Personal update (keratoconus, work, performance, writing, art)

Personal update (keratoconus, work, performance, writing, art)

Hi folks,

Thought that I would give you all an update. I’ll divide it up into themes :)


Currently recovering from a rejection of my cornea graft. Two weeks ago I was at a point where my eye was red and so swollen that it was permanently shut. A whole lot of medication later and it is almost back to normal. Having to drop antibiotics into it every hour. What a nuisance! I did not want to share this with anyone until I was better (well, almost better) because I did not want people to become overly concerned.

The good thing is that I feel very confident about being able to perform well when I start working again. My vision is probably the best it has been in half a decade.  Which brings me to my next theme.


I’ve applied for over fifty jobs so far. From these I’ve had two interviews (the last one on Thursday) and I have one this Monday. I am probably being a bit picky with my applications. Yes, I hear you chortle when you see “picky” and “50 applications”. But it is true. I am looking for roles that will give me some satisfaction. Money is not a prime concern (no I am not rich, but I place a higher value on quality of job than on income). Luckily for me there are a few out there that meet this criteria. Some are IT. Some are project managing social issues. Some are policy related. Others are artistic. I am so lucky. :)

Nicole (my wife for those of you unfamiliar with my blog) has also won a temporary job. Eight weeks doing some records-related work. It’s the first time she has worked since some part-time stuff back in 2009. Probably the first full-time work since 2004 when our daughter Rhiannon was born.


Nicole’s work, however, has impacted by daytime singing at nursing homes. It is school holidays and we don’t want to just shove Rhiannon onto other people to mind (unless I get a job too).

The singing was great while it lasted. Funnily enough the last place I sang was in the dining hall of a dementia wing of a nursing home. This had always been my least favourite venue. Normally so many of the residents would just stare blandly into space. Others would be abusive and only a handful seemed to enjoy us. Fate (or God) must have intervened this last time. Certainly the first three songs received no response, but then at “Quando quando quando” some clapping began and the next hour and a half was brilliant. I walked away feeling that I had brought joy where there had been none.

I also had been asked to sing at Rhiannon’s dance concert in Mittagong. For those of you unfamiliar with New South Wales in Australia, Mittagong is a town south-west of Sydney on the road to Canberra (Australia’s capital). The concert was held in an auditorium in Mittagong RSL (a great venue) and was quite full of parents and family members of students from all over the region. I was nervous. This was a substantial audience.

Rhiannon was on first. Here are a few pics of her:

So this is tap dancing to “Buttons and Bows”

Some cane work:

And some classical ballet:

Now I had two songs. My first was “Sway”, that old favourite by Dean martin. Personally, I love the song and its a standard of mine at the nursing home. But how would this audience receive it?

Well, I was lucky. I had some backing dancers and their skill took the heat off me. Cassandra, who you see here, was brilliant. Full of personality, a great sense of humour, she was the star. And the audience loved it. Afterwards there may have been a few “Benny Hill” references from my friends, but the song went down marvellously. A massive thanks to Cassandra.

Halfway through the second half I was called upon to open the Christmas songs with “White Christmas.”

The photo is of me at the line “…children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.” See, acting too! I am so multi-talented. :)

I then went on to sing in the background while a trio of youngsters sang a few more Christmas tunes and then it was all over bar the finale where I had to take a final bow and then introduce the concert organiser for her efforts.

Many people complimented me afterwards, but the key audience discussion was with a father of one performer who turned out to be an author and who then asked me to send him a copy of a piece of my writing. Let me make this known – I did not ask him to look at this. I really dislike thrusting my work upon others unless they ask. So I was really surprised and delighted. I wonder if anything will come of it.


I’ve been doing a fair bit of this despite the sore eye. I’ve moved the storyline back several days and still need to write more. So yes, a new opening chapter. I will share once I am happy with these new days.


I just have not been able to get myself to do so. I am scared of making a mistake again like I did with the zebras, especially given the fact that I experienced the rejection. But maybe I should just brave it.


Rhiannon’s personal growth this year has been astonishing.

Some history. I must admit to having spent most of Rhiannon’s school years just fuming at her teachers. At the end of Year 1 (so when she was about 6 or 7) her teacher told us that Rhiannon was illiterate, that she could not read a thing. This was rubbish. I had read every night to Rhiannon since she was a baby and she lives in a house full of books. So I called Rhiannon over and in front of the teacher I scribbled down a few sentence.

“Please read those,” I said.

Rhiannon did so and the teacher almost fell off her chair. “But she never does that in class!”

“Rhiannon,” I said. “How come you don’t read in class.”

She looked at me slyly – the little imp – and responded: “Miss leaves alone students who can’t read and that means that I can play or draw.”

The teacher seemed embarrassed. “Well, I won’t change her report,” the teacher said. And sure enough I received a report saying that Rhiannon cannot read. Indeed, she was overall placed second lowest in her class.

The next few years were not much better will one teacher describing her as a low ability child. Sure, Nicole and I would always go to great efforts to talk with her teachers to discuss tactics. But the teachers seemed unwilling to put in the effort with one child who obviously preferred to day dream than learn. So we paid for tuition. Same story.

The something amazing happened in Year 6. Rhiannon got a teacher who actually listened to us. She engaged Rhiannon’s creativity and imagination. By the end of the year Rhiannon’s performance was at class average and she won the best improvement award.

Now – a year later. First year of high school. She brought home her end of year report and a letter. A letter? Well, I know that apart from the bullying she experienced, she really enjoyed the academic side of high school. I wondered how this would translate into school marks. Well here they were:

Subject Mark %
Industrial Arts (metalworking, woodworking, etc.) 89
English 90
Geography 81
Information and Software Technology 70
Mathematics 48
Music` 76
Personal Development Health and Physical Education 72
Science 80
Home Economics 85
Visual Arts 93

Yes! My little girl had excelled at everything except mathematics (we’ll work on that over the holidays). And the letter? It was a notice that the school was very pleased with Rhiannon and was giving her a Gold Award for her “tremendous efforts”.

Now I include this story, not just to boast about my daughter, but also to tell any parents out there who may have younger kids who aren’t performing very well “Keep on pushing and don’t give up.”


OK, this is end of today’s post. Let’s hope I write some more soon. :)

fondest regards












  1. Interesting about Rhiannon’s daydreaming. It reminds me of my friend “H”, whose mother told me this story. She had gone to the school to see about, perhaps, why he wasn’t paying attention in class. She looked through the window at the class that was being taught with “H” in the back. “H” was staring out of the window, obviously daydreaming. Then Mom looked at the teacher. The teacher was lecturing in a very boring way on a subject that Mom knew full well that “H” could probably have taught the class better! Oh, and later in life “H” easily qualified for Mensa… Also you mentioned bullying. This is a subject close to my heart as I had 13+ years of school bullying. At age 7-8 I was definitely making deliberate mistakes in spelling tests just so I wouldn’t be bullied for being ‘top of the class’. I hope you will also be able to address this, not only in the sense of helping Rhiannon combat the bullies, but working with the teachers to address this on various levels. Notwithstanding that the bullies may be doing this as their only way of combatting being bullied themselves, either at school or another environment.
    I hope you continue to recover from the eye problems, and hope you’re soon busy at a new, rewarding job.


    1. Hi :)

      Thanks for responding. :)

      I can really relate to the story about “H”!

      The bullying is a sad story, even though we worked with the teachers to eventually succeed to stopping it. It started at the beginning of this year. Rhiannon started High School. Her High School has several “feeder” primary schools. So naturally she entered High School with a set of friends from her primary school. However these set of friends chose to bully (physically and emotionally) a boy. Rhiannon thought that this was wrong and stood up for the boy (against her friends). The focus of the bullying then moved onto her. I initially thought that it would sort itself out, but it escalated. Rhiannon really wanted to keep her friends – she even told them this – but she could not accept them bullying someone. Anyway it got nasty when the ringleader’s mother invited the entire group (minus Rhiannon) out to a birthday dinner and then proceeded to make lewd suggestions about Rhiannon and the boy to the other mothers there. Yes – the mother – who until then had been our friend – did that! The mother also used her Facebook page to capture pictures of Rhiannon with the boy at a Guinea Pig fair (close to both our houses) to suggest that something was going on between the tow of them. Anyway, I had enough. I knew that confronting the mother in the street would lead to trouble (i.e. she could get the cops involved), so as this bullying was mostly happening at the school I showed the evidence to the Deputy Principal and she sorted it out – eventually. One night Rhiannon actually said to me that she did not understand why doing the right thing could lead to a situation like this. I explained that the right thing is often difficult, but that we need to do it anyway. She is a bit scared about making new friends in case the situation repeats, but she is slowly doing so. I am proud of her for not giving into her peers, but still feel a bit sorry for her.

      Thanks :)


      1. Wow – so sorry to hear that R went through all that – but kudos to her for knowing** what was the right thing to do – even if the ‘friends’ didn’t. So sad that they seem to have learned this from a parent, this is often the case.


  2. Sorry about the medications thing you had to go through! But most of the rest doesn’t sound half bad =) Hope you will have even better news in the year 2017.


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