April 30, 2009

Ageing... disgracefully

I always thought yoga had a lot going for it.... and after seeing this supple yoga teacher at 83, I am sure of it. Wondering about grabbing a mat and joining it... but not the Bikram sort - not into workouts in hot sweaty rooms!

You can read more about this Supple Supergran here

In the same breath, the news tonight, after the swine flu reports, mentioned the plight of this rest home resident.

THE daughter of a war hero attacked by mice as he lay bed-ridden in a nursing home has spoken out about the incident that could have killed her father.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said staff at the Karingal Residential Aged Care Facility in the Queensland town of Dalby called her the day after Anzac Day to tell her that mice had gnawed at her 89-year-old father the night before.

and from here

"I'm told by his daughter that the poor old fellow [had] been trying to brush the mice away as they continued chewing his ears, head and neck," Mr Hopper said.
"He was so stressed that doctors put him on morphine to calm him down. He nearly died on Saturday night. He was being eaten alive."
Certainly there are two ways to age -  and although I might not make the first one, we all want to avoid the second!!

I intend to age as disgracefully as I can. I have been working on it for the last decade... and I am sure that close friends might agree I have given it a fair nudge. I have discovered that women over 50 can join the Red Hat Society... - or here. Their philosophy is based on the following poem....

By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens...

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

That's my excuse...

Enjoy yourselves - we need some respite from all the swine flu news :)

April 29, 2009

Swine flu anyone?

So swine flu has arrived in the remote shores of New Zealand. Confirmed cases, with many more quarantined, possibly infected. Let's face it - we can expect many of us to get it. The real question - how fatal will it turn out to be. So far, they are all recovering well.... but the situation will worsen for us all if it starts to kill the same way it appears to have done in Mexico.

I guess if it spreads we will face some time in masks, some loss of freedom, no travel, no group gatherings, and the fear associated with knowing you are likely to catch something and there is not a lot you can do about it. I know in the past when my children have been really ill with various viruses, trying to isolate them is a joke. Part of you knows the damage is already done, but just trying to keep from breathing it, handling it, spreading it is very hard. The fact that often only one child got ill I put down to good luck and immunity, not necessarily good management! I can imagine it would add a new dimension to supermarket shopping - let's dress up to go to the mall! Now where are my mask, gloves.....

Still, if we hit a pandemic alert, I will have the thrill of trying to run training classes from home and seeing the learning of many students completely disrupted. That's without trying to figure out how to cope with sick staff... I have coped with fire, flood and snow here; this will just be a new experience. I did read that the things we need to cope; drugs, masks, gowns, gloves, might all run out as they are all produced in Asian countries and travel will slow down...that in fact people are more likely to die, regardless whether they get the flu, because they cannot get access to the regular drugs they need - insulin, antibiotics etc.

I guess if we do catch it, most of us will be nursed at home, with some comfort, space, running water. I am trying to imagine the impact this will have elsewhere too... on those who are already ill or immuno compromised. Yes, for them I worry.

I read this today about Dhaka in Bangladesh - how will places like this cope with a potential pandemic!

1 more dies; power situation improves

One person died of a heat stroke in Bhola yesterday while the diarrhoea situation continued to worsen in the capital and elsewhere in the country over the last 24 hours.

According to the meteorological office, temperature in Dhaka came down to 36.5 degrees Celsius yesterday from 39.6 degrees Celsius a day before, while the highest temperature was recorded in Jessore at 39.2 degrees Celsius yesterday.

The heat wave may continue for two more days, met office sources said, before an expected rainfall. The city dwellers got a little respite from the agony of frequent power outage with the slight improvement in the power-supply situation in the capital. But the acute crisis of water in many areas of Dhaka has compounded the sufferings of city dwellers.

The city thoroughfares witnessed a low presence of people yesterday as many people tried to stay indoors to seek refuge form the heat wave that has been sweeping the country for the past few weeks.

Cases of diarrhoea, cholera, viral fever, pneumonia, typhoid and jaundice have increased in the city and across the country due to the scorching heat and water pollution. Children are the worst sufferer of these diseases and hospitals have been experiencing almost double the patients than usual.

It helps me to keep this in perspective....

You can track the outbreak on google:

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

April 26, 2009

Emotional moments ...

Last night, we went to see Schönberg and Boublil's "Miss Saigon".  I knew nothing about the story before we went, apart from the reviews in the paper stating it was a love story set against the war in Vietnam.... but we did know a lot of the cast and wanted to see the show!  It was great.... wonderful singing, great sets, and well played and performed. I was interested that there are no songs from it that I felt I had ever heard before... Regardless, there were some very moving songs - going to have to listen to them some more so that I can appreciate them better... even Les Mis took a second hearing to work it's way into my soul and these are the same creators... but there was one in particular that leaves you feeling incredibly moved. "Bui Doi"...

The poignant images of the children are so haunting. Impossible not to feel affected by the impact their origins had on their lives .

Miss Saigon - according to Wikipaedia, 
The show's inspiration was reportedly a photograph, inadvertently found by Schönberg in a magazine. The photo showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to board a plane headed for the United States where her father, an ex-GI, would be in a position to provide a much better life for the child. Schönberg considered this mother's actions for her child to be "The Ultimate Sacrifice," an idea central to the plot of Miss Saigon.
This week, James and Jess also posted pictures of the children of Bangladesh; these are particularly the children of the street workers...  sadly, some of the street workers are still children..... and without aid, their children's futures will take the same path.

However, to quote Jess:
In the meantime, situations such as these make me appreciate more and more the ease of my own life and make it clear that one thing seems to hold constant across class and culture - the love of mothers for their children.

If you haven't heard "Bui Doi" - do listen - and here are the lyrics.

they're called bui-doi
the dust of life
conceived in hell
and born in strife
they are the living reminders
of all the good we failed to do
we can't forget
must not forget
that they are all our children too

like all survivors, I once thought
when I'm home I won't give a damn
but now I know I'm caught
I'll never leave Vietnam

war isn't over when it ends
some pictures never leave your mind
they are the faces of the children
the ones we left behind

they're called bui-doi
the dust of life
conceived in hell
and born in strife
they are the living reminders
of all the good we failed to do
that's why we know
deep in our hearts
that they are all our children too

these kids hit walls on every side
they don't belong in any place
their secret they can't hide
it's printed on their face

I never thought one day I'd plead
for half-breeds from a land that's torn
but then I saw a camp for children
whose crime was being born

they're called bui-doi
the dust of life
conceived in hell
and born in strife
we owe them fathers, and a family
and loving homes they never knew
because we know
deep in our hearts
that they are all our children too

these are souls in need
they need us to give
someone has to pay
for their chance to live
help me try

they're called bui-doi
the dust of life
conceived in hell

and born in strife
they are the living reminders
of all the good we failed to do

that's why we know that's why we know
deep in our hearts deep in our hearts

that's why we know

that they are all our children...


April 24, 2009

Glowing Animals

Do I detect a trend here... perhaps this is the new fashion in animals?

The picture you see is not of some kind of a gadget or a light shaped like a frog…this IS a real frog who was kind enough to eat a light and be photographed!

Then I read this about glowing puppies

A cloned beagle named Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – is the world's first transgenic dog. She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.
A team led by Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University in South Korea created the dogs by cloning fibroblast cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones.

I am sure this research will have some potential use in humans...  but I hope these don't catch on as pets!!

April 20, 2009

Child cancer fundraising event

We went along to support my friend yesterday. After a few weeks of fund raising, she and her partner braved the shears and had their heads shaved for the cause. I admire them as it is something I would struggle to do myself, but the occasion was inspiring and again, it is a reminder that for many people, there is no choice in getting this done.

In true veterinary form, my friend, a vet nurse, imported her very own dog groomer to do the deed....  and she did it fantastically!


Out of all the hair, some truly beautiful people emerged and many thousands of dollars were raised.

And just to remind us of the purpose of the entire exercise... one of the children undergoing treatment....

and I just hope it works!

April 16, 2009

First impressions... A star is born. This made me cry

Do yourself a favour. They are talking about it everywhere.. she has had over six million hits on You Tube.
I can't embed this video... so please go and see Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent sing. I promise it will be worth it..... how wrong can we get it!!!! As they say, this is a wake up call on cynicism. And - it made Simon SMILE!!!!

I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables....

Susan after the show....

They have a habit of finding people you don't expect to be able to sing! I thought a bit the same about Paul Potts.... and now look at him.

Nessun Dorma... first audition.

Now he has an album...

In the meantime... Susan is on a meteoric rise
It looks like Susan Boyle could be a bigger star than Paul Potts and George Sampson even if she doesn't win Britain's Got Talent.
She has become a massive hit across the world and Simon Cowell could make a mint if he signs her to his record label.

I always liked Andrew Johnston as well

and who can forget little Connie who went into the finals against Paul Potts!

Considering I have never watched this programme, it certainly leaves an impression!!!

April 15, 2009

Wisteria Wars..... and taming the garden

I needed to take my car for a warrant today, but thought i would just weed the vege patch before I went as it was such a lovely afternoon. Such are the joys of being on holiday... there are choices. So I weeded the veges; and swept the path and made it all look lovely. Then I thought that I might just see if I could get the Old Man's Beard out of the camellias... it is growing from our neighbour's side of the fence and is a noxious weed here - going to have to say something to them but their English is limited! So I did it, and then I pruned the camellias, and the rhododendrons, and a few other plants on the back fence... Here they are "before".... which is a pic I took of them last year but gives you the idea.

Meanwhile my partner trimmed the clematis that is threatening to take over the roof of the house, in between scraping and filling and sanding and painting the window trims on the garage.....

This is all familiar to him - here are two pictures of the back garden of the house when he bought it...

and here - after extensive hacking back, with the vege patch and the clematis in flower in spring

After enlisting some of his extra muscle to sever the bigger branches of the camellias... I looked at the wisteria.....and suggested we thin it a little. You might remember it; I have put pictures up of it before...

in spring:

in summer after we oiled the deck...

So we thinned it... and thinned it some more... and then evened it up, and before we knew it....

It will regrow, and at least it will let the afternoon sun into the sleepout for the winter, but I wonder if next time I should just go and get that warrant!!!

Elderly dog used as bait

Some things just make my blood boil.
If that fails.. try this link

An elderly dog is recovering at Wellington SPCA after it was deliberately set on by two pit bulls in Porirua.

At midday yesterday, Lincoln, a 14-year-old ridgeback cross, was attacked by the pit bulls in Whitirea Park at Shelly Bay. Lincoln was stolen from his Titahi Bay home early Monday morning and it appeared he was taken to be used as a bait dog, SPCA animal welfare inspector Ben Lakomy says.

As if that was not enough:
After the elderly dog tried to defend himself against one of the dogs, one of the owners tried to break Lincoln's legs by pulling them apart.

As more people started arriving at the park, the pit bull owners took their dogs and left.

There were about five people involved in the attack, the witness said. W hen police and animal control staff arrived, Lincoln had to be coaxed out of a toilet block where he was hiding and was taken to the vet to have his wounds stapled shut.

I can only hope they find them and give them the jail time they have earned! At least Lincoln is safe, stitched and will be able to go home shortly....

April 14, 2009

Confronting fears and finding what you really want

 What are your fears? I thought I knew mine, but this week I have had to reconsider... and prioritise the things that really matter to me. I have to say there has been a few sleepless nights, vivid dreams and indigestion. Of course, that could have been all the chocolate... I mean, it was Easter after all.

Fears are easy to list. Here is one of mine!!! 

Passenger lands twin-engine plane at Fla. airport with controller's help after pilot dies

There is a reason I avoid small planes !!! Imagine traveling with your family and that happens....
Then he turned to his wife and two daughters: "You all start praying hard." Behind him, his wife trembled. Sixteen-year-old Bailey cried. Eighteen-year-old Maggie threw up.
Yup - I would be right there with Maggie... and still trembling and crying too!!!

I guess we all have a lot in common... Generally, we don't want to die (or when we must, in our sleep, blissfully ignorant of it all), or to hear we are going to die, to be forced to face our own mortality, to be in pain, experience fear, or to grieve deeply. We fear losing our wealth, our independence, our security. We fear for our children.
James tackling the heights... Doting mother watching, practising being blase about it....

For many reasons I would like to move house. This home has great character, but parts of it are too dark for my liking, as well as the fact it has a sad history for my partner.   It is time we considered finding a new home together. So, when I saw a possible one, - near here, better room arrangements, on the lake... blah blah blah... we even investigated how to buy it before we sold this place, which is not easy when it is an auction. It was like gambling. I got him to feel enthusiastic too! Then finally last night I decided that the house was great, but after much thought and closer attention to detail, it was not going to meet the needs of where I saw our lifestyle going as it would be too shady in the evenings... no long summer barbecues or warm winter afternoons inside. I called it all off.... and he is puzzled. Female perogative? Possibly, this might be an excuse, not a reason, as we can have long summer barbies here ... and do occasionally, but it is hardly a huge priority.... but meanwhile, I want to look at lots of places. Take my time, hopefully even sell this place first or at least finish some more of the maintenance!!! I think I will look at eco houses... aim for efficient, cosy, warm and embracing... built for the sun :) I know it is the right decision - because I feel better for making it.

So what went through my mind? Well, this week, we had an after hours bout of this....... (and the derriere is the doctors... )

It was a false alarm, but was one factor to be considered.... and he is fine now :)

Strangely, today, we met up with someone he used to have a relationship with. Since then, she has moved on, remarried, been widowed by a massive heart attack, had two heart attacks herself, and is now living with a man who also had a heart attack.... all in the last 18 months.... which was also a scary thought! With all the current upheaval at work and the "economic recession", I decided the prospect of starting again with a mortgage was not to be taken lightly..... the stress levels were likely to land me up in the same position!

In other news, James and Jess are recovered - check out their blog - I found this picture of Jess recently, wearing the traditional clothes required... she is the vision in blue...

Meanwhile, we had a lovely Easter, celebrating Good Friday with Phoebe's family. They leave for Auckland in late May; the house is sold, the boxes are being packed for their first move in two weeks, and they will camp in their new rental property until they leave for an Auckland motel and find somewhere to live up there.
Phoebe's dad makes wonderful hot cross buns...


Phoebe's other best friend.... " Lucy"

It was a perfect Easter weekend - we spent Sunday with my parents.. and it was a lovely day, warm and sunny. I thought these pictures from a friend summed it up.

Armand and friends at the river...


Have a great week and hope your chocolate over-indulgence is over for another few months :)

April 6, 2009

A wise man said....

A wise man said, 'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

Here are some things to help us cope with 21st century life :)

1) Go to bed on time.
2) Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
3) Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
4) Delegate tasks to capable others.

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5) Simplify and unclutter your life.
6) Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

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7) Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

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8) Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

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9) Take one day at a time.

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10) Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, make a decision and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
11) Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
12) Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
13) K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

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14) Do something for the “Kid in You” everyday.

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15) Get enough rest
16) Eat right.

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17) Get organized so everything has its place.
18) Write down thoughts and inspirations.
19) Every day, find time to be alone.

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20) Having problems? Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until later.
21) Make friends with positive people.
22) Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a commitment to change.
23) Laugh.
24) Laugh some more!

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25) Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

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26) Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

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27) Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

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28) Sit on your ego
29) Talk less; listen more.
30) Slow down.

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31) Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

32) Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.

Here is one to start you off!

Anika, 12, who just had her appendix removed, is being taken down the staircase from the operating theatre of Dhaka National Hospital in the capital yesterday. Frequent power cuts render the elevators of the hospital useless most of the time.
Photo: Shafiq Alam


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