Saturday, 4 March 2023

Busy hands

I've turned into my mother.  It's been a slow process.  I first noticed when I had young children and would hear my mother when I reprimanded them for something.  I couldn't believe I was repeating some of the absolutely ridiculous things she used to say.  Like "money doesn't grow on trees" or "turn off that light, this is not a lighthouse".  All that stuff about crossing bridges and elbows on tables.

Over the years I thought I'd grown more like my father with our shared impatience with traffic lights, the finger tap on the steering wheel when they are too slow to change to green. The way I don't do anything quietly.

The Dad traits are still there but recently it's been the Mum genes that are dominating.  I now don't like my hands to be idle and that's very much a Mum thing.  I haven't perfected the art of reading the paper at the same time as knitting but I can manage it while watching TV.

After my younger son returned to Brasil, I felt quite sad and needed a distraction.  While trawling YouTube looking for ideas for a sewing project I stumbled across a crochet tutorial.  Wondering if I could remember how to crochet after not having done any since my teens, I fished out some wool and had a go.  That bit was easy, but when I went looking for a pattern I couldn't remember how to read one.  All those double crochets, half trebles, etc were just gobbledygook.  So I entered the world of YouTube tutorials.

I'm still not much the wiser when it comes to pattern reading but I don't need to be.  A few minutes on YouTube and I'll find someone to show me.  Here's my first completed project.  I think (I hope) it's a good size for a baby blanket.

How Mum would have love that variegated wool.

I've now started on my second project which will be more a cot blanket size.  In the pic the wool looks a lot darker than it actually is.  It's more a green grey and I added in the cream to lighten it.  There's a long way to go, it will keep my hands busy for quite a while I think.


Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Working boat

I recognised the location of Margaret's new header photo immediately but for the life of me can't remember the name of the bay.  So annoying.

I knew I had a photo taken there also - of boats.  I searched and searched but couldn't find it.  Probably because I couldn't remember the name of the bay.  Foiled by my own filing.

Then I thought to search my blog.  I knew I took it on one of the tiki tours I did with Graham.   Gosh, Graham, that was in 2014. 

This is my photo of the same bay, from a different angle and taken 5 years before Margaret's. I've been there since, the boats are always there.  Still can't remember the name.

And, just because I like it, this is another boat I captured on that trip. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

How many kinds of beautiful

I only stayed with my daughter on the coast overlooking the Waipu River for a couple of days.  I spent most of the daylight hours just sitting and looking at the view and wondering how many kinds of beautiful exist in our world.  It was hard to believe that Mother Nature, here so peaceful and benign, had so recently shown us the power of her other side and unleashed Cyclone Gabrielle upon us.


High tide

Low tide

Usually I enjoy the river from the roadside.  It was nice to have access to one of the homes on the hill who enjoy that view every day.

Actually, I also spent a while being entertained by two lovely little terriers, Bertie and Betsy, two absolute delights.  Bertie took a shine to me and didn't let me out of sight much.  Not that I complained.  It meant he was handy when I wanted to take a photo.




Monday, 20 February 2023

Let me tell you a story

Often when there are catastrophic events true heroes emerge.  Cyclone Gabrielle gave me Fred.

Fred it not his real name, I don't think I should use his real name as I am just repeating a story I was told.  I do not know Fred, probably never will but I don't think I will forget his heroic act during the cyclone.

Fred is a volunteer fireman. As well as fighting fires, our volunteer fire-persons (political correctness has finally caught up with me) attend medical incidents, motor vehicle accidents, other requests for help like cats stuck up trees and severe weather events.

Volunteer firefighters make up 85% of New Zealand's Fire and Emergency's front-line workforce and respond to emergencies across 95% of NZ.  So, as the cyclone raged, countless volunteers were out there doing everything they could to keep us safe.  There are stories of firefighters who returned to their own homes after the storm only to find terrible damage to their own property.  The families of our volunteers support their loved ones by often coping alone during difficult times.

Two volunteer firefighters lost their lives during the storm, an awful reminder of the risks our volunteers take to protect and support others.

I know our local brigade was called upon to assist with several emergencies during the storm. In the very early hours, I can't remember if it was the first or second night of wild weather, they were called again to assist with evacuating people from at flood risk homes in Dargaville, on the west coast.  Fred and his team came to the rescue of a frail, elderly couple who they helped to the fire engine through the raging storm.  However, the lady couldn't climb the high step up into the engine.  What to do?  Fred had the solution.  Without hesitation he lay himself face down in the mud and flood water and told the old lady to step up onto his back to reach the step.

While they were rescuing people Gabrielle had wreaked havoc on all the roads in and out of Dargaville and there was no way home.  Using a roundabout route and local knowledge, they cleared the road in front of them of fallen trees and mud-slides as they slowly made their way back.

From my house I can see the back of the fire brigade building which gave shelter to those who needed it.  They had a generator and I liked being able to see their light shining through the storm when everything else was in blackness. Mind you, most of the time I couldn't see it through the rain but I knew it was there and it gave me comfort.  

And when the weather calmed down those volunteers were out knocking on doors, checking that everyone was OK.

I salute you, Fred and all other fire-fighters.

I weathered the storm quite well.  Lost a few branches off trees and everything in the deep freeze after 5 days without power but all my family are safe.

I took this photo yesterday of the Waipu Rivermouth, on the east coast.  Hard to believe Mother Nature could be so vicious when you see her like this.  

Saturday, 11 February 2023

She's gone

I'm so thankful I finally got to know my precious little grand-daughter.  I felt I knew her from our frequent video chats with her and her dad but I was completely overwhelmed by the magic of her spirit, the loving hugs, the infectious smile, the boundless energy.  She talks, sings and dances all day long.  Even when she's quietly drawing by herself or playing with a doll.

I've been feeling so sad and empty since I said goodbye to her, a form of grieving, I guess.  I don't have any control over it, I just accept it is the price I have to pay for the wonderful time I had with her.  I'd accept it every day for as long as it takes to go away in exchange for the joy of the love that I shared with her.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Stranger danger

You've heard  people say they nearly jumped out of their skin?  I can assure you that can nearly happen.  I nearly did it the last time I was in the supermarket. 

I admit my nerves may have been a bit frayed by the increased cost of absolutely everything on the shelves but when a small child sitting in the trolley beside mine screamed I jumped.  I mean really jumped, I swear my feet left the floor.  I was truly alarmed.  I've heard lots of little ones' screams over the years but never a scream like that.  This was real terror, not fright or frightened, terror.  Before the scream was even finished the little one was screeching, "No, no, no!"

A lady who had picked up some tomatoes had turned to place them into the wrong trolley and found herself looking straight at a small child whose mother had turned away to pick up a few onions.  The child screamed.  Oh, how she screamed.  Every eye in the fruit and vegetable section turned to see what had happened to her.

The lady with the tomatoes took a step backwards and put her arms in the air as if to profess her innocence.  Unfortunately, she stepped backwards into another shopper who also got a fright at having her feet stepped on and hearing screaming at the same time.

The screaming child fell silent the instant she caught sight of her mother again and her mother had a look of resignation combined with embarrassment.  I'd wager this is not the first time that child has suffered from separation anxiety (I think that's what they call it these days).  Or the first time she has exercised her lungs in such a piercing scream.  Without a word she exited the scene without a thought for the poor woman with the tomatoes.  I couldn't describe the look on her face.  She was mortified, deeply embarrassed and humiliated.  She looked so uncomfortable my heart went out to her and I touched her on the arm and told her she didn't look very scaryy to me.  In hindsight there are many other things I could have said to comfort her but that's all I could come up with at the time.  What she needed was a hug but one can't go around hugging strangers, more's the pity.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Meet Emilia

My Brasilian family have not been very impressed with the weather that has greeted their arrival in NZ but are making the most of the fine days.  

I've loved every minute of getting to know my little Emilia, she has captivated me completely.


I'm pretty sure her favourite place is the beach. 

Followed closely by the local school playground

Although it took her a while to become accustomed to the farm way of life.

 Can you imagine my pleasure in seeing her wearing a little woolen top that was knitted by my mother for one of my children?

I did warn you, didn't I, that I might go overboard with photos of my little Emilia?

In other news,I'm starting to think this vertigo will never go away.  It's definitely much better than it was but it's still there, catches me out occasionally when I stand and constantly interrupts my sleep at night.  As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I like my sleep, I do not do well without my regular quota.

The flowers I planted to brighten my garden at Christmas finally bloomed, two weeks later than expected and have now been so buffeted by the wind and rain that some are growing laying down, still flowering, brave little things that they are.  Not the cosmos, though, they are still standing proud and flourishing.  There's too much wind today for me to get a photo.  

I need to be more like cosmos.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

It's been a while

Nearly a month since my last post.  Christmas has come and gone.  I haven't been home much but am about to enjoy a quiet day at home on my own. 

Unfortunately that jolly (very polite word) vertigo hasn't gone anywhere just yet.  Surely it will soon.  I had to miss a few of the pills (that I now know have been very effective) because of a mix up at the pharmacy, so I've been a bit wonky for the past day or so.   Despite that I had a lovely Christmas with most of my family.  All except my son, his partner and little girl who were due to arrive in time for the festivities but will now be here on 01 January due to a visa problem.  The New Year festivities will be a lot more special when they are here.

We had a big storm on Boxing Day.  We hadn't long finished our lunch, most of us were relaxing outside trying not to complain about the heat which was quite oppressive, terribly humid.  There was one flash of lightning, followed almost immediately but a huge rumble of thunder and within seconds the skies opened.  It reminded me of the tropics, rather dramatic for here.  The air cooled immediately and it was a lot more pleasant for us to gather inside.  And we can now vouch that my son's new home, which has been converted from an old cow shed (dairy), does not leak.

We had managed to get our family photo taken before the rain.  I'd hate to be the photographer who tries to take a formal photo of my crew.  With my family a camera set on a timer is always an invitation for silliness.


The kitchen in the new shed/house is spacious, there was no shortage of room for us all.

This is my favourite shot of the day.  My son and my grandson (daughter's son) having a heart to heart in the kitchen.

As I was drawing the curtains at home that evening, just on dark, I noticed what looked like storm clouds gathering.

I sat on the deck and waited.  As darkness drew in the clouds moved off to the west.

Another came in from the east and hung over my garage.

I love a good storm and was sure I was in for a beauty but the clouds blew away.  I'm sure someone not too far away received a good downpour before too long.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

The journal

Last Christmas my 11 year old grandson gave me a journal in which I was asked to answer many questions about my life.  There's a question to be answered on every page.


It hasn't been easy, especially the writing part, you would never know from my handwriting now that I excelled at that when at school.  Maybe not, but the nuns approved.  I had worked hard at light upstrokes and heavier downstrokes, keeping the angle just so.  For years I always used a fountain pen to write letters, eschewing that modern evil, the ballpoint pen, known as the Biro (which the nuns said were common). I really bought into all that propaganda taught to us by the nuns.  

Now I can't even find my fountain pen, haven't been able to for a number of years although I still have the ink.  After all, it might turn up again.

I have to give myself a good kick every now and then and hit myself with the hard truth.  It's not the biros fault that my handwriting is crap, it's lack of care.  

So I've been taking care because I know my old-fashioned handwriting is hard for a modern child to read.  Here the young ones don't seem to do cursive writing anymore.  And I find I have to fight the tendency to miss out letters, my hand can't keep up with my thoughts.

And then there's the challenge of what to write that a child might find interesting. An example - the question "How did you feel when you were told you were going to be a grandparent?"  And there's a blank page sitting in front of me. Immediately I think of the first time that happened but the child doesn't really want to know about the announcement about a much older cousin.  And it should be the truth.  Right?  Not, "Thank the Lord, none of us could have put up with all that for much longer."  IVF treatments had not been easy for that hopeful mother-to-be.  

I think I'll have to write a poem, once upon a time that was something I did a lot, rarely do I feel moved to do so these days.

I still have a number of blank pages to complete before Christmas when I hope to return the book to Aiden.  

I've looked closely at the binding wondering if I ripped a couple of pages out would he notice.  I mean, does he really need to know about or be the slightest interested in the "most difficult" times of my life.

I think I will be honest to that one and write, "Right now."

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Brave little cosmos

For days I've been watching a brave little cosmos battle with the elements in the garden.  It's my first flower of the season and I wasn't expecting to see any of its kind come into bloom for a few more weeks.  It's not fully grown, probably not even half grown but it's decided to do its own thing regardless.

Today it was once again being beaten badly by the wind and I just had to rescue it and bring it inside.  I think the Cabin Fever is getting at me, I've been talking to it every time I go to the kitchen and see it on the window sill.  You will have to take my word for it that it is smiling and telling me to be brave, I will be better soon. 

I read somewhere that about 40% of the population experience vertigo at some point in their lifetime so I can't pretend I'm Robinson Crusoe.  But it's a first for me and an experience I'm not enjoying.  I'm a bit of a homebody most of the time but now that I can't drive I think of lots of things I'd like to be doing that require a car trip, places I'd like to visit. 

On the bright side I've been overcome with kindness from strangers, I must get a "help me" look on my face when my world goes for a spin.  And I'm grateful that my family are so caring and helpful.  

And I'm lucky I have a brave little cosmos to inspire me.

On another topic, Blogger doesn't like me at the moment.  It's being choosy about on which blogs it will allow me to leave comments.  And sometimes it will let me comment but refuse to acknowledge who I am, insisting that I am Anonymous.   

Thursday, 17 November 2022

When on the wrong track

I don't know what started me off on the wrong track this morning, it could have been the dithering about what to sew today, which length of fabric to start with.  I've been sewing every day with left over scraps of material and a bunch of off cuts given to me by a friend, so I guess I've been relaxed about it.  My eyesight isn't what it used to be, neither is my brain.  Nothing I make bears close inspection but I've been doing OK.

It hasn't mattered if I stuffed something up but this morning I had two brand new lengths of material in front of me.  I must have got dizzy with excitement because from the moment I decided which piece to cut into everything went wrong.  I could probably write a thousand words on the various mistakes I made.  Suffice to say I am practically cross-eyed from so much unpicking of seams where they should not have been.

I should have known to stop after the second or third stuff up but no, muggins kept on keeping on until I realized that scream I'd uttered could have frightened the neighbours.

So I'm putting off preparing my dinner until I feel a bit more self assured and am going to sit and watch the cats.  It's a sad day when all I have to show for my day are pics of the cats.

The couch is covered with a sheet, there is a little towel in place where she usually sits but today she decides she needs all the pillows as well. Wish I felt as relaxed as Ally looks.

When one pillow won't do!

Don't ask me what Korbi finds so fascinating about my feet!

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Cracker night

While other fire brigades around the country were busy last night responding to fires caused by fireworks, our local brigade members were entertaining the community with a well supervised fireworks display which they provide free to all comers each year.  I can see why so many people want Guy Fawkes night celebrations and the accompanying fireworks banned.  There have been two major fires caused by fireworks.  One at Hawke's Bay Te Mata Peak overnight needed 10 fire trucks to extinguish it and the big one which started on Wednesday night involved four helicopters and two planes and about 50 firefighters and forced the evacuation of 130 people from a holiday park just north of Christchurch. 

Our fire brigade is run by unpaid volunteers, a great asset to a community which is located some distance from the nearest fire station.  Minutes are important in emergencies, aren't they?  I was happy to see community service flourishing  in our community with so many young volunteers amongst the members last nights. 

Ready for the bonfire.

This morning all is quiet again except for the occasional shout of "Howzat" from the cricketers at the sports oval off to the left of the bonfire site.

And in my home the toys look lonely after the little girl who played with them has gone.

Nights like that are so much more fun when shared with a little one.  I just love it when a little one comes into my house and knows where the toy box is, that gives me the warm fuzzies.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Ag Day

I last posted about Ag Day back in 2010 when my grandchildren were at school.  This annual event in rural schools has different titles depending on the location of the school - Calf Club, Country, Pet, Agriculture, Community Day.  The tiny school (I think there are fewer than 30 students) my g-g-daughter, Lexis, attends simply call it Ag Day.  It's like the Calf Club days when my children went to school.  Whereas some schools encourage children to take an active interest in the welfare and presentation of an animal of their choice, here it is about calves and lambs only, just like in the old days.

Ag Day was on Saturday.  It was a wonderful community gathering, we weren't the only family amongst the spectators that included uncles, aunts, grandparents, g-g-parents like me, family friends. With community support like that, it's easy to see why kids love going to school.

Little Lexis had a pet lamb and there was much consternation during the week when the lamb had a sore foot.  The cause of the limp was diagnosed and it was decided it wouldn't do any harm to allow it to take part.

The four children in the Junior Section waiting patiently and watching the Junior Calf entrants in the competition ring. Lexis in the black raincoat.  There was drizzly rain but it wasn't heavy enough to halt proceedings.  Look at that little boy with a calf almost as tall as he is, and a lot heavier.  His dad is standing by in case he is needed but the lad was well and truly in charge and a competent handler.


Looking a wee bit worried.  It's not easy in the judging ring when you know all eyes are on you.  Prizes aren't won just by animals that are well bred, although there is a section for just that.  They are also judged on the grooming of their pet and how it walks beside its human on a lead. The lamb on the lead, that is. Winning a prize is invariably about the hours the child has put in feeding, caring for and training their animal. 

A young aunt of another student offered to get closer to the action for a photo for me.  

Big smiles once it was all over.  They both did really well.
Students who aren't able to enter a calf or lamb are expected to participate by planting and tending a small contained garden such as a bee garden, fruit/vege garden or a herb garden.  There was some very creative thinking behind some of the containers on display.