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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Riding the storms

Hey there....we're in the middle of the third ferocious storm to hit NZ since last weekend. At the weekend, the verdict was that this storm has been the worst within the last 30 years. Punishing winds, huge swells, phenomenal amounts of rain. There are some amazing storm photos on the Herald website. We've been fortunate enough to have kept our power on, our roof attached, and our windows intact (though last night, we did wonder if we were going to wake up to find ourselves under a fallen tree or blown half way down the road!). Fortunately, all we've had so far, have been little leaks around the place. I'm grateful for a mostly dry house and a warm, cozy bed




It has been so good to read your posts from your trip to Coalmont and Kelowna, Ange of the North! It jogged my memory that I had said I would post some photos from our trip to Napier. So here are some shots from in between here and there. The weather looked a little different then to today's weather....

We took the back route through the countryside this time, and saw this cute letterbox outside a farm. We had to stop to take a closer look!

There is a little township called "Tirau" which is well known for its fine cafes and artyfarty shops. It is also well known for its distinctive Information centre...

...and its adjacent NZ tourist promotions shop!

Eventually, we did make it to Napier!

Finally for today, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated those who posted helpful feedback in the comments box or via email, re the "Trialling the music clips" post. For those who found that the clips were a little jumpy, the resident IT expert here says that it should run better if you were to click on it a second time, after more of the clip had downloaded onto your computer. We hope the sacrifice of picture and sound quality was acceptable as a trade off for the smaller file size. Anyway, now that we are aware of the possibilities, we will try to post some more video clips in the future. Feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions/tips re this.

And now, it is time to head for my warm, snug bed! Hope the roof holds on again tonight....

Farewell to Kelowna

I have made a monumental decision: the next time I move (if ever), I will have packers. It's probably just wishful thinking, but it has been amazing to be at Tim and Lea's and see all the packing being done by other people! Because of Tim's job, this whole move is being paid for, including the taxes on a house purchase, real estate fees, and these marvelous packers. The stress of moving is greatly diminished when you don't have to spend weeks packing boxes. And then, on the other end, they will have unpackers, too! Of course, Tim and Lea will have to be more involved in deciding where things will go.
It is a sad thing to say good bye to this house. They have put so much work into it. When we first saw it, just two years ago, there was a poky little kitchen and a carport that now make up a large, bright kitchen/dining room with huge lakeview windows. They've built a big garage (to hold ATVs and snowmobiles), reconfigured the driveway, and redone the bathrooms. And now, it's time to go.


I know that there have been wonderful new relationships here, too. Lea has a way of touching people that I have rarely seen in anyone else. She has definitely made a mark in Kelowna. And the kids have made such great friends - it will be a challenge to start in a new school.

Farewell, Kelowna. I wonder what new adventures await the family as they move on? Whatever the case, I know that lives will be touched as Tim applies his personal flair to a challenging job, and Lea does her amazing thing with everyone she meets.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Canadian Lumberjack

Big Bear and I are away on a trip together! We left the boys at home with Monika yesterday afternoon and drove away with the camper loaded onto the truck. This was our last trip with the camper, as the truck is definitely aging. We arrived late last night in Coalmont, about 4 hours away, where my parents have some property. There, the camper will stay – kind of like a rest home for aged… things. And in the future, we will be able to drive up to Coalmont and have a place to stay, without hauling a heavy load.
Coalmont is a funny little hamlet; it was an up and coming coal mining community early in the 1900s, but somehow, everything kind of died. What’s left is a well laid out town full of interesting people: a couple of deadbeats, a few city weekenders, and others who like to live far from civilization.
We woke up this morning to fresh air, bird song, the sound of the river, and peace. Until Bob arrived.
My parents had a rotten spruce tree that needed to be cut down, so the locals recommended Bob. He just happens to be the town drunk, so they suggested he be invited to come first thing in the morning. Before… you know. And Bob flatly declined in advance any payment, except a flat of beer. The neighbours explained that offering to pay Bob with money would be an insult, as people in this community help each other out.
First thing in the morning, Bob arrived on his ATV. He doesn’t have a driver’s license anymore (quite understandably), and goes everywhere on his old quad. He set to work immediately with a chainsaw and wedges.
Unfortunately, the tree was so rotten that it fell the wrong way; it crashed down on the neighbour’s fence and hit the side of Bob’s ATV.
Poor Bob was so mortified at the mishap, that he set to work right away cutting up the tree trunk without a word. Amazingly enough, it turned out that the quad was hardly injured! When Dad went off to buy the beer to “pay” him, Bob hightailed out of there and was nowhere to be found.
Definitely a unique place.
I am posting tonight from Kelowna - we drove up this afternoon to say a final good bye to Tim and Lea's beautiful home before they move back to the coast on Wednesday. We will return to Coalmont tomorrow for a few more days. I won't be able to post from there - we can't even get cell phone coverage!
Big congrats to my friend, E!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Post-wedding

What a wonderful day it was! Joel and Emily got married in style, and we all had a great time. The reception was held in a glass conservatory at a big garden out of town (Minter Gardens). So beautiful! Christine and I had fun with our cameras, and I came home with lots of photos. Here are a few:

Joel and Emily, married at last!
Christine with her girls - Bee and Miss E

It was so fun to dance, and all the cousins had a great time together!



Cousins: Miss E, Little Joe, Bee, Little Bear, The other L
Me and my boys

Friday, July 25, 2008

Primping

Wow. It's hard to follow that musical post with anything of substance. So I won't! This post is completely substance-free - kind of.

Tomorrow, our sweet niece, Emily, is marrying her sweetheart, Joel. It's hard to believe that the little baby, born in 1986 when I was an au pair in France, is old enough to get married! I remember waiting on pins and needles to hear that the birth had happened and to find out if Barb had a boy or a girl. When they didn't call me for two days, I was convinced that Barb was dead and that they were too distracted to phone. How excited I was to finally hear about the sweet baby girl who was yet to be named!

The first time I consciously thought that maybe it could be nice to have children, it was as I watched three-year-old Emily pretending to help her mum. Special girl!
Here are Joel and Emily last night at the wedding rehearsal.
So, all of that, plus the fact that this is our first next-generation wedding in the family, makes it pretty special. Monika has been asking for over two weeks if the boys' shirts are ironed yet (they're not!), she got a new outfit, and Big Bear is practicing the pieces he will be playing for the bridesmaids (Ode to Joy, arranged by George Winston) and the processional (Jessica's Theme from The Man from Snowy River). I have also been making preparations, and at the insistence of Lea, will share them with you.

I got the dress.
And the shoes.
I went to a nail shop today and actually got gel nails!!! I'm not sure I like the feeling, but they look quite civilized.


And my toes are in process.

Can't wait!

Trialling the music clips

Hey.....finally, we think we might have a way of putting some small video clips on. We've trialled two sizes here - because of their small size, we do apologise for the lesser picture and sound quality:

1. "Rumba Toccata" (214 KB): E has had a successful run of 1st places in 2008 music competitions, with this piece. And this weekend, he has been invited to perform this piece again at a Grand Finale concert. This video clip was taken in April and was the first time he'd won with this piece. It has since developed with time and is even better now (in my opinion!) .

video


2. "Lullaby for Matthew" (+/- 2 MB): Again, E had a string of successes with this piece in competitions, gaining a distinction in his exam in 2007, and being invited to play at a Royal Schools of Music (London) High Achievers' Concert. The piece written by a NZ composer, met with glowing accolades last year, many of which described the piece as "haunting" and "evocative". It is certainly one of my favourites. ENJOY!

video
PS. The repetitive low notes of the left hand represent the tolling of a bell. And apologies for the crashing of a door in the background...late entrance into the concert hall was thereafter prohibited, and offenders were hung, drawn, and quartered in the nicest possible manner!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Birthdays and Baubles

What a relief it is to know that aged persons are well cared for in NZ. That was the one worry that prevented me from booking a ticket. I'll be sure to rush out in the next few days...

I had a lovely birthday. Thank you to everyone who emailed and Facebooked their greetings! I first went out for Dim Sum with my mum (at the Pink Pearl, for locals in the know). Yummy! In the afternoon, I spent a couple of hours wandering along a colourful street, browsing in shops and enjoying the, uh... unique people (Commercial Drive, in case you're wondering).

We met up in the evening with Phil and Christine (Happy 40th, Phil!) and my parents for a picnic at Kitsilano Beach. I love the ocean. It was the perfect evening.








A couple of Phil's police buddies showed up on ATVs, doing "beach patrol". Christine and I almost took an unauthorized ride on one of their machines, and had fun imagining the chase that would ensue! We decided that they're really just out to play, having fun on quads where nobody else is allowed to ride.This morning, I went with Big Bear and Monika to pick out my new baubles - beads for the Pandora bracelet. I got one from each of them, another from the boys, and a fourth one that arrived in a mysterious package from Down Under. Oooh, so exciting! We went to Starbucks, where I thoroughly enjoyed putting them on my bracelet.
All this, to dull the pain of becoming older. I say, bring it on!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On this day (Cdn time!), some years ago...

Just couldn't let the opportunity pass without at least a mention...


HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!


Hope you had a goodie!

-~-


Alright. Enough of the schmaltzy birthday stuff.

Now that you've reached a certain maturity,
if you do visit Down Under you'll be well catered for ...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dem Buns

Yesterday, on our last day of the holidays (where HAVE they gone?!), K and the boys decided that we needed some homemade bread to go with mom's homemade vegetable soup. So the boys got to work...

There is nothing quite like your own fresh, hot outta the oven bread! Can you smell it?

Crusty on the outside, soft in the middle, with golden dollops of melted butter! Mmmmmmm....


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oranges and Lemons


Ange of the North, I thought you might like some photos from winter Down Under! Citrus season! Juicy sweet mandarins (photo taken in the Hawkes Bay) and zesty, tangy lemons......the boys did a good job of squeezing a crop of lemons from our tree in the backyard, yesterday. There are dozens more just waiting to be picked...but no room in our freezer for more yet!
Lemon cake, here I come!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whewww!

Southern Ange, it is rare that we share the same holidays! For once, the north and south are synchronized.... for now.
I spent most of yesterday, my first post-course day off, driving Monika to an apointment far, far away and shopping and picking up Little Joe from work. Ugh. And then we had a lovely, relaxed dinner on the deck with Barb and Larry.

I woke up this morning feeling rather free! And then I registered for two online courses. You'd think I'd had enough of courses, but these ones are fun! I'm going to learn the secrets of taking better pictures, and I'm also taking intermediate photoshop. I've already completed the first lesson and assignment of that one, and raring for more! By the end of the summer, I'll be an amazing photographer and photoshopper.

In the meantime, it's so nice to have sunshine and warm temperatures. And time.

Done like a doggy's breakfast

Well. Today...3 days before term begins again for the boys and me, we FINALLY feel like we're on holidays! It was with great relief that the term ended a week and a half ago, but life continued to be busy (though mostly fun!). Having to cram for a heavier-than-usual performance programme at the piano competitions this time around, meant that the boys haven't had much time for doing the usual holiday-type things. We did manage a trip away to Napier and the boys had lotsa fun reconnecting with their cuzziebros. Will post some photos from that time away at a later stage.

NB: K's gorilla pod being put to good use above!

Anyway, the piano comps ended last night, and the boys both did very well. Both were by far the youngest in their respective classes, with L being quite obviously the 'baby' of the entire competition series. We were tickled pink to note that he still has the 'cuteness factor' !!! Oh well, whatever it takes!

I remain in awe of the young talent that is 'out there' ... sometimes it just isn't THAT obvious that there are SO many amazingly talented kids around, but it blesses my heart to see occasions where such talent can be shared and enjoyed. The music that all the kids made at the competitions was fabulous. Some were playing works that many older musicians can only dream about, and playing it with finesse too! My boys gave me a few sideways looks at times, when some young 'un gave a polished performance of one of a number of pieces I'd played for years (& still hadn't perfected!). Sigh! My fingers are feeling very olde...

We're all feeling very much in need of a day to blob today. The boys have requested a day at home but have magnanimously agreed to forego some of their precious home time, so that we can zip out for some charitable errands! Looking forward to homemade vege soup with crusty buns and some freshly baked choc chip cookies.....maybe!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Time on one's hands

Big Bear (MEd!) & Mrs Big Bear,
Contrary to my earlier email, I have decided to dedicate this post to you both...Now that the hard swot is over, I hope you will both find time to do all those wonderful summery, leisure type activities that you've been dreaming about for so long! Live it up! And post the photos to tantalise those of us who have soon to return to routine and keeping the world running! In case you're outta ideas for what to do....here is a suggestion to get you started.



We're not golfers, but on our way outta town, we stopped at Taupo for lunch. Lake Taupo on a clear and sunny winter's day, with the snowy mountains in the background, was just lovely. Our lunch tasted SO much better for it. Anyway, in case you're into golf, only 648 people (at last count) had gotten a hole-in-one at this venue....the lure? Good prizes, and a chance to show off one's golfing prowess to a captive audience of tourists!



Lake Taupo is NZ's largest fresh water lake. It is the same size as Singapore! Lovely clear waters, but a bit too cold for 'tropical swimmers' such as myself...
ENJOY your summer and the break!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Five on Friday

Maybe I should just make this Six on Saturday... Oh, well.

To celebrate my finished course (other than one book review that I still need to do between today and tomorrow) and my return to the world, this is a Five Times Five! In a new font!

  1. Five books read: The Drama of Scripture (Goheen and Bartholomew); Professional Learning Communities at Work (DuFour and Eaker); Caring Enough to Lead (Pellicer); The Lifeworld of Leadership (Sergiovanni); The Gift of the Stranger (Carvill and Smith) – oops, still reading that one for my last book review which should be done by tomorrow!

  2. Five papers written in our house: Movie review (For the Bible Tells me So – a bit of a controversial film!); worldview statement (yes, I did make a mini-book, and it took me all last weekend! Most unrealistic…); the final book review that is now in process; School platform paper; Big Bear’s final project that was just finished today!
  3. The (wretched) time-consuming worldview mini-book

  4. Five dinners I didn’t make: Koenigsberger klops (my mother-in-law's German signature dish); beef, tomato, and peppers on rice; thai coconut chicken; pork chops, rice, and corn (Big Bear's signature dish - Ugh); there has to be one more, as I did as little cooking as possible, but it's all a blur.

  5. Five things that stood out for me in my two week course: The difference between managing and leading; the connection between gratitude and interdependence; language learning in a faith context; the school platform paper I had to write – strategies to approach real issues at school; the leader as someone who inspires and empowers; Struggling through the material often produces real learning and despite how I feel during a course, I usually end up coming through in the end!

  6. Five reasons why today is a great day – it’s sunny; it’s warm; I floated in the pool; I’m through with classes, and finished my oral exam yesterday; Big Bear just emailed off the final assignment for his MEd! Next week, he will present it, and then he's officially done! Woo hoo!

    Big Bear finishes his degree

Now we can clean up the house and deal with the books and papers EVERYWHERE! And life begins again! Happy travels to Steve and Jo, as they leave for their Asian extravaganza!

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