Saturday, March 30, 2013

Being careful with ornaments - and still breaking them!

Hi.  I truly hate breakable stuff.   You try to be so careful and somehow by saying to yourself "I will be ultra-ultra-ultra careful with this ornament" you imagine that, miraculously, the ornament in question will somehow be saturated with extra strength and resilience where nothing in the world can harm it, short of a blast of kryptonite.

Once when I was at work a careers psychologist came and gave the staff a pep talk.  He said "If you're on a bicycle and you see a snail up ahead of you, your mind will repeat over and over 'I will not bike over that snail-I will not bike over that snail..."  But often, your bike wheels go straight to it - and over it - and you can't understand why.

I went into a dream and never did find out the psychological answer but I figure that someone is concentrating so heavily that their sub-conscious mind only hears 'snail ... snail ...  ride ... ride ...".  And you ride right over the poor thing.

The same with ornaments.  On Waiheke Island, from the Red Shed Arts Collective shop at Palm Beach,  (specialising in Waiheke Island residents' artwork), I bought a lovely little ornament of a swimmer/sunbather-sitting-on-a-beach-towel. 

The lady in the shop bubble-wrapped and newspaper wrapped it heavily.   I carried the  ornament intact for 300 metres, from the artsy-craftsy shop to the coffee table in the lounge of my holiday home before I broke the darn thing!   The  wafer-thin "towel" snapped right in half on contact with the table.   All the way from artists' shop to holiday home, my mind had been worrying about  "how will I pack the ornament for the journey home?", and "should I perhaps carry it for safety into the cabin of the plane instead of packing it in my bag?", and "oh-goodness-if-I-break-it-I'll-just-die!"

Was all this akin to the snail thingee?  By worrying about not breaking my ornament had I set myself up to -shudder! - break it?  Who knows?  I very amateurishly glued the 'towel' back together, then J, my swimming buddy who is also an artist, dabbed a matching colour along the crackline. 

And I still love my little ornament.  It reminds me so much of slapping up the sun at Hataitai Beach.

Here's a pic of the broken ornament, before its repair.  The artist is Waiheke resident, Jacqueline Riley.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Songs to carry a coffin out to?

There's a terrible amateur-ish commerical on New Zealand television where people are sitting around telling us what songs they want played at their funeral.  I've always zoned out before the end but I guess the commercial is sponsored by some funeral insurance company.  It's got me seriously thinking.  What song do I want played when my coffin is carried out of the church?

For years I've told folk that I wanted to be carried out to the accompaniment of Cliff Richard's "Summer Holiday".  I've always fancied the words "We're all going on a summer holdiay ...." to be sort of perfect for starting another chapter of one's evolution.

But I now have a new song to accompany my coffin.  It's the theme from" Star Trek: Enterprise".

The tune is officially called "Faith of the Heart".  I always thought this song was the most boring television theme song of all time.  Then I went to a karaoke night, and  it was sung by four guys who swayed arms and cigarette lighters during  the chorus, and sung absolutely atrociously and, okay,let's admit it, a wee bit drunkedly.

However, the guys got the audience to participate, and I was hooked.  It's what I want done at my funeral.  I want all the attendees to leap from the pews during the chorus and sway their arms lin time to the music and sing lustily and probably out of tune, just as if they were at a concert.  The words are so-perfect for a funeral. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Get behind me, chocolate (but maybe just within arm's reach, yeah?)

Hi there
My little trip to Taupo was quite happy.  Nothing of (bad) consequence happened, which as you know is quite unusual on a holiday for me.

As I was wandering past The Coffee Club (franchised) cafe in Taupo, a sign caught my eye.  A mouth-watering picture of pancakes with blueberries/blackberries/strawberries ... and ice cream!

What?  No bananas?  whoopeee...  So many pancake meals include bananas.  I hate bananas.  If I was on a desert island and there were only bananas to eat, I'd have to die of starvation.  I do luuuuurve berries of any type.

And I adore ice cream.  So many pancake meals don't include ice cream.

I was in heaven.  I rushed inside, allowing myself a special dispensation from my diet.  I mean, this was pancakes.  Without banana.  And with ice cream.  Have my three readers yet realised the significance of all this to me?

The plate came with a tiny silver-ish jug of what I presumed to be maple syrup.  I poured it liberally over each pancake.  My eyesight isn't as great as it could be because I stared in horror as I saw I was pouring on thick chocolate sauce.  It was bad enough the calories I was planning to eat but ..... hundreds of additional calories in the form of addiction-riddled chocolate!!!

I'd avoided chocolate in all forms for a month now.  The chocolate cravings for the first three weeks had been terrible, but it was now out of my system and I'd felt all the better for it.

But what's a gal to do when her just-about-favourite-meal-in-the-whole-world is sitting in front of  her and it's covered in thick chocolate syrup.

Well, I ate it all of course.  Cross fingers, no lasting effects.  (Aside:  at the supermarket yesterday, my feet sort of trotted over to the chocolate-coated lamington cakes.  But, thank goodness, with a stern internal telling-off by my conscience,  - accompanied by the repeated whispered reciting of the mantra "no-no-no" -  I pulled myself away and bought some carrot sticks instead.)

  Here's a pic of the old boat, the Ernest Kemp, that takes passengers for a little cruise on Lake Taupo.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

my spur-of-the-moment trip to Lake Taupo

Hi there
As I type this, it's Sun morning, New Zealand time.  On Thurs morn, 8 a.m, NZ time, I suddenly decided I'd like to go to Taupo for a couple of nights.  I threw clothes every-which-way into my regretted-buying-it Calvin Klein carry-on bag that I got in Vegas last year (see picture of the bag in last year's blog, plus write-up about it).

I was out of house by 9 a.m, a bit later than I would have wished but, hey, I had to book my holiday house and leave messages in my neighbours' letter-boxes to let them know what was happening in case they figured I'd gone and died in my bed and they broke down the front door.  Actually, the rule is that if my blinds are still closed by mid-day, they have permission to truly break down the door.

I checked, at least three times, that I had my wallet and phone and was in Taupo five hours later..  A record for me, it's usually five and three-quarters of an hour.

Had a nice relaxing time, though it broke my heart I couldn't walk the track from Spa Park in Spa Road to Huka Falls.  It's only about an hour each way and I usually love walking it, but with my sore feet....... Darn!  

Within a couple of minutes into the Huka Walk, still in Spa Park and alongside the river, a person is at a lovely hot water spring that's a real enjoyment.  Completely in it's natural state, and totally free to use.  Most folk don't bother about the rest of the walk, just arrive in their bathing suits and flop down to sit on a rock in the shallow water.

I didn't want to be bothered to clean the shower at my holiday home.  So I used the showers each morning, after my 7 a.m. swims at the thermal swimming pool just around the corner from where I was staying.  I'd forgotten to take along hair shampoo on my trip so I plastered my hair with the soap from the container above the basins, before scooting into the shower.

The water in Lake Taupo was ever-so low because of the North Island being officially declared a drought.

My holiday home was just around the corner from the Taupo Bungy.  As I left Wellington, I programmed the Taupo Bungy location into my new car GPS system and found the area with only one hiccup where I was sure I was being taken off to slavers but, no, it turned out the GPS was right after all.

I wasn't present for any bungy jumps but I did see a couple of kids taking a double 'swing'.  They sit in a sort of seat that plummeted them down to the river, then it slowly swungsthem backwards and forwards for a time before they were reeled back up again to the bungy platform.  It looked great.

Here's a pic

There is a fantastic river and greenery view from Taupo Bungy and anyone can watch the activities.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A little light dusting in Ancient Rome . Slaves 'R' Us

Hi there.

When J and I were in the changing sheds at the beach yesterday, we got to talking about what skills we would have brought to the auction block if we'd been slaves in ancient Rome  (don't ask how we got onto the subject because I can't remember).

"I can't cook," I said.  "So cooking would be out.  And I don't know a weed from a flower; I'd be a terrible gardener."

 I suggested that I could perhaps clean the bath.  Until  I remembered that Roman baths were like Olympic-sized swimming pools, they held, oh, loads of people, and anyway, cleaning olympic-size Roman swimming baths just sounded like a lot of  hard work.

We were too long in the tooth, we decided,  to be pleasure slaves.  We weren't manly enough to construct things, though it was agreed by both of us that J's husband sitting out there on the deck would probably rake in more money than us up there on the auction block.  He' could help construct the collesium.  J thought that maybe she and I could be thrown in as a job lot with whosoever did end up buying her husband for his ampitheatre-building skills.

"I could do some light dusting," I said. 

"I could paint ... muriels," said J.  She always had admired Hilda Ogden's pronunciation of "murals' in tv's "Coronation Street".

It was a go-er then.  Any slave owner would be thrilled to buy us.

J sent me this picture later in the afternoon.   I'm obviously on my way to  dust a muriel.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ohau cafe. Plus Hataitai Beach


1)  On my second trip back from Levin the other day, I was so upset I stopped off at a cafe/restaurant in Ohau for lunch.  To heck with my diet.   11 days down and I was giving up.  Bring on the sweet things, the meat pies, the cola drinks with sugar.  Out with diet stuff.  I want to eat!

I ordered a lamb burger (It may have been a mixture lamb/beef burger; can't remember all that well).  It arrived with chips and salad.  What is it about lamb burgers that they truly are so bland?  I'm always searching for one that has real taste to it.  This burger looked very raw but - ah-ha! - I watch "MasterChef" and "My Kitchen Rules" and all those Jamie Oliver programmes (admission:  I really just watch for gorgeous little Jamie, I never much pay sattention to the actual cooking).  On all these programmes the judges, looking at lamb dishes, always say "it's not raw-looking enough", or "it's too well-cooked", or "I want to see the blood!".    So, I knew my burger was definitely cooked.

Anyway, the second the burger arrived, I sort of came to my senses.  I was dieting, darn-it!  I left the bottom part of the bun, and only ate half of the top (the buns were hardly toasted - naughty chef).  I did eat quarter of the chips and all of the burger (so sue me....).

Ohau is just past Levin if you're travelling south..  Ohau Cafe had a nice atmosphere.   The chef (Nic Cohen) apparently has dished up dishes for Oprah and Gordon Ramsay.  The cakes, muffins, etc, really looked scrumptious.

2)  the other day, after my swim at Hataitai Beach, I went to cross the pedestrian crossing to get to my car.  I dithered slightly on the crossing because I didn't know if the approaching car was going to slow down for me.  It did, and I continued to my own car a few metres away.

But suddenly the car screeched to a stop beside me as I was burrowing in my car's boot.  The driver yelled out,  "Don't you know what a triangle means?"

He was gay?  

He drove away, still yelling something angrily at me.

I still don't know what the guy was on about.  All I can think of are the triangles that are painted on the road to warn drivers of a pedestrian crossing coming up.  Did this angry driver think because I knew he was going to stop I shouldn't have dithered but walked straight into the line of traffic?  I trust drivers in lots of situations but when I see a car barrelling toward me, I would prefer to stop and see if his plan truly is to put on the brakes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Z Petrol Station and my Big Trip to Palmerston North (..not!)

Hi there!  Wow, what a day.  Another sitcom situation in the life of Lorraine!!

I woke up bright and early and there and then decided to have a day's outing to Palmerston North to look at the shops, have a nice drive trying out my new TomTom Satellite Navigation System.  It was going to be 27c in PN, and I spent about a half an hour trying to work out what glamorous yet cool (both for weather and fashion) outfit to be seen in.  I ended up dressing down as usual because nothing glamorous went with my hiking sandals which I have to wear because of my bad ankle and my bad heel.

The day before I'd put $20 worth of petrol in my car's tank and that was enough to get me to the Z petrol station (ex-Shell) in Levin, which because of early morning traffic took one and three quarter hours of driving. 

Anyway,  the attendant finished pumping my petrol, as I was walking into the shop, hunting for my wallet and ..... NO WALLET!   I'd left my wallet and my phone at home.  Rats.

I had to fill in a form vowing to return to the Z petrol station Levin with $71.00  by 9 30 a.m. the following morning.  "Don't forget to put your Driving Licence number on the form," said the shop guy.

I couldn't.  My licence was in my wallet, along with hundreds of loyalty cards (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit here), my credit cards, and bank cards.   Still,  I filled out the form as best I could, embarrassment flushing my cheeks.

"Look, can I post you a cheque?" I asked.

"Nope.  It has to be cash," said the shop assistant.  

"What about if I ring you with my credit card number?"

"Sorry.  Cash.  By 9.30 tomorrow  morning," he reiterated, just in case I hadn't already latched onto that.

I drove all the way back to Wellington.  It was only an hour and a half this time, grabbed a sandwich, rang Z Head Office to see if they could think of an easy way to pay("It's up to the individual petrol station," they said).  It was a one and a half-hour journey back to Levin.

Then ...  another hour and a half journey back to Wellington.  All in all, I figure, petrol for the four journeys would have come to about $75. 

I stopped at Hataitai beach for a swim.  I needed it.

I rang Z Head Office again and said what say I'd been driving to Auckland and had got as far as Hamilton (about eight hours away) and discovered I'd left my wallet at home.    Would I have had to return to Wellington and drive back to Hamilton again in a 24 hour period?

"It's up to the individual Z service station to decide,"  repeated the gentlman in the customer support office.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ruminating about Hobbiton

Hi there      I had a lovely afternoon today.  Truly, as the saying (and song) goes, "You Can't Beat wellington on a Good Day".  I moseyed over to Hataitai beach at noon, had a lazy half hour swim with no jellyfish or stingrays, sunbathed in glorious weather,  read Rhys Darby's spaceship book, spoke to lots of beach friends who all seemed to roll up today (except J!), had another swim, more sunbathing........   Whilst I was swimming, I was ruminating about how lucky we New Zealanders are, and especially we Wellingtonians, and, yes, even more so we Miramar folk, to live where Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor decided to build their film empire. 

I've always loved movies.  One year - 1958 - I decided to keep a record and that year I saw more movies than days of the year, thanks to double features.  We used to go to the local theatres Tues,  Wed, Fri and Sat nights and Sat afternoons my friend and I went to the movies in town,  Often on a Saturday we would rush to the matinee in town, hare back to the 5 pm session at the local theatre, and then on to the 7.30 pm session at the other local!

Anyway, it was so great to visit 'Hobbiton' in Matamata, the set of 'The Lord of the Rings' movies and also 'The Hobbit'.  What a privilege.  I loved walking the flagstone path down the hill from Bilbo's house to the party tree.

Long may Sir Peter and Sir Richard reign!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Headlands Sculpture Walk, Waiheke Island

Hi there.  Every February on Waiheke Island, 40 mins by ferry from Auckland city, there is a sculpture walk.  There is a bus that takes you from a pavilion  near where the ferry lands, to a top point on the island,and returns you again at finish of your walk. 

On arrival at the top of the island, you walk down a 3 km track past loads of modern sculptures, and the most beautiful scenery imaginable.   You only have to pay a few dollars for the bus ride.    And if you've got thousands of dollars you can buy one of the  sculptures for your backyard.

Because of my sore foot, I did have a bit of trouble with the downhill bits, but once when I stumbled  on a step a gorgeous young man rushed to my aid and I swooned against his chest like some giggly teenage girl.

There was one sculpture that had everybody around me puzzled.  It wasnt until I said "The Birds?  The movie?  Alfred Hitchcock?" that people twigged.  It pays to be a movie buff.

Another sculpture was like a giant tree harp that could be played.   And yet one more sculpture (behind me in photo)  was a sort of large gazebo that was made up entirely of joined-together off-cut scraps of wood.  One man I talked to was amazed by this because he said there was no skeleton holding up the scraps of wood.       It was such a hot day.  About 30c every day I was on Waiheke.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Drama at Hataitai Beach, Wellington, NZ

Hi there.  A dramatic day today.  The weather started out dull so I figured I'd just mope around the house and have a break from the beach.  But by 2.20 pm, the sun was out.  (incidentally, I notice that Wellington has broken the record for the most sun hours this season for the whole of NZ - yay!!)   I shot down to Hataitai Beach, just in time to meet up with my swimming pal  J, ready to leave after her swim.

I convinced her to have another swim.  As we were swimming, she told me that a fully-clothed kid of about six had fallen off the steps from the deck, into the water.  His father bounded in fully clothed to grab him up.   Luckily, the water wasnt very deep.   The pair trotted off home soaking wet.!

J and I had a lovely lazy swim chatting about everything.  We forgot the time and suddenly realised we'd been in the water a half an hour.  I usually try to swim right up to the steps because I hate putting my feet to the ground at any time because I'm, scared of the stingrays that could be hidden under the sand. 

I rang up NIWA once to tell them that a huge stingray had skirted around my legs at the foot of the steps.  "Go to Hataitai Beach and kill it!  Kill them all!" I shouted, like some crazed person.

"They won't hurt you.  They're harmless," smirked the NIWA guy.  "They probably come in every Febraury to lay their eggs.  When you see what look like little leather purses - it's their egg sacs." 

A year or so after that conversation, and just after having almost stepped on my second stingray, I read about poor Steve Irwin's death  Stingrays harmless, huh?  However, I hadn't seen a stringray at the beach in, maybe, half a dozen years.

After J and I had got out from our swim today, one of the regulars called us over to the deck railing.  And there, heavens-to-Betsy, was a stingray!      All us regulars congregated on the deck, peering down into the water.

J, and lots of my friends, and you three readers as well, all know by now how I would rather eat live maggots than let non-beach folk see me in my bathing togs, with my rotund body and flabby thighs.  However, today with nary a thought but that I had to race across the road to get my camera from the car, I stopped all traffic on Marine Parade as I hared across the pedestrian crossing.  How embarrassing.

Here's a not very good pic of the stingray.