Friday, February 29, 2008

Connecting with the long past and recent past

In the last chapter I mentioned that January was quite a month of re-connecting with special people. It began with seeing granddaughter Kirsty. For me it was ever so special to have her visit me in my home. Gemma and Kathryn came along as well, and we had a great time playing games, eating food, looking at photos, walking along the beach.

One of the games that has always been a favourite in our home is the dutch board game of 'sjoelen'. It is a long board with four compartments in which the player seeks to shuffle as many flat wooden disks as possible. It is energetic, noisy, sometimes dangerous and above all, a lot of fun. Here are a couple of pictures taken on the day:Kirsty, above, playing her first ever game of sjoelen, and below a picture of concentration as Gemma sends down the disks watched by Kathryn:A week later, I had the joy of welcoming my old friends Barry & Liz Holloway from Papua New Guinea days in the early nineteen sixties. Barry was the Patrol Officer responsible for Local Government in Kainantu where we started the Agarabi Primary School. He was both resourceful and of immense help at the time and was a frequent visitor to our home when he was still a single man.

Barry is a fellow Tasmanian, born and bred in Sheffield on the North West Coast. He married Liz, who hails from the same area, while on furlough in 1962 and true to the good example that Carol & I set, had twins in 1964 (I think). While sadly their marriage did not last, they remained good friends. For that reason it was good to have them both come over to see me in Lauderdale and we had a good time together:Barry, or rather Sir Barry, continues to be very much involved in Papua New Guinea in a variety of ways. He is presently heading a Constitutional Reform Committee, advising the present PNG Government on constitutional changes. He is now a PNG resident, which did not stop him from accepting with great relish, my offering of fresh raspberries that I had picked that morning out of my own garden.

Early February I was delighted to welcome granddaughters Jess & Sarah from Adelaide to spend a few days with me. We had a ball and thoroughly enjoyed the many things we did. Sarah was not here for her Grandma's funeral last year and wanted to check the place where we laid her to rest. It was a quiet and dignified moment where the three of us reflected on a very special person who we all miss: A visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens on a lovely day was pretty good with lunch that provided us with the following views of the gardens and the Derwent River:The Japanese Gardens are a treat and well worth some extra special time with its water features:The blooms in the conservatory were stunning. There were just so many of them, but here are just a couple of sample:A visit to Peter Cundal's veggies patch (of Gardening Australia fame) was irresistible, especially with a pumkin of this size:One of the most photographed section in the gardens is this pond with that lovely bridge. With these two lovely damsels, I could not resist a photograph take:A trip to Launceston and Ross was thoroughly enjoyed. While I had a meeting to attend to in Launceston during the morning, the girls enjoyed their time in the Cataract Gorge and loved it! We traveled back to Hobart via the West and East Tamar routes and stopped at the following lookout, which is near where the controversial pulp mill is to be built:My next visitors will arrive in April and then in June & July. It means that I continue to connect with wonderful people whose company I find most acceptable and enjoyable.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The ongoing journey of 'Carol's Piano'

January 2008 was an extraordinary month with much to do about plenty, as quite opposed to 'much to do about nothing'. The new year began at quite a pace with extra activities in Hobart that included meeting up with old Papua New Guinea friends, a delightful re-union with one of my granddaughters whom I had not seen for over nine months and visiting Sydney where I re-connected with a very special and important link of the past. Let me talk about the last one first and write another chapter later about the other two re-unions.

Anyone who knows anything about Carol will tell you that she had many interests. They would tell you about her extensive range of creativity in handwork, cooking and especially music, which already started early in her life. Eisteddod and competing on radio programmes were actively pursued, including appearing on the nationally broadcast of 'Amateur Hour' with Host, Terry Dear in the early fifties:When she left Tasmania in 1956 for Sydney, her ambitions were to become a concert pianist.To that end, she enrolled at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and studied there for three years. During that time, her mother & father bought her a new baby-grand piano - a Moore & Moore, which became her favourite treasure. She loved that instrument for its tone, its feel and for its special part in her musical journey.

Carol took to the Sydney music scene with relish and could be found frequently in the organ gallery of the Sydney Town hall (cheapest tickets) to soak up as much music she was able. After the concert she would go backstage to meet the artists. One of her favourite conductors was Maestro Nicolai Malko in the next photo, and again in another photograph with internationally acclaimed pianist Claudio Arrau. I still have the programmes of those concert, most of them signed by famous musicians like Barenboim, Oistrach, Germani, Menuhin, Badura-Skoda etc.In 1959, she felt a strong call to offer herself for missionary service in Papua New Guinea. Being the pragmatist, she chose to place her music ambitions on hold and returned to Tasmania to become a nurse.Well, all of you who read this story know that I came back into her life and, having a similar call for missionary service, we came to the conclusion that God would have us go as a couple to that wonderful country of Papua New Guinea and serve the people there for a period of time - eleven and half years (the half is important!).

When we returned on first leave to Tasmania, Carol made straight for the loungeroom to play her 'baby' only to find to her dismay that it was gone. Yep, her mum & dad decided that, in view of Carol's longterm commitment to Papua New Guinea, to sell this unique and special instrument without asking her. Nor did they inform her. She was devastated and while I purchased her another fine instrument in due time, it hurt so much. Something special was gone.

When she learned that Peter Sculthorpe had found the instrument irresistible and purchased it, she, being the amazing person she was, thought perhaps that Mr Sculthorpe would put it to good use and compose fine music for the world to enjoy. Little did she realise at that time what a fine and acclaimed classical composer Peter Sculthorpe would become. Keith Jackson, on his blog, commented on this story and described Peter Sculthorpe as follows:
"A 30-something Launceston boy – who, as a child had been severely reprimanded by his piano teacher for not practising, so took to writing music under the bedclothes with a torch – saw the ad, saw the piano and concluded that “it was asking me to play it”.
The young man was Peter Sculthorpe, now approaching 80, one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures, one of only four Australians to be made life members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and much honoured in this country as perhaps our greatest composer ever."
In September 2007, I saw an interview on the ABC programme 'Talking Heads', where Peter was asked about the special piano in his life. He gave a brief answer, but what really stuck in my mind was when he said, 'the moment I played it, that was it. There was something about the treble that... It almost seemed to want music to be written on it.' Now there is a real connection and for me is very characteristic of Carol. Yep, that's my girl! The following is a part transcript of that interview:
ER THOMPSON: Tell us about the baby grand that you're playing there.
PETER SCULTHORPE: When I came back from Oxford, I thought, well, it's time... I'm grown up - it's time that I had a grand piano, even if it was just a baby grand. And I answered ads all over the place in Tasmania and finally there was one advertised at Burnie. I went down, played it, and the moment I played it, that was it. There was something about the treble that... It almost seemed to want music to be written on it. The bass strings, because they're not so long, weren't as resonant as I'd like, but I mean, baby grands are like that. And I've loved that piano dearly. I've written most of my music on it over the years. Oddly enough, it was bought in Sydney and taken to Tasmania, and then, of course, I brought it back to Sydney.
I took the opportunity to write to the ABC asking them to convey my greetings to Peter and included a brief background of Carol's journey with the 'Moore & Moore'. Peter was most kind and wrote back to me. We agreed to meet in Sydney in January. FINALLY.....I am getting to what I want tell you. I was most cordially received by Peter and he took me straight into his studio where indeed this lovely instrument just waited to be re-introduced to an acquantance of long ago. It was quite an emotional moment to see, touch it and even play a couple of chords on it. I had forgotten what a lovely mellow sound it was and so very characteristic of Carol who preferred the mellow to the harder piano sound.

Peter informed me that, since he purchased the instrument all his music was composed on 'Carol's piano. She could not have asked for a better home and purpose. Her wish was truly realised, as many have come to enjoy Peter Sculthorpe's music. Carol herself played his music at functions and recitals, constantly wondering whether the piece she was playing was composed on THAT piano, which she always referred to as her 'baby'.Peter most kindly played me one of his compositions which was in fact, the very first piece he had composed on THAT piano. What more could I have asked for.
Peter, his assistant Adrienne and I wondered whether Carol was aware of our being together. We hoped so!
Our conversation was wonderful and I am just very privileged to share the ongoing journey of this lovely piano. Thanks Peter & Adrienne! The journey does indeed continue!

I like to finish this chapter with one of Carol's favourite flowers that she planted in our garden in 2003. It has just come out and seems a fitting conclusion to this special chapter of SAMTINGBILONGMI:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Leisure time in Summer

Why haven't I done more work on my blog recently? Truth of the matter is that I have been too BUSY enjoying my LEISURE! The weather in Hobart has really been too good and yesterday it was reported that we just experienced our driest January on record - a total of 3mm of rain! You can hardly call it rain. Our little island is desperate for some good downpours.

Now about leisure, let me tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed a range of wonderful activities, including spending time in and near Sydney, visiting family and friends. It included quality time with Fred at his hideout in Lovett Bay.ABOVE: The view from his house looking out towards Pittwater. BELOW: Fred's Hideaway. Idylic!And there is MERCATOR, the lovely sleek love of Fred's life! It was great and we both enjoyed our time that included taking Fred's lovely sailing boat - Mercator, a 53' ketch - for a good workout. A full day on the beautiful Hawkesbury River and Pittwater with a delightful breeze was just fantastic.ABOVE: At the helm on a straight course (I think!). BELOW: Braving it on the bow - just a little tentative......But brave enough to take the next photo showing the bow cutting into the water:And while the boat was on auto pilot, Fred decided to go into the rigging.I also took Vicki and Philip out to Kangaroo Valley and the Fitzroy Falls:We also visited Belmore Falls and Carrington Falls:It was fantastic trip through very picturesque country that we all enjoyed
....including a delightful lunch at Robertson, the place where Babe was filmed.

Just after Christmas, Heather & Brent invited me on a family bush walk to the magnificent Cape Roul that overlooks Storm Bay in Southern Tasmania. It was a strenuous but great walk that took about six hours. Above: Kathryn taking a rest overlooking Storm Bay. Below: Heather with Thomas doing likewise.The next pic of Brent and his brothers standing at the lookout giving a good idea of the terrain we were on:The scenery was stunning and the lovely sunny day ensured a most successful walk. It was also fascinating to come accross a snake that was in the final stages of shedding its coat. Peter picked it up after the process was completed (the snake scurried back into the bush) and wrapped it around a stick:And finally, we came to Cape Roul itself with its stunning views Including the next one of native flora and with Port Arthur in the distant background:And one with Kathryn and me:We also saw some of the yachts that were competing in Sydney to Hobart Yacht race sail towards Hobart, including the winner that was already on its way back to Sydney.There are many delightful bush walks in Tassie and we also went on another walk together some time before Christmas to the Candle Sticks. That was a really tough walk for me. BUT I managed quite well though my limbs and joints knew all about it when I got home.Here are just a couple of scenic views on that walk:And one of Heather, Brent, Kathryn & Thomas:With the weather as nice as it has been during January, I braved the Tasmanian waters and went swimming near my house together with granddaughter Gemma who took the following underwater shot of King Neptune Siebrand:It certainly shows a different perspective!
And one of the Princess. As always a pretty picture!