On the first Saturday afternoon of December we went down to the Church to help one of the younger guys. He had decided to put a star on top of a tree that grows right by the Church, a star that will light up at night to celebrate Christmas. I found myself up a ladder against the tree, a high folding step ladder type that opens out. Suddenly the ladder gave away under me and I desperately grabbed hold of the greenery to slow my fall to the ground. I slid sideways down the tree and rolled onto the ground, glancing off my wife and letting out an expletive as I went. I was bruised and embarrassed but OK. The younger couple treated me as if I was an old man. This was emphasised when I was at the fire station a few days later telling the story. A woman fire officer laughed. "What were you doing up a ladder at your age?" she exclaimed. "Who do you think you are - a teenager?" she continued. She then pointed out that I had 6 fire trucks, ladders and crews at my disposal and I ought to have called upon them to help. I HATE being told I am old!
Then on the Sunday we decided not to go to Church. We find the minister who was to lead the service that day really turns us off. His style, the way he presents his services and what seems to us, "laziness" or indifference has me sitting there trying to look supportive (he's a colleague after all) but inside getting angry. (At one service the lady sitting behind me could read my frustration that I thought I was hiding, and reached forward to rub my shoulder sympathetically.) So we "wagged" church last Sunday. We headed off for a short ride to a small country settlement north of Dunedin for lunch at a little craft brewery there. On the Friday I had noticed my van running hot so had fixed a problem with the radiator cap on the Saturday. After enjoying our lunch in the country setting, we left the brewery to go back into Dunedin to shop at the supermarket. This involved driving over a hilly area, with two steep climbs to traverse. Negotiating the hills, I noticed the temperature gauge signalling a very hot motor, but on the downhill it seemed to cool. We shopped and then headed for home, about a 12k drive on a relatively flat road. After just a couple of kilometres the motor lost power and stopped. It had overheated. We phoned the Automobile Association emergency number and a truck came, picked up our van and delivered it and us home. Stripping the driver's seat out, I investigated the motor, and found a hose with a hole in it which had been leaking coolant. On Monday I repaired it, but upon starting the motor found that it was in a bad way - I had terminally damaged it - the motor was running irregularly and oil was pouring out of the front end. Only a rebuild or a new motor would make it good again - both would be expensive. We ended up purchasing another vehicle to replace the van. My van, which I have so enjoyed, which has been so reliable and handy, waits in our drive to be disposed of. I feel sad and sorry. If I had been more attentive, more responsive and not so careless, it would not have happen. An otherwise still useful vehicle will probably go to the wreckers because of my neglect! We have lost money (which we do not have an in abundance anyway) but there is also the sense that it was avoidable and a waste. I have not been able to really appreciate our purchased vehicle, because I deeply wish we did not have to buy it in the first place.
Not all was bad...
On the Saturday morning I was invited to attend the Dunedin area St John Ambulance Cadet prize giving. As St John chaplain I had a ceremonial role to play in accepting the flag as it was paraded in by the flag party. I am encouraged by St John Cadet events. It is a growing youth movement and it was delightful seeing these young people receiving their awards. As we waited for proceedings to begin a family arrived. They live not far from the Sawyers Bay Church, have quite a number of children, a sort of blended family. The parents have taken extra's into their family. We have had contact with them through our a couple of community-building activities we have at Church. A week before I had spent quite some time playing pool with a boy from the family at our Friday night "Rumpus Room". Four of the girls attended the prize giving all dressed in their St John uniform and as part of the official party I watched them receiving their awards. It was delightful afterward when they raced up to me and showed me their awards, and talked with me as if I was a kindly old uncle. I enjoyed chatting to their dad also. I felt it was all worth it, that I was, in some way, an encouragement in people's lives. That is a privilege for this old man.
|Our new vehicle.|
|The poor old neglected van.|
|Some views from my walk around the block.|