February 27, 2009

Lonely Dogs and Wetas

Late last century, I lived in beautiful Queenstown and discovered some of the local talent there... particularly Ivan Clarke, an exceptionally talented artist.

Ivan was best known for his landscapes; amazing, deep, luminous, three dimensional canvases that you felt you could step into. They were highly sought after by the visiting tourists. I watched him working in his studio, then set up out by his home, and asked him how on earth he knew when to stop... layering on more of the deep oils each day to create the textures, and he said "he just knew".

Two years ago, we were back visiting Queenstown and I was thrilled to find Ivan's new gallery.

 As well as the oils, he had moved into a new direction, capturing stories of his dog, a dachshund called Arthur..living in a fictional world. The first picture was triggered from the look on his dogs face when they left him behind. It captured my imagination, and since then, I have taken to showing the students this picture, and some of his animal related ones, when we study local and international transport of cats and dogs.... 
A few years ago, Ivan Clarke - a successful Queenstown landscape painter, went on holiday. As he departed, he looked back at his dog, looking wistfully after him. "That dog is lonely," he said.
Upon his return, he sketched, and then painted a picture like none he had ever done before. Instead of a gorgeous realistic landscape, brimming with light, Ivan painted a lively, whimsical image of a dog, standing fully clothed, looking longingly after a departing ferry, and lit by an over-bright moon. He called it "Bon Voyage.” Ivan also began telling his children the story of "Lonely Dog".
Perhaps the thing that took this onto success was that Weka Workshops Richard Taylor also got involved to create the statues. If the name seems familiar, think Academy Awards, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, as Richard and Weta were the talent behind the creations of the sets and costumes. This is the tip of the iceberg as far as their work goes, but brought them international acclaim and awards.

Yesterday the news broke of the mermaids tail....., also developed by Weta.

So what reminded me of all this today?
Lonely Dog is going to be a movie star. 
Warner Bros has snapped up the film rights for an unusual picture book, Alveridgea and the Legend of the Lonely Dog, developed by Queenstown artist Ivan Clarke.

It couldn't happen to a nicer dog.... congratulations Ivan and Arthur.

Today's smile

I get sent lots of great emails, most of which I can't share on here... but luckily, some of them are animal related and fit for family viewing!

Some of my favourites from today are

These pictures are from an Orange Festival in the Netherlands :) There were a lot showing decorated houses, but I liked the animals...

Away tomorrow.... gonna be rain and wind according to the weather forecasts, but hoping it will clear for the wedding!

The End

February 26, 2009

Bangladesh family..

The mother of a friend of mine died yesterday. A tragic loss; another casualty. A fresh reminder of the fleeting nature of life. One thing that lingered in my mind all day was from a message she sent...
Please remember to tell your family and friends you love them everyday because you never know when someone dear to you will be taken.
Yes - we know it, but I just wanted to remind you of it. It really hit home to me last night when I got a message from Bangladesh........

I grew up listening to The Beatles... and was very familiar with the happenings in Bangladesh in the 70's, courtesy of George Harrison.

Knowing about a country, and taking a slightly keener interest in it when your children live there, are two different things.

Last night we heard there was a city wide curfew in Dhaka. We only heard about it because James and Jess immediately wrote to us to say they were ok, but as the city curfew had started at 3pm, they had been trapped and unable to get home. The buses were full.... so they took refuge at a friends house. As the news had only broken on the BBC by then, and it was late at night, we were blissfully unaware of any issue until they were already safe. I thought of the message from my friend... I didn't sleep too well, even knowing they were safe.

This morning, as there was nothing in the New Zealand news about it, which is not actually surprising, I did a wee google search for "Bangladesh unrest". It took me a while to filter out all the graphic images of fights and soldiers and fires from the past four years... and I had to redo it as "Bangladesh unrest 2009" to find yesterdays news.

Mutinous Border Guards in Bangladesh

Bangladesh rebels mutiny, agree to surrender

Bangladeshi guards revolt over pay in the capital

Bangladesh Unrest

It appears to have been a minor skirmish, but a rickshaw driver died and 15 were injured. I think it is the idea of having to follow a curfew at 3pm, for the whole city, to let the army get through the streets that I find hard to follow.... trying to imagine imposing it here in Christchurch!

Still, every country has unrest, fights, shootings.... I am not singling out Bangladesh. It was just that I was aware that stupid stuff like this can happen to anyone at any time... as Phoebe's mum said recently, "Hit by Bus" scenarios.

So, just wanted to take the opportunity to say "I love you" to my children, my wonderful parents, my lovely partner (who hears it all the time but won't object to a repeat :), to Phoebe's family and the many other friends who matter in my life.

I hope you will all do the same.

February 25, 2009

This little piggy had finger lickin' chicken..... and Akaroa plans

Phoebe is off on her first flight this weekend. While her sisters stay with friends, she will fly north to Auckland, generously allowing her parents to go along for the ride too.

I just hope they can cope with her apparent new craving for finger lickin' chicken and chips...

While they head north, we are leaving the pets to the children and heading away ourselves to the wedding of my friend's daughter, out at Banks Peninsula, our very own local volcano. The town of Akaroa is nestled in the central harbour.

Akaroa Banks Peninsula with Christchurch in the Background

The wedding will be held at French Farm Winery, which is near Akaroa...the little "French" town on the beach, where the streets have lovely names, generally beginning with Rue....

We decided to go over Friday....the first time we have been away since our trip to Hanmer Springs last September. We did manage to get over to Akaroa a year ago, - so will be nice to revisit it.

  For some more lovely pictures check out David Wall Photography - Akaroa


Apart from the amazing scenery, I love the food over there....I think this blog says it all - and mentions some other places worth eating too!
So So Simple Food - Akaroa A Taste of Old France in New Zealand...

In the meantime, fingers crossed for the rain to go, the air to warm up again, and a relaxing weekend for us, the happy couple and all their other members of the family who have come over with them from England for the event!


February 22, 2009

The children return today.... hearts and 100 posts

I am up and ready to go to the airport soon....and this afternoon, we are all going to Skype with Jess and James in Bangladesh. Be good to have them all "together" again :) Technology certainly helps make them feel closer.

And it is a good morning because I found both my lovely rings that slipped off when I was gardening yesterday - I had swapped fingers because they were tight, and paid the price.... Frighteningly, since I have not been wearing them lately, and had only put them back on the day before, I just didn't notice they had gone until I was out last night... I was so relieved when, after retracing my steps for the day, my partner found the first one by torchlight in the weeds last night at 1 am, and the other was there when I raced out at first light today (yes I did sleep in between)....

and now, I don't have to hunt any further. Chatting briefly to James last night I said I would sieve the vege garden if necessary, and then dismantle the washing machine to find the main one... that will teach me to wear them on the wrong finger. Blame it on the heat!

Tracey  from Tracey Crafty Scraps has given me this lovely award

... and to celebrate the return of the children, the fact that my dashboard tells me this is my 100th post, I will accept it with pleasure and pass it on to

Crystal Jigsaw Tales from a haunted farmhouse in rural Northumberland

Moments from Suburbia the diary of a forty something......who may never escape!

Cottage Rose for her moving posts on the Victorian bush fires....

Moannie from The View from this End - just because she is lovely.

And Ida from The Diary of Pienovski, for opening up my eyes to the way people live elsewhere as she flies to places I can only dream of. 

Help yourselves ladies :)

See you later - and thank heavens - the sun is out after all the rain!!

Just had a text - the travellers have  missed their flight connection at Auckland... hopefully they will get another one soon!! But at least they are back in New Zealand :)


February 21, 2009

Working with wildlife

We get lots of good "working with animal posts" floating around the vet nursing world, but I did like this one when it came out.. probably because I could identify with a lot of it, and it sums up life as a zoo keeper.
Makes a change from small animal clinic one liners...

after work, all you attract are flies

your tan lines wash off

your pets greet your shoes and not you

all your pants have stains where you wipe your hands

you never shake hands without brushing your hands on your pants

you walk with a limp because of all the tools on your belt

you get really excited about a good solid poop

you spend all your vacations visiting other zoos

half your kitchen equipment and a good portion of your kids' toys end up at the zoo

you will eat most anything from the animal cooler as a snack

you don't even notice that you smell until you get into the car with the windows rolled up to go home

you think nothing of pulling off ticks while in line at the local fast-food place

you have two closets...one for work and one for the real world

you have more photos of your animal kids than of your friends

you wash your hands thoroughly BEFORE using the toilet

you politely decline to shake hands because you know WHERE your hands have been

you eagerly shake hands because YOU KNOW where you hands have been

new rakes and shovels are more exciting than diamonds

you can be bribed to do anything for chocolate cake

you sit on a clothes dryer for warmth

over lunch the discussion involves the consistency of faaeces

the casserole at the Christmas party reminds someone of an animals discharge and you eat it anyway

you lock any and every door behind you

when you go to lunch with coworkers and you realize that everyone at nearby tables asks to be moved because of what you are discussing

your most cherished gift is a Leatherman Super Tool

you shop the toy section in Wal-Mart and you don't have kids, you have monkeys

a three day weekend means the ground in dirt on your hands is gone

you leave a trail of hay everywhere you go

you check to see which way the wind is blowing before dumping anything

you can make water run uphill, because architects believe all drains should be in the highest corner

taking off your boots at night is better than...well, just about anything

talk of animals' faeces does not gross you out while eating

perfume is offensive while bodily smells are not

you are not phased by a faecal sample in the fridge next to your lunch.…

you have no pictures of you without animals in them too

you can identify which species a faecal originated from by smell

you're routinely tested for internal parasites

your favorite smells are bleach and disinfectant

you look better when you wake up than when you get off of work

you have scars to prove it.

Hair-ties are also good temporary rubber washers.

friends and family get concerned you are in an abusive relationship because of the number of bruises you have all over your body and the fact that it takes so long to try and remember how you got them.

when you can fall in a pile of poop and laugh it off but if your hose stays kinked for more than 2 seconds while you are hosing you go postal!!

when it's normal for you to have to wash your clothes at least twice to get them clean

when rainy days are the best days, but the day after rainy days are the worst

when you can name more animals than friends

you have eaten things off the floor in your area, after you have logically thought about it and use the 10 second rule

You have tasted the food your animals eat

You sometimes wear a face mask but you aren't in the medical field…you have monkeys and are sick

You use duct tape for EVERYTHING!

You have extra socks at work for when the hose springs yet another leak

You don't need to work out because your job is hard enough

You can carry a full 5 gallon bucket of water without spilling a drop

you have sleded on the shovels at work

It is normal to get bit or chased by an animal...sometimes daily.

you ask people if they want to see a picture of your baby, and they look at you funny when it's something furry, or feathered, or scaly, etc...

You can hold your tongue (and laughter) when the public asks some of their questions. Gotta LOVE the public.

You find yourself using 10-4 in place of "thank you", "yes", and "okay" in your everyday (nonradio) conversations.

You sometimes feel like MacGyver because of half the stuff you have built from odds n ends.

you go to the Doctor and while in the waiting room a nurse who you never met asks what animal tried to eat you this time.

February 20, 2009

Mother love....

Hard to believe it has been three weeks... a large chunk of the family returns from America on Sunday morning... two more sleeps. Sounds like they are worn out after all the travelling, but have had a good time. The other two continue to report back on Bangladesh.... including photos and also a video on the view from a rickshaw. There are other tales of pet lizards, the attack of the insects and so on - read all on their blog ...

I braved going to "Marley and Me" the other night. Luckily I had my partner's shoulder and a paper napkin with me... but it was a lovely movie and I am glad we went. Life with pets is never dull, but I am sure mine have never rated on the same scale as Marley for behaviour.

Had some wonderful pictures sent to me lately.
The mother squirrel defends her baby

The bathing of the pet hedgehog!!! This is a first for me.....
"Moloko" belongs to one of my past students, Erin.

And some lovely interspecies bonding:

 Wishing all my children safe travels :)

February 17, 2009

"Cat wrangling"

Meet Jaydis, who belongs to Emma, one of my past students :)

Sometimes other people say the things we want to. We are about to teach our new students about "cat wrangling"...and I found this article today that clearly explains one of the things we all hate most about working with some members of the public!
This article from Veterinary Nursing and Life is definitely worth a read.  To quote the intro:

I have decided l need to say a few words about restraint of animals, in this case cats. This decision was made after last night. I am fed up with people that do not restrain animals properly. It is not only dangerous for the cat, other people and animals but shows a lack of respect for the cat, other people and animals. If you get ripped to shreds because you did not bother to place the cat in a proper receptacle l do not give a damm.

If you have a cat, and you are reading this, please make sure you have a secure cage available for getting them to clinics, catteries, moving house. And don't drive with them loose...

And how was this for a story - in 2007

Three cats have been rescued from a rail container after an Ashburton woman attempted to freight them to Hamilton.
The trio of grey long-haired moggies, names unknown, spent three days in the Hamilton-bound container, which had reached only Christchurch.
They were yesterday captured and taken to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's (RSPCA) Christchurch shelter.
Toll spokeswoman Sue Foley said the company was alerted to the situation yesterday when the woman moving belongings to Hamilton contacted Toll to ask where the container was.
When she found it was still in Christchurch the woman confessed to the cats' presence.
"As soon as we knew we went to retrieve them," Foley said.
The woman was aware the cats would be in the container for several days, she said.
"She knew it would take at least four days to move them."
If the cats had not been rescued they could have been in the container for up to a week, Foley said.

If you don't believe me that cats have attitude - check this out; I think its a Bengal ....

And how is this for wishful thinking? Here is the web page :)

Yeah, right!!!!

February 15, 2009

Romance at "Tipapa"

We had a wonderful Valentine's day, nestled in Greta Valley, enjoying the ambience and the beautiful music from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra... it was also a long tiring day, ending at midnight when we finally returned the instruments, and then the van to the depot, before crossing town to home and the dogs ( thank you Kirst for giving them a run for us mid way through our absence :)

The venue was idyllic, the sun shone, and although it was still cool, the rain stayed away and I enjoyed it.
I did some searching today - and found this article about it. The restoration work is amazing and full marks to John Carr for his vision. I spoke to his wife, Tricia, as well and the lovely flowers you see in the photos were all done by her.

I also realise that you can rent the place... but at the listed rates I can't see myself taking advantage of that aspect ... need to drop at least one nought to make me think of it, and two to make it happen. However, it is a great venue and I can see the potential appeal for more lucrative visitors.

You can see the official gallery of promo pictures here.. which show you the inside of the house...
and I shall show you my versions of the day.

The entrance and drive to the woolshed,

where we were greeted by "Bracken"

 The guests were greeted at one side of the home, with the stringed instruments, and then the meal was with the wind instruments playing. The concert was later in the woolshed hall.
The house and grounds are beautiful,- the dinner was at the seated area to the right of the house. Guests dinner that is - we ate in the woolshed...

I loved the motto - as a "Mary Stewart ' fan of old...

The art gallery featured the principal harpist for the CSO, Helen Webby, playing the beautiful red beech harp that her brother, Kim Webby, made for her. Helen also plays with Davy Stuart, husband of my friend and fellow tutor Libby. Davy is a luthier, and as well as the performing, he makes smaller harps for Helen.

 The orchestra and my partner ( the man in black in centre)  check out the venue....

 Rhubarb growing out the back of the woolshed...
I really did mean we ate in the woolshed area! This was next to our table. I stayed backstage with the musicians, while they rested between numbers.

It was a wonderful performance, and congratulations to all who made it possible.


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