27 December 1983

Letter: Who can do the jab?

Letter 27 / 12 / 83

We've had three different doctors ring us from TI, trying to work out what to do.

My being "Rhesus negative" is the big problem. I should be having blood tests and 'anti-D' injections.

There should be some anti-D on today's plane (it should have been here by last Friday at the latest) but there is no one here who can administer it. Peter's going to give it a try, provided we can get a syringe from the clinic. Well, he's practised injections into grapefruit before when we were at "Jungle Camp"...

Alison is not well either - she's had a fever for the last couple of days and nights. She is having trouble with her top teeth, four seem to want to come through at the same time, 2 are already cut, so we hope that's the reason for the fever.

Its still very wet here, and so nice and cool most of the time. Nights go down to 25 degrees sometimes, and days are never over 30 degrees.

Happy Ducks

No eggs from our duckies yet, but they are very big!

And hungry - boy can they eat!

Some of them still have fluffy down between their wings and tail, but otherwise they have all their adult feathers. Some have a black patch on the top of their heads.

They love the rain - you should see them, bills up facing the onslaught, chests thrust out and (it looks like) hands behind their backs. When it is finished they all busily preen themselves, and then they look beautiful.

Energetic kids and tired mother

James is a restless body these days, he's 'a mess'. Roll on kindy! But he does go eagerly in the boat with Peter (I don't go any more, I get so sea sick) - and promptly falls asleep in the bows for the duration of the trip!

Must hurry on while Peter has Alison for a few minutes. She is such a vigorous child and I find it very hard to look after her while I feel so weak and sick and tired.

Island Dances

Lots of feasts these days with island dances late into the night. Its fascinating, but somehow we never make it past the first couple of dances. Our kids won't sleep at feasts like everyone else's. James loves the dances and, being a really good mimic, really pleases everyone by his attempts to join in.

Must dash now.

16 December 1983

Letter: Losing the Baby

Letter 16 / 12 / 83

It’s only Friday yet, but I get so little done these days I need to get started early.

On Tuesday I saw the Doctor for a check up and he gave me finger prickers and test strips to test my blood sugar - its not as bad to do as I thought.

Then on Wednesday it looked as if I would lose the baby. After cramps and a few hours of loss things settled down again - I think I'm still pregnant.

Now we just have to wait and hope, while I try to take it easy.

That is a bit difficult, but Peter's been great - doing the washing, and carrying Alison around a fair bit. James is worried and frightened because he knows "Mummy sick" - he keeps trying to kiss me better! He's going through an insecure patch anyway with school holidays, island feasts, the new boat ... all too much newness and excitement for him.

Its the King

"The King" stayed with us last night! It was so funny.

When James saw the Bishop (of Carpentaria) in all his regalia leading the procession to "bless" the translation house ... in the middle of a quiet moment in a prayer he called out, "Look, Mummy! Big King!"

The Bishop's wife is not an islander as I said previously - I was getting her confused with the wife of Fr Michael Martin on TI. She's very nice, and James was very impressed when she used our shower facilities - "lady bath in there" he still keeps saying!

We haven't had much to do with this bishop, he hasn't been much help. But we are quite hopeful about the new bishop. Amongst other things, he has his own plane.


Last minute rush again. Peter's gone fishing with a very reluctant James. Peter's had such a hard time lately that he tends to get impatient with James, who responds by getting all of a dither when he's supposed to be hurrying and then dirties his pants because he retreats into his own little dream world and forgets about these things. Poor little chap, he's not "slow", but he's got the sort of mentality that doesn't cope well with a school set-up. So like his father - which I guess is why Peter gets so exasperated with him.

I caught up with the doctor yesterday - just as he was about to return to TI after his campling holiday out here on the smaller islands. He wanted to call a "Med-evac" plane/helicopter for me, but I managed to convince him that I'm okay. He checked me out and we've promised to call him if anything else happens. TI is a hole, not a place to spend Christmas - or any other time if we can help it! The Med-Evac is free, I think, but, as we understand it, I/we would have to pay for the return trip.

The Big Rain

The kipau gobgob came the other day - the annual "big rain". Mud and rocks came pouring down the hill, filled and overflowed our drain that winds around the back of the translation house and our house, and flowed right through the translation house and back shed. So glad our house is up on stumps! No permanent damage done, just lots of cleaning up to do.


Thanks for the KLB6. I tried one dose - the night before I had the threatened mis. I know there isn't a connection, but I haven't taken any since. Anyway, I have no appetite. I'm living on four slices of bread a day - and I don't always keep that down. I can't stand anything sweet or fatty. But I'm not losing weight at all - it must be the sea air sustaining me.

We got the two parcels. The information about ducks was much appreciated - we learned a bit more. But it says "Muscovies are more like geese than ducks and will be dealt with in the next chapter ..." Ours are Muscovies of course.

11 December 1983

Letter: Rain Rain Rain

Letter 11 / 12 / 83

What a wettie for James' birthday! Its been raining so long and hard this morning that they have cancelled the normal communion service - those that turn up will just mumble through "Matins" - then swim home.

We've had to leave the bung out of our boat to stop it filling up - actually the bung got pinched on the way here, so we are leaving the piece of cloth out.

The translation centre is far from waterproof - the chaps did a terrible job of putting the roof on, it doesn't slope enough (the water runs back underneath), there's not enough overhang, and the nail holes are so rugged it drips everywhere. The mattresses are soaked and the bishop and his wife are coming on Thursday. Its been raining every night all week, and yesterday it continued with light rain into the morning - just when we wanted to try out our new boat. (There's no wind, no swell, the ocean is dead calm.)

Anyway, the news is that we have our boat! When the rain eased yesterday we went for a little ride ... it was very exciting for all of us except Alison, who went to sleep. We anchored for about 15 minutes and caught five small (by local standards) fish - some kind of cod, not unlike coral trout, brilliant red with vivid blue spots. We gobbled them up for tea.


Well its still sloshing down. The reason church is "off" is because the church is flooded.

James is having fun. He loves his new red handled cutlery - handles it really well. (Alison is jealous - she's on finger-foods these days, hates being fed. I have to rack my brains for what she can handle with those clumsy little chubby hands and only two teeth.)

We gave James a plastic spade - a big one, he lost his little old one on the beach. To go with it he has a little wheelbarrow and bucket (just like daddy). He's been itching to go out and try it all morning, but he can't in this rain.

So it's just as well that we also gave him a little blackboard (on an easel) and chalks - hours of peaceful fun. The problem is to keep Alison out of the chalk. So we have installed him and his blackboard out in the translation centre.

He loves his new Leggo's bricks - that sure made his eyes light up. We have to wait until Alison's asleep, or else put one of the kids in the playpen to stop her getting hold of those tiny pieces. But he sits there for ages, so quiet, pursed lips and furrowed brows, creating!

He'd love some extra packs and then he can make something "leally big" (as he says).

Christmas Tree

On the last day of school George Sallee (who is on the school board) organised a Christmas tree for the kids. Parents were to provide presents and Father Christmas would appear and dole them out.

But it looked like the show would be a flop, so he felt shamed and went home and got drunk. It was supposed to start at 6pm, at which time there were only about two dozen assorted kids and one or two parents.

We waited two hours, and more and more parents gathered - there were already stacks of presents under the poinciana tree.

Finally someone found George and got the costume from him. Wilfred dressed up - even his own kids didn't realise it was him. A lot of kids, even big ones, were too scared to go up to him.

James's present was near the end of the line, so I had time to talk to him gently and explain that it was just Uncle Wilfred dressed up, and all he had to do was accept his present and a kiss. When his turn came he twinkled up there, tall and straight - we were very proud of him.

Ducks and Garden growing

The ducks are still growing. They are developing their big feathers now. We gave them a box in case any of them felt like laying but they tore it up!

Since the rain started a few days ago we've been popping seeds in all over the place. Our dust patch between the house and the toilet/shower took only a few hours after the first drops of rain before the grass started sprouting. Our little plants are all shooting up - and hardly any grasshoppers around.

The mango trees are in blossom ready for the second season - but its been raining before the blossoms set again so maybe we won't get too many this time either ... well, Peter can't eat them, James won't (he's experienced the burn you get on your skin if the juice sits there for more than a few minutes), Alison can't hold much, and they make me feel sick (as do most things except tomatoes - which we don't have any of.)

04 December 1983

Letter: Bun in the Oven

Letter 4 / 12 / 83

Church is on - evening service. James has wandered over there on his own - he just loves being with people. Peter is going over soon. I have bread in the oven, and a pizza for tea. Alison is wandering around near my feet. Two services a day are a bit hard on her - and me looking after her.

Morning sickness has set in with a vengeance, and the tiredness. But I am using my skipping rope every day for exercise, and there are a few hours every day when I feel really good. My mind boggles at the thought of a 16 month old and a new baby - and of course a three-and-a-half year old - but we'll face that when it comes!

Kids growing

Thanks for sending us back the photos from the film we sent. I've promised myself to shoot off most of our next colour film on the kids - James is so tall and slim these days, and Alison is a funny little person.

Its funny seeing her face "frozen" in a photo because she's such a lively character and rarely holds the same expression for long enough to get used to it. She's not a real 'girlie' looking baby (I would have to let her hair grow and keep her in ribbons and frilly dresses ...) but she's well-proportioned, not fat (despite the food she stacks away!) and strong.

Strong-willed too. We had a play-pen sent up from down south - as we have shelves rather than cupboards in the kitchen she gets into all sorts of trouble in there. She likes the play pen - stands up and goes round and round - as long as there is someone nearby.


Big storm brewing tonight - first rain, we hope. Lightning and gusty wind - James is a bit un-nerved by it.

Its been pretty warm lately. Last night Peter was up at 12.30am (killing rats in the translation house) and checked the thermometer: 28 degrees. It was rather humid and sticky too. But other nights we've commented "Isn't it cool this evening" only to discover its 27 degrees.

The kids both sleep in just nappies. They are like peas in a pod when you see them like that. I put a bottle in Ali's cot and she helps herself 2 or 3 times - I replenish it when I get up to go to the toilet (3 or 4 times most nights).

Holiday and Conference

We like to spend some of our free time camping over on Dawar, one of the two uninhabited islands. We've announced an official holiday for this month (when the boat arrives) to make up for not going to Cairns - it will help keep the administration off our backs about spending too long here at one go.

I guess we'll have to go south about May, under the circumstances to give ourselves time for a holiday in Cairns or somewhere before we travel to Darwin and come under the microscope. I won't be allowed to fly after mid-June.

Branch Conference is the last week of July and first week of August - so everyone will be there (we'll have voting rights this time too) and there'll be friends for James, and Alison, and helpers for us.

All is well

We are all remarkably well. Its "cold-sick" time now as the weather changes, so we are getting stuck into the vitamin C.

The ducks are healthy too - and big! They are now covered in white down, no adult feathers yet. We are expecting the first eggs about Christmas time. We ordered another 12 ducks for friends, and they bought them eagerly. Now there are another 80 fowls (ducks and chooks) on order from Cairns.

At least people will stop coming to stare at ours. Fr Tabo said, "I think I saw a duck once ... when I was a boy."