Sunday, 29 November 2009


Not much stops me in my tracks. But a certain heart specialist managed it on Wednesday.

I could say I hadn't recovered my breath after walking uphill on the treadmill, wires hanging from vital places, for what seemed like ages but was probably only a few minutes. And that would be true.

Imagine it. A heart specialist has you in this vulnerable position and you wait to hear whether or not you are long for this mortal coil, feeling, quite honestly like the next breath might be your last. He places the results of your treadmill labours on the table, picks up a pen to use as a pointer, you lower your eyes to the results expecting a dire explanation of the wiggles and squiggles.

And he says, "So what's on your Bucket List?"

And looks at you quizzically with gentle blue eyes. "Have you seen the movie?" he asks.
I nod
"Great movie, isn't it?"
I nod again.
"So do you have a Bucket list?' he asks again.

Somehow I manage to stammer out something about the West Indies Cricket Tour and he asks, "Anything else?"

I think I managed to say something about South America, grandchildren.

But my poor brain couldn't cope with all that was happening in there at once.... heart specialist, treadmill, pounding heart, oh shit, results, Bucket List, oh shit, things must be bad, oh shit....

And then he goes back to the business in hand and explains the results of my test. I think I vaguely understand and I DID clarify that I will have time to have a bucket list "as long as your arm". I'll wait for my doctor to receive the specialist's report, then go see him for an explanation.

What is still bothering me is why did this intelligent man (he's got to be, he's a heart specialist, for heaven's sake) think that was an appropriate time to make small talk and enquire about a Bucket List.

Had he just seen the movie the night before? (That's my number one logical explanation)
Had he no idea how a person might interpret that question?
Has he the most outlandish sense of humour? (Can you imagine his thinking, Yeah, it's been a boring morning, I'll try the Bucket List one on this one!)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Faces and Smiles

I'm so proud of my faces this week. I'm sure I have simply the Best faces for you.

Who else has two Bulgarians? Anyone? Thought not! Bulgarians have to be the Beautiful People of 2009 I think. I work with one and couldn't believe it when I asked a stranger permission to photograph him and discovered he was another.

So here's my first Bulgarian, Dancho. Isn't that a wonderful face?

This is Vasi. I only had one opportunity to take a photo of her and mucked it up but I think you can still see what a great face she has:

You, too, could look at happy as Lynda if you had a PA like me! And yes, she is as smart as she is beautiful!

I like faces that have weathered the test of time, that reflect a life well lived:

Thank you, Sarah from Idaho for this week's theme. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of wonderful faces and smiles. You can, too, by following the link under My Favourites on the side bar.
Align Center

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Unexpected pleasures

I went for a long walk this morning to ease the kinks out of my back (the price of spending two days at the sewing machine) and noticed how pretty the weeds are at this time of year. So this afternoon when Georgia and I went for a walk, I made sure the camera came with us.

Down by the creek was an unexpected pleasure. The dairy herd was in a paddock beside the creek but a number of them had walked out of there and were grazing along the banks of the creek.

They looked so lovely amongst the long grass.

It’s an environmental ‘no, no’ these days but my dog wouldn’t know how to chase a cow to put them back in the paddock and I decided I would enjoy the sight, as, who knows, I may never see it again.

Once one cow does something, all the others usually want to get in on the act and before long lots of them were leaving their paddock and going for a wander down along the creek.

I think they were also attracted to the sound of our voices.

Krystal, Shayde and their little friend, Jessica came looking for us and we all went walking up the little side stream that comes down out of the mountains.

Another unexpected pleasure - the girls discovered a water hole deep enough to swim in.

And in they went, clothes and all!

By the time I convinced them that they had been swimming long enough the cows had been retrieved from their paddock (and the creek) and were making their way to the cow shed for milking.

And now the bottoms of my feet are sore from walking along the stoney bottomed creek.

But that’s a small price to pay for the pleasures of the day.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Friday Shoot Out - My town's premier attraction

S 35°43.474 . E 174°19.599

When I enquired at the Tourist Information Centre what was this town's premier attraction, the general consensus was that it was the Town Basin. That surprised me, I had expected to hear "the beaches". But I'm happy enough to go along with those who should know.

So, come park your boat in the Town Basin Marina in Whangarie Harbour, it's handy to the city centre and right alongside some lovely quayside restaurants and cafes.

Revas, the closest restaurant to the boats, is something of a Whangarei icon and a destination in itself. The first Revas opened in 1976 and I seem to recall it was the first BYO (bring your own) restaurant in Whangarei in the late 70s. In 1995, when the Town Basin was developed, Revas was the first restaurant along the waterfront.

Now "See you at Reva's" is the farewell call of yachties across the Pacific.

There are other restaurants along the waterfront:

and several cafes where you can sit and enjoy a beer or coffee:

There are places where you can have a picnic:

and plenty of places to stroll with an icecream:

and boats:

lots of boats from all over the world:

Loiter awhile and you become aware of the sense of community amongst the yachties as they go about their daily chores:

and the characters among the boating community:

(sorry I cut the man's head off but I was concentrating on the dog)

She is obviously the queen of the Town Basin.

Thanks to Kent from Montana for this week's theme. I'm looking forward to visiting lots of towns worldwide to see their premier attractions. You can, too, by following the link under My Favourites on the side bar.

So that's the premier attraction according to the Tourist Centre but I still think if you come here in summer you will be visiting one of our many wonderful beaches. I noticed the first pohutukawa bloom this week, soon they will be an added feature to the coastline as they fringe many beaches.

I feel I just have to add a couple of beaches that are just a short drive from the Town Basin:

This one has boat access only but you can walk to it as well. It's called Smuggler's Cove - a beach with a past.

Ocean Beach can usually be relied upon for good surf. So long as the swell is not too rough there can also be good swimming and children can frolic in the little stream. Or you can walk for miles without seeing many people.

If I were showing a visitor around my area I could skip the Town Basin if we didn't have much time but I could never skip the beaches.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Jami's birthday

Thanks to Denise from The Seasonal Cottage and Mark, at The Butler and Bagman Chronicles, I've been reminded of a special night, just on eleven years ago.

My granddaughter, Jami was born on the morning of 18 November, 1998. In the early hours of the morning one of the nursing staff tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Come for a break. Come and have a look out the window." She lead me to dark room in a north facing corner of the building and I followed her lead and pressed my nose up to the window and put my hands up around my eyes to shut out the glare of the city outside. We could just make out the dancing lights in the sky.

The nurse couldn't leave her post but she assured me nothing was about to happen with my daughter in the meantime (I'd reached the same conclusion myself) so why not go for a walk down to the lake to get away from the lights of the buildings and perhaps see better.

I'd gone in and out of the hospital a few times during the night so the security guard enquired, "Any progress." When I said I was going outside down to the lake, the guard assured me he could not allow me to do that by myself, to wait a minute for him to call for someone to cover him and he would come with me.

So, around three am the security guard and I were down by the lake, in the spot with the least reflected city light that we could find, watching the Leonids Meteor shower. White and coloured sparkles seemed to fill the sky to the north of us. It was extremely beautiful. I was tired, very tired. I was concerned for my daughter. But I took being a witness to this spectacular show as a good sign. And returned to my daughter's side refreshed and feeling much more positive.

I haven't seen the annual Leonids Meteor shower again and tonight the weather is very dark and overcast so I will miss this year's show.

I wonder if other children born under the meteor shower are as bright and sparkly as Jami. It seems to me she absorbed some of the brilliance in the sky around us that night.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A surprise gift.

Georgia and Archer, her Best Friend Ever, visited me this morning. They chatted with me briefly about the parade yesterday and which had been my favourite car, then went to the little shed out the back in search of wood. I was asked for tape and gave them cellotape. I was then instructed to close the curtain so I could not see what they were doing on the front deck.

Some time later they came in and presented me with this.

Archer said it was a Thingy-ma-jiggety but Georgia very quickly contradicted him and said, "It's not. It's a bookcase."

Of course, I could see that!

Kids on parade

The best part of any parade, for me, is the children. I love seeing their delighted faces as they pass by.

As they grow older it doesn't seem to be quite as much fun. Or do boys reach a certain age and feel the need to be 'cool'?

The Wearable Arts Parade was one of the attractions. Krystal waits pensively for the music to start, obviously not very comfortable about being the first to take the stage.

Georgia had to overcome her shyness to step on to the stage in front of all those people by herself. She went very quiet while they waited for the show to begin, a sure sign she was bothered. But she did it, quite an achievement for a six year old, I think. I was so proud of her!

Archer, Georgia's 'best friend ever' greets her after the show - "So where did you get that dress from?"

Saturday, 14 November 2009

There was a parade!

There was a parade in the village today. No big brass drum. Just a lone Scottish piper standing on a farm trailer, pulled by an ancient farm vehicle that could loosely be called a tractor.

Maungakaramea is celebrating 150 years of settlement. And the local folk have worked extremely hard to put together a weekend of celebrations.

I want to show you my highlights from the parade. I was surprised there were so many spectators - where on earth did they all come from?

We hear the bagpipes. It's coming! All heads turn to the right, including my neighbour, this little angel with a front to back crown.

Isn't she delightful?

Here's the lone piper leading the parade, playing Scotland the Brave, a tribute to the early Scottish settlers of the district.

A shortage of reindeer in these parts...

But plenty of trucks...

Look, there's two of my grand-daughters on that one. Krystal in silver and green and little Georgia in red and black, wearing their costumes from the Wearable Arts Show earlier this year.

and tractors...

Lots of old guys proudly driving their sparkling clean tractors:

and my favourite tractor:


and a milkmaid...

vintage cars...

All the service and sports clubs were represented including, for that Hebridean in New Zealand, the Croquet Club...

Truly, it was a grand parade for a great little village.

I will post the photos of the kids tomorrow. This lot above was taking so long to upload I started to mow the lawn and came in to check after finishing the front yard.....still going! Hopefully tomorrow I will have a better connection with the rest of the world.