Sunday, 29 May 2011

Busy fingers

Progress has been made on costumes for the school Wearable Arts competition.  Krystal and her friend’s identical tops are still identical at this stage. 

 Luckily all the glue you can see below dried out clear.   Working with glue turned out a lot less hazardous than with the hot glue gun.

 Now it’s up to the young designers to decide what else to add to their garments.

I also did a little sewing on my other grand-daughter’s friend’s long gown.   She didn’t end up with exactly what she wanted, no way was I agreeing to having anything to do with a 12 year old wearing a tight, slinky dress, but she was happy with the result.

My daughter-in-law is a saint, she has paid for all the materials in the girls’ outfits.  And, no doubt, found a few grey hairs after a weekend of four 12 years olds and Georgia all wanting their costumes made.  

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Wearable Arts

Yes, it’s Wearable Arts Competition time again at the school my grand-daughters attend.  They love it.  Krystal had asked could they prepare their costumes at my place this weekend.  I should have asked what she had in mind before I agreed.  And who "they" were. 

I learnt a few years ago when I made three identical flower girl dresses that I hate sewing more than one of the same thing.  Krystal and her girlfriend arrived with a lovely design and they wanted two the same – two like that??   

They picked the wrong grand-mother for that, I’m afraid.  


After much discussion we decided on something a bit more like this:

krys 28 May 2011jacindamay2011

If you ever want twelve years old to stand still, just pop something with lots of pins on their squirming bodies.  

One top is more or less finished, the other will get done tomorrow.  Ever tried sewing with black at night?  I couldn’t do it even when I was young. 

Unfortunately, I suspect what comes next is what they will wear on the bottom half.  

Whatever it is, I’m sure they will have lots of fun making and adding the decorations for the “Music” theme.

I will post about the finished garments in a week or so, maybe sooner, we will see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, 27 May 2011

FSO Scavenger Hunt–Spin, Drop, Rest

Robert Burns is sitting on my shoulder whispering:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
You got it right there, old chap.

I actually had a plan for taking photos for this topic.  Thursday.  I tried on Tuesday but wasn’t happy and determined to have another go on Thursday.  You’ve guessed it, along with Thursday came a bit of a storm.

Tuesday’s child was not full of grace, he was extremely frustrated that the thing simply would not spin.


So I thought I might drop ‘drop’.  But, hey, look what happens when you suddenly get an idea and don’t check your camera settings.  It’s the crystal hanging in my kitchen window.

To see how others got on with the Scavenger Hunt, just pop over here.  The suggested guidelines last time were:

straight out of the camera, no editing
one photo per word
three words for each hunt
and we can add a fourth photo if we can find all three hunt words in one photo

so I've presumed the same applies this time.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

So how was it for you?

So that was what Judgement Day is like?  Thought it might have amounted to a bit more than that!  Imagine how disappointed those who brought into the whole shebang must have felt.

Will you remember it as you do the other life changing events in your life?  Doubt it, somehow.

I admit to thinking what if it really were true, what if this were the last day of my life?  What would I do?  I decided that I’d do exactly what I usually do.  A bit of this and a bit of that.  I even gave some thought to writing something deep and meaningful, give some time to an analysis of my life.  Put that in the too hard basket, just like I usually do.  

I took a few disappointing photos – like I usually do.  None of the cows were meant to look up at the milk tanker or at me!  I wanted them to carry on nonchalantly munching grass as the tanker trundled past.   That was about the worst thing that happened all day.  On the other hand the tanker driver gave  the lady with the camera a cheerful wave.


Went for a walk – like I usually do.  Got up close and personal with a neighbour.  No, I don’t usually do that!


Did a bit of housework, the laundry, a bit of reading, a bit of gardening.  

And just generally gave thanks that I am alive and live a great life. 

So how was it for you?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

On the other side

You know that expression about the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?  I admit to being surprised that it did originally actually refer to grass.

According to it “Comes from the idea of looking at a neighbours lawn and seeing it as better looking, healthier and overall greener then your own.” 

I don’t think many would envy me my lawn but one of todays neighbours did.  I should be embarrassed to admit that, shouldn’t I?  The grass is definitely meant to be longer in the paddock but this dear old soul went to a lot of trouble to wrap her chops around my grass.

under the fence

Can I just add that there is a problem with my mechanical lawn mower – could be the spark plugs I think. 

Friday, 20 May 2011


Doreen has provided the words that go with this topic – “I like what Henry Ward Beecher had to say about flowers. Think about it, do they have expressions? Do they emit a feeling? Challenge for our shooters for this theme .....
show us a flower expression, a flower thought, feeling, attitude, mood and emotion”

First up, a virginal expression:

white dahlia
a flower thought:  “How long do we have to stand on parade like this?”

 a feeling:  “Ouch, that hurt, something’s been eating me!”


“Attitude?  I’ll show you attitude!”

 A Singing in the Rain mood

last of the dahlias 2011
 an emotion:  “Sad I’m not a flower.  But happy all the same!”


Geez, and here was me thinking I just had to find a few half decent flower shots.

All the above, except for the rose, were found in my garden.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the team have come up with this week.  I'll go here to find out.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Thank you, Firestone.

The Minister of Finance has just delivered his Budget for the next year.  Trying to balance the books despite events that are beyond anyone’s control.  I feel pretty much the same.

All this week at work I have been poring over departmental budgets that have been cut because of things beyond my control.  (I could blame said Minister of Finance but what’s the point, it won’t change what funds are available and what’s not.)

But this morning my attention reverted well and truly to my own personal budget.  I must remember to factor in tyre expenses.   6 new tyres a year!  This morning I had my fifth flat tyre this year, so I’m averaging one a month.  For a horrible few hours I thought the flat was on one of the new tyres I purchased in early April, so I’m thankful that was not the case.  That thankfulness only lasted until the technician informed me that it’s illegal to repair a tyre more than three times and today’s fix-it job was the third on that tyre, purchased towards the end of last year. 

But I do have reason to be thankful for something.  The nice people at Firestone repair my punctures for free.  And give me a cup of coffee while they do it.  Today I commented to them that I feel like I’m taking advantage of their kindness, I’m there so often.  Guess they have a little smile to themselves after I leave, knowing I will be back for new tyres before long.  

My son and daughter-in-law have the same problem with punctures, as do all our neighbours.  And the tyres for their cars cost considerably more than mine do.   My blood is starting to heat up (could reach boiling point before long) at the treatment we are receiving from the local council.  They must know that the metal they spread on our road causes constant problems for us who use their roads.  Actually, they do know because a number of us have pointed it out to them.  Do they just not believe us?  Or do they just not care?  I know, I know we choose to live where we do and I for one wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but it does come at a price.

I just figured out that working part-time as I do, I work for around a month every year, just to pay for tyres and wheel alignments and another 7 weeks to pay for fuel.  

I thought I might feel better after I got this off my chest but in fact it’s got me seriously considering why I work.  I could sit at home on my “old age pension” and become that hermit I’ve always felt lurked inside me.   Might just do it yet!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Quirky ladies

One of my favourite places to see quirky art is the Smashed Pipi Gallery in Mangawhai.  There’s always lots of beautiful things but on Sunday when I visited it was these ladies that took my eye. 

 Shame I can’t afford a few to make me feel better.


Monday, 16 May 2011


A double wedding ring quilt sounds like it should be associated with a wedding, doesn’t it?  Maybe this one was started with that intent but it turned up incomplete, in pieces, in a Hospice Shop in Warkworth where it was seen as a $20 bargain by my friend, Lisa.  

In trying to find out more about these quilts, I came across these words:  “Despite their history and popularity few people will take up double wedding ring quilt patterns because of their difficulty”….and…”If you have never made these types of patterns before then you may want to consult another quilter.” 

And Lisa thought she would finish it off one day?  Someone who once did a bit of patchwork at school?

Luckily, our friend Chris has a very talented quilting sister, so when she visited her family in Australia last year she took the bundle of pieces to see if Bev could complete the quilt.  Bev did an amazing job, you can’t detect where one quilter left off and the other took over.  Take a look at her account of completing the project here

Yesterday I joined Chris and Bev’s daughter, Lucy, to meet Lisa for lunch and present her with the finished article.


For Lisa’s info:

The double wedding ring quilt patterns come with a bit of myth and mystery. The double wedding ring designs are not a new age spin created by the internet and computer programs. 

Instead the double wedding ring can actually be traced back to Roman times.

Double wedding ring quilt patterns have been popular all over the world. The wedding ring patterns are believed to have travelled with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th century. 

Traditionally the bride or a member of her family creates the double wedding ring quilt patterns.   Watch out, Lisa, that might be an omen.  

Heading down the road to meet up with my friends I had the opportunity to stop and take photos of the roadworks without holding up the workmen.  As you can see there isn’t a lot of excitement in my life.  If there was I probably wouldn’t be so fascinated with roadworks.  Mind you, I travel this road twice a day during the week, so I do have a vested interest.

I thought the tranquility of the creek looked at odds with the ugliness of the roadworks.

 On the other side of the road the digger has left its scars. 


I also noticed some jonquils flowering in a paddock, too far away for a photo.  Lots of flowers seem very confused by the unusually warm weather for May.  The jonquils shouldn’t be out for another six weeks or so. 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

FSO - International Nurses Day

According to Statistics New Zealand, the population of this country now, as I type this, is 4,405,134.  They estimate that the population increases by one person every 10 minutes and 46 seconds, one birth every 8 minutes and 10 seconds, one death every 20 minutes and 7 seconds and a net migration gain of one New Zealand resident every 49 minutes and 51 seconds.   Nurses will be there at the majority of births, a lot of the deaths, and no doubt there amongst the migrants, too.   I know they are amongst these graduates celebrating the start of their careers after all the long hours of study and hard work. 

 If I had the inclination to crunch the numbers I could work out what the population would likely have been at 10 am on 12 May when I attended a morning tea to celebrate International Nurses Day.   Yes, I took photos but I forgot to ask permission from the subjects to use them, so had best not.

12 May marks the 185th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday.   The nursing profession has come a very long way since the achievements of one of its greatest but still today we have  ministering angels.   And where would we be without them?

I took the opportunity later in the day to say thank you for her comfort, compassion, and caring to my doctor’s nurse.  I swear my blood pressure would be higher from white coat syndrome were it not for her.

I know Friday Shoot Outs are meant to be about photography.  Somehow, I just can't get my head around this topic.  I keep thinking about the spirit of nursing and don't know how to go about capturing that. 

BUT, to see how the rest of the team has interpreted this topic, just pop over here.  

"Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts."   Florence Nightingale

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Makes me happy Monday

My friend, Bev, at Kainga Happenings does a weekly Make Me Happy Monday post that I look forward to every week.  She always manages to give me a welcome smile. 

I don’t intend to commit to joining Bev in her Happy Monday thoughts but I felt so good to be alive today, I felt the urge to join her just this once.  I had already noticed that today was a beautiful day.  So much so that I nearly ran off the road and narrowly missed sideswiping a roadside marker post when I caught a glimpse of the harbour on my way home.  I didn’t turn around and go back for a photo, didn’t want to risk that post stepping out in front of me twice in one day.  

But I did stop a couple of times when I was off the highway.  I live on the other side of the mountain with the tower in the middle of the first photo, passing through the little village of Maungakaramea ahead.  

 From the same spot, looking to the right, the Uppity Downity Mountains always make me smile.  Today I thought they looked particularly cheerful, basking in the sunshine.

9 May20111
 But, wait, there’s more.  An even more joyous sight awaited me down our road.   I caught sight of the flashing warning light on the top of a digger on the road ahead.  I have to go around that bend to the left, then curve right but I can see from here that the council work gang is making progress on the worst section of our road.  

digger at work May 20111

The slip beside the temporary orange fencing has been there since early February and the potholes that developed meant we had to practically stop and weave our way very slowly through them (and there isn’t much room for weaving, it’s impossible to dodge them all).  There’s a creek below the road, so to widen the road the digger has to clear away some of that bank.  This was their third day on the job and today I could see they are making progress.  The scar left behind is raw and ugly but will soon grow over. 

digger at work May 20112

The digger stopped work to allow me to proceed but I stopped and fired a quick shot out the window.  Thought he might be a bit peeved but he just gave me a friendly wave as I went through and the guy on traffic watch said, “No problem” when I apologised for holding them up.  

I finished off a great Monday by going for a “nature walk” with Georgia.  We were looking for footprints to see if we could identify them….horse, cow, big dog, little dog, bird prints…. and Bingo….huge bird prints.  Georgia was quite convinced we had discovered the print of some monster bird.  That’s her little seven year old hand, but still, an impressive print.  A healthy pukeko we thought.

pukeko prints

(I took the colour out of the above photo.  Some might feel a bit squeamish at the greenish hue in that mud.  Georgia wiped her hands on the back of her pants and washed them when we got home.)

So that was a nice Monday.  UNTIL I tried to post this and Blogger spat the dummy and flatly refused to upload it.  

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Duck shooting

I should be thankful. 30,000 game-bird hunting licences are purchased each year in this country.  And I suspect that the majority of them only shoot on the opening morning of the shooting season, the first Saturday in May.  

Yesterday I was reminded what day it was when I was woken by gunshots.  It was raining steadily, the perfect weather for duck shooters, the worst possible for the ducks.  Low cloud cover means the ducks fly low and make them ‘sitting ducks’ to the hunters.  

The shots seemed to be so close I thought the farmer on the other side of the road must have been shooting from his house.  Maybe he had a friend or two join him yesterday as he couldn’t fire off 10 consecutive shots – or could he?  I don’t know (or care to know) much about guns. 

The shots alarmed all the birds in the vicinity.  Every time I heard shots nearby I’d look out the window to see birds fleeing, heading away from hunters.   Strangely, I thought, the sparrows seemed to realize they weren’t in danger and would do a loop or two around the paddock, startled by the sound, then settle down again quickly.  But I spent the whole day deeply concerned about the ducks.

Fish & Game NZ staff count waterfowl populations and evaluate their habitat each year.  They say this allows season length and limits to be set with a precision that ensures the birds are not over harvested so they will be around in equal numbers in the years to come. They claim they are active in saving habitat and even creating it and have fought major court cases on behalf of waterfowl to prevent their homes being drained and lost forever.  I hope they are right.

Today I went for a walk around the farm and was reassured to see three pairs of Paradise ducks in their usual areas.   Squawking and honking away noisily as usual – if only they knew they would be safer if they kept quiet.  They don’t fly off until I am about 30 metres from them – where are their survival instincts?   Or maybe they are smarter than I thought.  Hanging out close to the cows is a very good idea!

 The wild turkeys were much more wary.  Guess they don't know they don't make good eating in May.

It’s been a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  


I started the walk accompanied by two of my granddaughters but the cats they were carrying got too heavy.  The fact that the cats didn't want to be carried didn't help either. 

shay and geo may 2011

Saturday, 7 May 2011

FSO Cinco De Mayo or Mothers Day

I’ve never before heard of Cinco De Mayo, so I’m going to stick with Mother’s Day.  Strange, even now, after 44 year of mothering I still always think of my mother first on Mothers Day.  Don’t feel I’ve quite earned my badge yet.

For my own entertainment on Mothers Day, I linked to a post I forgot to publish.  And I'm not even a great-grandmother yet.  Imagine the possibilities! 

I sometimes get a bit over impressed with myself for raising four wonderful children.  My mother raised 12 of them.  Yes, you heard it right, 12.  Twelve fine adults (I’ll include myself in there) and do you know what I think is the most remarkable thing about my siblings?  We all like each other.  Love, yes - and like.  We delight in the occasions we can get together with our children and grandchildren.  And there is never a judgemental comment, never a cross word.  No, that’s not true.  About ten years ago I snapped at my brother Peter when a bunch of us were out to dinner but he knew what I was really cross about and laughed it off.  

I live a long way across an ocean from my mother so can’t pop over for up to date photos.  But here is my tribute to my mother on Mother’s Day.

These were taken at my parents 60th wedding anniversary in June 05.  The photos aren't the best but I don't care.

Take 12 children:
12 kids

Add partners:
Family & partners

Add grandkids and great-grandkids:
Kids & grandkids

And that's some legacy! No wonder they got a letter from the queen and various dignitaries.

june05 grandkids
Surrounded by grandkids and love.

Thanks to my oldest cousin, Marie Krantz for doing these calculations.

By the time Janet, my youngest sister, was on solids Mum was turning out 13,140 childrens' meals a year and 2,190 for Dad and herself. Working on 10 nappies a day in the days before disposables, she would have changed, washed and folded 3.650 for me in my first 12 months. So in the first 12 months of their lives ,12 children were probably responsible for at least 43,800 nappies.

And, even today, her fingers are never still.

with needles

Happy Mother's Day, Mum.

To see more photography on the topic Cinco De Mayo or Mothers Day just pop over here.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

With an hour to kill around lunch time I decided to have my lunch at a favourite look-out spot and see what Whangarei harbour looked like on this dreary, dull day.  At the end of the road is wasteland.  Or that's what I thought until today.  Now, someone cares enough about it to erect a fence around it. 

My first thought was they couldn't possibly be trying to keep something in there, it's certainly not grazing land.  So, the obvious conclusion is that its there to keep me out.  And I admit to a few minutes of childish, resentful thoughts. 

It hadn't always been easy fighting my way through the scrub and thistles to get a photo from up here, so no more will I ruin a good pair of tights trying. 

Even walking down an access road a bit, this was the closest I could get.  And judging by the twitching curtains in a nearby house, my presence wasn't without suspicion. 

The family have returned from their holiday in Oz.  I've missed them so it's lovely having them home.  And they didn't chastise me for letting two little quail escape from the bird cage.  It happened on the eve of their return - I'd been doing so well until then.  On Sunday I realized there was a strong wind but didn't really notice it all that much at my house.  Not, that is, until I went up to the house on the hill and I sure noticed it there.  I'd fed the guinea pigs and then turned to the bird cage.  A few words children shouldn't hear slipped out and I guiltily looked around before realizing they weren't there.  The bird cage door had rattled itself loose and was flapping in the wind.  Thankfully, the budgies knew where they were well off and were sheltered up high in the cage, out of the wind.  I suspect one of the cats had taken advantage and jumped in to grab a tasty feast of quail.  (There's a lip about 9 inches high below the door and I don't think the quail would have made it over that by themselves.)

So it's back to normal here.  Georgia came running in off the school bus yesterday afternoon, her broken arm not slowing her down one little bit.  When I commented that she could run well with a broken arm she replied, "It's a broken arm, Granny, not a broken leg!"

The arm wasn't much of a  hindrance in the kitchen either. 

Ahh, it's good to be back to normal.  As normal as it gets around here anyway.