Sunday, February 26, 2017

first geese

A huge flock of Snow Geese lifted in the air in the distance. A flock of Canada Geese looked for food in an old corn field. Spring? It is far too early, but today's strong sunshine brought a hint of what might be. The sun lured us out of the house and into the car this afternoon. A drive through the countryside seemed like a good plan, one that is good for both of us.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: what have I done? Not a heck of a lot. I've watched the original Disney movie 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' - that made for a pleasant afternoon. We've picked up 320 lbs of meat for the dogs - it is nice knowing that we are supplied for a few months. While there we met a woman who breeds Bengal cats - slightly tempted to get a kitten but then a reality check reminds me that I don't want a cat and all the hassle that goes with it (namely litter box, scratchy nails and hair everywhere).

I feel like I am closer to being back to 'normal' (whatever that is). Although with golf on the TV I am mighty tempted to have a nap…

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

~Hal Borland

“Oh, listen. Listen!' A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.”
~Wallace Stegner

Thursday, February 23, 2017

the wind has followed me back to Canada

The wind whipped at our cheeks as Christina and I strode down the road this afternoon. We went north today as there are more windbreaks than the wide open expanses along the south route. Still, even with the shelter, my cheeks are red and burning and I have a bit of an earache. It was a bit like being back at Kirsten's but colder. Not much colder though - it topped off at 10C today. The gloom was heavy this morning but just as we started our walk a patch of sky cleared and the sun shone through.

I've been getting up at a more decent hour this week but my oh my it is a struggle. I've made very few inroads with regard to jet lag. I feel that I'm up against the 18 hour difference between our time zones, rather than the 6 hour plus one day change in time. I will keep at it. The lack of sleep is starting to affect my mood too - a whisper of anxiety and depression dogs my day. I'm working really hard on managing my thoughts and doing everything I can think of to help myself.

To help with my struggle we are going out and about during the day. Even just going for a drive in the country is a good diversion. Staying away from home in the afternoon when a nap seems so lovely has been very helpful. We've been having company at night too: Trudie & Leo for supper on Sunday, Jo Ellen and Don for supper on Monday, Pat for drinks on Tuesday. We've stopped the trend - I've run out of things to cook - but should keep it up.

As a diversion after my walk this afternoon I re-read my blog posts for my first trip to NZ (in 2013). It seems I had a good time that trip too ;-)  And also a long period of readjustment when I got home. Perhaps I have to cut myself a little slack.

"I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.”
~Sylvia Plath

Monday, February 20, 2017

celebrating birthdays

I'm still having trouble switching to this time zone. Getting up in the morning is monstrously hard; at bedtime sometimes I can fall asleep at a proper time while others have me craving something to eat and a late night. Luckily there is no rush and maybe it is easier on my system to take my time adjusting.

Saturday night we had a lovely supper at my parents. It was a large gathering with Olaf, Tammy and Freya; Kari & Trevor; Ed, Lynn and Ben, some longtime motorcycle friends. Dad had two good parties this year. Friday I whipped together a burnt sugar cake to crown the festivities.

Sunday we drove into town to visit Carm's mom. She still remembers me and asks about Mom and Dad as well. While there we got a phone call from Trudie & Leo: they were home from their trip south but were locked out of their house. We dashed off to rescue them. Of course we invited them for supper so Trudie didn't have to cook after a long trip home.

Trudie brought back some treasures, on of which is a little leather backpack or pannier for Spike to carry his treats in. It is beyond cute, but I'm not sure that Spike thought it was a good birthday gift as he's not crazy about stuff around his middle.

Hi there. It's Spike again. I see Laura forgot to tell you that it's my birthday, and that I'm 9. Nine seems like a big number but since I'm still the baby in the house it must not be that. When Laura gave me a kiss and a hug I felt like she might cry because I'm getting so old. She kept kissing me all day and telling me what a good boy I am. Of course she right, but she's just being silly saying it over and over. I did like it a bit though as I missed her so much when she was away visiting my other side of the world cousins. My friend Trudie brought me a present but I don't really like it. Everyone says it is really cute so maybe I'll put up with wearing it. It is a leather bag that fits over my back. Trudie says it can carry my treats so I guess that's okay.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Gosh, I'm still dragging myself around, staying up late and getting up equally late. The transition back to this time zone is harder than when I went there. Perhaps I pushed myself to get switched around - lots of activities and excitement made it easier. Back home it is quiet with not much to do except for a trip to liquidation yesterday and some baking today. I suppose there is no rush.

It is a beautiful day: sunny, -2C, and hardly a breath of wind. I walked up and down the laneway, taking photos of the dogs against the brilliant white backdrop and wished that Carm had snowblowed me a path all around the field (which is a totally ridiculous wish as that would be at least 500 m. I thought of the lovely days in Wellington and remembered the nights the wind buffeted the caravan so much I could hardly sleep. I pulled on the wool/cashmere sweater that Kirsten gave me and was warm.

While I was gone my wonderful kitchen time died. It was a three timer unit from Williams Sonoma that I really loved. Carm ordered a replacement which seems like it should be the same thing but it keeps fubaring on me which is a really big drag as when you having a timer going, having it zero out is aggravating (to say the least). I NEED to rely on it! Prepare for some overcooked food :-(

The dogs have mostly settled back to me being home. They do follow me a bit more than usual and when I got home from yesterday's outing Kabira put her head in my lap and cried and cried. She's the most sensitive of the pack. Spike shows up beneath my feet at odd times, perhaps checking that I'm still here. Bella checks too, but not as much as the other two - she's more Carm's dog.

I like today’s quote but wonder if I, myself, have altered. Or have I wasted the opportunity for change and come back the same as I was when I left? I’ll have to think about this. Does a trip away change you? I think if I had gone somewhere like India or China or other place where the culture is so different from ours and where many people have so little I would not be the same when I returned. As it is, New Zealand is very much like Canada and I wasn’t challenged in any way.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

~Nelson Mandela

Thursday, February 16, 2017

the long journey home

I was going to write a whole post about my journey home, but somehow it no longer seems interesting or something I want to remember (on edit: it seems I wrote about it anyway). It was a series of long flights punctuated by long periods in departure lounges. Except Vancouver, there I had to run all the way from arrival gate to departure gate and was second last on the plane…

My alarm had been set for 3:15 but my internal clock woke me up 5 minutes earlier, and an hour before that, and an hour before that… you get the idea, it was a sleepless night. Once up I did a few last minute things (like get out of my pjs and into travel clothes). A little earlier than scheduled Kirsten and I crawled into the car and made our way in the dark to the airport. I got checked in (with help) leaving Kirsten and I plenty of time for a slice of cake and a coffee. We couldn't sit there forever though and the time came for the last goodbye. I tried not to think about it, or say too much that would make me cry and after a long hug finally turned and walked through security.

What would have I said if I had better control of my tear ducts? Of course "I love you", "I'll miss you", "I like to spend time with you", "thanks for giving me such a lovely time and making me feel so much like I was part of the family" …  you get the idea…

I boarded the Air NZ flight to Sydney and sat belted into my seat feeling the plane being buffeted even on the ground. I could see things fluttering and flapping and wondered what the takeoff might be like. Kirsten had assured me that takeoff in the wind was easier than landing, so I held onto that thought as we took flight.

Still, the flight was uneventful and I arrived in Sydney. As we circled the city I could see the Sydney Opera House below me - exciting! I had a four hour wait in Sydney before squeezing into my next seat. It would be my captor for the next 14+ hours. It was hard, narrow and very confining. Luckily I was sitting next to a nice couple and we all managed to pass the time. I tried to sleep for a while but my back was killing me and I couldn't get comfortable at all. The plane was pretty empty with many sets of seats with one one or two people, rather than the three that was in my set. No stretching out for me.

I was pretty glad when we landed but then had to rush through customs and then security to reach the departure gate. I seemed to have gotten slow people in front of me every time. I ran the rest of the way after security. It seems that my flight was at the farthest gate :-0

I made it on though and belted myself in for another 5 hours of constraint. This time I was so exhausted that I slept. I didn't ask my neighbor if I snored, but honestly I couldn't give a rats a$$ if I had as I was knackered and feeling like a bag of dirt.

We made it on time to Ottawa and I prepared to finally see my honey after missing him for 1 month. I was home, or at least almost home - we still had a stop to make before I'd really be home and the world around me would stop moving.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

the last few days of my trip

Where did I leave off? I think it was with fish & chips on Thursday night which leaves 3 full days of my time in New Zealand left to tell.

Friday Kirsten and I drove Shenna to work for noon, stopping at Zealandia on our way home to look for that scarf I thought I wanted. It wasn't there but was at another gift shop so I was out of luck, which was just as well as I got my current scarf stuck on some velcro on my travel bag which made a pull. I was glad it wasn't an expensive wool scarf. The rest of the day is lost (looking at my last post I see that Kirsten and I had lunch before heading back home).

Saturday we were up early for a horse show. Kirsten drove the float expertly through the curving roads of their road, through the busy, narrow roads of Wellington until we got to the highway. Then it was highway until we exited onto more curvy roads and finally onto the 'high crash area' road that led to the horse show. We got parked in a big, grassy field and unloaded the horses for their day of jumping. We had a lovely day. It was a beautiful, sunscreen slathery day, perhaps the nicest since I'd been there. Nissa did well and got one ribbon.

When we got home I walked with Shenna and her horse James to the arena down the road only to find out that James was lame. Poor Shenna has had the worst luck with lameness. Her other horse Nimo is on stall rest for 6 months…

After the walk I dragged my suitcases into the caravan so that I could start packing. I was going home. How was I going to fit everything and would I meet the weight limits? My bag had shrunk and my pile of belongings had expanded.

I don't remember what we did the rest of the day, I can't even remember what we had for supper.

Sunday morning (after a bit of a sleep in) I found Shenna already making the batter for crepes. She was making us a special last day breakfast. Heaps of strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup topped the delicate crepes. It was over all too soon. I finished my packing and weighing and shifting of things from one bag to another, then Kirsten and I left Nissa to hold down the fort and drove Shenna to work.

We dropped Shenna off and as we walked up to the car Kirsten noticed a very flat tire. Oh bother. Unfortunately the tire pump hadn't made its way back into the truck but luckily some ladies that drove up had one to lend. Pump pump pump - our legs got a good workout. Thank goodness for the internet as Kirsten was able to source a tire place that was open on a Sunday and luckily it wasn't too far away.

Two nails, with a third nestling and ready to push through, caused all this excitement. Luckily the tire guys were able to fix it and get us on our way within an hour.

We stopped at Moore Wilson's, a grocery and dry goods store, for some supplies for supper. We were going to have nibbles with a bottle of champagne.

When Shenna got home from work we settled into our supper of meats, New Zealand cheeses, and other delectable treats, then finished our evening with a game of cards. Time for bed. Kirsten and I had to leave the house at 3:45am the next morning and didn't want to wake the girls so I said my goodbyes before disappearing out into the caravan. I made it quick and tried not to cry too hard. It is always hard and seems to be the only time we say how much we mean to each other (note to self: don't leave these things to the last minute).

It was cloudy and gusty all day which matched my mood.

Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
― Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

returned from Middle Earth

Twenty four hours almost to the minute since I touched down back home from my visit in Middle Earth. My head is still fuzzy, partially from the 29 hours of travel, partially from the change in time zones, and partially from a day and a half of missed meds (which might be the worst effect of all).

Carm was waiting for me at the airport, all smiles and hugs :-)  We got my bag then dropped off at Mom & Dad's to say happy birthday to dad. We stayed long enough to greet some of his party goers then headed home. The dogs were estatic and I made sure to call Spike over for a special greeting. It was nice to walk into my own house, Carm had even given it a good clean (floors washed too!). It was oddly strange to be here, Kirsten's house in NZ had become home for me as well. And everyone there my family, not a far away family faint around the edges but a day to day one, firm and real and within reach. Even in a month I hadn't had my fill of them.

Carm, who had never seemed far away - we had twice daily phone conversations - and I had a quiet evening. I barely made it to 9pm and I was dead asleep in my own bed.

I still have lots more to post about my last few days in NZ, including our adventure with a flat tire, and some about my journey home. It will have to wait till tomorrow when my brain has had more of a chance to sort itself out.

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 
~Jack Kerouac

Friday, February 10, 2017

fish and chips

Yesterday did not end at the gardens. No, we spent a bit of time here in the afternoon enjoying the beautiful day then Kirsten and I drove back into the city to pick up Nissa from school. We scooted back here (as much as you can scoot when traversing the Macara road), giving Nissa an hour or so at home before the girls were whisked back into the city for dance.


While the girls were at dance, Kirsten and I did a bit of shopping before settling back in at the dance studio. Just before class was over Kirsten ordered up some fish and chips for us to pick up on our way home.

We had a ‘newspaper’ of chips spread out between us with a corner for our fish. It didn’t take long for our weary selves to gobble up the feast.

Today was a putzing around morning until we had to take Shenna to school (along the Takora gorge road again). On our way back home Kirsten and I stopped at a few shops then had lunch at the Karori cafe (lamb and korma pie). It was a nice treat.

Hay for the horses then nap time for me. Well, not a nap but a quiet visit over the phone with Carm. Every day I get a little more tired - I’m now at the point of near collapse (or at least it feels that way).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Botanical Gardens and a few other days

The days are whizzing by - just 3 more full days until I board the plane for home - the day I arrive home shows up in the 7 day forecast. Suddenly time has started going faster and there doesn’t seem like enough time to do everything or get my fill of everyone.

This morning I got up early and went into town with Kirsten when she drove Nissa to school and Shenna to a picnic. Once everyone was dropped off we parked the car beside the Botanical Garden and got walking. The gardens are beautiful with flowering plants and greenery. We first walked to the rose garden, had a coffee and bagel at the cafe, then toured the begonia greenhouse. All lovely.

The sun was out and our sweaters were off as we walked up and down the hidden paths in the garden (it seemed to be more up than down), enjoying the natural surroundings that were punctuated with giant banks of hydrangeas. We got to the car just as Shenna finished her picnic.

The gardens were quite busy with people from the Princess cruise boat that was in the harbour. Funny to see the blue and maroon cards swinging on lanyards around people’s necks.

The previous few days were cloudy, windy and cold. Not very nice weather for doing much other than hanging around the house in sweaters.

The cold night on Monday prompted Shenna to make a Pavlova - a yummy floaty dream of meringue.

It was a busy day yesterday we did get some Dim Sum and I hit up the souvenir store. Later in the day Kirsten and I walked along Oriental Parade road, admiring the harbour while we waited for Shenna and Nissa to have their dance classes.

One of the days I helped Kirsten with some fencing - the wind was gusting and I thought I might be blown over as I balanced on the edge of the hill. I didn’t though.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 5, 2017

windy day



Low cloud, occasional drizzle becoming persistent this evening. Strong northwesterlies, gradually rising to gale gusting 100 km/h in exposed places this evening.

It is an indoor sort of day although Kirsten and the girls have been out intermittently with horse stuff. I've joined them a few times and then retreated to the house or my room in the caravan. No shorts today.

Sunday pursuits

It was sunny again today! (with the ever present wind flailing).

After a slow start (for me - gosh there are days that I stay in bed late), we drove to a little 9 hole golf course that is for sale down the road. The real estate agent took us for a tramp around the course which was lovely. Huge, beautiful trees that I don’t know the name of, towered above us while flax and other bushes grew closer to the ground. Kirsten and I could imagine the girls galloping through the picturesque open fields.

I say picturesque, but as a golf course it was no great hell. It was more like pasture land, albeit lush with short grass filled in with clover, but I can’t imagine Carm wanting to do more than one round here.

After we had done our tour, the flat part anyway, Kirsten and I went down the Takarau gorge road to pick up Shenna. I must have been asleep the first time we drove down it as I hadn’t remembered what an amusement park ride it was. The pictures give a bit of an idea but don’t convey the anxious moments going around the one lane curves. In many places each car has to carefully inch off the road before they can pass each other.

We made it in one piece (there and back!) and did manage to pick up Shenna. Once home everyone got on with jobs and we whiled away the afternoon doing our own pursuits.

I should note that I wore a tank top and got a tiny bit of colour while we walked the course. I think the good weather is meant to be over now though - we shall see if we get good enough weather to see the botanical gardens next week. In my conversation with Carm today I reminded him that there is only one more weekend and then I’ll be home - time has gone quickly here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

sunny day at the beach

We’ve had two days of sun! It hasn’t been exactly hot as the wind has been uncharacteristically high (heavy sarcasm). But never mind, it has been lovely to see the blue sky.

Yesterday afternoon I went with Kirsten as she did her run-about: first to pick up Shenna from her new job at a tack store; secondly to pick up Nissa from school; and visit a grocery store. It was a fun trip that required a certain amount of gum to avoid getting carsick. Pretty much any trip away from home requires two sticks - one there and one back.

Today we went on a picnic to the Kapiti coast. It was about an hour drive from home, through some valleys and finally along the coast. We stopped at a lovely park where we had a picnic steps away from the beach. We were up and away from most of the wind and enjoyed our meal of pasta salad, breads, and the most amazing chocolate milk.

The path to the beach was just on the other side of the washrooms (where I almost got locked in!), and then down a sandy path. The waves were crashing and the wind roaring so there was nobody swimming, but the sign on the map said swimming is possible. Shawn wisely made us walk into the wind first - the grains of sand beat against our legs, stinging us. The sand was covered with beautiful shells - I stuck to my resolve though and didn’t pick up even one to bring home.

Eventually we’d had enough bluster and turned back. There is something about wind at your back being better than leaning into it.

It was a lovely day. It is just over a week till I’ll be heading home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

quiet, rainy days

There was unhappiness around here on Wednesday… the day before Nissa’s first day back to school after summer holidays. It didn’t help that it was a windy, drizzly day unsuited to outdoor activities. No pony time to distract from the woes.

We all hung around in the morning, sipping our coffee and eating toast. The grey sky did not motivate us into action. In the afternoon Kirsten and I headed into town to run some errands. We wound our way up and down and around the hills - I never knew which direction we were headed as the switchbacks had me all turned around. By this time the weather had worsened, I felt certain that a hurricane was upon us!

One of our stops was a plumbing store that had all sorts of lovely fixtures at ridiculous prices. Building supplies are much more expensive here. Another stop was at a huge building supply store, much like Home Depot. Prices varied with some being comparable to ours, while others were crazy.

At the grocery store we picked up Nissa’s favorite supper, and I got a bottle of Pinot Noir to try with dinner tonight - it is from Martinborough, which is where we drove around the other day - I’m hoping it will be a good one to bring home for Carm to cellar.

After supper we all played cards (hearts) - lots of laughs especially when I tried to ‘take control’, but gave it away when I played my queen of spades. I am a terrible card player as I have no poker face and giggle when confronted.

Today everyone is out and about, leaving me home alone for my first ‘chill’ time since I got here. I miss the hustle and bustle of the family but am also enjoying a quiet time. I feel very much at home as the 3 dogs jump up occasionally to bark wildly at the window.

I just might have a nap.

It is raining out and the wind is due to pick up this afternoon. Another forecast calls for the rain to stop and the skies to clear. Don’t like the weather? Wait 5 minutes and it might change, or get worse. Last night was actually calm so I slept well.