Thursday, May 29

Beaches


Do you remember the movie 'Beaches'?

I really enjoyed that movie, & bawled like a baby in parts. I could watch it again right now, but I probably wouldn't cry & sob like I did, when I first watched.


I am not really getting more cynical as I age, -although I might be. I think my capacity for crying has been greatly reduced by medication.


I have suffered from deep troughs of depression over the course of my life. I initially refused to take any forms of mood altering medication. It seemed a form of weakness, somehow. Who wants to admit they are weak, & cannot manage on their own? The waves of utter despair must have been my own fault, & were to be ridden & battled with some mysterious, stoic, valour, or I 'lost'.


In a way it is an admission of 'failure'. It is to be hidden away, swept under the carpet. Slink into the chemist, hope no-one bellows out your prescription details- as has been done, believe me!! "Small-town-areas" can be as bad as "Small towns". No one really wants everyone else to know their complete medical history.


In spite of organisations such as BeyondBlue.org.au & raised awareness of depression, & it's debilitating effects, there is still the lingering feeling of 'shame', maybe even 'weakness', attached to needing to take medication for a condition you have no control over. The lack of control can be very frightening. The complete fear of falling, & failure, can swamp you. The fact that there are often no answers is also a concern.


Some of the antidepressants have left me in a Zombie like state lying about snivelling, & limp, or popeyed & dazed seemingly unable to move, let alone think.
Something similar to this 'button'.

Perhaps the worst thing about Depression, is that males won't admit to having the condition. Or, if the admit it, they won't seek help.
Or if they seek help, they are often brushed aside, given placebo medication. A short term fix. Dismissed.

I am lucky. I have found a medication that doesn't 'Zombify' me. I am sure that is not a word, but who cares!!. I can function without bursting into tears in the middle of the shopping centre. I can cope with family misery, stress, drama, illness, deteriorating minds.

A male, close to me, has not had the same luck. His battle seems so lonely. So hard. He has told me he is made to feel like he is some sort of 'drug addict', if he dares to ask for some relief, for the unrelenting agony. His symptoms are brushed aside, treated with ignore. The physical manifestations of depression are no less real, than the mental manifestations. Why do so many Medical Practitioners seem unable to recognise this??

This post was not going to be about Castaways, on the Beaches of life.

It was going to be the story of my near death, from drowning, when I was quite a young child, on a beach made of sand & surf.

Sometimes the posts just write themselves..... buggers!



A deceptively peaceful sunset sky. It rained next day. It clouded over. It got very dark & ugly. It all looked so Tropical, & Warm, & Promising.... didn't it??




In spite of the tone of this post~

Nancy Wilson, How Glad I Am.

Tuesday, May 27

Spoilt- as in, How Lucky Can I Be?

I take my eye off the Blog world for 5 minutes, & everyone has posted such a lot, I have to spend all day catching up.

I have been very spoilt. We had our son to stay for the weekend, which was a treat. Unfortunately Gom was unwell for much of the time, & so he didn't enjoy the visit as much as he normally would. He seems to be ok again now.

SIL has had bronchitis, so he was not well. I am lucky, I had a little of what Gom had, but seem to be ok now. Perhaps the Cosmos figures I have enough, with the itches. haha.

We did have Small Grandson here for the night on Friday, & he was so good. He took all the orphan Teddies to bed with him, & went off to sleep as happy as a little sandboy. In the morning we took him to a couple of garage sales, & he found some magnetic letters, & spent a lot of time with his Uncle, making words with the letters.

My big treat yesterday, has been a wonderful gift from Mrs Nice Neighbour!
Look what she has given to me! This wonderful Buddha Garden she made.

I am terrified it might get ruined by Leo, so Gom brought it inside last night! He really likes it too, & we both have great admiration for the Garden, & all the miniature gardens Mrs NN makes.


She has also been making lovely little plaques for various friends & neighbours, & she made this lovely one for our dogs, Honey & Leo. As she says, they really do own our house, & they just let us stay here to cater to their every whim!

Here is a closer look at Buddha. The Cactus on the left in the picture really looks like a man, holding his arms aloft, & challenging Buddha! It even has eyes, & a nose!

I took this photo this morning, after Gom had taken it outside, & he was having his breakfast, admiring it. I see he has stacked the chairs so that Leo can't get up on the table to 'admire' the garden at close quarters!
Please ignore the weeds in the background of our garden! I have been pleading for a visit to the Nursery to get some plants. Perhaps I need to get some seeds. There are some lillies there, that have struggled through, but I have not seen any flowers on them as yet.

**********

I feel I should defend our Doctor's office too. For such a smallish area, there seems to be much demand for Doctors. There are two large Medical Centres with what I call, Fast-Food-of-Medicine Doctors who work there, & tend to be very impersonal. Then there are several private surgeries with 2 or 3 Doctors. The couple we attend are a husband & wife. They are very popular, have lovely people skills, & have a closed register of patients, to try to keep their waiting times to a minimum.

As with most things, consultations cannot always be accurately timed to the minute, & particularly with elderly patients, or children, a consultation often takes a little longer. They really do try to keep things running on time, but cannot always predict how their day will run. They do try to be as accessible as possible to their patients, - and other practitioners- hence the taking of phone calls. I don't think patients generally mind, & it is nice to think the Doctors are so friendly & accessible. Plus there is the fact that the patient register is by choice, & people are free to change if they don't like the 'service', so to say.

So in spite of some fraught moments now & then, with waiting room scenes, on the whole the Doctors give very good service, & are caring & thoughtful. We have been patients there for 10 years.... a scary thought!

************

Sunday was my eldest 'baby's' 46th Birthday. I wished I could have spent the day with him, but he lives far away. I rang him up, & had a nice long chat. He sounds happy, & says he is very well.


Randy Crawford, You Might Need Somebody.

Friday, May 23

Unbridled Hilarity

The title is a lie of sorts, as Blackadder might say.

There is not much unbridled hilarity at all. A mild amusement, yesterday. Another visit to the Dr. At the risk of boring everyone witless about health problems, I could definitely see the funny side of things yesterday.

Armed with my scan results, my far-too-high blood pressure, & my itching twitching body, off I went to keep my appointment. I arrived on time, found the waiting room to be crowded, with some smallish extremely rowdy children acting out various games, the rules & limits of which, must have been known only to themselves.

Looking at the pained & horrified faces of other waiting patients, I opted to sit outside, on the 'overflow seat'. This is a wooden slatted seat, with wrought iron, legs, & arms, chained to the concrete to prevent thievery, & it is none too warm a site, but at least it is a seat, under shelter.

I always take a book to while away the hour/s wait. I watched people coming & some going. I noticed there never seemed to be a vacant seat. The mother of the rowdies eventually emerged, carrying a baby! I wondered what she had been thinking, to want another, as I watched & listened to her trying vainly to quieten the children to a dull roar, as they roiled & boiled around her, shouting & cuffing. I could scarcely believe there were only actually 3 older children, but 2 were boys, which may be why they seemed so boisterous.

A tottery old man was helped into the surgery waiting room, accompanied by a large 'sweaty' looking man in huge boots. They grabbed seats inside, & settled in to wait. A large pleasant lady arrived & sat next to me. We chatted a little, & then it began to rain. The temperature dropped several degrees. The pleasant lady dived in the door, & grabbed the only-just-vacated seat. I glumly watched, as more people came out, more elderly & tottery went inside. I felt I was younger, & not really sick, so they probably needed a seat indoors, more than I did.

A mother & her adult daughter, complete with heavy cold, arrived to sit next to me. Cramped indeed on the wooden seat. Still trying to read. The door opened & out bounded a man of perhaps Italian origin, with a wonderful accent. He told us, in his loud & rich voice, he had to come outside for a 'Breather'. The 'sweaty man' he told us, was a wino! He reeked of it. He also had a bottle, & kept taking fresh swigs!

Then his wife was called into the Dr's room, & he bounced back inside. I anxiously peered to see if there were vacant seats. There appeared to be only one, next to the 'wino'. I was, by then, shivering a little, & my backside was cramped & cold too.

Suddenly I saw 3 vacant seats, I jumped up, informing the other women, & we all dived inside to relative warmth. The seat I got, was rather too close to the Wino. I was treated to sour wafts of whatever, everytime he took a deep swig. He groaned on about waiting, waiting. The tottery old, kept ranting at the Wino. All unintelligable. The TV blared out the daily news. A woman with a child never took breath, as she chatted animately to the woman next to her. She blah blahed so much, she never even heard the Dr call her name. The receptionist had to almost scream at her, over the general hubbub in the waiting room!I began to feel I had died & gone to hell. Noisy, smelly Hell!

Out came Dr P, he called my name, & I reeled into his surgery. He looked at me, & told me I looked as if I was in pain. I told him it was not pain, it was partly the smell of the Wino, & partly being cold.

Blood pressure far too high, still. Ideal drug could not be given to me, it would kill me, & that would be 'embarrassing'. 'Ha ha' I told him, 'I wouldn't be embarrassed, I would just be dead.'
'Yes' he replied 'But Gom would not be pleased, & I could get into trouble, so I wont give you that one'.

The itching skin is probably making me have high blood pressure, I told him.
'Let me see it again? Hmmn! That looks bloody awful!'
'I will just take a biopsy. Lie down on your stomach, I will take one from your back.'
The needle goes in, stinging like mad.
The phone rings. He leaps to answer it, tells me not to move, 'There is blood on your back! Don't move!'
More phone talk.
Back to take the biopsy.
Phone rings again, off he rushes to pick up the phone, turns to look at me, flings down the phone, rushes over, 'You are bleeding like a stuck pig!!' Grabs dressings, puts those over the blood, leaps off to the phone again.

Finishes with the phone, mutters to me, 'It is not the patients that take the time, it is all the bloody phone calls.' He grabs huge gobs of gauze to stem the bleeding. Tapes them to my back, tapes the bra back down too- 'To hold it in place.'

Shows me the biopsy, explains a little about it. Another phone call. Back to me, checks the scan. Tells me it is ok. Tells me to immediately take the new pill for the blood pressure. Tells me to return for another check, & biopsy results in a week. In between all this, he has asked about Gom. They like each other. He once called Gom an arsehole, for not taking his medication properly, & though it may sound strange, Gom really liked him for that!

Off I reeled, looking like a Hunchback. The mild non-allergy tape has left great welts of red itching patches all over my back. The amounts of blood on the dressing looked like far too much for one small slice out of me. Hilarious indeed!

At least it is not bleeding after the shower this morning. Itching, yes, but not bleeding.
**********************


We have our son to stay for a few precious days. It will be nice. We feel we don't see enough of him, as is the case with adult children. He invariably makes me laugh. He makes Gom & I both laugh.

He has an old car, which he loves. It is 1962 Valiant. He is spending a small -or maybe large- fortune to get it back on the road. He doesn't need it for travel to work, it is easier to get the bus in the city. He loves the car, & over the years has spent a lot of money keeping it.

He is a softy about animals & insects. He once had a resident Huntsman spider that lived in the car. His partner was terrified of the spider, but he kept telling her it was harmless. He almost died when it once appeared over the peak of his cap, as he was driving on the Freeway! He is still not sure how he didn't have an accident.

It would still be there today, if spiders live so long, but a mechanic saw it one day, & squashed it. Son was quite upset, but didn't say a word.

Wednesday, May 21

Happiness is...

Happiness is, a parcel in the post!
A parcel containing treasure!
A parcel containing a wonderful surprise from Andrea, Welsh Quilter!
A lovely little tote bag, Andrea made, with a pincushion on the front, & pockets for all the little goodies one needs when sewing. Scissors, cottons, tape measure. Perfect for projects in the evening, handsewing.

There is an extra piece of the pretty fabric, so I can use it for another project. A lovely card, with cupcakes on the front, & a note from Andrea inside. I just love the colours in the fabric, & I love the blue lining.

And! She did not forget Gom. She has added some chocolate, so he 'won't feel left out'! How sweet is that. He is really grateful too, & has told me to thank Andrea profusely.

He also told me to make sure to tell her, that he will eat it all himself, to save my nether regions from spreading further! Cheeky man. Or maybe that should be 'cheeky' me!

Here is the tote, with the chocolate stashed away inside. Perhaps I will sneak it away. Trouble is, his memory is not that bad- yet!



There seems to be a bit of 'blue' happening around here lately. I have just decided to use a blue to sash some blocks I have had hanging about waiting to be sewn into a quilt top. I dithered about what colour to use, then decided it wont matter, as the blocks have lots of colours, & having it finished will be a step in the right direction, regardless of the colour of the sashing!

I have been on a reading jag, have finished 2 books & begun another, & the lure of the sunny day, & blue skies is very tempting to me. It is rather cold & dull in the sewing room, & I have thought about moving the machine into the other bedroom & setting it up by the sunny window.

I have been trying really hard to trim Leo's unkempt woolliness, too. He is very reluctant to be clipped, but his feet need a good trim, & he has developed 'dags' on his tail. He wont tolerate a good brushing, & anyone would think it hurt him, as the moment he sees the brush, he runs off to hide.

I visited Mrs Nice Neighbour, & her dear little Beau, & his coat is just beautiful. He is quite happy to be bathed, & brushed. Leo is not happy about either. Honey suffers it, but with great reluctance, & she also hides when the brush comes out.

Ah well, the day is clouding over very rapidly, so it looks as if sewing will be the better choice after all.

Tuesday, May 20

Autumn Dreaming

The blue sky, the sunny, seeping, creeping, warmth,
the spendour...
The idle comfort of the warmth upon your limbs,
As you lie back, upon the cushions of the lounger.
Think to yourself, this is the perfect life,
Perfect comfort.

The gentle waft of breeze, gentle upon the skin,
Warmly caressing, lulling, into peace, & wellbeing.

The wonderful warmth, creeping into your bones,
Your whole being, warming, cheering, ...solace.

The sudden, sharp, chill wind,
Slyly, sneaking around the corner, bringing chills,
Nipping ankles, the small exposures of skin.
Cheeks, suddenly chill, red, glowing from cold.

A shadow over the sun. Confusion.
What is reality?
That wonderful warmth, lying in the sunsoaked backyard?
The semi conscious reality of the perfusion of the warmth?

Another reality, with family, cares, worries.
Autumn Dreaming is such Bliss.



BFJ.This is for you.


Roy Orbison, Blue Bayou.

"Garden Peas"

While cooking the tea last night for Hitler Gom, I noticed the packet of frozen peas was labelled "Garden Peas". It struck me as ludicrous to call the frozen peas 'Garden' peas. Obviously this is a marketing ploy to make us feel all homey, & comfortable about the frozen peas.

What?, you haven't got an actual garden? Never mind, we have garden peas for your delectability. Trust us! Buy our produce!

Never mind the fact that they would have been grown in a huge field, & harvested, by huge machines, at the exact moment of perfect ripeness as deemed by some inspector. If that time happened to be midnight on the day, so beit. They would be harvested, with huge lights & no messing about.

Whizzed off to be graded & frozen as fast as possible. I am not too sure of the rest of the process on the way to our freezers, in small plastic bags- which pollute the planet. Arriving like that, they actually couldn't be further from 'Garden Peas' except maybe if they were dried, & split. Then, of course they would be in smaller plastic bags, & would not require a freezer.

I know about the midnight harvesting of the peas for the freezer. When we had our Country Hotel, we had been out one evening, & were returning home on the long straight country roads of Canterbury. A dark night, & no other traffic about. Speeding a little, no doubt.

Suddenly, in the distance, we could see a huge field with lights flashing. As there had recently been a lot of UFO sightings, around Christchurch, we thought we had come upon the 'Mother Ship', or some such. Gom & I were both struck with this incredible eerie feeling, & as we approached, hair stood up on the backs of our necks.

As we got closer still, we could see the huge harvesting machines, but still had no idea who, or what was going on. We had slowed right down, but then quickly sped up again! Next day, we mentioned it to some of the locals, & they laughed, & told us it was pea harvesting time, & it went on round the clock to get the crops at peak perfection. The local growers were contracted to whoever the company was- probably Watties, back then. They were given the peas to sow, told what day to plant them, & then constant checks were kept on the crops, until harvesting time.

No doubt other vegetables are grown in the same way. No one really wants to think of that aspect of their vegetables I would imagine. If they think about them at all, that is. I am sure there are children who just think vegetables such as peas beans & corn come from plastic packets? Just as they think milk comes in bottles or cartons.

I am not sure why I am griping about this. Somehow I get the same irrational anger when I see "Garden Salad" on the menu in a restaurant. Often the sad tired limp mouldering strands of whatever couldnt be further from the 'Garden'.
The tasteless tomatoes were probably grown in some horrible glass house. How else to explain the lack of taste?

I am just turning into a grouchy old bat. I could go on. "Ocean Fresh" =bollocks.
"Catch of the Day"= probably some old stuff going off in the freezer. "Hand selected"=cheapest they could offer. On it goes.

While I am in a sour mood, I might just add one of my pet hates.
PITCHER!!
A pitcher is a vessel for carrying liquids.
It is NOT a portrait or a PICTURE!!
Who told the news readers to say PITCHER?? WHY??

Yes, yes, I am going off to get my blood pressure rechecked.


********************


Something much brighter & happy.
Fabric, from a quick nip into a quilty shop in my old home town in NZ. 'Dancing Kiwis', it is called. I kicked myself for not buying others. Or taking a photo of the lovely quilt the proprietor had on display, using all the lovely Kiwi fabrics.

The Tui is one of my favourite Native New Zealand birds, & my lovely cousin gave me this nice piece featuring the Tuis, & so now I should be thinking of some project to use them.

In the meantime I use them for stress relief, & a nice pat now & then makes me happy.
Weather is nice, blue skies, & though it is chilly, it is still quite nice to sit in the sun, & read.
Oh, & last night's tea met with Hitler's Gom's approval. I did a Vegetable casserole, using some of the Freezer Bounty of corn & peas, plus fresh carrots, onion & potatoes, with a Chicken Soup mix for sauce, with Chicken & Creamy Mushroom Sauce for meat.
Jean-Michel Jarre, Equinoxe

Saturday, May 17

Some things that make me happy.






I seem to have had plenty to gripe about lately, so I thought I would try to redress the balance somewhat.


This is a picture of my Dear 80 year old Aunt's Crazy wallhanging that she made. I love it. I wish I lived closer to share all her secrets about her quilting & sewing adventures.
This Aunt is a treasure in our family. She was an only child, & when she married my Uncle, she was introduced to a very close knit, large family. She always says she was thrilled to become a part of such a close, & loving family, & I am sure she means it. We, as children, loved her warm, & welcoming ways, & she has always been a legend in our family, with her wonderful cooking, & her never failing good humour, & welcome to all comers.
Here she is with my Beloved Brother, & her husband, our Dear Uncle G.





We know she has made our Uncle the 'happiest man alive' to quote him. How else would he have lived to be 91!

Here is a photo of Best Friend J & her two children. Adults now, of course. The years fly away when I think of how we were two young mothers, & our children were babies. It was so lovely to have the chance to see them both now, as adults.


This is a photo of Princess No 1. My Best Friend J's eldest Granddaughter. What a lovely girl she is. How else could she be otherwise with such lovely Grandparents, & such a lovely Mother!
And here is Princess Two, equally as lovely. Their personalities are so different, but they are such lovely girls.

Here is Jessie, their wonderful intelligent bright & happy Kelpie/Border Collie pup. She is so bright & eager to please. She was my 'Doggie Fix' on my trip. I was seriously missing my dogs while I was away, & Jessie was the dog contact I really needed!

Here are cousins at play. Sisters, with their younger boy cousin. How nicely they played, & how well they got along together. My Great nieces & a nephew, who now has a new brother, who I have not met.





An African Violet, which reminds me of my mother, who could grow them like no one I have met. She always had them flowering upon her windowsill, & she could poke a leaf into soil, & next thing we knew, a new plant was flowering!





This, a gorgeous Birthday thought, for a lovely Grand Aunt. How gorgeous is this photo, & the thought behind it! This dear little girl, who is almost 1, wishing her Great Aunt Happy Birthday.

*******************
Then there is the less than delightful C*R*A*P! that sneaks into every life!!Haha.
As you may know, we have recently had cause to purchase a new Electric Blanket.
Initially, we put the said blanket on the bed the wrong way 'up', or 'down''.
When I purchased the blanket, the harrassed sales assistant had hastily tried to tell me the controls has a 'long cord'. I naturally did not think too much about this piece of information.
Until we discovered the blanket was upside down. The controls seemed to be at the correct level, but the heating zones were not. The foot levels wiring was all under the pillows.
So, we reversed the blanket. Which resulted in the control plug now being at knee level.
(I tried to do a stick figure man illustration of this oddity, but it proved far more difficult than it would appear. My pitiful diagram was hideously inadequate, & so I have spared you the twisted result. I take my hat off to Mike, with his SFM illustrations. I could achieve nothing like his proffessional results.)
The plug connection to the blanket is now at knee level. It intrudes quite markedly into the bed area. Gom had complained bitterly about this freak occurrence. He is adamant the blanket is upside down.
When I explained to him the fact that the foot area, of the wiring, needs to be at the bottom of the bed, he could not understand the fact that some Cretin, has placed the control plug at knee level. He does not have arthritis of the knees, as I do. He is not currently on the waiting list to have a knee replacement, as I am. But he does have sensitive knees. They protest at banging themselves on some f%$#ing plug in the middle of his bed! He claims to wake at every contact with this ill-placed control plug.
To say nothing of the fact that the control barely reaches the bedside table. The electric plug barely reaches the site of the electrical outlet plugs.
The instruction booklet gives no idication that the placement of the control plug is ludicrous. I have tried, with no success to contact the marketers of this product. They have chosen, it would seem, not to answer my complaint of the serious design flaw of the placement of the control fitting.
I note we were given a Return Policy card when we purchased this appliance. I am not sure whether we have grounds to return our purchase or not. As with most of these policies, the wording is very confusing, & obscure. I think we may be making a trip of return on the grounds of ludicrous placement of connection plugs. I suspect that they have had numerous returns for this very reason, & this is why the sales person stressed this fact. Who knows what the eventual outcome will be.
I note that the marketing brand does not seem to carry any Electric Blankets, as current stock.
I will keep you posted on this ludicrous little drama.
Meanwhile Gom is claiming wounded & maimed knee caps - & sleepless nights!





America, Ventura Highway.



Thursday, May 15

"I never thought it would happen to me"

How many times have heard that phrase, or thought it ourselves.





"I never thought it would happen to me."





I have been thinking it rather a lot lately.


I suppose I should be thinking,





"Why wouldn't it happen to me? It has to happen to someone!"





As well as this intolerable itch, of which I despair of ever finding any solution, I have other health issues that seem just plain bizarre.





I seem to be falling apart. The latest 'thing' has really depressed me, as, unless I win Lotto or thousands of $$$ some other way- which is hardly likely, since I dont even take tickets, haha!- I cannot get this latest wretched problem repaired, or corrected. Not deemed to be life threatening, it will remain to be an unpleasantly uncomfortable bane of my life.





I feel a little guilty for feeling this way, as there are people much worse off than I am, who are battling their own private hells, or health battles. With far more serious, & indeed, life threatening problems. I guess it is human nature though, to think of our own misery first. Selfish species that we are.





Somehow, knowing that we are not the worst off, doesn't help us to feel any better.





I feel a bit like advertising - you know the sort of thing,


"Available for learner surgeons to practise upon."





"Unusual & complicated surgery necessary, - Any one interested in learning repairs, on tattered old body."





I am to have a scan, just to 'reassure' us it is 'only' what we think it is. I felt a slightly hysterical urge to scream/laugh out loud when the Dr told me that.





I racked my brains, thinking of all the female relatives I could, who had never seemed to have this problem. Imagine the indignity of finally recalling a male relative who, I would almost bet, has it.





My blood pressure is doing stupid things too, far too high. Dr said he wouldn't worry about that, at the moment, as, if someone is worried about some other problems, chances are they will have higher than usual readings. Of course the fact that last time I went it was sky high too, does not auger well.





******************





Yesterday, my lovely daughter took me out for lunch. Her Mother's Day treat for me. Just the two of us. We tried out a newly renovated establishment, with a swish new menu. Have to give it 9 1/2 points. The food was beautiful. One slightly mouldy salad leaf let it down a bit. Apart from that, it was just perfection. I had a nice glass of Chardonnay, & DJ had a beer. It was lovely to just sit back & chat. I realise every day of my life, that I am truly blessed to have a daughter that I get along with so well.



*********************


The day of my Granddaughter's birthday, we went to a Mall, to meet before our lunch. Gom loves playing tricks on Granddaughter- well he loves playing tricks on anyone, really!

So he appeared in the Mall wearing this mask. As it happened GD & her friend were outside a window in the Mall, & they saw Gom & were laughing. Our Daughter began to laugh too, along with our rellies.
As you can see, somewhat hideous, but not really threatening surely?




Next thing Gom knew, he was being tapped on the shoulder & told not to wear the mask in the Centre. Did he pose a threat? Was he about to hold up a shop? Or attack someone returning from the toilet block?

We moved away laughing, & as we stood about discussing our next meeting point, a female Security Guard came up to us, & asked if we needed help, or directions? Was 'everything' alright? We must have been under close scrutiny from the cameras! Surely 4 elderly, greying, people with 3 younger women did not pose a likely threat? We are not of any specific 'ethnicity'. Just plain old whitey folks doddering about, making plans to meet later for lunch.

Did the 2 teenage girls look like desperadoes, I wonder? Being tutored by the "Elders of the Gang"? Obviously masks are not good to take to shopping Malls.

We will know better, next time.




This next couple of photos I took one day last week. A moth, who suddenly appeared on Gom's shoulder. After taking my shots, I was urged to 'Get it off me!'

It flew onto the mop handle, so I took another pic, as it appeared so different.


Thanks for your indulgence if you read this rather crapulous post. I am sure I will get over my little selfpity party shortly.


Bryan Adams Cloud Number 9.

Monday, May 12

Moving Right Along

Just a collection of things that took my eye along the ways. Not in any particular order. The vehicle is for Granny J, as I know she likes decorated vehicles.
What is not to like about art like this?!


Leaving Auckland, & setting out along the Motorway. The ripples of clouds seemed harmless, & in the main, they were.



A timely warning on the morning we stepped out of our Motel Unit. We had cooked ourselves a slap-up breakfast with lovely local eggs, & delicious bacon. The smoke alarm had gone off when we cooked toast, & it was impossible to stop- or bear! So Beloved Brother took the battery out. The proprietor was less than happy about it, but as my brother declared, he needs to protect what little hearing he has left!

An interesting little side comment here, is about the Motels in general in New Zealand. Most of them have a stove, (with oven) a microwave, toaster, electric jug, & fridge. A sink & bench, dish washing facilities are provided with teatowel, & dishwashing liquid, as well as the requisite china & cutlery. We felt quite sad when we stayed at this particular Motel, as we had often met our Aunt, at this Motel, & she often had a slap-up dinner cooked for us!
There is a local Club, which also has a Restaurant, & we have often dined there in the past also. Now our Aunt has gone, but the memories linger on.
We visited our Grandparents Graves, & it is also the site of our mother's ashes, & an Uncle's also. It is an old Cemetary, which used to have wonderful heastones but this poor ruined Angel is the only one left now, due to vandal activity. We were pleased to see that on this visit the rabbit holes had been filled, & it seemed some attempt to rid the grounds of rabbits has been undertaken.

This is a shot of the main street of a small town, which I am rather fond of, & I have vivid memories from my early childhood. We often stop there for a refresher on our way to visit relatives.


This is the wonderfully painted vehicle which was in the street in Opotiki. I took these shots for Granny J- & myself! I looked about to see if the owner was about, but it was quite crowded at the cafe, & also the Home Bakery. No one looked to be watching my photographic attempts.

This, the other side of the van, & equally as well done. Some type of Taniwha? I wonder....



The following are pics of the flowers in an Aunt's garden. I am not sure what these first pink blooms are, but they were lovely. This Aunt always had a very green thumb, & her garden used to be legendary in the town, as they lived in a very visible house on the main road. People would stop to photograph her flower displays, & she successfully grew Pineapples to ripeness for years.

Here is a very pretty Kanagroo Paw, flourishing in her garden in New Zealand. They can be tricky to grow in Australia!

Another pretty rose, & I am sure this one was called Kiwi something? I have forgotten!

Another bloom of Tequila Sunrise. Beautiful full brilliantly coloured blooms.


Another lovely bloom. No idea of the name of this one.


This is a Bumble Bee. I tried so hard to get a good pic of him/her. They don't live here in Australia, & the first time my son's partner saw one, she could not believe her eyes. They are so large & seemingly should not be able to fly, but they can, & though they seem awkward when on the flowers they seem quite quick in the air. Of all the shots I took, this really was the best.


Here to finish are some rolling richly greened paddocks of farmland in the Waikato area. They have had a drought this year, but recent rains had superficially greened things, & gave the impression of the usual lushly green landscape.



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An update on the itch. Sadly, it did not abate during my New Zealand sojourn, so at least that eliminates the carpet.
I am scheduled to see the Skin Specialist on 1st July.



Tracy Chapman, If Not Now.












Saturday, May 10

Anzac Day 2008

I realise it is well after Anzac Day, but this year my Beloved Brother & I spent Anzac Day in the small town where our parents married, in a small Church in the town. Our father is buried in the Returned Services section of the Cemetary. Of course we went to visit his grave, & were pleased to see all the Returned Services personel gravestones had Poppies placed on them. My brother crouched down for this photograph. I was unable to crouch for mine, & so I look hideously ungainly, bent in the middle. My knees dont do 'crouch' or 'squat', or even 'kneel', any more, so I have spared myself the indignity of my pic.







We attempted to visit the little Church where our father had married our mother, & later where his funeral was conducted, but there was a very large parade crowd gathered for the Anzac Day ceremonies, so we left that.



We drove around, & I was very taken with the wonderful Murals painted on the walls at Opotiki Primary School. Isn't this wonderful?






This is another mural on a low wall, & is also very impressive. There are further murals, which were further distant. It being school holidays, I take it the grounds were locked, though we did see some children playing in one of the playground areas.




Another building which impressed me with it's wonderful carving feature is the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board building. It is a very humble old building, but is neatly kept, & the carvings looked to be recently repainted.



A closer view of the carving.


Details of the side carvings.





I couldn't get them side by side. Techno dummy.



This old house is quite typical of a many older houses in New Zealand. It looks very well cared for & I am sure it is nice inside.

My Aunt & Uncle's house is about this vintage, & the wonderful woodwork in the rooms is beautiful. There is a lovely fireplace with a beautiful mantelpiece in one of the rooms, & I wish I had taken photos.



After we had been to visit our father's grave, we went to our Uncle & Aunt's home, & as I watched our wonderful 80 year old Aunt bustle about getting us a wonderful lunch of homemade soup, scones, & pikelets, I wondered what I will be like at 80 should I live so long.



They insisted we stay the night, & so we agreed we would. They took us on a guided tour up to the old family homestead up in the Waioeka Gorge, & BB drove their car.




BB has a truck, which was our mode of transport, & I must say, by the end of our travels, I had grave fears my spine had compressed up into my skull. Those little snubnose trucks dont really offer much comfort. However the truck was handy, in the event, as another aging Aunt gifted a fruiting pineapple plant to BB & it travelled about on the back of the truck quite happily, & made it safely home after all our travels, about the Bay of Plenty & through the Waikato.




It must be 40 years since I have eaten red meat, not for any reason, other than the fact I do not like the flavour. However our Aunt had prepared Venison, that our cousin had shot in the Waioeka Gorge, for our tea, & it smelt so delicious I was tempted to try a piece. I was amazed, it was delicious! The last time I had tried venison, I had vowed never again. Perhaps I am getting adventurous in my old age.



It sounds ridiculous, but I always feel potatoes, & eggs taste better in New Zealand, & my Best Friend J's husband assures me the meat all tastes better too, because the animals are not stressed from lack of water. The more I thought about that the more sense it makes.



I wish I had taken more photos, & I wish I had copies of my Uncle with his trout catches, truly huge fish. As he said it was a hunter & fisherman's paradise, to live in that area.



He tells us if he dies tomorrow, he has lived a wonderful happy life, & every day is a bonus to him. He does the dishes for his wife every night, & he hangs the clothes on the line for her. He filleted fish he was given while we were there, & my brother said he has a sure eye & did a great job.
This photo was taken for his 90th Birthday, & he looks just the same today, at just on 91.




Nancy Wilson, How Glad I Am.



Thursday, May 8

Life's Random Swipes

Last Saturday evening, we had a family party, to celebrate our Granddaughter's 19th Birthday.

It was very nice, & as the evening wore on, I became aware it was rather cold, & I turned on my electric blanket for a little comfort & warmth for my retirement. Which was odd in view of the fact that the whole time I was in New Zealand, I was hot every single night! The weather seemed to be unseasonably warm, & the high humidity made it seem even warmer. Oz is traditionally warmer than NZ. Not so in April in the North Island, this year.

I slipped away to my bed before the night's revelries had finished. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the bed felt cold. As I turned back the sheets, I noticed the burn mark. Horrors! The electric blanket had burnt a hole in the mattress protector, melted the control, & singed the sheets, & the quilt cover.

I decided not to alert anyone else, & just unplugged the thing, & climbed into bed. Next day when I told Gom he was quite horrified. I thought we were really lucky it didn't burst into flames, & either burn the bed, or cook me. The blanket was not very old either. We had one for 30 years that never did get checked or malfunction.

Off today to purchase a new one. Plus a new mattress protector. The sheets can wait. As I trundled about looking for electric blankets, I couldn't help but notice the mall seemed to have the smell of a hospital. I couldn't work out if it was just me or if they have started to use some new cleaner. I had noticed the smell on Monday when we were there too. No one else seemed to notice it. I asked Gom about it, but he doesn't have a very strong sense of smell at the best of times.

Electric blankets seemed a bit like hen's teeth today. Very hard to find. To cap that off, the large Department Store, beginning with an M, had staff of hens teeth rarity too, & one poor harried woman was trying to field a long queue of intending purchasers, plus complaints. What is wrong with these large stores? Surely they can afford staff? The temptation to stump off without purchase was only thwarted by the fact that I had eventually found one, several stores later, which seemed a minor miracle. The fact that it seems to need a license to operate, is a minor detail, I am sure. I hope it goes well, & suffers no malfunctions. Has a 3 year warranty, so should be ok for that time at least. It also seems to smell vaguely medicinal... hmmm perhaps it is me......?

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Further photos from my trip around family.

This wonderful tree, seemed so magnificent, I felt moved to take a photograph.
No idea if it is a native of NZ or not, but it is wonderful to see it so large, & healthy.

This is another tree that I greatly admired, & in spite of my Uncle telling me the name, I have forgotten again. It is host to many other plant forms, & is on the side of the road which winds through the Waioeka Gorge, beside the Waioeka River. In the distance behind the tree, the naked hills can still be seen, where the farmers to the district tried valiantly to clear sheer cliffs & turn the land into some kind of farms.

This is an area of my early childhood. My father's family farm was in this hostile region, & my mother's parents lived beside the river, so I spent some time here, & still find it a thrill to revisit.
The poor hills have largely regenerated to native bush again, & are beautiful & wild to behold. We took a drive up to the old homestead, which now has some Chalets, for deer stalkers & pig hunters to use or folk who want a true holiday off the beaten track. They are also very popular with trout fisher folk, as the river has wonderful trout.
Here is a shot of the wonderful regenerated bush above the river. I feel homesick just looking at it. It was wonderful to smell again, the river smell, & the damp bush smell. As a small child my father's sister used to collect me on her horse, & take me back to the homestead, & she taught me the names of all the native trees, & the native birds.

A lot of the farmers just walked off these farms back in the days before the Second World War. The sheer hills, had little to offer the farmer in either sheep country or dairy. Most of the land has now reverted to bush.
In this pic, the River can be seen, & it had recently been very high, so we saw a lot of logs washed up along the banks, & there had been some huge slips on the road, where the rocks on the side of the road had fallen with all the rain causing instability. There are now a lot of holding nets alongside the road, to prevent the worst areas from spilling onto the road.

It is so very different now, from the rough road that existed in my childhood. My maternal grandfather's job was to patrol the road & deal with any slips that might occur, & keep the water tables clear. It is all paved roading now, & is quickly cleared should slips occur. My maternal grandmother was the Postmistress.
We drove up to the house where my maternal grandparents had lived, but it was impossible to see much as the new owners have huge hedges on the roadside now. The Uncle & Aunt who guided us on this trip had owned it at one stage, & had a tea rooms in the old home. I never did get to see the tea rooms, but they were very popular, & a lot of hunters & fishermen use this road.


This is a pic closer to Rotorua, of rolling green dairy farmland, with huge sheer cliffs in the distance. It was a very dark day, & the photo is not very clear- plus my brother was driving at a fair clip! I kept trying to get a photo of the dairy herds, of Jersey cows & Fresian cows, which are the most popular for milk on the dairy farms, but missed every chance. I didnt even get to take pics of the sheep!!

This last pic is of a Rimu tree. I have always loved Rimu trees, & this one grows near a church in my hometown, where a friend & I used to go to Sunday school together many years ago. The church has been rebuilt since our day, but I wonder if the tree is a survivor?