25 May 2014


It is, surely, a sign of approaching senility when a man who announces his distaste for travel to his fiancée, declares his wish never to change his routine, emphasises his determination to stay at home, speaks of his desire, not simply to visit his relations in America – that, after all, might well be credited to a praiseworthy familial piety – but as well to do so via Tonga and Samoa.


That, at least, may have been Susan’s view.


We did it that way, anyway.  I think it actually cost more (a bit); certainly took longer.


But I enjoyed it – even the delays.


Such as our departure.  I don’t remember exactly what time we were supposed to leave Auckland – maybe 10 in the morning.  In fact we didn’t leave until something like 4 in the afternoon.  The reason?  Air Pacific – which is now called Fiji Airways – had only one aeroplane – and something was wrong with it (our return flight was by Air Pacific but on a Qantas ’plane) – I don’t remember what.  The engine dropped off or something J  Anyway, they had to fly in a part – or perhaps a new engine – so we could leave.


Which we did, landing in Tonga and then Samoa, briefly, going on to Honolulu.  Sue especially remembers chatting with an American whom we picked up in Tonga.  He was in charge of something like the insurance for the King of Tonga, lived in Honolulu, and had to fly to Tonga every three weeks or so.  He was, she says, pretty drunk by the time we left Tonga.


We had to stay overnight in Honolulu, because our flight arrived in the evening, after the last flight to Hilo – and doing so was a wonderful thing, because we stayed with Ken Rehg.


Ken had been one of my closest friends when I was a linguistics graduate student.  Most of the rest of our fellow students were no longer in Honolulu; Ken was.  Ken picked us up at the airport, bedded us down in his house, and drove us to the University the next day.  It was a trip of many reconnexions – in the linguistics department itself (George Grace, Bob Blust, and I think I ran into Anatole Lyovin, who had been my teacher and was now a Russian Orthodox priest); and Sue and I wandered around the campus a bit, reminiscing.


We had only a short time there, however.  In the afternoon we were off to Hilo.


This also was reconnexion time.  We stayed at my father and mother’s house in Hilo – but an astonishingly wonderful reconnexion was with Greg Trifonovitch.


What can I say about Greg?  If I almost owe my Christianity to Candace, I do, perhaps, also to Greg and his Baptist church.  Greg had been a graduate student when I was, though a couple of years ahead of me.  In the two years from September, 1968 until September, 1970, my life had pretty much gone to the dogs – and come back up again.  As I have written earlier, I came to Christ at the very end of December, 1969.  Quite apart from my expectation, September, 1970 saw me return to the University as a student – and a new Christian.  I remember how excited I was to tell Greg (who I knew to be a Christian) that I had become a Christian.  His reaction was little disconcerting: “What?!  That’s impossible!  My adult Sunday School class has been praying for you for two years!”  How little our faith may be that our prayers will be answered.


My first few years as a Christian were ones in which I struggled through many uncertainties, since I had had no Christian background to work against.  Greg, again, with his wife Bev – now gone to be with the Lord – was my great help and support.


And when, in the summer of 1974-5, I was called to Yap to give instruction on the new orthography we had developed, I stayed at Greg’s house in Honolulu both going and coming, Greg advised me to put a proposal to them to hire me to help.  In March, 1976, when Sue, Johnny, and I moved to Yap, it was to do a job which would not have happened had Greg not encouraged me.


So it was that, when we went to the Big Island, we, knowing that Greg and Bev had retired there, determined to see him.


We drove to their house south of Hilo – ‘volcano side’ – one evening, past what Sue still thinks of as the ‘monkey trees.’  Large tracts of bush, these were, which were inhabited by tree frogs which made the most amazing noise.  I think I recall we went to see Greg twice, once in an evening, and once during the day.  The day trip was because we had heard that C-J – Charles-James Nice Bailey (that is genuinely his full name) – was living near Greg.


He was!  He lived in a house shaped like a large letter ‘O’ – rooms all ’round, with a central atrium or area – and the rooms mostly were filled with books.  C-J was a memory from when Susan and I had been together in Honolulu.  He was surprised to find we were Catholics now.  C-J, a native of the American South (South Carolina, perhaps, or Virginia) was Greek Orthodox.


And we spent two or three nights on my father’s farm in Pa’auilo, with my sister.  Her son Kaleo made us the most amazing coffee – from the beans on their coffee plantation, which he roasted in a frypan there on the stove.


San Francisco – well, the connexion with the flight to Chico was supposed to be enough time.  It was – barely.  We arrived at San Francisco airport – where we had never been before – to find that gate to the small ’plane to Chico was nearly a mile distant.  We were told to take a taxi.  I didn’t know where one was, nor exactly how to instruct one.  We ran.  We got there to find someone telling us to hurry!  Hurry!  so we did, and made it.  I don’t remember when I was last so panicked.


And in Chico we spent a week.  There was far too much that happened, in that one week, to retail it.  Peter took us to Oroville, where he and I had lived through our last years in intermediate school and our high school years.  We went to Mass.  Edna, Kathleen, and Kathleen two sons Zach and Joshua came and spent – what?  a couple of nights? – in a motel.


And Candace came out from New Jersey.  Susan had last seen Candace in, I think, 1982; I had last seen her in 1970.  This was in a way the height of the trip, for both of us.


San Francisco, a less panicked flight to Honolulu, Air Pacific to Samoa – where we had to overnight at Aggie Grey’s – and wandered around Apia.  Stop in Fiji on the way back, and home.


I have gone into some detail about this trip.  I confess I do not find descriptions of people’s travels interesting, and, except for those of you whom we saw, do not expect this post to interest many.  But it was important, I think, for me in that it brought me back to much of my early life in a way that will not likely happen again.  I have been asked, at times, whether I would want to go to Yap again.  I have said I would not wish to – and that is probably fundamentally true, except for this: that a large portion of my adult life was oriented around Yap, its language, and its people.  Yet … it is different from what the trip to Hawai’i and California in 2003 were.  This is partly because the people I connected with on that trip were my family and persons I had known when quite young; but partly, also, because it had not, after all, been all that long since I had seen some of them – my brother in 1997, for example; Edna and Kathleen in 2002.  Sue and I left Yap thirty years ago.  Some of the people we knew then are still there; many have moved on, or died.  I do not know whether I would not simply find such a trip more upsetting than anything.  I shall not worry about it, in any case; it is unlikely to happen J


One other thing happened to us whilst we were in Hilo, however; Adele returned to Pukekohe from Martinborough.



17 May 2014

Blogging by e-mail

I have, I hope, set up my blog so that I can send posts to it by e-mail (using a secret address J - those of you who are authors may apply to me to find out the top-secret address!!).

I am hoping that this will make it more convenient for me to post – possibly more frequently.  I am trying out this one sitting at home, whilst Susan is at an Opus Dei thing in Auckland.

In order to put some news into it, I will comment on the recent stressful business of FAR.  FAR stands for Faculty Administrative Review – and perhaps the link I have put in on the word FAR above.  FAR is definitely going to mean a major job change for me.  I have worked for the Business School (Faculty of Commerce as it was first called, later Faculty of Business and Economics) as System Admin since 2 December, 1985.  From sometime in September this year, I will be doing one of the following:

-          Working for ITS – the central IT group for the University

-          Working for some other part of the University (unlikely)

-          Be made redundant and trying to find work – at my age, almost certainly contracting rather than permanent – somewhere

The FAR project is affecting administrative personnel, but they are also including computer support people, because the University is centralising its computer people.  I won’t know my fate until sometime after mid-July, when they make some decisions.

Anyway, this is my first test post, and just to make it more fun, I will include a picture here, to see if it also gets posted:

This is what the union are using.  The majority of admin staff are, indeed, women.  Oh, yes, and in the above list, in either of the first two cases my pay would drop.


03 May 2014


Naturally, it was not reasonable for Susan to go to the canonisation ceremony for Saint Josemaría.  It was to be held in Rome - much too expensive to consider such a trip.

I said she should go.  There was to be a group going from New Zealand.  They would be housed inexpensively in Rome in a place called Domus Croata (ok, that site is in Croatian; it's the only one I could find!).  I knew we would have to borrow the money, but I wanted her to go.

I did want her to go for her own reasons; I had, however, an ulterior motive.  I had seen my brother in 1997 (I think it was), when he and his wife visited us in New Zealand.  I had discovered something then that I had not realised theretofore: I discovered that I loved my brother.

'Discovered' is the right word.  I had last seen my parents and my sister in, I think, 1980, during the trip I had made whose consequence was that we returned to New Zealand in 1984.  When I last saw my brother, I don't know; perhaps not since 1966, when Edna and I moved to Hawai'i.  At that time I was 23 years old - still not much more than a child.

Of course one loves one's brother and sister, barring any positive reason not to; nevertheless, at 23, I don't think it is a matter one gives much thought.  And during the years between then and 1997, I had done a fair amount of growing - perhaps, one may hope, maturing.  Still, realising that I had a brother whom I loved came as a bit of a shock.

Sue was talking of going to Rome.  I decided that I wanted to go to Hawai'i.  I wanted to see my father and mother - by the time I went (late September, 2002) ages 88 and 87, respectively - and my sister.  I hoped that Peter could come to Hilo to meet with me.

The event was infinitely better than I could have hoped.  Peter did come - and so did Edna and our daughter, Kathleen.  Although there was a sort of official state of forgiveness, of letting bygones be bygones, between me and my ex-wife and our child, I felt in need of sealing matters with a meeting, a touch of hands, a look of the eyes.

So it happened.  Sue went to Rome.  She may like to post separately about her experience there.  I believe they had only two weeks for the whole trip, and part of the time, of course, was spent in travelling to and from New Zealand.  I believe they were able to visit Florence - Sue can say.

The experience for me was an unexpected joy.  I stayed at my parents' house in Hilo.  Peter, I believe, stayed in a motel somewhere.  But we saw one another quite a bit.  And Edna and Kathleen stayed in a hotel.  We met in the hotel's bar, had only a few hours together.  I had a little over a week in Hilo and had to come home.

The impact of the visit may be measured by the fact of what I said to Susan, when she and I were together again in Pukekohe.  I told her that I wanted - insisted, in fact - that she and I go - together, this time - to Hawai'i - and to California - the following year.

19 April 2014

Holy Saturday

From Liturgy of the Hours Office of Readings for Holy Saturday morning - from an unknown Fourth Century writer:
Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

13 April 2014


I was quite disappointed when 2000 rolled around.  They called it the new millennium.  It wasn't, of course; the new millennium began on 1 January 2001.  I didn't waste time arguing, however.  Only the first day I went back to work - Wednesday 5 January, 2000 - I took the same old diesel 'bus; wore the same baggy clothing; worked in the same buildings of concrete and steel.  For those not born in 1942, my disappointment may be surprising.  They had not seen futuristic drawings of 2000, with people in skin-tight clothes, commuting by personal helicopter, working in sweeping-line skyscrapers.

Oh, OK, I wasn't really disappointed.  But it is true that for one born in the first half of the twentieth century, there was a magic about the idea of "the year 2000."

2000 did bring a big change to us, however.  Adele turned 18.  At 18 she could go job hunting with the dole (what Americans call unemployment insurance) as a backstop.

Close friends of ours, to whose children our children had been close, had moved to Wellington years before. Adele asked them if she could stay with them whilst she hunted for a job.  Great!  they said.  So she did.  It did not, in fact, take her long to find work as a barista - hard job, on your feet all day, punishing to the wrist and elbow joints - but a job.

It was, in a way, a major event in my and Susan's lives.  We had been married two years when Johnny was conceived.  From that point to September, 2000, our world had revolved around our children.  Now they were not with us any longer.

Not physically, at least.  I think your parenting never ends.  A few years later Adele was to return to live with us for a while.  But in a deeper way, we have, I know, continued to be of great importance in our children's lives - and I do not merely mean emotionally.  This will, I believe, continue all our lives - and, I am convinced, after our lives on earth have ended, when, please God! we will be in a position to intercede for them.

Nevertheless, things were very different now.  And there was a danger we faced, a danger that every couple faces when the last child leaves home.  I have seen it more than once.  The couple's complete focus and concentration has been on their children.  Now they are gone.  What do they do as a couple?.

Sometimes they drift apart.  I don't know that I ever consciously thought of this.  Nevertheless, I did something that was as though I had thought about it.

I go on retreat each year.  You are encouraged, on retreat, to make resolutions.  These may be like "New Year's Resolutions."  They may be fairly vague and general, and, if so, are likely to mean not very much in the way of action.  We are encouraged to make concrete resolutions.

On retreat in 2001, I prayed about this whole business of my relation to Susan.  I came home from retreat and told her that I wanted us to determine genuinely to seek to orient our lives to one another.  In particular, whenever one of us had an activity to do that was away from home, the other, if possible, would accompany him or her.  Susan, at that time, was involved in the Creative Memories scrapbooking activity, which took her into Auckland one evening a month.  All right, I would meet her there after work, and go home with her. I, on the other hand, had my orchestra activities.  Susan would attend all the concerts, some of the rehearsals.

And so forth.  We have done this since then.  I think it has been of great importance to us.

In 2002, however, we did something that was, on the surface, at least, not at all in harmony with this resolution.  We took separate vacations, and to virtually opposite sides of the world.

05 April 2014


Well, Supernumerary :-)

Susan came home from her Opus Dei retreat in August, 1999.  I seem to recall her being a little hesitant in telling me what was on her mind.  But she did.  She wanted to become a member of Opus Dei.

I should clarify here that there are (for lay persons) three types of Opus Dei membership:

Cooperators are not, strictly speaking, members of Opus Dei.  They are involved in some regular way with Opus Dei.  They need not be Catholics, or even Christians.  Typical cooperators go to Opus Dei retreats, pray for "The Work," perhaps contribute financially.  Susan and I were Cooperators.

Numeraries (and Numerary Assistants and Associates) are celibate.  Clearly this was not what Susan meant.

Supernumeraries - so-called, not because they are somehow superior, but because they are in addition to the numeraries - may be - often are - married.  They live the same sort of life as any other Catholic lay person - except that they have norms they are expected to follow, including certain patterns of daily prayer, attendance weekly at Opus Dei meetings, attendance at an annual week of theological education - and they have two bishops.

Most Catholics are under the authority of the bishop of their diocese.  His is the government of the diocese, and he is the primary pastor, in Christ, of Catholics in that diocese - lay persons, clergy, religious (i.e. nuns, monks, sisters and brothers in religious orders).

Opus Dei is run as a 'personal prelature.'  It is, so far, the only body in the Church that is so organised.

'Prelate' is just another name, in this context, for the bishop.  Opus Dei has its own bishop - currently Javier Echevarria.  The 'prelature' of the bishop of Auckland - Patrick Dunn - is the diocese of Auckland - extending from a little south of Pukekohe to North Cape.  His prelature is a certain area.

The prelature of Bishop Javier is the persons of Opus Dei.  That is why it is called a 'personal prelature.'

Susan wished to become a supernumerary of Opus Dei.  Her bishop would be Bishop Javier, except for matters directly relating to the diocese, in which case Bishop Pat would be her bishop.

It was not a difficult decision for us to make.  It was, I must say, a little scary.  It would (has :-)) involve extra expenditure of time and money.  Our lives would have to become, to an extent, organised more around Opus Dei.

I was delighted.  I knew it would be good for both of us.

I knew it would be good for me - for my relationship with Susan has, through our marriage, not always been characterised by the freedom that should have been its nature.  There have been times when I have felt that Susan did something because she thought she must simply follow me.

Which meant not only that she was not free; neither was I.  Both of us have, I think, been freed, not from one another, but for one another in this.

I am still only a Cooperator.  There are several reasons for this, but I have not felt any strong pressure to seek full membership.  We have both been deeply blessed and helped by our respective memberships.

Susan joined Opus Dei in, I think, October of 1999.  September of 2000 saw the flight of the last of our children from the nest.

29 March 2014

Moving on

Johnny lived with us (sleeping in the out-building where I now sleep) from the beginning of 1998 - end of 1997, actually, I think.  Helen, still at home, was in her third and final BMus year at Auckland University.  Eddie, likewise, was still at home, and (I think) in his 7th Form year at college.  And Adele was commuting on the 6:05AM 'bus with me to St Mary's in Ponsonby.

By the end of 1998 - in fact, from the same day, 14 November, 1998 - only Adele was still at home.

Johnny, at some point - perhaps he can comment on this post - began negotiations to find a job working at a hotel in Sydney.  My own involvement with this must clearly have been slight, since I remember neither when he said he was doing this, nor the name of the hotel he landed a job at.  But land a job he did.  He told me and Susan that he would be moving there in November.

Helen's situation I know more about.  New Zealand universities (like, I believe, English universities) award a Bachelor's degree after three years' study.  One may then seek to enrol in a Master's programme.

More common, however, is to tack on a fourth year - the 'Honours' year - to one's Bachelor's.  This is not, technically, I believe, an additional degree.  If your Bachelor's degree comprised three years' study, you have a Bachelor's degree (Bachelor of Music in Helen's case); if you do the fourth, Honours, year, you don't end up with two degrees; you have a BMus (Hons).

Helen elected to do her Honours year - at Victoria University in Wellington.

Why (you may ask) Wellington?


We became Catholics at the end of 1995.  At the beginning of 1997, Helen attended the Hearts Aflame Catholic Summer School - which was held, that year, in Wellington - and met Robert.  She attended again in January, 1998.  This blog is not the place for me to detail the history of Helen's and Robert's relationship.  Suffice it to say that as Robert is now Helen's husband of 14 years duration, this must have had something to do with her decision.

Not, however, everything.  Uwe Grodd had been Helen's friend and flute tutor before she went to University; and her flute teacher at Auckland University.  It was an excellent idea for her to choose some variety.  And Alexa Still had been flute tutor at Vic; was now the principal flute at the New Zealand Symphony, and would be in Wellington that year.  Bridget Douglas - who now occupies that position - would be Helen's teacher.

University didn't start until the beginning of March, 1999 - but Helen moved to Wellington in November.

But the 14 November date was determined by Eddie's wedding.  He and Eveline were married that day - and, naturally, moved to their home (at the time, in Waimauku).  I suppose it may not have been that actual day that Helen and Johnny both left - but it must have been within a day or two that Helen left for Wellington, Johnny for Sydney.

Susan and I were not yet alone in our house.  Adele was with us - and would be for two more years.  Yet it was a major event in our lives.  I suspect it must have been a major even for Adele, as well - perhaps of greater import for her than for us.  Our family had been tightly-knit, and the children's relationship with one another of great importance for them.  Adele was bereft of three people whose lives had always been part of hers.

Whether connected with this quasi-orphaning or not, I don't know, but by the end of 1998, Adele was very ill with what turned out to be glandular fever.  The long days commuting on public transport, the pressure of school, all combined to make it impossible for her to contemplate continuing at St Mary's.  We were able to get her enrolled in the New Zealand Correspondence School, which she continued in for the next two years.

1999 continued for Susan and me as previous years had done.  Each year we each attended an Opus Dei retreat.  Susan's came home from her retreat in August, 1999 with something on her mind.