Sunday, October 30, 2011

Walking out the crinks

Once around the farm loop is all it takes to ease my back when it is aching from hunching over the sewing machine.  My favourite time to do this is later in the day when evening shadows soften the landscape but today the crinks wouldn’t wait.   

I was trying out a little Canon PowerShot A480.   Discovered after 6 shots that it has a tiny memory card.  Ah well, that’s easily fixed.  I can swap with my old camera.  

Look at the blue sky in this shot.  Who would guess that a few hours later there would be a spring shower.  Of course, it only lasted a few minutes but I still wouldn’t want to be caught out in one.  Lucky I went when I did.

pampasoct11
 I came upon my grand-daughters playing down by the creek and Georgia elected to come home with me – once she had extracted a promise that we could play shops.  I have a feeling that child knows she has me wrapped around her little finger.   But playing shops is such fun!  Even when she rips me off and charges me $29.90 for a few old books.  

books for sale
 I’m wondering when I bought that Slow Cookers Soup.  If I have all day to make soup, why buy a packet mix that takes all day?  Must have been on special.

IMG_0098

Friday, October 28, 2011

FSO - Creepy crawlies

One of the good things about the advance of years and failing eyesight is I don't see as many creepy crawlies as I used to.  Daddy long legs find safe haven in my home until I put on my glasses and stand on a chair - and going around the house like that is very tiresome so I don't bother them much.

So when I said to Georgia earlier in the week, "Find me some creepy crawlies." it didn't take her long to spot a beauty!


Eight year olds and their grandmothers are easily distracted. Russian Fudge sounded like more fun so the hunt was abondoned.  But as she sat on the kitchen sink and stirred the fudge she leant out the kitchen window to look into the passionfruit vine which grows up the kitchen wall and announced there was a flower on the vine, the first this spring.  I had to climb up on a chair (I seem to do a lot of that) to see for myself, then get back down to get the camera because that flower didn't look right to me.  I reached out the window as far as I safely could and took a few shots. Georgia declared she could see an ant but I was more eager to see that flower up close on the computer screen.

Look, something has eaten a huge chunk of that leaf! What is that circular thing in the bottom left of the shot?  And what are those black bits on the flower?:


There's another one on the flower!   Oh yes, and there's that ant she saw.


And that flower is not as it should be.

Thank heavens for FSO.  I might not be able to see them but there is proof of creepy crawlies in my garden.

I took just one more photo before my camera went toes up, like the subject.  This is how I like to see cockroaches - they look a lot more interesting upside down (and quite dead).



The passionfruit vine has been treated, what to do about my dead camera is a greater problem.

I will distract myself from thinking about it by checking out the creepy crawlies from the rest of the team here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today my oldest grandson turns 18.  The age of legal majority, able to vote, purchase alcohol (I don’t think that has changed in NZ…has it?), get married without parental consent, sign contracts.  And I’m thankful that my daughter has raised a young man who I know can be trusted with those responsibilities.  Not so sure about the getting married bit, I think the age of consent for that should be a lot older.  But I will keep my cynicism under control on that score. 


I’m the typical doting grandmother.  I’ve adored this boy since the moment he was born.  He’s brought everyone in the family constant joy with his loving, good natured ways.  I sorta miss being able to hug him to my breast but, to make up for it, he hugs me to his chest.  


Congratulations to my beautiful boy.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spilt milk

Fonterra is a co-operative owned by 11,000 New Zealand dairy farmers.  It is the world's leading exporter of dairy products and responsible for more than a third of international dairy trade.

Last Monday (a public holiday) Fonterra celebrated its 10th birthday by hosting free family days out throughout the country.  

My friend Chris and I (both former employees of a dairy company that is now part of the giant co-operative) went along to join in the local celebrations.  A lovely day, at a lovely venue.  Not much for a couple of oldies like us, but we wandered around and watched the youngsters having lots of fun.

 

I read there were 10,000 sausages ordered but the cooks were hard pressed to keep up with the crowds:


Loved the No Shooting sign in the midst of all the activity:


A short distance away was a quiet spot to sit with a cup of coffee:


Lots of games for kids.  This one involved teams of five racing to fill up the freezer at the far end of the course with all those milk bottles:


Today we need that many empty bottles to collect as much milk as we can from the farm milk vat before it is spilled down the drain.  How's that for a sad sight?

 
Far from the celebratory mood on Monday, today Fonterra is expecting to waste about $20 million of milk a day until a break in the gas pipeline, that services nearly all the top half of the North Island, is repaired.

Fonterra has been collecting about 35 million litres of milk daily in the affected areas, and now only has capacity to process around five million litres. 

This breakdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for dairy farmers, who are at the height of a record “spring flush”, as the new milking season is known in the industry.  

As I understand it, the cost of the loss of production is spread across all Fonterra shareholders, so farmers get paid for the lost milk but the overall loss is factored into the payout at the end of the season. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Unlikely heroes

12 venues, 20 teams, 45 days,  600 players, 1,388 match balls, 2,500 media, 5,500 volunteers, 100,000 international visitors, 1.4 million crowd, 4 million hosts, 6 years in the making, 48 matches.  (Thanks, Justine, for those details.  I pinched them off your Facebook page.)

That sums up the Rugby World Cup, the final of which was played last night.   When New Zealand’s All Blacks became the 2011 RWC champions, after they ground out an 8-7 victory over France.  

rwc1Photo courtesy of NZ Herald
(crap photo, obviously not meant for reproduction)

Profound relief, it was a tight game.  I don’t think anyone would have predicted such a close match and, believe me, everyone had a prediction.  The most popular being that the ABs would win by 20 points.  The All Blacks were odds on favourites, the only team unbeaten throughout the tournament, but everyone knows the only predictable thing about the French team is their unpredictability.

All Kiwis will have their own heroes today.  Mine will be Tony Woodcock, who shares my surname and is a kinda sorta distant relative to my children.   He became the first All Black loosehead prop to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final, when he thundered through a gap to score the teams only try of the match.   I leapt out of my chair when that happened.   He’s a big man and he shot through that gap and dived over the line like the best of the backs.   

And Stephen Donald, who came on as a replacement.   He was the teams fourth (some say the fifth) choice flyhalf, a position that has been dogged with injuries, and wasn’t even in the team until he was called up to the squad while he was out whitebaiting.   I must admit to a whispered “Oh no!” when he ran on to the field.  But he put his critics to rest when he kicked the winning penalty.  Poor bugger didn’t even have a jersey that fitted him properly as if his taking the field was the last thing anyone expected. 

My son and daughter-in-law were at the game.  Here are a few of their photos from along the Fan Trail, from the city centre to the venue, a distance of about 4.5 kms. 

"The Fan Trail offers something for all ages, including large static installations, roving performers, refreshment stops and spot prizes. The entertainment promises surprises for fans, with some performances never before seen in New Zealand.

Existing cafes along the route also provide plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy food and drinks."




 
 And I have a photo of my own taken today in an electrical goods store in town.  Captain Ritchie forever!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Me and my Elna

"When you're in your 20s, you begin to lose brain cells a few at a time. Your body also starts to make less of the chemicals your brain cells need to work. The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory."  So say the good people at FamilyDoctor.Org

That gave me brief consolation.  Until I realized just how many years that has been happening.

 

I was in my mid 20s when I bought my sewing machine.  It's body shows the sign of a long life, it's getting a bit frayed around the edges like I am.  And, like me, it has days when it just doesn't want to work.  Unfortunately yesterday we weren't synchronised.  I wanted to work, it didn't.

Last weekend when we worked together my attention was drawn to the sad state of its innards.  A case of rubbish in, rubbish out?  Hmm.  I suspected that sewing machine oil I've been using wasn't up to the usual standard.  And I oil it before and after every use.  Religiously.  Never miss.  

So yesterday, when it just didn't want to do anything, I decided to give it my version of a service.  I've done this about twice a year for the 40 plus years we have been together and the initial stages went well.  Take it apart, soak all it's bits in methylated spirits, poke around inside with cotton buds soaked in the same stuff, remove all the gunk, then put it all back together again and give it a good oiling with quality sewing machine oil. 

Except.... when it came to the putting back together again part, I couldn't remember how to do it!  I just couldn't get that bobbin case (I think that is what it's called) back into place.  I know there is a knack to it but my fingers seemed clumsy, and the more I tried, the more frustrated I became.  I stubbornly spent hours hunched over it's innards, refused to give up until darkness and my hunger got the better of me and I packed it in for the day.


I don't want to be over dramatic but I was seriously shaken about all this.  This morning I procrastinated about what to do today and avoided the room housing that dratted machine. 

Then a bit of Pauline logic and decision making saved me.  Go mow the lawn, the exercise will do me good, and then have one more go at the machine.  I would have done something constructive with my day and if I couldn't fix my machine, I'd take it to a service man.  After all it has only had one expert service in all its years and surely deserves another.   

I honestly don't know if I was more amused or more annoyed when, tired from mowing the grass, semi-refresed from a shower, I sat at the machine and flipped that casing into place, first time. 

Guess that just proves the argument that exercise is good for the brain cells.  All is not yet lost!

Friday, October 21, 2011

FSO - Scavenger Hunt

 Mark, who suggested this theme, doesn't have befuddlement all to himself.  A word that good has to be shared.  Too bad it's not just the word that he's sharing!
I thought I was going to have to skip this week's shoot-out as I wasn't tempted to take my sore foot anywhere to see if I could find "something old, something new,  something borrowed, something blue."
Something old in my house, the top of an old box made from some sort of burnished metal, complete with rust mark. 
 
Yesterday the road to town was getting some new seal.  Good, didn't have to hop out of the car for that one.

Something borrowed?   Hmmm.  Ah, yes, I still haven't returned that borrowed walking stick, have I?  I'll leave it right there beside my couch, then hope I notice it on Monday when I will be seeing it's owner.

Blue.  Oh darn, I'm tired of getting up and down, it will have to be the closest blue thing to me, that blue glow that tells me you are all out there somewhere.  Poor camera is befuddled, too, doesn't know what to focus on! 

The rest of the Friday Shoot Out team will be posting their images here.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Good Samaritan and Logic

On Tuesday my left foot suffered an injury and I suffered a bit of indignation that a Good Samaritan deed should have been thus rewarded.

Firstly the parable of the Good Samaritan and the sore foot.

The Lady Good Samaritan performed a dangerous manoeuvre to avoid a trailer tail gate laying across the road.  Narrow road, blind corner…very bad.  Guilty conscience.  So the good lady stops at the nearest place where there is room to get off the road.  Gets out of car and walks back to the offending tail gate, picks it up and hauls it off the road.  No, not good enough, says the conscience.  Someone will be looking for it.  So hauls it a bit further to where it can to propped up against a bank and more easily spotted.  Still not good enough.  It’s too low to be easily seen, needs to be pushed a bit higher up the bank.  From whence it slips down the bank and lands on her foot! 

There’s a lesson in there somewhere!!

Having a sore foot brings its own rewards.  Yesterday, while I was sitting on the couch with my foot raised and eight year old Georgia cuddled up beside me being suitably sympathetic, she gave a start and looked out the window behind me.  I turned to see what she had seen, saw nothing and asked, “What?”

She replied she thought it had been Lewey.  When I reminded her that Lewey, my dear old dog, has been dead since last March, she explained, “You know how Lewey didn’t bark much?  Well, there is no dog barking, so I thought it might be Lewey.”  I just love that logic!

When Lewey died I buried him in my back lawn and planted a Loropetulum Firedance above him to mark the spot.  I chose that plant very carefully.  It has dark pinky/reddish leaves and pretty pink flowers.  Lewey had been a reddish coloured dog and in old age with more grey than red in his coat, he often looked quite pink.  The lady at the garden centre told me it would be flowering in April, on the anniversary of his death.  I always refer to it as my Lewey Bush.  About a month ago Georgia was running around in the back yard and exclaimed, “Oops, I nearly tripped on Lewey.   Granny, come quick, Lewey is flowering!”   Sure enough, he is.  He must flower all summer. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bravery

I’ve been sewing Christmas presents over the weekend and having to whisk the object and bits of material out of sight every time one of the grandchildren has wandered in.  Luckily they have been arriving on a quad, so I’ve have been able to hear them approaching and had enough time to do the whisking. 

At one stage my city dwelling granddaughter, Jami was having a ride on the quietest of the horses on the farm.  Can’t say she looked relaxed but she had her brave smile in place.


And brave she is.

Shortly after this photo was taken, my daughter-in-law, Heather had gone for a ride on her horse which was being a bit frisky and needed a work out.  A while later Jami was leading the horse she had been riding back home and  was standing on the track outside my house holding its reins.    I heard her calling, “Granny, come help me!”  and although she wasn’t shouting I thought I heard fear in her voice and raced, as fast as I can race these days, out to see what was going on.  Arrived at the door in time to see Heather’s horse, minus it’s rider, galloping full tilt towards her.  And the courageous girl put out her arms and stepped into its path to stop it.  She wasn’t to know it would stop when it came up to its mate.  She must have been terrified but there were so screams or shrieks, just courage.

Shayde, who had been with her, was on the quad and off in search of her mother before the galloping horse reached us.  I took the reins of the  loose horse and, after dithering for a minute, and hearing that Shayde was still moving around on the quad, thinking she couldn’t find her mother and imagining Heather laying in a drain somewhere, led it into the paddock beside the house, took off the bridle and let it go, jumped in the car and went in search of Heather.  

I tell you, my heart was in my throat.  The thought of something bad happening to one of my family makes my blood run cold.  I found Shayde and Heather quickly enough, they weren’t too far away and I was so happy to see an angry Heather.  That’s a sight you don’t see very often and she was furious.  She’d stopped and dismounted to open a gate and the horse had jerked free and taken off.  Oh, you should have heard the things she said to that horse when she got back to her.  I’d behave myself for a long time if I were her.  

It was only after she’d finished her tirade and was about to remount the horse that she stopped to tip the water out of her boots and shake out her drenched socks.  She’d had to wade through the creek to get back. 

I went back to my sewing feeling very proud of my grand-daughters.   Jami and Shayde, I hope you are around if ever I need help!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sat eve

This was my view from my kitchen as I prepared dinner yesterday evening.


I love the sight of contended cows happily munching.  I thought it couldn't get much better than that  - until this evening.  The herd was in the paddock around the house and as the view from the back looked much the same as yesterday, I wandered out the front.  And noticed it was raining again up in the mountains.  The tower was still just visible, so just a passing shower.  Maybe my lawn will be dry enough to mow tomorrow, after all. 


 But when I went to the kitchen, there was a pretty rainbow.  That tops yesterday's view.


Wales plays France in the Rugby World Cup semi-final tonight, but not till 9 pm, so I wasn't in any great hurry to get my dinner under way - plenty of time for that.
 

I often don't take much notice of motor bikes moving around the farm.  But I thought it a bit odd that I could hear a bike stopping and starting, stopping and starting, after 7 pm.  Then noticed it was my son moving around a sprayed out paddock on a quad bike, stopping, getting off, picking something up, getting back on and moving off again.  Strange!  I couldn't see very clearly what he was doing but when I figured it out I just had to take this shot, knowing it would be blurry because of the distance.  Can you figure out what the farmer is doing?

He must need practise getting out of the rough!

Friday, October 14, 2011

FSO - Sweet


A definition listed to help us with this week's topic is "An intensive used to express satisfaction, acceptance, pleasure, excellence, exaltation, approval, awe, or reverence."  Similar, but not quite the same as a definition I found at Kiwi Web (which is a dictionary of words and expressions commonly used in New Zealand with their equivalent definition):
sweet-as: a term people say instead of "cool" or "awesome".  (That car is sweet-as!)

I've had some sweet-as moments lately - watching family bonds tighten:

 Watching my son entertain the nephew he has just met for the first time.


Watching my grandson tell my English niece, who he has just met for the first time, that he likes her.  
(The face touch is the signal.)

Watching my grandchildren having gentle time together.

I tell you it's been sweet-as.

Yes, seeing you again was sweet-as, Bernie.  Having you visit was sweet-as, Charlotte.  And my baby grandson is always sweet, sweet as.

To see how others interpreted this topic, just pop over here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A dreary Wednesday

We had a heavy dumping of rain this morning, more than I thought.   I think there was more rain here than there was in town.  Or maybe I just had my head down and was too busy to notice.  That’s a maybe!

I first noticed a Road Closed notice by the road at the corner on Sunday.  Today I thought I’d better stop and read it.  It really isn’t very big, how a driver is meant to read it while negotiating the corner or whizzing past is beyond me.   I couldn’t find a pen and I’d have forgotten those details before I’d driven the 12 odd minutes to home, so out came the camera.  I usually have the essentials handy.


Darn, I’m driving home between those hours!  Will I leave early or work late?

So, the camera was out of the bag and it took a lot longer than the usual 12 minutes to find my way home.  It won’t take much more rain to bring the creek over it’s banks but the cows don’t look worried.


 I've taken dozens of photos of this old shed over the past few years and always it's been just a bit too far away for my camera.  Today I must have stopped at the right spot!

 
While my luck was in I decided to try once again for a decent shot of our neighbours little old shed that sits right beside the road.  I think it is more photogenic now than it was a couple of years old.  Just needs a few more years of weathering, I think.


My other stop along the road wasn't really to take a photo.  This adventuruous pair were outside the fence and I nearly went past thinking they would find their way back in to their mother when they were hungry.  But I thought I saw a collar around a neck, so stopped and reversed.  Sure enough.  They are bound to be pet lambs so I chased them back up the road and up the drive to Niamh and Archer's home.  Could have a champion lamb there, kids.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Refinery

Yesterday I re-affirmed to myself how easily I am pleased.  Thanks, Chris, for letting me know that the Refinery at Ruakaka was having an Open Day and for inviting me along.  And thank you, New Zealand Refining Co., for sharing your 50th anniversary celebrations with the community.  Over the years, every time I take a visitor to the Refinery Visitors Centre (which I love to do) I've wished I could see around the site, to see up close the stacks, the hydro-crackers, cooling towers, crude distillers, desulphurisation units and especially the hydro-crackers.  I've become accustomed to seeing the refinery from this angle.


 For me, it was like a dream come true to see it close up.  To be there, looking up at the hydro-crackers.  Admittedly, in one of many buses touring the site - but I was there!


I just wanted to be constantly looking up:
and up:


I was enthralled with all those shapes, ladders and stairs!  And all against a clear, blue sky!  Couldn't have been better.


Our tour guide explained everything in simple, understandable terms but muggins me was too busy just soaking it all in to listen.

The tour was the highlight of the day for me but there was fun for everyone.  A terrific day out for families.  There was all the fun of a fair.

I wonder how long it will be before this little boy forgets about Doug the Digger?  He was a picture of concentration!

Chris' niece, Lucy, was working in the cafe.  Imagine looking out and seeing this queue in front of you!    But she and the others who were giving up their Sunday to feed the thousands of visitors, kept the smiles coming.



(Bet you slept well last night, Lucy!)

Oh, and here's another queue beside where we lined up for the bus tour.  This one gave me a real smile: