Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Volume 7, Issue 10

Greetings from 4 Cremin Close, Kew

Whew – a month has whizzed past since the last Quake. Where did that go? Since then we have invested in the long awaited Apple cinema screen to attach to my laptop, replacing its 13” screen when used in my study. Yippee. I can actually see the images I am editing now. A good thing, on the whole. We’ve also invested in a copy of Toast – software to allow me to convert our vinyl music collection to mp3 files. A task which will be tedious I’m sure but … All that is required now is the time sitting down and doing it. Somehow that hasn’t been a happening thing in the last month.

A highlight of the month has been the 95th birthday of my mother Mary on Friday 17 June. We had a fantastic weekend of celebrations. The children and grandchildren plus their partners took her out for a wonderful dinner at a great restaurant called Charcoal Lane in Fitzroy. We made a group of 14, with a function room to ourselves, which was good. Call me anal, but I developed three seating plans, one for each course, so that every constituent group had time adjacent to the birthday girl as well as opportunity to talk with everyone else. It actually worked really well, with everyone having different neighbours on each side and opposite for every course. On the Saturday we had lunch at Redesdale in regional Victoria with almost all of the Harpers. Then on Sunday the Penrhyn Avenue neighbours came to #7 for afternoon tea. Overall I think she feels thoroughly 95ed. The house is still full of the floral tributes!

We got to the King Tut exhibition recently. It was great, except for the background music. Those pharaohs had it all sussed. Armies of slaves in life and buried with armies of model slaves to do any god’s bidding in the after life. If you haven’t gone and plan to, a tip would be to get tickets for afternoon sessions from 2.30 onwards. There were huge crowds at 12, 12.30 and 1.00 but as we were leaving (it only takes not heaps more than an hour) it was two men and a dog.

The ingenious Dr Crumble rigged up acres of bird netting last weekend, attaching it high to the blind side of the house and across to the side fence to enclose a considerable outside area for the cats. The percussive aftermath of hammering all those staples has not been good for his tennis elbow, however the felines of the family now have a sheltered workshop to ease them into the pussy cat neighbourhood.

We relocated the dynamic duo of Moneypenny and James Bond from Mum’s place on Tuesday of this week and they appear to have settled in quite well. I do think they prefer her gas heater to our central heating. Moneypenny in particular enjoyed sitting in front of the heater at Penrhyn Avenue with her nose just about glued to the glass in front of those lovely flames. However, they have located the ceiling outlets and manage to sit as high as possible underneath them. Although at present they are sprawled in the sun in Crumble’s study as I type this. Moneypenny has been leaving her mark on the carpet of the staircase – an irresistible scratching pole heaven. As usual, the lavish provision we have made for scratching with several devices adjacent to their beds is totally ignored and they make a beeline for the verboten devices instead. Supervision required at all times. The difference between being a tenant and an owner-occupier!

Most of the Quake readership will be absolutely flabbergasted to learn that we have joined the Kew Recreation Centre. Perhaps even more flabbergasting is that we are actually using it. All those years of sedentary work and total indolence, preparation for skiing one Christmas being the skiing of last Christmas, are behind us! At this stage we are aquatic members only. Conjures up images for me of us as seals. But I think they mean we use only the pool and spa. The plan is to build some cardio-vascular fitness first by just swimming, then expand the membership. Meanwhile, I have graduated from Osteopathy for my back to Clinical Pilates. I have done four one-on-one hour long sessions and have another nine to go. I’ll assess how I am at that point – I’m hopeful I’ll be ready to step into classes at the Kew Rec Centre, which will be a much cheaper option. With a stronger core, I’ll then start thinking about my knees. That’s the plan, anyway. As I creak my way through sessions I reflect that while getting older is better than the alternative, it does have its downside!

The seminar phase of the Leadership Victoria Experience Bank program is now over and we have been regrouped to work on our project for the rest of the year. I opted for a corporate governance / organisational structure problem faced by a community service centre/legal service in Melbourne’s north. The intention is that each of us does about 20 hours of work on it – but we’ll see how accurate that is.

I need to get this out before 4.00pm NZ time, so that’s all for now from

Dr Quake (Jill) & Dr Crumble (Neil)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Volume 7, Issue 9

Greetings from 4 Cremin Close, Kew, 3101 VIC. Yes, we are in. On Melways Map 45. Only just at B3, but Map 45 nevertheless!

I type this email from my new study. The autumnal sun is sufficiently far across the sky to reach me now - Crumble's study gets all the morning sun. I'll cook in summer I’m sure, but right now it is lovely. When I started this Quake I was back in cotton – ha ha – it’s being behind glass that does it. A week later and there is decidedly more of a chill on the air.

Our container cleared customs and all that jazz on Wednesday 11 May so The Shift happened / began on Monday 16 May. Two guys only arrived to empty the truck, and achieved that in a surprisingly short time. They then filled in time ‘til knock off time putting big / heavy things where we directed them.

End of day one was very satisfying because you can really see progress being made. Slash wrap with Stanley knife to reveal – fridge. Ta da. Slash next wrap with Stanley knife to reveal – lounge suite. Ta da. And so it goes. The house is nearly furnished. But then on day two, reality hits. Open box to reveal – millions of paper wrapped parcels. Open first parcel to reveal – one crystal glass. Ta da. Into the crystal cabinet. Only another 7 red wine glasses to go. And then there is the set of white wine glasses and the set of champagnes flutes and the set of water tumblers etc etc. Takes a lot of bending and straightening and unwrapping to fill a crystal cabinet, let me tell you!

I think I may have mentioned previously the guys doing the uplift from Poto Road commenting ruefully that “Geez lady you’ve go a lot of books.” They were right. We realized on the Tuesday, after the boys had well and truly gone, that we had issued quite a number of misdirections. Not helped by the fact that nearly every box was labeled N Study, regardless of eventual contents. Boxes of books upstairs when they should have been downstairs, book cases in one room when they needed to be in another. We have subsequently done a lot of shifting of pieces of furniture and boxes of books from room to room. Boy oh boy aren’t they heavy.

Unaccustomed to physical labour, I have been absolutely stonkered by it all. Crumble not far behind I might add. The Osteo (for Quake) and the Chiro (for Crumble) have been working overtime to patch us up as we go along.

Two weeks later and Wridgways have now come back to collect the mountain of flattened empty boxes and mountainous plastic bags of packing. The removal of these has made room in the garage for the cars. Ah. On the topic of cars, we bought a Volvo sedan last week. The ultimate sensible car, it has a back seat, huge boot and the backrests of the back seats fold down to give a pseudo station wagon. I figure that a black Porsche and a white Volvo average out as the equivalent of two silver / grey Holdens.

The fridge is full, we are hanging works of art and I am up to a Dr Quake to avoid my guitar and my cello, so I guess you could say that we are pretty much sorted. Except for communications. A landline or not? That is the question. Well actually, it is just one of the questions.

On the music front, we went to a jazz concert recently. Bob Sedergreen and Friends at a converted church in Warragul. Yes I know a long way to travel but we heard about it when visiting long-standing Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar friends the Beesons at Easter and it sounded good. It was in fact a fabulous night. Dinner at a very good restaurant beforehand, terrific wine from the concert sponsors at the start and interval, great music from four very fine musicians and then back to Janalli to stay overnight in sumptuous luxury with Phillipa and Alan!

We are looking forward to seeing Paco Pena’s dance troupe in July. That’s it culturally to date. The King Tutankhamen exhibition at the museum is on the to do list – we have been a bit busy and apparently it is crawling with people at present. Trouble is I suspect it on of those shows which will crawl for its whole season. Booking essential.

I had my next Leadership Victoria program last Wednesday. In anticipation of questions, the LV Experience Bank is a program rather than a course. There is pre-reading and we are encouraged to reflect as we go along. It isn’t quite sure what it is on about I think. The web site does not really articulate clearly what to expect and the participants all have very different expectations so it is quite a fractious group I think. Its point seems to be about building social conscience and social capital and recruiting talent for the not-for-profit sector. This most recent day was a field trip looking at a range of social enterprises across Melbourne. From the pre-reading / viewing I anticipated that it would be particularly interesting. I can feel this topic has the greatest resonance with me and is perhaps where I would like to head. But we’ll see. After one more seminar day we regroup and work on a project for the rest of the year. That could be interesting.

On the past two Saturday mornings we have driven past the complex of netball courts on Belmore Road which swarms with girls of all sizes sporting the uniforms of many familiar schools. Crumble has offered to stop the car but I’ve been able to resist the temptation! Similarly, driving through Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs in the private school zone at pick up time I have been appalled by parental behaviour on the road and around the crossings and gleeful that it is not my problem any more!

Well – that’s all for now from

Dr Quake (Jill) & Dr Crumble (Neil)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Volume 7, Issue 8

Wednesday 11 May, 2011

Greetings from Penrhyn Avenue, Melbourne, site of the ancestral de Araugo family home and presided over by my mother Mary The Indomitable.

Four weeks in Melbourne have zoomed by. Not quite sure how. We seem to be eating a lot. Partly that’s because we are staying at my mother’s still. Partly its because we are resuming a life and catching up with friends, typically over a meal.

We are making progress I guess. The Poto Road sale has settled and the money is in the bank. Wring side of the ditch but we’ll get to that. Crumble’s Beemer sold quite quickly but my Merc has been hard to shift. It finally went just yesterday – so great joy on that score.

We have bought one car. Wait for it – it’s a 2002 /3 black Porsche Boxster. Rag top. Manual gear box. Yippee. I don’t think I have stopped grinning. I thought Crumble was joking when we stopped at a Porsche shop after trawling around Melbourne in search of BMW Z4s. Turns out he was serious. The drive way at Penrhyn is long, narrow, uphill and rose bush encrusted, so I have been relieved that I have been able to negotiate that successfully. And using the mirrors. I had another back episode on Good Friday so twisting is not an option for me – still.

Crumble’s transport will come from the balance of the car budget allocation. He is nobly considering unicycles as his transport mode, in an effort to make me feel guilty. It’s not working. I have been amused by Porsche reactions from members of my family, by the way. I am certainly the odd one out in the set.

We have consciously decided to rent for ourselves and continue to view Locke Street as a rental property (which we will probably be selling, but that’s another story). We have travelled probably 600km around Melbourne, looking at places we might live in. We have gradually got our act together and become clearer about the marriage between what we want and what is possible. Two cats impose some constraints and secure parking for the Porsche another with three very large pieces of Blackwood furniture completing the set of issues for us to accommodate. The furniture led us to rule out heaps of great places in South Yarra and Toorak, which was a pity. Anyway, cutting to the chase we have finished up in Kew. Still on Melways Map 45, but only just at B3! It has ticks in all the boxes except for trains /tram access. But we don’t live in a perfect world I guess. 4 Cremin Close is the address and having signed the lease we are set to move in on Monday 16 May. Next task is coming to grips with internet connection and how to achieve that speedily. The information available is soooo confusing.

The cats by the way are greatly enjoying their stay at Mary’s. It’s to do with the gas heater. Moneypenny thinks this kind of heat source is the best thing invented. She stretches out on the floor hogging the space immediately in front of it. Luxury.

The tabby from over the back fence continues to have our two bluffed by the way. James Bond in particular is very reluctant to venture outside. Moneypenny is not so bad, but she does take refuge up on the garage roof a bit. So avoiding the issue one might say. We discover that we have to get them registered with the local Council – which involves compulsory micro-chipping. That might have to wait until we have access to their vet records.

I am relieved to report that the Bunnings visits have subsided. Charles Street is now let (the cause of the multiple visits) and we have been focused on getting ourselves sorted. I suspect that when we get up to dealing with the upstairs bathroom issue at Locke Street we will become Number 1 Ticket Holders. But not yet…

Ah, the autumn sun to which I referred in the last Quake and the cotton T-shirts? Well winter approaches and Icebreakers are back on the agenda. It was nice while it lasted.

Well – that’s all for now


Dr Quake (Jill) & Dr Crumble (Neil)

Volume 7, Issue 7

Monday 25 April 2011

Greetings from Penrhyn Avenue, Melbourne, site of the ancestral de Araugo family home and presided over by my mother Mary The Indomitable. Hard to believe that the last Quake was sent from Poto Road the day before I finished up at Chilton. Seems like a lifetime ago in a number of ways and only a heartbeat back in others.

You will realize that, being in receipt of a Quake, we have sorted temporary internet access! Other contact details are:

Dr Quake (Jill) +61 48801 8797

Dr Crumble (Neil) +61 422 9191 22

With our email addresses as previously.

My last day at Chilton was a very special one. The short version of this story is that we had an absolutely fantastic whole school assembly which was a feast of music. Three girls (Azmarah in Year 6 and Mikie the Head Girl and her Deputy Lucy) spoke really well and presented me with a marvelous album, which I will treasure. In the evening there was a cocktail function for the adult groups – staff, Board, parents, Old Girls, colleagues. My 2-i-c, now Principal Elect, spoke really well and the Board Chair also. All in all it was as informal as it was possible to make it while still being “appropriate”.

Recounting logistical details, the sale of Poto went through without any real hitch in the end, with settlement on Maundy Thursday. The money is in the bank, as they say. We recovered the cost of purchase and the cost of sale, which is the good news. Lost on the perishingly poor exchange rate – but I guess that’s a case of c’est la vie. Crumble’s Beamer has sold, both beds, so it’s just my Merc to go. I am amazed it is proving so hard to shift. It is a lovely car and a great buy. I guess an indicator of the NZ economy.

Our stuff (and believe me when I say there is lots of it!) was uploaded without incident. Our program of planned red wine consumption, combined with strategic ferrying courtesy of my two trips for Leadership Victoria, saw a grog free container in the end. We were absolutely delighted of course - ha ha Mr Swan – no duty payable by these little black ducks! The shifting guys were rueful about the number of boxes of books they had to ferry up our quite steep driveway. Poor devils. Not to mention solid blackwood furniture.

Now we are on the ground in Melbourne and doing some reconnaissance on apartments/houses to rent, our resolve to down size stuff is re-affirmed. We’ve done a preliminary skirmish across a wedge of Melbourne’s suburbs from East Melbourne, St Kilda and Elwood through Elsternwick and Caulfield up as far as Balwyn and Kew. That has helped us refine our thinking a bit and we are off to see the accountant in the next day or so before really throwing ourselves into the rental fray in earnest. We start paying for storage from 2 May, so no mucking around. An issue will be that we actually need some space to get things sorted into keep or sell piles. Very tricky.

Another after Easter treat will be the Car(s) Decision. Zero, one or two? Roofless or not? Back seats or not? Stay tuned on that one!

The cats travelled over on the same plane as us and have settled in at Penrhyn Avenue pretty well after a prolonged dram at the QANTAS cargo terminal. Very unimpressive. I let them venture outside as from last Sunday and they have subsequently struggled a little to carve a niche from under the feet of the tabby from over the back fence. A small puss but feisty, and importantly, with unclipped claws. Our two are at a bit of a disadvantage in that regard and both are licking wounds currently – literally.

Some of the Quake readership will be amused to learn that since our return to Melbourne we have spent quite a lot of time at Bunnings. A bed-sit we own in St Kilda is untenanted at present and in need of some TLC. We have been painting and doing some repairs. With no power connected of course, we are confined to working only during daylight hours and pick up after ourselves by hand rather than vacuum cleaner. Very efficient! We keep on not having the tools we need (they are in the container), hence multiple trips to Bunnings. Torture. I think Crumble has been doing it deliberately!

We have been enjoying Melbourne’s autumn sun and I have worn cotton T-shirts every day since our return. Believe it or not but I have been an Icebreaker free zone!

Well – that breaks the back of getting you up to date. That’s all for now


Dr Quake (Jill) & Dr Crumble (Neil)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Volume 7, Issue 6

Greetings from Wellington.

Woo hoo. Where did that month go? The last Chronicle was 13 March – exactly one month before our departure date. Lots of people have been asking me if I have been in count down mode. My truthful answer has been no – until now.

Selling real estate in this country is an interesting experience. Despite having received and accepted an offer ages ago, no money changed hands and both vendor and purchaser can re-neg – it’s weird. This means that the place stays on the market until the deal goes “unconditional”. So we have lived in excessive tidiness for weeks and weeks and cleared out every Sunday afternoon for open homes to proceed. Thank goodness it went unconditional last week, so that is a major job ticked off on the to do list.

We have commissioned a friend to sell the cars and happily there are some nibbles on those - finally. With any luck they’ll sell over the weekend. One bed has gone to the son of a Chilton teacher. He is setting up house for the first time with his girlfriend so we sent them off with crockery and cutlery and glassware and linen and and and – it was a win-win! Two book cases are earmarked for a Board member. Although their call to come and get them is long delayed I have realized. That deal may be about to fall over! Stop press – it’s on, but only one bookcase.

A former member of my staff, recently returned from a stint in Singapore, generously offered to host a private party for us at their fabulous home. After umming and ahing we agreed and that was Friday night. It was actually nice to have the chance to mingle with a small group of people with whom I have worked most closely and of whom I am fond. The Official Bash is on Monday night. I have managed to persuade my Chair that one function is the way to go. One speech to write that way. Problem is that I used a modified version of the speech as my editorial for my last weekly bulletin and now feel I need to do something different. More writing.

I think that departing feeling has been accelerated by arriving home from work on Friday. Between two professional packers and Dr Crumble, a huge amount of stuff had been disappeared into boxes, rooms and walls cleared and generally great leaps taken towards exiting. Apparently one of the guys has a 3 year old son and he was sidetracked (the packer I mean) by our collection of picture books and children’s books. He was reading instead of packing. Same guy finished going away with a whole box of titles of which we had doubles plus a spare teddy bear, so he was pretty happy.

The rest of the packing happens tomorrow. So after I have done this Quake, I will be up to getting gear needed for the next few days into bags which wont go into the container. All good fun. Right.

Did I say that I had enrolled in the Experience Bank program run by Leadership Victoria? Well I have. That has entailed two flying trips to Melbourne for the day of 23 March and again for 6 April. The 6 April was particularly relaxing because my syndicate was the duty group and of all the tasks to be done for the day I landed the job of preparing the research paper and presenting it to set up the day. I think that takes a really special sort of talent! Duh!

The next Quake will be sent from Melbourne and I don’t know how long it will take for us to become communicado. We are staying with my mother in the first instance and 03 9889 3276 is the landline there.

That’s all for now


Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dr Quake’s Chronicle, Volume 7, Issue 5

Greetings from Wellington.

Earthquakes seem to have dominated life here since 22 February. Poor old Christchurch is devastated. Apart from the significant loss of life, the city is now on its knees in an economic sense. And with it the nation I’d say.

At Chilton we are hosting 7 or 8 girls, refugees from a range of Canterbury schools. We have had an extraordinary mufti day – red and black theme (the Canterbury colours) universally adopted. The school looked fantastic I’d have to say. And last Thursday we had a K to 13, House based sponsored walk to raise money. The sun shone and tit was a fabulous event. With any luck a lot of money will have been raised as well. Members of the public were stopping their cars and pressing notes onto the girls as they walked.

Of course the two quite big quakes we had in Wellington last week plus the big quake in China and the monster quake in Japan on Friday have fuelled a level of anxiety which is threatening to steamroll the Chilton OSH Committee. I have new insights into how runs on banks work. Sales of gas cooking units and big plastic containers for storing water are walking out of places like Bunnings.

After a whirlwind of open homes we accepted an offer on Poto Road a week or so ago. It is like playing poker I’ve decided. Turns out their financing was partly dependent on mortgaging a property in, you guessed it, Christchurch. We now don’t know what the state of play is at all. Suffice to say we live in an agony of tidiness and depart every Sunday afternoon to keep the way clear. Wearing thin I’d have to say.

We are about to lock in to a removal company. After no hassles entering NZ, we are appalled to learn that we will have to pay duty on all wine and spirits we seek to land in Oz unaccompanied. Bloody cheek I’d say. Not as though we have either in commercial quantities. We have put in place a cunning plan to ensure the Australian government makes no profit from our return. But we will have to maintain a cracking pace of consumption. Oh well – someone has to do it.

The quiet and bitter battle over the cats has been waged and ended. I opted for a Socratic approach. While we are both well aware the two cats will limit the range of accommodation options available for rent in Melbourne, adopting out a cranky old bastard like James Bond was never really an option. Moneypenny is relishing having become an outdoor cat and is a rotten stay out. We see little of her these days.

We are grappling with the logistics of the shift at present. The plan is to downsize and rent – issue is what to do with all our excess stuff – of which there I heaps. Sell it here or back in Melbourne. Et etc etc Now I the time for a magic wand really.

Crumble has applied for a job in Melbourne this weekend – immediate start. The odds are he’ll get it I reckon. That would be poetic justice, making me Office In Charge Of Re-settling! Yippee – that way I’d get to choose the cars. Yes, there is a god.

Ah. We have a definite shift date. We fly our of Wellington on 13 April, just one month from today.

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr Quake’s Chronicles Vol 7 Issue 4

Greetings from Wellington.

Big quake in Christchurch this afternoon is dominating the news here. I’ve been lining up special services for the morning with the Chaplain and talking to members of staff who have family connections in Christchurch. It doesn’t look too good down there. I reflect on our own personal state of readiness and it is not terrific. I keep on meaning to do something about that and keep on doing nothing. Hmm.

Otherwise, the whirl of the start of the new school year has continued pretty much as usual. Lots of nights out hosting evenings for parents to meet the members of staff caring for their daughters this year. Sunday night’s cathedral service marks the end of the beginning of the year, thank goodness.

It has been gratifying that over the course of all these functions so many parents have seized the opportunity to speak with me and express their regret that I am leaving. Sometimes, with nose firmly applied to the grindstone, one wonders if anyone really gives a damn. Apparently they do.

Dr Crumble has been busy busy busy. He has been working very solidly on Lule’s thesis. This has been a very long story of one step forward and seemingly two steps back throughout. She had the bricks put to her by her university – show cause why you should retain you job without a PhD – some chap recently finished his has put up his hand for Lule’s classes. This had the effect of galvanizing Lule into fevered action. Hours and hours of Skype later, Crumble wrote the sign off letter last week and the production moves to the next phase. Her university uses the North American model – internal examiners and then Viva Voce and/or Full Defence. I am not sure what the difference is between the Viva and the Defence but either way it sounds like an opportunity for academic with an axe to grind with the poor candidate’s supervisor can eviscerate the candidate in a public display of brutality with impunity and regardless of how well informed they are about the aspect of the thesis which they are gnawing at. Having knocked over Lule he moved onto Richard’s. This seems to have been faster in these closing stages and I believe he has signed off on that one also.

So a man of leisure I hear you all think. Oh no. Crumble has picked up some consultancy work with Retail and more importantly, is Officer In Charge of Shift. Poto Road has been on the market for a week and a half and we have had 20 or so lots of people through with about 8 or so repeat visitors. The Agent is now marshalling offers. We would rather accept a lower offer as long as it is not conditional on the sale of another property. The market here is pretty depressed and the recession shows no sign whatsoever of abating. Not the Lucky Country. Removalists are in the process of quoting for us. We definitely need to rationalize our stuff as it is going to cost an arm and a leg to move it and then store it until we have figured out where to live.

If any of you have any ideas about jobs, I’d be very pleased to hear them by the way. The only absolutely fixed item is that whatever it is I’ve gotta be able to ski in the northern hemisphere in late January/February. That rules out schools!

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dr Quake's Chronicles Volume 7, Issue 3

Greetings from Wellington.

Dr Crumble and I enjoyed a fab dinner on Friday night at Logan Brown – one of the swisher restaurants in Windy Wellington. We were celebrating Neil’s last day at the Retail Institute. This means that on Monday morning I will have to remember that he is unemployed and stir myself out of bed to be on time for work. While he may well consult/do some contract writing for them in the coming weeks, for the moment at least he is a gentleman of leisure.

Actually it was a double celebration. I tendered my resignation from my role at Chilton at the start of December and with the company of my Board, have been sitting on the information for nearly two months. I announced my decision to staff at the first staff meeting, held on Wednesday and parents / caregivers were advised in writing in Thursday’s post. I had been hanging in my straps a bit. It is good to be out in the open.

I have a 6 month notice period but in discussions with the Board across December and January we have agreed that I will take some of my accrued annual leave during the notice period and that my last day will be Monday 11 April. An odd day perhaps, but it separates farewells from the Easter Services on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 April and conveniently coincides with the scheduling of the usual weekly Principal’s Assembly. Efficient and no fuss.

In anticipation of likely questions some of you might have…

Why – where has my decision come from? My sabbatical leave last year gave me the time and space to reflect on the things that really matter. My experiences here and across the Ditch in recent years have taught me powerfully that life is short and relationships matter very much. I have been reminded of who I am and what I value. My mother’s very dear sister Edith died in December 2009 and her remaining sister Lucy died in December 2010. My cousin Peter was murdered not long after our return from overseas. The long-term partner of a very dear friend of Neil and mine dropped dead totally unexpectedly during fourth term. In this context the facts that Mary de Araugo turns 95 on her next birthday and Neil, who was fifteen years older than me when we were married and unsurprisingly is still fifteen years older than me, is not far off approaching his 70th birthday have confronted me over the course of the year in 2010. Thus, compelling personal reasons have led me inexorably to a turning point after having completed six years as Principal of Chilton Saint James School.

Crumble and I intend to return to Australia to be closer to family and in particular, to my mother. We will base ourselves in Melbourne in the first instance and see what happens after that. I anticipate that we will be back in Melbourne by the end of April and maybe sooner.

I have had to overcome my terror of an immediate future without a job. Now that I have moved beyond fear, I actually feel quite liberated - I am still grappling with the question of what I want to do when I grow up! I have enrolled in the Experience Bank Program with Leadership Victoria – a program targeted at people like me in the 45 + age bracket and with substantial leadership experience already. I hope to meet a lot of interesting people through this and with luck, my future employer. I am not ready not to work but do realize that picking up a job may take some time.

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dr Quake’s Chronicles Volume 7, Issue 2

Sunday 23 January, 2011

Creakings from Wellington – oops I mean greetings from Wellington.

Crumble and I have been back in New Zuland for just over a week and are going for the Guinness Book of Records in terms of amassing trips to the chiropractor. We have groaned out of the blocks each morning and have probably worked more productively in our time.

Our chiro is a really great bird called Jane. Little by little she is getting all the bits back to where they are meant to be. It is not a comfortable process and really illuminates the aging process – which as we all know is better than the alternative but which is nevertheless disheartening in terms of limitations on performance and extended recovery times!

Looking back it was a fantastic trip to Canada. We certainly had a bit of everything in terms of weather – zero plus temperatures with rain (oh joy) at both Whistler and Fernie which turned snow to gelati and taxed legs sorely. Way way sub -20 temperatures at Fernie made it too cold to stay out long. But for the most part it was -10 to -15 which is very comfortable, heaps of snow, lots of powder days (yippee) and generally great skiing.

My downfall was in fact Fernie. Small enough for it to be absolutely sensible to ski in home at lunchtime, take off wet layers to dry and (herein I note was the trap for old players) scoff a handful of Vitamin I tablets (Ibuprofen for the uninitiated). This meant that, fortified by Vitamin I, Quake was able to ski on through the day and have heaps of fun. By contrast at Whistler, which is way too big to go home for lunch and given that Quake is way too disorganized to take drugs in her pockets in the morning for consumption later, as the day progressed and the bodily discomfort increased, I throttled back little by little. I suspect the Whistler approach saved the aging body whereas the Vitamin I break kept me harder at it on the snow and I am reaping the benefits with Jane the Chiro now!!

Jane the Chiro has suggested to me that after 400km of walking on the Camino in Spain mid 2010 and a month of skiing over Christmas, Crumble really has earned a holiday at the beach. I suspect that Jane is right!

We have had a run of sultry weather in the week or so we have been back, with a good bit of winter thrown in for good measure. The heater has been on more than once (and this in just a week!). The only good thing about the wintry weather is the clouds at sunset. Our view was very Turneresque last night. Pink to gold light on the undersides of heavy clouds and dull to gleaming water. It was yet another occasion that, having noticed the spectacle and been drawn from our seats at the dining table to the kitchen window to admire it, the sprint upstairs to grab a camera and try to capture it was just that little too late. Some nice pix but the optimal lighting had passed. Drat. That has happened to us so many times here – it is very often a beautiful spectacle out the kitchen window.

It is Wellington Anniversary Day tomorrow so a long weekend here. Yippee. Saw The King’s Speech this morning and may see something else tomorrow. Then it will be all systems go.

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dr Quake's Chronicles Vol 7 Iss 1

Sunday 9 January, 2011

Happy new year and greetings from Fernie – home of 30 feet of legendary powder snow annually. Or so they say.

We have enjoyed a white Christmas at Whistler and had a fantastic 14 days or so. A bit of everything – sun, snow, rain, snow, snow – the lot. A few powder days, one or two cement-snow days but for the most part heaps of snow and heaps of fun – 2m of snow fell over the course of a week over Christmas. It was amazing really.

I must say my scepticism about the Peak to Peak gondola, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics to connect the launching pads for the alpine areas of each of Whistler and Blackcomb directly, and thereby avoiding a long trip down one hill to the village and up the other hill, has been replaced by my eventual acknowledgement that it does serve a useful function. In fact we used it on more than one occasion to get over to Blackcomb to the Crystal Hut to get a fully loaded waffle for lunch! Now there’s a use for you!

Whistler of course was crawling with people after 26 December. Observation – heaps of really attractive dogs on holiday in Whistler too. Lots of poodle crosses and cute looking terriers. I was struck by the contrast with the dogs that seem to teem over New Zealand, or in the Hutt at least – which all seem to be jowly, deep chested, slavering pit bull types. Not the least bit cute anyway.

We did First Tracks at Whistler on our last day, which happened to be 1 January. We figured that everyone would have a hang over and so we would have less company and we were right. Only about 100 of us uploaded at 7.15am. It was a beautiful gondola ride, starting in darkness with Venus glowing brightly. Breakfast was way better than our usual rush job at home and then at the ring of the bell at about 8.00am we hit the snow. As lift after lift was gradually opened we were amongst the first down at each – fantastic. To cap it off it was a blue sky day so all in all a great last day.

January 2nd we transferred to Fernie. That involved a beautiful bus journey back down the hill to Vancouver, a flight from there to Cranbrook and an hour-long bus shuttle ride to the tiny ski village of Fernie. We haven’t been here for many years and it is little changed.

Snow has been falling ever since, except for uuugh – rain on Thursday and above zero temperatures. Not good. Since then however it has been dumping and the temperature has plummeted so it is all good. We look forward to the avalanche control guys getting things sorted and opening up all the high bowls very soon. They have been hampered by the very low cloud and poor visibility apparently. Need to be able to see where to let off their explosives and what effect the munitions have to guide their next steps. Apparently the White Pass chairlift was destroyed by an avalanche 4 years ago so they take the whole avalanche thing very seriously.

Over this past weekend we have met up with Brenda and Donna who we met at the Pari Centre in Italy in May. They live in Calgary and drove (along with Bruce, Brenda’s husband) to Fernie to ski with us. It was really great to meet up again.

The disappointment of the trip would have to be the beer. I had this recollection/vision/image of very distinct and tasty local beers. Kokanee very different from Kootenay and so on. This trip I have been struck by the soapy tastelessness of all the local drops and have resorted to old faithful Stella. Seems a crime to drink a Belgian beer in Canada but there you go. Crumble proposes the theory that this phenomenon of regression to the beer mean can be put down to the global beer hegemony of Fosters and Lion Nathan. He is probably right.

Nothing too esoteric to start the year, but that is the overview of what we have been up to!

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble

Dr Quake’s Chronicles V 6, Iss 15

Tuesday 21 December, 2010

Greetings from Whistler!

As you see we have headed off to skis again this Christmas. And having been slow out of the blocks upon our return from Spain, Switzerland was all too difficult and here we are in Canada by default. Easy peasy. No issues about the day of week that you arrive. No issues about the day of the week you check out. Etc etc. The Air NZ flight direct from Auckland to Vancouver is a great invention. No mucking around on LAX or SFO. No grappling with unfriendly US immigration types.

Funny how every year in early to mid December I reflect that I really should take some annual leave immediately after the end of term for a few days and then come back into the office to clear the end of year back log feeling fresh and able to be productive. Instead, I plod on and take way longer to get it all done than is reasonable. Every year. Same story. Old dog, new tricks.

We darted over to Melbourne for breakfast on Saturday 10 December. It was a rush job. Just time for dinner with a group of friends on the Friday night, breakfast with the de Araugo connections on Saturday, lunch with David and off again on Sunday morning early. It was good not to be on the red eye getting back into Wellington at midnight.

We left Wellington again on Friday 17 December. Last minute rush to get the cats to their accommodation and even more last minute rush to pack. Now that we are here in Whistler we are purchasing items of gear that did not make it to the suitcases!

We have just over a fortnight here and then we are heading to Fernie for a week or so. We haven’t been there for ages. Donna (the dancing lawyer) and Brenda (the engineer) the Calgary duo who we met at the Pari Centre in May are meeting us for the weekend in early January. We are looking forward to catching up with them and meeting their husbands. Then back to Vancouver, brief catch up with Joe and Jen Belanger before heading back to NZ and the office.

Our big news is that Crumble has tendered his resignation from his job as Principal Advisor to the CEO of the Retail Institute after two and a half years and having completed Stage 1 of the Literacy and Numeracy Training Implementation for the Retail industry in NZ. It’s a long story. It appears that John the CEO has scope to engage him as a consultant so things may not change all that much. We’ll see.

We look forward to a continuing white Christmas. Season’s greetings to all the Quake readership – stay tuned for Volume 7 coming to you soon.

That’s all for now from

Dr Quake & Dr Crumble