April 28, 2014

Nelson Getaway

Sunny Nelson lived up to it's reputation this weekend - I managed a four day break staying with my friends Libby and Davy. It has been a lot of fun - a chance to catch up with them and explore the area. 
They live in Richmond, on the lower slopes of the Grampian Hills looking out over Rabbit Island.

Dawn over Rabbit Island
Sun rise behind the house

From the moment I landed - Libby and I managed to talk, shop, drink tea, coffee or wine, have lunch at wineries, eat and shop at the Saturday market, visit Bernard and Sharon who have just built nearby in the green area in the picture above, and cook meals for Davy.

Davy is a Luthier - here he is creating instruments in the garden outside his workshop
On Thursday and Friday we went shopping in Richmond - with coffee at Eyebright and lunch at The Grape Escape before coffee on Friday with Libby's family in Nelson.

Autumn Gourds at Eyebright
We hit the market in Nelson on Saturday morning  - followed by Oliebollen Dutch Doughnuts and coffee in the sun.... heavenly.

On Saturday afternoon we went out to Mapua inlet for some more shopping in the lovely galleries there.

Horseshoe creation....

  and fish and chips, from the Smokehouse, washed down with a light wine...on the wharf as the sun went down... luxury.

I flew home today into more torrential rain and cold weather.  I hear the weekend has been lovely at home too but it was still wonderful to get away and have a change of scene.
I did finally see some road cones  - a small scattering on the road to Mapua..
I didn't see any high-vis vests.
The roads were smooth and lovely! 
There was no rubble or demolition or rebuild.
A really nice change.

Here are some of the before and after pictures of the city taken from it:
Durham St Before
Durham St After
Colombo St Before 
Colombo St After
More Colombo St - Before 
More Colombo St After
Manchester St Before 
Manchester St - After
Durham St - Before
Durham St - After
Google has also done its part to help us see this transformation: 

Google Maps is stepping into the world of time travel with a new feature that allows users to view historic images as well as modern ones.
The new Google street view was launched in Christchurch today showing the dramatic changes the city has undergone since it was flattened by the 2011 earthquake.
The new feature allows Google Maps users to see Christchurch as it was and as it is now all at the touch of a button.
Ross Young from Google New Zealand says the new feature will be a tool for showing the next generation Christchurch as it once was.
"Being able to show your grandchildren not only where you used to live but when you used to live and we think that's quite useful," he says.
The new historic image feature is not only showing the past but solving the mysteries of the empty lots.

Definitely a useful tool.

Meanwhile - Poppy is happy to have me home! The boys did a great job looking after her and Jess and the cats.... and I came back to a lovely tidy house!

Thanks Libs and Davy for a truly wonderful Nelson weekend xxx
See you again soon :)

April 18, 2014

Roads to Recovery

I think this has been the hardest term I have ever had.  I don't know if it is the workload, the uncertainty of future programme deliveries, or just a final reaction to all the events of the past three years but I know I have felt the burnout and tiredness more than usual. I know that the people I work with have also felt it and illness and stress have taken their toll on us all this term.

On top of it all we have had a grey autumn of rain - preceded by a 1 in a 100 year rainstorm ( 75mm in 48 hrs) and apparently we have passed 100 years as we are in the middle of another one - what - a 100 days later? Already 65mm in 24 hours.... and damage across the whole country.  Seeing the Royal Couple enjoying the sun of Sydney has been hard!

This morning I read and commented on Adulcia's blog, a fellow Christchurch resident.  She said exactly how I felt ...

I’ll admit it, I'm tired.
It's been a busy term and I'm just running out of oomph.
Imagine you're out in the bush and it's a bit cold and wet (like this autumn weather has been the last few weeks) and you start shivering.  That's okay because it's your body keeping itself warm, but it also consumes energy, and when that energy runs out you stop shivering, and now you're in serious danger.  Don't mind me, you just carry on without me.  I'll be fine, I'll just have a little rest under this tree. Anyone who knows survival would be stopping right there, organising a shelter, getting you out of your wet clothes and into a  sleeping bag with a warm chocolaty drink (if you're still capable of holding the cup), and getting help.

Image Source
All the strategies I’ve learned for looking after myself have been just enough to keep me coping, just like the shivering.  But they’re taking up energy, and I’m getting tired.  And it’s not even winter yet.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This Easter, I’m taking the time to rest, really rest.  (And indulge in a little bit of nice rich dark chocolate…).

So I commented back for her...

I know that feeling - I can recognise I am burnt out and stressed and my ability to care has shrivelled - I have stopped shivering. Good example!
Yesterday a random stranger spoke to me at the work copy machine. It wasn't printing... it was nearly the final straw for her and she said - is it just me? I cant handle the workload, the hours drive to work through gridlock- the rain - the need to shop, cook, clean and cope. Its all so hard at the moment.
I assured her she was not alone - she was nice - I hope I see her again. I connected briefly with someone I had never seen before and felt a little better. We are not alone in this - admitting we are feeling this to each other might be the way we survive without moving away, quitting jobs, resorting to drugs or suicide. Relationships might be better.
I hate feeling like this. I hate the feeling that I want to hibernate and lick my wounds and cry. It is so not my usual self. But I can also accept that life has been tough for a while for many reasons and that the positives there are will get me through - and the sun will come out again. Rest and chocolate... take care xxxxx
Sadly I don't have any chocolate to eat here at home without breaking into the precious supplies I have hidden away for Phoebe, Molly and Caitlin.... and I won't do that.  

But there are positives - heaps and heaps. Thank you to my children - for James and Jess who came to my concert this week, to Alex and Liam for their help with the house and the garden and their company - to Kirsty for her regular visits, to Mum and Dad for their wonderful support, and to my other Mum who rang last night too to chat across the miles. To Julie and Linda and Kirsten at work for sharing the load even though I have been struggling - and Libby in Nelson where i will soon have a short getaway (sun or not).
The house is now totally mine; the roof will be replaced shortly; the garden rearrangements are well underway; I have a truly delightful boarder, Katrina, a past student who knows me well,  lovely times with Jaz and Jo and their gorgeous families. 

When you think of Christchurch, please don't ask us to hurry along and get over it. The earthquake has created exciting opportunities for many, and shattered the lives of others. But the whole city has altered and this has impacted on anyone still living here. 

This home is under urgent demolition after splitting in two this week - THREE years after the quake. For many of the people the stress is still there as they deal with the cracks, insurance issues, and now flooding. Just check out some of these articles....

and Debs excellent post on brokenness in Christchurch: http://deb-robertson.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/on-brokenness.html

For me, it is hard for me to know where earthquake stress stops and stress from dealing with the past relationship with a psychopath starts. Seeing the hidden sadism and narcissism, the proof of lack of empathy and remorse and the indifference to people has altered my own attitude to life and people. Words fail us that someone like this can run the type of business he is apparently venturing into.  An area where trust and honesty should be total - with a person incapable of either.

When you see people dealing with narcissistic abuse, don't think "it's just a breakup, get over it". Yes it is a breakup - but it's one that undermines your trust in people and the recognition of how sociopathic people manipulate, act as chameleons, and thrive on deception and lying, while appearing caring and charming means we don't see people the same way anymore.... we have to evaluate our responses to everyone we meet. The paradigm shift to our lifestyle, view of reality, usual perceptions and challenges, take extra time and effort to work through.

In my work I meet a lot of young people, particularly women.  I know that many of them struggle with their relationships at times - and I am increasingly aware we need to educate people into the risks of narcissists. I have been very impressed at the work Lesley Elliott is doing since her daughter Sophie was murdered by Clayton Weatherspoon.  A chilling narcissistic psychopath.... 


Watching Oscar P on trial also rings a few bells!

You can read more or send your children to read this.  
The Sophie Elliot Foundation http://www.sophieelliottfoundation.co.nz/
or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sophieelliottfoundation

and a recent article http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/9881592/Love-Me-Not-lessons-designed-to-warn-of-risk
He was described as "the epitome of evil" but was recognised too late.
No-one intervened before Clayton Weatherston brutally murdered his former girlfriend, Sophie Elliott, in 2008, but new initiatives aim to make intervention more likely in future.A programme to arm young New Zealand women with the tools to recognise abuse in their partner is in the last stages of being prepared. It is the culmination of a vision by Sophie's grieving mother, Lesley Elliott.Lesley Elliott has pushed for the initiative for the past six years through the Sophie Elliott Foundation."I firmly believe if Sophie had a programme like Loves Me Not in her final years at school she would have known when things went wrong in her relationship," she said."I know that getting this programme off the ground is what Sophie would have wanted."We estimate over 70 women have been murdered at the hands of their partner or ex-partner since Sophie's death - there is still much to do to protect our nation's daughters."
If you think it doesn't apply to you, have a think about your workplace, your friends. your professional people such as lawyers, doctors, police... how many are really genuine? 

“People in general don't realize how MANY sociopaths exist in our society– 1 in 25. That means out of every 100 people you meet, 4 of them have no empathy, no conscience, no ability to attach to others, and have no experience with guilt, remorse, or any other reason NOT to do bad things to other people or animals. There is NO softness in them. They are ice. They are evil– and they remain that way for the rest of their lives. You cannot cure evil because that which makes a person care enough not to cause harm does not exist in their brains. Most may even be born that way.
There are people who lose their tempers and strike out. There are people who make mistakes because they are overwhelmed. This is not the kind of abuse we're talking about [with sociopaths]. [People like this] have heart-rates that go down when they abuse others. They get extra calm and calculated and the pleasure centres in their brains light up when they induce pain and suffering.”
I also mentioned this:
Beware of people who are charming. Charm is a verb, not a trait. It requires ACTING ability. Always remember that. Why does anyone have to pretend to be something they aren't all the time? Why is image so important? Sociopaths are always shallow liars.And if anyone you know seems to thrive on self-pity, even as an able-bodied adult? Watch out. Sociopaths love to manipulate through a trait they don't possess– your ability to feel sorry for others. “
If you are dealing with anyone with sociopathic/ narcissistic/ psychopathic or worse, added paedophilic/sadistic tendencies, there is a lot of help.
I have grouped some of the articles I found useful together - knowledge is essential to learn how to protect yourself and your children from this.

Chocolate and rest can only go so far! 
Time and friends and family and music will sort the rest.
Have a Happy Easter 

April 17, 2014

An amazing week of music Thankful Thursday

Last weekend Jaz and I went to see the CSO and The Golden Age of Broadway.

/2014 CSO Presents


A wonderful night - after a great dinner nearby we both enjoyed many good memories as they played music from Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, West Side Story... to name just a few. Luke Di Somma did a great job conducting and it was nice to see the choir in action again after their recent performance in Hagley Park.
Nice article on the choir here.

For those that know Jaz and I, they will understand that it was particularly lovely to see that one past member was no longer allowed to sing with the choir.... although he did make himself useful moving microphones and delivering flowers to the soloists...

This week I had my own choir concert as well.  Some of the soloists from the choir performed numbers I had not heard before.  I have always enjoyed Don McGlashan's music. and the Christchurch Pops Choir have done an amazing version of "Bathe in the River" regularly over the past three years - you can hear a version here with Don himself.  Tonight one of the choir sang his song, "Miracle Sun", about driving to see Opo the famous Dolphin in Opononi. Having lived up in Northlands, it brought back memories of the dusty roads in the hot sun I knew when we first moved to New Zealand in 1970 - Opo was actually famous in the Fifties - about the time I was born. There is a statue to remember her on the shore which has recently been replaced with a new one - http://www.3news.co.nz/New-Opo-dolphin-statue-revealed/tabid/1160/articleID/313223/Default.aspx

Another song was Crosby Stills and Nash called Southern Cross that I had never heard before either -
You can hear it here: http://youtu.be/kDoZ3z0ET6Y

My favourite song that we got to sing as a choir was Nga Iwi E
SO catchy - great end to our concert.
It is a Maori Protest Song -
According to this web site - http://www.folksong.org.nz/E_I_A_I_E/index.html (which has words and chords ) :
The song for the people of the Pacific. Hirini Melbourne took a kapa haka group to the Festival of the South Pacific in New Caledonia. He wrote the first two verses and asked the other countries attending to add on their own verse.

It was adopted by Greenpeace 
who sung it on board the Rainbow Warrior while protesting French nuclear testing at Muroroa in French Polynesia.
All the nations, All the nations, Let the people of the Pacific Rim be united. E-i-a-i-e. Listen and support it. E-i-a-i-e. Hold on, Hold on, To your independence and compassion. Women, Women, Rise up and be strong! Men,Men, Listen, be supportive, and be strong. People,People, Be proactive and live.

I thought it was familiar because I now realise I have heard the Topp Twins sing it... 
and there is a a good video version here  - I think my sister might enjoy this one :)

Ngā iwi e! Ngā Iwi e!
Kia kotahi ra te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa
E i a i e
Kia mau ra! Kia mau ra!
Ki te mana motuhake me te aroha
E i a i e
Wahine mā! Wahine mā!
Maranga mai, Maranga mai, kia kaha
E i a i e
Ta ne ma! Ta ne ma!
Whakarongo tautoko kia kaha
E i a i e


All you people! All you people!
Be united as one like the Pacific Ocean
Hold on firmly! Hold on firmly!
To you separate identity and to compassion
All you young women! All you young women!
Rise up, rise up, be strong
All you young men! All you young men!
Listen, support, be strong

April 14, 2014

More Royal Fever

On Day 8 of the Royal Tour Wills and Kate made it to Christchurch.  It was Kate's first visit - but everyone was very pleased to see William return.

My family had a field day out seeing them in various places.  James managed to get some video of them arriving at the Council offices where he works for their official welcome to Christchurch.  The video is here for now:

Ngai Tahu Karanga (Call) the royals onto their ancestral lands.  http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/live-updates-royal-visit-5915534

Then they made their way to Latimer Square where I was waiting with some students, right across the road from the new CTV Memorial site where they spent a long time talking to survivors and families of those lost in the quakes.
CTV Memorial Site

The new mural on the "Calendar Girls" building

Police moving in groups... Les Mills gym back right - good windows for people to watch from
 In the time we waited we got to admire the bomb dog checking out the nearby parked cars, the secret service men crawling everywhere, the legions of police around the barriers, or moving en masse, resembling stormtroopers... we spent some time with a policeman nearby - he admitted he wasn't armed but the high vis men on the building nearby with binoculars were.... ideal sniper vantage point.

Roof top Sniper alert

TV3 News meet the crowd - as did many other news teams.

The Crowds build up
Police and Secret Service discuss two dodgy blokes behind us.... 

Finally, they're here!!!

Wasn't expecting a minivan!
 They arrived in a minivan - it took us a while to realise the impossibly slender arm in the window was actually her. She is so tiny - tall and very slender. He was a tall and good looking young man ......

She's so tiny!!!

Mayor Lianne Dalziel and CERA boss Roger Sutton talk to the Duchess

Escorting a photographer firmly out of the area...

Meeting a family...

Leaving the memorial site and heading to the Cardboard Cathedral

So what can I say - yes they were lovely. Kate was gorgeous in Canterbury colours.

Alex managed to get a place down in Latimer Square and filmed them playing cricket.

They came quite close to him so he got some great pictures of Kate. Tonight watching the news the cameras got footage of him in the crowd. Bearded bloke -middle, back row....

The official cricket video can be seen here

They headed off to open the new visitor centre at the Botanic Gardens and then on to Wigram Air Museum.

They were shown a video on the rebuild...

Lots more pics here:

An amazing day. I always regretted missing seeing Diana... and we were away during the 2011 Quake Memorial service. When they got so close this time round I wasn't going to miss it - so glad I went.

April 12, 2014

Royal Fever

William and Kate arrive in Christchurch on Monday for yet another earthquake memorial.  They will be near work so we thought we might wander up and join the crowds for a glimpse of the limo. Realistically all we can expect unless we start waiting at dawn!

I was pleased to read they will be getting a new coat for their spaniel Lupo. from our local Christchurch Company

Prince William and Kate's family pooch Lupo is to be kitted out in a New Zealand-made coat.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be gifted a specially made tartan wool coat for their spaniel to wear.
The New Zealand Dog Coat Company confirmed on its twitter account that permission had been granted for the gift to be given when the couple visit Christchurch on Monday.
Becky did Vet Nursing with us many years ago - and was recently featured in the papers with their Calm Coat for Dogs.

The web site is here

http://www.thedogcoatcompany.co.nz/ - lovely photos of the dogs down at the local Tannery Shopping centre.

I can see I might have to take Poppy shopping!

The weather is lousy here- forecast 10 days of rain.. better than Cairns with Cyclone Ita though. I took the dogs to the dog park...

They enjoyed it at least!


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