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.