10 May 1948 - 14 September 1998

1992 Christmas Message

The following was our 1992 message to friends on the Internet.

From bobm Sat Dec 19 11:28:23 1992
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1992 11:28:23 +1100 (EST)

                                           2189 Sharon Road,
                                Menlo Park, California 94025
                                              (415) 854-8115
Dear Friends,

Here we are in sunny California. Robert is a visiting scholar at the Stanford Business School for the academic year, and we're renting the house here in Sharon Heights until August '93. Hazel is taking a break from lawyering and looking after son (3 1/2) and Zoë (2 on Christmas Day), although son is at Menlo Montessori three days a week.

The year started with a holiday at Rob's family's beach- house in the bush near the back (ocean) beach at Sorrento, south of Melbourne, but the weather was lousy -- only a day's swimming -- although Zoë, nothing daunted, threw her little self at any water in sight. (She'd only been walking a few weeks.) Son had what might have been a catastrophic encounter with water when, on the drive down to the beach-house, he'd fallen in a pool at Rob's sister's (Judy's) mother-in-law's. Fortunately, Rob had almost anticipated the event (he'd passed over a Super-8 movie camera to Hazel moments before), and son was only wet and surprised -- he hadn't tried to breathe in the few seconds of submersion before his father plucked him out.

The drive back to Sydney was in the new second-hand Ford Laser (aka Mazda 323), which was barely large enough for the tribe's belongings. The air-conditioning was welcome, as was a break in Canberra over-night at friends' (thanks, Denise & Michael).

Hazel had only returned to work at the Australian Government Solicitor's Sydney office the previous October, so our Melbourne trip was short. Hazel is permanent part-time, so her work day went from 9am to 2:30pm, at least nominally -- often she's work to 5 or 6pm, possible because Joanna, our daily nanny, would willingly work late, even picking son up from day care and Hazel up from the city. (When Rob complained to Hazel that she was only paid part-time, yet worked full-time, her reply was that full-time lawyers work to 8 or 9pm plus weekends.)

In the two terms before his sabbatical, Rob worked hard: four subjects, including two news ones (Games Theory and Macroeconomics). Game Theory was one he'd been trying to get up for a couple of years, and it was a great success. Macro had been taught before at the AGSM, of course, but not by Rob. It's an ill wind ... and Rob was able to use the newspaper reports of the recession and its aftermath to tie his lectures to real-world events.

In March, Rob was the co-chair and convenor of a session at an international congress on drugs policy in Melbourne (he took son down for the two days) and later a keynote speaker at a conference at Tooronga Park Zoo in Sydney on market methods to protect the environment, which led to a large photo portrait in the Weekend Australian.

After trying to let the house in Balmain furnished, we thought we'd succeeded three weeks before departure, but the tenants -- we call them the "Golden Girls" -- four divorcees with their own belongings, wanted less of ours, so our last week was spent storing almost all our worldly goods and chattels in the ceiling, and trying to sell the Ford and Rob's 14-year-old VW Golf. We succeeded in all three on the last morning, and it wasn't until son's plaintive, "Where's my little brown teddy bear?" at the airport that we realised our self-congratulating in the taxi had been premature. (Teddy turned up somewhere in the empty house, and was mailed to California by the friendly agent; thanks, Angelo.) Thanks, too, to Anita, who helped us in those last frantic days, and Rob's mother, Joan, who'd visited too.

Hazel's family had never met son and Zoë face-to-face, so we flew to London. (Two legs, with only two hours in LAX -- the trip is a blur -- son was OK when allowed to wonder around the cabin, but neither was thrilled about seatbelts and confinement, or sleeping.) Hazel's sister, Pat, met us at Heathrow. After a few days with her in Hove, we set off in her VW Passat (thanks, Pat) for Hazel's mother, Ada, in Ringwood, Rob's first cousin once removed, Peter, outside Cheltenham, and Hazel's other sister, Joan (and family) in Liskeard. After two weeks, Rob flew off to San Francisco, and Hazel and Pat and kids followed two weeks later, after a visit to London and friends there.

The house here is great: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, large back yard, together with pool and Jacuzzi. Rob found it from Balmain via the Internet and a database of off-campus housing on a Stanford computer, and a friend checked it out on the ground (thanks, Steve, who also helped build a child-proof fence around the pool with Rob before the kids arrived). It's a ten-minute bike ride from campus, which Robert had been making until the rains arrived (and his gout flared). The B School has been generous with an office and a computer (thanks, Mike), and other friends have been generous with a bike, a 1965 BMW, and household goods (thanks, Steve & Nancy, Harlan & Sarah, Stan & MaryAnne, Dave & Deb, and Vivian). We had a house-warming in November with 40-odd adults and 20 kids. Apart from Pat, friends Denise & Henry & David visited from Texas, and Ada and her sister Ivy will arrive for Christmas. With Pat we visited Yosemite and Nepenthe and Monterrey. With Denise, the City and Berkeley. With friends David & Talia & Lev, Point Reyes. In the New Year we'll be visiting Santa Fe for two weeks, where Rob will visit the SF Institute, driving across to enjoy the scenery. Rob will attend conferences in Anaheim and St. Louis as well.

We're due to return to Sydney in August, after a stimulating and recharging experience in California. How long will son's American accent last? What will Zoë recall of it all? Stay tuned.

Best wishes for a happier and more prosperous 1993,

R/Bob (& Hazel).

In the meantime, please feel free to email me, Robert.

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Last Updated 5 March 1999