Tuesday, 30 December 2008

P & Q


Can you hear that? Peace and quiet. The others have scattered for now, two in Te Anau for new years, three delivering a fire engine out country, two getting ready for their North Island mountain biking trip. So here I am for the first time in while all alone, bliss. 

Nick and Courts packed up the tent and some goodies and headed south. Amongst the goodies, I discovered tonight when I was hot and bothered and in need of a cold one, was my entire supply of beer. They even found the boxes in the laundry and cleared the remains in the fridge. They are heading home up the West Coast and calling into the marae at Makaawhio (Bruce Bay) for the family reunion on the way. 

Tim and Sarah are heading north to compete in the NZMTB champs. He's been training and refraining over the Christmas break and with his off season racing in Canada and the states, should do well. Poor Sam's not that impressed. He's with the grands on the coast, his look said "how long will it be this time?". I suspect he remembers the last time and that was most of 2008. 

As for the fire engines, such a long story. Here's the short version: There were three, now there's two and both are for sale. They are small, modern, working fire engines. Fun to drive in town where everyone gives way and that's without using the siren and lights. They were bought off the Internet to sell quickly about three years ago, enough said. 

My camera has gone on holiday with Nick and Courts. He's a great photographer so I look forward to posting some from the trip when they get back. For now, I'm going to catch up on some mails and some reading, sigh, peace and quiet, luxury.

The photo is of my he tiki and some Christmas goodies.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Today

One thing you shouldn't have to do over the Christmas break is attend a funeral. A friend of ours didn't quite make Christmas day with his family, he was farewelled today. David died of cancer on Christmas eve, 52 years old and a really dedicated family man who loved to fish and hunt and tell a good story. A terrible loss.

His funeral was well attended, lots of people taking time to remember him and catch up with others. It was good to see some people I hadn't since I've been home, sad that it takes a funeral for people to get together. We have planned a meal out, as we had been trying to for some time, early in the new year to catch up in a happier time. 

Now, as I sit and check my mails, got one from Callie, the lads are cooking tea and I'm sampling a nice sav. Caesar salad with crumbed fish, more pav and the lefts overs from last night, a never ending feast. I think I'll have to join a gym in Al Ain, one with a pool of course to get rid of the extra pounds. 

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Blink

One of the advantages of having family around over Christmas is the ability I have to help myself to their Christmas presents, to try them out before they do. Notable occasions this has happened over the years include the water gun year, the skateboard year and of course all the Lego years.

Now the lads are adults, I get to sample the chocolates when they're not looking, listen to their CDs and read the books they get for Christmas. They of course get the same courtesy, take my new Suduko book Nick has polished off, from the back of course as he does the genius ones first. Actually I'm sighing with relief about that but don't tell him. I've protested just enough for him to think it's not OK for him to do my Suduko. Truth is I got the book from the secret santa at work and I don't do Suduko, not that I can't mind. I have a very mathematical brain, where else would the genius Nick get his brains from after all. 

Back to the books. This year I managed to snaffle Nick's present Blink before he had even sniffed away that wonderful new book smell. So good of his in laws to buy him such an interesting book. Blink is about the power of thinking without thinking or the snap judgements we make in life that are correct and how we confuse ourselves at times with over thinking and rationalizing them. It's about things clicking into place in the blink of an eye.

The author, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about the concept of thin slicing, how a little bit of knowledge goes a long way and how we become experts at reading people and their actions subconsciously. Sounds kind of heavy for Christmas reading but it's surprisingly entertaining with lots of examples and anecdotes. Things like what makes salespeople great salespeople, how our stature and looks can impact on our success and the role of race and gender in how we are viewed by others. Gladwell also wrote Tipping Point, on my list for the next Borders trip. 

I'm not sure what other books he's got with him but Courtney brought my Mr Pip back and I have my Fisk one on the go too. Nothing like reading three books at a time, that's what a summer holiday is all about. There was even some sun to sit and read in today, warm sun without a cold wind, luxury.

I've got a mission tonight, a midnight trip to the airport to pick up some of the Aussie rellies. They are staying a few days then heading to a family reunion at Makaawhio, on the marae. It should be an interesting gathering, one I'm not tempted to join.  It'll be good to see Des and Scotty again best get some beer in the fridge, it could be a long night. 

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Family photos ops




Christmas is all about snatching photos of the whanau when they're not looking. The lads cringe when I get the camera out but today, after being out surfing early, the two oldest were convinced I needed one of them and me. Tim and Sarah got me a wallet for Christmas with a photo pocket, a bit bigger than the one in my other wallet. They want me to get rid of the old photos of the boys in their teens I've carried for years. Well, I have to have something to replace them with.

These are of Tim and Nick. Kez is not home for Christmas this year. As always, the serious photos turn to fun with Nick pinching my glasses and then making some rude comments about how they distort his world. It's all fun till someone loses an eye. 

We had a barbie last night. The cold wind dropped in time to sit outside in the warm evening, eat still more food and drink sangria. I made some sangria, not as good as I've had overseas but everyone can tell a sangria story. Mostly they are about buying a pitcher and managing to finish it but not being able to walk too far after. While only mildly alcoholic, sangria lulls you into drinking it faster than you should with its delicious fruity flavors. I know from experience that it's not too good when your significant other doesn't drink and you have to finish a pitcher made for two, then walk back to the tent. Annie has a similar story, as does Sarah.

We had a few laughs, ate more pudding and generally relaxed amongst friends and family. Sorry no photos of that, I was too busy making fish cakes from the left over salmon and pouring hot fudge sauce over the profiteroles after I had filled them with cream. 

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

What a day of slow food, slow drinking and relaxing. It's been a great day of family and socialising, taking some time out with some tomato on toast and nice crisp sav to put down some reflections.

Well, to brag first. I got an awesome new suitcase and I can hear a sigh of relief from those who have seen my old battered version. No longer will you have to walk alongside me towing a case with bits hanging out of the gaping hole, there courtesy of Emirates the trip before last. No longer will you have to watch me swearing as I'm trying to push down the handle into the warped space it should fit, stepping up the swearing as I lose another fingernail in the process.

This suitcase is a Dakine and is brown and green plaid with a brown base, it is both easy to find amongst the black bags and stylish. I can use my big red handbag and not have any clashes, phew for that small mercy. OK I should include a photo but I am comfy and can't be bothered taking the photo etc, maybe when it's packed ready to go.

I also got a he tiki for my new flat, a red and precious reminder of home and family in the desert. The kids loved their gifts too, opened with a glass of bubbly in hand. We had a lovely breakfast, kai moana, fresh crayfish, hot smoked salmon and scallops, yum.

There began the day of eating. Terese makes the best pav in the world, really. I have sampled heaps of them and hers tops the lot. This year she excelled herself. The handmade Belgian chocolates were a treat and the berries. All in all plenty for everyone and left overs for dinner.

I did get to thinking about those who were away from their families at this time of year or mourning someone lost during the year. I have friends in that position and my heart went out to them, my thoughts and love. I feel very lucky to have had such a plentiful day, next year I'll probably be working and won't be in Christchurch with my friends and family. I'll read this then and remember a good day, time to pour another and get socialising. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Today

How all good days at work should be, bubbly and strawberries with chocolate on the side for morning tea. Almost makes it worthwhile working on Christmas eve, especially when I am off shopping for the last minute stuff by 1pm.

Yep, it's all done and I'm off to deliver pressies out country, save me the job tomorrow so I can just relax and sip on a couple while feasting on crayfish, baked and smoked salmon, scallops, pav and all the usual trimmings.

I like this time of year, the ending of the old year and looking forward to the new with some good relaxing and socialising in between. No resolutions for 2009, have made enough of them in 2008 to last me for a while.

My thought for today in this time of giving:

Be like the fountain that overflows
not like the cistern that merely contains


Paulo Coelho

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

One more day.....

Only one more day to go and I'm finished work for 2008. I can't wait. Nick arrives tonight for several weeks, others from Aus are coming too a bit later, all good. I intend to have some R & R, some true time out before the rush of getting ready to go away.

This time last year I was completing my thesis and getting ready to go to Qatar, similar but minus serious editing. I went to lunch with a friend today and caught up with Shirley in the process. She suggested a get together on the day we left last year, kind of an anniversary night out. A great idea. What do you think Keri?

So it's off to get another wine, rustle up some dinner and take a chill pill for the evening. I have some last minute shopping to do, might get to that later tonight.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Wet Saturday

It's been a cold wet day, not at all conducive to going out shopping. I did manage a quick trip and got Sarah and Courtney's gifts. Girls are so easy to buy for, my boys not so. Don't get me wrong, they are undemanding, just fussy. Not sure where they get that trait from.

Nick commented that he wanted jeans, I suggested I buy them, he commented that he wouldn't like my sort of jeans. OK, so what are my sort of jeans? I suspect he pays a little more than I do for his, a little more than I can afford perhaps. He's down on Tuesday so we will take a trip to the shops then, much less pain and suffering for both of us. I did buy him a book, he already had it so I am reading it, we like the same books so hardly surprising I bought one he already had.

Tim wants to go shopping with me too. Off limits for him are things for the kitchen, travel things and books, same issue as Nick there. He wants new cycling shoes for the national series starting in early January, easy. Kez is on a promise of shopping when I go to Brisbane.

I have always liked shopping with my boys, preferably one at a time. They are great companions, don't muck about and love to look at shoes, CDs and books. Yep, so like their mum. They are also quite critical. I get the odd baaa when I'm looking at clothes, or 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should'. I do anyway of course.

Roll on Christmas. I'm emotionally prepared now, just the food to get organised and thats very easy.

Waiting



I love Opshop. One Day is one of my favorites and when I was looking to practice my embedding skills found this song of theirs, very appropriate at the moment. I loved the glimpses of Rome and Paris and the words struck a chord.

I am still waiting for my flight details, actually for any further details about my new job in Al Ain. While I know there is waiting to be done, I am not very patient so find it hard. I have done all I can to get qualifications authenticated, photos sent, things sorted from this end for a February 1 2009 start, fingers crossed it's all done in time. In the mean time, I'm waiting, still waiting.

I did it!

Well, that's a first for me, I managed to embed a You Tube rather than just add a link. Poor Diane tried to teach me with written instructions, if all else fails... Actually I mostly lose instructions before I get the message. I prefer to read fiction. Take my precious camera's instruction book. I suspect I left that on an Emirates plane in the front pocket somewhere between Melbourne and Dubai. That really limits my photography, or not as I try different things and tinker with the results.

You see, I tend to be an experiential learner. I'm a bit like a Bobo doll. When I get knocked down, I bounce back up. Not always straight away mind, I'm not shallow, but I can usually take the lesson from the experience.

In this last week the lessons learnt include:

I can't post perfume to Aussie.
People are unpredictable.
People can be mean and small minded.
People can be generous, giving and supportive.
Patience is not always rewarded.
Too much chocolate gateaux gives me a belly ache.
Too much Indian food can make sleeping difficult.
Margarita's are made to be shared and enjoyed.
I can dance.
I can post a You Tube to my blog.
Others enjoy this blog.
Others enjoy my photos.
I can get all my work done before I leave on January 16.

Actually there's a blog in several of those statements, watch this space. For now, I must get the Christmas shopping organised, not my favourite thing to do on a wet Saturday.

BGT



I think this is why Simon and co sit through tedious auditions for Britian's Got Talent. A friend sent this to my facebook and I want to share it here. While this is not my sort of music usually, Andrew's voice, well watch and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Did you know....

Did you know that perfume is on the list of things that can't be posted in New Zealand? I'll tell you how I know.

I bought some perfume for my Aussie son's partner Sassi for Christmas. Last night I carefully wrapped that along with Kez's present and a promise of shopping for the rest of their presents when I come to visit in mid January. Imagine my surprise at the counter of the post office when I was told, "sorry you can't post perfume".

The obvious question, "why not?". No real answer, not blaming the messenger but the stupidity of this rule. Yes, it's written in the post office rule book but that doesn't make it any less stupid. How come Strawberry, the cosmetics and perfume retailer, can post perfume and all sorts of other noxious concoctions all over the world, including to Qatar and I can't post a single 80ml perfume to Australia? I shook my head in total disbelief.

So, there I was standing at the counter a large queue forming behind me wondering just what to do. After all, I had addressed and sealed the large bubble envelope. Did I mention I had already waited in a queue to get served? Mmmmmm someone asked me recently if I was feeling a little frustrated, well yes, now I am.

Back to the drawing board, back to work, repack the parcel minus the perfume, back to the post office. Now it was an OK parcel. Sorry Sassi, yours is a bit lean on presents. I included a note explaining, explaining the lack and the munched up wrapping paper. Of course I had to use what I had again, rips and all.

I hope this gives someone a bit of a giggle, that won't be me right at this moment.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Isola Tiberina


Isola Tiberina, originally uploaded by Gilbert Wicks.

Bemused

I am a little bemused. Another of my photos has been selected from Flickr to be displayed elsewhere, this time at Schmap. This is a website with a map of Rome, complete with photos of the various sites. I have added the chosen photo here. It is one of my favorites, one taken when Di and I were out wandering in the early days of our time in Rome.

Of walking and wine

I had an interesting day today, a day of stress and misunderstandings. These are probably quite common at this time of year but still left me feel a bit out of sorts this evening, a bit unsettled. When I feel like that, I plug in the ipod and storm off for a walk. Physical exercise is great for clearing out the cobwebs and making the world seem sane again.

I walked up the hills and then along the river, past the rose garden where I see the old man tending his wife's garden sometimes, along the road past Anne's house. Anne's moving to Abu Dhabi early January so was outside with her friend Richard clearing her garage for those who are moving into her place. The trailer was full, ready to go to the lockup so she took time to sit and yarn with me over a glass.

Anne is really keen to learn more about where she's heading, never having been to the Middle East to work before. So we yarn, she asks questions like: Is alcohol available? Of course, and I tell her of the many cocktails I sampled, Margaritas, Appletinis, Manhattens. What are the kids like? Like kids the world over, curious, cute, a little naughty at times, fun.

Anyhow, here I was all fit and relaxed drinking wine when slightly dehydrated, not a good mix when it's a large glass and there's still a distance to home. I toddled off home, thinking about Anne's upcoming trip and mine. I am also heading off in mid January to Al Ain, just down the road from Anne so we plan to catch up.

Maybe resigning my job yesterday and getting some more of the never ending paperwork ready for my new visa has made me a little unsettled too. It's a time of great change for me, new beginnings and changes to my life. I am excited, but will be more so when my tickets are ready, the house is sorted and I'm packed ready to go, my Christmas break job. For now I have to think of buying the kids their Christmas pressies, getting Kez and Sasi's ones to Aus in time, tomorrows job.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Patience

I started this entry last night and in a rare show of patience, left it until today after a couple of interruptions. Patience, the photo shows just how patient I can be, OK I can hear those who know me well snorting with laughter about now. 

On Saturday a trip out country saw me gridlocked in traffic, yes gridlocked in Belfast, Christchurch on a two lane road on a Saturday. I couldn't quite figure this out. If it had been Christmas shopping traffic, surely it would have been going the other way. Like the other suckers I crept along, stopping and starting. I could have turned off in several places, but no true to human nature, because I had got as far as I had I stayed with the sheep. 

It got me thinking about how we do stick with things we know are not so good in the hope that they will get better. After all, we have invested time in these aspects of our lives so therefore if we change tack surely we have wasted that time. Not so if we have learnt the lessons from these experiences. No time spent on different experiences is wasted, even being stuck in traffic. 

I'm usually not as patient as I was on Saturday. I sat in the car enjoying the sun through the window and the music on the radio. Not being patient has an upside. Well for me if not for those that live, work and socialise with me. Not being patient means I get heaps done with the hours I have in my day. 

That was spooky, while I was in my study writing my ipod just skipped through several songs and stopped at Chasing Cars. No one else in the house, what's up with that? Think it might be my signal that it's time to eat, time for a vino. 

Friday, 12 December 2008

Christmas lunch

We had our work Christmas lunch today, a much more subdued outing than last year. We went to Rosendale Vineyard and the meal was yummy, the pud was good, the wine OK and the espresso needed to have some hot water added. So here I am at home, yes at home, on a Friday evening at this time feeling a little like partying, a little like having a nana nap after a big lunch. Seven and a half days of work to go, so looking forward to the break.

The Freudian slip made on Wednesday has lived on with the one who slipped finding her handiwork put on notice boards around the office. She corrected the mistake and made sure she saved the corrected copy and gave us each one. In her honor we had an 'r' free day. There were some interesting words shared, most I wouldn't list here. And we had a crock up or several during the morning. I don't think she'll ever live this one down.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A Freudian slip

A group of us from work attended some interesting professional development on Tuesday morning. The PD was part of the knowledge gym and the speaker was Pat Meseti, an energetic Italian Australian who shared his ideas like an old time Evangelistic preacher. He was very entertaining and while his message about the rules of abundance were not new ones they were presented in a different way. He was very inspiring. His story very inspiring. 

So very inspiring that a colleague of mine decided she would share his key messages with others in our office who were not fortunate enough to have attended. She duly re wrote her notes with such memorable quotes as:

"Where my focus is today, my future is tomorrow"
"Your attitude will affect your altitude"
"I'll look after me for you, if you look after you for me"
" If you change what you think, this will change what you feel, which will change how you act, which will change the outcome"
"The bridge between thought and success is action"

You get the picture, all good stuff to remember when managing people. He also talked about gender difference and amongst his quotes on this was this gem:

"Men are microwave ovens - they are either on or off. Women are crockpots. Plug them in and turn them on in the morning and they will be ready by evening"

My colleague was very proud of her efforts and passed the lovely gift of quotes on colored paper complete with a border and flash font to everyone in the office, including the CE. I wonder if you can spot the difference between the quote above and what she actually wrote on her quote sheet:

"Men are microwave ovens- - they are either on or off. Women are cockpots. Plug them in and turn them on in the morning and they will be ready by evening"

Very Freudian indeed, especially given the female dominated world we work in. Needless to say there was much laughter and the one on the CE's desk was quietly removed. 

Paris




I have been sorting through my photos and thought these deserved a larger viewing. The gateway is at the back of  Sacre Coeur and the other two are from Notre Dame, the amazing detail sculptured into the front entrance. I can't wait to get back to Paris, to spend time there not having to rush. To hang out and people watch in a cafe. 

Hopefully this will happen in 2009, well that's the plan. 

Sunday, 7 December 2008

And some more




These two are of the fishing fleet in the harbour and the fish market. The fish market is held each day and anyone can buy a fish or several directly from the fishermen. They are still wriggling and are sold whole, complete with guts. Keri and I bought one for one of our Saturday night pot luck dinners. It cost around $4 and was large enough to feed a few. I was planning to bake it in my oven but first we had to clean the fish.

This took a team to complete, Keri standing with her wine squealing and giving instructions on how to gut the fish and me doing all the work. Luckily I am a country girl and had done this the odd time before when I lived in the Coromandel in the 70's. I was just a bit rusty, that's all. The fish got cleaned, I got to enjoy my wine while it baked in the oven and the team enjoyed eating this freshest of fish.

I walked along the floating jetty the fishing boats are moored to the odd time. It is a peaceful place with the water lapping against the pontoons and the gentle rocking of the sea. It's also a great place to watch the sun go down.

PS Keri doesn't even eat fish, loves to catch them though.

More from Doha




Another two photos from Doha, the new museum from the Corniche and dhows in the harbour. Note the shower and loo off the back of the boat.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Roll on Christmas


The last few weeks of the term are really busy in my job. There seems to be so much to do, to complete before the Christmas break, roll on the Christmas break. Until then this blog might be a bit quieter than normal as I work on reports, appraisals, edits and articles and keeping my head just above the water. 

The photo is from my garden, a tall harakeke flower with the city behind.