Monday, 30 November 2009

The Moon

Yesterday afternoon I arrived home from Dannevirke at about a quarter past three.  By four the first load of washing was on the line.  By six the second was on the line and the first was dry. By  seven fifteen the second lot was dry too.  Why?  Because there was a lovely breeze and it had been 35 deg on the deck this afternoon. But more than that the moon was high in the day lit sky



 

So Who Says Games Are Only Games?

Well that was some week I have to say.  It's a week when I've learned a lot including how wonderful it is to have friends who accept you warts and all and who are not afraid to tell you when they think you are a pain in the bum: in other words, true friends.


An amusing cartoon in the Clubhouse - I'm not like that, honest.
   
The Crusing Kings: Gary and Val: runners up in the Golf Croquet Doubles

 
 Don and Annette Reyland: Doubles Winners.....again.

 
Don wins the Championship.....again.

I cannot pretend that my croquet life has been easy since I arrived in my New Zealand home a month ago.  This week has been a fairly traumatic one so far as my self belief has been concerned and for a few days it turned me from a person loving his sport and every game won or lost into a person beating himself up for every bad stroke played and every game won or lost because I wasn't playing well and I believed that I should have been.

In the three years I've been playing croquet I've risen into the higher echelons of the game and have the silverware to show for it.  I've steadily and quickly improved my handicap and have never gone backwards - until yesterday.  Yesterday I lost 39 points in the first three games I played and went from a 2 to a 3.  I have seen people who who have lost the winning lottery ticket who looked more cheerful than I did.  I was playing badly by any standards in a game that I have come to worship because it is the first game in which I have excelled.  A game into which, I now realise, I had poured an emotional capital no game deserves.

Before she went to represent Hawkes Bay as part of the Lower North Island team I suggested to Zoe that she should always appear the same regardless of whether she won or lost.  And here was I completely disregarding my own advice.  Here was I both demoralised and exceedingly grumpy.  Worse than that I was showing that I was grumpy.

Gary and Val King and Don and Annette Reynald (above) are four of the lovliest people I have ever met.   They ahve been playing croquet since I was in nappies.  Never, win or lose, do they waver one little bit.  They may not be happy and may comment on the odd shot or game or even tournament but they never, ever, appear grumpy nor complain.

So last night when we were all gathered in the Motel before going out to dinner, Colleen (who has more reason to complain than most people I know in this life but who never does) said words to the effect of "Graham, you come to tournaments with us and you are really good fun to be with and you take your wins and losses and you get on with it.  Since you came home you've got steadily worse.  You are beating yourself up.  You are no longer fun.  You are a major pain in the arse.  Get over it.  NOW."

I have.

Today I am a new person: a happier person.  I played a new game.   And I have come home  from the tournament with more points than I arrived at it with.  Well, one more point to be exact!

It is so good to have friends: true friends.  [Footnote to Marcel - déja vu by any chance?  Thanks again.]

I'm sorry that this has been a particularly self-indulgent and introspective posting but I had to do it.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Dannevirke Revisited

Last November when we came to The Vets I wrote a post about Dannevirke where the tournament is held at the excellent Rangatira Croquet Club.  Today I will just add a few photos of the Town.


New Zealand's oldest provincial cinema established in 1918

 
The Public Trust Office which was a brothel briefly last year

 
A Chinese takeaway is pretty much the same the world over

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A Tournament Best Forgotten

Well that's two days I'd rather forget.  I lost all 5 games of Association Croquet.  The irony is that I managed to play exceptionally well in part of each game but never managed to put a whole game together sufficiently to win although I only lost one game by more than a couple of hoops which was exceptionally frustrating.  I am, I have to say, rather less than a happy bunny.  But, hey, ho tomorrow is another day and a different game: Golf Croquet doubles.  My partner and I came second last year. 

So I now have the odd situation that I have not lost a game in the club and not won one away from it.  This has got to change!

Destination Motel, Dannevirke

We are staying in Dannevirke's Destination Motel and it is excellent.  Our unit is large and well appointed and spotless.  The shower is almost instant and very strong and there is a spa bath too.  All in all it's been a good choice.  Mind you I've stayed in some excellent motels and hotels in New Zealand where the standard is high and the prices very reasonable when compared with the UK



 
 
 

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Trip To The Vets

We arrived in Dannevirke last night and are staying at the Destinations Motel.  It is one of the best I've stayed in in North Island.  It'll doubtless find it's way into a later posting.

I'm sitting in the Rangatira Croquet Club clubhouse. I'm here for the Vets Tournament. Not a meeting of vetinarians you understand but of veterans ie those of us over 60. I'm playing Association today and tomorrow and then Golf Croquet Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Last year I didn't play Association and then my partner and I came second in the doubles and, if my memory serves me correctly, I came third in the Championship Singles.

The weather is absolutely idyllic: full sun and only a slight breeze. It'll be up in the mid 20s by lunchtime.

An Association game lasts a maximum of 2 1/2 hours in this tournament and I have a bye in the first round so I have 2 1/2 hours to spare. I've used up much of it now chatting as people wander in and out. So I'll end this and go and have a wander and see how people are doing.  The disadvantage is that anyone with a first round bye goes on to the lawns with no feel for them against an opponent who has just played for a while.  Ah well.


It's not a bad way to spend a life.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Puzzles in The Dom

For years I've been keeping my mind active (who am I trying to kid) by doing crosswords. Mind you as I can't for the life of me get to grips with cryptic clues I just do the straightforward ones. CJ and I when we go out for coffee expect to finish the Times one before our coffee. It's a very socialable thing to do with a friend. The Dominion Post, one of New Zealand's daily papers, has a wonderful selection of puzzles every day including the usual crosswords and su doku and, and this is what I have recently 'discovered' Code-cracker.




It's brilliant. I am addicted. The only problem is that it's not a puzzle for two (unless you sit side by side so it could be handy for playing with a very close friend) so it won't replace crosswords across the coffee table.

Monday, 23 November 2009

WOW! Fast Broadband!

Late last night I received a text saying that I had used 70% of my allocation of my 1Gb of cell broadband this billing period.  Oh dear.  So I went onto the NZ Telecom website to see what I could do about it and how much I was going to be billed for the excess.  I discovered that my plan no longer existed.   No surprise there then.  But on the new plan for the same amount I could get 2Gb a month fora similar price.

But (there always has to be a but) the old 2G network I am on wouldn't deliver (and is soon to be closed down) so I had to have a new USB stick for the 3G network.  But the speed of delivery would increase if I went for the top end of the range stick.  

A phone call to Telecom confirmed that I had had my contract long enough to upgrade.  Great.  But I could get the necessary USB device from the local Telecom store immediately if I popped into town instead of waiting for it to come through the post.  The thought ocurred to me that I shoul just do it on the phone there and then but no, I decided to go to the store.

Big mistake (Love that film!  Love that line).  I won't give you the details (see last posting) but suffice to say it ended up costing me megabucks and a great deal of hassle.  The sales assistant was absolutely charming I have to say.  She was a model of helpfulness drowning in a sea of the incompetence of those around her.  Eventually she phoned the person who had said I could have it and, guess what, I am entitled and I do now have it! Albeit at a price.

However when I eventually got home after a wonderful afternoon's croquet there was a long and incomprehensible message from her on the answering machine.  And the USB stick didn't work.  After 40 minutes on the phone this eveening to Telecom it now works.

And gess what?  Instead of the 7Kb/sec I got on the old network I get 3 times that and it seems instant by comparison. Hopefully I can now look at the photography blogs again.  I've been missing them because they just took too long to download.

I suppose I shall have to ring and find out what Erin wanted to tell me about the contract.  But, hey, I'm away tomorrow until Sunday night and I may have forgotten by then.

On Being Boring

In my profile I state that a friend many years ago described me as a boring old fart. Marcel Du Marche maintains that he never actually said that and that what he said was that 'Graham you can be a boring old fart at times'. Semantics. But he's a lawyer so why not! He has been generous in saying that that was then (about 34 years ago) and I'm not any longer. Whatever. I've lived with that terrible slur on my character and damage to my psyche ever since. Yeah right!

In fact Marcel is correct. I can be very boring. In fact sometimes I can be so boring that I even bore myself. Quite an achievement. And it's often in a story I'm relating where I've just interrupted my own interruption. So I am aware of my tendency. I was going to say 'fault' but I think that's a bit strong.

So why am I mentioning this now? No. It's not a bit of navel gazing. It has arisen because of an ongoing conversation with a friend and because it's also related indirectly to recent topics on Heather's blog.

What do we mean by 'boring'? Well I could have looked it up in The Oxford English Dictionary or the American Heritage Dictionary (Dull, repetitive, or tedious) but decided instead to use The Urban Dictionary - it's more fun.
I have noticed that younger children (and older children with less-developed vocabularies) use this word often. "Boring" among these people is a catch-all term indicating general disapproval. It can mean frustrating, depressing, or unpopular, or even embarrassing, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or unapproachable. The child's concept of "boredom" temporarily takes the place of the range of emotions that we become more aware of, and better able to articulate, as we grow older.

Adults often seem to misunderstand the fact that "boring" doesn't mean the same thing to children that it means to us. An adult is bored when they can't "find anything to do" or when they are trapped in an uneventful formal situation such as a meeting or a second cousin's funeral. Children, however, seem like they use "boring" for many other situations, even ones that may seem exciting and fast-paced.
Jell-o? That's boring!

I hate science! It's boring!

How was your first day of school?
Boring.
Did you meet new people?
Yeah.
Did you have lots to do?
Yeah.
Did you go outside and run around?
Yeah.
Then how was it boring?
I don't know.
Now Marcel is very articulate and, even then our friendship was such that I don't think he disliked me.  So I began to wonder why we often call people boring and what we really mean.   It's not a word I can recall using of others but then I can usually find something interesting about most people.   And then it struck me.  What we mean is 'you are not interested in the things that interest me' or 'you are not talking about the things that interest me'. 

I suppose if a nuclear scientist started talking to me at his level about ions I might be bored simply because it would be incomprehensible to me.  And it might fit the description in the OED or the AHD in relation to that topic and me.  But not necessarily to that person in general because other nuclear scientists might find it riveting.

How sad we are.  How about instead of condemning a person as being boring we just accept that our respective interests differ or, better still, listen and see if perhaps the subject being talked about might be interesting.

What a boring, dull, tedious posting that was.  I don't think it was particularly repetitive.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Backup, Backup, Backup

I have just rescued the Family's computer from an untimely demise.  It had managed to contract a virus and the hard drive refused to boot up.  Fortunately the music database was far to large at 110 Gb for the relatively small hard drive on the computer so it had been transferred to the backup hard drive (which had a trojan horse!).  There was nothing else on the hard drive that mattered which was lucky.  I had backed up all the old photos last year and the rest were on the external hard drive.  It is not the first computer I've had to rescue recently - only one could perhaps have had the data retrieved by slaving the hard drive.  Others might have had the data rescued by an (expensive) specialist but perhaps not even then.
Dawn Treader is having computer problems and I was delighted to read that she has not lost her wonderful photos because they were all backed up.

Asking around some friends recently I realised that virtually none had their data backed up.  I know I'm a bit OTT when it comes to backing up my photos and there are three backups - one kept off site with Pat, and two here with me.  There is also a copy on Palin (my laptop here) and Henry (the PC in Eagleton).

So can I remind all of you who have anti-virus software and think you are safe and who haven't backed up your data that  there are only three pieces of advice that matter: backup, backup and backup.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Wind Wand

The Wind Wand in New Plymouth is a sculpture designed by Len Lye, a New Zealand artist.   It is a  narrow red fibre glass tube, 200mm in diameter, the Windwand stands 45 metres high on the foreshore of New Plymouth. Weighing approximately 900kg, the Wind Wand can bend at least 20 metres. At night, a light at the top of the Wand emits a soft red glow



 

Who Am I?

Je m'appelle/mein Name ist/mijn naam is/my name is Graham Barry Edwards.  Apologies but I don't know the Swedish translation.

A few days ago Scriptor Senex/CJ/John/Clive/ blogged about Who Am I?  He pointed out that I had my name problems too.  Yet another thing in common between two brothers.  I thought about enlightening the world (or my tiny part of it) as to my names but decided not to.  Until this morning.  I was replying to an email when I noticed that the previous email I'd sent was signed off 'Graham'.  That's be OK for most of my emails 'cos that's my name.  But....

Like CJ I don't use the name that Mum and Dad called me which was Barry.  Some of my older friends  and people who know me through my wife or early days or The Pottery still call me that.   However I've been called Graham as well since I worked in a hospital at the age of 16 whilst waiting for surgery.  That is what most newcomers to my life know me as.

The odd thing is that, despite the huge mixing of those who know me through more than one source, I always know instinctively who calls me what.  I suppose it's like the French with their Le and La.  There are some  sort of rules but you have to know by instinct or rote to get them all correct.

Anyway nowadays I'm known by Barry, Graham, GB, Geeb, G and VPE or Vieux Pet Ennuyeux.  As I (and they) get older the number of people calling me Barry diminishes. CJ calls me GB as do quite a few other people.  I like that.  I've always like the use of initials as a name.  A handful of close friends call me Geeb (which I also like muchly) but I think I use that in written form to only three people.  Steve used to call me Barry, then Graham and now simply G.  David (ADM) alias Marcel Du Marche has always called me Graham however as he was the person who, all those years ago, said that I was a boring old fart, when he started up his blog dialogues avec mon jardinier écossais  I adpoted the pseudonym Vieux Pet Ennuyeux (French for Boring Old Fart) to comment.  Marcel and VPE communicate frequently by email and Skype.  David and Graham talk to each other!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Giant Weta

L'Archiduchess as an aside in a posting What's the etymology of the phrase 'to levy taxes'? asked whether it was true that there are no snakes in New Zealand and that there is an insect as large as a hand.

There are no snakes in New Zealand.  In fact, unlike Australia where almost everything is a threat to life or its enjoyment,  there are almost no insects, reptiles nor animals that are deadly in this country.

However we do have a huge insect with a body about 10 cm long and a leg span of 20 cm.  It is called a Giant Weta  and it is big by insect standards with a maximum recorded weight of 71 grams - the weight of a song thrush.  It's a docile creature and it's only defence is its tough exoskeleton.  This was sufficient defence against indigenous potential predators such as morepork, harriers, kingfishers and tuatara.  However it has meant that it has become the prey of many introduced manals and rodents.


(Photo: Richard Sharell.)

Monday, 16 November 2009

More Bulls

Whenever we go to tournaments in Palmerston or Wanganui or New Plymouth we go through Bulls.  I've posted about Bulls before in A Town Called Bulls and  A Town Called Bulls - Revisited..  It's a place which is always worth a stop whether it's for coffee or a meal or for the book shop or some of the other specialist shops on the main street.  For me it's the opportunity for new photographs:


And if you believe that!

 
A fence adornment

 
and another

 
A new ice cream shop!

It's Back

For good I hope.  Since I arrived back in my antipodean home my croquet has been abysmal.  As that is such a large part of my life that has been pretty disastrous.  My confidence has not gone but it's taken a bit of a knock.  However on Saturday I played Association with two of the best players in the Club.  Last year after I'd had a session with one of them my game improved no end.  This afternoon my game has returned as if it had never been away.  Along with such an improvement in play comes, of course, the required improvement in confidence which was in danger of taking a knock.

To Be The Best

When I was a small child in Liverpool we had a neighbourhood street sweeper.  He happened to be called Alfred but that's not relevant except to demonstrate the weird tricks of memory whereby I can recall a name from 60 years ago and not remember momentarily the name of a friend's daughter whom I've known all 40+ years of her life during a conversation when I was speaking on the phone today. 

When I was walking down the road I often chatted to Alfred.  One day he imparted some wisdom to me that I've never forgotten. 

CJ and I went to a small private Prep school in the area.  You need to know that because of what Alfred said.

Alfred said that whilst he was only a street sweeper with little education and I went to a smart school what mattered was who you were and that you strove to do what you did as well as you could.  He said that he was satisfied that he was the best street sweeper in Liverpool.    And he may well have been. 

What struck me later though was his use of the word 'only'.  I have never got used to people who say that.  I once rang an office and when I asked who was speaking was told that it was 'only' the office junior.  I pointed out that most offices can function satisfactorily for a while without senior staff but that most offices seem to collapse if the office junior is not there to find things.  Well that's how it used to be anyway.  There is no such thing, if one thinks about it, as an only in life.  There are just different roles to be played.

It's odd what we recall and what shapes our thinking.  As Andy used to say "It's a funny old world, Dad."

Sitting in Bed

Sometimes late at night I like the idea of going to bed and sitting with a book or, more realistically, Samantha, on my knee and reading or writing.  In practice it rarely works because I have never been one for reading in bed and I tend to put my head on the pillow and fall asleep within a minute of doing that.  Just occasionally I remain awake long enough to do something for a few minutes, such as take a photo of what I see when I sit up in bed at night.


 

Sunday, 15 November 2009

To Pay Or Not To Pay.....

I went into town during the week and parked at the garage where I'd had some work carried out and went in to pay a bill.  I came out and drove into the under cover municipal car park next door and parked.   It saves me putting the hood up. It is a pay and display car park.  I walked off to meet a friend for lunch and do some shopping and as I sat down at the café I remembered that I hadn't bought a pay and display ticket.  Oops.  I don't know what the fee is for not displaying a ticket.  The cost per hour for pay and display is $1.

So here is the dilemma.  When I got back I went to buy a ticket and assuage my conscience that I'd not cheated the system.  After all it costs the public to provide that parking.  Then I though.  "Hang on.  What if I receive a penalty in the post in the next week or so.  Do I want to pay twice?  After all  I was there for a couple of hours so there was a good chance that I'd be caught.  There are a lot a parking people."  So I didn't.  But then my conscience troubled me.  I know it's only $2 I'm talking about but....  Ah well.  Life's full of these dilemmas.  Playing the Glad Game.  It's hardly a serious matter in the scheme of things and if that's the worst I have to worry about then......

Saturday, 14 November 2009

An Evening Stroll

On Thursday evening Catriona called to see if I would like to go for a walk with her and Wendy and, of course, Misty.  Yes.  It was a cold but lovely evening and a walk seemed like a very good idea.  It turned into more of a stroll than a walk but it was good fun if of limited exercise value.

Note for those with dial-up or slow broadband:  I have tried to limit the size of these photos whilst using the extra-large setting on Blogger.  There are, however, more photos than usual on this posting.  Please let me know if you have difficulty downloading it.


 I must look these up.  There's a clump down the drive

 
 A happy Catriona

 
 There's water in the lake again

 
 Why do children have the urge to pick animals up all the time?



   Paddling through the pondweed

 
 Keep away from our babies!


   Cormorants on a handy branch

 
 Fallen down a hole

 
 Oh that poo tasted so good!

 
A Paper Wasp in the agapanthus

Friday, 13 November 2009

Talking of Memory

I was just writing to a friend and the subject of memory and confusion in old age became relevant.  It occured to me that CJ and I were spared that although Mum (whose memory at 90+ was better than mine has even been) referred to her 'forgettory' rather than her memory.

As usual I digress.  When Dad was taken into the nursing home suffering from chronic heart failure and could no longer even lift a spoon to his mouth because his heart would not pump the blood round fast enough to maintain the effort, the Social Worker came to assess him for eligibility to be there.  I had just arrived from the Outer Hebrides and was completely disoriented as to what year it was never mind anything else.  Dad also had macular degeneration and could no longer see to read nor, realistically, to watch televsiion..

After a pleasant exchange the Social Worker asked Dad (who was 94) if he could tell her the date.  Excuse me.  A man with no eyesight in a nursting home single-occupancy room and no radio.  How is he supposed to know the date when I didn't?  I said as much.  The Social Worker and I had a 'discussion' until Dad said "For heaven's sake you two stop squabling.  It's - whatever the date was.  I finished lunch about half an hour ago.  They probably serve lunch arounf 12.30.  So I reckon it's probably between 1.30 and 2 o'clock."  He then recited the name of the Prime Minister and a host of other things that the SW was likely to ask him. 

She and I looked at each other sheepishly.  I went and got us coffee!  She asked a few questions related to more personal matters.  Said everything would be ok and that was that.

Somehow I think I'll be lucky . It was pointed out to me this morning that it is Friday 13th.  Oh.  It's Friday is it?  No.  Joking.  I knew that because I have the family for dinner tonight.  But the 13th?  Next someone will be asking me what month it is.  It's late spring.  It must be May.  Oh no.  It's May in the Northern hemisphere isn't it.  So it must be...?   Oh dear.

Oh Dear

Whilst reading all the blog comments this morning I suddenly had a thought for a one-paragraph posting.  By the time I'd opened up my browser the thought had vanished.  There is a saying in Gaeldom "Old age does not come alone."  Too right!

Awards

If I'm really honest I'm not a great one for awards.  I'm really thrilled that some people enjoy my blog and my photos and it's a lovely compliment to be given an award.  But then there are the conditions or stipulations.  I've not had time to think about awards recently but Scriptor has just completed his 35 answers and on a whim of mellowness (it must have been the green tea with lemon and ginger I had earlier this evening - please don't tell anyone that I was drinking tea in the evening) I've decided to post on the awards I've received.

Firstly I should say that I apologise if my attitude seems ungrateful.  I hope that you don't think that.  I am.  It's just that, well, I can't really explain.  I'm just not an awards sort of person.  Unless, of course, it's Croquet.  I like getting Croquet awards.  But then I suppose I feel that I've really earned them and I'm never sure that I feel I've earned ones for blogging.  C'est la vie.

Anyway (sorry, I use that word a lot) the first one was from Scriptor Senex at Rambles From My Chair.  He gave me An Award For Photographic Excellence on 4 October.  It came with no stipulations nor imprecations nor strings.  Thank you Brother.


Next on 14 October Dawn Treader passed on the Honest Scrap Award With or Without Stipulations saying: 'To GB at Eagleton Notes because his very honest blogposts and comments marked by British humour always make me smile and sometimes laugh. If you don't find him at home there, try his New Zealand blog, because he is about to travel again soon.'  So really I'm acknowledging it on the 'wrong' blog.  With this I am supposed to tell you ten things about myself that you don't already know.


And then on 5 November Pauline at The Paddock passed on in her posting Yey!! I'm a Real Blogger! the Your Blog is Over The Top award on the grounds that 'I like his cheerful, positive outlook on life and, oh boy, does he ever take good photos. And it's nice to know another blogger in NZ.'  With this one I am supposed to answer 35 questions:
I am supposed to pass each of the last two awards on to another blogger.  And here I have a problem.  I know an extremely small number of bloggers all of whom are well known to everyone else on my blog list.  It's very incestuous.  I don't have the huge circle of blog friends that many others have.  I don't visit blogs outside of my small circle.  What never?  Well hardly ever. (With apologies to W S Gilbert).  So I can't really pass them on even if I were so inclined.

But I shall indulge myself and tell you ten things about myself that you don't already know:

1 The only thing that I can think of that I can do equally well with both hands is use chopsticks.

2 All my swear words relate to bodily functions (Friend Who Knows Too Much pointed that out). I never use the F word and I never blaspheme (Wot never? Well, hardly ever).

3 I drink two mugs of green tea (usually with lemon or something else) when I get up, earl grey or lady grey with breakfast and red bush tea with lunch. Any other tea drinking is random. I drink black coffee without sugar the rest of the time.

4 I was born with my pension book in my hand. (So my Mum said).  I didn't become young until my 61st birthday.

5 I have a love of pictures with people with their back to me looking out of windows.

6 I cannot conceptualise.  I have no ability to hold an image in my head.  I cannot 'see' images in my head.

7 I will not eat sweets shaped like Maltona Drops (Boiled round sweet with an indentation in top and slight malt flavour) ever since I got one stuck in my throat as a small child and nearly choked (I don't eat toffee either but that's for the rational reason that they pull my fillings out!)..

8 I've had a mobile (cell) phone since they were the size of a brick on wheels and I've always had the same number (apart from alterations to the prefix when numbers have been increased in size due to demand).  Notwithstanding that it's only in the last 5 years or so I've been able to remember it.

9  I can remember the phone number of our home 65 years ago and my first car and the frame number of my bike when I was 11 (71512TH) but not the number of my current car here in NZ.

10 Happiness is dancing naked in the warm rain (preferably in the dark!).

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

When God Made Man

In the post Out of The Mouths Cynthia commented   "Society for ages and ages has portrayed God as patriarchal, but left out the obvious matriarchal qualities of a God who was brilliant enough to create women, too."    When I was a young man a friend said "When God made man She was only practising".  'Nuff said.

Spectacles

We had finished dinner and Catriona was pointing something out to me on the television whilst I was clearing the dishes (Where am I going wrong?  When I was that age it was my job to clear the dishes.).  Suddenly she turned to me and looked up earnestly into my eyes.  "Please,"  I thought "not another question I can't answer."    "Your glasses look silly."  Return to television.  "Excuse me, but why?"  "The frame doesn't fit the lenses."   No they don't.  But why do children have to be so logical about these things?


All that part of my life when I've worn glasses I've worn conventional ones: often nylon supras or rimless ones.  Last May when I decided I needed a spare pair I chose these on a whim and within about 50 seconds of looking at choices.



They have elicited all sorts of comments - usually favourable - from friends and strangers alike.   Daughter of Friend Who Knows Too Much said when she first saw them "Graham, those glasses are so unnecessary."  Thinking this was a compliment (modern slang so rarely means what it might be expected to mean and she's such a lovely person it didn't occur to me that it could be anything else).  I mentioned it to someone who remarked that that was rather an unkind remark.  Oh.  Unnecessary actually meant unnecessary.  Ah well.

At least they are not boring!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Out of The Mouths

This afternoon I was looking after 8 year old Catriona when she suddenly looked up and asked "Graham. Why are we alive?"   I'm not equipped to cope with questions like that.  Wendy is an Atheist so I'm not sure the standard answer would be approved of.  I suggested that it wasn't easy to answer and suggested "Because we are."  She considered that patently inadequate.  I told her that many people believed that we are because God made us so.  She considered that and said "But that doesn't explain why we are?"  How true.  Quite a reasoned discussion ensued which left both she and I at a loss.  After all I haven't a clue why we are.

The Disney Channel eventually rescued me. Either that or I can even bore an 8 year old into submission. All in all it was an interesting afternoon.
 
I fared better as a cooker of dinner!

Whilst we were having it she asked what I would wish for if I were allowed one wish..  Now I take these things too seriously and I have absolutely no idea what my wish would be.  So I said so.  Not the right answer!  "Why didn't you just wish for unlimited wishes?" was the reply.  Yes.  Well.  Why didn't I think of that?

And if I was allowed three wishes?  I took too long. "I would wish for The House and The Cottage to have two storeys.  Then I would wish that the stairs were escalators.  Wouldn't that be awesome?"  I was so dumbfounded that I can't for the life of me recall what the third wish was - if, indeed, there was one.

It's interesting being a grandpa albeit a surrogate one.

A Sharp Knife

One of the things that I really really (a 2-really is seriously really) like in the kitchen is a sharp cooks knife.  In my Eagleton kitchen I have an 8" Victorinox cooks knife which has doen sterling service and is as sharp as a razor.  I've never been able to find one in Napier.  When we were passing through Palmerston North on Sunday Jayne and I stopped to stretch our legs and went into the shopping mall in the centre of town.  I didn't even know that it was there!  As we walked through there was a shop in the centre of the precinct selling, yes, Victorinox knives.  So I now have my treasured Victorinox here too.

I did wonder, mind you, at the law relating to offensive weapons and the carrying of knives.  There I was walking through a busy mall carring a very sharp knife with an 8" blade (in a bag, of course).  I think that in the UK now the very act of carrying a knife with a blade longer than a certain length is an offence per se.  How do you get your knife home?

Anyway that's academic.  I have my knife and it ain't goin' nowhere.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Food In A Minute

One of the reassuring things about New Zealand television is its predictability.  For a long time - years - Food in a Minute has been an iconic advert just before One News at 6pm.


Le Pauvre Chien


Would you do this to a dog that you loved?

Before and After

Wee Misty has been clipped. She is no longer a furry rugby ball with legs!



Before



After

Sunday, 8 November 2009

I Don't Know Where To Start

This last two weeks has been a real rollercoaster.  I've arrived back in my New Zealand home to a special family and a special welcome.  I've been away to a croquet tournament for which I was totally unprepared.  Two people who have touched my life have died.  I have not spent a single evening  alone in The Cottage.   I have not spent anywhere near as much time as I would have wanted in Blogland.  I have not seen as much of some friends as I would have liked.  I have made adventurous plans for a weekend away exploring new places.  I haven't sorted the Study yet and I haven't finished the week's ironing.  The fact that I've done no housework pales into insignificance.

The two services for those who had died were completely different: one a full requiem mass and the other a celebration of a life.  Bother men were very popular.  Both men were loved by many and deserving of that love in a way that few are.  Both services were attended by more than an ordinary large church could hold.

I cannot pay a personal tribute to Nick.  I did not know him well enough.   I can say that I admired him very much because I knew him by reputation and all that he did for people and for his wife, Colleen whom I know.  The eulogies at his mass were very moving. 

Ralph touched my life directly for a few days:  days in which I learned a lot and admired much.  For that I was privileged.  He was a remarkable man.  A man of letters, a teacher, a coach, a breeder of successful racehorses, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend to name but a few of his achievements.  The celebration of his life took place at the Awapuni Racecourse Silks Lounge in Palmerston North.  There was a picture show, films of races, stories and memories by his children and grandchildren and friends, a song by a friend and grandson, and an opera singer to mark his departure from the lounge carried by his family.  There can have been few dry eyes.  There were many laughs.

So I returned this evening after a round trip of 400k with Jayne (a friend from croquet and a mutual friend of Judy, Ralph's wife) for company.  I arrived home in time for One News at 6pm.  What did I find?  Wendy had been round with the ride-on.  The flowers that had been placed here when I arrived home (two weeks ago!) had been replaced by new ones.  And the carpets had been vacuumed!! 

Once again I count my blessings.



Hawera

On our way home from New Plymouth last Monday Jayne and I stopped at Hawera for coffee.  Hawera is a small town of 1100 population.  The town centra was actually larger than I expected and there were quite a few shops.  Or so it seemed.  There were plenty of cafés, some of which looked really inviting.  But as far as we could see only one - a barn of a place - had a washroom.  There were, however, lots of op shops (charity shops/goodwill stores) and we bought a few books between us.  Jayne summarised Hawera rather aptly as lots of op shops but no plop stops.

However it did have one absolutely splendid piece of sculpture: