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