The MOTH and The Drama Queen (TDQ) have come to the end of another year. Where is there a Time Turner when one really needs it? We're really not ready to move on to 2011 even though 2010 was not without its stresses.
Thanks readers, for being part of 2010. TDQ hasn’t blogged as much in recent months, but that’s simple lack of time rather than lack of interest. It has been a very busy 365 days. On top of that, the weather has turned the usual lifestyle inside out. To be honest, after the first 4 months of rain, it kind of sent everyone a bit nuts. Brisbane has a humid subtropical climate with warm to hot and humid summers and dry, moderately warm winters. From November through March, thunderstorms are common over Brisbane, with the more severe events accompanied by large damaging hail stones, torrential rain and destructive winds. In 2010, these conditions continued throughout the year right through until the end of December, the biggest deluge in over 50 years. Flood water now covers a land mass bigger than Europe! Thankfully, Castle Bliss is like the proverbial fortress on the hill. Now that the roof is fixed, it may get cut off from acces to civilisation for a day here or there during heavy rains but now that the roof is properly fixed its inhabitants stay safer and dryer than most people in Brisbane.
2010 held all the usual routines with daily life at Castle Bliss despite the rain: gatherings with friends and family, work, travel, walks with the dogs, housework, a bit of piano playing, stitching (until August), reading, mothering lunches with various family members during the week and cooking sessions together on weekends.
The following, however, is a dot point history of the highlights of 2010 for inhabitants of Castle Bliss and their significant family members:
- The New Year was celebrated as part of our (working) holiday in France - a brilliant seven weeks, probably the best ever break from the daily grind we live in Brisbane. The MOTH and TDQ really did do some work but they also meandered the streets, ate, drank wine, sipped coffee (or was that “sipped wine and drank coffee?”), watched the snow fall and generally fell in love all over again, in Paris. They also caught up with some new and some long time friends.
- The MOTH was hardly back into the Brisbane office when he was and out of it and onto another plane. He had his first trip to Cairns in North Queensland. It’s a pity it was for work because one of the things on TDQ’s “Bucket List” is to go out to the Great Barrier Reef with The MOTH. She took the Royal Family out on almost yearly daytrips when they lived in Townsville (1992-2002). Ah yes, those day trips were almost as magnificent as Paris, but in a different way!
- Sadly in January, the youngest Lee cousin was killed in a car accident. It was not a fun reason for an extended family get-together. Jessica was about 34 years old, just married but not yet a mother. Our prayers and love go out to Aunty Pat, Uncle Cecil, Amanda & Stephanie and their families.
- Overall, it wasn’t a healthy-feeling month for TDQ. After a very cold winter in Europe, the heat and the humidity of a late Queensland summer were all a bit much. It took a while (and above average use of air-conditioning) to adjust. Perhaps it was a sign of jet lag and advancing age because by March and without much else treatment, TDQ had recovered completely.
- The MOTH and TDQ headed north 270km from Brisbane to Maryborough, a provincial town (population 22,000) where her majesty spent the final years of high school (30+ years ago). They did the usual sightseeing and the Eumundi Markets on the way up, but it was, essentially, a trip to catch up with friends and family – one of those trips one talks about forever as ‘One of these days we must go...” A great time was had by all. Let’s hope it’s on the agenda again in 2011.
- The 17th February’s Brisbane deluge brought half a month's rain (119mm) in a few hours. It was a prelude of things to come.
- Roof repairs organised in February started and continued well into early April. It was a damned expensive exercise, but with all the rain that fell in 2010, it was worth every cent! Castle Bliss feels like a safe again after the damage from the November 2008 storm.
- The inaugural St Paddy’s Day family dinner at Castle Bliss. Let’s just say that there is a lot of Irish in both families (even if all the off-spring in one of them resemble their Chinese side). It was nice to pick up happy memories left over from childhood to share with the next generation. This event was the start of lots of experimental cooking during 2010.
- A Carole King and James Taylor concert. What. A. Blast! TDQ’s New Year’s Resolutions 2011 revolve around forming new habits that ensure that she has as much stamina at the same age as Carole King. Let’s just say that long term planning is an essential part of TDQ’s life-style.
- Surprise deportation of the Crown Prince’s long term Consort when she tried to return to Australia after a 3 month visit to her family in Korea. It took until October to get her back, but she’s now officially part of our family and in possession of a spousal visa. In honour of the return, she’s now officially known on the blog as The Crown Princess. Not to confuse things, she who was formerly known as The Crown Princess (TDQ’s eldest daughter) is now known as The Princess Royale.
- Serious rain fell again thanks to a monsoon low extending down the east coast.
April was busy, busy.
The pièce de résistance was, of course, TDQ’s 50th birthday on the 23rd, but The Royal Couple seemed to run from the 1st right through to the 30th! Events included:
- A “Calendar Girls” performance at the Lyric Theatre, Southbank. After a subscription to all Queensland Theatre Company’s dismal 2008 and 2009 performances, this was light-hearted bliss! Like everywhere else it has been, the Brisbane show played to ‘sold-out’ houses night after night.
- Easter was spent playing it safe around the garden or house rather than getting out on the open road. In part, TDQ earns her title due to her attitudes to Easter weekend travel. It’s a hangover from working in the operating theatre and being ‘on call’ for emergency surgeries after accidents during the years when she was still nursing rather than teaching. She saw too much carnage. The MOTH and TDQ spent many happy hours working on their photo gallery which they set up in the hallway leading to bedrooms.
- The MOTH bought his new work car, an Audi TT. Sunday drives will never be the same! On one day, The MOTH humoured TDQ and took her visiting hinterland graveyards.
- TDQ spent the Thursday evenings of April attending a series of cross stitch workshops. She learned heaps of new stuff and happily enjoyed spending time with like-minded people.
- A visit to the Gold Coast to see The MOTH’s parents who were holidaying from Laurieton.
- ‘50’ was celebrated with style, first with a family dinner on the 23rd and then the aforementioned Mad Tea Party on the 24th. The MOTH with his troupe of Royal Family kitchen slaves worked like demons for 2 weeks, planning and then preparing a wonderful day. Everyone did a brilliant job. Friends and family (including all TDQ’s sisters and The MOTH’s parents) were entertained with lots of food, champagne, love and laughter. Not even the drenching rain could deter the merriment of the day. It’s a pity it all went too fast!
- The next day, The Royal Couple flew to New Zealand to recover (all hail Frequent Flyer Points!). Here in Brisbane, there are two long weekends in a row at the end of April-beginning of May for the next few years. The MOTH and TDQ made the most of them in 2010 by taking a 4 day week off to relax before the stress began again. Understatement, understatement! Little did we know what was coming
May was busy with:
- A week in Perth for The MOTH (work). TDQ can’t remember what she did while he was away. She probably retreated to her inner bat cave.
- The Wedding of Michael Davies & Tiffany Camilleri, The Crown Prince of Whales (of The MOTH family line) in Mackay (some 600 miles or nearly 1000km north of Brisbane) occured on the 15th. Every bride is a beautiful bride. Bridezilla of preceding weeks was a happy girl on the day, so we have some lovely family memories and photographs.
- Life-saving surgery for The MOTH – removal of a large and fast-growing skin cancer and associated grafts for repair. Three weeks earlier than surgery, a funny looking lump began to grow on The MOTH’s scalp. The saga continues into 2011. The MOTH had several months of recovery (some at home, some with a slow return to work) plus other related surgeries which are still happening. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a need for either chemo or radio therapies. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God” is our motto with this one.
June’s events were:
- A seven course Japanese meal to celebrate The Living Doll’s 24th birthday.
- The Royals waved goodbye to The Crown Prince on his way to Denmark (via Korea to pick up The Crown Princess). Said Crown Prince (of TDQ’s line went) over to attend some cello workshops & then visit host family friends from a prior trip to Germany made in 2002. He returned about 7 weeks later.
- An evening with friends dancing to James Morrison at the Wesley Ball, a fund raiser for cancer research. We catch up several times a year with this couple as The MOTH considers the husband to be his best mate (after TDQ, that is) as well as a work associate. They are a lovely couple.
- Organisation for the next renovation: the main bathroom.
- Back and forth trips to Laurieton started once The MOTH was well enough because The MOTH’s parents weren’t very well for a long while in 2010. At one stage, The MOTH & his sister, Jo, were taking it in turns spending a week at a time with their parents. This went on for months. All’s well that ends well. While they are a bit slower each year in normal elderly people ways, Pa celebrated his 83rd birthday in July, and then Nana and Pa celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on the Gold Coast in November and Christmas in Sydney with Jo and her family.
- Below average rainfall for Brisbane was wonderful for a change.
- Cancellation of the planned 5 party weekend because of family health and the bathroom renovations.
- The bathroom renovations went superbly. At the end of them, TDQ announced to her offspring that since she now had a grandma bath (both sets of her children’s grandparents had a corner bath for grandchildren to play in) she was ready for grandkids. That went down by a lead balloon, as you can imagine.
- The Princess Royale (formerly known as The Crown Princess but now with her own title as befits the eldest daughter of the King & Queen) graduated from uni and went on holidays before starting practice as a midwife.
- A fabulous Scottish dinner at our favourite local pub.
This was about time when everything in the outside world seemed to diminish in sound in the same way that a storm does when one closes the windows to the noise.
- The MOTH and The Drama Queen (TDQ) celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary.
- The MOTH’s skin cancer treatments continued, as did his gentle recovery.
- TDQ put aside her cross stitch projects and set to serious work on family history research, an interest which started way back in her teens.
- The MOTH squeezed in a trip to Melbourne.
- The Princess Royale and her Rock Doctor announced that the grandma bath will begin intended use from March 2011. It must have been a really good end-of-exams celebration back in June. The family was enjoying a sunny day picnic at the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens to celebrate The Princess Royale’s 29th birthday at the time of the announcement. All the future aunts and uncles were eagerly trying on their new titles (Uncle Chris, Auntie Ana, etc.) when The Princess Royale turned to The MOTH, the step-father who came into her life when she was 21 years old, and said matter-of-factly “And you are going to be Grandpa.” It was a very proud moment for TDQ on several levels (she was pleased for her daughter’s new happiness, pleased to be a future grandmother and very proud of her eldest daughter in terms of her treatment of The MOTH).
- A ‘60 Cellos Live’ concert at the Robina Town Centre organised by The Crown Prince and featuring 60 of his talented students and friends on the Gold Coast.
- Lisa and Linda’s birthday celebration event. Lisa is TDQ’s younger sister; Linda is a long time friend. The group gets together every year to celebrate on the last weekend of August. This year it was a picnic on Bribie Island.
- The picnic was also the start for TDQ of more regular trips to Bribie Island to visit a very much loved elderly aunt and uncle (her mother’s sister). TDQ’s own mother died in 1993 but TDQ is determined not to lose contact with remaining members of the older generation. She used to go up once or twice a year, but time waits for no one, so now, it’s every week or two.
- The MOTH went to Singapore for a week.
- He also had more surgery. TDQ earned her name big-time by having a meltdown after the event.
- The celebration of Fathers’ Day with TDQ’s family. It’s an unusual situation but it’s her family that does gifts and takes him out to dinner and celebrates rather than his. 2010 was extra special because of impending fatherhood for The Rock Doctor.
- A meeting with Marilyn Richardson & James Christensen, known to the rest of Australia for their contribution to Australian opera, but known to TDQ because Marilyn knew TDQ’s grandparents and father during her childhood. It was nice to hear a few 1940s and 1950s stories of three long gone people. Marilyn’s brother was TDQ’s father’s best mate when the boys first went to Sydney Boys High School, in 1944.
- Two Murdoch family parties – Greg’s 50th and Frankie’s 21st.
- Return of the new Crown Princess from Korea.
- Unbelievable amounts of rain.
- Rain, rain, rain was the start, middle and finish to the month. Brookfield’s new bridge was washed away.
- The MOTH spoke at a conference in Canberra. TDQ went with him so that she could spend time with her older sister.
- TDQ continued on to Townsville in North Queensland rather than landing in Brisbane after the Canberra trip. The Stethoscope Duchess was celebrating her 22nd birthday and her mama wanted to be there. What a busy 3 days that was!
- On return, a family dinner with the Brisbane Royals.
- The unexpected start to The MOTH having regular breakfast sessions with his youngest son, the 22 year old Prints Charming (he works in the printing and publishing industry) – organised by the son.
- The craft show at Southbank with The new Crown Princess.
- The start of Wednesday beading classes which continued until the end of the year.
- Westside Story at QPAC.
- The MOTH went to Melbourne.
- A mini road trip to Balmoral Lookout between Maleny and Montville to celebrate friend Liz’s 50th birthday and, later in the month, dinner with other friends.
- Davies Family dinner on the Gold Coast with The MOTH’s parents, sons and daughter-in-law to celebrate Nana and Pa’s 60th wedding anniversary. The MOTH and TDQ arrived much earlier in the day, did a little shopping and then spent a couple of hours talking family histories. It's wonderful how family members are so keen to add to the knowledge bank.
- Another aunt and uncle (sister of TDQ’s mother pictured far right in the photograph above)came to Brisbane from Sydney. TDQ enjoyed chauffeuring them around and taking them up to visit at Bribie Island. A very, very special visit. TDQ was also happy to introduce two princesses (as adults not babies) to said aunt.
- The MOTH’s 55th birthday. Not one of TDQ’s finest hours, to say the least. A word of advice: never listen to anyone who says that she or he doesn’t want to celebrate his birthday when your gut tells you to go all out and make a big deal. ‘Big Deals’ take more than overnight planning. A wonderful family meal had by all. TDQ still recovering from chagrin.
- The Stethoscope Duchess returned to the fold after finishing her third year of study in Townsville, North Queensland. She was home (via Woop Woop several times for prac sessions) until just after the New Year but will be back to help organise a baby shower for her sister. There are only three years to go before graduation. Mama can't wait! She misses her youngest daughter sorely.
- More rain.
- Christmas drinks with the neighbours. Sadly, Libby and Stan from number 4 have sold their house and returned to life in Tasmania.
- The MOTH went to Perth and Sydney for a 5 day week.
- TDQ and the two younger Princesses went to the Gold Coast to celebrate with the Crown Prince (and his Crown Princess) on his birthday.
- LOTS. More. Rain. Everyone was truly sick of it by then, particularly Lucy and Harry who were missing their walks in the park! The trouble was that the park was well and truly under water so that there was no where to walk.
- Beading frenzy on the part of TDQ to get gifts organised in time for Christmas and several significant birthdays.
- Graves family dinner with five of TDQ’s siblings and most of their children. Even the elusive only SIL turned up. She hasn’t been seen at a family do that she didn’t host since a family wedding in 1991.
- Rain. Rain. More bloody rain!
- A dawn Christmas drinks with the walkers from the park with mud and slush lapping at one's feet. 5am champagne, would you believe? It was a most merry day!
- Flooding rain. Again.
- Christmas Day with 5 of the off-spring and their partners. It was a wonderful day!
- More flooding rain! So much so that it made world headlines.
- More neighbourhood Boxing Day socialising.
- The MOTH went to Laurieton to visit his parents for New Year. TDQ stayed home with the rain and the dogs to see off the Stethoscope Duchess.
That marks the end of the month-by-month report but not the end of this entry.
2011 is ahead and already there is so much marked on the calendar.
First, is a mini-break to Bali. It’s only for 5 nights but it is going to be great.
Lucy and Harry are going to the kennel and Gypsy is going to visit The Rock Doctor.
After that, The MOTH is going to Mongolia for work. He lives a truly interesting life!
With some serious research and then writing, TDQ’s hoping to get a book together for the family by late 2011. How does lots of hard work on top of everything else happening make all the usually dramatic moments seem less intense? The answer is one of life’s mysteries. It’s also a good thing that it does. Drama levels at Castle Bliss have been an all time high and diversion therapy is the only thing that has saved sanity, at times. Somehow, the genealogy research and ‘meeting’ of a whole group of people (some long dead, others descendents of ancestors) has made the difficult times easier. TDQ (who was orphaned too young to have parental example of a lot of life’s milestones) is no longer feeling like Robinson Crusoe on her voyage through life. Significant ‘Others’ have tread these paths before her and she lives with the knowledge that others will do so after her. The living relatives are at early stages of planning a mini reunion in 2011.
To finish this post, take heed of these words from Ann Landers:
“Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look ten years younger. Don't be afraid to say, 'I love you'. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.”
Love to you all,