Monday, 29 June 2009

Little lessons

When you start a new job I always think it takes a while before you get the hang of how it will work out, before you get the "feel" of the place. I'm glad I had a little time out between my most recent job and this new one or the leap from one to the other would have been enormous. An educational institution is very different from a small, struggling business. It's tempting to blurt out, "Do you know how tough it is out there in the real world? Do you not know how well off you are? Does the word recession mean nothing to you?"

And I'm adapting to the difference between working predominately with straight-talking men contractors and politically correct women. I can imagine the fun the contractors would have if they witnessed our little morning tea this morning to celebrate a team member's birthday.

The little party was held in the Health Centre so I suppose it was to be expected that blowing out candles would be a major issue, when there is the dreaded Swine Flu to be considered.

But one of the nurses had a resolution to the dilema. The same number of candles were put on the cake as the number of people present. Each person had to remove a candle from the cake, make a wish for the birthday girl, then blow the candle out.

Quaint idea, huh? It took a while, I had to rush off early because I had another appointment. It didn't dawn on me to allow more than half an hour for a morning tea.

And that's just one of a myriad of little things I have yet to learn.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Lovely visitors

I've been blogging for 5 months now. Doesn't seem that long. I wonder how many blogs of others I've looked at in that time. Safe to say hundreds at least. First of all I added many to my Bookmarks and visited them regularly. Over those few months, that list has changed a bit, some have been dropped off for one reason or another - and others have been added.

Funny thing is My Favourite Links hasn't changed since I first started. Until last week, that is, when I added my brother's sailing blog. I was lucky to be directed to Mike and Bev and they have inspired me, in different ways. I stumbled across Barry all by myself and he remains what I aspire to. The blogger whose writing ability I envy, the story teller I dream of becoming.

Just recently I have added myself as a Follower of a few blogs I particularly enjoy.

I very rarely leave comments on the blogs of those I visit. Adding myself as a Follower takes long enough to test my patience. Only those who have dial up internet in an area where the telephone lines haven't been upgraded since they were first installed will understand. It's slow at the best of times, worse when there has been rain and sometimes the connection just keeps dropping out, over and over, for no apparant reason until, in the interest of my mental health, I just have to walk away.

So, to leave a comment I must first decide what else I want to achieve today, how long do I have. I guess because I leave so few comments I get over excited when I see a comment on my blog.

Barry left a comment about my Friday Shoot-out. I have been touched by the master!

I know it's silly but I am so thrilled about it!!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Colours of the Rainbow

How many colours are there in a rainbow?

I read there are anywhere from three to as many as several thousand.

It depends on who is counting and what we believe we see. It's a bit like life - what we expect is what we find.

I'd be happy to find all these colours

I remember "Richard of York got bushed in Victoria."
(interpretation bushed is Aussie slang for lost and Victoria is a state of Aust)
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet
or I made up a story

An old man sits deep in thought by his red wagon

gazing across at an orange flower

while the floodwaters creep to the yellow trees at the foot of the green hills
all under a blue sky

and thinks she's wasting her time looking for an indigo shot
because modern thinking scientists
(he's up with modern thinking)
do not accept indigo as a separate colour
because on the electromagnetic spectrum it's between about 420 and 450 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet
and wavelengths shorter than about 450 nm are violet.
Not that she will understand a word of that!
Wonder if I should find some violets for her.

Nah, these will do and they are growing by the roadside.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Frazzled brain

New job equals frazzled brain. But there are at least twenty faces I can immediately put a name to, so I think I'm coping. And, honestly, the other staff are the most positive, friendliest bunch I've ever come across in a workplace. They all seem to enjoy their work. Even the ones you've "heard" that I'm Australian haven't been having a dig.

Seems like there is a very health grapevine! On Day One a lady asked did she detect a slight Aussie accent and by Day Three a man who stopped me in a corridor to introduce himself, is telling me how he loves "I Love a Sunburnt Countrty" - and is reciting it word for word! A Kiwi reciting an Aussie poem, now that was a new experience! Except he thought it was written by Banjo Patterson and I didn't want to appear a smart arse by telling him it was Dorothea McKellar.

This brain needs some time out!

Monday, 22 June 2009

The curtain raiser.

Gosh, but it does feel good to be working again! I think I'm going to have to lift my game when it comes to what I throw on my back to wear to work. No excuses of not wanting to ruin good clothes when I have to work out the back in the workshop with this job.

Seems like I might be a very busy girl in this job. One young woman was so glad I had started she threw her arms around me! Either the boss is totally disorganised and mucks this girl around or she has lots of work stored up that she wants me to do. Probably neither, I know nothing about the place yet but I can let my imagination run riot for now.

I think it will be to my benefit that the boss lady is in America at the moment so I'm spending a day within each of the departments that report to her.

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to get to know some of the players before the main game starts. In footy speak, this week is the curtain raiser!

Oh, almost forgot. Just so you can appreciate how simple and uncomplicated my life is. Last night as I was drifting off to dreamland I was jolted awake by the realisation that I had spelt sashay incorrectly in yesterday's post. What was I thinking?

You'd think I had more important things to worry about, wouldn't you?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

When Evening Shadows Fall

Today started with a heavy frost, then turned into one of those absolute crackers of a day that typically follows a frost. Now the sun is setting and I'm reminded of that old song, "When Evening Shadows Fall". I found a 1936 version by a Mrs Jimmie Rodgers on You Tube. Mrs Jimmie Rodgers was no lark! But the qauint, nostalgic old song suits my mood.

Because I'm starting my new job tomorrow, today I felt compelled to finish all the sewing projects I've started and not finished, so I've been hunched over the sewing machine all day. Tomorrow I'm going to sachet forth (does anyone sachet forth these days?) with a new bag, complete with matching glasses case and makeup bag. I might hand sew a few sparklies on the glasses case tonight.

I was surprised to get so much usable material from the an jacket of one of my daughters. But forgot about the handles until it came time to add them and discovered I only had two strips anywhere near long enough and they were from the front opening. Had to remove the buttons from one strip and there are button holes on the other but that doesn't bother me.

So tomorrow I join the staff at the polytechnic in town. Still can't quite believe that someone has given me a job at 64! Wish me luck!!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

My town Friday Shoot Out - Metal

I wonder if anyone thought of M for Metal when they were doing last week's Friday Shoot-out? Didn't enter my mind, I must admit.

When I hear the word "metal" the first thing I think of is our metal road. My Aussie relatives sometimes look a bit puzzled when I refer to living on a metal road. Here, where we have such a high annual rainfall, if it weren't for the metal the councils spread over our roads, we would go nowhere whenever it rains. The metal compacts to give us a hard surface on the roads. It's a proper B to drive on just after the metal has been applied and its sitting loosely on the surface. It's not usual to find myself muttering "Oops, nearly got caught in the loose metal."

And I all too clearly remember number one son explaining how he came to wreck one of our cars - "I went a bit wide on the corner and got caught in the loose metal." Actually I think the senior daughter and younger son also uttered those very same words. Kids who learn to drive on metal drive nearly always come undone somewhere along the line but by the time they have learnt to control a car on a metal road, they are usually good drivers.

A pile of metal beside the road awaiting application

Our metal covered road as it twists and turns on its way to the farm

Road side adornments - there are three of these along the road today.
And none of them is the one I'm missing from my car!

Beside the road are the farmers' letter boxes, this being the standard model
(raise the red flag if you want the mail man to pick up a letter to be posted).

I had to resort to the dictionary for a definition of metal. Think I am safe in putting tin and steel into this category.

Modern steel cattle yards

As I drive around my local area I see the occasional old tin shed, some still in use,
others that have outlived their usefulness.
This one was full of hay for the stock.

And then there are the more frequent newer models -
(more serviceable but lacking the character, I think).

I cross the solid steel railway lines, once over a level crossing

and via an overbridge.

At the shopping centre steel is used for the bike racks

and for a place to sit a while

Take a couple of old metal chairs, pain them a pretty colour and you have a nice spot in the early morning sun.

Thank you, Saint Parascheva

At last it is done. I wish, oh how I wish, that I felt hugely gratified by having met the challenge. Instead I just feel relief that it is finished.

Bev, the quilting evangelist, the zealous advocate of all things quilting, challenged her sister, Chris and me to make a raggy quilt. Neither Chris nor I knew what a raggy quilt was but Bev, with the patience of a true reformer, explained it to us and sent us instructions.

Some of my siblings have loads of patience, some have little to none. That gene is very random. My sisters have it in spades, I missed the boat completely. Trish is a fantastic seamstress, crafts amazing creations, including beautiful quilts. Along with the patience she has artistic flair, another gene that passed me by. My sewing projects are purely practical and I like them to progress quickly, to see a result without hours and hours of input. Quick, if not instant gratification is more my thing.

So why did I say yeah, OK, I'll give it a go? I honestly don't know because it has tested me sorely. More than ever before I admire those who produce those handcrafted works of art. Quilting truly is an artform.

So here's my raggy quilt, Bev. I love the little cushion, that was quick and easy. I plan to make another three and give one to each of my grand-daughters. I think they will like them.

When 5 year old Georgia was at my place a couple of days ago I was bringing the quilt in off the clothesline and said to her, "Do you like the little blanket I made?" She looked at it quizzically and said, "Don't you mean quilt?" How can a five year old know about these things?

I am now giving thanks to both Saint Anne and Saint Parascheva. Someone really should sort out which one is the patron saint of sewing. Maybe Saint Anne could help with the humble sort of sewing I do and Saint Parascheva could provide assistance to the more exotic quilters.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Senior Superstars

The Senior Superstars.

We are a varied bunch. Our ages span about 25 years or so, I'd guess. Most of us don't know anything about the others.

But we all have one thing in common. We all like to exercise in a group. Most of us enjoy a laugh. We all have a "Green Prescription." And we are all well past our first bloom of youth.

We are part of the Green Community. Why green I have no idea. It is an exercise programme for the not so young, government funded through Sport Northland. Costs a gold coin to take part. But to be part of the group you need a Green Prescription from your doctor, which is very easy to get. Just ring the surgery and ask for one and a nurse will write it out for you and forward it to Sport Northland. My interpretation is “this person could do with some regular exercise, let ‘em join.”

A staff member from Sport Northland sets the group up, by advertising it through Seniors Groups, etc. When it is up and running they find a local person to take over. Grant, very fit, somewhere around 40, is our local leader.

I call us the Senior Superstars. And I don't care to know what the very youthful volleyballers call us! They use the gym at the high school after us on Tuesday nights and are usually arriving as we are finishing our exercise session. They are always very polite and respectful but I bet they have been known to have a little giggle at our expense.

As I've now had a clean bill of health from the heart surgeon, I no longer have an excuse for not going hard out. Bear in mind that hard out in this case is relative to my age and level of fitness. We all take part to the very best of our ability.

We do exercises to warm up then walk around for about 5 minutes, throw a netball around, even go through one ball game as if we are stars in the making. Sometimes we even have to run (or a good imitation of it) and bounce the ball at the same time!!

Warm ups - getting those shoulders rolling

But all that is a prelude to the "main game", the hockey game, which I think is the favourite part of the class for all participants. Its played with plastic hockey sticks (but it still hurts if you get a good whack with one). The goal area is painted on the wall.

Our group are mainly over 60, a couple younger, most closer to 70 or 80. Hence the hockey is ‘no rules’ – very few of us would be capable of remembering them!

Some of the men get a little over competitive at times but if their fire is still burning, well, power to them, I reckon. As long as they don't knock around the older members of the team, it's not a problem. And I don't think an older person ever has been knocked around during a game. But it doesn't pay to make concessions to the older ones either or they will turn that to their own advantage quick smart. I've always thought I have a competitive nature but I pale in comparison to some of the older ones.

I'm annoyed these photos turned out so badly. I couldn't escape the reflection off the floor. And my camera has a slight delay between pressing the button and the flash going off, so action shots look ridiculous when the action has moved on.

Superstar Tom (aged 82) is keeping a close eye on my mate, Chris.

The girls have Alec surrounded

And Tom is the only man brave enough to take on this fearsome four.

After the hockey game we have a choice of activity. Badminton, tennis or into the equipment room to ride a bike, row a boat or some other form of torture. (The men seem to prefer this activity.)

Thelma is left to face Nancy and Chris alone as I dash off to take a photo.

For me, even if the exercise wasn't doing me good, I would continue to attend, just for the fun of it all.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

My mate, Lewey

My mate, Lewey

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker.
A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.

I'm afraid I must argue (just on a minor detail) with Buddha. When one of a dog's functions is to alert me to what's happening outside in the night while I sleep inside, then his bark is important. Getting off the subject a bit, a sheep or cattle dog without a bark isn't of much use either. But I guess Buddha wasn't a farmer or a rural person.

My mate, Lewey, has several different barks, none of them related to sheep or cattle. There's his Hello Friend bark, Hello Stranger bark, Hello you who I know so well bark (person or other dog), his get off my patch bark which can drive me to distraction when his indignation is directed at any passing rabbit or possum at night, and his bark of fury when something is going down that he is clearly not happy about.

This last bark is quite rare, saved for the infrequent occasions when things are not right in our world.

I should have heard this last bark five nights ago but if he was trying to let me know something was going down in the back yard I failed to hear him. And I should have heard it the following four nights, too. Each of the following mornings I gave him a good telling off as I scraped up the rubbish off the back lawn. I was not amused that something has been knocking over my rubbish bin, chewing at the handles that secure it and chewing through the rubbish bags it contains and scattering the thrash all over the yard.

He must have been fed up with being reprimanded because last night he really did perform. And he'd enlisted the help of my grand-daughters little terrier, Sam. Sam spends a fair bit of time in Lewey's company. When the girls are at school he trots down to my house and hangs out with Lewey who is very patient with him, lays down to allow Sam to play over and around him.

Last evening the girls were at gym, so Sam was here and didn't bother going home when they returned. Lewey's deep, furious barks and Sam's higher pitched barks woke me just after 2 am. Hoping to catch the culprit in action I didn't turn on any lights but crept to the back door, which I can see through out into the yard. Lewey was going to town at the end of his chain and just out of his reach was the big, black dog who belongs to the farmer over the road. Little Sam was yipping away on the other side of the villian. I flung open the door and roared! The black dog and poor little Sam took off! I called to Sam but there was no way he was coming back near the crazy lady.

Little Sam

My son has complained to the neighbour before about his wandering dogs and the havoc they create in the night. So it will be up to me to find a way to discourage him from the delights of my rubbish bin. He will be back. I can't think of any way to make the bin more difficult for him to get open. A while back when I was having trouble with an intrusive cat, spraying vinegar on the doorstep kept it out most of the time. Wonder if that will work with dogs?

If it doesn't I may be tempted into drastic action!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Good News Monday - It's just a Bundle Branch

"What's this? Is this a love-bite on your back?" asked the young Dr Wong as he applied his stethoscope to my back to listen to my heart.

I spluttered and laughed and managed to spit out, "I don't think so! Is it a bruise? Where?"

His fingers traced a pattern on my back, left hand side, just above the waist, "Here. It looks like a love bite and just here" one finger pressed more firmly to a spot, "it looks like the shape of a tongue."

My friend Chris, who was along as my support person and had been nonchalantly looking at posters on the surgery wall, shot out of her chair and bounded across the surgery to the other side of the table on which I was perched to see this phenomenon for herself. (I don't think she expected such entertainment when she offered to accompany me today!)

I was feeling a bit left out as they examined the mysterious mark on my back and asked, "Could it be a bruise from when I slipped on the frosty back steps a week or so ago?"

They agreed that it could, although Dr Wong was sticking to his love-bite theory and Chris reasoned it was more likely a mark left from a quit smoking patch.

And that was as exciting as my trip to the heart specialist got.

The rest of the visit was rather ho hum. Weight and blood pressure checked. Blood pressure up a bit but I think a bit of "white coat" syndrome is to be expected when one is in the cardiac unit.

The Echocardiogram (where they use sound waves to have a look at the heart) was indeed painless. There were interesting sound effects that I hadn't been expecting. I think we're lucky we have soundproof skin or the world would be a vastly different place.

I now know my heartbeat pattern falls under the Bundle Branch category. The peaks are not as high or as thin as the normal sinus rhythm but on the wall chart didn't look all that different. Dr Wong even ordered another ECG with the offhand suggestion that the result that had got my doctor all excited may not have been mine.

And he said I was very healthy. I checked with Chris that I'd heard right. Yes, that was his verdict.

To celebrate we went to pick up Chris' new glasses - they are fabulous, very glamorous, very NOW! I was so busy admiring them I forgot to take a photo.

Then we took ourselves off to a very nice restaurant for lunch. After all, it's not every day you get to impress a heart specialist (that potential love-bite really captured his attention!)

But the good news for the day hadn't yet been used up. An hour or so later as Chris and I were choosing wool in Spotlight my cell rang and lo and behold, I've landed myself a job at last. I felt the interview last Thursday had gone so badly I couldn't bring myself to blog about it.

I've worked at a Primary School and a Secondary School and now I am about to work at a Polytech (a technical institute). Yay!!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Friday Mt Town Shoot Out - the letter M

I had a plan. Nature had another plan. My plan was to take the camera, get in the car and drive in search of things M. Because around here at the moment it is all mud and moisture - and heaps of manure. Things maritime were beckoning, the marina and its masts.

Nature's plan was for lots and lots of rain, and then some real heavy rain. During the week the creek burst its banks, yesterday it started to creep over the road, today I could leave the district by taking the back roads through the high country but don't want to go out in this weather.

I figure a challenge is meant to be a challenge, right? So let's see what I could find at my fingertips.

A little money. Coins from Canada, Brazil, Australia, Taiwan.

Magnetised things on the fridge.

Just mud.

An M from my childhood - Martin Murphy's hut.
(But I think this photo is even older than I am as I dont' remember that little building in the background.

and the old milking shed on my grandparents farm.

Muddy tracks leading to our old farm gate.

Kaipara Harbour looking like a millpond after an early morning frost.

Mud crabbing on the Kaipara Harbour at Tapora

And, also part of Nature's plan.....

This pic landed in my In Box just as I was about to Post, so they are obviously for sharing.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Passport Laundering

I wonder how many times it has happened. It's so easy to do. Even after a hundred years of practise I still leave a tissue in a pocket occasionally when I drop something into the washing machine. Not often, any more, now that there are just my pockets to check, but it can still happen.

And it makes a mess, right? Who would imagine that a passport would disintegrate in the same fashion as a tissue! No, not exactly the same. The cover isn't too bad. And all the pages are still in place. But what a mess! Maybe it wouldn't have been as bad if it had been a fast cycle but no, mother decided on the soak option - those jeans were pretty grubby!

I had a nightmare last night in which I dreamed that this had happened to my son when he was in some dodgy third world country. Imagine! No mother close at hand with a copy of his passport in the light blue folder along with original birth certificates, etc. Yeah, the same mother who did the damage in the first place.

You might think the light blue folder also contains copies of my passport and those of my other offspring. No, just this son's. This son who leaves a trail of left behind towels and undies behind him wherever he goes. This son who, when he returned after an absence of two years overseas, was very proud of himself because he still had in his possession two items of clothing that he had left with. He hadn't replaced old with new, just lost the rest.

What a time we had trying to dry it out knowing, deep down, right from the start, that it was futile. In front of the heater didn't work, we tried the microwave briefly and finally resorted to the oven on low heat.

So today Bernie is in Auckland arranging a replacement passport. And finding out how long that will take, by how many days he will have to extend his visit. At least he's in a city he knows well and can speak the language. He's not on his own. I'm trying hard to find the positives.

And I want you to believe that no part of me thought Yay, he will be in the country a bit longer now!

We didn't think to take a photo of the sodden passport but this is an old black top of mine that I threw into the washing machine. The rugby shirt and his undies that were also in there didn't fare too badly.

Friday, 5 June 2009

My Town Friday Shoot Out

So the topic this week is "random", huh? On Tuesday I decided to set out with my camera and see if a theme presented itself. I saw a row of pampas grass looking pure white, shining in the sunshine. But do you think I could get a shot of it? No matter how I walked up and down the road, from every angle there was either a power pole or a fence post getting in the way.

Why not embrace the enemy, I think. So my theme today is Power Poles and Fence Posts. Like so many other things they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The fences in my photos are just the ones that got in the way, your every day, down to earth, farm fence. There's nothing aesthetically pleasing about them, there purpose is purely practical.

But one day armed with a camera has changed how I view power poles. They are so much more interesting than I'd given them credit for. From the most humble old pole to the truly magnificent pylons, there are so many different "characters". I know they all serve a practical purpose but some do it with so much more style knowing their purpose is greater than the others and look down on their more humble kin who just carry power to a single house.

This is "my" power pole, the one that brings power to my house, then carries on up the valley to the neighbours' farms. This morning it had its toes in the frost. And I had my bum in the frost a minute before taking the photo! I'd slipped on ice on my back steps and bump, bump, bumped down the three steps, coming to a stop on the frosty ground. Thank heavens there are only three steps!

These serve a very important purpose - they lead to my hairdresser, Tracey.
They do their job - then stop!

Power poles keep the fences company along the sides of the roads.

A humble rural power pole dwarfed by the higher purpose pylons.

There are lots of pylons around Ruakaka. The green building in the background is the old Power Station which has now been sold off and will be transported overseas somewhere (can't remember where - was it Pakistan?) to burn coal.

The power lines criss cross the road leading to the power station

go thisa way and thata way

The old power station seen through the security fence (even some fences have a higher purpose!)

The serious end.

Sky lines

The 13 sentinels that watch over the Marsden Point Oil Refinery port,
allowing the tankers to load and unload at night.

At nearby Marsden Cove the pretty blue power poles show off in front of the sentinels.

Hope you can make out the pylons as they march on and on, heading north

And at the end of the day, the power poles and fences continue to do their job.
Serving us well.