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Friday, August 29, 2008

When things seem overwhelming...

“Where shall we begin?
Begin with the heart,
for the spring of life arises from the heart
and from there it runs in a circular manner.”
- Eckhart

As my boys enjoy the predicted dry, sunny, and Spring-like weather this weekend, I will spend 2 full days doing some enforced navel-gazing. Not something that I think Kiwis do very well. Still, it promises to be a very interactive time with this bunch of highly gregarious students, whom I suspect, are unafraid to share their varied collections of navel-fluff!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What a day!

What an absolute cracker of a day!
Here is a pic, hot off the press...literally.
Spring has SPRUNG....
The grass iz RIZ...
I now know where
The birdies IS !

Mini Olympics Medal Ceremony (complete with victory dias)! The kids had SO much fun...

Another assignment in...but no rest for the wicked - weekend intensive this weekend. Sigh - stuck inside, with a forecast of gorgeous weather, trying to sift through the sawdust...

Staff Retreat

It is always a wonderful thing to go off on our staff retreat, just before the real chaos of students assaults our sparkly clean school. We reconnect after the summer break and turn our focus back on the large goals of teaching. And, of course, we have fun! The staff headed out to Loon Lake on Monday morning (I'm guessing that there must be at least 30 Loon Lakes scattered throughout Canada!) and stayed at a wonderful conference centre out in the forest. Ellen, Kerri, and I went off on a "walk" that ended up taking us all around the lake for two hours of hiking up, down, and over fallen rainforest logs. We felt so very victorious when we finally trudged back to the lodge!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Off They Go

Once again, it's the most wonderful time of the year for my boys.

Summer camp!

All year long, they look forward to the last week of summer vacation, when they can go off to the annual Foursquare Church youth camp, so that they can come home at the end and moan about how boring life at home is. And it really is!

This year's theme is Bible characters. Last year's was pirates (Llttle Joe was a treasure chest and won a prize) and past themes have been Disney, super heroes, and "what I want to be when I grow up". Little Joe is going as a spy in Canaan (with grapes) and Little Bear is Adam. After the fruit, not before. I sewed many leaves onto his shorts.

Before the boys left, I made them go outside (into the rain) for some photos. I had considerable leverage, after spending an hour and a half making the Adam shorts, so Little Bear was most cooperative! Although they aren't as cute at this age as Little E in his bear costume, I loved this shot of them.

And now, a week without children! (kind of wasted on me this week, as I'll be intensely preparing for school...)

If you go down to the woods today...

Well, the little bears at this end of the world, have begun another week in the wide, wild world of school.

We have recently discovered a stash of old photos of the boys, and hence the run of photos from days gone by. We've all enjoyed looking at them - they are SO cute!!! We forget all too quickly.
These pics are of E. He had to go as a bear to a birthday party. Being the sweet, thoughtful kid that he was, he decided that he wanted to visit the Paediatric Cardiac ward in his bear outfit to give out stickers to the sick kids there. He thought that the sick kids would like to see a 'real live bear'! And they did!
Being ensconced with a ton of paper and my computer, churning out wise words by the thousands for my next assignment...I have no deep and insightful words to spare. This is the extent of it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pride and Spelling

The countdown to class is on!
After four days back in school, I went today to the annual spelling workshop. I think that this is my seventh time. As I compel the other teachers to attend every third year, I figure that I'd better show up, myself. Even after going so many times, I always like to think about those predictible spelling rules. There's something wonderful about language! Did you know that there are five reasons why a word might end with a silent final E? Or that I and O may say their long sound when followed by two consonants? It's heady stuff, I tell you!
However delightful spelling may be, sitting from 9am to 5pm makes for a tiring day, especially when followed by an hour-long freeway free-for-all. I arrived home rather fatigued and ready for some relief. After digging in the garden for half an hour, I came in for a favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice.

At this moment, Elizabeth and the hateful Caroline Bingley are "taking a turn around the room", while Mr. Darcy states that his "good opinion, once lost, is lost forever." Sigh. Pure pleasure!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A blast from the past...

Couldn't resist this one! Insight beyond his years...

L : “Good friends know where all your best hiding places are!”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Return to Routine

It's kind of over. Although we don't have students until Sept. 2, I have returned to school and am already wallowing in papers and unfinished jobs. And I haven't even started on my classroom, yet! Oh, well. At least there is still a little bit of flexibility in my schedule!

Little Joe is at camp, in charge of a cabin full of 9 year old boys. Gulp! Little Bear is in his last week of work, looking forward to youth camp next week, and then Bible College for the year. He will be taking a music program, which thrills him no end! And Big Bear is frantically trying to complete as much as possible in his last week of holidays.

If you have ever visited Nienie's blog (there's a link on the right), you will be saddened to hear that she and her husband were seriously injured in a small plane crash on the weekend and are badly burned. I've never met her, but as a blog reader, I feel like I know her - from a distance. Don't you think that the internet makes the world much smaller?? It's interesting to start thinking about the relationships that happen because of it, while at the same time it creates distance between people. Fascinating.

The weather has gone to grey and gloomy with rain; it's nice to remember where we were a week ago - with our friends, Barbera and Andrew at their cottage on Deka Lake. Peaceful and beautiful.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On Boys and Hollow Legs...

My legs are hollow,
And so’s my tum!
I love to eat
Food cooked by Mum.

I eat my vegies,
I eat my spuds,
I eat my meat,
I love my puds!

Sweets or savouries,
Fruits are fine;
I’ll eat anything,
And choc’s divine!

There seems no end
To food that’s nice;
I’ll have some pasta…
Please, more rice…

I eat all day
And sleep all night
I start again
At morning’s light.

I think I’m growing,
I think, it’s…up!
I think I’m just
A healthy pup!

Monday, August 11, 2008


I think almost everyone here, would agree that the last few days have been simply spectacular, weather-wise. I just love these sparkling clear days, with the bright sunshine and blue, blue sky. Puts a spring in one’s step and a smile on the dial! It certainly makes for happier dispositions all round…

Though yesterday was a hugely busy day from morn till night, nonetheless, we managed to squeeze in some family time outside in the gorgeous day!
Thought you might enjoy these shots from a wonderfully relaxed time having lunch by the harbour, a stroll along Tamaki Drive, delicious coffee at Kohimarama, and enjoying the atmosphere at Mission Bay.
For now though, life is careening along at a frenetic pace...but I’m glad that at least it's nice out !

Saturday, August 9, 2008

They're Back!

It's a wonderful thing to have a brother in town. Especially when he comes with a wife and kids! I have really liked having Tim and Lea local again. Even though it takes 50 minutes to get to their house, it's good to know they're here.

Poor Tim. The day after the moving truck dumped all their boxes and furniture in the new house, he had to search out a shirt and tie for a media interview, representing the whole police force on a politically sensitive issue. Sounds like stress.

Lea and I went out for lunch together - kidless! - for the first time in a billion years. Like, since we've both had children! And we both spent our birthday money from my mum on new Pandora beads!!
We celebrated sweet Chrissie's 11th birthday yesterday. It was wonderful to be together, though we missed Andrew, who is working on a farm in Alberta. The true Canadian cowboy! Chrissie got a violin for her birthday - she desperately wants to play. Maybe E could give her some lessons...?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spring and patriotism

Someone called “Henry Van Dyke” once said, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”

That's particularly true of us Down Under this year! We have had such a short (though wet) winter, that it almost feels like we should apologising that Spring could be here already! Officially, the first day of Spring should be still a month away, on the 1st of September.
There have not been many days at all this winter, when I have been able to get my boys to don a jersey of some sort….really, we were still kinda waiting for winter to arrive properly, but already the daffodils have been out! This week, the girls and I were enjoying the beautiful Spring blossoms everywhere, and commenting about the lovely birdsong all around us. We wondered where the Tuis and the Bellbirds all go for the winter…if they went North this year, they probably have all just got blown back by the last few storms we’ve had! Anyway, they’re back and enjoying the onset of Spring as much as we are…..

Unfortunately, with the warmer, sunnier weather, and the moist, rain-soaked earth, this is actually what my garden looks like! Groan.
Ange of the North, we just don't have the population to support such huge warehouses to shop in here in Kiwiland. We do have pretty sizeable home improvement type stores that are large warehouse-shopping places, but they don't tend to stock quite the same range of goodies that we observed when we were up in the Northern hemisphere. That photo of the big box store looks very American! The flag doesn't even look outta place !
And you are quite right - it would not be as common to find the NZ flag flying in our stores. That is not to say that Kiwis aren't a patriotic bunch. They can be. At times. Especially if it involves Australians! [NB. For those who may have entertained thoughts that NZ is just a small island off the coast of Australia....it is NOT! There is actually a big body of water between the two separate countries!] If anything, it would be more common to see the All Black flag (a silver fern on a black background) and All Black paraphernalia hanging from prominent places! (The All Blacks are the NZ National Rugby Team, and evoke similar fervour to the Canucks in Vancouver, but on a national scale!). In fact, if a national election was ever to be held at a similar time to an All Black game (not that any government would ever be that brainless!), one could almost guarantee an embarrassing voter turnout.
And the mobile home cum resort type place is also something that we wouldn't see down here in that kind of set up. We do have some camping grounds that have permanent residents (with their mobile homes that have been renovated to the extent that they are not really relocateable). But it is different somehow. I'm not sure how to describe it.....I think I've just run outta words!!!


The day after we got back from Coalmont, Big Bear and I were invited to go with our friends, Gerry and Shauna, to Birch Bay, across the US border. There are tons of resort-type areas in Birch Bay, for those who can't afford the multi-million dollar mansions looking out over the ocean. And one of these resorts (only 5 minutes from the ocean) is where Gerry and Shauna recently bought a lot and a little single-wide mobile home to put on it. After Coalmont, where anything goes, it was an extreme contrast to be in a community with all the neat and tidy little lots, perfect homes and trailers, sweet little gardens, and billions of rules. It is populated mostly by retired people, some of whom live there full time, and they all get together for activities at the clubhouse or on each other's patios.Are you ever tempted to save corks from wine bottles?? One of Gerry and Shauna's neighbours has saved a few. In her perfect little "wine shed" (complete with sink, counter, and wine glass racks), she has created a unique ceiling with corks. This may be a good project for your old age!
Of course, we couldn't go to the US without shopping! Gerry was raring to buy a radial arm saw, so we all traipsed through the big box store (one we don't have in Canada). I was slightly amused by the big flag hanging from the ceiling; would you see that kind of thing in NZ?I preferred to buy cheese at Costco (so much cheaper!!) and of course, made a special visit to the local scrapbook store. It felt like a real holiday!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Coalmont Visit

Now that our trip is over, I can show you a little bit of where we were.

I already told you that Coalmont is a unique place. One evening, we went with my parents to the Coalmont Hotel pub. The hotel was opened in 1912 and could tell some stories. The rooms are all in disarray now, and only the pub is operational. The old building is just crying out for someone to come along and fix it up. Someone with a truckload of cash! The pub, however, was lovely. In an old kind of way.
Across the road is the old meat market - another "come and fix me up" kind of place. With the right marketing (and foresight and work and money), this old town... village... hamlet could be so cute and alive!

We smelled strongly of wood smoke, as we had a fire burning constantly. The weather was unseasonably cold, which set me to worrying that summer was over. (Fortunately, it is now 30 degrees again, so I'm happy!)

On my parents' property, there is a tiny log thing. Too small to be called a cabin, but a bit larger than a shed; it has a proper toilet inside (yay!) and a fridge and a sofa. Quite handy. At some point, we hope to build a house that will fit all of us.
My dad was busy with a building project - a deck attached to the little cabin, which will be screened in to keep the bugs out. I'm so proud of my dad - at almost 72, he can build anything, and still works almost full time, doing renovations.
Terry, the neighbour across the road, comes over frequently. He is a landscaper and has a little Bobcat that he drives over to help out with all kinds of jobs. He also has three Jack Russell terriers. Little Spud always sits on Terry's lap when he comes over with his ever-present cigarette and a drink. I told you Coalmont is unique!

The Trans-Canada Trail runs through the area, built on the old Kettle Valley Railway bed. It's OK for snowmobiling, according to the sign, but make sure you are not riding ATVs on it! Homeward bound, camperless, pulling Big Bear's beloved KLR motorcycle.

PS - three days after the fallen tree fiasco, Bob the Lumberjack was finally (reluctantly) found on the road with his WWII fighter pilot father, and was thoroughly thanked and paid. With money, too!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

PS. to Trialling the Music Clips

Some of you commented that you found the wee 214KB clip of the Rumba Toccata in "Trialling the Music Clips" , too blocky and unclear (picture wise).

And others have asked for a clip of the Grand Finale concert performance.

Well, here is the posting that combines both those requests!

This clip is only a little larger but the Rumba Toccata performance is a whole degree better, in my opinion. If perchance, it is a bit jumpy the first time, let it download fully, before clicking the play button the 2nd time. It should play a lot better after that.

Let us know how this one works for you!



After the meteorological 'dunking' NZ has had over the last 12 days or so, it seemed appropriate to tell you about a wonderful discovery we've had - "Dunkers"!
Dunkers are double-baked ginger biscuits (like the Kiwi "Gingernuts"), in the shape of a large teaspoon. They come partly covered over the spoon area with a choice of white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate; or fully covered (as shown here) with a mix of dark and white chocolate; or simply plain (uncovered biscuit).
The idea is that you stir your hot cuppa with one of these Dunkers, kinda like you would dunk a cookie into your cuppa tea, coffee, or hot chocolate drink! (Not that you would ever do such an uncouth thing, of course!)
Being double-baked, the cookie doesn't dissolve into soggy lumps into your cuppa quite as easily. And if you choose a chocolate covered version, you get to slurp, suck, and lick the melting chocolate off before you get down to the hard biscuit base.

Need I tell you that mine was DELICIOUS?!

(right down to the very last morsel! And such wonderful study fodder too!)

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