Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good vibes

Two of my colleagues are sitting at home with their families right now waiting to hear that missing loved ones on the south coast of Upolu and in a northern Tongan island are okay. Or not okay as the case may be. It’s been a horrible day. Though New Zealand has been unaffected geographically, many Samoan and Tongan kiwis have friends or family back in the islands who’ve experienced property damage and worse.

Sending good vibes to all the Samoan, Tongan and Cook islands.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Maharishi Guide to Zen








The darkest hours come just before the dawn. So if you’re going to steal the neighbour’s milk and newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

Sex is like air. It only becomes really important when you aren’t getting any.

Do not walk behind me for I might not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either, just fuck off and leave me alone.

Generally speaking, you aren’t learning if your lips are moving.

Never forget that you are unique, like everybody else.

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

If you think nobody cares whether you’re alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.

Before you judge someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you judge them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

Some day we are the flies; some days we are the windscreens.

Don’t worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it

Author unknown

Two for Tuesday

I) Funny gifs


Check out his website for cool and funny and cute pics with embed codes to decorate your blog if you so desire.



II) Cottage envy

Conors_Cottage Another thatched cottage for rent this week. This time in Co Mayo in Ireland. See the website for more pics though €420 a night, even in the high season, seems incredibly expensive.  Does look lovely though.

Monday, September 28, 2009

March for Peace

I mentioned in my post of yesterday that I would share what my sis and I got up to on Sunday morning before we visited the art gallery.

World_MarchClick on the logo above to go to the New Zealand website.

You may have heard about the World March For Peace And Non-Violence which is starting in Wellington, NZ on October 2 and travelling around the globe for 90 days ending in the Andes Mountains in Argentina on January 2, 2010. The march is about raising awareness of how much better life could be if some of the international arms budget went toward improving people’s lives instead of for destruction. It is also about denouncing the dangerous world situation that is leading us frighteningly closer to nuclear war.

In Auckland yesterday morning, a precursor event was planned to help welcome the international contingent of marchers. The event kicked off in QEII square at 10am with a walk around the city’s peace heritage sites to be followed by a raXenally with music and speeches until mid afternoon. At one stage I was marching beside a famous Aucklander Lucy Lawless – she’s tall and friendly. She’s hot too, even without the Xena costume. 

Though my sister and I weren’t sure what route was planned  around the city, we knew we wanted to be involved but without staying for the whole thing (we care but just not enough to march all day). Thankfully just before lunch time the march was at Albert Park, a block away from the art gallery so we discretely slipped off to indulge in some Rita Angus.

Check out the international website for more information about the March for Peace. Join in if any events are close to you.



I was chatting to an American friend the other night on the phone and I mentioned that New Zealand is an avowedly nuclear free zone. My friend hadn’t known this and was surprised – maybe there are others who weren’t aware of this?

It all started with the dastardly French who were testing their nukes in our backyard in the south Pacific. They conducted 41 atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa atoll between 1966 and 1974 before they moved underground for a further 147 tests until the early 90s. In a symbolic act of protest in 1973 the New Zealand government sent two navy frigates, HMNZS Canterbury and Otago, into the test zone area to disrupt the testing. Huge impromptu flotillas of what became known as peace yachts accompanied the frigates. These protests were supported by large contingents of environmental groups such as Greenpeace.

In 1985 in an act of retaliation for all the hassle over the years, French saboteurs entered NZ and blew up the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior which was berthed at an Auckland wharf. A man sleeping on board was killed.

We were horrified. This act of international terrorism served to galvanise the views of ordinary New Zealanders and resulted in the passing of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987.  All forms of nuclear generation were disallowed and nuclear powered or armed vessels were no longer permitted to enter our 22 kilometre (12 mile) zone.

Over the years it has certainly made for some very uncomfortable conversations with the US as their policy of neither confirming nor denying any vessel is nuclear powered and/or armed means that we disallow them all. It’s a weird situation and it puts us on the outer with our ‘friends’ though a referendum here a few years ago showed that for better or worse the large majority of kiwis want to keep the status quo. A nuclear free zone we remain after 22 years.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Culture and cappuccino





My sister and I are both fans of painter Rita Angus and we decided today to check out the latest exhibition of her work at the Auckland City Art Gallery. 

Rita Angus was a feminist and a pacifist and was one of this country's pioneer modern painters. She was prolific for over 40 years until she died in 1970. I particularly enjoy the oils she painted in her later years - here are four of my favourites.

Central_Otago_RitaAngusCentral Otago

Boats_in_the_Bay_RitaAngusBoats in the Bay

Fog__Hawkes_Bay_RitaAngus Fog, Hawkes Bay

View_from_Tinokori_Road_RitaAngus View from Tinakori Road

I had been hoping to buy a lithograph of ‘Boats’ to have mounted for my bedroom wall but the $90.00 price tag was unfortunately out of my range. Instead we treated ourselves at the patisserie a few doors down – fabulous creamy cappuccino and delicious lemon tart.

It was a good part of a great day out, I hope your Sunday is as much fun.

**EDIT** I will post about what we got up to this morning, before the gallery, at some stage over the next couple of days.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tales from the Tao

Very late last night after posting here, I picked up a new book for a few minutes reading before lights out. I was quickly engrossed and read it start to finish. Tao_SolalaTowler

About the Tao is an interesting  website which explains the background to the book better than I can:

In ancient China, there was a very wise man named Lao Tzu who was the keeper of the imperial library. Lao Tzu saw the growing corruption of the government and decided to leave the city for a simpler life in the country. On his way, the guard at the city gates asked Lao Tzu to write out the essence of his understanding to benefit future generations. Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, then left the city and was never heard of again.

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, is one of the most influential books in history. It is the source of famous Chinese sayings such as;

“Those who know do not speak, those who speak, do not know”.

This book above is put together by Solala Towler and comprises about 30 of Lao Tzu’s tales. The stories introduce Taoist principles about many of the most basic human experiences – birth, death, loss, dignity.

The Tao was more a philosophy than a religion though when Buddhism came to China in the 5th century it became mixed up with the native Taoist traditions and became a unique form of Buddhism, called Chan, which later on travelled to Japan where it was taken up by the Samurai class, who laid it over their own bushido philosophy and named it Zen.

It’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.


“Even a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step” The Tao

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lonely Planet

It could be said, wait, in fact it has, that some of my posts read like travel brochures for Auckland. I confess that I do love my town and I guess it shows, though I never intend a sales pitch.

Auckland has problems. Like every other city in the world there’s a flip side – there’s criminality, there are gangs, there’s poverty and there’s homelessness.

Earlier this afternoon (Friday) I considered jumping in my car and heading a few suburbs away to show you what some of Auckland looks like but I knew I wouldn’t feel good about photographing neighbourhoods and their residents going about their lives for no other purpose than to furnish my blog. I’m no anthropologist. So, I decided to use photos others have already taken. Credit given where possible. If I use one of your photos and you’re not happy email me (see the link in my profile) and I’ll remove it immediately.

GangsMisguided youth.





Mayoral town make over. Otara. Photo: Shane WenzlickOtara Shopping Centre














  State housing 1970 vintage

Glen Innes, Auckland


















Like anywhere though, there are those who continue to fight for a sense of community and who work really hard to make a better life for themselves. Otara has one of the biggest and most thriving weekend markets in Auckland – nowhere can beat it for fresh fruit and veges at the best price.

There I am with the sales pitch again, I just can’t seem to help myself. I guess I’m just a glass half full kind of person.




Who wouldn’t be?

Friday flowers

The Auckland Domain is Auckland's oldest park, and at 75 hectares (185 acres) is one of the largest in the city. Located in the central suburb of Grafton, the park lies mostly within the crater of the Pukekawa volcano. Actually there’s not much in Auckland that doesn’t sit somewhere on some volcano or other...

Within the park, the Auckland War Memorial Museum (see photo below) sits prominently on the crater rim. Several cricket fields occupy the floor of the crater, while the rim opposite the Museum hosts the cricket pavilion and Auckland City Hospital.

Auckland_War_Memorial_Museum_rect Photo uplifted from

The Wintergarden, with duck ponds and two beautiful glass houses built in around 1870, lie on the north edge of the cone. The Wintergarden was established properly after World War I and is a protected heritage site.

It’s always a lovely (free) thing to do in Auckland on a rainy day.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


My good friend lost his elderly mother a few days ago and the funeral was this morning. It was a small service but it was nice and then she was buried just out of town in a plot next to her husband who died almost 25 years ago.

The tiny cemetery is almost completely bordered on three sides by huge old peach, nectarine and plum trees and they are all in full flower right now – weighed down with pink and white blossom. It was a fabulous sight and we were all cheered by the astonishing beauty of mother nature.


The photo above I took a week ago and was saving for a ‘Friday flowers’ but it seems to fit today's post. I think it’s a Black Doris plum tree. RIP Mrs T.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two for Tuesday

I) Photo of the day


Oops. They thought that releasing doves  was such a romantic idea when they thought of it.






Photographer and subjects unknown. Sorry but I have no idea who or to which site to credit this photo to.


II) Cottage envy



Craig Highland Farm, self-catering cottages in Ross-shire, the Highlands near Skye and Lochalsh. Excellent loch side Highland holiday cottages sleeping 2, 4 and 6 people on a working farm. Pets welcome by arrangement. Short breaks available.

I can only dream.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Clearing Kibera

KiberaPhotos uplifted from website of the Affordable Housing Institute:US. Click to enlarge.  

Most of us would have heard of Kibera, Africa’s largest slum. It’s a massive squatter city of over 600 acres with more than a million inhabitants. It’s possibly the most densely populated place on the planet and it sits right in the centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. See the link following for the highly informative television doco about Kibera.

Most of Kibera is built on piles of rubbish which subside and lead to regular building collapses. The whole place is prone to flooding and is heavily polluted by soot, dust, and other wastes. Open sewage routes also contribute to contamination. The combination of poor nutrition and lack of sanitation accounts for many illnesses. It is estimated that nearly a quarter of the 2.2 million Kenyans living with HIV live in Kibera. It’s a way of life so completely desperate it’s beyond the comprehension of most of us.


The BBC reported earlier this week (see here) that the Kenyan government has begun a long-term movement scheme which will rehouse all of the slums inhabitants. The clearance of Kibera is expected to take up to five years to complete - all residents are to be rehoused in brand new affordable housing around the city. The project has the backing of the United Nations and is expected to cost $1.2 billion. The new communities are currently being built and will include schools, markets, playgrounds and other facilities.

The first group of 1,500 people to leave Kibera were moved out on 16 September and were rehoused in 300 newly constructed apartments with a heavily subsidised monthly rental.

The removal process has now been challenged though and the Kenyan High Court has now ruled that the government cannot begin proper demolition works until the case is heard in October. The 80 plaintiffs that have filed the case are mainly middle-class landlords who lease the slum dwellings to the impoverished.

The rehousing effort is a fascinating and dramatic exercise in socialised housing on what must be the biggest scale ever attempted. There is significant risk that rehoused residents may have to share apartments with other families in order to afford the rent or that they might even move back to Kibera and rent their new homes to middle-class families so as to have money for food. Kibera_3Let's all hope that the Kenyan government, with the help of the UN and contributing nations, can find a way to mitigate these risks and make this work. 600,000 children deserve better.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

An oldie but a goodie

Sigh, pretty but oh so dumb. Watch the host guy try not to laugh.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sharing the love

New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal open immigration agreement between our citizens though it must be said that the traffic is mostly one way, Kiwis seeking adventure and opportunity and the bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne and in more recent years, Brisbane. We’re a reasonably well behaved and hard working bunch generally so it mostly works out pretty well for all concerned.

There’s a recent high profile exception to that rule.

In 1977 at the tender age of 12 months old, Patricia Carol Toia moved to Australia from New Zealand with her family.

In the 30 years since that time the delightful Ms Toia, who is a heroin addict, has racked up a truly impressive rap sheet  - she’s been convicted of hundreds of crimes and has done an impressive 30 stints in Australian jails. In fact 56 of her convictions relate to crimes she committed while in jail. Toia has never held a driver licence but has so many driving convictions that she’s been banned from driving until 2060.

Anyway, the game is now up and the Australian government wants rid of her.

Toia appealed deportation to New Zealand on the grounds that she has no family nor friends here, in fact no connections of any kind. She’s never been back to NZ in 30 years. Too bad says the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which recently voted to uphold the original 2004 deportation decision and return Ms Toia to the land of the long white cloud.  

"She is a threat to the Australian community and Australia deserves protection against her given that the risk of recidivism is, as must be obvious, very substantial indeed.”

Last week Toia was flown ‘home’ to her country of birth on a charter jet. She was accompanied by three New South Wales security officers and two departmental officials.

Welcome home honey.

I understand that when we’re visitors anywhere we should behave nicely and obey the rules but surely it can be said that Toia is an Australian for all intents and purposes. She lived there all her life and despite the fact her parents never applied for citizenship for her, as they were entitled to do on her behalf at anytime through her childhood, she is certainly more Australian than Kiwi.

Bad call Immigration Minister Mr Chris Evans.

Friday flowers

I knew I had taken a photo last spring of a beautiful urban stand of spring tulips and last night I finally went looking and found the photo. I took it in a town called Rotorua. Tulips were everywhere, it was just fantastic.

So here’s spring 2008;


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday sunset

Driving home from a friends place earlier this evening I got a nice shot of a pretty pink sunset. Mt grandmother used to always say that ‘a red sky at night is a shepherds delight‘ so I am hoping that means that we might be in for another beautiful spring day in Papakura tomorrow. Have a great Thursday everyone.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

The esteemed JadedJ is an unapologetic flaming socialist-liberal who hails from the Cornhusker state. He’s an unashamed Anglophile who is mighty clever and even more sarcastic. Here’s a link to his blog Banquet of Consequences for those who aren’t already under the spell of his wit and charm. 

In a momentary lapse of judgement, JJ has deemed me worthy of this highly celebrated Kreativ Blogger award. All I have to do in return is share with my readers 7 things that I love, not including people, and nominate 4 brand new worthy recipients (so as to keep the torture going ad nauseum). Kreative_Blogger_Award

So deep breath and here goes:

1) I love Italian renaissance art especially Botticelli and Raphael.

2) I love travelling and seeing new places both inside NZ and outside. Can’t wait to get around the world some more once my son is independent.

3) I love sleeping in on a Sunday morning.

4) I love learning about new things and I challenge myself to undertake a course at least once every year. Sometimes it’s academic, other times not. This year I did both; a calligraphy course as well as suffering my way through an arduous statistics paper.

5) I love thunder storms.

6) I love public speaking and feel at my most confident at the front of a room with an audience. I’m a Leo, what can I Blahniksay?

and finally…

7) I love shoes. When my weight gets me down I can always count on my shoes still fitting beautifully and looking hot. Nothing improves a woman’s calf like the 4 inch heel on a sexy red Manolo Blahnik.


OK and now to the important part. With whom shall I share the honour of the Kreativ Blogger award?

Lori from Family Trees May Contain Nuts is a dedicated blogger. She works hard to make her blog an interactive and interesting place to visit and we all know that’s not an easy thing to achieve.

Al from Al In The Country is a big city boy transplanted to rural Maine in the name of love. Al is working hard to fit in to small town life and the stories and the pics are a joy to partake of.

Sophisticated New Yorker Kathryn has a blog called From the Inside…Out. Kathryn has the most fabulous sense of humour. In her words “Cocktails are optional, but highly recommended. Not that you need one to find me utterly charming...but it couldn't hurt.”

and lastly…

Dade from Spain has an absolutely beautiful blog called It’s My Life.  There’s a wonderful slideshow of Dade’s family to share and be sure to click on the link to Krysalis Photography to see some of Dade’s truly incredible pictures.

I’ll leave a comment on each of your sites to let you know the big news so collect a copy of the award for your sidebar and go for it.  Have fun.


Singer-and-actress Jessica Simpson has posted a heartfelt plea for information on her dog Daisy's whereabouts on social networking website Twitter after the pooch was swiped by a dingo coyote last weekend.

Jessica wrote "My heart is broken because a coyote took my precious baby right in front of my eyes…”

I’m not completely heartless, I do feel bad for Ms Simpson (and the cute wee pooch) but I just can’t avoid the sinister parallels between this and the events at Ayers Rock, 1980.

I wonder will a little doggie jacket turn up in the desert after a native American tracker is called in to help find clues?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two for Tuesday

I) Rest in Peace

Squadron Leader John Gordon Pattison, one of the few remaining New Zealanders who flew in the Battle of Britain, has died in Hastings in the Hawkes Bay at the age of 92. He is survived by his wife, four sons and their families.

Mr Pattison learned to fly on Tiger Moths in his home town of Hastings and had logged just 20 hours when World War 2 began. He volunteered immediately and after getting his wings in April 1940 and commission the following month he sailed for England in June 1940.

Desperately short of pilots as the Battle of Britain developed, Mr Pattison and others like him were rushed through training by the Royal Air Force and posted to active squadrons. Mr Pattison had just three hours on a Miles Master trainer and then the briefest conversion course on Spitfires, before joining 266 Squadron on August 27 at the height of the battle.

After a year flying attacks over France, Mr Pattison was posted as a chief flying instructor, then joined 66 Squadron flying Spitfire IXs equipped with bombs which were used in attacking V-weapon launch sites, in the pre-invasion offensive and as cover on the D-Day landings. In September 1944, Mr Pattison was named commanding officer of 485 Squadron and he led the New Zealanders until February 1945.

Mr Pattison returned to New Zealand in January 1946. He farmed for the rest of his working life in Waipawa before retiring to Havelock North. He died on Friday 11 September 2009.

New Zealand Herald 14 Sept 2009


II) Cottage envy

I imagine that out the front is the traditional front ridge (sea wall) leading down to the pebbly English beach. Cute as a button.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another day, another dollar



It’s 6.25am on Monday morning and it’s almost time to start another working week.

I know I should feel lucky to still have a job and a pay check each week when so many don’t, but quite frankly all I feel is sick of doing the same thing day in day out.


Oh well, time to get up and in the shower, I’ve got a flight to catch. Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone.


Doesn’t take a degree in psychology to work out that me missing my flight this morning for only the second time ever, had something to do with my lack of motivation this morning. Later flights all booked and I’m not dedicated enough to try and get a stand by flight so I have ended up back at home and working from here for the day.

Lou 9.15am

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ain’t tennis great?

It was a strange end to a dramatic tennis match.

The much-anticipated clash between defending champion Serena Williams and 2005 champion Belgian Kim Clijsters, coming in after 2 and a half years in retirement, took place in front of a relatively small crowd at Flushing Meadows.

It was Clijsters, 26, who looked on top the best part of two sets, she broke serve to clinch the first set and when she was closing in on a sensational victory, the pressure told on Williams.

The Belgian was two points from victory when Williams, who had earlier been given a code violation for racquet abuse, was called for a foot-fault. That prompted the American to move towards the line judge in question gesturing angrily and verbally abusing her. US_OpenWilliams received a point penalty on match point and the grinder Clijsters advanced to the US Open final in dramatic circumstances.

It’ll be a great game between Clijsters and the 18 year old Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark tomorrow. My pick is that there is no stopping the power and experience of Kim Clijsters right now – she has her eye on the prize after many said she couldn’t make it back after taking so long away from the game after the birth of her baby in 2007.

Never say never.


It’s a long time since I woke up feeling the world was filled with possibilities. And not just for other people, but for me. It’s a great feeling though I must contain myself, not get ahead of myself.

It’s early days.

Green Shoots

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday flowers

This week I decided I’d show you all our lovely Kowhai (pronounced co fy) tree as they’re in full spring bloom right now.

I was merrily snapping away a few shots yesterday afternoon and thinking about one of our most beautiful native birds, the Tui, which especially loves this time of year when the Kowhai nectar is flowing…   Kowhai_2 …when a big Tui lands on the other Kowhai behind me. They’re a reasonably shy bird so aren’t as common in the city as they used to be. This was the best shot I got. They’re sometimes known as the parson bird because of their white ‘collar’. Kowhai_5There are some excellent shots of Tui on Wikipedia (see here). It’s worth a proper look because they’re fabulous birds. There’s also a short video there so you can hear one – a very distinctive call. They are mimics so will often sound like whatever noise they hear regularly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theme of the day