Monday, 31 May 2010

Say cheese

The polytechnic where I work offers a diverse range of courses ranging from short one day courses through to university degrees.  My friends Chris and Twink were interested when I suggested we take a Friday off work to attend a one day cheese making course. 
An assorted group of people gathered at a little church hall on the shores of Whangarei Harbour.  One man came in his house bus.


Our tutor was a lovely young lady named Liz (in the pink top) who also teaches the Sustainable Rural Development course to full time students. 
the class gathers

She made sure that each of us had a turn to performing each task in the process.
man stirs1

twink stirs1

While the first batch of cheese was being pressed she whipped up some flat bread for our lunch.  And so for lunch we had Halloumi warm from the frying pan and warm bread.  What a treat!

And before long there was also Feta cheese.  Enough for us all to take a piece home. 

The next day the three of us decided that, rather than wait another day for the Feta to mature a bit, we would have it for our lunch.   And, of course, it naturally followed that we would decide to make ourselves some bread.  We’d all made bread sometime in our past and surely we would remember what we’d watched just 24 hours earlier. 
What fun!  There were three different memories at play.  Was it a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar or vice versa?  A tablespoon or two of yeast?  How much flour, was it two cups or three?  Chris has dozens of cookbooks but did it dawn on us to have a look at any of them?  You’ve guessed it, no.  By the time Chris thought to have a look in one, it was too late. 
Then when it came to what we would top it with, it was a walk around the garden to see what we could find and what was to be found in the fridge.  How we managed to produce this result I’ll never know.

Chris produced some home made soup and there was our lunch feast.
next day lunch

Don’t tell me this isn’t the good life!!
This was one of the rare occasions I did not have my camera with me.  Blame it on two late nights in a row child minding and thinking I could stay in bed a few minutes longer because I wasn’t going to work.  Thank you, Chris for being a much sharper tack than me (she always is) and sending me your photos. 

Sunday, 30 May 2010


Nic and Kirsten, who featured in yesterday’s whale rescue post, have been in the North for the past four weeks shooting film in and out of the water, to make a long board surfing film titled S.E.W.N. featuring two surfers from each of the south, east, west and north coasts of the North Island of New Zealand. 

On Friday night, after a great day spent at a cheese making course, my friends Chris and Twink and I attended the preview of the film at the Pizza Barn at Waipu.  Chris’ boss, Roger, was one of the surfers from the north and the crew also documented him at work making a cabbage tree timber surf board. 

crowd at preview

Above is part of the crowd privileged to be invited to the preview.  Back in my day surfers had long blonde bleached hair and the three blondes to be seen in this photo definitely do not fit that image.  In fact I didn’t see a single person who did!  The times, they are a-changing!

Of course, my surfing days are long past.  These days I like to bob around in the little waves close to shore (when the weather is hot enough) but I still love watching anything to do with surfing.   I can’t wait to see the whole film.  Especially more of this guy, he was like a dancing comedian on that board!  Look at his hands and feet and that is nothing compared to some of his other antics.

west coast dude

Thanks, once again, to the Surfline blog for the photos.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A mother waits

Last Tuesday a reckless Orca “Killer Whale” diced with death when he entered shallow water and was beached at Ruakaka, my favourite walking beach.  Luckily his presence was quickly reported to the Department of Conservation and the local community.  My friend Chris’ boss, Roger and visiting film-makers Nic and Kirsten were among those who responded to the call for help.  As they battled to get the young chap back to deep water, his mother, Yin and brother, Rua who had responded to his distress calls, waited patienty out in the breakers.


Ah ah, can I hear you asking how come I am referring to these whales by name?  It happens this young fellow is known to Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist and the first New Zealander to research orcas exclusively.  She has set up the Orca Project Hotline and when whales are spotted in the north she is person who is called and, of course, when the call came she quickly responded.  She recognised young Putita immediately, has known him since he was a kid and had met him up close before when his reckless lifestyle led to him being stranded at Mangawhai, a few miles south of Ruakaka.   She regards the whales are her whanau (family). 

Ingrid said Putita is a great hunter and may have been catching stingrays in the surf when he got into the shallow water and got into strife.

I think the photo below tells the story:

I have lifted the photos from Roger's Surfline blog where they are credited to  'The Northern Advocate', our local paper.  Thanks Roger, Mike, and the Advocate.

And to think all this happened right there, where we go on to the beach for walks!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

My town hero

Thank you, Ginger, for posting a few definitions to help us with this week’s topic.  I was sort of floundering trying to think of an angle and right there in your first sentence were the words that inspired me,  “someone we know will make us proud in the future".

My grandson Michael has been making me proud since the minute he was born.  Everyone who knows me knows how I adore him.  I only have one grandson but, honestly, who would need another when that one is Michael.  I don’t know what heroic deeds he will perform in the future but I know he will always be a hero to me. 

Michael is 16 now and towers over me but he’s never embarrassed to give his granny a hug – and I still go all squishy every time he does!
I think I’m pretty safe in saying Michael is a favourite with all the family.  His aunt’s husband honoured him by asking him to be his best man at his wedding when he was only 10 and he performed his duties to perfection.  Come on, you have to admit he certainly looks the part!


For a family 70s theme birthday party, he and I went shopping for an outfit for him.  If there had been girls his age around I think he would have been their hero!
Cool Michael

There are so many things I could tell you about this wonderful boy.  He’s smart, respectful, gentle, loving and kind.  He’s also loads of fun.  One day he asked me if I could remember when he had “attitude” and I told him of a few occasions when he’d been 8 or 9 when he’d adopted a “I’m a cool dude” attitude.  He laughed and said he was glad he’d got it out of his system then because he’d look a bit stupid if he did it now.  At an age when  a lot of other boys think it’s cool to be sloppy and sullen, he’s still a delight. 

There’s no way my dog would just lay there and let me inspect his coat but he’s putty in Michael’s hands:

And I know one little girl at least for whom he will always be a Knight in Shining Armour.
M & G

To see the heroes of the other FSO team, just go here.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Bridge to Somewhere

Yesterday this little bridge was surrounded by flood water and lead nowhere.  Today it is once again the bridge to somewhere.

bridge to somewhere 125 May 2010

The heavy rain that was predicted to fall last night did not eventuate here although some parts of the country were inundated .  I’ve just checked the weather forecast and we are not likely to see another sunny day until next Sunday, so the creek could rise again. 

With every flood I wonder how long this little bridge has done service to its owner and how many more floods it will withstand.  One thing I know for sure – when the day comes and it has to be replaced the new one will not have its charm. 

Don’t ask me why a bridge can make me smile but this one always does!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Heavy rain warning

We’ve had some lovely rain lately.  It’s been particularly heavy at night and isn’t that just how it should be? During the days the showers are heavy from time to time but don’t last long. 
Today at work I attended a Powhiri (Maori welcome) for a new staff member and one speaker commented that he hoped the rain outside did nothing to dampen the warm welcome being offered.  I’ve heard rain explained as the tears on the ancestors giving blessing on the proceedings below but this gentlemen said it was the tears of the Father (the sky) giving nourishment to Mother Earth below.  And rarely has such nourishment been so gladly received (after our recent drought).
We had a real downpour last night and there is a Heavy Rain Warning out for tonight.  I live in an area that is prone to flooding so was interested in the height of the creek on my way home from work.  I was surprised how much it had risen during the day, there didn’t seem to be that much rain!  But when the rain falls up in the mountains, all the little streams rush down into our normally quite small creek and the little creek was no longer so little. 
This little bridge which leads to a local farm always gives me a smile when it becomes the bridge to nowhere:24may2010bridge
In one place the creek was starting to spill across the road so I’m guessing tomorrow I will be going to and from work around the hill country at the back of the farm.  It takes a lot longer but I had a nasty experience with flood water a couple of years ago, an experience I do not want to repeat.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Nearly made the first year anniversary

I first joined the Friday Shoot Out team on 29 May last year.  Another week and I would have made it to a whole year of not missing a single Shoot Out.  

But I didn't quite make it.

This week's topic is A Trip to the Zoo.  Our nearest zoo is a good three hour drive away, so a trip during the week was out of the question and I only have one archive photos to fall back on.  And that's of two of my grandchildren visiting a zoo in Australia, hardly my town any more.

And I'm tired after a week of child minding duties, looking after my three grand-daughters.  There were times during the week when I felt like I was head keeper at the zoo, overseeing pet feeding duties.  Each afternoon the calves had to be fed hay, and the pigs, chooks, dogs, cats, birds and turtle had to receive their food.   But somehow I don't think these farm and pet animals fall into the zoo category.  

But I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful real zoo animal photos to be seen by just clicking here.

Oh, hold on a minute, what about some flying bears?  (and there are rabbits in that cage, you just can't see them!)

To hell with it, I'm going to post!!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Dark Side of Town

If there is a dark side of town I don’t know where it is. 

And I’m not sure I want to find out.

When evening shadows fall gently across the landscape
evening shadowsb&w

And the sun says goodbye for the day
nearly dark

Who knows what spirits may be released

What long forgotten souls may come out to play

to peep up through the leaves deceased
moon peeping

to watch the night creatures dance with the moon
shows on the moon

Nah, not for me.   
I need four walls and a safe room.        
behind windows

Hah!  I’m lousy at rhymes but I did have fun with that.

Thank you, NanU, for the topic.  I’m looking forward to seeing the french dark side of town.  To check out the rest of the team and their take just go here.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Raindrops and sunshine

I don't know why I bother to continue in my quest to get a half decent photo of those darn peacocks!  They live in the wild down along the road a bit and I've been trying to get them used to the sound of my car stopping for, oh, probably a year now.  A few afternoons a week when I see them I stop and open the car door, watch them take to the hills, wait a few minutes, then continue on my way home telling myself they will get used to me soon.   But they don't survive by being easily tamed and are wary, just like any wild creature.

Yesterday I slowed at the usual spot and there they were, right at the edge of the road.  I thought this is it, finally I will get that shot.  But by the time I stopped they had scattered.  My camera was right beside me on the front seat but I was still too slow.  All I got a photo of was a puddle and the hills.  I think I can see one of them in the photo but it could be a bit of wood.

Ahh, well, one day!

To find the bright side, I let my heart feel happy to see how the green is returning to the countryside.  After all the moaning I did about the drought, how brown the grass was and in some places there was no grass at all, I should share the joy of good rain.  (There is a difference between rain and good rain but that's a bit boring.)  Over the past couple of weeks we've had light rain here and there and slowly the land has been responding.  The past couple of days we've had good rain followed by  sunshine and warmth and the grass is leaping out of the ground.  My lawn hasn't been mowed for over a month and now, just since the weekend, it has taken off.  

When the sun came out after a heavy shower this afternoon I sat on the deck feeling happy with the world admiring the raindrops lingering on leaves.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

It’s not self promotion if…..

2 girls 
No, it’s definitely not self promotion unless you are promoting yourself.  I’m merely promoting a talented grandchild.  There must be a little bit of me in her somewhere but definitely not in the area in which she is shines.
All the music in me is in my heart but I can’t sing, the Wards are a tone deaf bunch.  I sometimes sing quietly to myself when I am absolutely, positively sure there is no-one around who might hear.
As for dancing…well, let’s just say I can easily amuse my grandkids by dancing with them.

Acting?  Nah, can’t do that either.

But my grand-daughter, Jami, can do all three and to prove it she has just been selected as one of five finalists in a Disney Australia and New Zealand competition …out of 6,000 entrants!  It was an open casting call for one of Disney’s Australian productions ('As the bell rings') where any young person aged 8-18 was invited to send in an audition tape for a new role on the show.

A few Sundays ago Jami and her aunt, Justine, my youngest,  spent the day putting together the audition tape.
Can you imagine a little 11 year olds excitement at being chosen as a finalist?  

The first step was a trip to Sydney last weekend for Jami to attend an acting workshop with the other finalists at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), promo filming and her formal audition with the Director.  She was beside herself with excitement and was so happy to get to experience it all.  Jami is the youngest finalist.  Her mother Leone & Aunty Justine went with her and had to sign a confidentiality agreement, swearing they would not tell anyone until yesterday when the finalists tapes started being aired on the Disney Channel and voting started.
Imagine keeping secrets from mother and grand-mother!!

So here comes the promotion bit.  Voting can be done from just about anywhere.  So far we know you can vote in Canada, England, Scotland, Brazil. 
Voting starts TODAY and snippets will be aired on Disney from now until the winner is announced on June 16, so we are calling on all family and friends to VOTE JAMI!!!

How to Vote:

Click on 'View Top 5', then click on JAMI. 
Once you have watched the audition, you can click 'VOTE FOR JAMI'. 

You may want to check out the other finalists to make sure you are placing your vote for the best contestant.  

But I have no doubt who is the best.

living it up  Needless to add I’m very proud of my “Jamjar”.

grins on steps Jami and her proud mum, Leone enjoying the sights of Sydney

Monday, 10 May 2010

Can't compete

One minute they were all visiting me, my three grand-daughters and three friends of the family, making pancakes and a great deal of noise, sharing the chocolates they had been sent to deliver to me.

The next they are gone, traipsing across the paddock in the drizzling rain, on a possum hunt. 

My company can't compete with a possum hunt!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

When eyes meet

We were sitting outside in a harbourside cafe, enjoying the warmth of the day, a scrumptious lunch, idly chatting when I looked up and saw him looking at me intently through the window from the inside of the cafe.  He glanced away and so did I but I felt compelled to look back and there he was watching me again.  When I involuntarily smiled, he eyes lit up.  All I could see was his eyes, dancing with delight and as he tilted his head back, chuckling to himself, I could see a bit more of his lovely face, his cute button nose, ears that might not look so good in old age.  

Then his attention was taken by another and the moment had passed.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Things I like to touch - FSO

rose petals

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few weeks.   It was chosen by Mark from The Butler and Bagman Chronicles for Mothers Day.  Mark is largely absent from the shoot outs these days, life is interfering as it has a habit of doing, but hopefully he will be here for the topic of his choice, and it is bound to be entertaining.

My mind has been flying off all over the place, thinking how marvellous it is, this sense of touch, and how wonderful is motherhood, not to mention grandmotherhood.  

There are hundreds of things I like to touch, probably thousands, but I couldn’t do justice to them.   I love what I call my treasures, the little things around the house that hold a memory.  I like to touch them, to hold that memory.   A little rock which my grand-daughter turned into something special.  The little buddha a dear friend gave me as a gift.  They are cold and hard but the touch of them delights my senses.

A few other touches I love:
headless chook & chicks1
My children’s arms around me in this photo which I refer to as Headless Chook reunited with her Chicks.

But my favourite?  It’s something that nothing else can rival.  The rush of so many emotions that accompanies the touch of a new born baby:


Makes me feel like I could touch the sky:

touch the sky

To see the interpretation of the others in the Friday Shoot Out team, just click here.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Record reunion

This afternoon around 4 pm a couple of young men driving a utility truck pulled into my yard and asked did I own or know the owner of  the dog they had on the back.   A beautiful black labrador bitch.  I immediately thought it belonged to Kevin, the farmer over the road but little Georgia who was here declared that Kevin’s dog, Zac, was a boy dog and this was a girl dog.  What would a six year old know I thought and said to leave her here and I would get her back to Kevin who wasn’t at home at the time. 
I’ll know better than to argue with Georgia in future, she is an observant child.  

When my daughter-in-law got home from town about an hour later she agreed, yes Zac is indeed a boy dog.  With a name like Zac I should have guessed but, hey, Kevin could have got another one to keep him company, right?
Luckily, Heather’s sharp young eyes could read the registration tag, so as soon as she left I rang the local council, expecting to leave a message as it was 5.15 pm by then, and thinking I would have the dog here for the night.

Surprise!  A young man answered and said he would ring the owner and, with my permission, give him my phone number.

FOUR minutes later the phone rang.  Can you believe that?  Four minutes and her owner was saying, ‘Hello, Peter G here, I hear you have my Molly there.’  It was a neighbour from just down the road a bit.  And there was no mistaking his delight at having found his Molly so quickly.  (I know Adrian would be just as grateful if ever he mislaid his Molly.) 

A few minutes later I was sitting on the back steps talking to her, I wish I’d taken a photo, she is a beautiful dog, when her ears popped up and she turned her head towards the road and then I heard the truck approaching.  I thought she’d been happy with me but there was an obvious difference in her when she knew ‘the boss’ was here.   

Around lunch time Molly had been with Peter out the back of his farm when she had gone off chasing a rabbit and went back towards the wrong voices, the fencers who were working at the back of the neighbouring property, and had hung around.   When they finished their work for the day the young fencers had been calling in down along the road trying to find her home for her.   They looked like brothers, friendly and open-faced if there is such an expression.   Peter, of course, had thought that Molly would head for home when he left!

I’m amazed at the speed of the re-union between man and dog.  And pleased to have played my part.

Below is photo of Zac (honestly, those two dogs do look alike!) when he accompanied the girls and me on a magical afteroon, exploring the creek as it passes down through his master’s property. 

Geo and Zac

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The traditional Champagne Breakfast

glass 3

I should leave this post until I feel better.  My mind is on my sore throat.   A self inflicted sore throat I must add.  I never thought the day would come when I would suffer from too much talking, laughing and cheering.
Waipu Cove 1 

We gathered at a holiday property just out of Waipu Cove,  for a Champagne Breakfast, a tradition amongst the females who worked together at a dairy factory 20 0dd years ago.    The shooting season opens in New Zealand on the first Saturday in May and this outgoing bunch of girls decided why should the men have all the fun.   Back then we knew how to party!   Nowadays, it is about catching up on each other’s lives, chatting and laughter.

Chris, Karen, Twink, Jean, Sonia, Treena, Tania

Karen, Dors, Twink

 It wasn’t all sitting and standing around, there were games.   Some involved team tactics (who got hold of my camera?), others  that involved running.  Yes, somehow the madness of the moment got to me and I agreed to run.  OK, I admit my team came last in that event. 

 team tactics


The day continued into the night but I don’t want to put my relationship with this great  bunch of old friends at risk so there are no more photos from about this point on.  As Shakespeare said, “ 'The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.' 

Thanks to Chris, who was the sober safe driver for Twink and I, and who provided us with a bed for the night.  My throat might be sore but I’m still smiling!