Christmas newsletter 2018

I didn’t do more than a very few Christmas cards this year. This post is a somewhat enhanced version of a belated newsletter.

For general readers, this is written initially for friends and family, who are apt to say, “That’s a great blog you have there, Brian. I sometimes read it when I’ve got nothing better to do!” (Actual quote.) However, general readers may find it of interest.

Sadly, the year began with the death of my beloved brother-in-law Ken Burn, who died early on the last day of 2017. Family, the community and people who knew or worked with Ken from near and far celebrated his life at a funeral service on 8 January 2018 at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Chinchilla. Subsequently my younger sister Lorna moved into the independent living facilities which are part of the aged care and hospital complex in Miles.

Ken was spirited to the last, and will be much missed. I plan to post about his life early in the new year.

I think Ken’s fueral was the only time we’ve seen elder brother Ron and his wife Lorna this year.

March saw my older sister Doris and husband John visit down under from Mississauga, Canada, probably for the last time. Here they are with my ‘little’ brother Len and me:

Margot and I took Doris out to visit Lorna in Miles. Here is Lorna’s place:

Here’s Lorna in her favourite spot:

On the way back we called in to see cousin Eric Bahnisch and Merilyn in Chinchilla.

We brought Lorna back to Brisbane so she could join the Brisbane Bahnisch clan gathering. Here are the sisters together:

In our family I am the boy in the middle. One older and one younger of each gender.

Early in June, Margot and I undertook our hot ballooning adventure. Son Alex had bought his mum a ticket for her birthday the year before. I thought, if she is going to die I had better join her. Here is the balloon firing up pre-dawn near Canungra:

From memory, about 24 people fitted into that small basket. Here we float above the Fassifern Valley as the sun rises:

Late winter and spring until November were cruel weatherwise, hot and dry. There are always flowering trees and shrubs in Brisbane, but this year, come jacaranda time, the flowers did not appear. Weeks late, they struggled into life. Here’s the tree next door in the second week of October:

Here’s a tree, normally among the best in Brisbane, two weeks later near the creek down from our place:

You can still see through it, which was disappointing. On the lower right is a frangipani coming to life, which flowered later everywhere, in glorious white, cream, orange or pink. Here’s a pink one on a cloudy day:

It rained in November, and everything exploded into a stupendous display, most notably the poincianas:

They were probably about a month early for Brisbane. They are foreign, but really are a signature tree of Brisbane. Here’s a photo from the Lady Brisbane site:

I know they flourish at least as far north as Townsville.

My yard work has increased by about 40 per cent this year. I now work on three two and a half-acre blocks in Brookfield, as well as the 10-acre one in Carbine Road, Upper Brookfield where I’ve been helping for 22 years.

This is a corner of one of the Brookfield yards, with the photo taken in October, before the rain:

We water and fertilise.

Correspondingly my blogging output has slowed, with around 160 posts so far this year. I was a bit proud of Suffer the children and Our legacy to the children. The climate contrarians in my family will please themselves.

Margot and I try to stay fit with exercise, stretching, walking up hills, and building core body strength. Here’s a project in the garden undertaken almost solely by Margot:

We removed the apple blossom hawthorne, took out the soil, put in stones, brought in pots and planted Little Bibi. She also cleaned up, fixed and oiled the wall, being the carpenter as well as the cook in our family.

Apart from walks in the hills around here, Margot has taken to aqua aerobics, with floatie and hand paddles:

Margot has also joined a second choir, the Bluebirds, in addition to Loud and Clear. Bluebirds also has a smaller madrigals group, which Margot has joined. That’s all in addition to private singing lessons.

She also meets her sister Jan, who comes up to Brisbane from Wellington Point to attend lunchtime concerts and other performances. From time to time Margot makes the journey down to Wellington Point, visits Jan at home from time to time, and stays in regular contact with her brother John and Gay, who live on the other side of Ashgrove. I mow their lawn when Gay doesn’t get there first, which is often.

The last Osborne family gathering we had was at Gay and John’s place in July 2017 to celebrate John’s 80th. Unfortunately we left our cameras home that day. We remembered when we made the trek to see brother Peter and Joan at their Bribie Island bolt hole:

In November we also went to see sister Lorna in Miles and took her to lunch at the Club Hotel in Chinchilla. Here we are near the Big Watermelon:

Just before Christmas we attended a party where Sally Fraser, one of my former work colleagues, brought together people who were around at the time when I was involved in school libraries, so we could catch up and yak about the good old days. Here we are with Judy Hunter AM who exercised leadership from her position in a private school in Townsville:

Thankyou Peter Smith, down from Ingham, for the photo.

My son Mark has been staying with us since the second week of October, a refugee from high real estate prices in Sydney. Next year he is looking at a gig with Griffiths University in Queensland. He’ll be replaced at our place by our son Alex, who has a good job (calls himself a software engineer) with Fugro Roames, and is saving to buy a unit. We look forward to seeing my daughter Laura and granddaughter Shani, who are coming to stay in January. Laura is employed part time by the University of South Australia, currently on long term secondment as a research assistant at the Australian Centre for Child Protection. Shani, apart from learning karate and other endeavours, with a friend took an intiiative which resulted in a new school policy on waste and the use of plastic.

I haven’t mentioned that we spent a weekend with John Davidson and his good wife at Ballina (camera left at home again), and attended a number of amazing cultural events with them.

So life is good. At our place we try to cultivate four emotions worth having – loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. And there is never a problem about how to fill the hours.

We hope you are having a pleasant and rewarding Christmas/New Year and wish you health and happiness for 2019.

6 thoughts on “Christmas newsletter 2018”

  1. Please feel free to comment on this post. It’s out there, not a protected Bahnisch family patch.

    A couple from me.

    The big watermelon is beside the main highway, but actually is not all that prominent. If you looked the other way, you could miss it. Chinchilla is of course famous for watermelons and mounts an annual festival.

    The Sheena’s Gold hedge I showed is actually a bit rough because it had about a week’s growth on it when I took the photo. It represents about a quarter of the hedges on the place, mostly Murraya, or Mock Orange. It’s almost impossible to get the whole place looking ship shape at the same time.

  2. I just wanted to add that Grafton is said to be the best climate for jacarandas. In Brisbane they are near the northern edge of their range.

    When I were a young fella, jacaranda trees here lost their leaves entirely for a couple of months in winter. Then in September you would have a burst of flowers, and at university, when we had only end-of-year exams, people said it was time to study. In fact I used to wait until the flowers fell and then the leaves started to appear, which happened about a month later. The flowers were usually denuded by late October storms.

    Mark says he can’t remember when the leaves fell off completely. This year for the first time new leaves started to appear with the flowers, with the old ones falling off at the same time.

    It’s all wrong.

  3. Should mention that Sally Fraser is AM also. In the Australian awards system it goes like this.

    Someone has to nominate you outlining why you deserve it. Then three other people have to supply references to verify your contribution in your main field of endeavour and to the community in at least two other fields.

    Then if you are judged to be one of the 340 that year, the authorities contact you to see whether you will accept the award. At that point normally it will be a big surprise to the awardee, who will wonder who has been doing what.

    Can be fun. I never made any contribution to the community outside my work, so I was never in danger.

  4. But you are making that kind of contribution now, Brian, so you will be “in danger” until you pull up stumps.


  5. When I were a lad, only toffs were considered. But me mam used to say “Clean oop ‘ole in road every mornin’ in case toff come past, see state of ‘ole, and raise our rent cos not looked after proper.”

    Toffs went on boring committees “Better ‘Oles in Road for Deserving Poor” and such, good decent charity, Fallen Women, Dreaded Booze, then got medals for fine works. As it should be.

    Meself I was never sent down mines as lad, all mines within 10 miles of ‘ole in road ‘ad been converted into bijou subterranean flats and bedsits for lower middle income folk – looky boogers – to swank around sayin’ we got place on first level, not like those down fifth level, mineshaft lift gets stuck sometimes at fourth. Bloody airs and graces. We called ’em “mineshaft toffs” but weren’t really toffs, joost a nickname like, they paid higher rent on mineshaft flats than my dad ‘ad to pay on our ‘ole in road.

    Aye, we were ‘appy.
    No use complainin’, like.

  6. Sorry, ‘ave stook me childhood reminisce in wrong bloody place, me mam always said if you didn’t ‘ave big thick neck like yer dad yer ‘ead’d coom toombling off ‘n fall in bloody ditch yer daft booger.

    She were right.
    ‘appy times.

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