People have been so kind with their good wishes and helpful suggestions! My friend Letitia phoned up and said she had a friend who worked at a computer refurbisher much closer to home than the Sydney mob and could get me one that had just come in, for $550. She put her name on it while waiting for them to strip it down and do it up.
Then she happened to mention this in a phone conversation with her brother - who is a Mac computer engineer. He said, "Why are you getting her that model? She won't be able to upgrade." He suggested that it would be affordable to go for the "previous generation" i.e. not the latest model but the one before that, and to look on eBay. He also said I'd have more luck if I would consider a laptop.
Would I? A laptop is my preference! In my role as Secretary of the Neighbourhood Association, I get to use their laptop to take the minutes. It has Windows. I hate Windows! I can find my way around it, usually with some help from the more experienced, but after using Macs all these years I find Windows operations incredibly indirect, circuitous and time-consuming. It would be heaven to just take my own MacBook laptop along to meetings ... and many other places too.
Letitia is a whizz on eBay. She has put a watch on what I want, to see what they're going for. Around $800 it seems. When I get the money together, she will refer any likely-looking models to her brother to assess.
I have emailed close friends and family members with a shameless begging letter, to see if they'd like to give me an early present for my 70th birthday later this year, by chipping in for my laptop. Meanwhile am doing what I can to amass the funds myself, and have the first $100 set aside.
It's wonderful that what had seemed out of reach has suddenly become possible!
And incidentally, my Tarot student who "saw" that I would get a new machine via people who cared about me, actually thought it would be a couple. Letitia and her brother, perhaps?