wings and things

12 days old

Today I finally got to meet my niece’s baby. She and her husband are now the proud parents of a beautiful little boy and I am, for the second time, a proud great auntie.


He is 12 days old. Welcome, little one, to the world.


Good news!

Yesterday, after wearing a head-to-hip spinal brace for three months, my niece was allowed to take it off for good. When I heard the news I couldn’t stop laughing and leaping crazily around the house! She was the last of the five children to be given the green light, so things are definitely looking up.

Here is a photo of her next to her brother last year. And yes that is Gutsy9 (as a baby) on her shoulder. Bravo, my lovely niece!



Ming’s 20th birthday party

With around 70 guests (mostly 19-20 year-olds), a handful of parents, and a few of Ming’s older cousins, it was a resounding success. We did the lawns and madly tidied up beforehand:


We set up Anthony’s ancient stereo system, which Ming has now figured out how to operate. It has the most amazing sound which some would call LOUD:


We began to fill a cattle trough with ice and drinks as soon as it got a bit cooler (it was an extremely hot day):


The first guests began to arrive and Ming was given some suitable adornments:


More guests arrived:


The pizzas arrived:


I remained calm:


Ming made a short speech dedicated to his favourite topic – himself:


There was a bit of cigar debauchery but nothing else untoward happened …


… Except for an unexpected pole dancer (my gorgeous, incorrigible niece):


Here she is again, slightly more subdued, with her brother and husband.


Thanks, Ash, for rocking the party up a few notches, for taking most of these photos, and for making Ming’s party the best ever!



If I had to choose a single word to describe my first niece, I would use the word “twinkling”. She and her husband arrived last night from Scotland just in time for Christmas. They are going to live here now – yippee!

Late last night she got to see her own first niece for the first time. Do you see what I mean by “twinkling”. Actually in this picture both of them are twinkling!

Ashtyn and Neve

My first niece is also my god-daughter as well as being Ming’s cousin and god-mother. I have always been in awe of her ability to twinkle no matter what, and her homecoming is the best gift any of us could receive this Christmas. She is a vital cog in the machine of this family and her presence enables us all to twinkle with delight; when she smiles, her whole body smiles; when she enters a room, she exudes beauty, grace and hilarity. She is fun and laughter and I love her so much and can’t wait to see her tonight at my mother’s Christmas Eve party.

I feel very lucky to have this fantastic, twinkling niece – very lucky!



To my niece still in hospital:

Your name means wisdom.

As you wait, flat on your back, for healing, for the spinal brace to be fitted, for whatever comes next,
I have stopped eating garlic because I want to breathe out to you without stinking, even though we are 200 kilometres apart.

You have my freckles but you wear them like jewels. At your age, my freckles looked more like I forgot to wash my face after mud-wrestling. They’ve faded now but I hope yours never fade.

On your 14th birthday, the other day, when that grumpy woman wheeled your bed into the party room of the hospital, and told us off for lighting candles on your doughnut cake, I wanted to punch her in the face.

You told me to stop inboxing you so I did once I realised I had sent you 27 messages. Sorry about that, but I can’t seem to stop!

A celebrity kissed you on the cheek, your mother is a rock, your father is a mountaineer and you are, like your birthstone, a pure, shining opal.

Your nickname for me is AJ because I hate being called Auntie Julie. I love you for that.

I haven’t prayed for years but now I do – praying you will be okay, praying you will get the patience you need for the next months, praying for another private giggle, praying for every single tomorrow to be better than every single today.

Keep on opalescing, keep on being strong, keep on being you. You.



The wedding.

In a few days my first niece, Ashtyn, will be wedded to a Scottish man, Gordon, in a castle in Scotland. My mother arrived there safely and she and Ash have now had two days together. I am so jealous but am comforted by the fact that the newlyweds will be moving back here to Western Australia in December – yeeha!


They are both extremely photogenic.