15 December 2012

Eggs and things

That I had decided to leave Yap and move to Pukekohe is shown by the fact that, although four years, nearly, passed between my overseas trip and our leaving, in my memory the time seems much less than that - a few months, perhaps.  Yet during those four years:
  • Adele was born
  • Johnny received his first four years of education
  • Helen received her first two years of education
  • Ross Jackson resigned his job as high school teacher and began to work full-time as a programmer
I returned from my trip in July or August, 1980.  Poor Susan had been sick with the 'flu the whole time I was away - and she had taken in a housemate, our dear friend Ken Atkinson.  Ken had been a Peace Corps Volunteer; was now, I think, working somewhere in Yap.  He was - is, I trust - a deeply faithful Christian, and was terrified lest anyone should suppose he was staying at our house with Susan with improper designs. Sue had been then, still now is, very uneasy when sleeping in the house if I am away.  Ken was, therefore, her 'security blanket.'  Each morning before dawn he stole out of the house - poor Ken!

It was, I suppose, about now that Sue began home-schooling Johnny in earnest.  The Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois, is a Christian school with a home-schooling programme for sale.  We started to use it, and, although it was somewhat overpoweringly fundamentalist and right-wing, found it very good.  Johnny, and, later, Helen, were taught using their materials from then until, I suppose, the end of our first year returned to New Zealand, 1984.  Indeed, from about late 1980 until around 1998, our lives revolved in a major way around home-schooling.  The person who received the greatest educational benefit from this may have been Susan herself.  She has done considerable work during the years since our children grew up teaching others.  Had she become a trained educator early on, I think she would have found her deepest secular vocation in life.

In March, 1982 our biannual furlough came around.  This time I stayed at home (with, it turned out, a - relatively mild! - typhoon for company), whilst Susan went to the US, with four children.  Well, three of them required tickets.  She was three months pregnant with Adele, but no one asked her about that :-)

This trip Sue did not go to Los Angeles.  She went to Seattle, but stayed most of the time with her sister Candace and her husband Ross (they had no children then) in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.  Things must have been crowded, as Sue's mother flew up from Los Angeles and stayed with them.  She thinks it possible that Ross may actually have gone to stay with a friend whilst they were there; one can hardly blame him!  Excluding him, the house contained three adult women and three (born) children.  During her stay there she was able to see her 'best friend' Mary Lee (now Mary Barton - or was she perhaps married at the time already?).

A week or ten days there, and then to Hilo.  My mother and father had a house in Hilo on Hilo Bay; my sister, and sometimes my father, lived on the farm in Pa'auilo.  I wonder if Johnny may actually remember something of this trip.  He was not quite seven at the time, old enough to have some recollection.  Susan tells me that my sister Robin took Johnny and Helen up to the farm for most of that time; Sue remained in Hilo with Eddie.

My mother was very keen on birds.  All birds.  Every sort of bird.  She raised some sort of exotic chicken and sold them - at, I am sure, a good profit - in Hilo to fanciers of this breed.

Never one to rely simply on nature, she had had my father build a quite-large incubator for the eggs of these creatures.  I remember seeing it once.  I think it had two trays with wire bottoms, each of which might have held - I have only my visual memory here - perhaps two dozen eggs.  There was a tray of water at the bottom to keep the humidity correct.  And there was a thermostat.

The thermostat's setting was controlled by a dial that could easily be twisted by hand.  It could, in fact, easily be twisted by a two-year-old boy's hand.

I am sure my mother forgave Eddie.  It was, nevertheless, difficult.  Fifty or so cooked fancy chicken embryos take some forgiving.

Sue returned home in, I suppose, April, 1982.  On 14 September, Adele was born.

No comments: