them, but that's just not possible. Combined with the ever-present ability of my mind to go blank at the most inopportune moments, it can be quite a depressing combination. And then just when I think I'll finally get some sleep, the old brain gets itself cranked up & keeps me awake!

It's a long weekend here for Anzac Day & I've been suffering from a gastric bug since Friday night. The last time I vomited was just after we arrived in the Philippines in 1991, but I've done it again twice in 12 hours. Not a good look! And I'm still pooping water 24 hours later. I went to doctor who gave me a jab in the bum to stop the vomiting. Just goes to reiterate the concept that when you're emotionally drained & the tank is empty, any energy needed comes from the body itself & not from reserves. It's completely wiped me out - everything aches & it's very hard to do anything. Even getting out of bed is a struggle. Sunday & feeling a lot better. I really wanted to go to the Anzac Day parade, but would not have survived the walking & standing.

Meanwhile Julie is feeling pretty insecure & a little scared, facing a major move. She is going to have to do what my Dad did many years ago, when he moved out of his own house to go & live with Kath. He made available to us, a big chunk of his estate, mostly in the form of low interest loans, so that we could make use of money that he couldn't use. While Julie doesn't have much in the way of money, she does have lots of very precious stuff, some of it dating way back to her own childhood, that she needs to pass on. She is also very concerned about moving so far away from her parents, who are now in their 80's. And I'm sure she is worried about where she can fit into the household here. Brave lady. But we love each other & that's what counts.

I really learnt something from Julie at the baseball match last week & it's taken me a while to realise it. It was during the national anthem that she showed that "the land of the free" REALLY means what it says for her. It's made me re-evaluate my own level of patriotism, especially with the emotion of Anzac Day floating around. Do I know my own national anthem? Well yeah, I can follow along, but don't ask me to take the lead! It's been a heavy weekend. Julie & I are both cracking up, for different reasons.

The silver lining to the weekend has been that it gave me an opportunity to wean myself off the sleeping pills, something that the doctor & others have been pressing me to do. I have also taken the opportunity to slow down enough from the constant internal pressure to keep "stayin' alive", to sit back & take stock, to document in summary form where I have come in the last year, where I am now & what the future is likely to hold. It's called 2003/04: A Synopsis.

For those who are interested, I have included a link to a new website called The Gift of a Lifetime, which has lots of photos & stories detailing the whole process of organ donation & transplant. Fascinating stuff, but I can only take it in small doses at this stage.

Next month