Monday, 13 September 2021

First, find the right spot

I did.  I found a spot where I had a good view of little Lexis opening her fifth birthday presents.  Being able to see her delight was more important than getting good photos.  

Yesterday was a glorious sunny spring day, warm in the sun.  The glare from the sun coming in through the windows bathed Lexis in lovely soft light.  Beautiful.  But not very good for photography.

My very worst photo of the day is the one I simply must share with you.  Lexis has been asking for some weights.  No-one has any idea why, must be from something she's seen on TV.  The only one to listen is her godmother, who always has the knack of giving her the perfect gift.  Forget the dolls, books, toys, even her new scooter, nothing gave her a thrill like those weights did.

Lots of concentration required to open some of those gifts.

Little fingers busy decorating their own treats.

I can't think of a more perfect way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Perhaps the first safari

I'm often amused at how the memory works.  I know the first time I met Graham (GB, Eagleton Notes) it was a Friday.  I think it was 2009.  As I waited for him to arrive at Whangarei Airport I ran into the chief executive of the polytech where I worked and he asked where I was off to on a Friday.  I had great pleasure explaining I didn't work on Fridays and was then a bit embarrassed when I realised he was just being chatty and not censoring me in any way.  

Graham, was it that trip that we discovered the flat tyre on my car when we went to leave for the airport for your return?  That was a record breaking tyre change.

Was it that trip that my granddaughters offered to teach him to ride the quad bike?  Can't remember.

So many details lost.  But there are some highlights that will never be forgotten.

You know, when you hear of people who wouldn't be alive were it not for ... (fill in the blanks).

I think it was the following year that we had our lucky escape. When Graham drove north in Dora the Explorer, a Ford Explorer and we ventured to the very northern most point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.  We'd travelled over some rather treacherous dirt roads, including the steep and winding road down to Tapotupoto Bay.   Had Dora flown apart on that stretch of our journey we would have been in serious trouble.  Instead something broke with very loud bank under the bonnet (can't remember the details) and we lost power on a long straight downhill section of road and could roll to a gentle stop and pull off the road beside a letter box.  Often you will find a house near a letterbox but not in this case.  Here an access road lead to houses at a distant beach.

Here's Graham's photo of our plight.

But, all was not lost.  Graham's vehicle insurance covered not only the rescue of the vehicle but of it's passengers, too.  (I changed my vehicle insurance as soon as I got home to include that service.)

The bad news was the tow truck we needed was busy elsewhere miles and miles away and it would be hours before it would get to us.  It was very hot sitting there beside the road.  After a while I decided to ring my niece who had a holiday home not far from where we were stranded on the off chance that her family was there that weekend.  Our luck was in, she was visiting some distant relatives who lived even closer to where we were than her own home and within minutes she arrived to whisk us away for a birthday family barbeque in that family's new home high on a hill overlooking Doubtless Bay.  We enjoyed a glorious, warm evening and a stunning view.

Finally we received the phone call telling us the tow truck was at the scene of the accident and the driver was not amused to find us not there also.  He was a bit grumpy but Graham's friendly chatter had him relaxing as he ferried us and Dora back to Kerikeri where we were staying (over an hour's drive away).  

I remember that part clearly but the following couple of days are a bit of a blur.  We were given a vehicle to use while repairs were being done to Dora.  How did we get it?  It must have been delivered to where we were staying in a nice Air Bnb on a kiwifruit orchard just out of town.  The next day we drove back to my niece's beach house to pick up Graham's sunglasses which he'd left at the house on the hill in our rush to return to the vehicle.  Somewhere along the line we had coffee at a bustling cafe in the middle of Kerikeri.  I've been there many times since and always remember that first visit.

The repairs couldn't be started until the damage to Dora could be assessed and I think there was some delay getting that done.  Graham had to put off his return home while repairs were being done and I returned to work.  He probably missed a game or two of croquet.  No wait, I think he visited a croquet club in town one day to fill in the time.  

Then he had to drive back up north to pick her up before heading back to Napier.  I think Graham did a bit more driving than he'd reckoned on during that trip.  Oh, hold on a minute, I think Graham was following his Sat Nav for directions to my place when he arrived and it took him on an unfathomable route, miles and miles longer than it should have been.  Yes, he sure did do a lot of driving!

I'm pretty sure this next photo was taken that trip but can't remember whether it was before or after Dora's misadventure.  I'd guess after, the next day.  After we went back to pick up the sunglasses we must have taken the long way back - surely not! - as that looks to me like the beaches around Te Ngaere Bay.  

So thankful to have so many memories that make me smile.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Spring time memories

Thank you, Monica, for suggesting making use of my memories when my imagination is out to lunch.

Do other Facebook users enjoy the "You have memories to look back on" function?  I only hooked into it recently and am loving it.  Seems this is usually a very busy time of year for me.  But perhaps re-living my trip to UK and Europe around this time of year 6 years ago has left me feeling a bit sad thinking about how the world has changed since then.  

Instead I decided to dwell on how thankful I am that I made that trip when I did and the pleasures that remain the same. I'm surrounded by the signs of spring, new life, so the beauty of the changing seasons came to mind

Then I remembered the dolphins. 

During the autumn and winter of 2009 I ran a backpackers at surfside Mangawhai.  Most of the time during winter it was very quiet, many nights there was just 21 year old Aiden, a permanent guest during the week, and me.  Looking after the backpackers wasn't a fulltime job, I had three other part-time jobs, so I was kept busy.  It was a really happy time of my life.  I enjoyed meeting the backpackers from all over the world, I was pretty much in my element having new people to chat with all the time.

But the very best thing that happened during that time was the dolphins that visited at the surf beach.   A guest who was there for the surfing came in one evening hardly able to talk 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 thought it was a rock, then he fell off his board as the "rock" shot out the front of the wave, flipped in the air 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, along with 5 or 6 mates.  He said they were obviously showing off, showing him how to really ride a wave.

After that, I started to take my regular walks along the surf beach rather than along the estuary closer to home. 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, around this time of year, 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.

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.

Magical Mangawhai where the dolphins played 

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 you winter woolies then hit you with a wintery blast, she may not be ready to roll over and make way for summer just yet.

And then, there's the good news for the day.  We in the north, along with the rest of the country outside Auckland, will have our Covid restrictions lifted from mid-night tomorrow night. 
Ta da!

Friday, 3 September 2021


Does anyone else think that imagination could have a lifespan?  Or is it just my brain has grown old and isn't as active as it used to be?

I remember when I was a kid and could turn any boring day into an exciting adventure.  I was creative and imaginative.  What I couldn't do in reality I could easily achieve in my head.  Mind you, I had a good go at achieving in reality most things I wanted to do, too.  I would fearlessly swing on a rope high in a tree and compete to see who could land the furthermost from the tree.  And in my imagination I would fly.  I'd play football and cricket in the back yard with my brothers and I'd be playing for Australia.  Being a girl didn't limit me.  Even when I grew a little older and was forbidden from playing football (to protect my lady bits as my father said) I was the best commentator, Pauline Lovejoy, better even than the legendary George Lovejoy.

Eventually, I put away my childish dreams and became a pragmatic realist but there was always a fairy tale or a story in my head waiting for a child to hear it.  I wrote poems for my children and grandchildren, little books of fantasy for each of my grand-children.

Now I want to do something special for my great-granddaughter and there's nothing there.  When I play with her I can't keep up with her "Let's pretend" games.  My imagination is slow and dull.

May your imagination and sense of adventure never fade.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

It's time

I can easily survive in my Covid lockdown isolation but just today started feeling the total isolation from all my usual activities.  I haven't visited other blogs or felt much interest in life in general since little baby Mason died.  Such a tiny wee child, he had a huge impact on so many of us.

But before I allow myself to slip into a quagmire of self pity, I'm putting on my Big Girl panties, squaring my shoulders and vowing to do better.

I had to go into town to collect my prescription from the chemist a few days ago and stopped at the lookout on the way home to remind myself that I still live in a beautiful world.

I'm looking forward to a good catch up.

To my fellow Kiwis, I hope you are coping well in Lockdown.  

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Little Warrior

Thank you to my dear blogging friends who left kind and comforting comments on my last post.

Little baby Mason was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) intra utero. This is a severe heart defect, where the left side of the heart does not develop and therefore function correctly. Mason's mitral valve is completely closing as a result, preventing his blood supply through his heart.  Mason was also diagnosed with other cardiac abnormalities such as arch hypoplasia and aortic atresia.

Throughout Mason's development in the womb, his mother, my grand-daughter, Krystal had been meeting with a paediatric cardiologist and other specialists to plan many extensive surgeries over the course of a few years to correct these abnormalities, once Mason was born (due 27th September, 2021)

Unfortunately, Mason decided to arrive on the 25th July. Krystal had been transferred from our local hospital to Auckland City Hospital the day before. She dropped her 4 year old daughter, Lexis off to me on her way to hospital and she stayed with me until Krystal and baby Mason returned to Whangarei Hospital. She was a wonderful distraction but oh, how tiring!

The family had to accept that surgery was no longer an option for Mason due to his extreme prematurity and undeveloped organs. A decision was made to transfer Mason back to Whangarei, to the Special Care Baby Unit via the rescue helicopter, for palliative and end of life care.  

Little Mason has surprised everyone by surviving to this point, 12 days now since his medical equipment was discontinued.

Krystal has taken him home, something she never thought she would be able to do. Every day with him is another blessing. When they first turned off the machines we were told it could be hours before he passed away, then 2 days, then possibly two weeks. He continues to march to the beat of his own drum (or heart).

It's hard to describe how tiny he is, how absolutely beautifully perfect he looks on the outside. Just 3lbs 1oz at birth, his little head is about the size of a medium sized orange. 

Lexis is just the best big sister, so gentle and caring.  I often have to look away when I see her holding him and giving him gentle fairy kisses.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Mason Daniel

I post so seldom these days I don't even think of myself as a blogger anymore,  For now, I'll continue when I want to record something I might want to remember later.

I'm not likely to forget Mason Daniel although I've yet to meet him.  He is my tiny great-grandson who was born 4 days ago, 9 weeks premature, weighing 1.39 kg (3 lbs 1 oz) with serious heart and chromosome problems.  His time on this earth is limited to days.  

I thought I had good coping strategies for coping with "stuff", hurt and loss but I guess I haven't had enough practise at it.  I'm lousy at it.  I'm sure it would be easier if there were something I could do, if I could somehow help my family get through this horrid time.

I'm consoling myself that looking after the little baby's sister while everyone else in the family is in Auckland to be near the hospital is my contribution.  Little Lexis loves being at my place and I love having her here but playing for hours every day is so tiring!  And I think being tired is not helping me to cope.

My red gloves will never be the same after serving as monster's feet for days.
The little cardigan Lexis is wearing was knitted by my mother for her mother, Krystal.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021


The bubble burst and my sister could not come to visit.  That's my big news from the past few weeks.  We were both a bit sad about that but it will happen, just a bit later than had been planned.  I feel for my son in Brasil and brother in England.  Who knows when they will be able to come for a visit.  My son has a beautiful little girl, 14 months old who he badly wants to introduce to the family.  And we so badly want to meet her, too.

Today Georgia leaves home headed for student life in Dunedin.  She still has that passion for food that she had as a little one when she baked something every time she visited me, which for years was daily.  She's taking that passion into hospitality management.  

Georgia, 2011

We had a lovely family dinner on Sunday night to wish her safe travels and happy days.

Georgia holding my great granddaughter,  Lexis with her sisters Krystal and Shayde.

Now it's little Lexis who likes to use that same whisk (just now realized it is the same one Georgia used) when she makes pancakes when she visits.  Georgia's art work is still on the fridge.  Lexis starts school soon, so I might have to make room for her artistic creations before long.

Lexis, 2021
Time marches on.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Rainy day out

A rainy day in today after a rainy day outing yesterday.  My daughter and I braved the weather to watch the team my son coaches play rugby in Dargaville yesterday.  We thought we'd dodged the rain as we didn't encounter any rain on the drive to Dargaville. but it was just waiting for us, big dark clouds rolling in from the sea.

I do so enjoy attending these games of no frills grassroots rugby.  When I swore years ago that my days of trudging up and down the sideline in the rain were over, I didn't for one moment suspect that after 30 years or so I'd miss it.  I have to admit thermal underwear is warmer now than it used to be - that definitely helps.   I still haven't found the solution to keeping my feet warm, think there is an investment in boots in my near future. 

Regular sideline team supporters and a couple of reserves, keeping their hands warm.

Just a few steps and a few years separate the junior supporter from joining his heroes on the field.

Reminding my daughter that's she missing out on the action by pointing her camera at me.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Life interrupted

The past month is best forgotten.  I can't remember half of it, so that's easy enough to do.  The good thing about being sick is life feels so good when you're better.  A bonus is having two daughters who are angels in disguise.

Today I'm appreciating the sunshine of a mild winter's day.  OK it's not officially winter but it's been feeling like it.  Last night I did not appreciate the cloud that prevented me from seeing the Super Blood Moon.  Luckily, many others had clear skies and have shared their photos.

Tomorrow I will venture out of the house - the excitement!  I have a new phone and I'm keen to try out its camera.   So far, all I have is this.


Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Patience is a virtue?

They say it is and I've lectured my children on its virtues but sometimes I think it can work against me.  

I've put up with a health concern for nearly a year .  I've mentioned it to my doctor a number of times and his responses have been vague, always suggesting yet another modification to my diet.  A flare up last week had me back in the doctor's office and, at last, some plan (if a bit vague) about getting to the bottom of the problem.

Then on Saturday I wanted to watch the local team's game of rugby.  Usually I walk to the games but felt that was a bit risky if I needed to go home quickly so I drove there and parked my car where I could see most of the field.  I took this photo on my phone as I couldn't see the scoreboard from where I was, then I magnified it.  I left during the second half of the match but felt better again a little later and returned to catch the last minutes of the game.

I love the atmosphere of rural rugby.  During a break in play to attend to an injured player, the opposition players called for someone to bring them a drink of water.  Several lads ran out on to the field carrying water bottles, looking oh so proud of their place in the team.

It was during that afternoon that I decided enough was enough, when my life was being impacted to the extent of not feeling confident about walking to see a footy game, not being able to watch a full game without interruption, something had to be done and I'd have to put my Big Girl Pants on and be demanding.

Luck was on my side, my doctor wasn't available on Tuesday (Monday was a public holiday) and the lady doctor I saw swung into action when I had my little hissy fit.   She promised some answers by the end of the week when several test results will come back.  

Yay!  That's all I say.

I think I've found a new doctor!  I simply do not find it acceptable that I have to throw a wobbly to get attention.  I've had dark thoughts when visiting that doc before, thinking I'll smack him one if he gives me that 'oh you poor thing' look just once more.  I want answers, not sympathy.

On a more cheerful note I reminded myself of my mother when I was feeling really cross.  Mum had seen the same family doctor all her life, he'd seen her through 7 pregnancies and he'd seen all of her offspring many, many times over the years.  Any visit to Dr P always started with a catch up about your social life and the siblings.  Anyway, once when I was home on holidays Mum asked me if I'd drop her off at the doctors and to my consternation directed me to a different practice.  I thought perhaps Dr P had retired but no, Mum explained that every time she visited him, by the time he'd asked how all the children were there was never any time left for her and she was sick of it, she wanted all his attention, not 5 minutes at the end of the visit.  I guess I'm more like Mum than I thought.

Monday, 19 April 2021

A 50th and a 1st

I'm glad a hectic social life is a thing of the past.  After an unusually busy social weekend I feel done in.   When I loaded and looked at this photo below I thought the water was moving.  

I know my eyesight is fading, add tired eyes and interesting things happen!

This was the view outside the little hut my daughter, Leone and I shared on Saturday night.  It's a little estuary in Taiharuru, a lovely peaceful spot.  We were the first guests to stay in the hut and appreciated it being offered to us when the other place we wanted to stay was booked out.  My daughter declared that was the first time ever she had put on makeup without a mirror or done her hair using the reflection from the ranch slider.    The owners had also failed to connect the hotwater to the gas bottle and when they installed the gas stove forgot that it needed electricity to turn on the burners.  (The hut is off the grid and relies on solar power.)  But it was in the perfect location for us, so close to where my daughter-in-law was celebrating her 50th birthday party in family friends' cliff top holiday home on the other side of the very narrow peninsula.

The wind carried with it the first hint of winter.  

Georgia over-seeing my grandson, Aiden and great-granddaughter, Lexis.  I love seeing the grandies playing together like this, despite their age differences.

I pray for the day one year old Emilia will be in the photo with them.

Sunday morning we gathered at the B&B where Justine was staying to have a video call with my younger son and little Emilia in Brasil.  It was her first birthday.  

364 days old

I don't have a birthday photo of her yet, just videos, and I can't figure out how to take them from Instagram and save them.

On top of all that activity I was out till all hours on Friday night being the sober driver for Leone's work team after a team building activity.  They seemed to be getting along just fine on the way home.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Filming in the Rain

We've had quite a bit of very welcome rain.

It hadn't started when I agreed to video my son's rugby team playing on Saturday.  He finds it a helpful coaching tool to look back over a game.

Only the most dedicated supporters were on the sideline.

It will be a challenge for him to see much from the end product, mainly because heavy rain  caused very low visibility.  But also because I was stationed further from the field than I would normally be, staying dry on the clubrooms deck.  I had the very justifiable excuse that I couldn't juggle the umbrella and the video camera at the same time.

I had difficulty seeing the ball half the time so just tried to concentrate on the general area of play.  

And I kept getting distracted by that palm tree that looks to be growing out of the goal post.

To complete the weekend I spent three hours with my grand-daughter, Georgia at the lodge tidying a storeroom.  She is so easy to work with, happily follows vague instructions and thinks for herself.  I think she knows me so well, she knows what I mean.  For example, "Just put all that on the third self so I can find things easily." results in just that,  labels facing front, everything sorted by category.  She's a treasure.  It was quite a warm, humid day and boring but tiring work, a lot of carrying and lifting but the smile never left her face.  She's what I think of as a useful person - which is quite high praise in my book.  

Then I think of Rowan Atkinson's, "About as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking competition."  There's plenty of them around but that's definitely not Georgia.