I’ll try and bring you up to date on the Grimm adventures in the outback. Following the summer school holidays, which ended at the end of January, Dwight entered the llth grade and Toby started the sixth. Dwight actually is putting in some work and-according to him is learning something. He has two math courses that he says are not easy, economics that is his favorite (he sees himself as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties), chemistry and technical drawing, which he appears to like. At this point, he has changed his mind about school and says that he does not really want to come home to finish at St. Stephens, but would prefer to stay here at least an extra six months to finish high school here. Discussions on that subject continue in the Grimm household and further episodes will no doubt be forthcoming – stayed tuned.
He is also working part time in the Alice Springs Camera Shop on Saturday mornings, if for no other reason to finance his passion for photography. He used the money he made during the summer to purchase a really good camera and is known all over town for his enthusiasm. Several of his pictures have been used in the newspaper. Dwight turned 16 in February and got his learners permit to drive. His mother started to teach him to drive, but for a number of reasons (nerves or lack thereof, as well the fact that the Datsun 210 is left hand drive) caused her to seek the aid of a professional driving instruction school – driver’s ed is available in school, but you have to sacrifice a regular subject and Dwight wasn’t willing. He finally passed his test to get a “provisional” license (the same as a regular license with some restrictions.) He got it last Friday afternoon and by the time I got home from work he and his mother were already at each other about him taking over the car. I love to start the weekend off with a good argument!
Anyway, things have calmed down for now and we will make an effort to see that he is allowed to get some experience before venturing out by himself. Dwight is still dating the same girl (Katherine O’Donoghue) he has been seeing for about the last six months and at one point in the scene last week Dorothy was encouraging him to get married and leave. Fortunately, I think, Dwight has more sense – though if I had a cute sexy girlfriend like Katherine when I was his age, I may have been tempted.
Toby appears to like school and is doing well. He was upset at the start of the term that many of his friends were in another class but has gotten over it. He is still taking guitar lessons, though with somewhat less enthusiasm. We are having one minor problem in that the teacher; he has doesn’t like guitars with steel strings (versus nylon or whatever) and for a while wouldn’t let him use his own guitar. We ignored her and last week he was able to use his own guitar. I am waiting to see what she says today. Toby was the only sixth grader to be selected for the school chess team (all the rest are 7th graders). Toby turned 11 about two weeks ago and asked if he could have some kids sleep over last weekend. I told him it was okay, but didn’t realize the full extent of his plans. The party ran from 2 p.m. Saturday until almost 2 p.m. Sunday and involved seven 10 and 11-year old boys! We had hot dogs and sloppy joes (which are unknown to Australians) for supper and chocolate doughnuts and “junk” American cereal for breakfast. We rented a number of videos to keep them from tearing the house apart, and I took them bowling for a while, an experience I have vowed I will not repeat. I must admit I lost my patience Sunday morning when they woke me up at 6:30 a.m. (all yelling at once). I threatened to call all of their parents right then to come get them! That worked for about 10 minutes.
Dorothy keeps busy at work. She is always rushing out of the house, more times than not with camera in hand to take her own photos, to cover some event. She is well known in town and people, more and more, are requesting her by name to cover some event. The newspaper, which only publishes twice a week, currently, is making plans to go to a five-day schedule in the not too distant future. I believe they have already contracted to have a new building, all their own, built-for this expansion. It will be interesting to see how things will change.
I have also been busy. The Australian-American Association has become involved in more things. We hosted a group of Smithsonian Associates who were on a tour of Australia and who spent 24 hours here in Alice Springs. A group of about 10 of us met them at the airport and really impressed them. No one had met them anywhere else. We rode with them on their bus to a nice little restaurant outside of town and had lunch there. Then, we rode back to town with them and the bus dropped them off at the Casino, where they were staying, and I went home. That evening we had a barbeque for them at the Old Telegraph Station and it was really a nice evening. The weather was just right and we had a lady who is a member of our association and runs a couple of restaurants in town cater the food and it was very good. We also had a park ranger give them about an hour tour of the Telegraph Station and surrounding park area. Finally, and for me the highlight of the evening, was the participation of several members of the local astronomical society. A couple of members brought their large telescopes out and set them up and the first thing they showed us was the super nova (exploding star) that became visible here in the southern hemisphere not long ago. I may have missed Halley’s Comet, but the last super nova observed was almost 400 years ago. Anyway, the people with the telescopes were really very patient and showed us a lot of sights in the sky – I could have stayed there for a long time, but we finally had to leave since the park closes at 9.
The Australian-American Association has also officially invited the U.S. Ambassador to Australia to be our guest here the weekend of the annual Alice Springs Camel Cup (a day of camel races), May 15-17. We are now getting ready for that. I made the mistake of attending a meeting for parents of kids who are in the talented and gifted program here (Toby is involved). A friend nominated me for secretary of the organization and I couldn’t think of an excuse. One of the first assignments I had was to write a letter to the Minister of Education of the Northern Territory asking, once again for an additional teacher for this program – there is one teacher now who works a couple of hours a week with these kids in grades 4-7. There are no provisions for younger kids and they are dropped after grade 7. I can see ‘that this organization may keep me busy. Otherwise all of our regular activities continue (camera club, writing group, etc). We, at least the kids and I, watch quite a few videos, but haven’t seen anything really memorable lately. The Community Arts Center is also running movies most weekends now and we have seen a number of films there, as well as some plays. Dorothy got quite involved with the cast from the last play that was quite controversial – about Aboriginal land rights. She even gave them a ride in her “left-hand drive” Datsun. Many Australians are intrigued by that feature.
We still have not been anywhere outside the immediate Alice Springs area, nor have any plans. I asked Dorothy about going over the short school break in April, but she explained that that was the week of the National Folk Festival here in Alice Springs. My God, we wouldn’t want to miss that and, of course, no one but her could cover it for the newspaper – it’s tough to be indispensible.
Well, I think that is about all I have. I am sure Dorothy will have something to add to this, so I will leave room for her comments.