A Time to Remember

I know many of you have followed along with my recent adventures courtesy of those more organised bloggers, Laurie over at Life on The Bike and Alys at Gardening Nirvana who put up posts of such loveliness all I could do was hit the ‘Re-Blog’ button and call it done.

Feb 27 selfie

We had talked about a reunion ever since our first meet up in 2015 and seriously planned this adventure for a year.  It seemed a comfortable way off, but fortunately, at the six month mark I had chosen the holiday stay venue, booked the house and settled in to start making ‘welcome to New Zealand gifts’.  Two months later of course various accidents pulled me up short and curtailed my arty crafty activities and then time curled itself into a ball and hurtled past me into the future.


And suddenly there I was standing early one evening at an airport gate searching the exiting passengers for a tiny Canuck who was arriving via Australia.   The following afternoon there I was again, searching through another lot of exiting travellers for the weary Americans who had missed their connecting flight in Auckland – due to some doggie treats that some surly, inhospitable customs officer had decided to study in minute detail.

Feb 26

Just like that, there we were, feeling as if absolutely no time had passed since we last threw ourselves into each others arms in warm and elongated hugs.  Friends of the heart – nothing to do with proximity or commonality or any of the other usual ways of making friends.  Just four women who started off reading each others blog posts, liking, commenting, following each other around other blogs, sharing stories, deepening this growing, random connection over a period of months, morphing into years.

Feb 26 Dinner

Back then, in those early days, someone suggested a face to face meeting on Skype.  It turned into a voice to voice meeting, as Skype was uncooperative on that particular day.   But there were other group video calls and individual calls and letters and cards……  All interspersed with blog posts and comments which built into a long, ongoing conversation and burgeoning friendship.

It’s a modern form of pen-pals really isn’t it.  Blogging and video calls make it easier to reach beyond the old pairing of pen-pals to include a small group.  Reading blog posts soon informs how you relate to the writer.  One of us was told surely you can’t trust what people write, they could be pretending to be anybody.    Not so – we are women of some life experience – it’s pretty easy to pick up when there are inconsistencies, falsities or pretense.  Our intuitive alarm bells will ring when something jars.  There was no ringing of alarm bells – well not for me anyway.

So I went off to America in 2015 to spend a couple of weeks with these gals.


When it was their turn to come to me on what they all referred to as ‘a once in a life time trip’ I wanted them to meet my small family, see something of the beauty of my country and also get to do what we all wanted to do, which was spend time together.

If we had some fun while doing so, so much the better!

My eldest daughter and her partner Steven arrived via a drive down the West Coast with his E-Bikes attached to the car and his shortwave radio gear stowed in the skybox.  My youngest daughter Danella opened her home to the travellers as mine is too small to accommodate any more than it already has.

JO and Dan LB

I gave them all a couple of days in Dunedin to get their feet on the ground and heads on relatively straight and then whisked them off to a spacious rented holiday house in Wanaka, four hours away from the coast, up in the mountain plateau, near to The Adventure Capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.

We had another eight fabulous days together and were joined by Alys’ husband Mike for the last four days.    My daughter remarked that the group felt complete when he arrived.

Alys and Mike at gondola March 4

We had endless fun

After dinner dancing




and then, all too soon it was done.

Alys and Mike flew off for a brief visit to Auckland before returning to their home in San Jose.  Laurie stayed another two days in Queenstown before flying to Melbourne for a week in Australia.  Joanna and Steven drove back to Picton and the ferry to Wellington to return to their home and Kelly hopped a plane back to Canada after a month away from her home and kitties.  Danella returned to full time work – still sometimes on crutches, still with two metal plates and two screws in her leg, but getting stronger all the time and I returned home to Orlando who was in complete meltdown over being abandoned into a cattery for ten days and who is determined to never let me out of his sight ever again.

And Siddy went to bed.

Though the reunion is over, the warmth, the love, the friendship, all lives on.

Which all goes to show, we never know what might happen when we start to blog.  These friends, and all of you who gather around this blog, are dear to me and enrich my life in so many ways – thank you all, I am so very glad you are here!

*Photo credits belong to various members of the group.

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

American Interlude: The Journey

I live in a country whose main claims to fame include periodical world domination in the game of rugby,  being the first country to give women the vote [in 1893], steadfastly and obstinately remaining nuclear free since the Act of 1987 and a population of sheep almost four times that of the human count.  We are a people of humble outlooks, given greatly to ‘doing it ourselves’, surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and generally pretty well travelled.  Apparently we are considered ‘up there’ in owning the latest technologies and are fairly consistent in contributing great personages into any given field on the worlds stage.

Well Known NZers

This post is not about any of those things or persons.  It is a simple story of a simple country girl who goes to a land far, far away and the adventures that befall her on the way.

Thursday 2nd April:

Wake at 4.30 am, farewell sleepy kitty, bundle happy puppy into the car, drive to YD’s place and bundle her into the car.  Hurry to airport to catch the red-eye to Auckland, transfer to International Departures and wait patiently for flight to LAX.  Flight to LAX is almost an hour late departing due to some missing information in ‘the paper work’.  Eventually the missing information must be found, for we set off with a cheery pilot who is pretty confident he can get us there not too far behind schedule. It is now just after 4 pm.  We fly east over the Pacific Ocean, soon descending into darkness.  There is just an almost full, brightly glowing moon to keep me company.  It becomes light some ten hours later and in another two the vast city of Los Angeles is beneath us.

We fly over LA for what seems hours as the gigantic quilt of roofs and straight lined arteries unfurls itself beneath us.  The unchanging, greyish vista seemingly goes on and on forever – but of course, eventually we land.

LA from the air

Disembark, get through passport check, customs check and change terminals again – be a bit anxious due to the late arrival, but make it through okay.  Wait for flight to DC, enjoy a spot of people watching and give a silent cheer when the flight leaves on time.

Snuggling in my window seat and flying in cloudless daylight for the first time I enjoy the aerial views offered of a vast vista of undulating red ground, grey mountainous terrain and widespread patches of snow.  I have no idea where I am as my individual TV doesn’t work and the days of in-flight magazines appears to be over.  I guess maybe the Rockies, or Colorado – I realise my intuitive knowledge of American geography is not as sharp as I maybe thought – and then I simply become content with admiring the scenery.

Colorado from air

Thick cloud gathers as we approach Washington DC and I lose my view, but we have arrived early due to an over zealous tail wind.  And now, 36 hours later, here I am finally, standing inside the airport, wondering which way to go now – and it is still the evening of the 2nd of April.

And I am tired, thirsty and need a bathroom NOW!

I spy the sign and make my way in.  I’m the only person there.  I use the facilities, throw cold water on my face, look at myself in the mirror, shrug and walk out.  There’s nothing to be done with that degree of exhaustion!

There is nobody on the walk way.  It’s empty.  There’s only me, wondering where to go to find my bags and my friends.  It dawns on me we never actually said where we would meet.  I had assumed that like home, it would be when I wandered off the plane onto the walk way of the airport.  Apparently I was wrong.  Everyone else knew where to go and has gone there.  Undaunted I set off at an almost brisk pace.  I follow a tiny yellow sign that says ‘baggage’ and points to an escalator.  I go down and find myself on a train platform.  I don’t want to catch a train so I go back up.  I walk the walk way looking for signs.  There appears to be no more that say ‘baggage’ so I way lay the first person who has appeared wearing a high-vis jacket and ask.  He looks at me oddly and points to a small yellow word hanging high above my head.  ‘Baggage’ it says and has an arrow pointing straight up beside it.  He speaks to me, but his accent is thick and I cannot understand – clearly he has also not understood me as my accent is equally thick – and he took a lucky guess.  I smile and say ‘Thank you.’  He frowns at me and hurries off.

dulles walkway

I walk less than briskly back the way I have come.  I feel I walk a long way, I am very tired but I keep my eyes up, watching for those little signs and finally find one.  ‘Baggage!’ it says firmly and has an arrow pointing to my left.  It is pointing straight at the escalator I have been down before.  I know there is a platform down there and a train and nothing else.  Once again the hall is empty of helpful looking folk.  I do not fancy asking the two kids who are roaring with laughter over something on a cell phone and who look like they might be nine or ten.  So I sigh and descend the escalator once more.  Simply because I don’t know what else to do.

dulles train

Photo credit: Stacey P. Fischer Dulles Airport Train

There is a man standing on the platform.  I say to him querulously ‘Do I have to catch a train to get to baggage?’  Like it’s his fault.  He nods and scampers away.

The train comes and I get on.  I realise I have no idea when to get off but I figure if the worst comes to the worst I will just stay on and catch a nap.  The train stops right beside a sign that says ‘Baggage’.  I get off.

I know which carousel to go to, for that was announced on the plane.  I wish they had thought to say ‘Catch the train to the Baggage stop’ as well…….  My flower painted suitcase is sitting on the floor beside the empty carousel.  My fellow travellers have all been and gone and I have obviously missed my welcoming friends.

Now what?

Any body else in this situation would have already whipped out their smart phone and called their friends, quickly arranging a meeting place.  I do not have a smart phone.  I only have a moderately average phone which I thought I would not need to use here as I would always be with people.  I forgot about this bit.  My phone is not loaded with any useful  information, maps or numbers for a dilemma such as this one.

I look about for a help desk, a person who looks in any way ‘official’.  There appears to be nothing and no-one.  I know I am too tired to be thinking straight – and I wander up and down looking for somewhere to sit and collect myself.  There are few seats and all are occupied.

I go outside to the pick up and drop off point and lean on various of the giant concrete lumps that litter the pavement.  I talk to a woman with a thick Spanish accent who assures me everyone waits here.  She is soon whisked away happily in a small car. Other folk lean also and eventually a car swoops in and whisks each one of them away. I watch the quiet or joyful reunions and meetings and cheer myself up, sure there will be one for me soon enough.  I study the cars looking for faces I know – but they aren’t there.  Finally, all my fellow loiterers are gone, over an hour has passed since we landed and I just know I have been forgotten.

I hunt for Julia’s address and can’t find it in my trusty organiser.  I groan at myself – I can’t believe it, I’ve forgotten to enter it!  I pull out my less-than-smart phone which I thought I would not need to use here, turn it on and send a text to my daughter in New Zealand. Now, after years of being told I will one day regret not ‘up-grading’ like the rest of the country, I regret!

But, as always, good fortune is with me.  My daughter, working night shift, receives my text immediately and she sends a text to Alys.  Alys receives that text immediately too.  She calls Boomdee.  ‘Something awful has happened’ she says to Boomdee, ‘Pauline is alone at the airport….’    In this same instant the airport PA system roars into life and a disembodied voice urges me to take myself to the baggage carousel where my friends are waiting for me.

My friends have been waiting for over an hour.  They have found the only official person in the entire airport and have been trying to talk him into putting out the call for at least a half hour.  He keeps telling them to wait, I will be here soon.  They keep waiting inside and I keep waiting outside.

Boomdee is on the phone with Alys as I stagger around the corner and, recognising her immediately, lift one hand in weary greeting.  ‘She’s here!’  I hear her say to the phone and Julia comes rushing towards me, arms out, scooping me into a warm hug, words tumbling, so relieved the wayward traveller has at last revealed herself!

There is a joy that surges forth in a happy dance when you find your friends after a long wait.  I feel it there and it wants to bounce about joyfully, but extreme exhaustion has set in and it flutters aimlessly inside me before settling down quietly for a wee rest and a cup of tea.

I have arrived!  Julia and Boomdee are here and even more delightful and beautiful than I have ever imagined and our Bloggers Funfest will begin – just as soon as I have a wee sleep ……………..


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

Friends of the Heart

If you read this soon after publication, I am on my journey somewhere between the far South of New Zealand and the East Coast of the USA to spend ten days with four other WordPress Bloggers.  During this time there will be opportunities to meet up with other bloggers who will travel shorter distances to spend some time with us.

It’s very exciting, more than a little amazing and somewhat magical!

Before I go I just wanted to say thank you and to share a few thoughts – which for some reason, I feel are important to say at this time.

Thank you to all of you who have left messages and shared in the fun and enormity of this short, unexpected and totally spectacular adventure I am about to undertake.  None of us have said much about it – but this is a trip that has been gifted to me by the incredible generosity of a group of fellow bloggers.

The word ‘lucky’ is often offered up to me these days.  It is not a word I choose to use very often.  I prefer the word ‘fortunate’.  I have come to see that I live a most fortunate life!

Here is what is in my heart to say:

I live my life very simply and quietly these days.  I’ve been there, done that, in terms of making my mark on the world, from needing to prove I am worthy of the air I breathe to more latterly, wanting to make a difference just because I can.   Those of you who read the first installment of my memoir back in September 2013 know I’ve travelled a route from hardship, anger, frustration and blame to one of acceptance, responsibility, forgiveness and love.  I work hard at it!  I struggle, I fall down, I get it wrong again and again – then I get back up and stumble on….   I have been gifted a life that allows me to understand that life is what I make of it and that there is more depth and magic to all our lives than the modern western world would have us believe.

My life has taught me many things – these are some of them:  I believe that as we sow, so we reap.  I believe life is a circle and that life is also a classroom.  I believe all life is connected from the particles of the big bang, to the silent creative energy that preceded it that we collectively know as God or the Void or Nothingness or the Inversion  –  or whatever other shape, description or scientific term [or sci-fi term] you prefer; to the commonality of our basic needs and feelings and talents.  I believe we are here to learn the dynamics of being a soul living a physical existence and it is not easy.  A sense of humour is necessary!  I believe we need each other to know who we truly are and who we can truly become.

Collage 2

I also believe it is imperative that we not try to make any body else think, feel or see the way we think, feel and see.  We all walk a different path.  We come from different cultures who raise us with different values, different spiritual beliefs, different religions.  We have different life influences gifted genetically, environmentally and socially.  It makes the world a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place.  None of it is wrong – it is just different.  We should cease judging people based on age, gender, preference, religion, culture, appearance, education and perceived ability.  We should walk a mile in another’s shoes – or bare feet!  We should travel and meet these other people in other cultures and experience their life styles.  We should stop thinking we are best, better or superior to any body else – or any animal for that matter.   It simply isn’t true.  We are just different.

[And I should stop saying ‘should’!]

As the French say say so eloquently “Vive la difference!”  [Please put on your best French accent for that quote to atone for my lack of written accentuation.]

I learn slowly. I learn by examining my feelings, reactions and behaviour at the end of every day.  I take responsibility for the good and the bad events of my daily life.  I sigh and forgive myself for the million blunders I made, the judgments that were too quickly and harshly made and the words that were unkind.  I know I will have better days practising these skills.  I know hard times will pass and I know easy times will also pass.  I look for the joy and try to be grateful for every day and if not everything in it, at least something!  I know life is not about pursuing or finding ‘happiness’.  I know happiness is already here if I remember where to look for it.  It is all about CHOICE ~ about choosing to be happy, right here right now, no matter what.  I know that the voices in my head, those things we refer to as ‘our thoughts’, often lie to me.  They have the power to make me unhappy, sad, angry, fearful or depressed if I do not challenge the message they put out.  I know that when I turned down the volume and challenged the messages sent by the ceaseless blither in my head I found peace and a quiet joy.  And the more peace and joy I felt, the more of it life has sent me.

It’s all about changing the firing patterns of your brain – nurturing those neurons – which ones are you building more of, the angry ones the fearful ones or the happy ones?  ‘Use it or lose it’ applies here!  


This is the big secret that folk are seeking.  It’s not about garnering wealth, power and material goods.  You truly won’t be any happier at a deep, fundamental level when you have that new car, new husband, new job.  Studies have shown that within a short amount of time happiness levels return to where they were before the material event that granted your wish occurred.

Basically we have two feelings coursing through our systems – fear and love.  Anger, hatred, bigotry, control, nervousness, just to name a few, are all fear based.  Serenity, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, empathy, to name a few more, are all love based.  We have the choice where to base our attention, which to feel.

It’s really about choosing  to be happy with what is and who we are, right here, right now.  In any given moment our lives are just fine, if we do not feel okay, it is only our thoughts that make it less than perfect.  Being regretful or angry about the past or fearful of the future stops us experiencing how great Now is, or how great we are, coping with a less than delightful Now.  And then we miss the opportunities to know ourselves better, learning and growing through our experiences in life, walking our paths to become the best possible version of ourselves.

Sometimes we suffer really awful things – the loss of loved ones, attacks on our bodies or souls, things that make us question the purpose of life.  It is hard to see any joy in that right?  For myself I know that though it can take many years, and be a long and pain filled process, I will eventually find myself again, richer for having survived, endured and grown through the experience.  My empathy factor is deepened and I can, at the very least, be there for someone else.  And I am often grateful for that!

This is why I say that our experiences – the good and the bad –  are opportunities for growth. Sometimes bad stuff happens to release something for us so we can move to the next level – ‘there is always a silver lining’.  Sometimes it takes a while to find it.

When we understand that we move into trust.  And living in trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to work out just makes everything so darn easy!

Here is a recent example from my life:  I get in a blither when having to travel alone.  It doesn’t matter how short the journey, I am uncomfortable and the level of my discomfort rises according to the length of the journey.  I know where the fear comes from, but that doesn’t seem to help.  It seeps upwards slowly but surely and begins to tinge the adventure with a sour hue.  The fear is often voiceless, but when I dig a bit and uncover it, it is all about ‘what if’ and ‘back when’, ‘look out’ and ‘don’t trust’.  When I hear that last one ‘Don’t trust’ there is an enormous shift in me.  Fear evaporates and a sort of peace descends once more.  Because ‘don’t trust’ is anathema to me.  That is the path to insanity.  I acknowledge the past and it’s many hard adventures in trust and know I have moved on.  No need to go back.  Whatever happens will happen whether I go fearfully or confidently.  I have the power to call in the experience I will have and the manner in which I will deal with it.  I’d rather follow the advice Nanette gave me in the comments of the previous post and look up and out, prepare myself, ask for help as required and trust that this part of my journey will be just as wonderful as the parts where there are friends travelling with me.

I’ll let you know how I do on that!

But really, where I am going with all this is that I have been surprised by the extent to which blogging has corroborated my life choices and beliefs.

The world is full of wonderful people and many of them blog!  I have met so many amazing folk.  In many ways when we share  bits of our lives, our thoughts, our feelings and experiences it is like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and doing what women are really good at – sharing!  It doesn’t matter all that much that it is done virtually.  Back in the ‘good old days’ we did it via letter writing with the responses taking weeks to make it across the miles, be read and the next missive written, mailed, received and read …..It was called having ‘pen pals’.

Here in our speedier modern world we ‘blog’.  For me it has widened my quiet world out again and brought in your amazing personalities to brighten my life, make me smile, frown, think, empathise, sympathise, reach out, condole, laugh, share my thoughts, opinions and feelings and begin to uncover you – the real you.  Getting to know you is a very real joy for me.  Friends of my heart.  You all have encouraged me in my journey as an artist, the encouraging words, the patronage, the enthusiasm have been wonderful gifts to me.  I have blossomed and bloomed beneath your kindness and eloquence.  You have encouraged me to return to old crafts and pick up new skills.  I have read books you recommend and listened to music you sent my way.  I follow your adventures and misadventures with interest and applaud when you arrive somewhere wonderful……..  I am so grateful to be getting to know every one of you!

And now I’m off to meet up with a small selection of my special friends and to have whole days when we can just be together and drink coffee and tea and maybe a wine or two and enjoy each others company, pick up on some of our on-going conversations and deepen our understanding of each other and share whatever is in our hearts.   Magic!

It is my first trip to the USA, my first time living amongst American accents – my travel agent warned me some would not be understand my broad, flat Kiwi twang.  I am practising trying to remember to speak higher in my throat and with a bit of a lilt and quite a lot slower than I normally do.  I’m rather afraid I sound a little like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara  🙂

There are cultural differences and social differences and language differences.   I’m looking forward to exploring them all with these women who are so dear to my heart!

And again and again I ask myself, how does it get any better than this?

Here, to finish, are my beloved babies, my little fellas, my boys.  Wrapped in warmth and love and trustingly placed into the loving care of my equally beloved YD while I swan off on my latest adventure.

pets collage

Forgive me if you don’t receive an immediate response to your comment or if you don’t see me on your blog posts for a couple of weeks.  Normal service will resume soon.  🙂

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


The Gift of Friendship

If you have been tagging along with this blog for a while you will have read on many occasions of my appreciation for the delightful people that blogging has introduced into my life.   I love how certain folks circle around different bloggers, how we introduce each other to new and exciting blogs – how we click with new people.  I sometimes forget how I stumbled across someone and then will see another name in the comments and remember that I gatecrashed their party a year ago and have been having a growing relationship ever since …..   I’ve made some really good friends while blogging.  And never actually met a single one of them!

But that is all about to change!

Recently some of these friends put their heads together and decided to make something happen.  They invited me to come stay for a few days.  A week of chatting and outings and chatting and touristing and chatting and just getting to be in the same space in real time – to look, to touch to hug!  To chat.  To just be together.

How cool is this?  How wonderful?  How amazing, how generous!  I have been completely overwhelmed about the whole idea, completely blown away by their kindness and generosity and sometimes stunned to a standstill with excitement.  The adventure of a life time!  An unexpected joy!  A dream come true, a true ‘blogger friendship’ story!

Unexpected gifts!  It’s so amazing to me, how does such an event occur – what serendipitous movement of planets caused this little miracle to take place?

Are you interested yet, do you want to know more?

The plan is for four of the five to travel to the home of the fifth.  There we will be hosted and have a wonderful opportunity to relax and  have fun just spending time together.  Only two of these bloggers have met before, though we have all spent time on Skype together and separately.  We email, message via facebook, communicate through our blogs and have shared aspects of our lives and feelings and have quite simply developed a rapport that is multi-layered and the stuff of real friendship.

So at Easter time I shall find myself wandering among the cherry blossoms of Washington DC

cherry blossom 2


Isn’t that just so pretty!  Of course, I am full of hope that the weather gods will be kind and turn on just exactly that kind of early spring vista for us……..

I did some reading and found the history of the cherry trees fascinating:


As the days go by and I look at these pictures, I constantly catch myself thinking – Ah! Washington DC – in the springtime.  Look how pretty – how I should love to wander among all those blossom laden trees  …….  You may notice I have some difficulty with the fact that this is really happening, even though the plane tickets are booked – the passport is being renewed ……. the plans are at ‘GO’………  And then, in a  ‘But you shall go to the ball Cinderella!’ moment, I remember yet again and with a surge of excitement, I shall be there, I shall see this, I will wander along beneath those cherry trees!

And I shall not wander alone.

Laurie of Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things will be driving in her truck from Virginia

Kelly from Boomdeeadda will fly in from Alberta

Alys from Gardening Nirvana will jet in from California

And I, having completely given up on being Contented and become instead Wildly Excited, shall hop, skip and jump all the way from New Zealand

And our generous hostess Julia from Defeat Despair will do the airport runs ………..

High five girls!

puppy high 5

I wish you could all be there with us – what a party we would have!

But if, by some serendipitous placement of plans and or living location, you are in the DC area over Easter, let me know and come on by and say hello – we would all love the opportunity to meet you!

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