Hail to Me – Golfer

I was going to write about my hole in one in this blog, but just realised that I’ve already done that. Anyway, here is a picture of my trophy. Shows you how long it’s been since I last looked at my blog.

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King of the Roost

My cousin James had his 70th birthday recently. He had a party at a restaurant/bar in Silverdale. His sister Eleanor and her husband Peter came over for the event. They stayed with my sister Ann and when they left I arranged to meet them at Grace Joel where they went to see Mum and took them out to the airport. James’ party went well and we had a great time there.

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Peter, Eleanor, Mum and Ann at Grace Joel

The only other thing of note recently is we have had Les and Roger over from Brisbane staying with us for a few days. Last Sunday we went up to Matakana to visit Roger’s sister Maxine and her husband Andrew. They have a rather nice house and lovely gardens on a hilltop site.

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The view

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The house

My writing class finished last Wednesday. I really enjoyed it and the teacher took me out of my comfort zone with the exercises she gave us. A couple of the ladies (I was the only male of 10 in the class) were very talented and it was a privilege to be with them. The teacher took photos and said she’d email us them, but so far they haven’t arrived. I was hoping to put one in this blog. I’ll just have to do another blog when, and if, they eventuate.

Here is the last thing I did in the class. We had to pick a brooding or bleak theme and write about it. We were given 30 minutes. I was only one of three to finish in the allotted time. Naturally, it’s quite short. I chose the saying Still Waters Run Deep.

Still Waters

By Chick Dubber

Jocelyn and Steven were the perfect couple. Childhood sweethearts, everyone agreed they were made for each other. Both were conservative, undemonstrative, prudent, charitable and loving. They were a complete unit. Jocelyn was a doctor’s receptionist and Steven a Town Planner in the local council office. They seldom entertained. No point, they agreed, we get enough social intercourse in our work.

They lived in a well built but modest house which had a sea view out over the gulf. On a clear day Little Barrier and Coromandel were visible. Jocelyn and Steven loved the summer evenings when they would sit out on the deck watching the setting sun over the still flat sea.

“We’re so lucky,” Steven often said on such an occasion. He would wave his arm round in an arc at the view, “to have all this and each other.”

Dr Jack, in whose practice Pamela was employed, was a relative newcomer to the area. He quickly became a popular member of the tight-knit community through his outgoing personality and participation in local affairs.

His vivacious and pretty young wife was the town’s social doyen through her entertaining and enthusiastic participation in the amateur theatre.

They, also, were the ideal couple.

It came as a shock when a rumour went round town that all was not well in the Jack household.

“One of them is having an affair,” Steven’s secretary told him. He considered this highly unlikely and decided there was probably no truth in the story.

“Nonsense,” Jocelyn replied when Steven related it to her that evening. “Dr Jack is an honourable man and they are a happy loving couple.”

The rumour died as quickly as it had started and nothing more was mentioned of it. A few weeks later the town was rocked by the news that Dr Jack’s car had been found in a secluded part of the woods known locally as Lover’s Lane. He lay a short distance away, dead from a gunshot wound.

That evening Jocelyn and Steven were sitting on their deck looking at the setting sun on the calm sea. Jocelyn was unusually quiet, even for her.

“Come on, snap out of it,” Steven urged. “You made an error of judgment. I’m sure it won’t happen again. I forgive you.”

Jocelyn stared straight ahead, tears streaming down her face. Steven was leaning over, studiously cleaning his rifle.

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Writing and Golf

Apologies to my many readers of this blog (three at last count) for not writing anything for a while. I was waiting to upgrade my computer. The present one is getting old and a little tired and it was becoming a slow laborious job to do anything on it. But I’m about to become a grandfather again and Jenny and I have decided seeing our new grandson in London is more important than a stupid computer.

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Lucas’ Birthday Bash at Ghengis Khan Restaurant

Anyway, not much has happened since my last blog. I’m into my second writing course. The first was by David Brown, a published author of short stories and poetry. That was for six weeks and, although I felt I learned something, it was a bit short and a lot of the focus was on poetry, something I have little interest in writing. So, along with three others from that course, I enrolled in another one. We have had three sessions of an eight-lesson course and I am really enjoying this one. It’s run by Judith White, a well-known NZ short story writer. It’s a day-time class and I’m the only male of 10 students. The token stud. It’s held at Auckland University and I’ve enjoyed going in to the city by train (free for pensioners).

I’m still playing tennis with the veterans on a Tuesday and Friday. Elizabeth, the lady who normally runs the board, is overseas for four weeks and I’ve taken over the responsibility. It’s a thankless task. No matter how much I bend over backwards to please everyone, someone always complains. “Am I playing against him again?” “I’ve already played with her.” “When’s Elizabeth coming back?” Pack of grumpy old buggers.

Winter interclub starts next weekend. Let’s hope we have better weather this year. Last winter we only managed to play two of a scheduled nine matches because of bad weather.

With all the tennis (and a fair bit of swimming) I haven’t been playing much golf. But I did have a game last Monday. Originally I was just going to go and hit balls on the practice fairway. Then I rang Fred and he said he’d come with me and perhaps we could play nine holes. So we did. I was going along just as I expected to, considering my recent lack of play, till we came to the par three 8th hole. It’s 140 metres long to a raised green. Fred hit first and his ball landed just short and right. I hit a good shot straight at the pin. The ball landed on the green and started rolling – then disappeared.

“It’s gone in the hole,” Fred shouted.

“I don’t know,” I said. “You can’t see the bottom of the pin. It could have rolled past.”

We walked up to the green. No sign of my ball. I’d scored my first hole in one on a proper golf course!

To make it official we had to play the whole course. Two other gentlemen joined us for the second half and the traditional celebratory drink in the bar. The club puts aside a $200 bar tab for such an event which only lasts while I’m in attendance. Monday is a quiet day and there were just us four and another couple. We had a beer each, everyone congratulated me again and that was that.

The club has arranged for my ball to be mounted on a plaque with date, hole number, and club used. I should get it in a week’s time. I’ll put a photo of it on the blog when it arrives.

That’s about it for me then. The only other thing of note recently is I received in the mail yesterday something I’ve only had twice in my life before. One was in Tasmania and the other in Oxford. This is my first ever one in New Zealand. It was a speeding ticket! I was caught on camera doing 56kmh in a 50kmh zone. All Lee’s fault. I was ferrying her two boys home from school at the time.

An Eventful Couple of Days

Last Friday Lee and Mark put on an evening for Andrew and his friends. Mark had been out on the harbour fishing, courtesy of Telecom. He came back with lots of fresh snapper which he barbequed, along with lots of other edible goodies. Jenny took the camera but, when one is in a room full of celebrities it seems a bit crass to take their photos. A pleasant evening with very interesting people.

Saturday was Pam’s 70th Birthday Party. First Ann and I had an interclub tennis match to play at the Pakuranga Club. Ann picked me up and as we left Jenny reminded us to be careful. Ann and I were playing our mixed doubles and we lost the first set in a tie-breaker. We were half-way through the second set when I went back to smash an overhead shot, lost my balance and fell heavily on my backside (the shot went out). Apart from a sore bottom and left wrist (I tried to break my fall with my left hand) all I injured, I thought, was my pride.

I carried on and Ann and I won the second set. When that happens in our grade a super tie-break is played to decide the winner. First to 10. We got to 9-0 up and it was my turn to serve. ‘Wonder if anyone has ever lost from this position’ I thought. I then proceeded to serve a double fault. Minor hiccup, I sent an ace down next serve. A good win and it put the team in a good position as we won two of the other three mixed doubles.

After a cup of tea and scone (and lots of people asking me if I was alright) we went out to play the men’s and ladies’ doubles. My partner and I were cruising to an easy win, leading 3-0 in the first set, when I started to feel some pain in my lower back. It got progressively worse, as did my tennis. The opposition gradually played better and we lost 6-3 6-3. My partner, an Asian whom I think is a doctor, his English isn’t that great, got me an ice pack and strapped it to my back.

On the adjoining court Ann and her partner were winning their game comfortably when Ann strained her calf muscle stretching for a shot. She couldn’t carry on so had to default their match. More ice packs for Ann’s leg.

As Ann and I were due at Fred and Pam’s by 4 o’clock we had to leave. Instead of the team having a comfortable win we left with the scores tied at 3-3 with the last 2 matches in progress. Ann dropped me off home and she went on to the A&E to see about her leg.

We both received a bit of ribbing from the guests at the party. Me with my sore wrist and back and Ann with her leg bandaged.

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Four guests at the party. Two seem to be enjoying themselves!

The evening went well. There was a good crowd and everyone had a good time.

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Pam giving a very eloquent speech at the cutting of the cake.

There was three birthday cakes. One for Pam, one for Fred as he was overseas last year at his 70th birthday, and one for Susan McGhie as it was her birthday that day (Pam’s was a couple of days earlier).

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Les Trois Formidables!

Sunday morning Fred picked up nana and took her to his place. Jenny and I, Ann, the McGhies, Janet and John and Hugh and Dolly went round to join them there for a lunch of leftovers. Meant we missed most of Andrew’s jazz show on George, but not to worry. We heard him on Kim Hill’s Show on Saturday morning and Jenny listened to him on Kiwi FM breakfast show on Monday. He leaves tomorrow after a very busy week. Don’t know how he keeps going. He’s lucky his play time and his work time are the same.

My Friends are Getting Old

Sorry about the time span between my last blog and this one. Nothing very exciting has been happening in my life. But, like buses, three invitations arrived in the same week. The first was to Bob and Lorna’s last Friday for dinner. That’s always nice as Lorna is such a good cook. Fred and Pam were there also.

The other invitations were to 70th birthday parties. The first was Ron Banks’ on Saturday. Fred and Pam picked us up and we motored over to Ron and Alice’s place for 5pm (parties start early as one ages). Jenny took her camera.

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Fred, Chick and Ray (this little finger on my right) Clark

The usual cousins and friends were there. The wine and food was of a high standard and everyone had a good time.

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Mark (not Lee’s Mark, Josephine’s Mark), Josephine and Ann

Everyone mixed and mingled well and a good time was had by all. Ron gave a humorous, if a little long, speech after the cutting of the cake. It was his party so it was his right to speak for as long as he liked. All in all it was a very pleasant evening.

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Ron in typical pose. He reminds me of someone.

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I went to tennis next day but only stayed for an hour as I was a little tired and queasy. Two late night in a row had taken their toll.

Our next engagement is to Pam’s 70th birthday party this Saturday coming. At least she’s starting hers at a sensible hour – 4pm. Looking forward to it.

Happy New Year

First blog of the New Year. January 1st was my mother’s 93 birthday. We had a family dinner to celebrate the occasion. Mum is fine although a little vague about most things. She was the oldest and is the sole surviving Dempsey of her generation. We served her favourite dish, shepherd’s pie. Ann brought a fresh berry mix and Pam brought a pavlova. We had a good time.

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Getting stuck into the pavlova

We picked up Lee’s two boys, Aaron and Lucas, and took them down to Whangamata where Lee and Mark were already staying. We took them the Waihi way and stopped to have a look at the Martha open cast gold mine.

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Jenny, Aaron and Lucas standing on the edge of the abyss

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A very big hole in the ground

After lunch we went down to the beach for a swim and a play on the boogie boards. The weather was hot and the waves were rolling in. Back to the apartment for a game of cards before dinner. Then Lee and Mark suggested a walk along the beach.

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Wonder where Mark got his t-shirt?

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Jenny, me and Lee at sunset on Whangamata Beach

Whangamata Beach is very long and we walked the full length of it, stopping at Mark’s dad’s house to say Hi. Got back to the apartment at about 10, had a cup of tea and went to bed. Didn’t wake up till 9.30 the following morning. Fresh air and exercise can be quite tiring.

Walked round the shops, had a swim in the complex pool, another swim and boogie boarding at the beach and drove home after a takeaway meal from the gourmet burger place which Kerryn’s friend opened but is now for sale. Arrived back at 10pm. A nice couple of days.

Pakuranga’s Mona Lisa

I can take most reviews and descriptions of modern art with a grain of salt. I realise that my understanding and education in fine arts is somewhat lacking. But occasionally something appears that cannot be ignored. T.J. McNamara, the NZ Herald art critic, wrote in his weekly review of the Auckland art scene the following:

“The conceptual work at Te Tuhi [the Pakuranga Gallery] was by the perennially provocative Julian Dashper who drew two pencil lines on a wall to critique the idea of permanence in artwork. This idea of the mutability of all art is a theoretic concept rather than achieved art, and can be seen at Te Tuhi until February.”

He’s having us on. Right?

Cycling Through Life

I’ve inherited a bike! It was Kerryn’s which she left behind when she went overseas. I think Andrew used it for a while when he was living in Kohimarama. It was then passed on to Lee when he departed to live in Birmingham. It languished in her garage for a few years, then Lee decided she’d use it so had it serviced at the bike shop and put it back in her garage where it’s remained undisturbed for the last three years. I picked it up and took it home last week. The bike shop ticket was still tied to the handlebars. I inflated the tyres, cleaned it and sprayed CRC on the moving parts. Next day the back tyre was flat and, as the back wheel has five chain sprockets on it I decided to take it to the bike shop to get the puncture fixed “and any other thing you think needs doing to make it roadworthy”. It needed a few things done to it, like a new tyre and inner tube, a new chain, one of the brake cables had to be replaced and a couple of other things. I picked it up on Monday. Jenny bought me an early birthday present of a helmet and I splashed out another $5 on a bell.

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Steve Bike-o!

I took it for a test ride on Tuesday on the new walk/cycle way the council has built round the back of the golf course. I tried all the gears till I found the one I’ll use 99% of the time (it’s pretty flat round there). I rode all the way round to the Elim Christian College. The cycleway joins up with lots of others and I could, and I probably will, cycle down to Bucklands Beach or round towards Cockle Bay without having to travel on any busy roads.

ELECTION

The same week as when America had an election, so too did we in New Zealand. The National Party were hot favourites to win. Their electioneering campaign centred on time for a change. Can we fix the economy? Yes We Can!

America got Barack Obama, we got Bob The Builder!

FUNERALS

Jenny and I went to two funerals in the past week. First one was Judy Loveys (Mark’s mother). It was held at Purewa and we picked up Aaron and Lucas from school and took them with us. Lee was with Mark and his girls. It was a very personal and family celebration of her life. An old friend took the service, Mark had prepared a slide and music tribute to his mother. He also gave a very eloquent and touching tribute and other family members contributed anecdotes. We didn’t know her all that well, having only met her twice and that was when she was ill, but she was obviously a well loved and colourful character. I only knew one other person there, apart from Mark and family members, a man who is a member of the bridge club. I was talking to him afterwards and as we wandered up to the refreshment window the lady behind the counter said “How do you like your tea Chick?” It was my cousin Alice. She and Jane, her daughter-in-law, work for a company which specialises in funeral catering. I hadn’t seen her for a while and had a chat with her later. Little did I realise I’d see her again in a few days’ time at her mother’s funeral.

Aunt Annie died last Saturday. It was sad, but a blessing in one way. She’d lost her will to live after Charlie died. She’d stopped walking and given up eating. They tried drip feeding her but she kept pulling the tubes out. She didn’t recognise anyone any more.

The funeral was out at Mangere. Ron Banks gave an emotional eulogy of his mother-in-law. Pauline, Alice’s daughter and Annie’s oldest grandchild, spoke a tearful tribute. Ronald, Josephine’s son, contributed his memories. Six of Annie’s great-grandchildren offered up intercession prayers. We walked to the grave site after the service. The family and some friends went back to Alice and Ron’s for a few drinks and something to eat. We didn’t leave till after 9 o’clock. It was a good send-off.

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This is the only photo I could find of Annie. It was taken at my mother’s 92nd birthday dinner we had last January. Mum was the oldest and is the last remaining member of her generation. She misses her brother and sister-in-law, as we all do.