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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feijoa season

Time for another educational spot from Down Under.....
It's the right time of the year to be hit on the head by a ripe feijoa, as you walk under a feijoa tree. Feijoas were introduced into New Zealand in the 1920`s. This fruit originated in Southern Brazil, and was named after the Brazilian botanist, Joam da Silva Feijo. In some countries the feijoa is called "pineapple guava" or “guavasteen”. New Zealand's ideal climate produces large fruit, and because of few pests, it means that the feijoa is able to be grown organically (chemical sprays aren’t applied to New Zealand fruit, making NZ feijoas some of the most natural fruit available). The New Zealand season runs from late March to June (autumn).

The fruit is shaped like an egg that has been sat upon….lightly! It has a sweet, distinctive flavour with overtones of pineapple and guava. When the fruit is immature the seed pulp is white and opaque. The fruit is at its optimum maturity when the seed pulp has turned into a clear jelly with no hint of browning. Once the seed pulp starts to brown, the fruit is overmature and shouldn't be eaten. Fruit maturity is not always apparent from the outside as the fruits remain green until they are overmature or rotting….I’m sure there is some moral parallel that can be drawn about some people from this! Certainly makes for shifty sales at the fruit shop when they know full well that they got a truckload of feijoas in, weeks ago! A feijoa can also be used as an addition to a fruit smoothie, and can be used to make feijoa wine. It is also possible to buy Feijoa yoghurt, fruit drinks, ice-cream, fruit leather etc. in New Zealand. The Feijoa can also be frozen, cooked, and used in dishes where one would use stewed fruit eg. chutney….if the fruit lasts long enough to do more to it than just eating it straight away, in a household of hungry, fruit-loving boys who gobble up anything in sight!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Random thoughts

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere
(Van Gogh)

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

(Jawaharlal Nehru)

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.


Monday, April 28, 2008

PINK !!!

Well, what do I say?
Nothing deeper today, other than that pink seemed to be everywhere we looked!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


There is nothing quite like a knock on the front door, to make one catapult outta bed....particularly if one's husband has drawn the bedroom curtains wide open, and if one's bedroom is right next to the front door (and one is still lounging about in one's night attire)! However, there is also nothing quite as wonderful as receiving a beautiful surprise parcel from an unexpected source...and that was my lovely start to the day yesterday! Such a buzz to be pampered in such a way!!! I'm still recovering.

The boys (all 3 of them) were thrilled too. Not necessarily because I was being spoilt rotten, but more because something (anything!) had coerced their sleepy mother outta bed so that we could all go for our early morning walk around the neighbourhood! Anyway, I thought I'd share some early morning photos from around these parts with you....

These terrace houses typify the central city housing here - closely spaced, newly renovated, but based on the original design. There is a bylaw which only allows you to renovate an original building in this area if you actually keep the original facade. It has certainly helped to retain the character of this area.

Many of the residences in this area have pavement frontage, as befits the era they were established. And hence the grilles over the windows. I think I would have to relocate the main bedroom to the back if we ever had to live in a place with such intrusive public frontage...or quickly develop some exhibitionistic tendencies!

We enjoy going walking whilst the morning is still quiet and peaceful and the morning's business bustle has not yet begun. This was the frontage of the Organic Butcher's - roller doors painted with "shop stock" and using traditional Maori colours and patterns. Very cool. It is quite a different scene once the roller doors are up and the shop is ready for business!

I'll continue with more photos from our walkabouts another time.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lawn Art

So. Let's talk about sculpture.

The title of the upside down church that I posted two days ago is Device to Root out Evil. Intriguing name!! It comes to us after Stanford University declined it for fear of creating controversy. See more at http://www.culturekiosque.com/art/news/device_to_root_out_evil.html It's been so interesting to get people's impressions. Another interesting thing is that there is currently a campaign to get rid of the Device, as it is an insult to God's church. Hmmm...

This makes me think (in a very tangential way - did I just make up a new word??) of the "situation" I dealt with today as the grade 3 boys accused the grade 6 boys of calling them names in a lunchtime soccer game. The older boys saw the same situation in a very different light - the younger ones were harrassing them and being poor sports. One field, one ball, one game, two opposing points of view.

So, is the church an insult, or is it a catalyst for change? Or a comment on history? Or a thought about the changing face of organized religion? (My friend, Ellen, wondered if the city would have permitted an upside down mosque as sculpture. Probably not.)

My personal thought is that it reminds us that the old church as a human institution needs to be shaken up, and that true followers of Jesus need to participate in turning established society on its head. Jesus was radical in his love and we need to be, too!
Thanks so much to everyone who added comments; it almost feels like a conversation! Keep it coming! I'd particularly like to commend Anonymous for the extremely insightful points. Wait... how did you all get the same name? Astounding.
On the topic of sculpture, we had a new neighbour move in today. It seems that he, too, is a lover of art. Or something.

Maybe they're meant to scare away the cat-snatching coyotes.

Friday, April 25, 2008


It's been absolutely fascinating reading the comments posted on the previous blogposts recently. I feel like one of those birds, sitting there, watching...observing...thinking about the changing scene around me! It's been a treat! I love the diversity of people's thought processes. Thanks! And I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got to say on the upside down church too, Ange of the North...

Chanter, danser!

I'm so glad today is over!
It's not that it was a bad day; on the contrary, it was a great day. But it was a day of disruption, running around, food preparation, organizing classes, looking after those forgotten details, and other stuff. Oh, and teaching children, too.
This morning we hosted the school grandparents and put on a concert for them. I have been practicing a French song and dance with my grade three classes for the past couple of weeks. Every morning I wake up with it running through my head, and I swear that I can hear it while I sleep. So we finally got to perform it today.
At the end of the afternoon, we had the school Volunteer Tea. Without any tea. Just punch. And since all the elementary classes had already prepared something to perform for the grandparents, we got them up again to do it for the parent volunteers. Might as well kill two birds with one stone!
My students were pretty cute, although it was kind of ragtag. Some of them could barely keep their hands out of their pockets, while others were dancing with gusto. The timing was all random and they forgot some of the words. But those cameras were flashing away and everyone loved it. I think that I loved it the most, because now I won't have to sing it in my sleep anymore! Yay!
If you haven't officially recorded your opinion on the upside down church (see my last post), please do. It's very cool to read everyone's comments! I'll write more about it tomorrow.
I will now take my aching feet to bed.
Bonne nuit!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Everyone's an Art Critic

Today, I'm not going to write about what I did, what I saw, or what I think. Nada. Instead, I have a question in the wake of a discussion we've been having at school.
This is a sculpture that has been "temporarily" in my city for a couple of years. Or something like that. I've never seen it in real life, but I've seen the photos, just like you're seeing here. So, what does it mean? What does it make you think about? Be an art critic: what is your opinion? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Your lament resonated with both K and I. It is heartbreaking to see what some children have to cope with before their time.

In fact, it touches tangentally, on a topic that we have mused over for sometime now, and which was highlighted by the recent piano competitions. It is a well known (though oft denied fact), that many of the high achievers at such competitions, are often forced to spend inordinate amounts of time (hours, at the sake of all else) practising in order to "achieve". Kids have to undertake pieces over and above what their ages should be expected to be able to cope with. I find it such an anomaly, that we would decry such practices, and yet, we affirm the very same actions, by giving these children the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place rankings, the scholarships, and the prizes. Don't get me wrong - it is a good thing to laud achievement, because otherwise, we would be advocates of the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" and that would be a far worse crime! But should we limit or even prohibit the opportunities to strive for achievement? We recognise the need to raise the bar so that children can reach their full potential. But in doing so, the bar gets raised so high that kids who are just plain, joe-average kids no longer have the opportunity to take part in such competitions, because the levels are unattainable.

SO! I feel frustrated at the conundrum I see before me...

If kids are talented and want to do well, should they succumb to the temptation to put all life-balance aside so that they can match the levels encouraged by increasingly competitive parents, OR should they resist, and eventually drop out altogether, thus never reaching their latent potential?
Playtime sounds like a marvellous idea...


It's good to watch children play.
It seems to me that children need to play, and that grownups should play, too.
Sometimes the weight of the world is too heavy. At school I encounter so many kids who have to be adults and parents who act like children. Students who have already decided that they can't trust adults. Mums and dads who give their kids a bed, food, and clothes to wear, but no hugs, conversations, or encouragement. There's so much sadness and brokenness. And even though I care, even though I'm a "professional", I can do nothing.
One of my colleagues told me a remarkable story. She grew up in a disfunctional family, destined for whatever comes after rebellion, conflict, and all the other junk. But somehow, as a young adult, she encountered God's love and turned her life around. She told me very firmly not to give up hoping and praying for those lost children, because she was once one of them and she had teachers praying for her. I needed to hear that.
I ache for some of our dear students. I need to remember the hope.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The time has come....

...the Walrus said, to talk of things like holidays and sleeping in!
After today, it truly feels like the holidays have begun. If you should happen upon our home tomorrow, you might find that the door takes a bit to get answered....we are planning on sleeping in...or at least, lying in with a good book (unfortunately, poor K still has to go and do the 'earning a living' thing to keep us in the way we might become accustomed to!). The plan is to stay in our PJ's all day and 'make like sloths' ! The boys have postponed their retail therapy in deference to having a day at home. We may venture out...but only if we can be bothered slipping outta our gorgeous night attire! Might have to wear hats if we can't be bothered getting a comb through the tangled hairdos.
Can't wait!

Once a Pon a Time

I'm living a fairy tale. Really!
Remember the story of the miller's daughter who is asked - no, told - to spin a pile of straw into gold? And the funny little man who hears her crying and comes to do it for her? Well, I think of her every time I finally get around to sorting my clean laundry. I try to cry, but so far, the little man has stayed away. Maybe he knows that I won't be having a next-born child to give him and he's not too interested in taking away a teenage boy who eats a lot.

This is my pile of straw. There's more where it came from. I'm not too sure why I have such a hard time keeping up with the laundry. Some friends tell me that they don't buy anything that needs to be ironed. I can't figure out how they first locate clothes they like, that look good, are affordable (3 almost impossible requirements), and after that they look at the label and put them back on the rack if they'll need ironing. I don't get it. Other people say that they take everything out of the dryer right away and hang it up so it doesn't need ironing. Can't do it most of the time. Too busy driving boys around and feeding them. Besides, I have this thing about not wearing wrinkly clothes. Not even a little bit wrinkly. It's not good to be inefficient AND particular. Nothing ever gets done.

Meanwhile, my handsome prince is begging me for clean socks and underwear while I stand there crying for Rumplestiltskin to come and save me from the wicked witch of the laundry room. See? I told you I'm living a fairy tale!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music all day...

Trying to cram in those last minutes of practice...
It would seem we are pooped at both ends of the world!
Ours, 'twas not from battling crowds of 59,000...nor from enduring 10kms of physical torture...
However, it was an early start here too. 6am, we began our day. Fortunately, it was a stunningly beautiful day here.....it helps when the sun is up with you! We eventually got home at 6pm'ish this evening. And in between, we heard and watched and waited, and held our breath, whilst a whole bunch of extremely talented kids performed some pretty major works of music on the piano. The standard was FRIGHTENINGLY high. Even the Adjudicator (who is based in London) commented that he had never encountered such an unbelievably high standard in London, nor as he has travelled throughout the country doing his adjudicatory thing. The scariest thing, was that all the classes today were for kids under 12 years of age! Some of the kids were playing stuff that even adults baulk at attempting, and doing it successfully, what's more! The Adjudicator did pass comment that some of the kids probably needed to 'get a life' outside of their (hours of) practice and go and kick a ball - to reach the standard they were at, they would've had to have done a phenomenal amount of work!

We were so proud of our two lads. They were just amazing. Given that they probably (make that, undoubtedly!) don't do as much practice as I'll wager the other kids do, they were just awesome. Both played their pieces the best I've ever heard them play, and were rewarded with some excellent results. In fact, L 'earned' his first ever prizewinnings today (a fact that thrilled L more than the accolade it received)!!! Both boys are looking forward to some retail therapy after the competitions finish for them tomorrow...

One of the best parts of these competitions though, was that the boys had the privilege of sitting next to the NZ Composer who sponsored two of their classes. She told them that she reckoned they played her pieces better than she does, and then autographed their certificates for them. She was just lovely.

And now, I must head for bed. For some reason, the competitions this year were held in a piano showroom, and the kids had the rare privilege of playing on a $100,000 piano! Our kids LOVED playing on it, and wondered if we could possibly get one sometime?!


Painful Reminders

I learned a few things today.
First, I learned that when you hang out downtown with more than 59 000 other people, there's bound to be a little bit of peer pressure. It's kind of like being in high school and wanting to be like everyone else, except much more intense. It may lead you to do things that you wouldn't consider doing in your own neighbourhood, and in your right mind. You may regret your rash decisions.
I learned that 59 000 people can generate a lot of noise. It's hard to talk on the mobile phone and hear the person on the other end of the line.
I also learned that I'm much older in body than I am in spirit.
As you can probably deduce, I ended up going on the run. I mean walk. It turned out to be cold, but sunny. No rain! I arrived at the race start at 8 am, but as I was not in the international amazing runners section, didn't actually begin the "race" until about 9:45. That would be 15 minutes after the first runners started to arrive at the finish line! I guess it takes a long time to start more than 59 000 people!
It was a great day. There was a party atmosphere, and everybody was having a good time. So was I. By the time we got through the starting line, I was so pumped that I ran, even though I had planned to walk. The adrenaline was pumping and bands were playing. By the first km I knew that was over and dropped to a walk. By this time I was alone and regretted not bringing my MP3 player. Oh, well. On I went, enjoying the ocean view. I realized, at about kilometre 4, that I was in a bit of trouble. I was already hurting and my muscles were telling me I should stop the walking. They insisted that I couldn't do this foolish thing and go 6 more km. We had a brief argument, with me telling them that it was only a little walk and after all, I'd done much more that this in my lifetime. I insisted that if all these other people could do it, then so could I. I went on.
At 7 km, every step was painful. I could just hear "I told you so" over and over again. I wondered how I would get to the end of the route and make my way home. But I made it. Yay!

I was the last one of our school team to finish, and I found the others in the crowded stadium. They were all very kind and encouraging, especially considering that most of them are in their 20s and ran all the way. sigh.

Every trip has its souvenirs, and this one was no exception. What did I bring home? A race number, a bottle of water (given out to all the train passengers), and a beautiful piece of St. Agur cheese. There was a special cheese shop along the route, so I popped in and chose a gorgeous soft French blue. Such a nice personal reward for finishing what I began!

So, there it is. I did it.

My muscles were right, though. The pain is just beginning. Maybe that's another souvenir - every step will remind me that I accomplished something special. And that next year I'd better train before starting the race!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Black 'n White

Piano competitions all day tomorrow....and the next!

To go, or not to go?

The Big Bear and I were out driving this morning when we spotted this engineer taking a little break while his train was stopped. I couldn't resist taking a picture, and BB even turned around and went back so that I could get a better shot. He's becoming so accomodating when I want to take pictures!
It was quite a beautiful day for photos. The sun was shining, though it was cold. Snow had fallen in the night on the higher elevations and I took a drive up as high as I could to see the view and snap a few.
I am in quite a quandry. Tomorrow is the big 10 km Sun Run downtown and more than 55 000 people are registered for it. Almost all the staff at school are going. However, it's supposed to rain and will be cold again. Not much of a Sun Run. I pulled a muscle in my foot last week and am alittle concerned, even though I'm only planning to walk. Do I want to go all the way downtown first thing in the morning and mill around on the streets with thousands and thousands of people in the cold rain? Sounds tempting, but I really can't say. You'll have to check in tomorrow to see what I end up doing.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Guest Teacher

This morning, my Little Bear came to school with me. It's not that he particularly wanted to be with me, nor did he crave the company of children. I was simply his means of traveling 20 km to his friend's house, just 3 doors away from my school. I coerced him into spending a bit of time in my class. (Today was a professional day for the boys, in case you are wondering why LB wasn't in his own class).
We started the school day and welcomed my students. There was a lot of whispering and giggling as they noticed a large male body at my desk, and they were pleased to realize who it was. I asked Little Bear to preside over our class devotions, which he did with enjoyment, and the children loved his sense of humour! I was proud of the way he took the story about Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary in China, and pulled out the message of trusting God. After staying for the first hour of class, the boy left for more social climes - all you can eat sushi for a classmate's birthday.
I love that he wants to be a teacher. I love that he still likes his mum. I love that he has wonderful friends.
I can't comprehend the hugeness of the Elim College tragedy. My boys are so large, loud, hungry, and pulsating with teenage life. I know that those kids who died were the same way. How can a life be there one moment, and gone the next? What will the parents do every time they pass their child's bedroom, full of things that were just written, just listened to, just worn, just touched? What will they do with all the appointments, plans, and dreams?
I know that without a larger destiny and a faith that imparts hope and a future, everybody involved could just wither away. I'm so glad that the strong community can link arms and be a picture of the true body.

Canyoning Tragedy

The rain has stopped!
Over the past few days, this nation has continued to grieve and support the families and all those involved in the Mangatepopo Canyon tragedy (see earlier post: Wed 16 April '08). As the stories have unfolded, the media has been unanimously lavish in its praise for the amazing 'observable community' that has surrounded the families, the school, the Outdoor Pursuit Centre, and even the media themselves! Journalists, TV presenters, politicians, editors etc have all been impacted noticeably - by the way in which those involved in the tragedy have upheld themselves and each other with dignity, and with a faith (that has become a nationwide 'talking point', almost as much as the tragedy itself)! For a country that is (normally) extremely scathing about things Christian, this outpouring of acceptance, understanding and even praise has been nothing short of mindblowing.
A reader of this blogsite so aptly wrote to say:
"Did you see the testimony of the teenage survivor of the Elim college floods? I was impressed by his calm faith, and an unprecedentedly positive media coverage of a Christian community.
Is there hope for what should be Godzone after all?"
(Link to the NZ Herald webpage of the tragedy, if you are interested in reading more)

Friday, April 18, 2008


As we seem - or at least we did - to be on a body parts theme, I have been contemplating all the hands in my house. If you study the photos very carefully, you will observe that all the male hands are doing something leisurely. And what are the mum's hands doing? Hmm? It's all about food. Beware, you mothers of young sons - they may seem sweet at first, but really, they just want to eat. It's like a scary science fiction movie, but real!
But I digress.
As I age, I am noticing my hands. They seem to be on the front lines and are bearing much of the brunt of my advancing years. Due to my ill-advised love of the sun, my hands have brown spots on them and always seem to be dry. I used to be proud of my hands, and now I feel slightly embarrassed by them. I keep moisturizer in my desk at school, in my purse, on my bedside table, and even in my car. I imagine my poor hands gasping for moisture as they stagger through life like a dying man in the desert.
On the other 'hand', they do quite a bit of good stuff. They take photos, still remember how to write, cook - their sole purpose, in some boys' opinions - grip the steering wheel quite well, create some decent scrapbooks, turn lots of pages, and many other things. They also feel quite well. My favorite is the curve of a child's cheek. I still have to do that to my big boys. And if I think about it hard, I can feel the remembrance of a little hand holding mine. That's better than all the laser skin treatments in the world.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wee thot

"Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadow. "
- Helen Keller

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Such a tragedy!

The country has certainly seen a lot of water in the past day or so.
94mm of rain fell in just 3 hrs yesterday, over the North Island.
Whilst the rain brought relief for drought stricken farmers, it also brought tragedy. Today, the country has grieved with the families of the 6 students and 1 young teacher who were tragically drowned in a canyoning accident on an Outdoor Pursuits camp. In half an hour, the Mangatepopo River experienced a sudden increase in volume, increasing it's flow from 0.5 cubic metres per sec to 18 cubic metres per sec. The group were unfortunately caught in a narrow part of the canyon with steep walls, when the flash flood bore down on them. The 15&16 yr old students and their teacher were all from Elim Christian College in Auckland.

As the rain continues tonight over our land, our hearts remain with the families of those trying to come to terms with the enormity of a devastating tragedy. Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party summed it up well in Parliament earlier:

"I stand today, extending my gaze from the mountains to the sea, thinking of those who have lost their lives in the Mangatepopo Gorge, and their whanau.
Our tears flow as we think of the tragedy that has occurred within the Tongariro River, a tragedy which has dealt a savage blow to the families, the Elim Christian College, as well as the staff of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre and indeed all who were involved in this tragic event.
No-one in this House can imagine the pain that the parents, the wider families and the school community must be feeling at this time.
The Maori Party has been shocked at the terrible tragedy that took place at the headwaters of the Whanganui River, a tragedy which extinguished so much hope and potential.
We offer our sincere condolences to those who have been affected."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Warm, cozy, and dry

The tides have turned! All the rain and darkness that we’ve missed over our record breaking summer, arrived today. Funnily enough, people aren’t too unhappy. It’s been so dry and so bright for so long that the change is….dare I say it,…refreshing! And everyone is happy that the farmers in the Waikato region will be happy with the end of their drought.

As for me, I love these sorts of days (ask me again in a week’s time if the weather hasn’t changed and my answer might be different!). You wake up feeling all snugly in bed cos it’s dark and hosing down outside….and you have to have the lights on inside all day. So nice. I love the warm glow of having lights on inside and it being dark outside, but yet its not night time. And when you go out, all the cars have their lights on and it feels kinda cool. (We don’t have to have our lights on when we’re driving in the daytime in NZ, unlike Vancouver). On days like these, I get inspired to bake. Don’t know why, but I just love the smell of fresh baking and coffee on the boil (do you remember "Clara's famous choc chip cookies" from the school cookbook?!) And also percolating in my oven….a Portugese chicken casserole is adding to the aromas emanating from my kitchen. One might almost think I was even slightly domesticated!

Music blasting, baking happening, lights on inside, rain thundering down outside…..life’s little pleasures! And I'll bet you have had a sunny day over yonder, eh?!

Monday, April 14, 2008


Ok. So you've inspired me to think about feet.
Ange of the North, you have pretty feet. Lucky you. Mine are definitely not publishable, though they are represented in the middle photo on the left side. As you can see, we are moving into our warmer foot cladding in preparation for the cooler climes. I had to borrow L's furry paws for the pic (yes, the boys now fit my shoes and I fit theirs! Fortunately, they haven't really taken to wearing my high heels...). The rest of the photos are but a random representation from our disappearing summer. Woolly socks, here we come!


I am contemplating my toes.
The evening light is coming through the front window. From where I sit on my favorite red chair, I can see trees in blossom outside - magnolia and Japanese plum. It is spring.
I know that I must go on a lot about the weather. So dull. But don't forget, this is the land of cold and snow. We hibernate in the winter. New life truly begins in spring and the darkness ends.
So, why the toes? Well, this is one of the first days, I just realized, that I'm comfortable sitting here with uncovered feet. No fuzzy socks or thick, warm slippers. You know what that means... Sandals are on their way. The toes emerge from their cocoons and must be ready to be seen! I wonder what my favorite toe nail colour will be this year?

Congratulations, Southern Ange, on your return to life! Well done!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm done!

Over 13,000 words
(more if you count the thousands that got culled!)
and 2 reports later,
and I'm done (like a doggy's breakfast!)....!
Hooooray, yahoooo, and yippeeeee!!!
Well....almost done! My darling hubsky is just trying to remove another 1000 or so extraneous bits of verbiage, and I'm waiting for one more piece of information to come in via email, and then I will be zipping the report into cyberspace and having a day's holiday to celebrate. The kids have also convinced me that after 2 weeks of not having a mother to look after them, they deserve dessert tomorrow night to celebrate The Return of the Mom!
Ahhhh.......sleep (whatever that is) shall be sweet tonight!
And by the way, lest you think I've been wasting time taking photos
when I should've been churning out pearls of wisdom,
these photos were both taken by E
(Honorary Photographer In Lieu)

Truly Canadian

This is a typical local sight.
We have rail yards in our area, so trains are pretty common. Today, as I drove by, I realized just how Canadian it looked. First, the rail cars are emblazoned with the symbol for Saskatchewan wheat. I take my hat off to those prairie farmers who coax wheat out of the ground and feed the world, but believe me - you wouldn't want to live there. I know people who would swear that the prairies are God's Country. The sun shines in the winter, and there's wide open space as far as you can see. However, temperature extremes are not my thing. 40 degrees below zero in the winter and hot dry summers with no variation in the landscape? No, thank you!
Second, look at the creatures cavorting on the railroad tracks. Do you recognize them?? They're Canada geese! Truly Canadian.
Third... actually this isn't Canadian at all. Do you see the large mountain in the distance? The one all covered in snow? It's actually in the US. But we see it all the time, so I guess that the view is Canadian. The Americans probably see a much different view of it.
There you go. Our corner of Canada in the spring. And just to let you know, today was the first really great spring day. I ache from gardening, it was warm enough for shorts, and the birds sang a gorgeous evening chorus for us. This is my kind of weather!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Educational Spot

For our educational spot today, we present the NZ Weta. The weta comes from a Maori word "Wetapunga" - meaning the "god of the ugly things". It is one of the biggest insects in the world, with the Giant Weta growing up to 9cms in length and weighing up to 70g. Wetas are found in most parts of NZ and are generally harmless, though they are reputed to have a good bite if you should happen to sit on them. Not an unreasonable reaction I suppose. Oh, and they're nocturnal. Like some of us are presently in this household.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I think I'm going bananas
I think I really am
I think I made a sandwich
With mayonaise and jam.
My "Project 1" is finished
My "Project One" is sent
My brain is all confuzzled
I think it's gotten bent!
The sun was outside shining
The sun was oh so bright
But I was oh so tired
I'd stayed awake all night.
This studying is not healthy
This studying is not nice
This studying is not social
It's like you've got head lice!
(NB. not that I do!)
I now have one more project
I now have one more job
Till I can have my life again
And hang out with the mob!

(Look at this weather I am missing!!!)

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this bunch of bananas and its bright red flower, just hanging over the walking path! With the hot sun and the blue sky above, I had to remind myself that I really wasn't in some tropical isle....

That's what happens when one is under pressure with assignment deadlines....your brain goes funny and you wish you were somewhere else, writing poetry about bananas.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Outdoor therapy

To celebrate finishing the first draft of my first assignment, I didn't do a whole heap of study at all today. In fact, I think K did more work condensing my report down (into logical, non emotive, male, left brained, cut-out-the-flowers language) than I did all day! Besides which, the resurgence of summer (I don't think we're EVER going to get a proper Autumn this year !!!) meant that it was far too beautiful a day to stay inside for long. So K and I grabbed the opportunity to go for a stroll around the neighbourhood, through some parks, and down to the water. It was good for the soul.
Ange of the North, if you do decide to take on the Primary staff again and do battle, may I suggest that you keep the air ticket you were going to send me to come to your next wine tasting event, and use it yourself to come over here for some neverending summer therapy?! We could even throw in some cafe therapy, music therapy, enforced rest therapy, endless good food&wine therapy, and a few other custom made therapies.....all for FREE!
And I loved the photos of the foreboding skies!! It really makes the Canadian flag stand out. I remember being enthralled with the 'lighting' on those sorts of days too, when we were over there. Absolutely stunning!
In Brisbane, if you saw skies as dark as those, you'd know you were in for a torrential downpour.....and if the skies were black with a green tinge, then you would hope your car was under cover (unless you were keen for your roof and bonnet to be pockmarked from the indentations of zillions of large hailstones!)

NB: Thank you to the helpful music expert who provided the correct answer to my inability to remember names of anything (bands, songs, books, movies, people etc), and who advised that the band which sang the song "We're on the road to nowhere", was in fact "Talking Heads" and not "Crowded House"! (By the way, those band names conjure up similar 'noise' images, don't you think?!....I think I've been studying too hard!)

Grumpy and Rambling

Today I decided not to be a teacher any more. Especially not a vice principal.
What does a teacher do? Well, first of all, a teacher has to get children to do what they don't want to do. Then the teacher goes home and thinks in the night about the children who don't want to do things.
What does a vice principal do? Hmmm.... Pretty much the same thing, except with the other teachers instead of just the children.
Do you think that scrapbooking and playing with cameras will replace my salary???
As I left school tonight, the sun was shining in one part of the sky, while the rain started to fall again above me. My favorite time to take pictures - or maybe I should say, one of my favorite times - is when the sun shines against a dark, cloudy sky. As I drove home on the freeway, I almost had an accident as I stared at the trees lit up by end-of-the-day sun, against the dark clouds. Sometimes the best photos I see are when I'm driving on the freeway. Pity.
Just in case you're wondering, I'll probably change my mind about that career move.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The brew that nearly got away

Ange of the North...my tastebuds tingled as I read your 'Wine tasting' post. Glad to hear a NZ wine made it onto the favourites list. Please send an air ticket next time you decide to attend another such function - I'm happy to travel economy class!
My brew of late has been somewhat less glam. A good old cuppa tea! However, the "all work and no play" regime is taking it's toll (just as well you can't see the difficulty I'm having with my typing tonight after my 3.40am start today!)...I'd made myself another cuppa - from the tag, I think it was a Jasmine Green tea on this occasion....anyway, I forgot about it, and came out to discover my husband photographing the said cuppa - the liquid had soaked into the teabag and up the string, and worked its way right up and over the lip of the cup and down the other side....too much longer, and my cup of tea would've escaped, drop by drop, out and over the top! I'm sure there's a proper scientific term for this osmotic process, but my brain is too tired and I can't think what it might be....I think I need a cup of tea.

Wine Tasting

Never before have I sat at a table with six wine glasses in front of me, all containing wine!!
We went to a wine tasting party a couple of evenings ago. How cultured! I was very excited, though I felt somewhat like a neanderthal. I mean, wine is mostly yummy, but I struggle to find those "vanilla notes" and the "full body" that everyone seems to talk about.
The wine of the evening was pinot noir, and we had no idea what was in each glass. Our host briefly told us how to begin and we went to it. To my surprise, it was fun to sniff, taste, contemplate, and describe what we experienced. I found myself tasting black cherry, citrus, dark, and spicy notes in the various wines. As we sipped and compared notes, I noticed that the volume increased and there was more and more laughter in the room!
At long last, the six contenders' identities were revealed and to my delight, one of the favorites was Gravitas 2006 Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ! Southern Ange, I think you would have enjoyed sharing the wines (and delicious cheeses) and taking photos of the event. Next time, please join me!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm on the road to nowhere....

Remember that song? (was it "Crowded House"?)
This photo (taken before even the sun was awake!) sums it all up for me!
Cos that's what it sure feels like at the moment...my present lot of assignments seem to take up all my waking moments (and far too much of my non-waking moments too!), with not much to show for it. When I think back to my 'real' student days, I don't recall putting in so much effort and having so little to show for it! I'm sure there's some point to be learnt from all this...
On a good note, I have been reformed (though not through choice, I hasten to add!) into an early morning person...yes, 'tis true (but maybe only till these assignments get handed in!). With my 5am starts, the family is relishing our brisk early morning walks around the Burbs....Their joyous enthusiasm for such early morning larks, highlighting yet again, that I am truly the only person in our family who is NOT naturally a morning person!

Kindy Screaming

Yesterday, Saturday in the Great White North, we hosted our annual Kindergarten Screening day. All the children who will be starting school in September come for a visit and we do a bit of checking. Not exactly an entrance exam, but we watch for children who have learning issues, shouldn't be in the same class as each other, or may need another year at home before embarking on their scholarly career. All they know is that they come to school, play, and listen to a story!
I have the privilege of indoctrinating all the parents while their children are happily playing. It's actually quite fun, and I get to tell them all the most important things about school: get lots of sleep, play, read, and so on. As I stand there speaking to the crowd of parents, I always wonder who will become part of my life in the future as their children come through my class (That's how I first met Southern Ange, once upon a time!). I really love my school community and it's fun to introduce a whole new batch of families to the school!
We decided that the day was a success. Despite our nickname for the event, there were no screamers and everyone went home happy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Legacy

We celebrated my parents' wedding anniversary this weekend.....an admirable score by all accounts these days. It was such an honour to be able to share their happiness...and a privilege to have the opportunity to thank them - for the example they have set us,
and the wonderful legacy they have given
to their children and grandchildren.

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