Friday, April 30, 2010

FSO Sport

I come from a competitive sporting family but I now have a more modern definition of sport.
 any activity or experience that gives enjoyment or recreation; pastime; diversion.

Some children find a life long love of a particular sport at a young age.  They try something and think, "This is the greatest.  I want to be the very best at this."  Others try it all, never excelling at any one thing but enjoying the experience, learning new skills.  My grand-daughters fall into that category, although, to be fair, the little water babe who features here today is one hell of a dancer. 

These are the recreational activities I see around me where the younger generation are trying anything and everything that looks like good fun.  Thank you, Barry, the King of Bloggers, for todays theme.  To see his, and other interpretations of the theme, just go here


No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.  
~Winston Churchill

I only get the points because I have team-mates who do the work and put me in the position to get them.
Jonny Wilkinson (who will be well known by the Brits amongst us)

 "Dream barriers look very high until someone climbs them.  They are not barriers anymore."
          - Lasse Viren

 “You always say "I'll quit when I start to slide," and then one morning you wake up and realize you've done slid.”
Sugar Ray Robinson
 "Run hard, be strong, think big!"
          - Percy Cerutty
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. 
Loren Eiseley 

Transportation made sublimation literal. It conveyed evil to another world.
Robert Hughes

To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong.
Hulk Hogan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cranes

The sight of a crane rising out of the school grounds today set me off down memory lane.  Back about 10 years to when I held the illustrious position of Site Superintendent on a building construction site.   The company who’d won the contract offered me good money to be a glorified safety officer, to open and close the site each day and take the various contractors who would come and go through a safety induction, to  “keep an eye  on things”.  It was the first such big contract this company had ever undertaken and they were based miles away in the Waikato.  Turns out I knew more about safety than they did!  I presumed there would be a prepared induction process, that there would be guideline to follow, etc.  Nope!

Our first inspection from the Department of Health and Safety was disastrous.  We got the lowest possible safety score.  A bit of a bun fight ensued with my employers claiming we had been more or less victimised because there was a woman doing the job.   We were appointed a different safety inspector, one who was helpful.  With each inspection our score went up, until after six months, we achieved the highest possible score.   (And, better still, the project was completed without a single accident.)

Then came my proudest day.  I’d been told there would be a group of visitors, including some leading industry men from overseas.  As I signed them in and took them through the induction, one of them looked familiar and as they left to tour the site, addressed me by name.  It was only that I realized he was the safety inspector.   Panic – an unexpected inspection!  Sneaky devil, I thought.   They went one way and I went another, spreading the word the inspector was on site.  When the group finished their tour, the inspector lingered and I asked had everything been in order.  He replied that he’d known everything would be with me in charge, that one of the visitors was his guest, and he’d come along to learn more about the quarrying aspect as the completed project would be a “first of its kind” in the country. 

After I’d developed the induction programme and safety procedures, I had a lot of idle time on that job, after all I couldn’t be walking around looking over shoulders from dawn till dark.  I refused to read a book on the job and started to amuse the regular contractors with little poems I’d write about them. 

The concreting team were regulars, from the beginning to the end of the project, so we came to know each other quite well.  I’m sure most of them thought I was nuts but they loved this one, I had to print out a copy for each of them. 

Waiting for concrete to dry

The men have had a hard week.
Long days, hot sun.
Their work is manual
Their bodies trim and well toned.

At the end of the day they are still light on their feet.
Stepping nimbly over reinforcing and steel.
A tired movement could split a head, crack an ankle.

They work together with grace and ease,
In harmony.
Like long time lovers they read each other’s signals,
Understand each other’s needs.
As they work together,
Move apart,
And back together again,
They perform an unnamed dance
To unheard music.

The site is now tidy,
The evidence of their labour stored away.
They should be beating the traffic on the Southern Motorway.
Instead they congregate near a dirt heap.
One stretches out, at rest in a digger bucket.
Another kicks a makeshift football,
From a mound made of small stones,
In front of an audience talking
And quietly laughing in easy camaraderie.

If they are impatient,
They do not show it.
It’s part of their life.
Waiting for concrete to dry.

Copyright Pauline Woodcock

And today's lesson, girls and boys, is....

What are they teaching the kids at our local school these days?  I know they are meant to be preparing them for the workplace but isn't this a bit ambitious?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anzac Day repeated



(This is my original post repeated, hopefully all of it.)




 Today is Anzac Day, our national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.  It is commemorated by both countries on this day every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It  is now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for our countries.


A few days ago my attention was caught by this display in one of our city parks.

The crosses represent more than 400 New Zealanders from the Whangarei District who lost their lives in times of war.  Attached to each cross is the profile of one of those men or women.  Also attached to each cross is a synthetic poppy, which is always the symbol of our Anzac Day.

This Field of Remembrance will remain for a period of 30 days, each day represents one thousand New Zealanders who are buried in sixty countries and the oceans of the world.

That little field of crosses is a beautiful, if very sad, sight.

And then I got to trying to remember why the poppy is our symbol of remembrance for our war dead.
My memory is not what it used to be but given time I can often dredge up knowledge from the past.  Facts come slowly and are a bit jumbled but most times eventually I can sort them out.  

First came a few words....Oh you who sleep in Flander Fields...enough to feed into Google.

And now I have the words to go with the scene above....


Oh! You who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet-to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With all who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Lest we forget!

It's now 6 pm and I've just heard the news that three Air Force personnel have been killed in a helicopter crash while travelling to a dawn Anzac Day service.    Pilot Flight Lieutenant Hayden Peter Madsen, 33, co-pilot Flying Officer Daniel Stephen Gregory, 28, crewman Corporal Benjamin Andrew Carson, 25.  May they rest in peace.

Anzac Day

 

 Today is Anzac Day, our national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.  It is commemorated by both countries on this day every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It  is now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for our countries.

A few days ago my attention was caught by this display in one of our city parks.

The crosses represent more than 400 New Zealanders from the Whangarei District who lost their lives in times of war.  Attached to each cross is the profile of one of those men or women.  Also attached to each cross is a synthetic poppy, which is always the symbol of our Anzac Day.

This Field of Remembrance will remain for a period of 30 days, each day represents one thousand New Zealanders who are buried in sixty countries and the oceans of the world.

That little field of crosses is a beautiful, if very sad, sight.

And then I got to trying to remember why the poppy is our symbol of remembrance for our war dead.
My memory is not what it used to be but given time I can often dredge up knowledge from the past.  Facts come slowly and are a bit jumbled but most times eventually I can sort them out.  

First came a few words....Oh! You who sleep in Flanders Fields...enough to feed into Google.  

And now I have the words to go with the scene above:

Oh! You who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet-to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With all who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Lest we forget!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Honouring Trees FSO

I love trees in all weather



In all seasons


Young or old



In town or in the country




Day or night



Inside and out


Sorry, I don't have a photo of the insides of a tree!

Todays topic, Honoring Trees, has been chosen by GingerV to celebrate Earth Day.  Ginger is one of the hardworking team whose efforts make our Friday Shoot Outs possible.  Thank you, Ginger.  I'm sure the rest of the team appreciate everything you do for us as much as I do. 

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.  I look forward to some more wonderful colourful photos from Ginger in Brazil where my son Bernie lives.  Every time I see her photos I think of him.



To check out the photos of others of the FSO clan, just go here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I know I shouldn't...


On Saturday at the markets I gave in to temptation and purchased a brand new set of telescopic garden pruning shears.  I should have waited to get home to try them out.

Instead GB found a use for them that very afternoon.

We took the long way home from Warkworth , stopping first at the Old Cement Works by the river. 
I've posted photos from there before and I'm sure GB got some great shots. 
 The creek by the cement works at low tide

There are so many lovely places around Warkworth and Matakana but unfortunately the weather was a bit dull, grey and overcast.  I say unfortunately from a photographic point of view, personally I was delighted hoping against hope that the weather was the same here on the farm and that long awaited rain was coming our way.
But I can never pass by Leigh Harbour.  It's a small harbour, home to a fleet  of commercial fishing boats and is the access to other diving and fishing spots around the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Most of the boats at anchor were not the fancy yachts you see at a lot of New Zealand harbours but honest to goodness working vessels.


I can't quite believe I got this shot of one of the many birds at work in the harbour.  
Birds in flight are usually totally beyond me.

A crab pot laying on the jetty

We wandered around happily clicking away at birds and boats and probably wouldn't have noticed this boat being pulled in if GB hadn't been concerned that I'd left the car parked in the boat trailer area and ran back up the road to move it - he's a law abiding citizen!



I followed him at a more leisurely pace, by which time the young fishermen had pulled up behind us in the carpark.  One of them approached me with a lovely big trevally in his hand and asked if I'd like it.  Would I ever!  I'd found a plastic bag in the boot and was joyfully stowing it away when he said perhaps I'd like another.  Gratefully accepted of course.  You can't get fresher than still alive. 

So we were happy trippers as we carried on our way over the hill towards Pakiri with our dinner in the boot.  However, it became apparent from the noises coming from the boot that the fish were still very much alive and when we stopped at the top of the hill to take photos we became concerned with the animal cruelty aspect.   Now I can bait a hook and love fishing, can scale and gut a fish no problem but I simply cannot kill them.  GB announced he'd kill it and being the bright spark that he is decided my new pruning shears would be just the ticket.
I think I should wait till he's out of the country before posting the evidence:


Oh, almost forgot, the view from the top of the hill, not bad considering the conditions.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Just because...

Other things that made me smile

First there were two little boys intrigued by the goldfish:
Soon there were three:


Finally there were four:
My friend GB arrived in Auckland on Friday for a last trip to the north before heading back to the Northern Hemisphere.  Friday afternoon we visited some of the beaches around Warkworth and Matakana before staying the night with my friend, Twink.  (Yes, there is a story behind that nickname but that will have to keep for another time.)

Scott's Landing

Saturday morning we were up reasonably early and the three of us went off to the Matakana Markets.  I should have taken photos of the markets but the sight of the day were the little boys in the photos above.
As we walked from the markets along the riverbank to a lovely little tea house to have morning tea (a local is always best to show you these places) we spotted the caterpillars.  I'm sure the fishermen of the future would have been just as intrigued, had they known they were there. 


Friday, April 16, 2010

Something that makes me smile

Kerry from Corvallis, Oregon has chosen this weeks topic.  She said, "Look through photos from your town and pick out JUST ONE that brings a smile to your face. Share it with us; tell us about the picture and make us smile too."  Easier said than done, I'm afraid.  Things I think are hilarious are often viewed quite seriously by others but here we go.

Nothing brings a smile to my face quicker than the laughter of children. 


Ticklish kisses

Can you hear it?  Listen closely. There it is again!

Laughter.  Innocence.   A fresh slate.
Can you hear it, see it?
         It is the children.
         The innocent, who shall inherit the Earth.

We were once children you know.
         Laughing, playing,
         Enjoying life with not a care in the world.
         Where did it all go?

         Is it wrong to dream of those earlier years?
         Is it wrong to laugh and play with not a care in the world?

 Oh, how I sometimes long for those times again.
         To play again.  To laugh again.
         To be innocent again.
         To enjoy each day for what it is. 

from a poem by Greg O Bacon

To see what has made the rest of the FSO team smile just go here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wrought Iron


I love the wrought iron work on the old houses around Brisbane where I grew up.

When I was staying with my mother, who now lives in a retirement village in Brisbane, I took my camera whenever I went for a walk.  All these photos were taken within about half a mile of my mother's village.




Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Autumn


Autumn is definitely here.  All too often we seem to go from summer straight to winter but I like this lingering of summer during the day and the hint of winter in the mornings and at night.

I've been in a bit of a reflective mood lately.  The dog caused it.  I set out for a walk on Sunday and he didn't look interested in joining me.  Now that's a first.  Normally he starts barking me encouragement the minute he sees me putting on my walking shoes.  But on Sunday he lay on the lawn and watched me put on my shoes and continued to lay there and watch as I headed off up the farm track.  I'd gone about 30 yards before he hauled himself up and came to join me.  It made me realise how old he is getting.  I think he's a bit older in dog years than I am in human years and the thought that he was in his winter years dawned on me.  Followed closely by the thought that perhaps I'm in my autumn years.  Assuming I'll live to be 100, definitely I am.



Lewey doesn't run out to greet visitors as enthusiastically as he used to.  Like me, he takes a less hurried approach to most things.  But he still likes to join in the laughter of the grand-kids when they arrive with their nonsense, like trying to walk with their gumboots on back to front.


I must thank the friend who reminded me of John Keats’ Ode to Autumn, which I have always loved, especially that first line:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

No words can describe better how I feel. 

 The last of the summer dahlias

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dry foothills and wasps

This afternoon coming home from work I was struck by the beauty of the foothills of the Uppity Downity Mountains in their dry condition. They looked almost white against the still green forest.  

There was very little traffic and I was able to safely stop on a corner where it is not usually possible to stop.  I like this view, the little farm buildings that I don't normally see as I negotiate this corner. 


How lucky am I drive into this scene every day?

I have a positive identification of yesterday's wasp.  Thanks, GB, for suggesting the Department of Conservation.  I sent off the photos last night and this morning received a very courteous reply.  My wasp is like me, an Australian import, a Golden Hunting Wasp, Cryptocheilus australis. They 'hunt' spiders, paralyse them and then drag them off and lay their eggs in them so their young have a constant food source.  Mystery solved! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wasps

  Ugly toad
 photo taken from http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/animals/unwanted_amphibian.htm

Reading one of my favourite blogs has reminded me that I love frogs but hate toads.  In Queensland, where I grew up, it was the cane toad that was detested by all.  If I were to honestly recall what we as children did to cane toads you would no doubt be horrified and compare us to little savages.  Suffice to say that there was a standing record for who could kill the most while armed with a sharp stake within a specific distance between our street and the next.  I don't want to start "The War of the Brothers"  (it was bad enough when they wanted to debate who was the best sportsman) but I'm pretty sure Terry holds the record.  

Up until 1935, Australia did not have any toad species of it's own. 

Then some bright spark, a scientist, probably the best in the land, discovered that toads
were supposedly being used successfully in other tropical places to combat the cane beetle, a pest of sugar cane crops.  After rave reviews from overseas, a box of toads was shipped to North Queensland.  These were held in captivity for awhile and then they were released into the sugar cane fields of the tropic north.  It was later discovered that the toads  can't jump very high (only about 30cm) so they did not eat the cane beetles which stayed up on the upper stalks of the cane plants.  So the cane toad, as it came to be known, had no impact on the cane beetles at all.

There were only 102 of them so no-one worried about them.   They didn't know that they bred like rabbits (and that's another Australian disaster story).  Each pair of cane toads can lay 20,000 per breeding season (some published references estimate they produce as much as 60,000 eggs!).  All stages of a toad's life are poisonous so they have no natural predators to keep their numbers in check.   Fish who eat toadpoles die.  Animals who eat young toads and adults die.  The museums have plenty of snakes preserved in jars which were killed by toad toxin so fast, the toad is still in their mouths unswallowed.  Even small amounts of water which toadpoles have gotten into, such as a pet's water dish, can be poisoned by toadpoles.   When the pet comes along to drink from it's dish, it becomes sick. Vets in areas where cane toads abound report that a couple dogs a month are brought in ill just from mouthing toads.

Cane toads have proven themselves to be one of Australia's worst environmental disasters.  They have spread across most of Queensland, they are over the border into the Northern Territory and they have now reached the world-reknowned wetlands of Kakadu.  Their numbers are staggering in the southeast Queensland area and they are spreading down the NSW coast.  

That was just a little side rant.  Where I was going was....

and I love to see bees in my garden but hate wasps.  Tom, who was recently my guest ,was stung on the hand by a wasp when he was here and it swelled most impressively.

Yesterday I spotted a wasp on my front deck that looked larger than the usual we see around here.  I'm wondering if a new species has found it's way here.


My little granddaughter spotted another a little later in the house. 

Anyone know anything about wasps?