December 31, 2008

New Year's potential

 It is almost midnight here in New Zealand, so I get a head start in celebrating 2009 over many of you. As I write, it is just minutes away.

Whatever the New Year brings, as far as I am concerned, it will be brilliant if it includes getting to watch Phoebe get older... and the continuing health and safety of all my family, particularly as all of my children are  planning to travel to either Colorado and California, or Bangladesh this year.

Phoebe managed to cope with the high temperatures here today - suitably dressed for the occasion.

Ready for bed... or we thought so, but no...
 and tonight - she learned to laugh....
Wherever you are.. may you manage to laugh too :)
Happy New Year.

December 30, 2008

Christchurch summer weather has arrived at last

I have spent the day as a little puddle of sweat, struggling to do very much at all.... Much as I enjoy the heat, I know it hit at least 31C today and it does make it hard to function. I braved the sun for five minutes to hang out the washing this morning and was already pink by the time I came in, so have stayed in the dark, deep recesses of our old villa as much as possible when home, seeking out cross breezes. Villas may be difficult to heat in winter, but at this time of year, it is great to retreat to the cool! Two days ago we coped by visiting our son and daughter in law, where they are house sitting on the beach to the east of us. Lots of people were bodyboading and a nice walk along the surf beach in a gentle breeze helped...
New Brighton Beach, Christchurch, New Zealand

Yesterday was another hot day, and after reading the review by the lovely Fat, Frumpy and Fifty, we braved the movie "Australia" in the late afternoon and although I have read mixed reviews about aspects of the film, I enjoyed it. Three hours of cool air conditioning watching the dusty red dryness of the Northern Territory was also good.... 

By the time we surfaced from the mall, when it felt cooler, I got a text from a friend, Neo Conduit, who was not well and we duly took her up to the hospital. The Emergency Department has become quite familar to us over the past four years; I can discuss knowledgably the changes to the style and layout of the seating, the dreary Health TV running in the waiting room, preaching good health to the ill and suffering as they wait in fear and distress. The Triage area, the Work Up rooms, or WU, the new layouts, more space, better technology.... the comfortable footwear, (lots of Crocs), the uniforms, the Red Cross helpers, where to find tea and coffee and sandwiches, the long waits, the general air of patient suffering by people who would far rather be anywhere but there, but need the help. In my role up there as patient support for a friend, it is probably best described as worthwhile, a chance to advocate, but inclined towards tedious. For the patients and their families, it is largely fear. Somehow, this fear does not reduce because you are a "frequent flyer", in fact as far as I can see, it increases because you know all the things that can go wrong... and this is all before you get to the ward, the op, the overnight stay, or whatever plan is decided this time. I guess if there is one thing I do take away from it all - Never take good health for granted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My stay in ED last night was cut short... my friend's young daughter needed to be in bed. It was after 11 before we could get her back to our place and into the spare bed; which needed making up, checked for spiders ( which it failed...) and in the end she slept on the couch, and stayed there until we finally woke her at lunchtime today.

Meanwhile, after being discharged at 4 am, a new visit to the doctor resulted in orders.. back to ED again this afternoon.  This time waiting for a bed and two days in the ward.... so to pass the time, we carefully analysed all the available houses for sale around the city... none of which we will buy. When the parking siutation became an issue, we finally left, my friend still in WU waiting for a bed on the ward. No word yet. Will go up again tomorrow....

Leaving the air conditioned ED, we reloaded the parking monster using text, ( if you have never done this, it is a challenge to do it in the time they give you...) and crossed the river next to the hospital to sit and have a cool drink in the Antigua Boat Shed Cafe..... where it was peaceful as people set off punting and kayaking.

We took these as we crossed back over the bridge. The rush was over for the day....

While searching for some links to the boat shed I found this site - and I also got the earlier beach photo from here. Check it out for more photos of Christchurch, as well as punting here.
No idea what the temperature is - but it is cooling and, finally, we can sleep. 

December 28, 2008

Images from Christchurch

I found this blog today of a couple called Ann and John who are visiting New Zealand - and they took some neat pictures of Christchurch, and also more over on the West Coast.

We were in the Cathedral for midnight service on Xmas Eve - was an amazing tree.
This is just for those of you who live overseas so that you can see more of New Zealand.
Many thanks to Ann and John :)

Second Xmas

The week started on Tuesday with celebrating my mother's birthday at my house...  then we had Xmas at my parent's house, and yesterday we had Xmas all over again. This time with the grandchildren who had gone away for the real Xmas day... so my family finally got a chance to meet Phoebe. My mother was more than ready for a wee cuddle...

The girls had a fun day with loads more presents - and enjoyed the new doctor's kit.... 
Now Saffy's turn ...
Obviously, all was not well (and here we have a vet in the making..... although this is not the ideal site for injections!)

A hectic but wonderful week filled with family and friends. I'm tired, but happy and contented...

Now - New Year party anyone?

December 26, 2008

Christmas Pets

We could tell that as usual, Xmas would result in our dogs being alone together for an afternoon and an evening. In this busy house, the dogs are rarely alone for so long, and after much thought I decided to split them up this year .... their preference is to have the entire house and garden available, and past experience of leaving them alone for too long has resulted in broken glass, due to their efforts to burst in or out of the cat door, rubbish bin rummaging (we weight the lids down now) and scratched doors. Saffy is partial to chewing on books too... and mmmm stuffed toys.

So Saff spent the day with my friend and the kittens... my eternal debt to her, as Saff would have been far too much to cope with at my parents! She was a handful as it was - restless a lot of the time, but she had another dog to play with and no reason to be bored.  Jessie came with us, and was very good, even if the snap of the crackers, and the sight of a balloon ( her pet hate) did result in her hiding in strange places.

One thing that I did learn; both dogs were quite stressed about being out of their home environment, and, possibly, about being separated. They just don't get to do it a lot anymore.

Some of my friends' dogs had a fun Xmas: Saffy would have particularly enjoyed their presents!!!
I managed to get some extra pictures while I was at my parents house. This is  a better one of their cat : "Tasha" - I wrote about her here:

I also got some more pictures of my grandfathers paintings. This one was Corfe Castle - which I wrote about here:


And one of my favourite paintings is "Moonlight on the Pacific" , painted on the boat when they travelled here to New Zealand on a business trip in the 1930's. 

Hope you and your pets all had a great and safe Xmas day :)

December 25, 2008

all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse....Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Its really Xmas here... Just back from Midnight service and all is peaceful ...

"all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.."


See this cartoon here
 and check out  Three Way Designs for some great pet cards etc - brilliant!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Find it here

December 22, 2008

The Kittens are leaving...

The first kitten has gone to their new home... and two more are being assessed by possible owners tonight.... and it is more than time as they are now 8 weeks old.

The sight of fluffy MoMo's little paws sticking out of the holes in the box as she left was surprisingly sad - even more so for their surrogate mum... and I am pleased there will still be one left to watch grow up.

So far I have managed to resist all attempts to be persuaded to keep little Ra for myself... six cats is more than enough already at home. She is particularly affectionate though and quickly appears to climb on me whenever I visit... the chosen one. Sigh..

Wee Lucky has an orange coloured snip on her lip - easy to pick...

Big thanks to their foster mum for all the love and attention.

Good luck kittens - thank you for hours of fun - you will not be forgotten and I hope anyone that takes you keeps some of the photos from this blog to remember your first few weeks.


December 20, 2008

National Geographic Ocelot Cat Wallpaper

This is my current desktop which you can download. This is a small version only...

I found it on the National Geographic site - look for the wallpapers-

OCELOT (Leopardus pardalis)
195 (Estimated U.S. population is fewer than 100 wild, 95 captive)

Wild ocelots are gone from all U.S. states except Texas, driven out by human development. The elusive cats still roam the wilds of Central and South America, but there's little reliable data on their true numbers.

Their section on animals is great too! I could spend hours on there...

Christmas First Aid

Vet Nurse has written some very good advice to pet owners to help them survive Xmas.

She is an experienced vet nurse and I agree with everything - although I try to avoid Washing Soda... and she correctly suggests you ask your vet before using them. Also check what has been eaten as some things are better left in place than returning up for a second burn of the throat.

Here is what we tell our classes:

Poisoning through ingestion

Identify the type of poison – take packet with you to the Veterinary Hospital.

Always attempt to determine the approximate time of exposure or ingestion of a toxin.

In cases of animals ingesting a toxin, the main goal of your treatment advice is to recommend quickly and effectively eliminating the toxin product. In general, advising induction of vomiting should be avoided.
Recent guidelines from the ASPCA advise against using salt and washing soda as emetics; this is due to the potential to induce electrolyte imbalances and gastric and esophageal ulceration respectively.

Vomiting should NEVER be recommend in animals suspected of having ingested acidic or alkaline substances, such as ammonium, cleaning products, batteries, nail polish remover, acetone, ingestion of petroleum based products such as petrol or any type of oil, or animal with abnormal consciousness, such as animals that are seizuring, dull and depressed, or in a coma.

Here's hoping for a quiet and uneventful Xmas in the emergency rooms of the world.

Pheobe prepares for Xmas

Just to keep you up to date :)
9-10 weeks old

The perfect present.....

My big middle sister

Watching the girls..

Have a great day :)

Sniffer dogs and breast cancer

Thank you to NHS Blog Doctor for this link.

Just thought it might be of interest to some of you. For some years, I supervised the running of the Dog Training Certificate at the Polytech and we had many interesting tutors, students and their dogs attending. Quite a number of them were interested in tracking and scent work and one in particular was involved with training their dog in cancer detection.

There are lots of pages on it - just start searching - and there are some at the NHS link from the entry title.
Cancer sniffing dogs

The Nose Knows

Dogs can be trained to detect many things... live bodies, dead bodies, explosives, drugs, foods, to name but a few - so why not cancer..

The Use of Scent Detection Dogs
Written from Massey and featured in the Irish Vet Journal...

Might pay to take notice if you dog sniffs excessively at you... even if their habit of crotch sniffing is thought of as bad behaviour on their part..

Massey and The Fitz... a chapter closes on vet school life

This week I read an article that brought back a rush of memories. The iconic Fitz Pub in Palmerston north is shutting its doors.
the infamous scarfie pub The Fitz has closed - and love it or loathe it, the Palmie misfit, which opened in 1966, leaves a colourful legacy.
Massey Vet School took up five years of my life.
They were the best of times... they were the worst of times.
But along with a lot of other vets who trained at Massey, the Fitz represented a chunk of time; for better or worse, it was where we went... I expect it will have a similar effect on many vets when they hear the news.

When we weren't there, we were here: The Massey Vet Tower, with it's moat/duck pond at the front. Scene of many a midnight dunking.

It will be 30 years since I left next year, after entering with a few hundred other hopefuls in 1975. I guess 60-70 of us went on to do the next four years, and maybe we will manage our reunion next year... and then we can moan about the state of the profession, share stories from our days at Massey and of course, check out who is fat, bald, old, successful etc. as you do at reunions...

Five long years of study and exams and early starts and late nights. Years of freezing in a Palmerston North winter, battling head winds whichever way we travelled, living in a poorly insulated flat, using an electric blanket to stay warm while studying.

Five years of the same people.. and when offered a chance by one of my lecturers to stay there and do more studies, I realised I was not cut out for a life of pathology and had a need to be with people .... real people, live animals, and I set off into practice. He said he would give me five years before I was tired of it ... and I can see why, but he was wrong; I lasted 20 before I diversified and added teaching.....

So how do students survive their time there?
A time honoured tradition is the BarB Grog.. (A traditional veterinary student bonding ritual involving a circle, tarpaulin and shovel; whose original meaning is long shrouded in the mists of time ..)

Then they raise funds for half way day - which these days seems to involved nudity ( but didn't in my day - although I am sure we would have had no trouble doing it when we were that age!!)

Getting your kit off is becoming an annual event for Massey third-year veterinary science students.

For the second year, students have stripped for charity to produce a 2007-2008 calendar called Barely There – Take II.

Well, “charity” might be stretching it a little. The calendars, which feature naked students posed in a series of mostly agricultural and educational settings – wool sheds, hay barns, paddocks, lecture theatres and lying on the floor playing with a cat – are largely to raise funds for the traditional halfway day function.

Ten per cent of the proceeds of the sales of the calendar are going to the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre, which treats ill and injured native birds, reptiles and mammals.

The day marks the mid-point of the five-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree and usually involves a class trip and social function.

If you want to know more about becoming a vet at Massey - click here and here
If you want to see more about what it involves being a vet student there - try here

At the end of the five years, you will graduate with a piece of paper that lets you really start to learn... and you get to wear the cerise hooded graduation gear. Believe me, I wear it every year at our own student graduations here in Christchurch, and it is trimmed with real. white, fur... which I have never understood.. aren't we meant to be NOT wearing fur anymore!!!

I am sure the student's there now will find other drinking establishements
but thanks to the Fitz for some great memories.

Also to the Vet School at Massey for their great vet training and for the good times that made the five years more fun than pain...

December 16, 2008

School ties: Life at Bedales "Work of each for weal of all... "

I mentioned recently that Antler and I went to boarding school together.. aeons ago. I was there from 10 until I was 13. Antler a bit longer, but for various reasons we both had to leave before the end of senior school. Perhaps this makes the memories more vivid... but those years stand out in my mind with a rosy glow..

We are a year apart in age, both now 50 plus, but have plenty of memories of school. We have entertained ourselves for some months catching up with each other, thank you Facebook :) A shared history is a great place to revive friendships.

Bedales was not really an ordinary school, and it certainly wasn't a conventional boarding school. In fact, we were referred to as females, not girls, which is only fair when half the school is males and they aimed for equality. My grandfather and his sister went there together in the early 1900's and I was offered the chance to go too.

Check out Wikipaedia on Bedales.....

Here it is in 1906:
When I went to board at the junior school, Dunhurst, at 10 and 3/4 , we were living in rural Cheshire. My parents drove me down the first time, but subsequently, the journey south each term meant taking the train from Nether Alderley to Crewe, then onto the Manchester to London Express, to meet my aunt who took me across London, clutching my wicker basket of guinea pigs, from Euston to Waterloo to pick up the school train and head south to Petersfield. It meant I rarely saw my parents between long holidays. They did come down once or twice, for a long weekend, but mostly it really was too far, so I went to stay with friends or one of my two sets of aunts and uncles who lived nearby.

The wonderful Gimson library.... outside....

Indescribable atmosphere inside

Bedales has a powerful Arts and Crafts tradition, epitomised in the Memorial Library (one of the last works by Edward Gimson, 1921). The double-height library, with open galleries at first-floor level; the use of wood for the structure as well as the floor and the furniture; the barn-like proportions; pitch of the roof; and even the height of the external parapet –

There is an amazing article of how this beautiful library was designed and built here
and this guy sums it up perfectly....

The orchard outside the library
This is Steephurst...aka " female flat ". My last place before we moved to NZ. You can play croquet on the lawn under the trees....

My first night at school was hard. I was sick , and very homesick. I wrote daily post cards home asking to be picked up, but my parents had, sensibly, gone away to Cornwall for a week and by the time they got the tear stained missives, I had made friends and was telling them to ignore the first ones. Just as well as I think my mother would have returned immediately if the tone had not changed! Leaving home was hard, but life at school was amazing...and I am glad I didn't miss it completely!

Life at Bedales is intense and demanding, creative and inspiring. Are you up for it?

So why was it so special? Fun, freedom, learning, music, arts, mischief, set in a beautiful place where you were with your friends all the time. Mixed age dormitories where the older students taught you the rules. A special character, a mix of fear and excitement, risk and daring, creativity and rules, boundaries when we stepped out of line, but not brutality, amazing acting, music, and famous people everywhere. Today, many things have changed. Sadly, it is now one of the most expensve schools in the UK and none of my friends can afford to send our own children there; they are trying to set up a trust to help make this happen in future...

What has this led to? Read here... although read it with a pinch of salt!

There appears to have been a major purge of undesirable students (although we are not sure how they classed people as such) in the early 70's... just before the royal family started there. I was lucky - I left to live in New Zealand late 1970, before they started purging lol

And I am lucky - I love it here. But a part of me will always be at Bedales...

Any OB's - look on Facebook for the Dunhurst and Bedales Groups , or leave me a message here..
and find more of us here


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