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.

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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.

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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

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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!

Summertime Christmas

 

Season’s Greetings Y’all!

Happy Christmas; Mid-Summer; Mid-Winter; Ramadan; Hanukkah; Kwanzaa ~ 

Whatever you celebrate may your days be blessed with your loved ones around you

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The Christmas Light Catchers were all finally sent off on Monday 7th December.  The nice lady at the post office assured me I was far too late in my posting habits to make the Christmas delivery deadline for those of you across the oceans, but I believe in miracles and it turns out there has been  a number of them – were you one of them?

I feel like my Celebration season got off to an excellent start this year with that communal giveaway and it has caused me to become quite ‘merry and bright’ about the whole thing – which is not something I have utterly given myself up to in the past few years.

I’ve been fortunate to experience Christmas in both hemispheres and have found pleasure and pain in both seasons.  As a child I had a feeling of deep disconnection between the presented pictures and the reality of our global situation – which simply added to my general discombobulation with the family dysfunction which was the reality of my young life.

In the blinding heat of mid summer we were all treated to displays of fake snow scattered about shop window settings and cards featuring pretty women in long gowns trimmed with fur, their hands buried in muffs and snow brushing their pink cheeks; or robins on bare branches white with more snow….  Carols and popular songs tinkled along merrily in the background and we all sang along with them – we were dreaming of a white Christmas, hearing sleigh bells jingling, and decking the halls with boughs of holly.  We lit the lights on the Christmas trees but never got to see their glow because it was always light while we were up.  There was no waiting for the return of the sun because it was always here and always bright.  [Years later my own children, excited out of their trees by the coming event, would wake us up at three o’clock in the morning to tell us Santa had been and the birds were singing.  Stockings were introduced to the end of their beds with enough goodies to keep them quiet for at least another half hour…….]

A heavy, roasted Christmas dinner was often cooked amid faces red and sweating and eaten in the same manner while we kids just wanted to escape the heat and dive back into the ocean or river.

We had few local traditions, everything had been imported from the Northern Hemisphere by the settlers who came to make new and better lives yet continued to adhere faithfully to the way things were done ‘Back Home’ despite all  seasonal disadvantages.

As a young mother I set about making sure my children did not experience the same sense of disconnection with the festival and over the years built up a new set of traditions and displays that met our seasonal and cultural mores and addressed my growing connection with a spiritual reality that had nothing to do with religion or culture and everything to do with the need for me to unleash the ability to understand what unconditional love is and to be able to live in it on a daily and practical basis.

Christmas became the festival where I practised best.

We had wonderful Christmases and in their own lives, my girls have carried on the traditions that were begun in their childhoods.

This year we get to have one of our special Christmases.  Just the three of us make up our small immediate family and we get to spend a week together this year.  We are tight.  We are devoted and adoring and just a little awed by each other.  Not being of a religious bent, but bearing strong spiritual connections with the message of the season we will celebrate our ability to love, to share, to give and to shine.  The summer sun is bright and warm and we let it be our inspiration.

Somewhere the decision was made to make this a Christmas to remember.

So for the first time in this tiny house, a tree arrived.  It got itself decorated with baubles, bells, flowers, birds and butterflies – in our favourite colours of course.

Xmas Tree 2015

And placed stage centre especially for Orlando’s enjoyment and contentment

O under tree Dec 15

I crocheted that tree skirt in one frantic 14 hour period, as big as I could get it in the time allowed and in between my doing of ordinary daily activities ……  After it is finished with this year I shall double it in size in a leisurely fashion.

The tiny courtyard is full of flowers and little bits of bling.  The chairs have comfy cushions and there are places for wine glasses and plates of food

Tiny Courtyard pizap

The front entrance welcomes with bells and bling, cats and a green nodding doggie and even more flowers

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Dec Front pizap

The hand made gifts are [finally] finished and being wrapped – this is the last of them

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The Secret Recipe Cold Christmas Pudding is made and maturing

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And Siddy is ready for GO! (His favourite aunty Jo arrives in two more sleeps and our Christmas begins!)

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And I have my Christmas hair on

Pink Hair Dec 15

[I’m transitioning people, from coloured hair to cheveux au-naturale – the time has come – as the Walrus once so famously said.  And why not have a little fun along the way?]

This is my last post for the year, thanks for being with me through this fabulous and eventful twelve months.  Thanks for your encouragement and support and friendship.  And thank you for coming by again today, I love that you did!

 

 

 

When The Earth Quakes!

I am a Wellingtonian, although not currently living in my home city, my Eldest Daughter does.  The city – and much of the North Island have been rocked by quakes this afternoon.  There were 29 in the space of 75 minutes, six of them classed as ‘severe’.

From the moment I found out about this substantial event I have been light headed and slightly woozy.  This is an unusual reaction for me, but it is the way I once reacted to the most severe quake I was ever in when I saw the concrete floor beneath my feet crack open and, in the shock, lost about an hour of time….. I was sixteen then, and though much time has passed by, the fear remains.

A children’s verse that I am very familiar with begins with the words ‘The earth is firm beneath my feet,’  When the earth beneath our feet becomes unstable I think we lose our most primal sense of security.   When all else fails us, we know the earth will still uphold us.

In the last two years we have had the tragedy of the Christchurch ‘quakes, when a beautiful city, [another place I once lived] was brought to its knees.  That city is built mostly on a large flat plain.  Wellington is a harbour city, surrounded by hills.  there is only one main arterial route in and out and right now the city is in chaos – not because buildings have fallen, but because, due to the number and severity of the quakes, the public transport system has been closed down.  For all we know my daughter’s partner may well be trapped on a road, in a traffic jam, beneath a hill or beside the ocean [or both] inching forward as the exodus of the city takes place.

I have just checked Geonet again and there have been another 30 quakes in the past hour and fifteen minutes – including a cluster of seven strong quakes with one ‘severe’ in the middle of them.   They began sometime after 2pm today and now as I write this it is 6pm, Friday 16th August, and my child and many of my friends are in danger.

The concern is that the continuous shaking weakens structures to the point that a light or mild shake will bring buildings and hillsides tumbling down.  I have never known so many, so close and so strong in my life time.

The Earth is changing, she is vulnerable and there are people who still want to continue raping her.  I have a bee in my bonnet about fracking – there are people here who are hell bent on continuing this practise despite the fact that there is proof it contributes to earth quakes.  In a country built on a fault line why in God’s name is it even considered?   I don’t understand the mentality that places instant wealth for a few ahead of the lives of millions of people and the life of our planet.

I am just venting and writing and praying that my family and friends are kept safe while the earth convulses.  That’s all.

Quick Cards

Finally, I’m back with a little something to share….. I’ve been busy working on several projects and none of them finished 😦 but here are three quick cards from an idea I played around with a couple of days ago, but first a quick update.

Living in New Zealand we are very used to earthquakes – the country straddles a giant fault line and the recent events in Christchurch have revealed a new fault line, which may be moving north, and the reason that the latest events have occurred.

My hometown of Wellington, the capital city, has been shaken with earthquakes over the past few days, my eldest daughter lives there and is coping with the endless rocking and rolling, books tumbling off her bookshelves – and she is a book-aholic with bookshelves in just about every room…… Work takes both ED and her partner into the central city with it’s high rises which is always a concern when the earth decides to move!

Needing a bit of a stress relief, it was time to do something relatively mindless……..

I made an oval template and filled in the colour with distress inks, stamped, then coloured – colouring in for grown ups, it is so relaxing!  Then I added the greeting and finally matted and mounted.  All done in less than an hour.

Quick Card 1 July 13

Quick Card 2 July 13

Quick Card 3 July 13

Thanks for dropping by, hope all goes well for you!

Seafood Platter at Carey’s Bay Hotel

I had a little nearly mid-winter treat last night – YD and her friend, tLK and I went out to dinner at a beautiful and historic old pub about 15 minutes from town in a little bay just past the big industrial wharf of Port Chalmers.  YD had somehow scored herself – and us – a free bottle of Riverstone Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the meal.

None of us had been there for years – the last time I went was to have lunch with a couple of friends in the garden of the pub.  The food was okay and the service slow, but seated at the next table over were Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth and we spent the entire lunch admiring and eaves-dropping and wishing she would just up and sing……….. but as it was only us and them, that never happened.

Since then the pub has undergone a transformation – the garden is now covered in and heated by huge gas heaters and you can dine in it even in the middle of winter.  The service is a million times better and the food has upped its game a gizillion fold since Cleo and Johnny sat in the garden with their fried cheese sandwiches and bottle of best  NZ Pinot Noir – I told you we eaves-dropped!

The reason we were heading for Carey’s Bay was the seafood.  The pub is famous for it. But, like I said, none of us had actually been there for a long time. There had been a lot of discussion prior to the event on whether the fish platter was  an actual platter or a basket – YD being set on having the platter – so it was relief all round when she announced during the drive that it was indeed a platter as she had checked on line.

YD has an absolute fetish about fish platters.  I think she has tried most of the platters available in restaurants both locally and nationally – and even in parts of England and Australia.  She likes New Zealand fish the most and locally caught fish best of all.

YD likes fish.  She especially likes fish platters.  Fish baskets, not so much.

Personally, I didn’t care nearly so much, it was just such a treat to go to this lovely old pub with these two lovelies and have a good meal and share a [free] bottle of wine.

We arrived and parked in front of the hotel, right on the waters edge.  The night was calm and almost mild.  The lights twinkled beguilingly on the water and the waves lapped at the moorings of the fishing boats.  The stone pub stood stolidly on its ground, through the lit windows fires sparked and patrons sat in groups talking quietly over their drinks or meals.

Two elderly ladies sat by themselves in the smallest bar, at a small table right in front of a roaring open fire.  A large, heavy silver teapot sat on the table between them as they talked earnestly together.  They were still there when we left……….

We took our seats in the enclosed garden restaurant close to a roaring gas heater and entered into a complex discussion on whether to have the fish platter or some other offering.

Eventually it was decided that we would indulge in a small shared entree, a selection of delicacies available as mains.  In this way, other tastes might be sampled and the fish platter still be loyally adhered to.

When the entree arrived it looked to be enough to feed us all adequately with no need for anything else.  But we had already ordered our main courses……….

The selection was delicious and we took our time over it, sipping on our wine and swapping stories of our doings since last we had all met.

Eventually the main courses were carried out.  I say carried, but really the server needed a horse and cart to get it to us and we needed a much larger table to accommodate it!

There were gasps all round and cries of both wonder and horror conjoined – tLK and I shared many theories on how YD would manage her platter  – and even YD, it must be said, looked somewhat stunned for a few moments.

Careys Bay 1 June 13

This is the platter!

Careys Bay 2 June 13

In the background is tLK’s seafood broth and the Contented Crafter’s fish of the day and salad with a bowl of fries on the side.  The rest all belongs to YD.

YD pretty much ate all of it!

YD is 5’9′ tall and 140ibs.

It’s really not fair…………

If you  are in this neck of the woods, take a trip out to Port and on to Carey’s Bay Pub.  You won’t be sorry – but share the fish platter with someone you love.

I like Blogging!

I’ve decided I’m liking this blogging thing! And not in any way for the reasons I thought I might when I started ……………….. I started the blog purely to keep a record of the stuff coming out of my play room before it was given away or segued into something other.

Within days it had changed, featuring a post about my drug addicted companion animal Orlando, to the new found pleasure of returning to my long lost ‘old way’ of preparing and eating foods that nurture my health [and are also pleasurably tasty!]  A post about an encounter in the supermarket was my most popular, probably due to its unbecoming title! Then I again remembered my original intention to post pages of work in my art journal – which saw my brief popularity die away at a rate of knots!

Throughout all these weeks however I too have been drifting quietly about in the blogging ether – not just on WordPress either – , quietly popping in to peek into someones thoughts or art work or music or just visiting a while – you may have missed me sitting quietly in a corner of your blog, listening intently to what you have to say, but not yet ready to clear my voice and proffer my thoughts – or I may have just floated on past and not chosen to stay for some reason.

I’ve found myself to be choosy about whom I follow – I’m looking for bloggers who make me chuckle or giggle, or who make me sway to their music or want to join in with their song. I’m looking for inspiration and elevation and aspiration and yes, sometimes even information. What I’m not looking for are the moaners and groaners and wingers and whiners – no – if you don’t like it, do something about it, don’t just sit at your key board and harangue us all. These are the blogs I didn’t visit for long.

And now I’m getting towards my point – I’ve found some interesting folk in far-flung parts of the world – well from me anyway, who lives in one of the furthest flung places known to man ……… where everything is upside down and round the wrong way from the rest of the world – Easter in Autumn, Christmas at Mid- Summer and Mid-Winter in June! In a land where there are no indigenous animals only birds – and many of them now extinct because they were birds who had forgotten how to fly. The rest are pretty much invisible to us as they come out only at night and have to live on protected islands off the main islands due to the amount of introduced feral animals who like to eat our peculiar 2-footed creatures!

A land which many of you who live in far-flung places say is part of Australia – a statement which makes my countrymen and women rear up in horror! [Once I was on an aeroplane somewhere over Europe, and a sweet American man on hearing my nationality asked me if I knew his cousin who lived and worked in Sydney].

So, from my little corner of the world I visit with lovely people who live in exotic or pedestrian places and who write about their lives and their passions and who allow me to pop in for a bit and be touched in some way. My latest discovery is a writer in Jamaica, I also follow a number of artists and crafters liberally scattered across the globe, a gal somewhere in America’s south who keeps me up with country music and related info and a couple of musicians who entertain me with vastly different sounds. An adventurer with a soul and a mountaineer I used to work with. I follow health blogs, music blogs and craft blogs.  I follow blogs about books and blogs by writers, I follow a song writer who doesn’t blog much and I follow a blog about a dog who says a lot. I say little in most of them, just enjoying the range of expression the world has on offer and also the similarity between us all, no matter the age, the culture, the personal interest or the education level.

I am inspired and feel myself once again to be an adventurer in the world. This is perhaps the main reason why I shall now keep blogging. Who knew!!

Thanks for stopping by, and have an enjoyable and well-read day!

Easel Card Christmas 2012

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Easel Card Christmas 2012

I know its a bit late – or a bit early – but I just started a board on pinterest called ‘Christmas in New Zealand’ and loaded this photo of a card I made last December onto it.

I’m on a mission to encourage the true seasonal flavour of our Christmas time – no more cotton wool snowmen, robins on snow bent branches and happy families around the fire – I don’t want to be in stores any more that are sprinkled with fake snow and playing that ‘Sleigh Bells Ring’ song and others like it. We should be writing and listening to our own Christmas songs, about warm sun and blue skies and sharing picnics with our families and friends. We must really find and celebrate our own traditions now……………..

But enough of that rant – I’ll find more stuff to load both here and on pinterest and I’ll come back to these thoughts later on.