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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Christmas in June

Little Bear and I just watched one of my favorite movies: Love, Actually. It is such a feel-good movie! I always cry when Jamie asks Aurelia to marry him in stilted Portuguese, and also at the end when it shows people at the airport being reunited.

Watching the movie made me think about Christmas, because it takes place during the Christmas season. What does Christmas make you think of? Decorated trees... snow - or rain... the smell of pine... candles... gifts... shopping... good food... coziness... family... the Christmas story... the census... Yes! The census! Remember? Caesar Augustus declared a census all over Judea, which is why Mary and Joseph ended up in the Bethlehem Maternity Ward!

In honour of Christmas, which was just over 6 months ago (exactly half a year!!), I am declaring a census, too! Although it probaby won't bring me any tax money (unlike Caesar), I want to know how many ange2ange friends we have, and where in the world they hail from.

So, Dear Reader, I am requesting that you leave an official comment below - I already know that most of you have the same name (Anonymous!!), but where are you?
Please click on the comment button and leave us a message!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

School with a view

Since we are kinda doing the school photo thing...
this weekend, we were at a primary school in a great location.

Look at this view of the lake from the junior wing, complete with a gate and a lovely wheelchair friendly path....just waiting for an adventurous tot to dash down to the water's edge for some waterplay! That building on the right with a balcony over the water, looked like some sort of staff room for the teachers! I wonder if they have a problem with teachers lingering longer in the staff room after the bell has gone...

Looking over the gate at the wildlife...

Monkeying Around

I have come to a mortal realization: I'm getting old.
It was the monkey bars that made the penny drop.
I was watching my students play outside; for some reason, they all wanted to swing on the monkey bars. They went around and around, laughing, climbing, and turning upside down.

That's when I came to the horrible realization.
If I were stranded on a cliff and could save my life by crossing a gulf on monkey bars, I don't think I could do it. I might get a few feet across, and then... I shudder to imagine the scene.

This is not how I used to be. When I was 12, I beat everyone in my class, except one boy, in the flexed arm hang.

It's a sad thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Garden

Spring is a glorious time! I love May and June because of all the garden delights. Today I will share with you some of the things in my garden:

I'm not sure what these blue things are, but I really like them (leave me a comment if you know!). The sad thing is that they don't last very long; only a few weeks.
My front garden is filled with tall, blowy poppies. This week. Again, they last such a short time and then there's nothing left but tall, spindly stalks without flowers.

More blue! These hang around for the summer. I think they're called Grace Ward or something.
Isn't this pretty? I have no idea what it is, but it's a very invasive ground cover. I just ripped out a whole bunch from one side of the garden. I do, however, love these blossoms that stand up tall and then are gone by June.

Lily of the Valley! Mmmmm, they smell so pretty! Unfortunately, they're already on their way out.Rhododendrons are not my favorite; they don't look very nice through most of the year. However, they put on a nice show in the spring.

This is not only time for the flowers to return. Other, more horrific things, take up residence in my garden and mock my futile attempts to oust them. Here are three of the worst culprits:

The dreaded dandelion. Do they grow Down Under? On the weekend, we did a lot of gardening, but somehow, this one survived the lawnmower! They don't care whether it's lawn or garden; they'll go anywhere. It's too bad the dandelion is a weed. A green field full of bright yellow ones actually looks really happy!
I'm sure this one has a name, but I don't know what it is. It really likes certain areas of my garden and flourishes there. It can get quite tall, too.

This is the big grandaddy of weeds. It invades my whole garden. No, my whole yard! Front, back, side, everywhere. The morning glory is more invasive than anything I've ever met, and it multiplies by sending long roots deep under the ground and then a new vine pops up. The boys are convinced that they come from our neighbours and travel under the fence, but I suspect that it's the other way around. Even though Little Bear carried out a morning glory mission on the weekend, I found plenty of it today already winding its way around other plants.

It is a huge job to keep a garden, and I freely and sadly admit that I don't do a very good job of it. When I manage to have half a day on the weekend, where on earth do I begin? It's overwhelming. I'm always so impressed by my sister-in-law, Christine (yes, you!!), who juggles work and kids, and still manages to keep her garden (and house) looking beautiful. Sigh. Still, I love to see all those sweet little flower faces returning to me every year.

Food for the soul

We spent the better part of our Sunday at the
Violin & Violoncello Competitions.
E took part in his first ever String competition and did very well, getting a good placing and lots of extra encouragement afterwards. He made his instrument sing and I've listened to the DVD countless times, just wondering at the difference between what he does at home for his practices, and how he manages to pull it all together on the day!
Every instrument has a quality which allows it to imprint
its signature onto music.
The brass have their golden tones,
the guitars their lyrical finesse,
the woodwind their wistful tranquility.
All instruments have the ability to evoke deep expression and beauty.
However, it is the Strings which are able to hold a note so intensely, that it feels like there is a direct connection to one's innermost being!
I don't think any other instrument can emulate the human voice or convey poignancy of emotion quite like the Strings.
I love both the 'cello and violin when played well.
(When played badly, it evokes quite a different sensation!!)
Someone (probably famous and probably dead) once said,
"Music is what feelings sound like".
It was a treat for the soul to sit and listen
to these talented young musicians playing with passion and skill.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five on Friday

Five Very Important Things in my Kitchen

1. Big Bear's ultra-special coffee machine - coveted for several years, and now that we have it, used daily for lattes. It grinds the beans, steams the milk, and makes all kinds of wonderful noises. If I were a coffee drinker, I would probably appreciate it more, but he loves it enough for both of us!

2. My wonderful blue teapot from Whittard's in Edinburgh - it has a strainer that sits right inside. My tea tastes even better because the pot is so pretty. And it was a heck of a lot cheaper than the big black coffee monstrosity!.

3. Nutella - Little Joe's favorite food! He comes home from school and eats toast and Nutella every day. I'm sure my mum would never have considered buying Nutella when I was growing up!
4. My Riedel stemless wine glasses - My friend Vikki from Yorkshire bought these for me, and I just love them. Wine definitely tastes better! I advise drinking a good red from these glasses every day, because it will help prevent Alzheimers. Kind of like taking vitamins.

5. Mmmm.... My favorite Poulain dark chocolate! It really is good for you, especially with a high cocoa content like 86%. Because it's so 'healthy', I often have a bit before bed. What a treat!

Food, wine, & clothes!

What do you get when entrepreneur meets fashionista?
An evening out with lots of ladies, searching for all manner of fashion accessories and clothing...plied with food and wine and fuelled by unbeatable bargains! It would've been dangerous to have been a fly on the wall last night at our fashion bargain hunting venue - only elbow room to move and the hunting instincts were almost palpable! There was a lot of laughter, and much entertainment for all, both within the room as well as for the neighbours across the street! Amongst the thousands of fashion garments, women posed, gave out lots of advice, and had a lot of fun fossicking! It was nice to have the 'more fashion-conscious' helping the rest of us plebs, by locating exotic pieces of clothing and providing free and 'unrestrained' fashion advice. And the bargains were well worth the adventure! But what a mess a bunch of women can leave as they wantonly toss off unsuitable garments....some of us were a tad worried that the original pieces of clothing we arrived in, were not going to be locateable by the end of the evening!
We adjourned to a cafe to finish comparing our 'trophies'. It was so nice to finish off our several hours of hunting with bowls of hot chocolate, shared amongst good friends.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Musical Musings

The Bear family went out on the town this evening.
Where do these particular bears go to have fun?
To the music shop! To play guitars!
Little Bear decided to try out a banjo this time, but he informed us that soon, he will be acquiring a mandolin so that he can sound like Seals and Crofts. His latest instrument is the ukulele, which he adores!
A few years ago, we bought an Eagles DVD. The first song was Hotel California, and featured the band members sitting in a row along the stage playing their guitars. I decided then and there, the first time I watched it, that my sons would learn to play the guitar and become the Eagles. Now, about four years later, they still don't look very much like Don Henley, Glenn Frey, or Timothy B. Schmidt, but they are definitely playing their guitars! I love to listen to them. In fact, at this very moment, Little Bear is sitting behind me and playing.
Have sons.
Start a band.
Love music.


I'm presently supposed to be immersed in churning out my next 2 assignments....I've never pretended to enjoy theories but now I REALLY know that it's not my cuppa tea! You have my utmost admiration if you are a theorist or theorem-lover!

And as per usual, when one should be concentrating on (boring) academia, odd things seem to pop to mind! Perhaps this confirms that I am not an academic either...

The following poem is dedicated to Joan - an entirely fictitious persona who has been unfortunate enough to be chosen as the brunt of psychosocial and developmental analyses.

(Please note, that any relation or similarities to any real Joans, are purely accidental and totally unintentional!)

They say her name is Joan
I think of her and groan
I shouldn’t use this tone
But I just want to moan!

She makes our job so tough
I think I’ve had enough
Her life is just so rough
She’s really up the duff.

She’s spawned so many theories
She has so many worries
Her life, a string of flurries
Could do with some good curries!

I’m finding theorems boring
My books I should be poring
Assignments, I’m ignoring
My dinner, I am thawing.

I’m glad Joan is fictitious
Her life is just so vicious
I’ll write something officious
And make it sound delicious!

My books I can’t postpone
I think I’ve done my drone
My thoughts I have to hone
Back onto poor old Joan.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Matakana Part 3 - The story endeth about here!

Another highlight for us, was a trip to the Brick Bay Vineyard and Sculpture Trail. The Vineyard is located in a beautiful setting – rolling green hills covered with the russet reds and golden hues of autumn, flanked by the variegated gold of harvested vines, and with the brilliant blue of the sea beyond. Driving down the road towards the vineyard, we stopped the car just so we could enjoy the visual feast of the scenery around us. Simply gorgeous.

The Vineyard has as its entrance, an architecturally designed building aptly named “The Glasshouse”....because that is exactly what it is. A building made entirely of glass on all of its sides and roof – built to maximise on sunshine and the all round view. The building itself is built over the top of a waterfall (which flows down from a pond). It’s a stunning setting – the glass wall facing the pond and vineyard has large moveable panes of glass which can be lowered so that the view is not obscured, you can hear the birds and ducks, feel the breeze, and feel like you’re able to enjoy the outdoors from indoors! Patrons can sit on comfy settees or at tables arranged for the view, and tuck into a platter of cheese and some of the local wine. Alternatively, you can take your wine and platters outside and sit at rough hewn tables amongst the oaken barrels and the beauty of the landscape. Mmmmmmmm!

One of the things the vineyard is known for, is its Sculpture Trail. The Trail is a 2 km walk through native forest, over farmland, on boardwalks and over tracks etc. K and I meandered through the sunshine at our leisure, admiring the art and the views. We spent nearly 3 hours just moseying about…..and taking photos to our heart's content! We really liked some of the sculptures, whilst others left us wondering what the artist had had for breakfast when he/she was creating their art!!!

Interpretation of the sculptures above -

Clockwise from Top Left:

1. The sculptor's subject of nests and eggs suggest new beginnings, growth, and fertility, while the use of grape prunings gives new life to a discarded material, but also hints a environmental disintegration.

2. Recalling young ears listening to the sea, the text creates a sense of place, listing words relating to the sculptor's experience of the sea coast.

3. Cast leadcrystal water lillies respond to life's organic processes - the changing light, wind movement, and refracted light from the water.

4. A quiet metallic form, the disc may act as a lens to focus the viewer's attention on the surrounding environment and perhaps hint at primeval microscopic life or more expansively, recall the larger themes of life, death, and eternity.

Well, enough said about the weekend past.

I think it is time to move back into the present……well....perhaps, tomorrow!

Listen Up.

Every so often, teachers need to get on their hobby horses and lecture people. That's what teachers do. And today, it's my turn.

Do you ever watch children play? Really and truly play?

When I look back to my own childhood (I know that we all think life was best "back then"), I remember the simplicity of our games. Adults didn't have to organize us, create teams, or give us rules to play by. Our play didn't involve electronics, TV shows, or movies. We went outside, unless it was raining. Actually, I guess we spent a lot of time inside, in this rainy city. However, we played inside, too. Toys were pretty basic. The best ones had no batteries.

So many of my students spend most of their time at lessons, on teams, and in front of screens. And lots of them do homework ad nauseum. Free time is discouraged. Imagination is undeveloped. Their games involve Pokemon and Star Wars characters. Funnily enough, their writing is often uninspired, and features Pokemon and Star Wars characters. Hmmm....

We go on and on at school about the importance of play, but many of the parents smile politely and go home to give their children more homework. What they don't seem to realize is that children learn by playing. Imaginative play will make their children smarter. Maybe even geniuses!

Let them play!

How lovely it was today, while doing playground duty, to see a small group of grade twos playing with flower petals in a puddle. And teaching an ant to swim.

I love it.

Now my lecture is over.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rainbow Photo Challenge

Well. The weekend is over.
I hadn't counted on taking afternoon naps because of this wretched cold, so I didn't accomplish all my goals ( Five on Friday) . Alas and alack. The marking and scrapbooking went by the wayside...
However, I did achieve something else: the Rainbow Photo Challenge! I took lots of pictures today when we were out shopping. A word of advice for future rainbow photographers: Home Depot is a really great source of orange stuff!

I think it turned out quite well! I wonder how Jo did on hers...
And now, after some serenading from my lovely son (Ooh, Baby, I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton), I will take myself off to bed.

Matakana Part 2-the way to this woman's heart!

We ate well.
In fact, we ate non stop, with breaks….for proper meals!
Thanks to all the expert local knowledge we were given, I think we managed to hit all the right eating spots! The Rusty Pelican, the Black Dog, the world famous patisserie whose name I can’t quite remember, and the famous markets! We caught a fabulous sunset, we tried Feijoa wine. We ate French sausage, we feasted on dukkah, olive oil, nuts, fruit, breads, local wine, grape juice, beer, coffees, pestos, relishes, jams, preserves, swiss chocolate, smoked salmon, specialty cheeses, and olives……oh, the olives! Huge, juicy olives stuffed with garlic and pesto and cranberries, almonds, chillies, feta and parmesan….divine!
And then Jack and Jill came rolling home…..
No, not quite!

But that's enough for today. I feel the need to go and chomp on an olive...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Matakana Coast, Part 1

Where do I begin…

K & I zipped away together this weekend. The Grandies were wonderful and looked after the boys. E was at a Kids’ Leadership Conference and L was very happy to lap up all the ‘dotingness’ lavished upon him by his lovely grandparents!

The Matakana Coast was simply beautiful. And the weather was amazing – perfect! In fact, some of the locals were saying that the weather this weekend was better than it had been all summer (even given that it’s been nothing short of amazing this summer!). There was so much to see, taste, experience, and do…..and yet, we seemed to have all the time in the world. It’s hard to explain. And naturally, the company was superb!

But I’m a bit stumped as to where to begin. This may have to be a multi-part posting, spread over a little while! As we drove northwards, our eyes enjoyed the visual feast of some spectacular countryside. K didn’t know where we were going as this was my year to organise things. He was on full sensory alert though, and the antennae never stopped fossicking for clues as to where we were heading!

Our first stop was Goat Island, a marine sanctuary with clear blue waters and a huge amount of sealife within its 800km range. In my snorkelling days, I recall standing on the edge of the beach with just my toes in the water, and blue Maomao (cute fish) were literally swimming around my feet. I was too scared to hop in lest I squashed a fish, there were so many of them! You only have to snorkel into the marine reserve and you can be surrounded by schools of huge fish, many of whom are substantially older than myself! And yet, fishermen will tell you that they can sit right on the boundary of the marine sanctuary, and get not a bite the whole day….clever fish!

Our snorkelling gear still in storage, we opted for the ‘above water’ option this time. The marine reserve has a glass bottomed boat which is perfect for viewing the sealife in the crystal clear waters. Anyway, with it being a working day, K and I and one other couple had the privilege of having the boat to ourselves on a perfectly calm day. The skipper was a mine of information and was obviously enjoying the opportunity to sail out on a perfect day. He knew all the right spots and was so interesting to listen to. We even sailed us into some huge caves in the boat, and patiently gave us much more time than on a normal trip. Although we didn’t see any orcas this time, the skipper told us of a memorable occasion when an orca swam under the glass bottom of the boat and flipped onto its side to view the boat’s occupants through the glass! Apparently, it was a general consensus that the orca was probably thinking, “Hmm...Canned food?!”.

After our trip on the boat, K dreamily confessed, that if he had life all over again, he would probably love to be a Marine Biologist! I wasn’t sure if he was getting his triggers confused….some of those Snappers looked rather delicious!! And as for the crayfish…With it being a Marine reserve, there is no fishing allowed within the boundaries. However, there were many stories about how the well-stocked ‘seafood supermarket’ proved too much of a lure to some…..

We had the better part of our afternoon wandering along the beaches at Goat Island, to our heart’s content. The sun was beautiful and warm, and bar a few snorkellers and picnickers, we had the place to ourselves. It was simply idyllic.

And now, you’ll have to wait for the rest…..

A Chattery Weekend Update

Oh, what a lovely weekend!


Yesterday, my lovely friend, Connie, got married. It has been a long, painful road to walk these past years, but Connie is so very courageous. She amazes me with her positive outlook in impossible circumstances. And her laugh is contagious! I thought you may like to see some of the photos, Southern Ange, as you know her, too!

I cried in the wedding when the couple made vows to their "new" children (this is a blended family). Each child got a gold cross to commemorate the occasion. Then each family member took a little jar of coloured sand and they all took turns pouring the sand into a special glass urn to symbolize their new family.

I recently listened to an audion version of Sex God by Rob Bell. It's a fabulous book, and not really about sex, in case you're wondering. Anyway, it talks about how we're all broken people, wounded by life. And yet, we need to pick ourselves up when we're down and choose to love again. It's a risk to offer our hearts when they've been broken to bits and we're afraid to open up again. I wish Connie and Phil God's richest blessings on their marriage, as they both begin again. So much grace.

After the reception (which was really nice; lots of great people at our table!!) , we picked up the boys, who had gone go-carting to celebrate our sweet friend Hannah's 14th birthday.

They had a great time playing games and eating baguettes and several varieties of imported cheese all evening, and it was midnight when we finally got home.

It was difficult to get up for church this morning and the cold I've picked up didn't help. What a relief it was to get home and go back to bed, but I managed to revive enough to get out in the sun in the afternoon.

I have mentally ticked off some items from Friday's list, but there's still one more day - yay! - to finish up. And I also need to take more photos for the rainbow challenge! I'm sure that Jo will come up with some great ones, as she is most likely spending her weekend shopping in Seattle and Portland.

So, blah blah blah. There's my weekend update.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Here's to the next 16 and beyond...

The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship.
--Joseph Addison

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Five on Friday

My friend Jo and I decided today to do two things.
First, a weekend photo challenge: a rainbow of photos (and I just learned the Roy G Biv acronym)! I'm not sure yet how it will look, but now that I've written it down, I think I'm committed!

Second, a new project: Five on Friday (or Friday Five...?). Every Friday, we'll do something fivish. I don't think that's a word, but you probably understand what I mean. Maybe.

So, here's the very first Ange2Ange Five on Friday!
Five Things to Accomplish This Holiday Weekend
(Did you know that it's Victoria Day on Monday in Canada??)
(Celebrated here since 1845)
(Even though she's long gone, it's a great time for a long weekend!)
1. Get the lawn mowed, now that Little Bear is back from his band trip. The grass is very long.
2. Do some major gardening. There are still leaves and all kinds of dead things in the garden from last fall, mixed in with the spring flowers. I cringe to think of it. The pain of it all!
3. I brought home a pile of marking from school. I really should finish it this time.
4. I've been working on a paper bag book - one of my favorite mini scrapbook formats! I really like them because of the simplicity, the price, and all the pockets to tuck things into. This weekend, I want to finish the project.
5. Spend time out on the deck in the new and improved weather. The weekend should be warm, and I'm excited! I love to have an outdoor "room". I love to listen to the birds, smell the air, and enjoy being out in the spring. Life is good!

If you have a holiday this weekend, I hope it's a good one. If not, make yourself a mini holiday by taking a few moments to breathe and smile at something.

Special greetings to Southern Ange and K on their time away, to Mum and Dad kicking back in Paradise, and to Tim and Lea getting ready to sell their house!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sweet Sister

I grew up with all the most wonderful advantages a girl could wish for: a creaky old house full of quirky corners, an apple tree that was perfect for climbing, loving parents, a dog, roller skates, and a bike to ride around the neighbourhood. And a little brother. The one deep sadness in my life was that I had no sister.
I grew up and amazingly enough, so did my brother! And wonder of all wonders, he managed to overcome his deep suspicion of touching anything that had been close to anyone else's mouth! (At least, I think he did...) He fell head over heels in love with a beautiful blonde from Denmark. And she seemed to like him, too! Enough to leave her amazing family and Danish culture and move to this uncouth country.

Lea is my sister-in-law. She is an incredible woman. I don't know what it is about her, but she is the person that you want to tell all your personal secrets. She somehow oozes compassion and empathy; even tough, unsociable cops end up having heart to heart conversations with Lea. And she always shares her faith.
Everything that Lea does is beautiful. I guess that's why she is an interior designer. She has a knack for making a room look great. Whenever I want to paint, I consult her on the colour. And if you ever want to know about anything, ask Lea. We're not sure how, but she always seems to know.

The other great thing about Lea is that she's fun to be with. We laugh a lot. And there's always so much to talk about! I always knew that I wanted a sister! The funny thing is that many people think that we really are sisters. One man actually thought we were twins. (That might have been because of the drinks he'd downed....)

Today is Lea's birthday. ( She got an addition to her Pandora bracelet.) I wish her a year of happy growth and joyful surprises as she continues to live from her heart. Love and blessings to you, Lea! xox

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