Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The oldest and the youngest


Michael, my oldest grandson reads a story to my youngest granddaughter, Georgia.

Michael is staying with me for a few days and working on the farm for my son. I didn't notice until I downloaded the photo that he is sitting in the lounge with cowshit on his arms! Blind grandmothers must be the most easy going!

I'm completely over my cold. Thanks to those caring souls who left messages of concern. My arm is still a bit sore but I have consulted a doctor and it is thought a new joystick sort of mouse might be the answer to my problem. My boss ordered one immediately so we should find out soon enough.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Identity crises



I know this is a lousy photo. My daughter-in-law had just picked up the girls from my house and was heading for home with them on the quad bike. It was nearly dark, drizzling with rain when I waved them off. I just had to time to grab the camera and point it in the general direction to get this shot.

Just another pet lamb confused about its identity. This one obviously thinks it's one of the dogs.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot out - My Favourite Place to...

Thank you to Cindy for this weeks theme... My Favourite Place To...
I have many favourite places, to do different things depending on the time of year or weather.

My favourite place to... holiday is at home in Australia - especially the Sunshine Coast, around Noosa. Lots of amazing wildlife.


A lazy Koala enjoying a midday snooze.
Let's be honest, it was an all day kind of snooze.



Birds Eye View

Noosa National Park - A great place to... walk with my sisters.

Back home in New Zealand, my favourite place to... spend summer and walk along the beach.

And finally, could this be my favourite place to ...


Headstone (Bay of Islands)
Don't be alarmed that I feel this is where I am headed. I now have a cold as well as my sore arm, but I'm staying with my daughter and being nursed! So now I am ordered back to bed, which happens to be my favourite place right now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blue September

We'd been playing cards for about 20 minutes before Georgia looked me in the eye (to see if I was bluffing) and remarked, "Your hair is blue. Why is your hair blue?"

I explained that this was Blue September and today was the day the people I worked with had chosen to raise money for prostate cancer. How today we had "gone blue"!

I have two sons and seven brothers - how blessed am I? There are so many ways I could lose any of them but there is no reason why prostate cancer should be the cause of that loss. I pray each and every one of them is aware of the dangers and is having the necessary checks.

I painted Goergia's face in blue paint and she painted mine. I took her photo and she took mine.




As well as having two sons and seven brothers, I have Georgia. I say again - how lucky am I?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cobwebs


Today I have a serious case of cobwebs in my head - no sign of the spiders, thank heavens.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Domestic Animals

Welcome to my Friday "My Family Domestic Animals" shoot out. Thank you, Sandy for the theme!

Two out of the three cats in our family have been gifts from me to other family members. About five years ago my daughter suggested I might like to give her daughter, Jami, a kitten for Christmas. I traipsed around the SPCA places and at one of them a little grey kitten chose me to go home with. Lucy stayed with me for a couple of weeks until Christmas, so when the time came for her to go home with Jami I was a little sad.

Say hello to Lucy:




Lola was found abondoned in a quarry by a girl I worked with, just before Christmas. She was very tiny, about 6 weeks old, and had no tail. Around that time my younger daughter had been saying how they were going to get a kitten and I knew she would adore this little thing that had been thrown on the scrap heap. Lola has become the most indulged pet I've ever had contact with. She comes to visit and goes on holidays!


Making sure she's not left behind





Lola and my grand-daughters old kitten, Mimsy, size each other up in my garden.


Lulu is the latest addition to my son's family here on the farm. She often comes to visit with the grand-daughters, stuck down the front of a shirt or carried in a school bag.


She's still at the kitten stage and is very playful


Now meet this family of chooks. Mother and chicks - doesn't she look so proud?


Proud father struts his stuff!


Ruffled feathers still look lovely, I think:


Dogs are my favourite domestic animal. Here's my Lewey, my best mate, an Australian Blue Heeler, and a something unknown cross. He was found in Auckland, living out of garbage cans and after a few false starts, eventually found his way to me. He used to be absolutely terrified of men but is pretty much over that fear now although he will still slink away looking totally dejected if i growl at him at all. He's getting old now and whereas he was quite red when he was young, he's now faded to an orange-ish/pinky colour, a bit weird to be honest. But if I catch him at the right angle and in good light, he still looks like a fine cattle dog.


Lewey's best mate is not one of the other catttle dogs on the farm but Sam, who is Georgia's litle pet.


My other favourite dogs, Brose and Lass, belong to my friend, Chris.
This is Brose..... Heaven is the touch of Chris' hand..


Lass rests in the shade of a tree after a hard day at work.


I know a lamb is a bit of a stretch as a domestic animal but pet lambs usually think they are part of their adoptive family. Des (don't ask me to explain the name choosing process) follows Georgia when she comes to visit and protests loudly when he is made to stay outside on the deck.


My last photo is of Mene, a lovely little cat who died a few weeks ago and who I miss a lot.


I'm proud of myself for managing a one-armed shoot out. I've been using my left hand to move the mouse and you'd be surprised how stupid my left hand is. It has great difficulty working out the difference between left and right, is always right clicking when my brain has clearly sent it the message to left click. But I think we are making progress, so I'm hoping to get around to visit everyone else's blogs over the weekend.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here's my note

I expect to be absent for a while. I have some pain in my right forearm which I suspect may have something to do with mouse use, so I'm going to use the smidgen of common sense that one of my aunts told me I was born with and limit my computer use to what I need to do at work and checking my emails.

I will try to visit my favourite blogs using my left hand but if those who I usually visit notice my lack of comment, please regard this as my note to explain my absence.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tuesday


The Mangawhai dolphins


Mangawhai Beach

Talking about Moko yesterday reminded me about the dolphins at Mangawhai during the winter of 2006.

From April to Christmas of that year I ran a backpackers hostel at Mangawhai. Most of the time during winter it was very quiet, many nights there was just Aidan and me, no other guests. Aidan was a delightful 21 year old who worked at a garden centre that was being developed and needed somewhere to live for a few months. And also someone to cook for him. Looking after the backpackers wasn’t a full time job and I had a few other part time jobs at the same time.

By Christmas, however, it was starting to get quite busy and I was happy enough to scurry back to the farm, acknowledging that making 23 beds a day was just a tad too much for me.

It was a wonderful time, though. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the travellers who passed through. I’d talk to a post at the best of times, so I was pretty much in my element having new people to talk to all the time. We can forget all too easily that there are so many fabulous young people in this world!!

But the most wondrous thing that happened that winter was the dolphins that visited at the beach. I first heard about them from a surfer. This guy could hardly explain to me what had happened he was so excited. He’d been riding a wave and saw a dark shape in the water beside him, on the side closest to the rocks. At first he was worried, thinking he was closer to the rocks than was safe, then he fell off his board as “the rock” shot out the front of the wave, flipped in the air back over the crest of the wave. He got back on his board and sat there, stunned, looking around and sure enough, the dolphin came back but there were at least 6 of them, not just one. He said they were obviously showing him how to really ride a wave.

I started to take my regular walks along the surf beach rather than along the estuary. I saw them a number of times playing in the waves, sometimes only one or two, sometimes quite a gathering of them. They were small, were they children?

One day when I had with me 5 Finnish backpackers we all rolled up our trousers and waded into the surf with them. It was September, the water was freezing but we got quite carried away with the excitement of being there in the water with the dolphins. The taller guys could spread their legs wide enough for these darling little creatures to swim through. Obviously they were enjoying the fun as much as we were.

It was a remarkable, unforgettable experience. Just to see the delight in the eyes of the tourists would have been enough but I know that delight was also reflected in mine.

The cold got the better of me after a while, I was wet up to the waist by then and had just enough control of my senses to realize that the walk back home was going to be extremely cold and uncomfortable. I left the young people there in the water and got back to the house to a warm shower as quickly as I could - and luckily without being seen by too many people.

That was the last time I saw the dolphins. I figured that as the water warmed up they moved on.

But I will never forget the excitement and sheer joy of that day.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Moko



A lovely bottlenose dolphin has been delighting crowds at Mahia Beach, down along the east coast of the North Island for two and a half years. He's the stuff of legends, being credited with guiding two stranded pygmy sperm whales to safety.

I quote from newspaper reports:

Before Moko arrived, rescue workers had been working for more than an hour to get two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, back out to sea after they were stranded Monday off Mahia Beach, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith.

But Smith said the whales restranded themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea from the beach, about 480 kilometres northeast of the capital, Wellington. It looked likely they would have to be euthanized to prevent a prolonged death, he said.

"They kept getting disoriented and stranding again," said Smith, who was among the rescuers. "They obviously couldn't find their way back past (the sandbar) to the sea."

Then along came Moko, who approached the whales and appeared to lead them as they swam 200 yards along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea.

"Moko just came flying through the water and pushed in between us and the whales," Juanita Symes, another rescuer, told The Associated Press. "She got them to head toward the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience."

On the other hand his playfulness has come close to causing a tragedy. It was claimed he nearly loved a visitor to death.

"We were playing around for a while but then when I wanted to go back in, (to the beach) he just wanted to keep playing. I became exhausted and started to panic," the woman told the BBC. When she screamed, a local bar owner came out in a dinghy to rescue her.

Then Moko disappeared from Mahia Beach. But turned up a few days later 80km up the coast at Tolaga Bay (where Whale Rider was filmed). And there has been another newspaper report of his playfulness going a bit overboard.

The report says: "Seasoned ocean athlete Brian Wilson said the experience left him fearing for his life. He came across the dolphin about a kilometre off the beach as he was paddling in his outrigger canoe.

Delight in seeing the animal turned quickly to fear when he tried to return to shore.

“It was a fight to get back to the beach. He kept trying to turn me around. He threw me off a couple of times. I was starting to get scared that I would not be able to get in.”

Moko was charging up to the waka and Mr Wilson had concerns it might not hold together.

He has worked with dolphins at Marineland in Napier and has trained in the sea for the past three decades and says he has never seen one so huge.

“I just want to warn other people who might be going out to train or even swim. He was so strong, a smaller person might not have made it back to shore.”

He made slow progress as Moko kept turning him around. Then he caught a wave and got away.

The dolphin followed him into shallow water.

Department of Conservation ranger Jamie Quirk said this behaviour was typical of Moko.

Sadly, though, Moko has now gone from this area, too. The experts are saying today that he's been like a teen-age school boy but is now moving into adulthood and has probably gone off to find female company of his own kind.


(I've lifted the photos from the Mahia website)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In memory


It's been haunting me a bit, this photo. Perhaps I should have included it with my other Aged and Weathered things. But despite the age of the stone it didn't look particularly weathered.

There were a few Crawfords at rest in the local cemetery but this one was the oldest. Despite that, there was a healthy lily growing beside the stone and the pretty plastic flowers in a cut off milk bottle didn't look very old.

Lovely to think that someone has been tending the grave of an ancestor who has been there since 1888.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Aged and Weathered

When it came to listing a theme for the future, Aged and Weathered sprang to mind for a reason. My son -in-law belonged to a camera club and the only time I heard what theme he was working on was when he visited to gather shots for Aged and Weathered. He suggested I might like to sit on my old wooden seat on the front deck and he'd take a photo - it didn't happen!




Except for the photos from the local cemetry, which is up a side road, and the photo above which I took on Tuesday on my way to my exercise class, all todays photos have been taken either on the farm or along my daily path to and from work.

The first group are on the farm:

An old footbridge over the creek

What was once a hay feeder now makes a pretend house for Georgia (she's closing her pretend door)


Along the road:





stone fence at the school on the corner


I've posted this shot on a Friday before but I like it and it fits
.... and I couldn't resist a second cemetry shot. Unfortunately all the best grave sites with views looking out at my mountains have been taken!




I hope everyone enjoyed gathering their aged and weathered photos.
I look forward to seeing them all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SShhh, type quietly please

I will finish this post if I can type quietly enough. My ears cannot take any more abuse! I swear my head will shatter if I hear another loud noise!

Georgia and Shayde came here off the school bus this afternoon. Shayde was keen to show me her new trumpet. You'd think I'd know where "not to go" by now. Why not just admire it and let her put it back in its case? I think she would have been happy with that.

But no, muggins, has to ask what can she play on her fine trumpet and look awfully impressed when she replies, "Three Blind Mice."

Believe me, it should be 1000 Deaf Mice.

How do you say, once you've encouraged a child to show you her skill, "That's enough now. Put it away. Don't play any more. I'VE HAD ENOUGH!!!

I even offered the ultimate distraction - let's bake a chocolate cake.

Didn't work! Chocolate icing on the lips just lead to even more torturous sounds!

I do feel sorry for her. She has about as many musical bones in her body as I do. How do I teach her it doesn't matter if you can't make music, you can still love listening to music?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A job with perks

Thanks to having a job with "perks" (for the first time ever), I think I'm too relaxed to do a post. I've never had a job before where there were benefits. The benefits in this instance require a certain amount of trust, but I've always been a bit naive and gullible so no probs there.

Among the things taught at the technical institute where I work is massage. Final term massage students recently put out a call for what I call "Victims" (people to be case studies). The background of everyone who volunteered was put to the students and they were allowed to choose their case studies. Lucky for me, a lovely young lady named Kim chose me as her victim. So I get 10 free massages for agreeing to present my body to her for 10 treatments.

This afternoon I had my second massage from Kim. After last night's exercise class I had a nice groin strain to tell her about - and my right forearm continues to bother me. Well, it did earlier today. Right now, I feel no pain, I just feel totally indulged.

I'm thinking about letting the hairdressing students do their thing with my hair next week. You'd think I'd be more concerned about the damage a massage student could do, but, no, the thought of how bad could it be with a dud hairdressing student is a lot more disconcerting. But my darling oldest daughter was once a hairdressing student and if others hadn't trusted her she would never have been the successful hairdresser she became so we'll see what happens.....

Will keep you posted!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lady Spring

I knew it! I knew that witch, Lady Spring, was not to be trusted. Luckily, I didn't let her lovely days lure me into a false sense of security, I was still ready for her this morning when she hit us with another doozy of a frost, as heavy as any in the dead of winter.

I really shouldn't complain because, once the sun burns away the frost, the days are lovely, as warm as 20C.

Yesterday, as I walked around the farm, I stopped at one stage and stamped my feet in frustration that I don't know how to write well enough to describe the beauty of the day. Or take photos good enough to capture the beauty that surrounds me. A little private tantrum. And I said, "Bloody hell" out loud to make myself feel better. That was one of my father's expressions, it was as close as he came to ever swearing (or at least as close as we his daughters ever heard, maybe the sons heard more, don't know.) Just to hear myself say it out loud (and I say it a lot) always makes me feel better.

At first it seemed strange not to have Georgia's company and to walk in silence which was only interrupted occasionally by a bark from one of the dogs that accompanied me, my Lewey and Georgia's Sam - or me cursing to myself.






It amused me down by the creek to watch Lewey frolicking in the water while Sam stood on the bank and watched him, determined not to get his feet wet. Cute how they demonstrate the traits of their different breeds.





I was surprised, along the creek bank, to find a kowhai with its delicate bell-like flowers, in full bloom. Had never seen it before, then remembered that this time last year I didn't spend many weekends at home on the farm. I was in the throes of what I thought was going to be A Fine Romance, and probably could have been had I been just a tad more patient but I really, really don't like being told what to do so that was that.




The poplars are just starting to show the first green shoots, soon they will be leafy again but I prefer them at this time of year, when they look so grand against a deep blue sky.

I'm sorry my photos are all over the place. I kept losing my internet connection and rushed things a bit when I could get it to work. And now that I've come back to it later I don't want to push my luck. I've calmed down and stopped cursing, it really is frustrating when that keeps happening and I can't see any reason why it should. The day is fine and warm, no storms, no wind, no rain, not even a cloud in the sky.

"Bloody hell" as my dad would say.




Perfect spring day



Today I believe summer really is coming. I'm not going to get too excited about it because I know what a witch Lady Spring is. She lures you into tossing aside your winter woolies then hits you with a wintery blast. Just because she has been around for two glorious days without a cloud in the sky doesn't mean she is ready to roll over and make way for summer just yet.

But while she was in a good mood I got out into the garden, did a heap of weeding and mowed the lawn (for the first time in months, the ground has been too wet to get the mower over it).



I'm bitterly disappointed with my spring flowers this year. The first have just started to appear but where are the rest of them? Oh, alright, I know that when my granddaughters helped me plant out the bulbs a lot went in the ground upside down but they have had time to go to the other side of the world and come back again by now.

On the bright side the two little Japanese Maples that I thought were dead and gone are springing back to life. Love it when that happens! Especially as I lost so many of my treasured plants to old Jack Frost this year. I will be more careful about what I replace them with now I know that we get much heavier frosts here than in most places in the north.



It's Fathers Day here today and I'm still not used to not having a dad, although this is my third father-less year. Last night in the early hours of the morning I was listening to Talk Back on the radio, where the discussion was about fathers. I was gripped with such a sense of loss that I got up and sent an email to the Talk Back host telling him about my father and his favourite songs, knowing he would play one. I was barely back in bed when he read out my email and played "Danny Boy" as sung by a young Kiwi with a glorious voice, Hayley Westenra, as nice a rendition as I've ever heard. It's not like me to indulge in self pity but I allowed a few fat tears to roll down my cheeks before telling myself to get a grip, I'd had a father for 62 years of my life, what more did I want?

And now I'm off for a walk around the farm in search of the aged and weathered.

Happy Fathers Day to fathers everywhere.