Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Garden ..... weeded!

Hi there

Whoopee!  My garden is weed-free. 

I called a man in!  Yes, I admit I should have done it myself, but just the throught of all those weeds turned me into a stressed out something-or-other. If I'd done the weeding, it would have taken weeks because I would have procrastinated something awful.  As it was, 'the man' did the the job in about an hour.  Not only did he do the back garden and the side-of-the house border garden, he also took out all the tall weeds growing out of cracks in the concrete.  Now you can actually see the trunk of my fig tree.

Because I'm as useless on computers as I am at weeding, I got in a man  (a different man) to install some computer stuff,  While he was at it, I insisted he change the photo on my website.  I mean, who wears blue tinted glasses nowadays?

Oh, I do seem to be awash with men.  Today, two men (count them, 'two') came to fix my roof ... the sixth attempt by various service people .  When was it that my ceiling started leaking like Niagara?  Oh that's right, about three-quarters way through last year, yes?

PS:  The water today at Hataitai Beach was quite warm.  What a pity that it was choppy; I kept swallowing it.   And that guy who washes his clothes in a plastic bag on the deck in front of the changing sheds?  He's  been busily sudsing, and scrubbing, and hanging his gear out to dry for three days now. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Worser Bay Sunshine

Hi there

I didn't go to Hataitai Beach today.  The weather was absolutely glorious and I decided to do the half hour walk over the hill from Miramar to Worser Bay

I walked in a new pair of  delicate strappy sandals.

At the halfway point, otherwise known as The Point of No Return, one strap fell off.  By the time I
hit Worser Bay, my feet were aching.

I had a couple of swims, read three-quarters of a book, did half of a crossword, whiled away four hours, and walked home again,   Or should I say 'hobbled' home.  It was a looooong walk.

Right now, my feet are positively burning.  I'll have blisters on the soles of both feet by tomorrow.  Plus further blisters on two heels, as well as on  two little piggy toes.  What a treat for me if the dreaded plantar fasciitis makes a return!

Still, it was so lovely today floating in the water surrounded by such amazing scenery, hearing happy squeals from the dozens of kiddies at the beach, and watching a giant container ship leaving Wellington Harbour, a little tug boat in its wake.

Looking down on Worser Bay.  Photo taken a couple of weeks ago.  Today the bay was extremely  crowded.

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's "Elementary" - the Sherlock Holmes tv show

Hi there

When I was in Las Vegas last year, I stayed at the MGM Grand.  Visitors to the casino can rate and comment on the bare bones of an (unidentified when you sign up for it) upcoming television show.  Usually, a new season opener.  The background music might not have been added, nor the credits, nor some scenes.  For instance when I attended one session in 2012, a notice came up on the screen at the start of a scene saying something about blood and spatter to be added later. - no prizes for guessing the name of that show:  "Criminal Minds".

I was happy as a sandboy to discover when I got into the screening room last year that we were all (about a dozen of us) to review 'Elementary', which would be shown on American tv screens, I think, the following month. 

As the episode progressed, I was required to twirl a numbered dial expressing my level of interest.  If I felt like turning the show off completely - horrors for tv executives - I would press a button. 

After watching 'Elementary', we had to mark off on a personal computer what we thought of each star, the supporting actors, the music , individual scenes, the production, etc.  Then ... it was a long session ticking off our likes and dislikes of dozens of other tv shows and their stars.

It's hard to take in that collectively we viewers in that room could be responsible for the careers of so many people.

The episode that I rated last year was the new season-starter where Holmes goes back to England with his assistant, and sees his brother. 

Look out for it on NZ television screens this coming week.  Of course, that's if NZ tv play the episodes in the proper order.

Oh, here's a pic I took of The Strip, night-time, in Las vegas:

FYI:  The Cottage in Eketahuna. where I stayed a couple of weeks ago, survived the eartquake, but a house belonging to the owners' relatives, not so well.  They've had to move out and wait for the structure to be assessed.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'm such an excellent driver.....not!

Hi there
Two days before I left for Eketahuna, I visited a friend in Wellington Hospital.  As I was reversing out from the parking space I hit the car parked beside me  .....(pause for astounded oohhs and ahhhs and exclamations of  "but you're such a good driver!" and "I don't believe it!" from my four readers)...

I leapt out of my car, as did the woman in the other car.  We both peered at her car's back light and bumper.

Not a scratch.  I guess it was because she was surely driving the army's latest tank.  She would have needed a step ladder to even clamber up onto the front seat.

We peered at where my indicator light on my little Mazda should be.  There was a big hole.  My entire light fitting was on the road.  It had been sheered away from the car.

I was just glad that it was my car and not hers.  We parted amicably. 

Without a working indicator light, I wouldn't be able to go on holiday.  In panic I rushed to my panel beater (yeah, okay, I have a pet panel beater, so live with it), but he was closed for the Christmas/New Year holidays.  I rushed to another one.  Closed, as well.  I rang up my garage guy.  Closed.

I phoned my insurance people.  "You'll be lucky to find anything open," the insurance woman said.
She told me that she was only at work under protest.

Wait a sec....  I'll ring Mazda.

I did.  They sent me out to their parts shop in Petone.  To get to Petone I had to drive a four lane highwaywithout a working right-hand indicator.  Honestly, I'd rather have driven naked.  I was so stressed out.

The Mazda parts guy fixed my light.  I followed him into the shop,wallet at the ready.

"No charge," he said.  "Have a nice holiday."

But I was no novice at this.  I drew out a $10 note.  "Here's some beer money," I said.

"No. No, it's okay."

"Coca-cola money?" I ventured.

He shook his head.


He grinned.  He took my money.

Oh goodness, I am so professional at this tipping business.


I tripped over my laptop cord this afternoon and my computer crashed to the floor.  I couldn't get it operating for a long time, but now it seems to be okay.  If I'm missing for a time, you'll know I'm trying to get the laptop repaired.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Earthquake today

Hi there

Goodness, there was an earthquake, 6.2, over the lower North Island this afternoon (Monday NZ time) at 3.50 p.m. and centred at ...wait for it! .... Eketahuna.   What a good thing I wasn't there and swimming in the river!   The Four Square (mini supermarket) in Eketahuna ,where I went last week to buy my light bulb, has had a lot of damage.  Photos of the shop's interior look like a bomb site. 

I hope Mt Bruce wildlife centre is okay, that the rare little white kiwis arent traumatised.

The thing is I didn't feel the earthquake today.  The tv is full of pictures of things falling off supermarket shelves, swimming pools overflowing, people running from buildings, ornaments toppling, and I was completely oblivious to the whole thing.  Some time this afternoon, I did hear a sort of something falling, but put it down to the wind.  Maybe that was the quake?

Have just heard from my swimming friend, J.  She was in the supermarket when the quake struck and was surrounded by objects crashing down from shelves.

Lots of reports are coming through about damage in Wellington, all minor, I think so far.  The Hobbit sculptured bird that Weta had suspended at Wellington Airport came down from its harness - see below photo taken from the stuff website. Some reporters have not been able to resist talking about "The Eagle Has Landed".  You may remember that I had taken a photo of the two birds flying high and put them on my blog a couple of weeks back.  It's the bird without Gandalf riding it that came down, the one that looks as if it's flying like an inch or so above the coffee cups in my photo - false perspective picture, the bird was really suspended close up high to the ceiling and was one ton huuuuuge)

Eagle sculpture falls at Wellington Airtport after earthquake (Source: ONE News)

Border Patrol television programmes

Hi there
I was watching yet another one of those 'Border Patrol' type programmes on tv yesterday.  New Zealand has produced such a show and so, too, has Australia, Britain, United States, and, I guess,  lots more countries. 

These shows are mainly filmed at airports with Customs people, or Immigration people, or Police people hovering throughout.  Some poor traveller has been pulled aside because he looks shifty, he's sweating, he has too much cash on him, he doesn't know a thing about the country he's just landed in, or he's carrying one of  the worst things imaginable:  food!

I don't know how many times I've been called over to the side to have that ticklish 'wand' run up and down and over my body, with my arms outstretched, legs akimbo.  The downside is that, darn-it, I'm not being filmed for a tv programme, the upside is that - ooh, look! - I am the centre of attention, and that is totally neat for an extrovert such as myself.

It's all because:    (a)  I fidget while I'm waiting for my plane, and  (b) I only carry cabin baggage, ranging from 3kg (Europe for 6 weeks), to 7 kg (Las Vegas  for 3 weeks - the glitter clothes, plus cosmetics 'upped' the kilograms). 

I think I've mentioned this before, but old people do fidget.  We check that we have our passport at least a dozen times, we sit down and get up from our seat often, and we go to the loo a lot.  We fidget because, honestly, we're worried we'll miss the plane, get mugged, fall asleep, be approached by strangers, be stopped by Customs, or miss a travel connection.   All this fidgeting shows up on tv monitors in some back room at airports.

I carry the bare minimum in luggage.  I even wrote (and got paid for) a magazine article about travelling light.  I don't have to hang around luggage carousels, and when I'm walking to a hotel or train I'm wearing a small back-pack no bigger than folk might carry on their way home from the supermarket.  Once I was happily sitting on a plane waiting to take off from Los Angeles airport bound for New York, when all passengers were turfed off.  Fifteen  minutes later, I was travelling on another NY-bound plane whilst my original fellow travellers had to stay in LA overnight.  I transferred easily because I only carried cabin baggage..

Of course, the opposite happens when I drive myself around New Zealand.  Going to Whakatane last month, I was totally ashamed.  The boot of my car ('trunk' for my US reader) was laden with so much stuff, you would have thought I was moving house.  My little Mazda could barely make it up the  Ngauranga Gorge, and that's only ten minutes from Miramar where I live.

Here's a plaque sunk into the pavement outside the Chinese Theatre/ Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorating 'Star Trek'.  Wouldn't it be great to travel on the Enterprise?   I'll bet Captain Kirk wouldn't take all that nonsense from a customs officer.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sitcom Queen strikes yet again! At Eketahuna

Hi there
I knocked the bedside light off the table at my holiday home in Eketahuna.

The light was still working, but the shade and its fittings were irrepairably dented, plus the red-hot bulb was now 'joined' to the shade.  Oops.

Perhaps I could buy a replica shade and nobody would notice?  I'd seen this done lots of times in Movie of the Week on television where parents substituted replica mice or guinea pigs for accidentally killed household pets.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, that's what I would do, too.  No, not buy a guinea pig or a mouse... honestly, keep up with me, will you?

I seached-I-mean-truly-searched the whole of the Masterton  shopping area (25 minutes away) for a new  lampshade.  I went into high-grade stores, second-hand stores, The Warehouse, electrical places, charity shops, the information centre.  I spent the whole day in Masterton when I should have been swimming in the river in front of The Cottage.  Lots of lamps with shades intact to be had, but no single shades to be bought for love nor money.  And by 3 pm, I was truly willing to exchange love for a lampshade.  How cheap can a gal get?.

A sales assistant in one store told me to go to "Shady Lady" in Petone.

Great.  Petone was down by my home.  An hour and a half away.  No way was I going home to buy a lampshade and then back again to the Wairarapa district.

Finally, I found lampshades at Mitre 10.  The shade was smaller than I was searching for, but it would have to do.

I got back to The Cottage but had forgotten to buy a light bulb.  I drove 10 minutes to the Eketahuna Four-Square, then back again to The cottage to discover that the bulb was broken.  So, back I went to Eketahuna for a new bulb.

I couldn't get the darn lampshade onto the light fitting, try as I might.  After three hours, I gave up.  I slunk off home to Wellington, leaving behind one sheepish confession to a cottage owner, one shadeless bedside lamp, one battered and burnt shade, one new lampshade, one bulb with some lampshade material burnt into it, a spare light bulb, and, hopefully, enough money to buy a whole new bedside lamp.


Above is the offending bedside lamp, photo taken pre-accident....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just Returned from...wait for it!.... Eketahuna!!

Hi there.
I've just had four nights up the line in an Eketahuna cottage rental.  It's an hour and a half away from Wellington, 25 minutes past Masterton, 1 km off Highway No 2.

Don't laugh.  I know that everybody in NZ thinks of Eketahuna as, like, Timbuktoo or The back of Beyond, and folk smirk when Eketahuna is mentioned.  But I truly love The Cottage where I stay.  It's a couple of minutes drive from Mt Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary where if you're lucky you can see one of their two white kiwis, the only ones in the world.  I saw one and it looks like a couple of fluffy snowballs with spindly legs and a beak.

The Cottage is one bedroom - I'll show you interior photos some other time.  There is a swimming hole just in front of The Cottage and nothing surrounding the place but sheep/fields/trees/birds singing/river babbling.  Not one house to be seen.  Take note though, that it can get pretty windy.

I swam half a dozen times.  On Wednesday, I swam three times in one day.  Sheer bliss.  The Cottage details are on the Baches & Holiday Homes to Rent website, #573.

that's not a house to the left, it's a sort of sheep barn.

looking out of the side window

taken from the verandah looking down to river

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Getting lost amongst the weeds in my garden.

Hi there
I am having a troublesome time reconciling myself with the weeds in my back garden.  It's only a pocket-size garden..  However, I just can't find any motivation to weed it.  Every evening and every morning, I say to myself, "I have-to-have-to-have-to weed the garden".  Then, I take off to do things I would much rather do, like go to the beach or gym,  or take a walk, or watch tv, or visit the shops, or the dentist.  Yes, truly,  I'd rather go the dentist than weed a garden.

The weeds are so high I could almost-but-not-quite lose an elephant amongst them.  It looks like I have sheafs of wheat blowing in the wind.  In reality, I have no  flowers, shrubs, bushes, or bulbs in this so-called garden.  There is a fig tree.  The trunk of that tree is  completely obscured by the shoulder-high weeds.

This weeding thing has now become massive in my mind.  So massive, that I'm stressed about it.  My swimming friend, J, says if I do some weeding for ten minutes every day, I will soon have the garden weed-free.  J has even agreed to weed her own garden simultanously.  I guess I keep a phone beside me on the garden path and when I feel like I want to rebel and run away from home, I need to give her a call, and she'll talk me up.....  It's so neat to have a sponsor.

This afternoon, I shut the back door on my garden and went for a lovely walk to the hill above Worser Bay.  The weather was perfect

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oh dear, the weather in the States sounds horrific!

Hi there
Here I was moaning away about Wellington's dull-skies-with-occasional-showers whilst the  Americans and British are having absolutely terrible weather.  For the last few days, both countries' weather has been the lead items on our television and radio news, as well as in the papers.  There's floods in England, and awful-awful-awful snow and freezing temperatures in the USA.   My goodness, the temps in Chicago have dropped to way, way, way below zero.  I simply can't visualise these sorts of temperatures. To see the poor folk battling through the snow and wearing so many clothes that they could be mistaken for a herd of wombles is completely foreign to me.  Come to think about it, I've never even touched snow.  In my mind, it would feel, perhaps, like bubble bath.

My heart goes out to the poor people in the Northern Hemisphere....

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Do I have 'cabin fever'? - Yes!

Hi there
I think the term 'cabin fever' harks back to the American wild west days when gold prospectors  or hearty woodsmen were stuck in snow-bound cabins throughout an entire winter.   This caused them to get jolly cross with each other, and also extremely upset with the world in general.

This Christmas/New Year season, I have cabin fever.  Fortunately, most of my neighbours and loved ones have departed for pastures anew over the holdiays, so I don't have anyone to truly vent my spleen on.   But I like to think I am more refined than the prospectors and woodsmen.  I wouldn't dream of axing my room-mate at midnight, or crawling out in my nightie into a snowdrift believing I'm on my way to Starbucks for a double-gin-sling-mocha-latte.

But our weather has been awful.  When it hasn't been dull, it's been raining.  I did try swimming in the rain last week, and it was quite invigorating.  However, none of my beach friends were there, and passing motorists kept yelling out that I was 'mad'.

I've worked my way through practically every vampire and werewolf book the nice Kindle folk have begged me to buy.  I may have to move on to - shudder! - books about cooking.  Or gardening ...

I did get a couple of "Dexter" seasons out from the library.   But after watching something like 16 Dexters on the trot, I could kill the guy myself.

Here in New Zealand, the holidays last about 12 days.  And I've only made it to the beach for a lively chatter/bask/leisurely swim for one of them.  The holidays unofficially finish today (Sunday 5 Jan). Most people will be going back to work tomorrow.

And my ceiling is still leaking....

Here's a pic I took of a pohutakawa tree at Maraetotara reserve on Ohope Beach in December.  Ah, is that what a blue sky looks like? - it's been so long, I've forgotten.

 Maori legend has it that if pohutakawas flower before Christmas there will be a fine year ahead.  As you can see this tree was well in flower.  The pohutakawa tree is a protected native species

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Is New Zealand truly the most politically correct country on Earth?

Hi there
It has been said that New Zealand, under the prime-ministership of Helen Clark, became the most politically-correct country ever.  Ms Clark is now 3rd in line at the United Nations with, no doubt, her eyes dead-set on the Secretary-General's job.  It was also said many times during her long elected NZ reign that it had always been her aim to work for the United Nations, hence her wanting to look good in the eyes of UN selectors

Anyway, the upshot was that she made all us citizens ultra-ultra aware of .... things.   It's sort of ingrained in us now, this politically correct stuff, without us scarcely realising it.

It all came home to me one day last August, when I was in Hollywood, at the Hollywood & Highland Mall.  I had popped into the absolutely delicious "Sweet!" lollie shop (we say 'lollies', but overseas folk say 'sweets', but who cares? - it's a case of you say potat-oh, I say po-tarto).

In the 'Sweet!" shop, I came across a statue/sculpture/shop-prop  of a Native American man.  Life-size, and clad in 19th century garb, complete with long feathered head-dress that trailed down behind him. 

But, wait, there was more:  when I looked closer, I discovered that they weren't  feathers in the head-dress but oblong-multi-coloured all-day suckers ....  lollipops ....  whatever these things are called in different parts of the world.  Dozens of them, each sugary sweet lollipop representing a feather.

I was positively stunned.  Horrified.  How could a shop in modern-day America do this?  How degrading for a race of people. So culturally-insensitive.

If a sculpture of a proud Maori warrior were to have a lollipop instead of a feather in his hair - and then that sculpture plomped into, say, the foyer of a New Zealand burger bar where it certainly shouldn't be in the first place, the person who did the sculpting would probably be shunned for life. The burger bar would soon find it had no customers, the papers would write about it all for months, and radio talkback would dwell on the subject.

One should not belittle, but respect other races and cultures.

Oh dear, what a naughty "Sweet!" shop ...

Here's a pic of Helen Clark: