Hairy Maclary and friends.

Dame Lynley Dodd  is quite a hero to New Zealanders and I suspect to children and grown-ups everywhere who have had the incredible pleasure of reading her Hairy Maclary books.

Recently in Tauranga an outdoor exhibition opened of sculptures of some of her most beloved characters. I went to see them and fell in instant love. I can’t wait to go back once the grass has grown and they take away the barriers. While I was there it was with delight I watched toddlers and children squeal with pleasure and caress and cuddle these beautiful works of art. I noticed a few Mums & Dads give them a quick pat while the kids were busy.

If you want to learn more about the sculptures click here.

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These are some of the images I took when I visited. I hope to go back at night when the sculptures are lit up and take some more. For now…I hope you enjoy them, and if you don’t know the stories you might be persuaded to click on the links and discover their delights. With a little luck you might get one of the books to read to your children or grandchildren. I promise you will never be sorry you did.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy.
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy.
Hercules Morse as big as a horse with pittery pattery Zachary Quack.
Hercules Morse as big as a horse with pittery pattery Zachary Quack.
Bottomley Potts covered in spots.
Bottomley Potts covered in spots.
Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay.
Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay.
Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony.
Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony.
Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum.
Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum.
Scarface Claw the toughest tom in town.
Scarface Claw the toughest tom in town.
Scarface is not to be trifled with guys !
Scarface is not to be trifled with guys !
Hairy, Bitzer, Hercules & Zachery.
Hairy, Bitzer, Hercules & Zachery.
Slinky Malinki was blacker than black.
Slinky Malinki was blacker than black.

Of course if you are ever in Tauranga…you must pay these guys a visit !!!!

Wordless Wednesday

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Family isn’t about blood.

I have known this statement to be true for a while. Last night it was proven to me again. In a movie of all things. And perhaps in a movie where you would least expect it.

Through my two children I was introduced to the Fast & Furious movie franchise. I never expected to love these films…but I did.  These movies are what you would expect…in a way. They have fast cars, crime, shoot outs, but they also have family and family values.

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I looked forward to each and every new release…only once did I have a moment of…oh dear…really.

So it was with sadness that I heard the news that one of the stars of these movies died. Paul Walker died too young.

Furious-7

For a time I wondered if I would watch this last movie of the franchise with him in it, because it was only possible to be released with two of his brothers standing in for certain scenes.

I am so glad I finally did see it. Even if it broke my heart watching the ending. Knowing that those scenes had been filmed with the intention of saying goodbye from his cast members.

Vin Diesel may not be everyone’s cup of tea…but his tribute in the last scene…well it reminded me that family is those that live in our hearts and not just our veins.

I know this to be true because I have family that in no way are related by blood. They are related by heart, because I love them as dearly as it is possible. Just as I love some family by blood as well. So I know what Vin Diesel means when he says…”I used to say I lived my life a quarter mile at a time, I think that’s why we were brothers, because you did too. No matter where you are, whether it is a quarter mile away or half way across the world, you’ll always be with me.”

I swear…the stunts are fantastic…I held my breath with the car and three buildings one. I really did. Please…please watch this wonderful movie. You will not regret it.

Saying goodbye.

Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita's [next to her] wedding day.
Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita’s[next to her] wedding day.
I don’t have many memories before I was eight that did not have my Auntie Ed [short for Edna] in them. Auntie Ed was tiny. Seriously tiny. She was also a force of nature. Not someone you fooled around with. Auntie Ed had a way of looking at you that made your bones rattle when you had done something you knew was wrong. She [as we Aussies like to say] called a spade a spade.

Auntie Ed was the youngest of my father’s siblings. She had one other sister and four brothers. Though I actually lived with my other aunt, every holiday was spent at the home of my grandparents, where Auntie Ed lived. As well as holding down a job, Auntie Ed cared for my grandparents. My grandmother was blind and my grandfather had taken to his bed when retired, so her plate was full.

She never had her own children, as she married late in life. I always found that such a shame. Auntie Ed would have made one hell of a mother.

She loved golf. She was a wizz at gardening. I think the tomato plants were so scared of her biting wit they wouldn’t dare not flourish. As for her peas. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t turn green from eating them. Each day we’d pick a bowl and it would be my job to shell them. Luckily we always picked way more than needed so I ate my fill as I shelled away.

Earlier this year as I picked peas in my own garden I was transported back to that time.

At the back of my grandparents’ house was a neighbour’s mulberry tree. To this day the smell of them sends me in to a tizzy of ecstatic delight. Auntie Ed had little sympathy the day I raided the tree and ate myself sick on mulberries that were still too green. I think she was actually secretly giggling at my discomfit. I learned a lesson that day…or maybe two. Never steal from the neighbours, and when you do make sure the fruit is ripe.

It has taken me years of practise to try to achieve a reasonable level of competency with baking. But I will never reach Auntie Ed’s standard. I can remember standing in the tiny kitchen as she threw ingredients together for her always perfect scones. I don’t remember her ever measuring anything…not ever…yet time after time they came out of the oven…perfect.

Christmas was a special time at the house in Campsie. Auntie Ed made her Christmas cake and the one thing I craved more than her peas…her Christmas pudding. As she sliced it open and served it with a piping hot homemade custard…the only thing that could make it better was knowing that somewhere inside I would find a shining silver sixpence.

Auntie Ed collected spoons. As I do. I am the proud possessor of some of her collection.

In 2007 The Daughter and I went to Sydney to visit with her. I am so glad she got the chance to meet my daughter, and profoundly saddened she never met my son. We stayed with Auntie Ed and I’d like to tell you about something she did…or rather said…that might help you to know this tiny powerhouse of a woman.

The Daughter and I were sharing a room. Sadly [like my father] I snore. This is not a little snurk now and the, rather like a train, an endless train right next to your ear. So at some point during the first night The Daughter grabbed her bedding and moved to the lounge. In the morning when Auntie Ed got up she she smiled at the Daughter. Then commiserated with her about how she had heard me too…all the way in her room.

This morning…my cousin rang me to tell me that Auntie Ed, at the grand age of 99, had passed away. While I understand when people say what a life she had, and yes she sure did…I am sad. So sad. You see, there are actually some people this world is better off because they are in it. My Auntie Ed was one of them. Today the world became a lessor place. It lost one of its best and brightest stars. I lost the greatest aunt a girl could wish for.

My cousin shared with me a couple of things, these things…they make me smile…because I know that there were people who were with her that loved her right until the end. Auntie Ed had been in a home in Australia. When he got the call that she was failing he spent the day with her. One nurse came in to Auntie Ed’s room. She asked him if she could give ‘Auntie Ed’ a kiss. You see they all knew her as I did…she was Auntie Ed…and they loved her.

So…a life well lived. A person well loved. A woman who gave me so much more than just a love of spoons. For all this I am grateful. I just wish Auntie Ed could have lived forever.

Pets, Friends, Fresh Fruit & Preserving

Although we are heading in to winter here in New Zealand there is still loads of fruit around. Kiwifruit season has started.

Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don't think it is 'real' kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.
Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don’t think it is ‘real’ kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.

At the moment I have a couple staying with me from China who are on a year long trip around New Zealand. Sophie & Bob are very sweet and I am really enjoying the cultural exchanges that happen when you have people from another country staying with you.

Bob & Sophie checking out the local 'old' car show.
Bob & Sophie checking out the local ‘old’ car show.

The fur babies are a hit. They are loving all the attention they are getting from two extra people. Which is good news as a few of them have had incidences in the recent past. Charlie in particular has been propping up the vet’s bank account though Jackie has done her fair share to keep up.

Jackie in her 'happy' place.
Jackie in her ‘happy’ place.

Recently she took to hiding under my bed. Warning signals flashed when she began to refuse to come out for two days. When we visited the vet it turned out three of her teeth were infected. I felt like the worst fur baby mama ever. The vet was a little shocked as only a few months ago she had her regular check up and though there was some tartar it was not enough to worry about. Apparently that can change quickly. We had to have the teeth taken out and for a week or more I had one very unhappy pussy cat. Sophie & Bob were sure I only had the one cat, as she was not at all social. Though under the bed still seems to be her ‘happy’ place, at least these days she is back to eating normal food and seems quite happy to venture out again. Now the baby of the family [Charlie] thinks he needs to make sure that other cats in the area know he is man. When the neighbours recently had family staying which also added three new cats to the mix, things got a little hairy. A trip to the vets was in order when he came home barely able to walk. The pads on his feet were in a terrible state and he had had a knock around his shoulder as well as scratches to his neck. We are still unsure what happened but either he tried to take on the whole neighbourhood’s cat population or possible a dog got hold of him. Seems that wasn’t enough of a deterrent. Last Friday evening he again came home in a sorry state. Does anyone else notice pets seem to get in to strife when the vets are closed ????? Great gouges out of his eyelid and nose, as well as one very sore left shoulder area. He was lucky though that the claw that did the damage missed his eyeball. I was lucky [financially] that the tear in his lid does not require surgery to stop it irritating the eye in future. Today is the first day he has been allowed outside since the incident. We have had to listen to a rather loud ongoing vocal disapproval of being confined indoors. I wondered if he was going to fly this morning when I opened the door for him, he took off so fast his feet seemed airborne.

The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.
The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.

As for Chevvy…luckily for me she is behaving at the moment. Though a wee while ago she also got in to a scrap which saw her eye and paws in a sorry state. I am thinking of arranging an extra mortgage just to keep up with the vets bills. We have managed to fix the fence problem. For a small dog she sure can scale things, but these days she no longer escapes the minute my back is turned. She does enjoy a good bone on the lawn as a reward.

The bone is almost as big as the dog.
The bone is almost as big as the dog.

I have taken to soothing my nerves with cooking. I recently raided a few friends’ gardens and came home with bags full of bounty. From one friend I came home with enough Red Cherry Guavas to make 13 jars of guava jelly.

Red Cherry Guavas
Red Cherry Guavas

This is the cookbook I got the recipe from…isn’t it beautiful ??

Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.
Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.

This was my second attempt at the jelly and I am thrilled with the results. This recipe makes it hard to go wrong…I did add a little extra pectin. I also had to look up how many cups a quart is. 2015-04-21 10.37.39I have become a bit of an addict when it comes to guava jelly.

Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.
Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.

From another friend I scored two bags of feijoas and some Chilean Guavas.

Chilean Guavas...tiny yes but sooo delicious.
Chilean Guavas…tiny yes but sooo delicious.

By crikey, I think my love affair with guavas has become a permanent relationship. I might try my hand at feijoa jam next. I will keep you updated.

Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.
Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.

Although I have been advised that feijoa chutney is pretty good too. My next stop saw me bag a whole lot of apples. They reminded me of growing up. These days in the supermarket the only fruit you see is shiny and there is never a mark to be seen. Of course this all comes about because of pesticide use. Growing up, fruit was never perfect, but it was still delicious and pesticide free. Those apples took me back to a time when you either cut out the bad bits…or you just ate them anyway.

Pesticide free apples.
Pesticide free apples.

I picked what may well be the last of the chillies from my garden yesterday.

There is something so tempting about red food.
There is something so tempting about red food.

Later today I am attempting to make Chilli & Apple Jelly. This could be interesting. I have already a jar of chilli sauce fermenting in my pantry. Yes I did say fermenting. I am in to fermenting these days. Even made a batch of Zuurkool the other day.

Zuurkool ready to eat.
Zuurkool ready to eat.

That is the Dutch name for Sauerkraut. I haven’t made it in years and feel that perhaps I added too much salt. But we live and we learn, and after a good rinse it was very yummy. To finish off what was a rather long winding post I thought I would leave you with a video of Chevvy…doing what Chevvy does best…being cute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2RJZYvlwmQ

Wordless Wednesday

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Love & violence.

I was…and am I huge fan of Sons of Anarchy. I  watched the first episode and was hooked right though to the end.

It was a violent TV show. There is no getting away from that. With all the love stories, all the camaraderie…there it was…violence.

It made me wonder. What made me keep watching? Yes the scripts were incredible. The characters mind blowing. The performances…at times there were no words for how good the acting was, but these were violent people living violent lives. So what was it that drew me to this series?

I think I have figured it out.

They did at times what deep, deep inside I wanted to do. We all want to be good. We all to be humane. We all want to take the high road…most of the time.

But there are times when we want to take the other road. We think don’t do it. But…oh my God how we want to. We want to inflect pain. We want to take our pain out on others. We want them to know…what they have done to us.

This violence lies in each of us. Some are just better at controlling it. Thankfully.

But there is always [I think] a moment where we would love to let loose without consequence.

So programmes like this…they let us let go with emotion, they let us revel a little in taking revenge.

It shocks me at times the violence I feel. Have always felt. Have always kept inside. Have never acted on.  But it is there…inside.

There was one character I identified with. Gemma. Gemma was a bitch. But she was I who I wanted to be at times. When a boy broke my daughter’s heart or a friend caused my son to lose confidence I wanted to commit violence. I never did. Because that is not who I am. But I wanted to take them apart…piece by tiny piece. I know there is a blackbird perched outside my window often.

Gemma came to a sad end because she did what we do not do. She lost what it was to love, really love and except the consequences, which is what we do. That said…I still understand the violence of her feelings about protecting those she loved.

Katey  Sagal says how I feel how I never could…

Adventures

We have a bit of a storm due here later in New Zealand’s North Island. It looks like it will brush on down the coast, so hopefully it won’t cause to much havoc.

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It should just be a case of a whole lot of rain and some winds here in Katikati if Cyclone Pam keeps to her projected path, but being a cautious lass I have brought the outdoor furniture inside that is light enough to get thrown around. I did the shopping so I won’t need to go out in the car.

At present all is quite still and calm here. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too bad. Mainly I worry for those closer to the storm on the eastern coastline. After seeing the devastation Pam caused in Vanuatu I hope that they won’t have to face anything like that.

But…on to another adventure.

Wet-suited up and ready to go !!!
Wet-suited up and ready to go !!!

Last Wednesday I ticked off something from my bucket list, thanks to my darling son and his partner who gave me this wonderful gift for Christmas and my last birthday.

This yellow boat is the stuff dreams are made of...
This yellow boat is the stuff dreams are made of…

I have wanted to do this forever…and not one second of the day disappointed. I went swimming with dolphins.

How amazing are they ???
How amazing are they ???

Oh yes I did. And it was magical. It was peaceful. It was the trip of a lifetime. It will always stay with me how I felt in the water with dolphins swimming beside me, under me…looking at me as if they knew something important. Perhaps they do…for their joy is so infectious. I came home with a sense of peace that I still feel.

Now I want to share some of that with you.

IMG_5404 IMG_5380 IMG_5342 IMG_5300IMG_5287It wasn’t just dolphins we saw either…this guy was so chilled out…

IMG_5485 IMG_5466 IMG_5498And then there was the striped marlin which I learned lights up with a brilliant blue when they hunt to warn other marlin to keep away…

IMG_5556He was hunting around this bait ball…

IMG_5570The sharks we saw were too quick for me and my camera but we had fun on board as well. These guys gave me fishing instructions [which I was way too polite to tell them I didn’t really need].

DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPROAnd look what I caught…and said thank you for all the help.

DCIM100GOPROSo it was a thumbs up all around.

DCIM100GOPROLunch was…well fresh fish of course.

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Mark making ready some fresh caught tuna.
Dora playing chef.
Dora playing chef.

Made all the more enjoyable with the great company of friends.

My mate Celia with Dora.
My mate Celia with Dora.

The visit to Mayor Island was a treat in itself.IMG_5218For there we got to meet Parry the parrot fish…who fed from my hand eating Kina. Dora [who works on the boat] has made him her personal friend.

Pretty cool !! I got to feed Parry myself. Yippee.

If you are in NZ and want to do this then I highly recommend Orca Wild Adventures.

Wordless Wednesday

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Time for some smiling…

1.

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time.

The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband’s occupation. “He’s a funeral director,” she answered. “Interesting,” the newsman thought. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.

After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20′s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40′s, and a preacher when in her 60′s, and now – in her 80′s – a funeral director The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

(Wait for it…)

She smiled and explained: “I married

One for the money,

Two for the show,

Three to get ready,

And four to go!”

2.

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet
pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has   passed away.” The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?”   “Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything.
He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!”

The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $150.”

3. Now meet the dog who apparently loves the water, can swim but chooses not to…

 

Wordless Wednesday

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When all hope seems lost…

My heart is sore. I never thought I would feel so saddened by a country. I never thought I would feel so disillusioned with the people of New Zealand. I never thought I would ache with sorrow for the way New Zealand has become a country of people who worry more about their pockets than the future generations to come.

Last night I had decided to stay away from the news, but inadvertently [well maybe not] found myself seeing New Zealand sink in to the mire. The people of this once great country voted for another term of corruption, another term of money and profits for the big corporations above the health and welfare of this land, its people…its very heart.

To those of you considering immigrating to New Zealand I say this.

This land called Aotearoa is dying. We are not clean and we are not green. We do not look after our weak and vulnerable.

Our waterways are so polluted children can no longer swim in many of them. You see keeping the commercial farmers happy is so very important. We must allow them to run our rivers dry for their irrigation. We must allow their cattle effluent to drain in to our rivers and choke the life out of them.

We do not value our fauna. Commercial fishing interests are far more valuable to our government than our Maui dolphins, whose numbers sit now at 55. I imagine that in my lifetime this beautiful creature will become extinct while commercial fishing continues to practise methods that fill their boats but rape our oceans. Commercial fishing interests are also more important than the every day kiwis whose fishing quota has been reduced, who must also catch fish much larger than the commercial interests.

We allow commercial interests to plunder our wetlands to sell swamp kauri to other nations. Just ask Judith Collins whose husband’s company does just that. After all…as she said…she doesn’t care about wetlands.

While we are at it…do not try to protest against the government. They will simply pass laws to shut you up. Then they will run off in secret and meet with oil and mining companies to work out deals to mine in national parks or drill so deep in the sea that should a spill happen it will make the Gulf spill look like a minor mishap.

We allow over 250,000 children to exist below the poverty line. That’s a lot in a country of just over 4,000,000. Many go without breakfast, or lunch. Many live in cold damp houses that make them sick. But our government minister who oversees this portfolio says it is all not true. Those kids who rely on the charities that provide breakfast in some of the more vulnerable areas…why they are just lying when they said they didn’t have breakfast at home. And anyway…according to the same minister…it is not the government’s job to feed the poor children of New Zealand. It is their parents, who generally are either on drugs or spend all their money on booze and cigarettes. They are only poor because they make the choice to be.

So – if you want to come to a country that has sold its soul to America…by all means apply to immigrate to New Zealand.

The following belief system is a prerequisite for coming here and living a happy life these days:

  1. You must believe that corporations should be able to tell the government how to run a country. They know best and need to be able to keep governments in line with their ideology.
  2. You must believe that corporate profits are more important than the environment. Big business need to be able to protect those profits by any means available. For instance the TPPA will provide profits for decades to come. Either big business gets its way or it can sue the crap out of the government and those pesky tree-huggers if they interfere with the money-making capabilities or profits. It is the only fair way.
  3. You must believe that corporate profits are more important than the needs of the people. They are just tree-huggers or bludgers after all. It is the only way to stop them breeding. It is not right that governments or big business should have to ensure that the little blighters they birth should be kept fed, educated or God forbid come to expect that they might have a right to grow up and have a say in how their country is run. No…make it harder for them then there will be less of them around in the future to start demanding rights. Rights !! I say !! That is just silly.
  4. You must believe that politicians know what is best for a country. Remember they have the big corporations behind them advising them at all times on what is best.
  5. You must believe that the people who disagree with the government are all ignorant, tree-hugging bludging fools who should just shut up and mind their own business.
  6. You must believe that anyone who needs a helping hand at any time from the government is a bludger and should be made to feel like one at all times. Our best way of dealing with them is not to help them re-educate themselves. No, no, no. Ship them off to another country and let them deal with them.
  7. You must believe that American interests should always come before New Zealand’s interests. After all America is the greatest power on Earth. Look how much money they spend on beating other countries in to submission so that they do what America tells them to do. And how else would any Prime Minister from New Zealand get to play golf with the likes of Barak Obama, or have a holiday house in Hawaii ???
  8. You must believe that sarcasm and behaving like a childish fool is a good look for a Prime Minister, as is name calling.
  9. You must believe that rising power prices are great for everyone, especially the elderly or the infirm or the poor…and shutting their power off because of unpaid bills is nobody’s fault but their own.
  10. You must believe that insurance companies are operating fully within their rights with the people of Christchurch. Those that still live in damp, overcrowded garages four years later are just whiners. What do they expect actually, that insurance companies should actually pay up so that they can rebuild their lives ? And just because they are making record profits does not mean they are being unreasonable is raising premiums.
  11. You must believe that although New Zealand is a farming nation it is fine that basic foods are more expensive here than most places in the world.
  12. You must also believe that no politician should ever have to keep any promise he or she made during election time…ever. After all, their memories are a bit wonky, they can’t remember, let alone put in to action everything they said to get your vote. That would not be reasonable now would it ?
  13. You must believe that any politician has the God given right to lie at any time, and say that he can’t remember.
  14. You must believe that it is just foolish to believe that you should be able to own your own house any more. Do not be so silly. Unless you live overseas. Then it is fine.
  15. You must believe that people who invest in real estate should NEVER, and I mean never have to be made to pay one cent of their profits [especially if they own tens or hundreds of houses] in tax. Come on now…that would be silly.
  16. You must believe that earning a liveable minimum wage is another idea those tree-hugging bludgers came up with and is just not workable. It will most definitely send millions of workers to the unemployment line.
  17. You must believe that the more money you earn the less tax you should pay. Once you reach the top…well why pay any at all ? Hell we should be paying you for granting us the pleasure of you company.
  18. You must believe that being sick is just not a good look in this country. So don’t bother us with it. If you do we will think about sticking you on a waiting list for treatment. If you are lucky that is. After all we didn’t make the criteria for getting on waiting lists for treatment when you are sick so difficult for nothing fella. So unless you are dying, well maybe even then, do not expect help from the health system. That is not what we are here for ! As for getting drugs. Ha !! You should be so lucky. We will of course provide the ones the drug companies tell us to, at a price of course. Now just because they are not as good as the other drugs at fixing your problems is no reason to complain. The drug companies need to make a profit remember, so selling us the cheap stuff that is less effective makes perfect sense. We will of course need to make a profit too, so upping the cost of supplying it goes without saying.
  19. You must believe that mainstream media should tow the line at all times. They should never tell the people the truth, because we all know they can’t handle the truth. But keeping the big corporations that own the media happy is the way of the future. Bribe them with tax concessions and they will tell the general populace whatever you want, which is a good thing. This way you can make up stories and everyone will believe them. They will all think you are telling the truth when you say you give your salary to charity, even if you didn’t technically say that at all.
  20. You must believe that convincing the general public that there is a terrorist hiding under every bed is a good thing. This will allow you to pass laws that let other countries such as America, and if you are sneaky enough even your own spy agencies to reach in to their homes and gather information that you can them store and share with anyone you want to when it suits you.
  21. You must believe that no person should ever think that getting an education should do anything but bury them under a mound of debt. It is much better to give millions to charter schools than make sure that state schools are funded in a way that provides better teachers, smaller class sizes and healthier learning environments. That is not necessary. After all…those of us with money can send the kids to private schools. Why educate the masses…that might lead to trouble in the future as they might do the unthinkable and learn to think for themselves. By burying them under debt they are just too tired and worn down to cause government and big business any trouble in the future. This we call forward thinking.
  22. You must believe that selling of a nation’s assets is a good thing. After all what idiot thinks that keeping those profits in the nation’s coffers is sensible. No !! Much better if rich people and overseas corporations get them. Spreading the wealth around in the country itself is such a silly idea. As is keeping costs down. Profit is what it is all about. Profit above people every time.

Now if you agree with all of the above…then Maybe New Zealand as it is at the moment is the place for you.

Personally, well last night I told The Daughter to stay away. I never thought I would say that to my child. To The Son…I will say hurry up and leave. Go find a country that cares about its people, its environment, its future. Go find a better place. Because this country is headed down a path that will make it a terrible place for future generations.

As for me…well I will stay. I will hope that in the future this country will remember what made it so great in the first place. There are people here who want change. Who want New Zealand to be clean, green and caring again. Just not enough to make it so at the moment.

Outlander

Let’s get this out there first.

I love The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I have from the first moment I read the first book Cross-Stitch. I still have that book. It has been read so many times that pages are falling out of it, but I will never part with it. As I sit here writing this I can see it in its place of pride on my bookshelf.

Each wait for the following book seemed endless. Oh but the wait was always worth it. There are so many things that weave a magical spell as you read these books.

  1. The incredible attention to even the smallest detail. Diana Gabaldon really does her research. These details build a finely crafted foundation that at moments further in to the stories reveal their relevance.
  2. The way the worlds are constructed is a beautiful thing. In books where the story takes place in our world I find it so often happens that I am left wandering around lost. Not so in this series. I can close my eyes and walk the same paths as the characters, so clearly can I imagine these places because of the exquisite crafting of words. You know that feeling ? When you are caught up in a scene and you can smell the greenery or the stench of a backstreet littered with rubbish. When that moment happens in a book…I know that this writer would have me by the balls if I were male.
  3. The main characters. Oh the main characters. There is not a woman alive who has read this series who is not forever comparing other men to Jamie Fraser. You see we know Jamie. We can see the way his red hair clings to his neck when he sweats. We know each indentation of the scars on his back. We feel his heart when looks at Claire. In any great love story where the male lead is so powerful, so enticing and just so attractive to the readers there is the possibility that the female lead character might experience a little jealousy from readers. So here is where the magic starts. We want Jamie to have Claire. We tiny wee jealous female readers really do. We know that Claire is what makes Jamie so damned wonderful. His love for her is such an important dimension of this story. Claire…Sassenach…nurse…time traveller…can drink like a fish it seems…has a foul mouth when needed…stubborn, glass faced, curly haired Claire. I could turn lesbian for a woman like Claire. Well, were it not for Jamie. I figure that if you have not read these books right about now you are thinking it might be time to find a copy.
  4. The other characters. So many, that you want to bow low before Diana Gabaldon for just keeping their stories straight. With eight books so far it is incredible that she does. More incredible [yes] is that she has you loving and hating and believing in every single damn one of them. Black Jack Randall is the most layered, complicated villain I have encountered yet. Black Jack is pivotal to the stories. His relationship with Jamie has made me weep countless tears. Claire’s relationship with Black Jack and his descendant Frank is so complicated that it could have been a joke. It’s not. It is woven so intricately that the emotional journey it takes Claire on in dealing with her feelings about these two men is wonderful reading. We must mention The MacKenzie brothers, Laoghaire, Murtagh, Gellis Duncan, who are just a few from the first book. Each character put together believably with every action they take. Although not in the first books I have to mention Ian Murray. Jamie’s nephew and one of the best characters to live in this series. If you only read the series to find out about Ian you will not be disappointed.

Okay…so enough about the books. You get it !!!! I love the books. I think you either love the books…or need to start reading them asap.

I have watched with trepidation the build up to the television series ‘Outlander” with good reason. Would they get the casting right ? Would they tell the story right ? Too many times I have seen it go sooooooo wrong.

What if I didn’t feel the magic of Jamie or the magic of Jamie and Claire ? How could they ever find someone to play Black Jack Randall/Frank Randall and do it believably ?

Well…I put my fears aside. I am by nature a curious individual. I watched episode 1. Then I watched episode 2, 3, 4, 5 and finally 6. With each episode I became lighter and happier because they got the casting right. They tell the story right. I felt the magic that is Jamie. I felt the magic that is Jamie and Claire building. As for Black Jack Randall/ Frank Randall…Tobias Menzies has taken Black Jack and Frank and turned his portrayal of both these characters in to a masterpiece of acting.

Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander is so far my favourite episode. That is quite likely to change next week considering it is The Wedding. With all the action that takes place in previous episodes, The Garrison Commander seems quite tame. There is no fighting, no carousing, no romps through Scotland, no raids. But there is action…yes there is. When Claire and Black Jack meet for the second time in the series you are on the edge of your seat. Sorry for the cliché but you are.

What I loved with the series is that when they take a detour from the books [as they must at times], is you don’t scream in frustration. Tobias Menzies. I just have to say that name again because he was so incredible in episode 6. You know the old adage about the spider and the fly…I was mesmerised as Black Jack talked about flogging Jamie to Claire. I felt sick in my stomach as he described the beauty he saw while stripping the flesh from Jamie’s back. Watching Jamie chained, bleeding and stubbornly keeping his grace was difficult but Sam Heughan did a wonderful job with that scene. In the books we see the story from Claire’s point of view. Taking another direction and giving Black Jack free rein to let us in on his encounter with Jamie was very clever. Tobias Menzies scared the crap out of me. I have a feeling he will keep doing that as the series progresses.

Caitriona Balfe did a great job during this scene. You could feel her being drawn to Black Jack as he played with her. I wanted to scream; “No Claire…he’s not Frank.” And the violence of the moment Black Jack shows who he really is…mesmerising television.

I loved that they kept in the part where Dougal [Jamie’s uncle] takes Claire to the Liars’ Spring, gets her to drink from it, asks her if she is a spy and promptly believes her when she says no. Scottish superstitions…you have to love them.

Of course we can’t leave it there without mentioning the ending. Dougal and his plan to marry off Claire to a Scot so that he does not have to hand her over to Black Jack the following day. Pure genius on Dougal’s part. Get Jamie married to a Sassanach and any claim Jamie might have to being Laird one day is over. Dougal’s desire to take over when Colum dies as he must [suffering from Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome] in the not too distant future become a lot safer.

I was almost, no I was completely giddy with joy that they kept in Claire and Jamie’s conversation regarding the upcoming nuptials.

Claire: “Well doesn’t it, bother you that…I’m not a virgin?”

Jamie: “Well, ah, no. So long as it doesna bother you…that I am. I reckon one of us should ken what their doing.”

I could hear women around the world sighing at that. Dear beautiful Jamie…and a virgin to boot.

So there you have it for now. If you haven’t seen the series, do yourself a favour and start watching. If you haven’t read the books…time to start. Life is too short to not experience this wonderful world that Diana Gabaldon [and now STARZ] has given you.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Summer Lovin’ ?????

Summer lovin’…maybe not as it is winter here, but there was still a whole lot of frisky business happening.

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This video…watch until the end. It had me laughing out loud at the end.

WPC: Summer Loving

My Best Friend

My best friend took a long time to get to know. She…yes she is a she…is a rebel [in her own way]. According to Jung she fits the rebel archetype that he ascribed to. You see she  sees injustice everywhere and wants to shake up the entire system! According to Jungian psychologists, this type believes rules are made to be broken and is driven by the desire to shock and provoke people. She is deeply principled but still possesses a free spirit with few boundaries. I believe she has the potential to really change things, if she learns to reign in her rather extreme tendencies.

IMG_1666 copyYou might be surprised to learn that the colour of her aura is…

IMG_0320White – the colour of Perfect Balance – surprising I know, but the longer her I know her the more I realise that her strongest qualities are more spiritual than physical.

If I had to think of a quote that fits her it would be this…

“It is during our

darkest moments that

we must focus to see

the light.”

Any idea who said that ??

Day 37 - 8.3.2013She hasn’t had the perfect life experiences. At times she has been broken…but never it seems beyond repair. She’s had more than her share of heartbreaks, conflicts and disappointments. It was hard, but she always tried to see the bright side of things. When she looks back, I remind her that those experiences helped her become the person she is today. She is living proof that no matter what, the human spirit can always evolve and find happiness!

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I have heard people describe her as unique, different. She reminds me of  Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. Always marching to the beat of her own drum.

IMG_1953 copyPeople tell her that she is incredibly clever [she has her doubts], but she sees things in a completely different perspective to most other people and I think sometimes that does give her some valuable insights. Although most would describe her as an extrovert, they are not right. In reality she is still a shy little girl and is actually a bit of an introvert. She is incredibly comfortable in her own company. Over the years one thing she has learned is that being yourself is much more interesting than being someone else.

IMG_1662-2 copyHer favourite Luna Lovegood quote: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

Astrologically she is a lion.

Photo163 copyBut deep down she feels much more in tune with Pegasus.

Pegasus by 'thedrawinghands'
Pegasus by ‘thedrawinghands’

She has been there with me since before I knew what memory was. She laughs at my jokes, she cries at my losses…she even tells me when I am wrong sometimes. Not that we always agree on that.

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I have loved many friends [and still do] in my lifetime. But learning to really know her, to understand her, and to love her as my best friend has been the longest journey of my life. Because she makes it hard sometimes…to know the woman behind the mask.

P1100021Luckily she stuck with me while I make my way on this journey of self discovery. I sure hope she’s around for a while longer because every day with her is a surprise.

Day 160

“Love

yourself

first

and everything else falls in line.

You really have to love yourself

to get anything done in this world

– Lucille Ball

Oh…and late at night when she can’t sleep, when the characters on the page won’t do what she wants, when the photo images all seem blurry and not very good – she does way to many stupid quizzes. Even she admits that !!!

She also goes looking for hilarious videos. Just to make you smile !!!

Part of the Weekly Photo Challenge.

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

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I just love birds.

I may be a bit late on here…but this week I am joining in Jo’s Monday Walk.

As always with a bit of a twist.

Chevvy and I make a regular walk along the Uretara Estuary. It changes everyday. Some days I notice the scenery, some days it is the people while other days I take in the wildlife…I have even been on a ‘let’s look at the houses’ walk.

Today I am going to share what I was taken with on my latest walk…the bird life.

Two Pied Stilts in the water and on land what I think is the South Island Oystercatcher. 10491106_807782742595595_3196137196850817017_nIn the photo below amongst the South Island Oystercatchers you might notice one completely black bird. This I think is the Variable Oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor, torea or toreapango) and is found on rocky and sandy beaches. It is rare bird – there were around 3,500 birds in 1994, and they are found only in New Zealand.

10559680_808220695885133_1620878092508156764_nSouth Island Oystercatchers taking off.

10475577_807782992595570_1391898114915961385_nRacing off in the other direction I spotted some Black Swans.

10389296_808361989204337_3542068335269779166_nA bit further and Chevvy and I surprised a flock of sparrows.

10561794_808316739208862_936787759662492575_nThis sweet Blackbird was not at all bothered as we walked past.

10489740_808317029208833_4547733439823260273_nAs we continued I heard a familiar sound and after some searching was thrilled to spot a Tui.

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For info on the tree see the comments.

Actually…a couple of them.

10513399_807782719262264_5755252810304840918_nJust a bit further and a very hard to get close to New Zealand Kingfisher [kōtare, kotare, green kingfisher, tree kingfisher, wood kingfisher] popped up. It stayed beautifully posed on a flax plant for me.

1924335_807783045928898_7685228388816228885_nA few paces on and a cheeky Fan-tail swooped in and settled itself on the flax plants as well.

Further along I was thrilled to see a Little Shag, also known as the white-throated shag, little pied shag, little cormorant, kawau paka, little pied cormorant having a swim.

10403675_807782745928928_1066913688189996624_nWe also have the Pied Shag whose other names include: pied cormorant, kāruhiruhi, karuhiruhi, kawau, yellow-faced cormorant , large pied shag.

Across the Uretara Stream I spotted a gathering of shags which also included a few Black Shags [black cormorant, great cormorant, kawau, large black shag].

10544786_807783185928884_1476111839010003069_nOf course no walk along the estuary would be complete without a few ducks. One Mallard Duck thought a bit of a show was in order and set about chasing off the others.

10538054_807782912595578_6595270751976714287_nEveryday the ducks wait…and are rewarded with a feed of bread by this lady.

10390106_807782639262272_5864565390001089656_nThe Mallards Ducks, Peking Ducks and what I think are Black Swedish Ducks come fast and furious to get their share.

As well as the ducks the Pukekos are not shy about coming to get their fair share of the bread.

Pukekos co-exist with the other water fowl however are known for killing young chicks in their nests.

10511090_807782595928943_3467331310393001567_nKeeping an eye from a perch high above is the White-Faced Heron…also known as the matuku moana, matuku, blue heron, blue crane, whitefaced heron, white faced heron.

10514641_807782632595606_8918970054967841931_nAs Chevvy and I headed for home…we were rewarded with a wonderful sight. Not one but two New Zealand Kingfishers just across the road from my house. The perfect way to end this wonderful walk if you ask me. I got so excited at seeing two of them I nearly peed my pants.

10410159_807783109262225_7540409531543742221_nSo I took a couple of photos…

As we crossed the road to head up my driveway…one more surprise. A Eurasian Collared Dove wandering around.

1610756_808317159208820_1278743239754043051_nWell that’s it for my walk. I know it was long…but it was worth it don’t you think ????

 

Travel Theme: Purple

My babies in a field of purple heather…way back when.

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9-1-2011_006I could use some help naming this gorgeous plant.

IMG_1050 copyAnd because we all need to feel a little love…and love to me has always felt purple.

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Now for a few ‘fun’ facts about PURPLE…while listening to the Purple People Eater if you will.

 

1. Did you know there is a Purple Day. Yes indeedly there is, and Purple Day began back in 2008 with the help of Cassidy Megan, aged nine, of Nova Scotia, Canada. The date for Purple Day is enshrined in Canadian Law under the Purple Day Act that was passed in 2012. Gotta love those Canadians !!!!

2. Want a word that rhymes with purple:

Burple (a drink mix packed in an expandable accordion-like plastic container)

Nurple (slang: the act of roughly twisting a nipple)

Curple (is a strap under the girth of a horse’s saddle to stop the saddle shifting forward)

Hirple (is a scottish word, meaning to hobble, or walk with a limp)

Turple (to fall over)

3. The colour purple originally came from a dye made from mucus glands of a tropical sea snail. Known as Tyrian Purple and this dye was greatly prized because the colour did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight. The discovery of this dye is attributed to the Phoenician god Heracles. As the story goes…one day his dog bit into a murex shell and its mouth immediately turned purple. His beautiful nymph companion at the time, Tyrus, declared she would sleep with the god only if he dyed her a garment in the same shade. Heracles obliged and the famous Tyrian purple dye was born. The snail is known as the murex but its Latin name was purpura, which gave us the word purple.

4. Fact 3 has detractors. Some say that the colour purple was the colour of the first dye made by man. It was called “Mauveine” and was made out of coal tar. The recipe was discovered by William Henry Perkin in 1856. You decide which story you like best…me I am going with Heracles.

4. Carrots were once purple, red, white or yellow. Orange carrots were bred by the Dutch in the 16th century to honour the royal House of Orange. I want those purple carrots back please !!!

5. Reverend Jerry Farwell came out publicly against the children’s show Teletubbies. He believed that “Tinky-Winky” was gay, because “Tinky-Winky” , well he was purple – the colour of gay pride – and his antennae was a triangle – the symbol of gay pride.

6. There is a purple frog. Found in the Ghat hills in India. Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis (this means…wait for it…”nose frog from Sahyadra”). The frog is about 3 inches long, is coloured a dark purple, and has a pointy snout. Spends much of its time buried underground feasting on termites. It comes above ground for only two weeks a year to mate. The males make a loud noise like a chicken. The purple frog is unique: its closest relatives live on the Seychelles, but it split from them more than 130 million years ago.

7. Violet (purple) is the colour of the Crown chakra, also known as the Sahasrara. This chakra is located at the top of the head. The Crown chakra is linked to the crown of the head, the nervous system, and the brain, and is representative of pure thought. This chakra connects one with the infinite consciousness. Opening this chakra will help tap into a deep spiritual understanding. Gemstones that will aid the Crown chakra include diamond and clear quartz.

8. Porphyrophobia is fear of the colour purple.

9. The purple sea urchin lives in kelp forests. It will eat any sort of algae, but kelp is its favourite food. These urchins are considered to be a delicacy in Japan.

10. Purple is not a common flag colour. Can you name some countries with purple in their flags ?

Here is one.

dm

Now who knows what country this flag is from ?

Now this has absolutely nothing to do with PURPLE…but if you need a laugh, well you have to watch this. I was roaring through some of it. Old people are such fun !!!!

Want more PURPLE…go visit Ailsa’s Travel Theme.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lao Tzu

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