Thursday, April 30, 2009

Global Day of Action

Join Amnesty International and death penalty opponents all over the world in supporting the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis on May 19th.

Troy Davis has been on death row for 18 years in the state of Georgia. He may be guilty but he might not be.  Troy Davis faces execution for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia in 1989, despite a strong claim of innocence. In the last few years 7 out of the 9 witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony. One of the remaining 2 witnesses is the alternative suspect. There is a strong stench of police coercion in a number of the testimonies. No murder weapon was ever found and no physical evidence links Davis to the crime. None.

Go to the US Amnesty International website for information and to find out what you can do to help. We need to make sure that Troy Davis is given a fair hearing in line with the bare minimum of international standards around capital punishment. The death penalty is not remedial if we get it wrong.

If you are interested in knowing more about this case I attach a link to the article about the case of Troy Davis, called Where is the justice for me? Please read. It’s important.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leotards and high heels

Piccadilly Circus, London late 2008.

I love these flash performances. I would be rapt if I ever witnessed one. So cool. To all you cynics, I know they’re just a marketing ploy but I still think they’re cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breaking News

NZ BREAKING NEWS 6:23pm 28/4/09 : NZ HeraldTamifluThe World Health Organisation's Melbourne laboratory has just confirmed 3 positive H1N1 cases in Auckland, NZ.

Full pandemic planning had been in operation here for nearly a week after Influenza A was first identified in student groups from 3 separate high schools returning from Mexico with flu symptoms.

Actual swine flu (H1N1) in 3 samples has been publicly confirmed 3 hours  ago making New Zealand the 6th country with confirmed cases after Mexico, the US, Canada, Spain and France.

Crossing fingers down under and counting on our government having it together for us.

Scary that it's in my town.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A childhood in paradise

005I had a privileged upbringing.  There was very little money but there was love and security, there was adventure and there was a thirst for knowledge. 

My mum and dad showered us with their time though they struggled to buy shoes for us each bitter Southland winter.

I only vaguely remember sausages for dinner days on end but I clearly recall chapters of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ every night.  I can still quote The Jabberwocky verbatim.

My dad taught us to know every native tree in the bush and the song of every bird.  He taught us to navigate with a compass and by the stars. We baked potatoes in the embers of the open camp fire and slept in a homemade tent of tarpaulin. We’d never heard of marshmallows.

I remember sharing a bed with my sister when we were little but it’s the old fashioned goosedown quilt and the love and the warmth that has stuck in my mind.

I can still see the flickering shadows on the bedroom wall from the open fire, lit to stave off the Antarctic chill.  On winter nights after work Dad would chop wood by lamplight to feed the fires.

We explored far and wide though we rarely left our small province. There was not a side road that my dad could resist checking out.  Not a bush track that we could fail to explore. There wasn’t an old man that my dad couldn’t engage and get talking about the old times.

The car was permanently almost out of gas but somehow we always made it there and back.

We had the fanciest education that no money could buy - a house full of books and a dad who loved stories.  Loves stories. He’ll be 70 later this year and he’s still an inspiration to me.

We were rich.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Knowledge is power – Part 1, Ethics

Copy this whole post into your blog. Remove one question and insert an alternative on the same topic. Remove my answers and add your own. Publish. It’s that simple!


1) Have you ever lied about having read something because you thought it made you sound smarter to say you had read it?

Yes. I hereby admit I have never read Crime and Punishment. There I’ve said it. Actually when I think about it, I don’t recall ever having told anyone that I had read C & P but I must have done it with some book or other over the years so I’ll freely admit that one is a yes.

2) A shop keeper makes a mistake and gives you an extra $20 in your change. You notice immediately. What do you do?

9 out of 10 times I  would point out the mistake. Unless I was particularly poor at that moment when I might be tempted to convince myself that I was the one who’d got it wrong. Shame!

3) There’s a good friends party that going to be a ripper on the same night as yet another of your kid’s piano/drama/ballet recitals. You can’t go to both. What do you do?

Make my excuses for the recital – there’ll be another one in a couple of months (there always is).

4) Do you ever exaggerate the facts when re-telling a  story?

Almost always. My philosophy is to never let the truth get in the way of a good story. All my friends know this though so they factor it in. P.s. if you didn’t know this about me then you haven’t read my profile.

5) Have you ever twisted the truth slightly to gain entry to something at a reduced price?

No, I’m a nerd like that.

Friday, April 24, 2009


More from The Onion news desk. 

Here’s a brand new money spinning idea for the hard workers of the sub-continent coupled with an energy saving plan for over stressed Western workers…

…and this one below has has the added major bonus of a child behavioural modification technique.

We all sometimes need a little guidance about how to make our kids more ‘manageable’ around the house, especially at those times when we need some peace and quiet like after a hard day at work - watch this for an idea.

The ANZAC Story

Tomorrow is April 25th. This day is observed in New Zealand and Australia as a day of commemoration for those who died in the service of their country andNZ soldiers to honour returned servicemen and women. It is a national public holiday in both countries. 25 April is the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) at Gallipoli in 1915.

The ill fated assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, began on 25 April 1915. It was an attempt by Allied Command to weaken the strategic position of the enemy and it was the New Zealand Expeditionary Force's first major engagement of the First World War. My great uncle Charlie was there and lived to tell the tale (minus only 3 fingers).

On the first anniversary of that landing, dawn services were held throughout both countries in remembrance of the 2,721 New Zealand soldiers and 8,709 Australians who died during the eight-month Gallipoli campaign. Since 1916 ANZAC Day has evolved to the observance we know today. In New Zealand there is a ceremony in almost every town around their war memorial cenotaph. Most are simple affairs where the gathered veterans ‘stand-to’ for 2 minutes while a lone bugler plays The Last Post before a short service. Always poignant.

Flanders_Poppies Flanders Poppies, 2004, photograph by Nostalgic T + Allan

The symbol of Anzac Day in New Zealand is the red Flanders Poppy. This flower is the symbol of sacrifice as it was the first thing to grow on the churned up soil of the soldiers graves in the Napoleonic wars and again in WWI after the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele.

Lest We Forget


Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries...
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (founder of modern Turkey), 1934


Kiwi born artist Euan MacLeod has won this years Gallipoli art prize for his work entitled ‘Smoke in Landscape/Shovel’ which was judged to best depict the spirit of the Gallipoli campaign.

Sorry, no photo available.


Euan MacLeodFigure Sitting on Boat In Desert’, 2007, by Euan MacLeod

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The storyteller (Part I)

I saw on saint-sinner’s blog the other day something called a ‘progressive’ story. I like the idea but I wasn’t quick enough.  Pen Pusher

How it works is that a story is started (see my new opening short chapter below) and then one by one anyone who wants to can add another chapter - as long or short as you want.

To keep it from spider webbing and ending up a hundred different stories this is the plan.

Whoever wants to add to the story says so in a comment “I’m next” and then anyone else who wants to be a part of it has to wait until that person publishes the whole story again after adding their own short chapter.  Again the first commenter on that blog  who wants to add another chapter says “I’m next”  on so on until  everyone gives up or loses interest. We can track the path of the story through the comments I guess.

Who knows if it will work but let’s give it a try.


The Party (by Lou at on 23/4/09)

Everyone in the room looked at each other, embarrassed. What was Theresa thinking? How could she talk to her father like that? Especially on a day like today when everyone was gathered to show him respect for his 50 years of dedicated service to the immigrant community in their city.  The guests started to murmur so Catherine decided it was time to get the formal part of the evening underway to divert attention away from the family spat.

While the MC was making his way to the podium at Catherine’s signal, she let her mind drift. Sometimes this family shocked even her, they seemed to have no idea about what kind of behaviour was expected from a family of their status. Catherine only worked for them and she knew better. She guessed it was probably the money – when you’re rich you get used to acting however you want and people accept it as the eccentricities of the wealthy she supposed. This fracas only served to reinforce the decision that Catherine had made earlier that day. As soon as an opportunity arose she was going to resign. No amount of money was worth the stress of trying to keep this family out of the papers for their bad behaviour.

Theresa and her much older brother Callum had never had any boundaries and that’s where their parents had gone wrong – Tess, as Theresa was best known, was spoilt rotten from the day she was born. Jack was in his mid fifties when his only daughter was born and from that day on he never said no to her about anything. 

With great diplomacy Catherine managed to keep the rest of the formalities on track and by 10.30pm she could start to relax.  Jack and Moira said their goodbyes and Catherine called the car around the front for them.  Catherine herself was looking forward to calling it a night as she’d been on the go since before dawn to make sure the party was a success. Not yet though, Tess was drinking too much and Catherine didn’t want to risk her doing something stupid. Callum looked relatively together for a change so she had a quiet word to him and he agreed to make sure Tess got home before too much longer.

As she was driven home, Catherine contemplated her situation. She adored Jack and even Moira she gave a grudging respect to though a harder woman you’d be pushed to ever meet.  She was roused from her day dreaming  when she noticed her bedroom light was on as the driver rounded the top of the driveway and came to halt beside the front door.  Had she left it on? Perhaps she had, she was in a terrible hurry when she’d left this morning and it had been still dark.

Catherine knew there was someone in the house as soon as she closed the front door behind her.  She could smell her.  A musky perfume, something like her own mother used to wear when Catherine was little.  She shrank back into the corner by the big bookcase, felt in her bag for her cell and dialled 111.

The operator answered. Much too loudly for Catherine’s comfort. “Emergency services, what assistance do you require?”

Catherine whispered in response “I need the police, there’s someone in my house.” She continued “My address is 565 Carroll Avenue, Christchurch and I need…”

As she said this she heard footsteps on the stairs and a small voice saying her name, “Cate, is that you darling?” Catherine recognised her aunts voice, sighed with relief and mumbled an apology to the 111 operator. She closed her phone and took another deep breath to calm her furiously beating heart.  Aunt Liz reached the bottom of the stairs and was searching for Catherine in the darkness. Catherine flicked on the light switch as her breathing returned to normal. 

“What are you doing here Aunt Liz and how on earth did you get in?”

“Goodness dear, you gave me a fright creeping around like that. I remembered where you left the spare key so I let myself in, I hope that’s alright darling. “

Catherine put the jug on and they sat at the small kitchen table and drank strong Darjeeling tea while Liz explained her unexpected visit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Collateral damage

  • 24 albatrosses
  • 32 shags
  • 5 endangered yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho)
  • 9 common dolphins, 3 fur seals and 1 great white sharkRoyal Albatross

This is the ‘by-catch’ of set-net fishing boats in our coastal waters in one recent two month period, reports the NZ Herald.

The Ministry of Fisheries has run an observer programme on all New Zealand set-net boats. The by-catch was recorded and the results are much worse than was thought. 

24 albatrosses? That blows me away as I’m sure it would anyone who’s ever seen one of these magnificent birds.

The fishing industry and the Department of Conservation continue toHectors Dolphin “…look at the merits of various ideas to reduce unintended catch”. Some improvement has already been made in managing seabird by-catch but Forest and Bird rightfully continue their call for a nationwide ban on set nets in an effort to further reduce the carnage.

Good work is going on to protect our tiny endangered Hector’s dolphins and the almost extinct Maui dolphins (only 111 left at last count) but is it too late? 

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leech - ectomy

Photographer Ian BrittonPhotographer: Ian Britton

Doctors remove leech from woman's eyeball

SYDNEY – A 66-year-old woman was doing some gardening in the backyard of her suburban Sydney home when she accidentally flicked some moist soil and a tiny leech into her left eye.

The leech wriggled its way over her eyeball and made for the safety of up under her upper eyelid. There it started to feed from the delicate blood vessels behind the eye. Doctors removed the leech with a saline solution to find it had quadrupled in size to 2cm long.


Tawdry Tuesday

Tawdry Mug


There once was a young girl named Jeanie

Whose dad was a terrible meanie:

He fashioned a latch

and  hatch for her snatch -

She could only be had by Houdini

       Samuel Hopkins Adams       

Monday, April 20, 2009

Off to the beach…

Last week the NZ Herald ran a story on annual leave entitlements in NZ and in other countries.Beach I went digging and found some more information on the OECD situation in a 2007 European Economic and Employment Policy Brief. 

The minimum annual leave entitlement in NZ is 4 weeks a year. This can be negotiated up (just as I presume it can be in most other OECD countries). We have another 7 paid public holidays per year plus up to another 4 days depending on which day they fall on that year. Somehow it still doesn't seem like anywhere near enough.  We also have paid sick leave provisions – about 10 days a year is average I believe.

Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Italy and the UK all appear to have a 4 week minimum much like NZ. This seems to be around the standard.

In France the minimum legal entitlement is 6 weeks but this increases if you work more than the legal 35 hours per week. 35 hours? Yes you read right, that’s all you’re supposed to work each week in France. If you work 40+ hours a week you could end up with up to 7 weeks of annual leave a year.  The Scandinavians have a 5 week minimum. 

The big difference seems to be the cumulative total of annual leave days plus statutory paid holidays and on this scale, NZ and Australia fall below mid point in the range. European Economic & Employment Policy BriefAt the other end of the scale I was surprised to find there is no legal minimum of paid annual leave or public holidays in the United States.  I am guessing that even super human Americans need a holiday periodically so I assume it is just managed in a different way. I am interested to know how it works there if anyone can be bothered sharing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mrs Krabappel’s sister

Following Kate’s post of Friday, I have finally figured out how to get my picture out of the ‘Simpsonising’ machine and into a jpeg format.  Actually I didn’t figure it out at all, I sought and received the necessary advice from Kate about how she’d managed it (FYI we used the snipping tool in Vista).

…and here it is for what it’s worth. Me and BonnieI like that this exercise was ‘interpretative’ and as a result both Bonnie (aka Santa’s Little Helper) and I look somewhat trimmer than we actually do in real life.  I am definitely not happy with the ugly shoe and clothing choices but I do think my new hair do looks pretty flash. krabappel

I think I look like I could be Mrs Krabappel’s younger, less yellow and way hotter sister and that’s why I’m in front of Springfield Elementary School.  When schools out for the day Edna and I are going to talk to the doctor about her jaundice and about her giving up the smokes before they kill her.  I also think she needs a new outfit and some new shoes so she doesn’t have to wear her green slippers everywhere.

Thanks Kate, that was fun.

The Mighty Chiefs

For those of you not familiar with the game of rugby union, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are in the middle of the ‘Super 14’ competition.  14 teams from the 3 natiChiefsons compete for the title each year.

Due to a quirk of geography my team is the Chiefs.  Even though the Chiefs home stadium is in Hamilton city which is 90 minutes away, Rory and I try to get to at least a couple of games every season.

They tend to build into a great team throughout the competition each year but towards the business end of the competition the wheels can fall off. The team then struggles along to the end where they only very occasionally make the playoffs.

This year though we’re seeing a rejuvenated and highly motivated team who are real competition contenders. We’re 10 rounds through the competition already and after this morning’s win over the Cheetahs in Kimberley, South Africa, the Chiefs are on the top of the points table. Yes, you read that right – the TOP of the table.

It’s freakin’ fantastic.Stephen Donald

There’s 4 more rounds to go before the playoffs; 2 more games in South Africa (Bulls and Stormers)  and then 2 final home games against our own Wellington Hurricanes and the ACT Brumbies from Australia.  From these 4 teams, only the Bulls from Pretoria are in any kind of reasonable form.

There’ll be lots of fingers and toes crossed in this household. Go the Mighty Chiefs!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You are my sunshine

This has got to be one of the most gorgeous chairs I have ever seen. I absolutely love it. I crave it. It would look The Harry Chairso wonderful in my bedroom. I can just imagine myself sitting, reading in this chair under the window trying to maximise exposure to the watery winter sunshine that’s on its way.

I was absent mindedly googling using the key words “beautiful things” because I am feeling so deprived  lately and I happened across a woman of spectacular taste. She’s a Brisbanite (did I just make that up or is that what those of you from Brisbane call yourselves?) and an interior designer. Her name is Anna Spiro. She’s also a blogger and her site is called ‘Absolutely Beautiful Things’ and it certainly is full to the brim with gorgeous photos of fantastic things.  The chair in the picture is from Anna’s blog.

Interestingly Anna has apparently just been in Auckland for Easter and has posted some lovely photos of my town that those of you in the northern hemisphere may find worth browsing. She’s very kind to Auckland.

This is a site I’ll be visiting regularly to satisfy my need to see pretty things. One day hopefully I’ll be in a position to have a fabulous home myself *sigh* and I’ll fill it with beautiful things like this chair.



Time to buy a lottery ticket

Talk about miraculous. No apparent serious damage caused. From the NZ Herald online. Click here for full story.


12:05PM Saturday Apr 18, 2009

    “BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - A woman who was shot in the head not only survived but made herself tea and offered an astonished deputy something to drink, authorities said yesterday.

    Tammy Sexton, 47, remained hospitalised three days after being wounded by her husband, who killed himself after he shot his wife. A bullet struck her squarely in the forehead, passed through her skull and exited through the back of her head, authorities said. She is expected to fully recover.

    The sheriff called the case bizarre.”

    WALK-A-THON 2009


    Rory and I have been out walking for the annual school overseas fundraiser.

    I am exhausted.

    We made the full 12 kilometres which was easy for Rory but a bit of a struggle for me as we walked at a much faster pace than my normal saunter.

    Over the next few days we will collect all the sponsorship funds from friends, colleagues and family who’ve been unlucky enough to run into us over the last couple of weeks. Rory and I estimate we’ve raised between us about NZ$460 which we think is pretty damn good going. The fundraising this year is to help rebuild a storm damaged primary school in Samoa.005 We felt we deserved a nice brunch after our efforts so traipsed to our favourite cafe which is in the middle of our local garden centre (see below the view from our table of the seedling nursery). We scoffed down eggs Benedict with salmon on focaccia for me and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for Rory. All washed down with strong hot coffee for me and berry juice for Rory. Mmmmmmm it was good. 007 A good morning all in all.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Language language…

    Let's face it, English is a strange language
    There is no egg in the eggplant
    No ham in the hamburger
    And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
    English muffins were not invented in England
    French fries were not invented in France.


    We sometimes take English for granted
    But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
    Quicksand takes you down slowly
    Boxing rings are square
    And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

    If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
    If the plural of tooth is teeth
    Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
    If the teacher taught,  why didn't the preacher praught.

    If a vegetarian eats vegetables
    What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
    Why do people recite at a play yet play at a recital?
    Park on driveways and drive on parkways

    You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
    Of a language where a house can burn up as It burns down
    And in which you fill in a form by filling it out
    And a bell is only heard once it goes!

    English was invented by people, not computers
    And it reflects the creativity of the human race (which of course isn't a race at all)

    That is why when the stars are out they are visible
    But when the lights are out they are invisible
    And why it is that when I wind up my watch, It starts
    But when I wind up this observation, It ends.

    Author unknown

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    You don’t have to put on the red light…

    Have a great day everyone. I’m in the middle of a really busy week so I’ll check back in at the weekend. Be safe.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Limerick laughter

    I know that the limerick is considered the very poor and somewhat back water cousin of ‘proper’ poetry but I have always been a big fan of all things licentious and bawdy.

    There was a young fellow named Hyde

    Who fell down a privy and died

    His unfortunate brother

    Then fell down another

    And now they’re interred side by side

    Spot the pun in the last line?  Chuckle.

    There was a young girl whose frigidity

    Approached cataleptic rigidity

    Till you gave her a drink

    When she quickly would sink

    In a state of complaisant liquidity

    From ‘The Lure of the Limerick’ compiled by William Baring-Gould and published by Wordsworth Editions Ltd 1989.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Travel regrets?

    Yesterday I posted some photos of the beaches  close to where I live and JadedJ commented that he had once had an opportunity to visit New Zealand but instead chose to go to Thailand. I love Thailand too so I can understand that decision.

    Anyone whoWorld has done any travelling, either domestically or internationally, knows that we do sometimes have to make choices when time or money is limited.  Sometimes we even make choices based on  misinformation,  misconceptions or on a lack of adventurous spirit.

    I’ve done a bit of travelling in my life and while I certainly hope to do plenty more before decrepitude sets in, I know there are opportunities that I passed up which won’t ever present themselves again. 

    On one occasion in Casablanca, Morocco I turned down an invitation to stay with a Berber family in the Atlas mountains because I was worried about the fact that they seemed to live on mutton when I was a vegetarian. In 1989 I was in Slovenia which was at that time a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Rising ethnic nationalism at the time meant things were feeling kind of edgy and I chickened out and headed north into Austria instead of south like I’d planned. I have always regretted that I never got a decent look at socialist Yugoslavia. Only a few weeks ago, I turned down a weekend away because a woman I don’t particularly like was going to be there – turns out I missed an absolute rage of a weekend. Dumb decisions!

    There are more examples I could talk about where I made travel decisions I later regretted but I am more interested in hearing about yours -

    Where have you not gone that you now regret and why did you make the decision not to go at the time?

    C’mon share people - add into comments here or make it your own post topic and link it back here.

    Sunday, April 12, 2009


    You may recall that last Sundays walk took me and Bonnie out through the Waiuku forest to Kariotahi beach which is a wild west coast beach facing out into the Tasman Sea.

    Today after the family Easter festivities were coRory and Bonniencluded we headed home, collected the dog and headed to the east coast inner Waitamata harbour beaches which are 10 minutes from home. I am mindful that in the next few weeks our weather is going to start getting pretty abysmal so I’m all about maximising outdoor time right now.  I knew the tide would be out but Umapuia and Maraetai beaches are nice spots anyway. Plus it’s too cold to swim already anyway so the tide situation doesn’t matter.

    I actually remembered I had my camera with me today so I’ve taken some shots to show you. The light wasn’t great as it was late afternoon already by the time we got to the beach so some of the last shots are taken at dusk.

    Hope they’re of some interest.  Click to enlarge.

    Umapuia beach

    The wharf at Maraetai Wading Fishing for snapper Rangitoto Island through the dusk Then it was practically dark and getting cold so we packed ourselves and our sandy and wet dog back into the wagon and headed home.

    It’s been a lovely day and I hope everyone else has a great day too. There’s been lots of food,  a bit of the wider family, some yummy chocolate and a lot of spending time with those precious to me. Getting to the beach was a bonus.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Hollow words

    I read a passionate and angry post earlier today and it elicited an emotional response from me. I haven’t been able to put the subject matter out of my head all day and it’s left me feeling drained and bereft. No amount of distraction has been able to fill the hollow feeling that is mine today.

    It’s only 10.00 on Saturday night but am going to bed where I’ll pop a fluff movie (The Holiday) into the DVD player and hope it’ll lull me off to sleep. When I wake this crater inside me will be filled with my dreams of tonight and life can resume. The Holiday

    For now I’ll get some words down which might help to empty me of this absent feeling.

    Green coat bloodied,
    Dying, twisting, falling
    Bare arms reaching for the concrete sky
    Beseeching, more sun
    Imploring, more time

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    So far from home

    Ed Reynolds, 39, engineer, from Pennsylvania is missing, feared dead, in the harsh New Zealand bush. Edward ReynoldsThough an experienced trekker, it was his first time in NZ so he wouldn’t have previously experienced the extreme changeability of NZ weather.

    Ed was notified as missing by his American family after failing to make his flight out of NZ in late March. The last sighting of him was in late February when kiwi father and son trampers crossed paths with him.  He was in good spirits but they were worried he was travelling so lightly and warned him about the bad weather that was forecast. His bank account has not been touched since he went bush.

    He’s in this area somewhere. Ada PassBad weather is continuing to hamper the search efforts. The fact that he was an ‘ultra light’ tramper (i.e one who travels with the absolute minimum weight of food and equipment) does not work in his favour.

    Apparently the family are on their way here to be closer while the search continues. I sincerely hope they get to take their boy home with them. One way or another.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Some things

    About me. Kate shared 38 things about herself and inspired me to waste some time doing the same thing. I don’t know though whether I can come up with anywhere near 38 things to share – I’ll aim for 20. If you feel you know quite enough about me already, then read no further :-)

    1) I love sailing. I love all kinds of boats.

    2) My graPlum blossomnd-dad died when I was 8 and I thought it was my fault. We were visiting and he told me off for knocking an unripe plum off the tree. I thought it was unfair and I told my sister that I hoped he choked on his stupid plums. He died unexpectedly that night (though not by choking TG).

    3) I often do the housework with 1970’s ‘power ballads’ blaring from the stereo. Embarrassing but true!

    4) At 19 I fell out of a car travelling at about 90 kph and lost most of the skin off my back.

    5) I am addicted to a locally made soap opera called Shortland Street. It’s a medical soap. I watch way too much television.

    6) Guns freak me out completely.

    7) I was a representative netball player in my late teens. I worked hard and finally made the under 20 regional team. I badly turned my ankle in only the second game of the season.  That was that.

    8)  My favourite movie is The Shawshank Redemption.ball

    9) I callously dumped my date at my senior ball because he was pissing me off. That’s me in the black with my crew. Forgive the fashion it was 1982.

    10) My favourite actor is Sean Penn.

    11) I am a real girl when it comes to horses. I love them. They’re beautiful. I’m not a bad rider though I rarely get a chance to do it these days.

    12) I have tiny feet and hands. My left foot though is a full size bigger than my right foot. I know, I know…I’m a freak!

    13) I love tequila. The buzz is great.

    14) A Saturday morning ritual for me is daydreaming over the real estate section of the weekend newspaper. I fantasise about owning a piece of land by the sea.

    15) My favourite board game is Trivial Pursuit. I hate Monopoly.

    16)  When I first saw and heard this beautiful wee girl on Britains Got Talent, I almost cried.

    Connie Talbot

    17) I don’t eat much red meat.

    18) The calculator on my quitting blog site tells me I have not had a cigarette for 300 days and not smoked 10,800 cigarettes.

    19) Cryptic crosswords are my daily habit. I’m not great at them but I enjoy trying.  I don’t do Sudoku.

    20) I love candles and big wrought iron candelabra.

    Join in if you’re so inclined and have the time.

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009


    How far we go in life depends on our being

    tender with the young, 

    compassionate with the aged, 

    sympathetic with the striving,

    and tolerant of the weak and of the strong,

    because someday in our life,

    we will have been all these.

    Author unknown


    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Skeletons and closets

    For a school project Rory has been conducting research into the circumstances of my great uncle’s death just before the end of WWI.  We’ve made repeated visits to help jog the memories of the very last of the family’s old women and he’s hunted through Armymore than one attic to accumulate a good pile of fascinating information. 

    It was 1918 and Terence was nearly 19 and studying for his solicitor exams in Auckland. All 3 of his older brothers, Charlie, Jack and Jim (my grand-dad), were already fighting in France and their mother (my great grand-mother) Joanna was repeatedly refusing Terence the necessary parental permission to enlist early (i.e prior to his 20th birthday). We have letters between them at the time and he was desperately bargaining with her. If he passed his exams with a good mark, she’d agreed to give her permission and to coax his father to do the same. I can only imagine how hard that must been for her to agree to, her baby and last safe son wanting to join the fight.

    A week before his solicitors exam Terence received a white feather in an envelope. An entry in his journal at the time indicates he was distraught. Humiliated.

    White feather

    Terence sat and passed his exam in May 1918 and enlisted 3 days later. He went into camp at Trentham and was part of the 40th NZ Expeditionary Force which left Auckland for England on the MV Tahiti in July 1918. They made port in Egypt on route and unluckily picked up flu.

    In the 2 week period before the Tahiti landed in England, more than 50 men died. Great uncle Terence was one of them. There’s some question about the actual cause of death in many cases – it is recorded that a delirium struck and a number of the young men hurled themselves into the sea from the deck of the Tahiti and were never seen again. The official war records state “Drowned, lost at sea”.

    One month later the war ended.

    Charlie, Jack and grand-dad all distinguished themselves and made it home in pretty much one piece. They say that Joanna never recovered from losing her youngest son.

    My dad is Terence II and my nephew is Terence III.

    You know you’re an internet junkie when…

    1. You kiss your partner's home page.
    2. Your bookmark takes 15 minutes to scroll through.
    3. You find yourself brainstorming for new subjects to search.
    4. You refuse to go to a vacation spot with no electricity and internet.
    5. You finally do take that vacation, but only after buying a portable-modem.
    6. You spend half of the plane trip with your laptop on your lap... and your child in the overhead compartment.
    7. Even your night dreams are in HTML.
    8. You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.
    9. Your pet has its own home page.
    10. You can't contact your grandmother..... she doesn't have email.
    11. You realise there is not a sound in the house and you have no idea where your small children are.
    12. You check your mail, it says "no new messages", so you check it again.
    13. You don't know the gender of three of your closest friends, because they have neutral nicknames and you never bothered to ask.
    14. Your husband tells you he's had the beard for 2 months.
    15. You start tilting your head sideways to smile.


    Ajey at The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd just tagged me to participate in a new meme. The following are my responses followed by the rules.

    1) What are your current obsessions? My work and my kid

    2) Which item from your closet are you wearing most often? New black patent leather pumps

    3) Last thing you bought? See above

    4) What's for dinner? A hunk of foccacia and a pot of hummus (Rory is away hiking for 2 days so no cooking required)

    5) Say something to the person who tagged you:  Ajey you constantly surprise me.Your post is practically an interactive experience.

    6) What are your favourite vacation spots?

    • Kaueraunga Valley, Coromandel Peninsula
    • Te Ngaere Bay, Northland
    • Whangamata, Bay of Plenty

    7) Vacation spots you must visit before you die?

    • Niagara Falls,
    • Grand Canyon and
    • The Great Wall

    8) Three things to do before you die?

    • Fall in love again
    • Travel loads more
    • own a 66 mustang

    9) What are you reading right now?
    Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado (autobiographical)

    10)What is the last movie you saw and enjoyed? Rate it out of 5 stars. It was a re-watch, The World’s Fastest Indian. 3 stars.

    11) What’s your guilty pleasure? Movie, coca cola and dark chocolate

    12) What’s your favourite smell? Daffodils

    13) Best thing you ate or drank lately? Greek salad, bacon, corn fritters and espresso frappe at brunch yesterday mmmmmm

    14) Care to share some wisdom? Forget the housework. Jump in the car and go exploring instead.

    15) Name the last blog you visited before this one, on which you left a comment. (link and info please!)  I visited Moko at Stranger in a Strange Land and commented on his post about the new Godfather II PS3 game that’s due out later this week.

    16) Talk about one regret in your life? Letting the expectations of others get in the way of what I wanted

    Rules and Invitation to participate:

    1) Respond and rework  2) Answer questions on your own blog 3) Replace one question. 4) Add one question 5) Tag three bloggers -

    Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Bonnie dog

    I was at a bit of a loose end today so I loaded Bonn014ie dog into the car and headed out to a forest close to home where it’s ideal for a quiet and contemplative walk for me and a good run off the lead for her. 

    I took my camera thinking I’d get a few shots to show you when I came out of the forest on to the magnificent surf beach but as usual, after taking the shot below when getting out of the car, I promptly forget I had the camera with me and took no more pictures.

    This is a ‘protection’ forest comprised mainly of non-native radiata pine which were planted I believe to stop the encroachment of the sand dunes onto nearby farmland.Wai_Forest_5Apr09We had a lovely walk, the highlight of which for Bonnie was when she spotted and gave chase to a couple of rabbits. She’ll sleep well tonight after racing around like a puppy for 3 hours.

    …and so without further ado, it is Sunday late afternoon and the working week starts again.

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Dolphin play

    My sister and her kids just got back from a trip down the east coast to visit some relatives in Gisborne. While they were down there they spent a couple of hours watching and playing with Moko at Mahia beach.

    Moko is a young, wild bottlenose dolphin who arrived at Mahia a couple of years ago and has stayed ever since. He loves to play and Helen said though it was too cold to swim, they were playing fetch with him for ages and he was like a dog in that he never got tired of it.

    I just spotted this very short video on You Tube that shows Moko playing fetch so I thought I’d share. I don’t know the young guy in the video at all.

    Moko, Mahia, NZ

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Brotherly love

    I have slowly and inexorably lost any semblance of a loving relationship with my only brother. He’s two years younger than me and growing up we were very close. He was small, red haired and freckled so although he was athletically gifted and highly social, he did get a bit of a hard time from certain quarters and I took on the role of protector. Anyone who gave him a hard time had to deal with me and I was no walk over.

    Somehow he became an arrogant man. He married a fabulous though submissive woman. They have two beautiful sons and own and run a very successful business which has allowed them to accumulate a gorgeous home, flashy cars and all the trimmings.

    I am pleased they’re apparently living the dream but the more ‘stuff’ he’s accumulated over the last few years, the more he looks down his nose at my single parenthood and modest home and possessions. Trash

    He laughs condescendingly at my opinions, criticises my beliefs and values and belittles my job and I just don’t understand what motivates him. I love my family but it has reached the stage now where I can barely stand to be in the same room as him and it breaks my heart. Over the years I have tried to talk to him about it without success. I’m on the verge of giving up and trashing the whole relationship.

    Sorry readers for the woe is me post today, not usually my style.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    With malice



    Ring ring, ring ring (my land line)


     “Hi, Lou here”

    (Mature woman’s voice) “Whoever you are, stop ringing me”

    “Sorry? Who is this?”

    “My name is (bleep bleep) and I keep getting missed calls from this number on my cell phone with no messages left.”

    “Oh. It’s just me and my kid living here – wait a minute; I have a teenage son, any chance you have a teenage son or daughter that he might be trying to reach?”

    “My children are grown up. Stop ringing this number or I’ll call the police. I will only warn you once. I’m filing an immediate complaint with Telecom about the malicious calls.”

    ..and hangs up. Hard.

    Total over-reaction to a wrong number I think but011208 as I don’t have caller ID on my land line, I don’t know if Rory has been calling her number for some reason.  He’s at his dads tonight but I’ll figure it out when I talk to him tomorrow.

    I’ll be checking the next phone bill that arrives. Weird. 


    I always want to say ‘have a great day’ or some such at the end of my posts but I can’t as a couple of you are reading at the end of the day straight after I post while others are reading at the end of the previous day and still others of you are actually reading earlier on today (I think that about covers all 5 of you who visit)

    It’s  a life long mystery actually, I’ve never fully gotten my head around the concept that the Antipodes have already finished the day when the other side of the planet is just starting out – surely we down under should be able to take advantage of this situation somehow - it just seems plain ungrateful to squander a God given head start.

    Auckland, NZAuckland, NZ    

    Good night. Good day.