Woke up on Friday to the radio broadcasting the dawn service at the War Memorial in Canberra. Sombre, reflective, and surprisingly Christian in its content. For some reason, I wasn’t organised enough to end up at a dawn service myself: maybe next year. Breakfast was after a ride in my brother’s new car, a walk around Cronulla, a couple of (decaf) coffees at Grind, and then a more substantial feed at a cafe I’ve long been meaning to check out.
Back home again just in time to pick up Kel’s uncle and take him to the airport. He told a few stories of things that his father (Kel’s grandfather) had been through in the war – stories I hadn’t heard before. It’s too easy to think of war as something that happens on the other side of a television screen, and not see the lasting impact that it had on whole generations of soldiers, not least the families of the ones who didn’t return.
Some happier memories were forged when friends who are expecting their fourth child in a few weeks called in for a quick visit – it was good to see how some small kids can mostly stay out of trouble in our house without having to rearrange things too much. Some quiet DVD watching was abruptly replaced with loud white noise – their youngest daughter was playing with the stereo, and had hit the wrong button. She looked terrified when I walked into the room to fix it, even running into one corner of the room, and looking back at me with a genuine fear. Maybe I don’t have a “baby whisperer” skill with all of my friends’ kids!
Before too long, it was time for us to head to the airport: Kel’s cousin was turning 21, and there was a Saturday night party to attend, and another family breakfast on the Sunday morning. Another friend had graciously offered us a lift to the station, and we made it with plenty of time to spare – their two kids were telling me about Horton Hears a Who – a movie review from an infants schooler lends a unique perspective.
After a pre-flight laksa, we took our largish carry-on bags, the two boxes of donuts, and boarded what proved to be an uneventful flight. Between the bags, and not wanting to inconvenience the other passengers, we were last off the plane, where M met us at the airport with her mum, and took us home. As I think about it, this was my third or fourth car trip for the day in the back of a car – at least it was a four door!
Friday evening was spent with M and T, catching up a bit on what they’d been up to on holidays; it was good to see them, and they were glad to see the donuts (and us, of course).
It’s a glamorous life sometimes, interstate travel. This particular trip, I’d stashed away some old clothes, so I could learn a little about trench-digging from T and his brother and dad.
The scene you see in the picture is the after photo: we dug out a 400mm wide, 20mm deep trench through clay as the foundation to the retaining wall that he’s going to build around his pool.
I learned how to use a mattock properly (which is good, as I bought one the previous weekend), and also a whole new appreciation for my desk job.
Somewhere in between there, I made a great many coffees – I still have a long way to go to get consistent results with milk, though I think the unfamiliar Queensland milk, and the unfamiliar machine may have had something to do with it.
We spent the bulk of the rest of our time with Kel’s family, in one situation or another. I even spent some time at a cemetery – something that I don’t often do. A sombre place, where I stayed quiet, listening to the way that the others were interacting – there was a lot of happy reminiscing going on, which helped me understand the reason for the visit.
Arriving back home, thanks to the GPS in M’s car, we trekked back to the airport, were fast-tracked through checkin, and made it back home just in time for kel to do the readings at night church. And so, in a flurry of activity, the long weekend was over.