December 2004

The month started with a new look to this website, plus some downtime at the hosting site, for them to convert the account name to fiddaman.info, so that I can use the e-mail address: rodney at fiddaman dot info. And packing everything into boxes ready for the move. And collecting the key from the agent, and of course going straight round there to have another look! And turning on the aircon and the exhaust fans to try to remove the smell of the carpet cleaning stuff.

It has also brought a new feeling of hope and anticipation to Julie’s and my relationship. Perhaps we have a viable marriage after all! (Just kidding, sweetheart).

Well, we have moved in. But it will take nearly a week to get my ADSL internet connection back online. I’ve had to resort to dial-up! It’s possibly enough to make me switch to Transact after some 30 years as a loyal Telstra customer. Hmm. Tried that. Telstra have used some technology in this subdivision that is not compatible with Transact and it would have taken them 4 weeks to connect me anyway. Better the devil you know, I guess.

More good news when I checked Stewart’s results for him. Out of 8 subjects this year, he scored 6 credits and 2 distinctions! Well done, lad.

On the house front, after a takin’ it easy, just mosin’ along, don’t do too much without resting, kind of weekend, punctuated by some very welcome visitors, the kitchen is put away, the laundry is working, the linen (which was used instead of newspaper for packing and padding) is put away and the home network is up and running. One must get one’s priorities in the correct order.

Tonight, while I was going through the bedside cabinets in preparation for Julie’s arrival, I came across a large envelope containing a heap of letter and cards, both bon voyage from March and sympathy from July of last year. Please be assured that if you sent, left or gave me a card during that traumatic time, I have again read every single one and then carefully placed all of them in the box of stuff to be recycled. It’s one more step in the process of letting go and moving ahead, while treasuring the memories, honouring the departed and appreciating the love and support from those of us left behind. I certainly feel honoured to have shared my life with such a wonderful person. There is just one card, unsigned, that I will share with you here:

Dear Rodney and Stewart,
In memory of Doris, a great wife, a wonderful mother,
and a very special friend who will live on forever in those touched by her love.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts,
and we are never ever the same.

Meanwhile, the house is starting to come together, as Stewart unpacks his room. He has been given the master bedroom, so that he can use it as both a bedroom and a private study area. He says I got a raw deal. We’ll have a bedroom for Julie and me, with Julie’s stuff in it, a study with my stuff in it, and a spare bedroom, set up as a guest room, or possibly for a boarder. The latest news on the broadband is that it may take until next March. We are not amused! I’m now working on setting up a shared dial-up connection that we can all access over the wireless network. And that didn’t work either. Now Stewart’s access to the internet is to drag a phone cable from his room across the passage to the study and plug it into a socket. And it’s only at 28-31 kbps. Geez, Telstra, there were days when I did better than that in Honiara!

Very proud of myself. In setting up the display cabinet, I have taken the last vestiges of Doris from inside the urn, namely her pyjama top, which was lovingly placed in the rubbish bin, and the plastic bag that contained the ashes, the last few grains of which were scattered in the front garden, was also lovingly laid to rest in the rubbish bin. The urn is now no longer on display in the cabinet, where its place has been taken by photos of Simon and Paul, among others.

Meanwhile, Julie and I are in constant contact, as time zones permit, sharing our fears and hopes, and counting down the days.

Well, this is it. The 12 months are over and I’m outa here tomorrow. It’s been a journey and I’d like to thank you for sharing it with me.

Unusually, the airport transfers have gone smoothly, with only an hour or so to wait. Stewart woke up early to get me to Canberra airport and from there I managed to get an exit row seat. Didn’t really matter anyway, because the international flight was only half full, which meant that getting through LA Customs was a breeze. And this time, I pushed my way to the head of the queue at the LA domestic security screening area, on the basis that “my flight is boarding in 5 minutes”. Trouble is, my luggage didn’t get through so quickly and so I had to circle back to Seatac Airport later to collect it.

Now I’m finally in the apartment across the road from Boeing. It’s not yet 8 pm and feels like nearly midnight. Julie’s still working, but I at least know what she looks like again and I’m connected to the free wireless network. I’m in heaven!

Julie and I have had a WONDERFULLY relaxing weekend with Jan and Steve in Spokane. We were very lucky to get here through the fog and after the plane landed very heavily, the steward said in his arrival announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we just dropped into Spokane.”

I remember Doris complaining bitterly about the “concrete beds” at the Hawthorn Suites and we confirmed that on the Thursday night that I arrived here. We are now in a different room and I think the bed must be older, because it is certainly a bit softer.

On Monday, I hung around at Julie’s apartment waiting for the packers to turn up. It seems that although Julie somehow got the message that they’d be there between 8 and 9 in the morning, their system had not received a “yes, go ahead” from us, so I had to wait for them to finish another job first. Basically it took all day, although when they did get there, they did a really good job of packing it all in to the “van pack”, which is a wooden crate of about 4 cubic metres. I’m pretty confident that everything will arrive unscathed.

I spent Tuesday visiting people in Bellevue, Issaquah and Seattle, and finally got my hands on a copy of the 2003 Donor Recognition Ceremony DVD. Now I can see what I looked like way back then. Not bad actually. I can see where during the presentation that I was almost in tears.

I also caught up with Chiropractor Scott and his wife Sharon. Sharon had been feeling pretty guilty about being so involved with Doris’s exercise program and I assured her that Doris would have pursued her program whether Sharon had been there or not. We talked briefly about Doris knowing that she was not returning to Australia and not making her 50th birthday, and about the irony of the whole situation of her trying to get fit.

Julie has now finally finished work, although her resignation takes effect on 5 January. She worked a couple more 12 hour days this week, so it’s good to be able to sleep in this morning and do everything at our own pace, which by now is pretty slow. Today’s job is to go back down to Julie’s place and clean it, then with a few more stops along the way, make our way to her parents’ place at Whidbey Island for Christmas. It’s good be able to finally relax, take things at our own pace and sleep in.

We’ve just had a great couple of days at Bob and Ada’s place, with Jim and Nancy and their baby daughter Claire, as well as April and Mike for Christmas Day. April and Mike topped the day when they announced that “the family will be expanding further”, which means we’re going to be grandparents next year. This house is always very relaxing, even better when there is shipping traffic out in the channel and I can just sit and watch the traffic from the warmth inside. It’s cold out there!

We’ve made it to California and we’re sort of starting to get used to each other’s snoring. For the record, we came down the I-5 through Washington and Oregon, and across on US199 to US101 down through the redwood forests. Mere photos don’t do these magnificent trees justice. It’s 3 in the morning and I’ve been having nightmares that Julie has stuff stashed away in storage units all over the country! Today, on to San Francisco, where the weather forecast is for rain, rain and more rain. Maybe we can convince Hughie otherwise.

We came into San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and all we could see was the traffic and cloud. At least the rain broke up a little tonight and we can enjoy being together in this very interesting city. So much city packed into so such a relatively small piece of land. And a big plug for the Edward II B&B, where the owner is so helpful, we could gladly pack him up and take him with us. And the bus driver was equally helpful, such a nice introduction to the city.

I am discovering that my wife is extremely independent, as she has been on her own for 10 years. We managed to have enough of an argument that she walked out on me at midnight ( a misunderstanding by both of us). After I followed her to see where she had checked in, I discovered that I couldn’t get back into the B&B, so I had to go back to her hotel and spend the night there!  We have had a brilliant day today, just appreciating each other’s company. We even found a string of blue tiger eye beads (I’d never heard of them before), purely by accident, that she has been hoping to find for some time. And we have managed to find our way around the public transport system here.

We got the rental car a day earlier than planned and took a drive today, which meant that we could get off the usual tourist paths. Tonight is going to be a lazy affair, just kicking back at the B&B with take-away Chinese and a bottle of champers from Janet.

Happy New year!