Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's a Boy Thing (But I Like It)

So since like for aaaages now, my brother Rik has been telling me I need a new TV. Especially since I got MySky all those months back. Sacrilege to have the option to view in HD but no capacity to do so. Sacrilege also to watch sport on a TV that did not have 100Hz refresh rate. Especially golf.
But the old TV still worked fine, MySky recorded all my programmes for me to view at my leisure, and it'd be a cold day in hell before I ever watched golf out of choice.

However when a bargain TV came across his path via my sister-in-laws work, it ended up in my lounge. Amidst the great family working bee last weekend, Rik kindly installed it for me.

All happy? Not quite. Surely I needed a home theatre system to go with that, he suggested. And wouldn't it look good wall mounted? Now if I had been left to my own devices that might have happened in another six months, but obviously I needed both these things too, because next thing you know, there's an email recommending a couple on special and hey, he's got a wall mounting bracket via his wife's work again.

So off I go and buy one of the recommended HTSs. Except on (Rik's) overnight reflection it didn't have digital optical something-or-other so I should go back and by a better one or I'd be really disappointed. Well I probably wouldn't have known the difference, but so kind is my brother (and persistent) that he even went to his Harvey Norman and found the one I should upgrade to. I am not being sarcastic, I am serious. He is seriously kind. So upon some reflection of my own I figured I should strike while the iron was hot and go buy the better one today because said kind brother offered to start the install this afternoon. (And I got a bloody good bargain so it was 'meant to be')

When a car arrived, I went to the door to greet Rik and Kim, but was instead initially greeted by John (other brother) and Frances. Kind Rik had called Kind John to come across and give him a hand to give me a hand.

I wasn't lying in this post about my family, was I?

Not only has the TV been installed on the wall, and the Home Theatre set up, but we rearraged the lounge as well. The boys said I had to have a couch in a particular position to fully appreciate the new gears.

It's a boy thing, but they were right. It sounds great from the sweet spot. And yes Rik, I could see every blade of grass on the rugby field. And the ball was bloody bewdy boy as it moved across the screen.

So here's a pic of the new TV on the wall - before we have had the chance to hide the wires away; that and the proper mounting of the speakers will occur the next time kindness comes knocking at my door no doubt.

PS An iconic moment from the Royal Wedding, and my favourite image from the same location - not the kiss!

Friday, April 29, 2011

We Can't Wait to Meet You!

Only 5 days now until my friend Linda's baby girl is due. As the only woman I know of who has had both previous children on their due dates, chances are???

Preggy photos are personal things, however Linda has said I could post these on my blog.

I think I would be proud to do so too, if I looked that good and relaxed less than a week out from dropping!

Good luck Majureys, can't wait to meet your new angel.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fill Your Boots!

Please excuse this out of focus, poorly framed photo, but that's what you get when you fire a shot without looking thru the lens from the driver's seat just as the lights turn green!
If you can spot the gumboots, you will see why I was amused!

Nature's Beauty

I found this brand new butterfly (I think it was pretty new) strengthening its wings on the brickwork outside my window. It's not exactly my butterfly, the one I have been waiting to see emerge from it's chrysalis for aaaaaaaages now.  I am actually wondering if it is ever going to happen.
But I can't help thinking I must have grown this one too, and that it built its chrysalis away from my wee swan plant, hidden somewhere?
It seemed to know me...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Heart Melter!

Doesn't this look just melt your heart? My Hugo really is the most beautiful boy.

Today his glorious head has been somehow enhanced by this god-awful collar. How undignified for such a dignified fellow. (Mind you, I love the way his ears are accentuating his soft, sweet expression - perfect!)

However, I do have my boy's best interests at heart. It's not all about taking a photo for the day. Hugo's allergies have flared up again, and he has taken to not just over-licking, but chewing his inner back legs. we're talking big, red, raw patches. Poor bugger. I can't keep giving him prednisone; we need a kinder? alternative. So I am going to see if I (not if he) can handle having him in a collar from time to time, to prevent his OCD.  Or at least break the habit.

So what do you think he is thinking, or saying to me, huh?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Plink, Plonk

So goes the sound of the rain on the roof, or more accurately, the dog's plate outside on the table as it so happens.

Didn't really set things up to get a fancy shot of this, but you get the picture - and here it is lol.

Oh, and just for the record, the little chrysalis is taking quite some time to let out a butterfly.

With 3 fat caterpillars chewing around it and the rain to contend with, I am feeling slightly anxious for her!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Heart Breaker

I wanted this post to be related to a shot of the final match winning score from the Breakers this evening, but that did not transpire, did it?

So here's another potential heartbreaker.
Miss Megan.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Good Egg

Easter is the time for eggs.Eggs are good, especially Easter eggs. Not so good when you are meant to be avoiding them for dietary reasons.
But there are other good eggs too, like my Mum. She's a good egg. Not just for organising everyone to come and work like trojans on my house, and for cleaning places that just aren't fun to clean, and for keeping us all fed.
She's a good egg because she knows how to buy a good egg for a girl like me. Well a good egg holder. Isn't this the sweetest Easter gift?

PS while we are on eggs, remember this?
Nothing to do with Easter or my Mum lol

Friday, April 22, 2011

Role Play

Amazing family day today, and I am eternally grateful for the support I get from my whanau. In the continuing Makeover of Muirfield, each family member graciously assumed a role to get what needed to be done, done today. Yes there will be bits and bobs to finish over the next while, but both the interior and exterior of the property I rent from my Mum and Dad is looking so much more like a home today. I certainly enjoyed the family cameraderie, and hope everyone else did too. From painter to cook, dog-sitter to landscaper, lawnmower to supervisor, each member of my family present today played their respective role to perfection.

I will post a final photo in days to come when the last of the compost has been 
spread, the final layer of mulch laid and the pots re-planted. Not to mention the windows washed to show of the beaut paint job on the front door, and new towels purchased to dress the newly painted bathroom.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

End of Day 1

It's amazing the difference a bit of chainsawing and foliage removal does. The potential of what the new look view from my lounge will soon look like is slowly being realised.
Great effort today from my parents (and me) to start the ball rolling on the Makeover of Muirfield.
Astounded however that it costs $38 to dump a load of green waste at the transfer station. That's one ute full of puka parts. Bloody daylight robbery if you ask me. If I'd have had a chipper, people would have been paying ME for what good goodiness that would have produced.

I love using chippers. Great sense of personal satisfaction. Today however my new toy of choice was a small electric trimmer. Not quite brave enough to tackle the cahinsaw. I left that to the expert. My Dad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here today, gone tomorrow

Mum and Dad arrived tonight, in preparation for a family working bee on the house on Friday.
Starts tomorrow with the removal of this Puka tree. I have one at my 'real' house (currently rented) as well, which, according to the Property Inspection Report today, needs the same treatment.
Hard ground permitting, we may even see the emergence of some semblance of a garden by the time the weekend if over. It's only been 5+ years!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Out with the old...

More new blue shoes, somewhat more practical than the last ones, and will no doubt be worn with greater regularity.
I am always happy to wear out a pair of track shoes; shows they have done the miles (see right, below!). And my shoes do a fair few of those since becoming a dog owner.
Felt nice to wear a more presentable pair at training today too. Had my assessment - lots of progress made, so that's all good. Maybe it was the shoes?
Afterthought: If I were my friend Jo Nielson, I would sully them up to make them look 'used' - none of this pristine new shoes look!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Watching and Waiting

I have been mentally guarding this little life-form since it became the only one of my caterpillars to undergo the full transformation to a chrysalis. The whole metamorphosis thing still fascinates me, both on a scientific level and in terms of simple awe and wonderment,
I wonder if I will capture her in her flighted form when she (all monarchs are 'she' to me) emerges in a few days. Hope so.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Like a Dog with a Bone

Actually, no 'like' about it. Just a dog with a bone :) 
Sunday treat for the boys - a big meaty bone each. So actually 3 dogs with 3 bones.

Stirling hoed right in, and kept at it for about an hour or more.
Hugo got down to the bone pretty smartly then wanted to bring it inside - fail. Also had a lurk to see if he could get Stirling's - that's what the look is about in these pics - a glare for Hugo's benefit, or mine!

Reilly guarded his bone for 20 mins before I cut the meat off it for him... (As I did for them all - it really was a bit much to wrap little jaws around). Then he had a go.

A passing shower did not deter their work - see the clip below if interested. If not, then don't!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Promise Kept

Here it is - the first Challenge Certificate I have ever won. And I secured it in the most trying environmental conditions; pouring rain. 
I say I, I mean we. Me and Stirling, and my friend Mignon. So happy that she could be there for me today when he got his first CC. One down, 7 to go and I will have my first champion.
But the promise? I made it to Stirling this morning as I loaded him into the car; get that elusive first CC and I would bring him back to my house this evening.
How easy in theory it would be for me to have him here forever and always, but in reality, it is just too hard to work full time and have 3 dogs in an suburban section. But it is also soooooo hard to hand him back to Mignon after he has been to stay. He really is the most lovable fellow.
Just now, he is asleep at my feet, next to his Dad Reilly and a breath away from my first love, Hugo. All champions in my heart already, but still a thrill to have this recognition today, in the company of some fine competition.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Stop the Clock!

Whilst we all(?) love our jobs, 3pm on the last day of term is a very significant and celebratory time for we teachers. There was a small gathering in the staffroom after the close of school - Linda's last day before she pops, so a few cups of tea (literally) and some pie of some sort being shared.

Me - just popped in to say hi, mindful of the fact I had a 3:30 appointment. Clock watching as I do (I said cLock!), I noticed 3:30 was very slow in approaching.

Then it struck me - the clock was stuck on 3 past 3. The little second hand was having quiet little spazzes on the 8. I had to immortalise the time that had stood still, just, it appeared, for us to breathe a little sigh of appreciation of the upcoming holiday break.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Me and My Shadow

The late afternoon autumn sun was throwing long shadows on my walk back home with 3 dogs on extendable leads. Suffice to say trying to capture all four shadows on my iPhone as was my intent, proved nigh on impossible... So it's just me :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Pictorial Analogy

The photo is me just doing weird things with twigs. I am sure everything in the world is wrong with the 'treatment' I have given it, but it is a great pictorial analogy for how it is feeling inside my head right now. All white light and spikes. Yikes.

But knowing me it will be all calm and tranquility again by morning, as was the water behind these twigs in actuality!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm not proud!

Got the best present today - a new dress. Not brand new, but new to me. I am most certainly not too proud to accept and wear something gorgeous and pre-loved :)

Actually I am proud. I am proud that I can even fit it. That would not have been possible 2 months ago. Even if the previous owner did wear it when she was pregnant I think lol.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Puppy Love #2

According to Megan's rationale, this puppy (Shae) and his 3 sisters are Stirling's cousins. Quite right, I suppose. Their Mum is Reilly's sister. Nawwwww cute.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Peas in a Pod?

This is a not so successful attempt to capture what was far more obvious in actuality -
A classic example of the dog looking so much like the owner.

I was trying to be surreptitious, but failed! I was embarrassed to see someone was watching me try and take the photo so I even tried to spark up a conversation with the handler to mask my awkwardness. (The miniature poodle is 4 months old, I found out)

Epic Fail on this account then!

Must try harder.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Puppy Love

This little lady (my niece Megan) has been fine company today. Not only have we been enjoying each other but Megan and her canine cousins have loved the cuddles and games that have ensued.

Tomorrow I am taking these two to our first out-of-town dog show. All the way to.... Cambridge. Well you've gotta start somewhere! That said it will still be a very early start for the Fothergill household for a Sunday.

Wish us luck!

PS Sorry Hugo and Reilly, you are not coming with us. - I am sure you will be much happier at home than stuck in a cage wishing you were chasing birds or leaves. Or catching flies as has become Hugo's latest trick.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just the Boys

It's always a slow night when the photographic subjects are 'the boys'. Had anticipated a cute little 3 year old would join them for fun and photos this afternoon but that did not transpire. Oh well, next time.

So here are two of my main men just doing what they do best again - hangin' at the reserve.

As usual Hugo was off sniffing up a storm somewhere as opposed to wanting to keep an eye on where I was...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Camp

Great time at school camp. As usual, I was in my element... Love to organise, direct and encourage. And as an added bonus, someone else had borne the pain of the pre-camp preparation, and I could waft in and waft out for one night only, pulling the strings that they had so efficiently set up (Thanks Kate).
Camp provides the setting for all who are there to allow aspects of their 'true selves' to be revealed. Bits of yourself you often hide in a work or situation.
Like your performer self (aka exhibitionist self). Mine came out during the "Silly Camp Songs' session I initiated. Loved it.
But what I love most is when kids surprise you - like the girl who you think might freak out abseiling, being the one who sails through it. Or the boy who is normally full of bravado who wants to phone his Mum to bring his blankie.
In this photo the kayaking group are learning the ropes beneath the awesome might of the Hunua Falls. How lucky we are to be able to offer these opportunities to our kids in NZ. Long may the camp experience live. Now for another glass of wine and a feet up...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho...

Making my daily post quickly this morning as I am off to school camp in the Hunuas for the night.
but I know that despite the incredible hard work that goes into them before had, and the energy required by teachers to run them is all paid back in the experiences the kids have and the relationships the time at camp builds.

Not quite sure of the tally for school camps for me over the years, but I was reminded by a FB comment yesterday of perhaps the most fun camp I have ever co-lead. Aongatete Lodge in the Kaimais sometime in the 90s, lead by Ms F and Ms McIndoe and their alter egos, Camp Mother and Camp Leader. Sorry the photo's a bit skew-wiff and I don have time to re-scan, but you get the picture. We ran half the camp, including doing a long bush walk (Me with yellow handbag, Zara with swingball protruding from her pack), in character. It was hilarious to see the different ways the children interacted with us depending on 'who' we were. The whole camp was a hoot.
Today - far more civilized. The only person I am possibly channelling is Cheryl West. Oh but I am taking my guitar :)

PS this pic was not taken at camp actually - we entered a Camp Mother/Camp Leader competition at the local 24 hour relay. We even wrote a song for it. And we played it live on breakfast radio. My little claim to fame. And a parent from that camp who went to a Topp Twins gig had them sign us a post card ("You NAUGHTY girls! I hear you have been impersonating us" or something) Oh and also, this guitar is not mine, it is Zarzee's.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Decidedly Different

Anyone else like me never heard of a kiwano before?
Touted as a cross between a banana and a lemon, it certainly bears no physical resemblance, does it? Not exactly enticing one to dig in (Those volcanic looking protrusions (the ones not broken off) are actually sharp)
I tried to imagine what it would look like inside before I cut it, and was surprised at what I saw. I actually did not want to try it once all was revealed. A green glutinous ooze settled on the chopping board, looking a bit like aloe vera gel or that cyber clean stuff you clean your electronic items with. Not an appetising prospect.
But I worked up the courage to try it and... was underwhelmed. All a bit bland really, considering the flashy packaging that it comes in promises so much more.
Possibly the closest taste comparison I could make was with a banana passionfruit - a fruit that was common in my childhood (having a grandmother that grew all things weird and wonderful), but one I have not seen once in the past 20+ years - despite my research showing it is a pest plant in NZ!
So I've wrapped the kiwano up in gladwrap and stuck it in the fridge. Hate to say it, but it will probably be an experiment that I will just turf out (Sorry Mum, I know how you hate waste)

Monday, April 4, 2011

End of an Era?

I wonder if the new owners will have been told the rules if they buy this house. 
Must leave water out for passing dogs.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I grew this!

Well, sort of.

Way back in January I bought a few plants to zhuzh the place up. Contrary to my predictions, I did not kill them off. While the sunflowers are long gone, and the petunias have almost run their course, the herbs are still adding flavour to my cooking.

The swan plant had been doing quite well too, apart from trying to fend off aphids - hmmm, and failing.

On Friday I happened to notice some juicy caterpillars had appeared on my plant! I had not spotted them till they were pretty big. This is, after all, why we grow swan plants. To grow monarch caterpillars and butterflies. I feel just like a kid again and will be out to check on them daily. Hope they survive - not much food on this fledgling swan plant, and they are fighting for sustenance with the aphids. Plus I am sure there were 4 on Friday, and only 2 today...

Kia kaha little caterpillars!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is a standard really standard?

In a similar vein to my post of two weeks ago, participation in the dog show world is an epic illustration of how we all interpret the world differently, even if we are seeing the same thing.

It was our Tiki CKCS Club Open Show today - a leap above the humble Ribbon Parade; the stakes are higher - and on a personal note, it wasn't 'our day' today*. But that's really not what this post is about.

Before I wax lyrical I am in no way passing comment on the judging today, or at any other particular show. It is general comment. While all breeds have a 'breed standard', and while judging is meant to reflect exhibits who best illustrate that standard, interpretation of said standard is always going to be tinged with a certain subjectivity. What one judge puts up today as the best example of the breed standard, will be contradicted by the next judge next week. That's just how it goes. Of course some will sometimes cry 'face judging' - that is, judging the handler not the dog. But that's another story.

These are 'just dogs' however, (oooh did I really say that?) and talking about higher stakes, it continues to worry me that now we are applying standards to our children in our schools. National Standards. A far more complicated document than the breed standard for cavaliers, and therefore in my opinion, open to more variance in interpretation. The evidence we ask teachers to collect on a child is way more complex that giving a dog a feel up, and watching it move around a ring. The evidence is a loosely a mash-up of all that is observational, conversational and testable/tangible for each individual student.
While we are not picking a 'winner' we are making a judgement on each student, by drawing a line in the sand and assigning them each to a standard. Or below a standard. Or maybe well below. If you're above the standard is that like the dog that wins on the day? If another judge looked at the evidence would they come to the same conclusion?
Of course that's where moderation and professional discussion comes in. And at my school at least, I am very proud of and confident in the judgements that are being made. But I don't know what is happening in other schools, and grey areas still exist. It worries me that today's students and we the teachers who are assessing them against these standards, are being used as guinea pigs. (I wonder if there are breed standards for guinea pigs?**) How I wish the powers that be had allowed more time to iron out the grey, and to allow teachers greater opportunity to discuss the standards with colleagues, especially those in other schools. That would make the moderation process and assigning to standards so much easier and, in my view, accurate. Whoa, my first work bleat!

Hmmm, just thinking, - wouldn't it be interesting if dog judges were encouraged to moderate!

* We actually did win some silverware today. Pretty easy to do if you are the only entry in that class lol
**Omigod there is!
And the addition to my useless information file today is that guinea pigs are also called... cavies! Hilarious!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scraping the barrel

It's been a long day and I wish I was asleep already!
I had a neat idea for a photo but I am to tired to create it now, so instead will share a short video of something that never fails to amuse me - the dogs barking at dogs - and in this case a cat - on the tele.
They actually went off more the first time they saw it, and I rewound to capture and record - so authentic lol.
Almost as funny is when they hear themselves when the movie plays - they go running into the bedroom to find themselves!