Today We Are Six

Siddy turns six years old today.
I’d forgotten til I looked at the calendar this morning …. Luckily dogs don’t take too much notice of the passing of time – unless they are waiting for treats that is……

As I prepared this small post in praise of my little companion it struck me that here is the very reason why everybody should have a dog – and most especially those of us who live alone. This guy, named (in case you never knew or may have forgotten) after the prince who became the Buddha, Siddhartha, because the day I first met him and held him in my arms he settled in peaceably, gazing up at me and the woman said “Oh, he looks like a little Buddha there in your arms.” And I thought ‘well, that can’t be a bad thing!’ And he really has enriched every day of my life since.

He takes me walking not once but most often twice every day and makes people smile at us as we walk along. He reminds me what time it is when I lose myself in my art or craft or a good book. Treat time, play time, dinner time……. He pays attention to every move I make and needs me always to be kind. He tells me when someone is approaching my gate, when the postie is at the box, when certain cars pull up outside. He makes sure I cuddle something warm and furry several times a day and that I laugh out loud regularly. He asks that my eyes soften at least three times every day as I tell him what a good and super little fellow he is and he makes me aware that right now is the best time to be doing whatever it is we are doing.

Baby Siddy – taken the day we met, the day he stole my heart…

Siddy six weeks old
July 2014 Siddy takes me to the beach
October 2014 – In need of a hair cut

Almost a year into our relationship Siddy was temporarily deserted when his mumma took off to the US for a couple of weeks to visit with some blogging pals and Siddy spent his first birthday with his second favourite person, Danella. He missed his mum though

Luckily, by this time he was good friends with his kitty

But after that we settled into a routine of simple daily life, interspersed with a few adventures. And so the years have passed on by.

There’s treat time

and cheese time

And mumma time

Siddy still brings joy to every day, loves people more than other dogs and is just managing to survive lockdown – but only just….

Right now I’ve never been more grateful to have this little fellow in my life. He still bounds out of bed every morning, comes at me like a wriggling torpedo, tail waggling his whole body. Good morning, good morning! Let’s have breakfast. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s have at this day!

When I feel the anxiety rising I can look at him and know right here, right now, everything is actually alright. There are things to do, fetches to be fetched, growled at, tossed about. Cuddles to be had. Treats to be entreated for. Comings and goings to be observed out the window. Naps to be taken. Mealtimes to line up for. A spot of hoovering to be done when there is food preparation going on in the kitchen. And sleepy time comes every evening. A kiss, a cuddle and a carry to bed because when a boy is just too tired to make it there himself, his mumma can help out……. All is well in Siddy’s world and therefore in mine.

Happy Birthday Siddy ❤

Thanks for coming by today, we love that you did!

March 29 1970

Three weeks after my estimated due date my first daughter was born. She chose Easter Sunday morning to make her appearance, though I had laboured with her since the afternoon of Good Friday. She was a reluctant enterer to the world. But with her porcelain round face, shock of dark curly hair and large blue eyes that never left mine, she took my breath away.

From the first moment I held her and looked into her eyes I was lost. Right there and then I experienced a wave of love that was so totally unexpected it impressed itself into my memory as I saw I held a little soul about to begin her own journey through life.

The feeling, the thought, the moment, was so profound I have never forgotten it. The words of Khalil Gibran were running through my head while her blue eyes looked deeply into mine. I swear she sent me those words to help get me through the early years of parenting when I had so much to learn and made so many mistakes.

Your children are not your children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself

They come through you but not from you

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you……

Khalil Gibran


In those early months I would often lay my little baby on our bed while I changed her nappies and her little hands would reach for my old childhood walkie talkie doll that was gifted to me at the age of three by my aunt and sat atop a dresser in the corner of our bedroom.. After a while I began to lay the doll beside her while I worked and tried to imagine a time when she would be bigger than the doll, so big nappies would no longer be required, how big in a year, five years ….. How big would she get? It was hard to imagine this perfect little baby growing up even though I understood she would.

Six months old September 5th 1070

Her love for animals was obvious right from the start. There are tons of photos of Jo with cats and dogs, but this one is a special favourite

Joanna and her Birdie

Love seemed to be a thing that exuded from her, her baby sister arrived and it was love at first sight

Danella, Joanna, Pauline

While mumma looked after the new baby, Joanna practised on her teddy bear

Joanna and Teddy

And the mutual admiration society grew

Danella & Joanna
My babies

I think of those early days now when I see my first daughter and know who she is and how special she is and all her struggles and triumphs that have honed her and made her into a woman of grace and strength and beauty with just the teeniest bit of over the top geekdom to add spice…..

She’s hoping #10 will open the door….

Today, because neither her sister or I can be with her to celebrate this special birthday I’m celebrating her on this blog – and sharing with you all how much I love and admire this amazing little piece of grace who grew to become a woman of kindness, felicity and beauty

Happy Birthday Joanna

Love from mummy 🙂

Life Interrupted

I’m on a roll with my post titles 😀 Because yesterday the bottom fell out of my world.

Up to that point I felt I had some control over my world. That’s always a false assumption though isn’t it – we never have control over outer events. over other people, over the weather or anything really. Sometimes things roll quietly along and we believe we do. Then we hit the bumps like this one, more an unexpected canyon at the moment than a bump, but you know what I mean.

Yesterday, on our local Anniversary Day when everyone in Otago enjoys an extra day added to their weekend, New Zealand was given 48 hours notice that we are going into Lock Down.

I am so grateful to our government that they are acting as soon as they could in an attempt to contain the spread of this virus. But still it sent me into a mild fit of panic – I had to get some things done and now I knew, everyone else would be thinking the same.

Now I had no control over the timing of that announcement, I have no control over all the people who will now flood the stores and services to get their last minute things done, but I do have control over myself.

We are creatures of free will, that is our special gift, our super power. We are the ones who can look at an event and look at our own response to that event. We can step back from the fear, the sense of disempowerment, the annoyance that this or that option has suddenly fallen away.

We can take a moment, take a long slow deep breath – or several if that is required – and we can self assess. Where am I, right now? Am I safe, right now? What do I really need, right now?

Very often – most often – when we take these minutes to self assess and re-centre ourselves we realise that right now, in this very moment all is well with us.

The truth is if it isn’t, we are in action, we are dealing with the crisis, we are running from the tiger, lifting the car off our trapped child, lending a hand to someone else or being assisted by another person.

Fear is the enemy.

This is kind of my process when the bottom falls out of my world. I go through my process quietly – well mostly quietly sometimes there is another step that requires a bit of whining. Today was one of those times.

I am fortunate (I know I say that a lot, but it is true) I whine at my chosen listeners. My two daughters. They are experts now at hearing my whines and redirecting me. They shine lights and solve problems and steer me where I need to be steered. I retreat silently to lick my wounds and take a couple more deep breaths and – there I am. Back again in control of the only thing I can ever be in control of – me.

So this was my process earlier today.

I had raced out really early – breaking my self imposed isolation because in a few days time it is going to be my eldest daughters highly significant birthday and with the country about to go into lock down I did not want her to be without her birthday parcel. Her sister was to fly to Wellington to celebrate with her, but that cannot now happen. It made my quest even more urgent.

I had a plan. I was going straight to the courier depot at first light. I would be home again in ten minutes. I got to the depot and found a closed door with a sign ‘WE HAVE MOVED’ it proclaimed. With no further information!!

WHAT? I cried back at the locked door, where are you? But no one replied.

I climbed into my car and raced a couple of kilometres to the next courier depot. The car park was full. I carried on, ‘I’ll try the Post Office’ I said grimly to Siddy who was happily hanging his head out the window as I raced along, clearly enjoying the freezing cold southerly wind brushing up his whiskers. The parks in the vicinity of the Post Office were all filled, the cars still holding their drivers captive as the PO had not yet opened their doors and would not for a further half hour. I envisioned the mad rush when the doors did open and gloomily carried on homewards, my daughters birthday parcel still sitting equally as gloomily on the back seat.

At home I melted down. All I wanted to do was give my girl a bit of joy on a day that had changed so much for her.

I breathed deeply. I breathed some more. It helped, but didn’t bring me fully into myself. So I opened Messenger, hit our page and whined. I whined about not being able to send my package, I whined about how cold it is and I whined about not being able to place a grocery order online (because the store is overwhelmed with grocery orders)

My girls, champions that they are sprang into action. I was reminded that it wasn’t really that important – the parcel could arrive later quite easily. Danella would do any shopping required in a few days when things quietened down. We exchanged some thoughts about the effectiveness of wearing dust masks in public and whether looking like a tit was any compensation for indeterminate safety and agreed that scarves did as good a job, provided you weren’t mistaken for a bandit.

I was instructed to burn some essential oils, turn on the heating and make myself a lovely warm drink. Obediently I did all that, and enjoyed a hot chocolate in my special cup with frothed milk. I also listened to a brief talk by Eckhart Tolle and then put on some gentle music.

And now here I am – sharing my day so far with you and laughing at myself.

How has your day been?

Here’s Siddy, a photo taken a couple of days ago after his bath when he is all white and super fluffy and smelling delicious

Siddy March 2020

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you do!






Blogging Interrupted

When last you heard from me I was off to my daughter Danella’s place with Orlando and Siddy for a couple of weeks while the tiny house had some repairs done to it. Then, back home I had trouble with WP and accessing posts, liking and commenting and my own blog was quite elusive too. Any way, all resolved now. This all happened when Covid 19 was just a ‘thing’ that was happening far far away and, I was sure, like all ‘things’ would cause a bit of mad panic then die away…… Alas, I was wrong! But, we aren’t here yet, back to my story…..

Those two weeks stretched into three. We had a fun time staying with Danella. It felt a bit like I was holiday – except for Orlando spitting at George every time he moved and purring lovingly at everyone else.

Orlando being mean to George

However lucky Mr O’s personal servant took his personal watering can on holiday and so he made himself at home on Danella’s kitchen counter

Orlando and his drinking fountain

Then, just as O settled in and began to mind his manners he was moved back to his own home. He wasn’t very pleased for an hour or so, too many new smells – but he soon settled in.

Siddy of course didn’t mind where he was as long as his food bowl and mumma are close by, he’s a boy who enjoys life. Here he is, on one of our morning walks, on a mission, checking out his messages

Siddy

We went for some lovely morning walks and I took photos that I posted on Instagram. Here’s one for those of you who don’t indulge over there. I call it ‘The High Road’ It’s proper name is John Wilson Drive but I don’t know who John Wilson was and I’ve never quite gotten round to checking him out.

view towards the lookout

The road is wide and follows the crest of a hill. It is bollarded and closed to all traffic except between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Outside of those hours it is a haven for families and runners and dog walkers.

Chile is somewhere over that horizon

On one side is the expansive southern Pacific Ocean, with nothing between us and Chile and the other side sports the rolling green and patchy brown hills of a not very posh golf course where locals walk themselves and their dogs and both are given to unexpectedly clambering out of the undergrowth beside those of us wandering quietly along the high road minding our own business with a cheery ‘Good Morning!’.

the golf course

At the very end of the road there is a steepish hill we (that’s the royal ‘we’) puff our way up to the lookout point where we admire the view, take a photo and about face for the walk back.

At the Lookout

The view on the return journey looks across the beaches of St Kilda and St Clair, south towards the southern suburbs of Dunedin. It’s not terribly far from those hills to Antarctica – just a tad over 4000 km.

looking south

Siddy and I have continued to make the walk most mornings since our return home. It’s a brief five minute car ride to access all this beauty and fresh air, why wouldn’t we! Now that the days are growing shorter we can set off while it is still dark and get to the Lookout in time for an early sunrise photo.

7 am at the look out

So now, here we are at home. Our home is fixed and revamped and a pleasure to be in – something it wasn’t for a long time. I am both relieved and very, very happy. And if I have to self isolate I am happy to do it here in my safe, warm little home.

Take care, look after each other, look for the good in people and the world and remember that fear lowers our resistance to disease. Practise contentment, be grateful and let your eyes rest on beauty. Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did,

Siddy has a Birthday

We interrupt normal transmission to bring an important update….

April 4th and it’s Siddy’s fifth birthday. He’s a big boy now and lets all those frisky young pups know it. He takes centre seat at the dog park where he entertains his fans – here he is with his pals Poppy and Pamela

He goes drinking and driving, but never at the same time

Sometimes he shows off his tricks, like jumping through the tyre in the park

or greeting his fans through the window of home

He enjoys a good joke – like the one he heard last Christmas

He loves his kitty

Did I mention drinking?

He’s a bit of a poser and a playboy and has spread joy all year every year

He’s always such a good boy, though if you ask him he’s never quite sure ….

And he is, of course, my boy, the best puppy ever!

Happy Birthday Siddy xoxo

On Blankets, Birthdays and Endangered Parrots

It’s been a whole month since my last post , time keeps on zipping by me and although I’m not wasting any of it I have very little to show you currently.

I did get my Seaside Stash Busting Blanket finished – and absolutely love it!   Here is a pic of it spread out on my bed complete with the obligatory poser

dav

If you have a good sized stash of yarn – and even if you don’t – head on over to Eleonora’s place and follow her weekly installments, available on her blog under the header picture.

I did have an almost significant birthday a few days back and amongst the lovely cards and gifts was a most wonderful surprise from my youngest.   We will head off in a few more days to trek through the evening bush to visit with Sirocco, the world famous kakapo.

What?  You haven’t heard of Sirocco?  Where have you been for the past decade?  Come on, you are about to meet a pretty hilarious and amazing parrot!

Kakapos are another of our almost endless supply of nocturnal, flightless birds under attack from the almost endless supply of introduced  rodents and predators who have ravaged the population.   Here he is in a pic I pinched off Google, looking perkily ambassadorial

sirocco

Kakapos are the only flightless parrots in the world.  They are big, heavy birds who climb trees using their claws and beaks.  They mate irregularly and have a prolonged and unusual mating ritual that involves ‘booming’.  They were almost extinct and are being clawed back from the brink by dint of human determination.

Sirocco’s behaviour on Stephen Fry’s series of ‘Last Chance to See’ some ten years ago resulted in world wide fame and instant You Tube infamy and as a result he became New Zealand’s official spokes-bird for conservation and most importantly the conservation of our native flightless bird population – and even more importantly the kakapo of which there are now 149 up from their lowest point of just 25.  This short clip kind of sums it all up

If you are interested in learning more, the link below will take you to some relevant pages on Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand.  I’ve started it with the male Kakapo sitting in his bowl ‘booming’ his mating call out in the hopes some wandering female will pop by …….  He’ll do it for hours and days and it becomes pretty obvious predators aren’t the only reason why these quirky birds are endangered!

https://teara.govt.nz/en/video/10577/male-kakapo-booming

Kakapo generally have a reputation of being fearless, inquisitive and friendly birds.  An early Governor of New Zealand, back in the day when kakapo were still plentiful, was said to have been given one as a pet and compared it favourably to a dog.  Sirocco’s ill health as a chick meant he was taken from his mother and hand raised.  He imprinted on humans and, it seems, specifically the male of our species and as a result has no interest in ‘booming’ for kakapo hens.  He will boom for humans though.  Despite a couple of years in therapy and some training in acceptable behaviour (some of which you can see on YouTube if you do a search) he is not likely to assist in the increasing of the kakapo population, so Sirocco happily takes himself off round the country from time to time, sets up digs in a suitable outdoor hotel, is waited on hand and foot by his adoring servants and accepts brief visits from small groups of his adoring public  – of which I shall  happily be one.

Not many of us get to see a real live kakapo.  They now live only on two small islands that are kept scrupulously pest free – no rodents,  no predators of any kind.  The only humans allowed are those entrusted with their care and scientific research into their lifestyles.  Given those living conditions and the fact that they sleep all day we are really fortunate to have a bird who likes people and who enjoys looking at them as much as they like looking at him.

Any how, I’m really looking forward to it,  I just hope I don’t get lost in the bush on my way to my date with Sirocco   🙂  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

 

 

 

Best Memoir I’ve Read This Year!!

The plastic bag sat in the parcel tray of my mailbox, the raining pouring down just millimetres away.  Once inside and dried off the package was opened revealing my copy of Geoff Le Pard’s much anticipated memoir ‘Apprenticed to My Mother’.

I flicked the book open, reading title, sub-title, flick again, copyright, published by….  flick, Introduction,  I begin reading this.  I read on.  Chapter one, chapter two, three, four.  The chapters are short, pithy, poignant, honest, vulnerable, loving.  Tears welled in my eyes but I am completely unable to stop reading, until I am interrupted first by the door bell and then the pets needs to be fed.  I tend to the interruptions quickly and return to reading until the gathering gloom of this wintery day’s mid-afternoon makes it too dark to see.

I attend to my life, but am keen to finish my day early and,as the rain continues to batter the ground, to take myself off to my cosy bed, book in hand and settle in for a couple or three uninterrupted hours.

Over the past year or two Geoff had posted little bits and pieces of this story on his blog and I felt quite familiar with much of what I was reading.  But still, the unfolding story ontinued to capture my attention.  Here is the mutual love story of two people.  She builds him up, she cares for his every need, ensures he feels like the man he aspires to be.  He writes her love poems.  They clash, they work it out, they raise two boys.  She ensures her boys will go out into the world more able to care for themselves than her husband ever could.

As Geoff tells us in the introduction, the book is necessarily also about his father.  It is about his parents relationship, but also about his relationship with them – separately and together.  It’s not detailed, it’s snippets that we pick up as the final years of his mother are told through their interactions.

It’s a peek into a way of life, a family that functions and revolves around the mother.  A real person, a woman who loves, who cares, who rules with a fist of iron,  A woman who, having put herself second all her married life, on becoming a widow firmly and sweetly gets life the way she wants it after all.

It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s tender and kind and heart-wrenchingly honest at times.

I laughed, smiled, and blinked away tears as I made my way through this memoir.

As someone who grew up outside of a functioning family it was a healing balm and quite honestly I loved it,  I hope you might too.

*Here’s a link to the Amazon kindle copy

**Here’s a link to Geoff’s blog