Christmas 2018
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Diary entry for Tuesday, 4 December 2018 Complete exposure details


The year's coming to an end again, and with it time for another Christmas message.


Will we ever finish the house? The “verandah” has made no progress, but at the end of last year we took advantage of a free state government funded Domestic Building Dispute Resolution service. Hey, if it's free, it can't be bad, can it?

Yes, it can. They sent an “assessor” to look at the problems. He's a builder, but clearly he's neutral, right? Wrong. Firstly he was incompetent—he didn't even look at some of the issues, but at something completely different—and secondly he came out fully in agreement with the builder. If that wasn't bad enough, DBDRV rejected my complaint about his behaviour out of hand. Yes, we could have continued to court, but with that assessment we would have had an even harder struggle. Life's too short. We'll put it down to experience.

We're still thinking of changes in the kitchen—in part to replace the useless equipment installed by the builder—but then there's another problem: where do you find people to do the work? Time drags on.


The year didn't start well. On 14 January Yvonne had a serious horse riding accident, with multiple broken bones, and spent a couple of days in hospital. It was three months before she was able to ride again.

But that wasn't all. In the course of treatment, they took multiple MRI scans, and one of them included, mainly by coincidence, her pancreas. The surgeon didn't like the look of it at all. Could that be pointing towards a developing pancreatic cancer? Yvonne had to go to Melbourne twice for EUS and FNA. What does that mean? The specialist had to think too: Endoscopic UltraSound and Fine Needle Aspiration, a kind of biopsy tool. As it turned out, she didn't need the FNA, and after the second EUS six months later it turned out that there was no acute danger, but we'll have to keep an eye on it.

Not to be outdone, our GP suspected that the nature and extent of the fractures pointed to osteoporosis, so still more examinations, this time confirming yes, indeed, Yvonne has osteoporosis, something that can be treated relatively easily now.

Greg didn't do quite as badly, but he's been having issues with his eyes which worry him, pointing towards possible posterior vitreous detachment. He had a visit to an ophthalmologist last year, and he was given kind words and an exhortation not to go bungee jumping, but he has the feeling that any kind of exertion could trigger the symptoms. At least, that's the excuse he's using for not doing anything requiring any kind of exertion, including—to Yvonne's chagrin—horse riding.


Yvonne didn't take the enforced pause in her riding activity with good grace, and as soon as the doctor allowed, she was back on horseback again, this time with an “air vest”, something like an airbag for horses: when thrown off the horse, the thing inflates and cushions the fall. Within 6 weeks she had tried it out, discovering that it's not perfect, but at least she wasn't seriously injured. After that she promised not to go off riding by herself any more. And by the end of the year the effects of the accidents had pretty much completely worn off.

In parallel, our friend Chris Bahlo has been getting more and more involved in reenactments of mediaeval horse riding, including jousting. We hardly recognize her:
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The horsemen round Kryal Castle prove to be able to maintain themselves in the international arena. One of them, Cliff Marisma, won a tournament at the Château du Plessis-Bourré in France earlier in the year, and he's now giving lessons to Chris and Yvonne. Greg is wondering how long it will be until Yvonne needs another gas cylinder for her air vest. Yvonne sees it more positively, and it seems with some justification: a friend saw her on Carlotta recently and asked if she had a new horse.

Of course, there are changes in our menagerie. Margaret Swan twisted Yvonne's arm and persuaded her to sell Keldan, her favourite horse, to her. It's not as bad as it seems: Keldan will stay at Chris' Narrawin Stud, and Yvonne can ride him, within reason, any time she wants. So he's still around.

Our animal household hasn't changed much. Keldan is “gone”, and that's about the only difference. But Yvonne is already thinking about another cat as a companion for Piccola, who will turn 10 years old at the end of the year.

The dogs are doing well, though they had a run-in with a big male Eastern Grey Kangaroo on our own property (the “house forest” at the west end) in early December. Nobody came out of it well. Nikolai has quite a large wound which is taking its time to heal, and we've had to put a shirt on him to stop him licking off the scab:
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Leonid and Yvonne (who was foolhardy enough to try to intervene) also ended up with some less serious scratches. Will that teach them? Not a hope. We'll have to be extremely careful before we let the dogs down there again.


In November we had a visit from Ruth Viebrock, whom we met in Germany 14 years ago. That proved to be a very pleasant three weeks, and Ruth certainly got her money's worth: a number of events occurred during her stay, to the point that we didn't even get all our sightseeing done. We can see her showing up here again some time in the not-too-distant future.

Yvonne is also still painting when time permits. We're certainly not short of things to do, and Greg has a backlog going back more than a year. We wouldn't want it any other way.

And that's the summary of the year. As ever, there's a blow-by-blow description in Greg's diary.

Best wishes for the coming 12 months from Carlotta, Greg, Leonid, Nikolai, Piccola, Valeta and Yvonne.

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