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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not the Christmas letter

Not the Christmas letter! I swore I’d never do it – but here it is, first time ever and I promise it won’t be filled with nauseating ‘boast notes’ (see Richard Glover, SMH) (viz Andrew singlehandedly infiltrating into the Al Queda* network , Christophe walking across the Simpson desert to raise money for Mumbai street children, Seb designing a wind-and- solar powered factory to manufacture carbon emission neutralisers and Jack working on a cure for cancer as part of his yr 5 Science curriculum, I have had a bumper year with royalties, signed up for a multi-media film-tie in deal for Poinciana and sold the rights to my next book in 27 countries...well, sorry to disappoint, but the year has been not quite as exciting as all that!
Seriously, though Andrew has been thriving on his work, even if he hasn’t quite managed to crack Ban Liden*’s whereabouts. He’s travelled to Lyon, Hanoi, Bangkok, Ottawa, San Francisco (that IS pretty nauseating for the rest of us) without too many signs of jetlag and/or premature ageing. Sadly I couldn’t accompany him anywhere. He’s signed up a few new interesting academic staff members at his new centre (Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention)and has a groovy new logo:
If I can figure out how to add photos to this, there's a pic of him with some students and guest speaker at the launch of his new “integrity studies” course – with his centre in the background. Actually he has had a rather nauseatingly successful year but we won’t go on.
Christophe has changed houses and jobs several times this year and for a while there was looking for work, which was a highly angst ridden period for his maman. He’s a naturally resilient young man and has managed to find himself two jobs at the moment as well as occasional tree-felling work with the guy who sold his business earlier in the year (causing the state of temporary unemployment). He seems much happier in his new abode in Glenalta and we met his lovely new girlfriend Elora in November. He just turned 22 and I do really miss him – coping a little better this year than last - we see him fairly regularly during the year – he came over for Jack’s birthday, and we have been over a few times. It’s lovely to have adult sons! Getting through the teen years is hard yakka, and I’m sure you can’t really relax until they’re at least 30 (probably never) but it is nice to have a ‘grown up’ relationship with them. He has some plans to study TESOL and maybe do an arts/languages degree next year - sounding suspiciously like his mother, an irony that hasn’t escaped him. I hope he does – I was never really mad on the army reserve idea nor even the police – and I always hoped he might get to Uni, if not straight away, eventually. In any case it was great to see him this last trip and he has really matured - really proud of him. If you are at the airport call in and see him at Cocolat! Trying to add a pic of him with Elora and sporting his mo for Movember.

Seb has had another busy year at UNSW. While he assures us he hasn’t had a ‘terrible time’ he wants to take a year off next year and hang out in Adelaide. He somehow feels he has missed out on the gap year and slothing it with his mates. Well, it’s true - he’s hardly been slothing it – he finished the year brilliantly if I may break the rules just once - he got 2 HDs and 2 Ds, (one of the HDs for a third year mechatronic subject). He had a job at the Sydney Football Stadium during the year, so got to work during a few big concerts and events. He’s got an even better job now though, just around the corner with an engineering consultancy – fortuitously through one of the soccer mums on Jack’s Under 11 team! It is fabulous to have him around for three months, we’ll enjoy it while we can. He’s a lovely, helpful young man, easy to get along with – he’ll be 20 in April. I can hardly believe that – just yesterday I was taking them to Ridge Park with Duffy. Sadly we lost out Tosca this year, all the sadder as it was Seb’s cat and she had to be euthanased on his birthday...one of the lowlights of the year. One of the things I managed to get out of Seb just today was his work for a subject he did as part of his general education – in ‘character drawing’ through the centre of fine arts (COFA). I’ve copied a few below. I love them! So that’s our Seb. We’re really proud of him, too, for sticking it out for the two years that he has and we hope he returns after the year...but who knows and well...it’s his life...! Will try and add Winston...or see collage above

And Jack. A MUCH better year! He was even sad to finish up at school last week. He’s found some more friends - perhaps ones he has more in common with – the main things are still screens (his eyes are bloodshot from gorging on the screens today) but he loved soccer this year – and actually got a goal (only one but the entire cheer squad was hanging out for him and that goal) in the second to last game for the season! As for basketball, they lost every single game of the season, except for the last, in which he didn’t play! (Now I’m allowed to put that in the Christmas letter). He’s done some digi-animation, volunteered for the local drama group and has developed obsessions for all things French – somewhat jealous of older brothers we think – and recently Leonardo da Vinci – we shot down to Canberra to see the exhibition of all the machines built from his designs. Jack would still love to return to Adelaide tomorrow but we think he is settling a bit more. He’ll never join Nippers, and cricket was a total disaster, but we’re getting there!
And – me! How is it going? It’s been a nice year for my 50th...starting with the big event in March where I caught up – too briefly with all yous lovely peoples!
And the trip to Sarawak was a real highlight – everyone should go to the Borneo Highlands retreat and have a massage from Mama Borneo and walk in that ancient rainforest and look out over the Kalimanatan border at sunrise and see those orangutans and the monkeys...

But back to reality, I still miss you all and sometimes want to come home too...which we do now and again to cure the nostalgie du pays as they call it...it all hinges around work for me. I finished on the project at the Black Dog Institute in April and have been at the Uni of W’gong in student counselling since. I really like the Uni and the work, and hope to be back there next year – have had my interview and you’ll have to wait for the stop press to see if I got it. In the mean time I have had some more work via The Black Dog – working on their youth website - Biteback. http://www.biteback.org.au/
I can do this from home and I love it – but it’s not ongoing work. I still have some ongoing mentoring and on-line facilitating in the TAFE Professional writing diploma – which again I can do from home. So ideally I’d like this variety...we’ll see. A bit of stability on the work front would mean we could plan our lives a bit more instead of lurching from one pecuniary drama to another (the roof needs repairing at Hawker Ave, especially after all the rains...). I think that will come (the stability) but it’s taken a while and more than a few interviews and tedious job applications! I really haven’t had a lot of time for writing either – and it would be good if I could find time for that. It has been a sociable year of getting to know the neighbours - who are great. We have had a pot luck dinner and just tonight– the neighbourhood street Christmas party, which ended up in our garage because of the thunderstorms! We’ve met people through work, Alliance Francaise, Jack’s sport and just out and about - it is a good suburb for walking and we are on a corner, so we can see everyone go past, and of course through our new little addition to the family - Tumbles – who has been hit of the year, and the creature responsible for turning me into a dotty middle aged lapdogophile.

Well – that’s it for the Christmas letter. It finds us well, and enjoying (on balance, with the ups and downs)the big adventure! Hope it finds you well. We hope to be over in Adelaide mid-end January...still waiting to confirm...all depends on jobs...

Have a great Christmas, an exciting 2011 and lots of love from us all!

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