Friday 10 May 2024

Here's May

I love this time of year.

Having said that I just looked out the window and see a dark cloud approaching - and I have sheets drying on the line.  Could happen at any time of the year.

Already 10 days into May.  Days are a little cooler, nights are a little cold, this morning was the coldest morning of the year so far, with threats of power outages,  but I did my bit towards conserving power by staying snuggled up in bed until the sunshine did its job of adding warmth to the day.  It seems there will be more power cuts this winter.

Here's what has been making me smile lately.  A little owl I crocheted for my great-grandaughter waiting for her to visit.  I smile every time I look at it, I think I'll make another one for myself.

 And little granddaughter, Emilia's artwork.  I'm so happy all her people look happy and loved.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Seasonal change

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 with just a hint of winter in the mornings and at night.

Alleycat seems to like the weather, too.  She's spending more time than usual snuggled up sleeping.  It may not be the weather, it could simply be that she is now more settled living here.  She has finally got the other village cats to understand that she is not their friend and that they are not welcome near her or her home.  She has a small area around our unit where she obviously feels comfortable, where she knows the residents.  She still scarpers the minute she sees or hears a male but she has some nice (human) lady friends. 

In her own way it's taken her a while to find her place in a new environment.  Maybe she's been people watching the same as I've been doing. 
 
I've always been a people watcher, I have an innate human curiosity to understand how people tick, I've wasted many a long hour idly observing people.  And living in a retirement village is the ideal place for someone like me who likes to watch others' behaviours, mannerisms and interactions. 
 
Here we have a community of people who are strangers when they arrive and may have little in common and who now live at reasonably close quarters.  In this village the residents coordinate voluntary social activities to encourage neighbourly bonds, such as group outings, hobby groups and interest groups.  Fertile grounds for personalities to come out to play. 

I have relatively strong instincts when it comes to people and have learnt to trust them, especially when I meet someone for the first time.  So it's been interesting, after living here for about 9 months to reflect on how well my instincts served me when I first moved in.

I'm happy to say the ones who instantly attracted me are now my group of friends.  We are all getting to know each other better, little by little learning each other's life stories, becoming familiar with each other's families.  It's been an enjoyable process, unlike anything else I've experienced.
 
And I haven't seen anything that has changed my opinion about the other residents.  The ones I was instantly wary of, I'm still wary of.  The ones that interested me then, I still find interesting, they are on the 'long term' observation list. 

One of the things that has kept me out of blogland recently is this nearly finished shawl to keep me warm in winter.  The idea was to use up all the bits of wool from finished projects over the years.   I'd better get on with it, winter could arrive any old time now.  



 

Saturday 9 March 2024

The engagement

The room chosen for the happy occasion was really lovely in the early evening light but proved difficult for me to get any decent photos.  Mind you, that's my fault.  I'm falling out of love with my camera.  Between my not so sharp eyesight and dodgy memory I have trouble with settings, etc.  I think I'll stick to the phone. 

Amyway, this is the room.

 

Photo courtesy of Symonds Court

The happy occasion was the engagement of my oldest grandson, My Michael and his lovely, Rose.  They are such a lovely couple.  Love them to bits.

Here they are pouring drinks for their guests.

I'd like to add , "In other news" but there is none.

Friday 1 March 2024

Tennis

Home again, home again jiggety jig.

Only for one night, then away for the weekend to celebrate my grandson's engagement.  Only an occasion as important as that would get me on the road again so soon.

Aiden is keen on tennis, a sport I played a lot when his age.  I took him to a coaching session and since then have been reflecting on how different things were back in the day.  No-one taught us how to play any sport but I was lucky to live next door to tennis courts where all the youngsters in the street played.  Best playground ever!  We watched the older kids who were good players and tried to do what they did.  Peter Wilson was my tennis idol; my friend, Marie wanted to emulate her brother, John.  Oh, I can still remember the two of us sitting on the sideline, breathless with anticipation, when Peter played John.

Marie and I, and two boys from our class were the school tennis team and played in a schools competition around Brisbane.  Every Saturday we'd either be at the school courts or finding our way around Brisbane by train or bus to play.  I don't think the parents of any of us ever saw us play except for us just playing for fun on the courts next door. Mum might have glanced out the kitchen window occasionally but usually when she did it was to see if I was playing and tell me to come and do some chore or other when that game finished.

The older kids were patient with the younger ones and we knew we were improving when an older child invited you to play with them.  Names long forgotten have been popping into my head since I started thinking back on it all.  There was never any formal draws of who we played with or against but somehow we sorted it out.  We didn't appreciate it then but I think Forrest Street may have been a very special place to be a child.

As always when in Taranaki, I tried several times to get a great photo of the mountain.  This one was a quick click before I went inside to get my camera.

I'm falling out of love with my camera.  I struggle with finding the correct setting, sometimes my memory is the problem, at other times it's my eyesight.  I think I'll just stick with the phone.  

This shot is taken with my camera.  I like the phone shot better.


 

Sunday 18 February 2024

A short summer

Gosh, it's been an age since I last posted.   

Autumn will be here in a couple of weeks, this has surely been the shortest summer that I can remember.

I've never before fallen victim to a summer illness and I hope to never do so again.  Since the end of December I've had nearly 2 weeks of being well, the rest of it is a bit of a blur.  My doctor's diagnosis?  A really nasty virus that we don't have a name for right now.  When I haven't been coughing and aching, I've been sleeping.  Apparently, I am "blessed" that I've been able to sleep so much.  All I can say is anyone who doesn't have the natural sleeping abilities I've been given must be awfully tired.

But to look on the bright side I live in a caring community and have had a steady stream of visitors just popping their head around the door to see if I need anything.  And I'm now responding nicely to the third round of antibiotics which although can have some not so nice side effects, have been quite magical as far as I'm concerned.  I even have my voice back and although it is not totally reliable, most of the time it works.

In the midst of my misery (yeah, I know, just slightly over-dramatic!) a dear friend was killed in a tragic car accident, a couple of days before my birthday.  I will miss him.

I'm thankful that I've improved in time to have a trip to Taranaki to spend some time with my grandson while his parents are away.  His father will be in Canada to spend time with his father who is celebrating his 80th birthday and his mother will be on a quick trip to Melbourne.

Roll on autumn, my favourite time of year, when the weather if the most settled, long sunny days and cooler nights.  I'm ready.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

A week without her

I was too emotional a week ago to write about my sadness when she left. But now I can look back at the time little Emilia was here with gratitude and joy.  

I've always been a bit dotty about my grand-children and it seems I get more so as I age.  Along with the rest of the family, I'd long ago given up hope of my younger son settling down and having children.  Then, just before he turned 50 he stumbled into fatherhood and he's the first to admit it's the best thing that ever happened to him.  He's been the primary caregiver and is an amazing father.  Emilia is now three and a half and is a bright, happy, confident and outgoing child who is fluent in both her native Portuguese and English and is growing confident in Italian as her mother has Italian heritage.  It amazes me how she can switch so easily from one language to another.  I've had no previous experience with bi-lingual children and their ability to absorb learning.  It's impressive.

Like her father, she is a water baby.  She just loves the beach.

with her two aunts

Emilia with my younger daughter meeting Franklin.  Franklin originally belonged to Georgia and when she went to boarding school, she gave him to my grandson, Aiden.  He's 15 or 16 years old.  The turtle that is, Aiden will be 13 in a few days.

Dad and daughter taking it easy after a hard day climbing mountains.

Friday 19 January 2024

The duck

A 14th anniversary may not sound very important but this one is to me, mainly because I actually remembered it.  But the thing is I remember it today but by the time it actually arrives on 23rd I will no doubt have forgotten it again.

It's my blogging anniversary I'm talking about.  It's hard to believe it's been that long and that in that time I've posted 1429 posts.  That's a pretty good average considering how infrequently I think of something to post these days.

Regardless of how seldom I post I will continue to do so as my blog is such a good diary of those years, it holds so many happy memories for me, especially of those early years when I spent hours playing with my grand-daughter, Georgia, who will be 21 this year.  We spent so many happy hours together in my kitchen, it's no surprise she still works with food and made me a very yummy chocolate log for Christmas.  Others might think what a funny gift but for both of us it held so much significance.  And then we both had the pleasure of sharing it with the rest of the family.

Below is my first post, a story about little Georgia.

Georgia stood on one leg, hips akimbo, peering at the structure before her. She tapped the toes of one foot , as her head descended almost to her chest and she leaned forward, a frown growing on her face. Her dark eyes grew even darker and her lips, pressed tightly together now, were hardly visible.

Finally she muttered, “Something is wrong here! Where has that duck gone? It was there yesterday. I put it to bed. It needs lots of sleep before our trip.”

Suddenly Georgia collapsed into a heap, tears streaming down her cheeks. “He’s gone to Brazil without me!” she wailed.
 
Georgia’s granny left her job digging for worms in the garden. “What’s up, Georgie Pie? I have the worms for your duck now. Look, they are lovely fat juicy ones! Come, come now. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Doofus has gone to Brazil without me!” Georgia repeated.

“No, no, I’m sure he hasn’t. He’s a lovely duck, he wouldn’t do that. Who would feed him worms?”

“I don’t know! But he’s gone!” sniffled Georgia.

“I’m sure he hasn’t”, replied Granny. “Let’s look carefully. Is he under the bed? No! Maybe he is in the cupboard. No! Is he sitting in a chair? No! Come on, Georgia, help me look for him. That’s a good girl!”

Finally, when nearly every object inside the big box had been moved aside, looked under and returned to it’s correct spot, Georgia yelped with delight as she spotted her golden duck nestled cosily under Love Heart Bear. With her 5 year old fingers she carefully picked up the little duck and placed him in the palm of her other hand. She stroked it gently, gave it a fairy kiss, curled her fingers around it tightly, lifted her arm and flung the duck into the air. The duck landed heavily on the other side of the garden. “Nope”, announced Georgia, “He can’t fly yet. When he can we will go to Brazil!”
 
A few of my followers go back a long way and may remember Georgia.  Here she is now with her boyfriend.  She still has that lovely shy (and just a little bit cheeky) smile.
 
 

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Christmas

One of my brothers, after every family gathering, would ask the question, "Who had the most fun?"  Nine times out of 10 the answer would be one of the youngest children.

When I asked myself this question after our family Christmas get together, Emilia was definitely the answer.  She had arrived in the country on Christmas Day and we'd allowed a few days for her and her parents to get over their jet lag before setting the date for "our" Christmas.  As my family grows with grandchildren now having partners, that allowed them to spend time with their "others halves" families, too.  I didn't care how long it took to find a time when we could all be together, the wait was worth it.

 

 My 4 generations.  So proud.

It was just wonderful having all my family together.  They all get along so well together, they make my heart sing. 

 

My 4 children relaxing in a quiet corner after lunch

But first it was all hands on deck to prepare the meal to which everyone had contributed.  As the saying goes, many hands make light work and somehow with not a lot of planning, it all comes together.  Someone said, "Freeze" and the kitchen staff at the time, me with my daughter-in-law and daughter complied.  Even my son who was handing something in through the servery window, looks to be complying although he hadn't heard the order.

 

Lexis, my 8 year old great-grand-daughter with 3 year grand-daughter, Emilia.  Lexis had presented Emilia with a pretty party dress that no longer fits her.

 

Then, after gifts had been given and received, the sitting room tidied, and everyone had moved outside to the patio to enjoy a very pleasant summer's day, my daughter walked back inside to this sight. She must have been exhausted after all the excitement.

 
I know how she felt.  Two days later I came down with a heavy cold which I am still fighting.  No New Year celebrations for me.  I am missing out on Emilia time so am taking very good care of myself in order to get back into grand-mothering fitness.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Christmas

There were photos taken and I've seen a couple of videos but there are none in my possession.  Honest.  

But if you have an active imagination, picture a group of 'senior' women who live in a retirement village decked out in black pants, red Christmassy tops, funny hats and white shoes providing the entertainment at a Christmas function.  Line dancing no less.  As Miranda's mum would say, "Such fun!"

And, despite our nerves, it really was fun.  Our audience were most appreciative.  And we were the seven happiest women at the event when it was all over.  No-one messed up too badly, the majority of the time we were in step.

Christmas is fast approaching - can't wait.  Unless something untoward happens we will have a full family muster, including our three family members from Brasil.  My arms are practically aching to wrap around little Emilia.

It seems like I've been sewing every day for months.  Back in October our Social Club decided we should raise some money to go towards our Christmas dinner so a Craft Group was formed.  I contributed by crocheting some granny squares for a blanket that we raffled, and a crocheted baby blanket and by sewing.  No sooner was that all done than it was time to start on making gifts for the family for Christmas.  These days as our family is expanding the adults do a Secret Santa but I pull rank and like to make a little gift for everyone.  I love it.  It's a really happy time for me.   I pick up cheap material during the year from op shops. This year I was in the right place at the right time when one of the residents in the village had three duvet covers with matching pillow cases for sale - for $10 a set.   The set I nabbed is king size so there has been a lot of material to play with.  There's still plenty left.  I think I might brighten my sitting room in the new year with new cushion covers.

One of the pre-Christmas events I've enjoyed the most was a trip to town for the residents in our small bus to look at the night time Christmas decorations.  There was a lively, festive atmosphere aboard the bus with lots of oohing and aahing. 

I am so grateful that I feel so settled and happy in my new home.  I have found my people.

I hope you all have a wonderful festive season.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Make hay

The sun was shining but a darkish cloud was threatening to put an end to the fine weather activities.  One of the residents had said if there was no rain or wind on Thursday he'd light the garden waste fire.  (Imagine the uproar if the wind sprang up and drifted smoke over the village!)  The tractor driver had similar thoughts about turning the hay.  They both got the job done. 

 

I like how the community works in my new home.  Those who can, do.  The more able-bodied do the more physical stuff like maintaining the common areas, the public gardens, etc. The rest of us do what we can.  I'm not up to much bending and gardening but I can sew, knit and crochet so I do those things and contribute towards our stall at the local market.  This is this week's effort.  All made from left over bits of material.  Although my eyesight is not sharp I get by but put off the hand sewing until there is good light and I can sit outside and do it.  I used to be quietly proud of my neat hand sewing but now I'm happy if it doesn't look too bad to me as I know my standard in that department is pretty high.

 

My unit is very small so most of the work happens in the kitchen where I cut out on the bench-top and where I pin things together because the light is better there than in the living room where the sewing machine sits on my desk. 

So I'm now in the habit of using the kitchen to prepare an early lunch or even making a lunch to eat later if I want to start earlier.  I have to stop in time to clear everything away to prepare my dinner and vacuum the living room carpet to pick up all the threads I seem to drop everywhere.  I tell myself sewing is making me a tidier person.  

I'm reluctant to admit it but I've forgotten how to do some things.  I got myself into a real tizz when I couldn't remember how to do mitered corners.  I spent a couple of days feeling quite upset about it then I remembered YouTube tutorials.  I've become such a YouTube fan.

Sunday 22 October 2023

one %

"99% of people born before 1946 are already gone."

That seems to be about right.  I seem to meet fewer and fewer people who are older than me.  Sooner or later even that percentage will shrink.  Maybe that is why having friends who are the same age or older is so special.  Or is to me, anyway.  Thankfully, most of my older mates are quite inspirational.  I'm going to visit one such older friend next week, a lady whose life in older age is not at all easy but she smiles  through it all, and her mind is as sharp as ever.  Until now I've never given much thought to growing old gracefully.  Now might be the time to do so.

I'm enjoying this spring season, I think I'm becoming more observant.  Having the time to do that is a gift.

I'm  trying to start each day being thankful.  Not just for waking up to another day, that doesn't actually cross my mind.  This might sound a bit silly but right now here is what brings me joy.  At this time of year around the time that I wake each morning, a light shadow crosses my bedroom wall almost exactly in the same place where the light falls in this photo which I took at the magnificent abbey at Mont Saint Michel in France in 2015.  It has yet to align perfectly, either the outside sun isn't bright enough or the time isn't quite right but any day now it might be.

I call this photo the stairway to heaven.  I took it after climbing the 350 steps up the abbey to where a grilled gate blocked any further access to tourists.   So I stuck my camera through the grill and was lucky enough to catch the sun's rays lighting the way to what I thought must surely be heaven.


The photo is fading a bit now and I've though about having it re-printed but my eyesight is fading, too, so it doesn't seem important.

My cat could tell you I'm definitely getting soft in my older age.  I haven't got over feeling guilty about the trauma I caused her by moving here and do my best to make her life happy.  I think she knows and is now manipulating me.  I don't know why she thinks she owns the little desk which is shared by my sewing machine and laptop.  She sits behind the machine and  scowls at me when I use it, obviously doesn't appreciate the vibrations.

I put the laptop somewhere else when I'm sewing, then the machine gets pushed to one side to  make room for it when I want to visit blogland.  Which inconveniences her considerably.    It seems a bit churlish to mention the difficulty I have using the mouse.


Tuesday 10 October 2023

The side eye

 

I didn't know I had perfected the side eye until my younger grandson, Aiden, grew as tall as I am.  I pretended I was really cross about being overtaken by all the males in my family and, look at that face, isn't he proud of himself?

I didn't remind him he has a way to go to catch up with his older cousin, my firstborn grandson, Michael who will turn 30 in a couple of weeks.  Gee, no wonder I occasionally feel a bit tired.

My two daughters and their offspring and partners and I had a lovely night out in Auckland.  I was too tired to go out with friends, as had been planned, the following night!

  

Surrounded by love

My daughter and I arrived in Auckland a little early for our meet up with my other daughter so we parked in the Wynyard Quarter and went for a short walk along the waterfront.  I expected to see more boats but what were there were very impressive.

  

The previous week my little great-granddaughter came for a sleepover.   She had a lovely time riding her bike around the village with another resident's grandson.  

She fell in love with my friend's toy doll, couldn't quite believe it wasn't real.  Isn't that a beautiful doll?

  

I haven't been spending much time on line.  No, that's not true.  I've spent a lot of time on You Tube following hand craft tutorials, making things for a stall we at the village are having at our local market day to raise money for our Christmas party.  I've done a lot of sewing and crocheting.  I forgot about taking photos before submitting my efforts to the craft team, except for these little book marks and worry worms, and a couple of the many granny squares which have been made up into a lovely blanket by one of the skilled crochet ladies in our midst.


 
And this @#** tea cosy, where I met my Waterloo.  It doesn't fit my little teapot, I've tried to line it up in front of a small watering can so you can see where the handle and spout would go.  If it doesn't sell (and to be honest I doubt anyone would want it) I can always unpick it and reuse the wool.
 

Saturday 9 September 2023

A job well done

Our little village has two loops.  On Friday morning the roadwork crew were working on the other loop for most of the day.  I could hear them in the distance.  Then mid afternoon I looked out to see them headed my way.  The little convoy looked like they were lining up my back door.  

They just had the final application of seal to apply.  I know you can see a man having a little sit but, believe me, a few minutes later it was all hands on deck.  To be honest, I think those men work hard and deserve a little rest now and then.



 
The attention to detail was surprising
 
 
Every man has a job
 
 
Nearly finished
 
It's raining today, so no "after" photo just yet.