Tuesday 21 December 2021

What's been happening at home?

One of the things I forgot about Tuesday last week's happenings was that I called in to Porirua after my osteopath appointment to pay for and collect a bike rack. We have a great one for the motorhome, but we didn't have one for the car. And now we do ... 

I constructed it over the weekend, making sure that I read the instructions several times first - important step, I find. It wasn't difficult, but working down on the floor was a bit hard on my knees and back, so I got David to hoist it up on to the table for me - much easier on the 71 year old body.

Tomorrow I am driving to Lower Hutt/Petone to get a towbar fitted - it seems a bit extreme to travel that far, but two mechanics in Kapiti that I spoke to last week said they recommend East Coast Towbars to all their customers. So I called the guy and he said he could fit it before Xmas and it would be their last job before they closed up for the break. So I need to get up and get on my way very early to be there when they open. I have also arranged to meet up with an old friend, Jo B, who we don't see anywhere near often enough. I am looking forward to that - Jo B and I worked together back in Telecom where I was her boss but she reckons that she managed me - she was my super efficient PA, say no more ...

On Thursday last week, we went to the funeral of our dear friend Joy. She had been suffering with pancreatic cancer for well over a year; she had had chemo which required the purchase of a wig, in which she looked great. Then there was a hiatus period where Joy wasn't well, but was coping. And that moved on to being much more difficult. She had some radiation at about the same time David had his, then later a stay in the hospice while they worked to sort her pain relief.

We went to visit her when she came back from hospice before we headed off to the South Island. She was hoping to be here for a final Christmas, but it didn't happen. She died on Monday 13 December after being in a coma for about a fortnight.

Joy was an amazing woman - a lovely friend, an excellent cook, a keen and very good golfer, a most amazing gardener, and a most beloved wife and partner to Grahame, and a dearly loved mother and grandmother.

Grahame (on the right) and his brother Ian - they have the same hairstyles and their voices are identical! On Saturday we took cheese scones around for the family. A lovely coda, and very special to spend some time with them.

I keep looking over our back fence to where she and Grahame used to live. Currently Joy comes into my mind often, and I know that will continue - and I will always smile when I think of her. In my garden I have hydrangeas grown from her cuttings, they are a beautiful deep magenta. They are very special.

I was thinking about Joy and Grahame a lot last week - we are having a concrete pad laid in the back lawn so we can have the outdoor table on it instead of on the grass. When we were neighbours, J&G came over a few times for events here with other friends of ours; and when they weren't joining us, we still thought about them because we get lovely shade from the beautiful magnolia in their former back garden! And we could hear them hard at work in their garden while we ate and drank and laughed!

There is a 4.5m x 3.75m rectangle of turf that has been dug out of the back lawn, loaded into a skip and carted away. The weather has been a bit pants off and on, so we are waiting for the concrete to be poured early in the New Year. So there'll be no parties on the back patio for a few weeks...

Before the guys came to dig out the turf, we checked precisely where we wanted the concrete pad to be. David decided to try sitting at the end of the table... There had been LOTS of rain, and the ground was still very soft. If the chair legs had been longer, he could probably have got to Spain! I had to help him out of the chair, but not before a photo opportunity was capitalised on, of course!

Sparrows and blackbirds sharing cooked and surplus brown rice.

I snaffled this cutting on my walk the other day. I have planted two pieces of it in a tub. I will check with Shona to check that I have done all that is required to make sure it is going to take. I don't think I can ever have too many hydrangeas, tbh...

I've had another appointment with Jonathan the osteopath - he is good, but bloody hell, his elbows are sharp when they dig into my sore bits to massage them. My lower spine is improving, but occasionally I still feel as though I'd like someone to put a finger up my bum and yank my coccyx backwards to get it into its rightful position! I have been told by both Jonathan and the chiropractor in Nelson that what I said I felt was required is actually a recognised technique, but neither of them have offered, dammit!

Jonathan however has done some exceedingly strong massage at the base of my buttocks on the end of whichever bone it is that is either side of the coccyx. Painful but effective.

Because of all the rain we have had over the last three weeks, some of the bracts of blooms on the carpet roses along the driveway have gone brown. So this morning, after my walk remotely with Ann I got the secateurs out and did some pruning. After about 7 minutes I was reminded yet again why I pay the wonderful Shona to do our garden - my back was VERY SORE!!! Jillian came out to chat which gave me a good excuse to stand upright for a while, so I could then bend over again to finish off the pruning. Shona will be impressed, I hope!

Roses from around the garden - all beautifully perfumed.

I have done all of my xmas shopping - David's pressie was the new solar panels and lithium battery set up for the motorhome; mine was the bike rack for the car and the towbar. 

Food has been shopped for - I am making a nut roast and a Mushroom and Kumara Wellington, plus mushroom and onion gravy, and a coleslaw. The variety of vegan/vegetarian offerings will complement the carnivore components (poor little piggy and lambie) that Adrian and Gary are providing.

Recent palindromes and milestones:

We have travelled a fair number of kilometres in the motorhome over the last couple of months. We have done more than twice as many kms in the motorhome as we have in the car ...

A milestone, for sure!


This one was particularly satisfying for some reason!

Memes and other things that touched me or made me laugh:

Let's all do our best to do all the good we can.

In the vein of doing all the good we can, here is one of the two dogs that our son Tim and his partner Dana have adopted since arriving in Bulgaria. Both newly adopted dogs have leishmaniasis, a severe infection caused by an insect bite. This is Cookie for whom the infection is on her skin. The other adoptee is called Grandad (David is not insulted ...) - the infection for him is internal and his kidneys are failing. We are very proud that Tim and Dana are taking on caring for these dogs who were abandoned on the streets.

This is Grandad. He has been staying outside on the porch because they have to get rid of the ticks and fleas before he can come inside.

Our neighbour Kay has a seemingly endless store of limericks and poems. This one makes me laugh every time. When Kay is feeling breathless (because of her cardiomyopathy) it panics her; so when we ring to keep her company, David gets her to tell us limericks - it makes her laugh, she breathes more deeply, and the panic recedes. Recently she recited limericks to us almost non-stop as I drove between the entry to Bellblock and the motorcamp in Waitara - a distance of about 12 kms.

When I despair over the idiocy of our Opposition parties and the media here in NZ, and how negative they are about every single thing the government does to protect us from covid, I think of this meme and I think to myself that at least we don't have BJ or his Tory cronies; or for that matter, nor do we have the Faberge Egg and Chris Bishflap as the government here ...

Spelling error - should be borcestershire ...

I have only seen the first LOTR film and that was 20 years ago, so really I am no judge. But this did seem apt!

Polish Christmas Post Implementation Tasks - Tusi, Jola and Olga will know what I mean ...


Sunday 19 December 2021

Family and friends in Waitara

Although we were in Waitara for essentially a sad reason, i.e. the loss of Murray (Muzz), my brother in law, there were lots of laughs and smiles, lots of friends around and quite a lot of light relief. And quite a lot of political stuff came up - life has a way of keeping on keeping on and the world keeps turning.

Let's see if the pictures tell the story of the two weeks we were there...

A memorial tree planted by our son Tim in Bulgaria.

Tim is just reading the university reference his older son Olek, our older grandson, got from his school principal. I think you can tell by Tim's face that he is feeling very proud of Olek - and rightly so. The kid is a gem!

This came up on someone's post while we were in Waitara - and it appealed to me as being absolutely spot on!

This one came up too - also apposite currently ...

I was surprised by this but I am sure it is true. For the English readers, our national day here in NZ is Waitangi Day, 6th February. But just to be clear, we also have a public holiday on the first Monday every June when we have the day off for the Queen's Birthday!

David with Gerard, Nicola's partner - David has adopted my trick of standing on a higher step ...

Glenn is one of Murray and Dee's whangai sons. David is short! Three lovely men in that photo.

I made 2 pizzas for one meal (about 12 or 13 people). I made a mistake with the dough and had used 4 cups of water for the yeast, instead of 1.5 cups. And I only realised it when I had added the flour to it. So I had to substantially increase the amount of flour and yeast, so the proportions would be right.  Needless to say, I had far too much pizza dough, so there is a fair amount of it in the freezer for next time and the time after... 
As I do on the boat, I use a wine bottle as a rolling pin - things have to have more than one use when you live in a small space with limited storage. A change from on the boat though - I am fairly sure this bottle had contained alcohol-free wine ...

I used the leftover of the chilli I'd made for the team the day before with the addition of a jar of fig chutney (gifted to us by Gavin and Deb in Rangiora) as the sauce base, then shedloads of veg, including roasted kumara, carrot and pumpkin with raw veg and cheese baked on top.

Discussing funeral arrangements over the coffin that the guys were making. From right to left: my nephew Kurt, Dee, my nephew Jonathan, and Gerard

Charlotte is married to Kurt. She has an amazing voice. Wearing gumboots because it was raining, and sunglasses on top of her head because it had also been sunny - it's known as Taranaki sunshine for a reason!

Over at the skate-park across the road from the motorcamp that Dee, Kurt and Charlotte manage, Kurt and Cam, one of the resident campers, painted a tribute to Muzz. I will find a photo of the finished work and include it.

I turned 71 while we were in Waitara, 2 days after Murray died. Gerard made me a birthday cake, bless him: banana with chocolate ganache made with coconut cream rather than dairy. And Dee's best friend Sarah made a pavlova for me. Julz used up some of the overload of ganache by dipping strawberries into it. I ate my birthday desserts the next day (to avoid the virulent voluminous vomiting that would have been a guaranteed fixture if I'd eaten it that evening before going to bed...) 

Kirsty sent me flowers for my birthday - the most beautiful peonies. What a wonderful colour they are!

Dee came to visit at 6.30 the next morning after her shower - I shared my pavlova with her and my banana cake with David.

Murray was an arctophile, i.e. he loved teddy bears. Many of them had been stored in a large plastic bag (cruelty to bears, cruelty to bears!!) and others had been camped out on the spare bed in Dee and Murray's 5th wheeler (their home). So they needed freshening up. I gave them an adventurous turn in the clothes dryer - they loved it. Once freshened up, some of them decided they needed to be on display with their mate Mel...

And the others wanted to be looking out across the campground...

Most of the bears and Mel ended up at the funeral - the bears were used to save seats for the family, and Mel sat on the grass in front of the lectern.

The korowai draped on the coffin. And people writing messages to Murray on it.

At the crematorium, Dee read the tributes to Murray. Colin the funeral director (a friend of ours who did not know Dee and I were sisters until we surprised him a couple of days before the funeral) had done a splendid job of getting the crematorium ready for Murray.

There was no service at the crematorium. We just gathered to say goodbye. It was all family/whanau gathered there. You can tell how informal it was because Gerard had changed into his jandals ...

On one of the first fine and non-windy days for a fair while, we decided to go biking - and Jim and Judy came too. We started at Bellblock and headed along the New Plymouth Walkway. It is a magnificent asset for the city. The only piece I found spooky was a short run that was all boardwalk, quite narrow and slightly above the ground - my imagination kept thinking about coming off ...

Judy, David and Jim. Not sure where I took this ...

I swear I was standing in a declivity - I mean, I know I am short but FFS, that photo is ridiculous ...

This is a most magnificent bridge. When there are no clouds, the mountain is part of the scene and looks magical.

We stopped at a little caravan cafe for a drink. Loved the furniture, and Jude said she and Jim had this style when they first got married. David and I didn't but we did have concrete block and planks of wood as bookcases ...

The bridge from afar ...

The bike ride was 24 kilometres, and my bum was a bit sore by the end of it - the sore arse event in Hanmer Springs hadn't yet been fully recovered from. But it was a good ride - excellent track, few bumps, lovely views, plenty wide enough for cyclists and walkers to share, and beside the sea almost all of the way!

We didn't stop to take a photo of it, but we passed the Kawaroa Pool which still has the building that housed the filtration and heating plant that my dad built back in 1963. At that time, the pool was replacing the old salt water pool built in the early 1900s that was filled by the tide twice a day. Salt water was decided on again, so Dad built a filtration and heating unit that still made use of the tides. He was a clever man, our dad.

Dee's birthday was the week after mine - the kids did a BBQ and I made something veg too - a coleslaw and something else but I cannot remember it ... Sarah made another pavlova - she is a star.

We headed away on Sunday morning in the pouring rain again, and had a lovely stop at Colin and Ann's place in New Plymouth for brunch. Ann made a savoury bread and butter pudding with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes in it - very yummy and it has to be replicated here!

We only went as far as Levin on Sunday, as we had an appointment with the solar and battery fitters on Monday. We stayed in the very pleasant motorcamp there and I think I was in bed about 20 minutes after we arrived ...

Early on Monday morning I drove us to the Solar place, left David packing the stuff we needed to take home, and I walked into the town to pick up a hire car for the day so we could go home. Instead of going straight home, we went for breakfast in Levin and met Adair there - she was on her way back to Pukawa and it was too good an opportunity to miss! 

Tuesday morning was very busy - I had to take the rental car back and drop it off, walk back to the Solar place, collect the motorhome, drive it home and then drive the car into Plimmerton and catch a train to Wellington for an osteopath appointment. The rain had been pelting down for a fair while and the road to Levin was flooded southbound, so I was a bit worried my finely timed arrangements would fall through, but all was well.

Almost a whole week has passed since then - what on earth has occurred during that time??? When I remember, I may post about it ...

Wednesday 15 December 2021

A sad but uplifting time

David and I arrived home a couple of days ago from Waitara where we have been for the last fortnight. 

My lovely brother in law Murray died on 2 December after the remission from his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia ended and another form of cancer came rampaging in with large tumours on his brain. From diagnosis to his passing was only 4 weeks. 

That time was a blessing as it gave all of his family, his church community and his friends time to be with him before he went into hospital; it gave everyone time to come to terms with him dying and to start to grieve.

Murray was considerate to the last - there are a number of family birthdays in December and Murray avoided dying on any of them. And Dee made sure his funeral didn't coincide with any of them either. (Back in 1997, our mum died on one grandson's birthday, and Dad unthinkingly arranged her funeral for Dee's birthday ...)

Murray's funeral was very special and unique to the family. As we were still in Covid restrictions, the limit was 100 people in an open air funeral service. And by my calculations we came in slightly under that.

Murray's son Kurt, his whangai son Glenn, and son in law Gerard built the coffin, and his son Jonathan lined it.

A woman from the church made a korowai (a cloak) to be draped over the coffin - a singular honour for a pakeha. 

The service was the first Christian one that I've attended which actually felt meaningful - and that was, I think, because it was truly focused on Murray and how special he was as a man of faith, a family man, a friend, a member of his church. It is the first funeral I have been at where the church leaders leading the service have both been in tears.

Kurt read a tribute from Murray's brother and spoke on his own behalf; Glenn read a poem from Murray's sister Ann; Nicola (Murray's daughter) spoke movingly about her relationship with Murray from when he met and married her mum when Nicola was 12, and she spoke about his battle with depression arising from multiple accidents and concussions, and she implored all men in the audience to seek help, to talk about their feelings, to not bottle up what was going on for them, to let others in. I spoke about who he had been to my sister, to our family, the multiplicity of roles he had, the personas he wore, and how he moved through the world having an impact on everyone. His daughter in law Charlotte and his grand-daughter Ziana sang with Michael the church leader Murray's favourite hymns - such beautiful voices.

Pens were provided and people wrote on his coffin when the service ended. 

There was a haka performed as his coffin was loaded on to the Dodge Ram and strapped down. And the cortege was led out of the grounds and to the crematorium by Kurt on his motorbike.

It was peaceful, uplifting, sad, kind and overwhelming. And it was worthy of him.