Hazel to Ada Church on May 4, 1995

The eleventh of a batch of eleven letters taken from Hazel's laptop.

Thursday 4 May 1995

Dear Maw ,

Just a quick note to thank you for my birthday card and letter. You certainly got in early. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm enclosing photos of Joshua's birthday party. We hired his old pre-school and a magician/clown who kept children and grown-ups alike enthralled. Made me think I should invest in a clown outfit, a few tricks and a live rabbit just to keep the peace around here. Joshua invited all the boys in his class and one girl who lives up the street. She kept Zoë company together with another boy's 3-year-old sister who cried most of the time because the clown was too frightening. This prompted one of the mothers to tell me about her disastrous 3 year old's party when all of them ended up in tears when the clown appeared and they had to send the clown away.

We have just returned from our inaugural camping trip en famille. We went with another 3 families and camped on a property on the banks of a normally wide-flowing river which had all but disappeared in the drought. We camped round a delightful log cabin with rain water tank, stove etc. It was bloody cold despite my new sleeping bag which was supposed to be snug to -8 degrees. After the first night there were a few murmurings about the snoring coming from our tent so Rob made himself as scarce as he could without freezing to death by hiding himself in the log cabin. He's been taking a new wonder nasal spray which considerably reduces the blast each night which some present found hard to believe. It was a lovely spot, the company was great -- the kids entertained themselves and the grownups spent hours on end reading the newspapers and doing the crossword. By the way, I visited the nearby town and saw what purported to be an original, signed oil painting by Maurice Utrillo -- a French post impressionist, painting in and around the 1930s. The asking price was $125. If it was what it purported to be, it should have been priced in the the tens of thousands of dollars. I enjoyed regaling the campers with this news and debating whether I should buy it, we all should buy it, whether I liked it or not and, unbelievably, who wanted the money anyway. I tell you we got pretty relaxed on this weekend. Now, of course I think we were all in some mental torpor brought on by the rigours of camping and it was a good job we were only staying a few days.

My sleeping has improved but is still very erratic. I thought I had found a cure through some stress-relieving exercise but the cure wore off. I had a mammogram last week which was clear. I have to take the X-rays to the surgeon for a check-up next week and I am due to start work the same week It's 2 days a week and it remains to be seen whether the job can be done in 2 days. I've put on a bit of weight -- I'm nearly 10 & a half stone now -- the heaviest I've ever been -- the result of a life without exercise to speak of. I'm also wearing glasses for reading now -- reading the street directory had become impossible and they help to hide the wrinkles. My hair has thickened up and grown and can be gelled into shape.

Rob's brother Andy has just been on the phone. His wife is about to have her first baby at age 45. And you thought I was old.

Hope all goes well with you. My painting teacher has an exhibition opening next week in the city comprising a series of paintings he did on his travels overseas last year. We are going to the opening. I've seen all the paintings already. Wish I could afford one (perhaps I should have bought that Utrillo). I had better close. It's midnight. Even Rob's asleep.

It's now several days later and as I haven't printed this out I'll add a bit. I have had 2 days back at work and everyone was very welcoming. They are a nice bunch of people and the work is very interesting. It's commercial litigation which means court deadlines. I have an informal job share arrangement with another woman whom I like a lot (which is great but I don't get to see her -- she comes in on the 3 days I'm away and we share our work) and there are going to be a lot of hiccups and stroppy clients and it may end up being unworkable. We'll see. Joshua is due to have his adenoids out on the 16th of this month. The specialist reckons his breathing has been 60% blocked by his enlarged adenoids. Ever since our days in the States I've been saying they should come out so I can't wait. By the way I drank a lot of champagne got very light headed and bought a painting from my teacher at his exhibition. Rob encouraged me to do it -- for my birthday. I think I should print and really close now before this turns into a journal. Hope you are really well. Love to Auntie Ivy.

All our love, Hazel, Rob, Joshua and Zoë.

Last Updated 10 December 2000