Bloganuary – 3rd week selection

Day 13: If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Firstly, I would check the exchange rate.  Currently, that would give me half as much again in NZ currency. That is $157,000,000NZD. Hmm-probably this would be  enough to splash out on a few trips around the world, donate to a few worthy causes, clear the extended family’s mortgages, etcetera, etcetera……..

Seriously though, I don’t give too much thought to having  this huge amount of money . It’s either a pipe dream, or a nightmare in the making. 

Money isn’t likely to buy happiness   And that is my WOTY focus this year. 

Day 14: What is your preferred mode of travel?

Shanks pony “One’s feet or legs, regarded as a means of transport” – yeah nah,  not really  just give me a car or ute these days.  It carries my rubbish and my groceries though not at the same time.  The Ute also tows the caravan which offers a slower mode of travel to explore the beautiful country views. And that makes me happy. 

I used to enjoy horse riding but found it to be a bit too hazardous to my health after my horse bolted with me on too many occasions.  

I did some cycling  over my early years.  I got a brand-new bike when I was 11 years old and I was so proud of it. I cycled everywhere  – to school, and to the horse paddock each weekend. It was my only mode of travel until I got my driver’s licence in my early twenties. Then I drove everywhere instead.

I did a pro-drive course when I started a job that required extensive travel over rural roads.  I remember driving home from the course practicing all that I had learnt. Then  a few weeks later, I collided with a runaway cow on a dark night. My newly acquired skills kicked in and I almost avoided a head-on collision.  I hit the cow but I survived -alas the cow did not.

I fell off an e-bike and tore a  few rotator cuff tendons. Surgery followed by 6 weeks in a sling over summer cured me of that mode of travel.

Armchair travel is now my preferred mode of travel.

Day 15: What fear have you conquered?

My fear of falling from a great height. For much of my life, I had a fear of falling downstairs.  At one stage, it got so bad I would just freeze at the top of the stairs. Taking that first step was just too hard. I envisaged myself falling and landing in a crumpled heap at the bottom for days, waiting for someone to find me.

Until I did actually fall.  In the middle of winter, one morning when I was running to catch the bus, I slipped off that icy top step of our outside stairs. My life flashed before my eyes. That didn’t take long as I was only 18.  I landed in a crumpled heap, but I picked myself up, brushed off my embarrassment, and made it to the bus on time.

Since then I have even mastered escalators!

Day 17: Describe the happiest day of your life.

This should be easier than I am finding it so far. 

Happiness is my WOTY so why am I finding it hard to describe the happiest day of my life? 

I have had a long and fortunate life (so far) and I have had so many happy days to be grateful for. I guess there are  too many to count to specify any particular day. 

The day we got married nearly 52 years ago, the birth of each of my three sons, the challenges of study and a new career, my many memorable travel experiences over the last 20 years, the birth of each of our seven grandchildren, and now having more time in retirement to pursue new creative activities. These  have all brought me joy and happiness. 

I’m forever grateful that the happy days have far outnumbered the sad, stressful days. I am thankful for them too as without sadness how can happiness be known or appreciated?

Day 18. What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Smoked salmon, asparagus and creamy mushrooms. It’s delicious, its easy to prepare, it’s healthy (mostly). And asparagus is a springtime seasonal treat and that is my favorite time of the year. 

Day 19: What color describes your personality and why?

Purple. I love purple although I can never quite explain why so I went searching for meanings. 

Some definitions:

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.“

And; 

Purple as a favorite color is said to represent an artistic and unique individual, who is often very intuitive and deeply interested in spirituality. Lovers of purple are said to be a good judge of character, and a visionary with a great need to participate in humanitarian issues.”

Well I’m not sure about the “deep interest in spirituality’ but I do try  to be creative and artistic in many different ways.  And perhaps, just maybe, I’m a good judge of character??  I’m definitely a unique individual. And I’m okay with that. 

Day 20: What irritates you about the home you live in?

Nothing much irritates me about my current home except perhaps our recent road closures,  and the ongoing  isolation.

We have had 30+ years living our lives here at the beach. We have a warm and comfortable home. The birds flit through the native bush and along the seashore. The spectacular sunsets are often followed by dark skies which display a multitudes of stars to sparkle and intrigue me.   Plenty of photo opportunities abound here. 

That’s why it has been such a hard decision to sell up and move into town. 

To be continued……….

#bloganuary #goals

Sunday Stills – Plunge into 2023- Wherever that leads.

Plunge  – Wherever that leads, let’s just do this. 

The first time I distinctly  remember taking a plunge is when after many attempts when my dad had tried to  teach me to dive without bellyflopping, the camera was at the ready even if I was not.  At the last minute I held my nose and jumped into the pool instead. OK, I was only 10 years old. 

A few years later, I plunged headlong into a gorse bush when the horse I was riding refused to jump and I flew over his head and landed in the prickly gorse. “Enough”  I said as I pulled the gorse prickles out of my tender bottom. No more plunges for me! 

Except there are many times since then I have taken the plunge. 

Marriage – was definitely a plunge into the unknown. 52 years later and that plunge was indeed a worthwhile endeavour. 

Motherhood – another plunge, a lifelong commitment  and now it continues into the delights of grand-parenting. 

I plunged into a new career direction. Now that was an amazing  experience that took me on so many adventures. 

Whilst I have tried to make positive decisions about where I would take the next plunge into the great unknown, I have since discovered that sometimes the best thing to do is just hold your nose and jump into that pool.  

I wonder what plunges I will take in 2023. Whatever happens,  I will just do this again and again. 

Life is like that. Life is for living. Every single day.

WQ #1 Resolutions, Goals and Word of the Year

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” 

– Unknown

I used this quote for Sunday Stills Year in Review, and then it just came to me in a flash of inspiration.

Happiness just has to be my WOTY in 2023. 

It’s not that I am unhappy. It’s just that I wish to be more intentional in recognizing and showing gratitude for the gift of happiness in my life.

Being aware of one’s values helps people live authentically, which ultimately leads to sustainable happiness.—

Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022

At Christmas time, the song I kept humming along with was “all I want for Christmas…… is for people everywhere to seek joy and happiness in their lives. 

Forget about the conspiracy theories. Stop scrolling through and down those social media rabbit holes – and find something positive and creative  to do with the time and energy you save yourself.

Some definitions…….

Happiness

aa state of well-being and contentment 

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience

Capturing these Fairy Terns was both pleasurable and satisfying

3 things that make people most happy are:

1.PLEASURE -doing things that you enjoy

2 ENGAGEMENT – feeling interested in your activities and connected to others

3 MEANING – feeling like what you do matters

And so I will take much pleasure in engaging and finding meaning in everything I do this year.

And…..

10 Keys that tend to make life happier and more fulfilling:

Giving           Do kind things for others

Relating        Connect with people

Exercising    Take care of your body

Awareness    Live life mindfully

Trying Out     Keep learning new things

Direction       Have goals to look forward to

Resilience     Find ways to bounce back

Emotions       Look for what’s good

Acceptance   Be comfortable with who you are

Meaning        Be part of something bigger

Together they spell GREAT DREAM

Courtesy of https://actionforhappiness.org

What are some other words for happy?

  • pleased.
  • delighted.
  • satisfied.
  • glad.
  • thankful.
  • thrilled.
  • joyful.
  • joyous

I think I will have plenty of choice for future goals and actions going forward.  

And just to leave you with an ear worm -have a listen to these lyrics.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Song by Bobby McFerrin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWXUWepSak4

Some of the lyrics….

“Here’s a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry, you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy now

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry, be happy (Ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh)

Don’t worry, be happy”

We can always find something to worry about. Don’t worry. Be happy.

And here they are- My goals, my WOTY, and my resolution – all wrapped up together.

2022 – What a Year that was!

“Instead of finishing the year strong, why don’t we finish the year soft? why don’t we finish the year restful and grateful for making it through yet another crazy cycle on earth?”

Unknown

So 2022 was a hard year. To ease the stresses of storms, road closures and health issues, I decided to create a space for art in my life. 

Photography 

I struggled with my phojo most of the year – well after our 7 weeks caravanning around the South Island.  We travelled from January to early March and ticked off some bucket list items. 

From a visit to Rakiura/Stewart Island to exploring amazing seascapes in the Caitlins, and the majestic waterfalls of the Milford Sound ,we loved it all. Here is a sample of the places I photographed.

Visiting family and friends as we road- tripped around was so good. 

There is always a great selection of birdlife in the bush or on the beach.

April and May were calm and  the weather was relatively settled. I managed to photograph the alignment of the planets in May.  And I was very excited to capture the total lunar eclipse photos in November.

Then winter set in.  June, July, August were wet, wet, wet, and cold, cold, cold.

Little did we realize that the winter months were going to be such a challenge. A very wet winter culminated in a particularly ferocious ‘atmospheric river’ in August. 

“Atmospheric rivers are massive plumes of moisture that move from the tropics to the mid-latitudes. Weather experts describe this week’s atmospheric river as an exceptional winter event, long lasting, with a very anomalously large moisture content.”

“The weather event has involved more than 300mm of rain falling across the top of the South Island in 24 hours.”

Our roads were closed, there was no public access  and very little communication from the local council. 

We did receive some urgent medications from the emergency services although some urgent dental appointments required a scary trip out over  the ravaged roads which were still being repaired after the 2021 storm event. This was much, much worse.

When we had an urgent trip to Nelson for emergency dentist appointments,  I found a different beach to photograph  Even this beach also shows the erosion caused by the recent stormy  weather.  Building driftwood huts is an ongoing activity around here.

There was severe damage to many properties but the roads had born the brunt of the damage.  We had no power, internet or phone access for five days.  We could only get our water from one garden tap that didn’t rely on power to run the pump.  Thankfully, we could also still flush the toilet!

Our food was rapidly thawing in our powerless freezers so we cooked either on our little gas canister cooker or on the bbq. Romantic candlelight dinners for two became our daily routine. 

In hindsight, this was to be life-changing for us.

Creative activities:

June/July – ICAD 61/61 (index card a day artwork)

Participated in and completed Inktober 2022

December doodling got off to a colourful start but my mojo fizzled. 

Instead, I took some time out to create a costume for the Sci Fi quiz theme at the local Tavern. What to wear??  I decided the answer had to be 42:  Life, the universe and everything. I made a lighted galaxy skirt, a universe headband, and a DON’T PANIC aka The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was a fun night  although our team didn’t win. The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was strong yet delicious.

I am not sure why I love dressing up as various characters but once every month or two our local tavern hosts a themed quiz night. Over this year I have been the Scarlet Witch, a Mexican dancer and the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything – #42

Also in December, we loved attending our granddaughters’ dance show The Wizard of Oz. They both performed brilliantly. They were dancing jazz and hip hop. The whole academy of dance was full of variety and all were  such a joy to watch. The tap dancing, the Irish jigs, the hip hop and the jazz all told the classic story of Dorothy and friends. 

Our eldest granddaughter finished primary school. It was wonderful to attend her Leavers Assembly and watch her so confidently perform the actions to  the school Pride song.  We are very proud of her. She is such a great all- round achiever. Hard to imagine she is off to college next year.

Books read: Total books year to date – 83.

Reviewing my book reading lists, I have realised that I have had a particular leaning towards scifi, fantasy, crime thrillers and time travel. Some books I have read this year have included many of these themes in the storylines. . A great form of escapism for me. 

Life Events:

November and December 2022 were busy and anxious months.  

Preoccupied with a concerning health issue – X-rays, ultrasound and punch biopsy. a nervous waiting time for results…..  At last came the good news – no cancer cells detected. Now just a bit more waiting for that surgical review. At least my stress levels have lessened (for now).

At last I felt that I could plan and prepare for Christmas.  

Our road is still closed to public use and for ’residents and essesntial services only’ but we were expecting our ‘non- resident’ families to arrive en masse anyway. They are ‘essential services’ to us as they arrived to spend a Christmas summer here. 

We are practicing just a little bit of civil disobedience as we are so frustrated by the council’s uncommunicative attitude to supporting those of us still in limbo since the August storm.  

After months of waiting for safe access, it only took three weeks for the trucks and bulldozers to clear the muddy slips and do a little bit of patching up. The road is at least driveable now.

In true bureaucratic form, next year….  they will do a ‘scoping’ strategic review BEFORE they do any real planning or scheduling to actually fix the roads. This could take years even though they have prioritized and fixed most of the rest of the 600+ kilometers of damaged roads in other areas.

It’s been depressing and frustrating. We want to enjoy our lives again without worrying every time it rains. We don’t have that many years left and our mental health is already suffering, so… 

We have made the hard decision to sell up and move into town.

The signs are up. It’s official – the house is on the market. Now to see how quickly it sells. Falling house prices and rising interest rates do not bode well but we have to hope the sunshine weather will bring out the interested buyers. 

In the meantime, we are enjoying a hot summer – and our visiting families. 2 awesome sons, 2 great daughter -in- laws and 5 amazing grandchildren – oh and the 3 grand-dogs.  It’s such a pity that our third son is unable to visit from Sweden. 

We have  been  swimming, boating, fishing, making a driftwood reindeer, moon photography, gardening and games – lots of games. Cards, corn hole, board games, bbqs, and maybe some wine times. And  we partied the rest of the year away with a bonfire, fireworks  and roasted marshmallows.

And so we say farewell to a challenging  2022.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. 

Bill Vaughan

Me? I just wanted to party with my family with a beach bonfire (did I already mention the marshmallows? It was indeed a ‘soft’ ending to a fraught and heavy year. 

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting”

Let us hope that 2023 brings exciting adventures, peace, happiness, love and laughter to ever

WQW #39 Air: Wind, Storms – the winds of change

It’s useful to have storms in our lives every so often as a reminder to start something new

– Unknown

Over the last two winters,  we have endured floods and storms which have resulted in long term road closures. Not only were we locked down with the COVID pandemic, but the damaged roads locked us in as well. 

Just as the July 2021 roadworks were almost completed, then came the August 2022 storm.

Marlborough Sounds has suffered huge damage across much of the rural roading network. 

Our road is once again closed to all traffic except essential services. Whilst we have an acknowledgment from the insurance company that our car will be covered should we have a mishap, it is still a hazardous trip out each week as we drive through for medical appointments, essential groceries and gas bottle refills.

Priority is being given to major transit links like the state highways and their alternative routes, and the three Fs (fishing, farming and forestry). Apparently the residents are less important than industry.  

There is no respite in sight as the local council have not yet decided how much of our road will actually been fixed and reopened. This is frustrating and disappointing to say the least. 

There is water access to some parts of the Sounds and there are some subsidies available for water taxis and barges but this is still a huge financial cost, and for us it is impractical. Our beach is too shallow for landing supplies via barge and it is very difficult if not impossible to wade ashore carrying 18kg gas bottles and groceries. So, we risk the broken closed roads instead.

No longer am I willing to negotiate driving this road at night so I am missing my fortnightly quiz nights at the local tavern, and any social occasions with friends and family. Life is a bit grim. 

We feel very isolated so it is time for a change. My motivation is sadly lacking just now but it is something I seriously need to grasp onto as we begin to make some life changing decisions. It has been a time for reflection and lots of introspection. Taking time to listen to the winds of change blowing insistently in our heads and hearts.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

Chinese proverbs 
Bremen windmill

After 30 years we are reluctantly planning to sell our beautiful beachfront property and move into town whilst we are still fit and healthy enough to cope with all that entails. This has been, and still is a heart-wrenching decision for us. 


Life is too short to do anything that doesn’t light a fire inside of you. 

I’m just not yet sure if moving into urban life is going to light the fire? And yet, staying here is no longer lighting my fire either!

The first steps have begun. We have told the family. Our house is on the market.. It might take time to sell so hopefully we may get to enjoy our last summer of beach life.  And, we are looking at house plans with a view to building our new home. Individual preferences are already proving to be a challenge so there will be some stormy discussions ahead. 

 Life is about to get more interesting.  Watch this space!

Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever. 

Roy T. Bennett

WQW #36 September Equinox- at last it is Springtime!

‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. “What is it like?…”

 ‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…’” — 

Frances Hodgson Burnett

“The astronomical spring equinox is a precise moment in time and this year it was at 1:03pm NZST, Friday September 23. So, according to astronomy, this is a naturally occurring event during which the centre of the sun appears to cross over the celestial equatorial line of the earth. In layman terms, one can say that an equinox occurs when the sun switches sides from one hemisphere of the earth to the other.”

To mark the occasion, Mother Nature choose to remind us of her forceful personality. A 5.8 earthquake rumbled and shook central New Zealand, centred in the northeast of Marlborough Sounds, about 51 km deep in the  Cook Strait, .  Fortuitously, there appears to be no further damage to the cracked roads. 

Enough is enough, I say!  Over August and into September, we have had more than our share of rain resulting in floods, slips and slumps which resulted in further road damage even more significantly damaging than last year’s July weather event. 

Road closures are still a major issue as we struggle to access medical care and essential supplies by risking the drive through the fractured roads.  Whilst there is no light at the end of this particular road ’tunnel’,  thankfully, there are spring flowers blooming amidst the raindrops.

At last it is our turn to enjoy the warmth of the spring weather.  Let’s hope it’s a good one and that the damaged roads will be repaired as the earth dries out. 

The raspberry canes are growing leaves,  the freesias are flowering. 

The fruit trees are blossoming. The Tui are sipping the nectar from the kowhai flowers.

Spring has sprung at last. Hope springs eternal.

WQW #31- Earth: Just add Water and Rocks

“ How wild it was, to let it be”.  – Cheryl Strayed

We have had it all this week. Earth, rocks and mountains of mud and floods.

It’s been a horrendous week of wild weather as an ‘atmospheric river’ hammered Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast. Floods and excess rainfall have caused earth and road subsidence in Nelson, Marlborough and everywhere in between. 

Mountains of mud and rocks came crashing down the rivers and hillsides, taking houses and roads along in their path,  causing huge landslides and yet more damaged roads throughout the top of the South Island of New Zealand, where I live.

Many small communities are isolated. Once again our road is closed for the foreseeable future. The two state highways between Nelson are Blenheim are closed as are many local roads. 

This has meant postponing an urgent dental appointment in Nelson so that will now mean a 4-5 hour road trip to get emergency dental care but not for two more weeks. Fortunately a Civil Defence emergency driver got through to deliver some much needed antibiotics to keep his painful abscess under control for a while.

Muddy waters have washed down from the forested hills and created havoc on our beach.

I needed to boil water on a little gas cooker, cook our meals on the bbq in the rain, cope with a freezer of rapidly thawing food, and try very hard to remain positive. 

Five days without power, phone or internet coverage has been trying my patience ( to put it mildly.) It’s been very isolating.

The helicopters fly overhead regularly. They are trying to restore power lines, deliver medications and essential supplies, and evacuating those that need medical care.

There is nothing we could do about the weather or the power or the road, so I decided to look for the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. 

“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song” – Carl Perkins

Well our stream was certainly singing loud and strong for five days and nights plus.  The beach is alive with foraging seabirds feasting on the multitude of shellfish cast ashore or drowned in mud. A Falcon rested in the tree directly in front of my window. Photo opportunity – yes! 

It made me reflect more about appreciating the natural beauty whilst accepting the hazards of living surrounded by hills, mountains and oceans. 

Okay – my rant is over – I have found some peace in revisiting my archived mountain scenes.

Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains– “William Shakespeare

WQW # 23: Winter Solstice/Winter Stars

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me want to dream.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

Here in the middle of our New Zealand/Aotearoa winter, we have just lived through our shortest day/longest night. So instead of summer we celebrated Winter Solstice. for us, summer is a distant memory.

From late May and into the month of June, there were some exciting celestial events to gaze upon.

Firstly, there was the alignment of four Planets at the end of May.

“For those observing from the Southern Hemisphere, the ecliptic, or path of the planets, cuts sharply down toward the horizon. This more vertical alignment means that Mars will approach Jupiter from almost directly above. Around May 29, Mars slips just to the right of Jupiter and on May 30 the two are side by side. Following this date, Mars will continue in a beeline down toward the horizon”.

I am fascinated by celestial events so I went out under the starry sky in the early pre-sunrise hours with my new tripod, and my 14 year old grandson. His younger eyes were most helpful when focusing on the faraway planets. On the morning of May 30, bright Jupiter was immediately left of red Mars. Venus shone below them, and Saturn was above them. By the time Venus arose, we lost Mars in the coming light of the pre-dawn sky.

This is what they were supposed to look like.     And this is what we got.

If you like the idea of capturing planets and star clusters there are still more opportunities in the June sky.  

The strawberry SuperMoon was supposed to be visible on 14th June. Instead we had over 21,500 lightning strikes, thunderstorms and copious rainfall amidst gale force winds over several days and nights. No night sky photography for me that week. I still held out hope for the rest of the month of June though.

“From June 19-27 the planets will work toward alignment that results in a row of lights across the northeastern horizon. Expect Mercury to dip the lowest in the east, and Saturn will show the highest. While Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn should all be visible with the naked eye, a telescope—potentially, binoculars could do the trick—should also let you see Uranus a touch higher than Venus. If you’re super fortunate with a quality telescope, you may be able to catch a glimpse of Neptune, too.”

Towards the end of June, all the planets along with the moon and a waning crescent will be in alignment on the morning of June 24. The moon will then move out of alignment and continue orbiting around the earth for a few days.” 

This is all I could find in the early pre-dawn hazy sky. I was almost cured of my ridiculous obsession with photographing the night sky in the freezing early pre-dawn morning.

“Metaphor for the night sky: a trillion asterisks and no explanations.”

– Robert Breault

Secondly,  the Matariki Star Cluster (Pleiades) is rising.

Manawatia a Matariki – Happy Matariki 

This weekend, New Zealanders enjoyed the first public holiday to celebrate  Matariki – the Maori New Year. As the Matariki star cluster arises in the Southeastern skies so does the new moon. 

In Maori  culture, Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and of the celebration of its first rising in late June or early July. This marks the beginning of the new year in the Māori lunar calendar. Matariki was made an official public holiday in New Zealand in April 2022, with the first celebration on 24 June of that year. 

Matariki is an occasion to mourn the deceased, celebrate the present, and prepare the ground for the coming year. The ceremony had three parts: viewing the stars, remembering the deceased, and making an offering of food to the stars.

This three day long weekend, we have experienced the joy of having 5 grandchildren, two of our sons and their wives, and 3 grand-dogs, to celebrate being together for the first time in such a long while. Walks on the beach during the day and building a bonfire by night (in the gentle rain) and roasting marshmallows. 

The young cousins loved spending time together. We had a mid-winter feast and several new board and card games to play.  There was some healthy competition, and hugs….lots of hugs! Great memory-making.

We had rainwater, gentle winds, a calm ocean, good food from the land and the sea, walks on the beach. Our wellbeing and health was well and truly nurtured. We remembered our dearly departed family members, sharing special memories together.

The Pleiades (Matariki) is visible for most of the year in the Southern Hemisphere (ergo New Zealand), except for approximately a month in the middle of the Southen Hemisphere, Winter solstice.

The Pleiades is also known as The Seven Sisters. The nine brightest stars of the Pleiades are named for the Seven Sisters of Greek Mythology: Sterope,Merope, Electra,Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno and Alycyone, along with their parents Atlas and Pleione.

MāoriGreekGenderProvenance
Matariki AlcyoneFemale Well-being and health 
Tupu-ā-rangi AtlasMale Food that comes from above 
Tupu-ā-nuku PleioneFemale Food that grows in the soil 
Ururangi MeropeMale The winds 
Waipunā-ā-rangi ElectraFemale Rainwater 
Hiwa-i-te-rangi CelaenoFemale Growth and prosperity 
Waitī MaiaFemale Fresh water 
Waitā TaygetaMale The ocean 
Pōhutukawa SteropeFemale The deceased 

Thirdly, and coincidentally, I have just started reading Seven Sisters by Lucinda Reilly.  

The strong female characters in each of these books are based on the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades. I look forward to reading the series.

All this I discovered by following my fascination with the stars. Like the planets, my interests are also in alignment.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” – Stephen Hawking

WQW #18: Travel/Transportation: Planes and Boats and Trains

Boats and Trains and planes  – such life- changing journeys and fun adventures I have had over the years.

“All the greatest adventures start with a boat trip”

My first major experience of adventurous transportation was on a troopship. The TSS Captain Cook II was an aging troopship which departed Wellington Harbour on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 1959 amidst a backdrop of fireworks displays and streamers.

I vividly remember the fireworks bursting over the harbour hills as we excitedly scrambled around the decks, holding the paper streamers that were the last tenuous link with the people left behind at the wharf. After the last streamer stretched and snapped, it was time to find our little berth which was to be our family home for the next three weeks as we slowly steamed our way across the Tasman Sea. 

Rough seas and violent seasickness are the most vivid memories I recall from those first seven days as the boat rocked and rolled across the Tasman Sea and up the West Coast of Australia to Freemantle, the port of Perth. Oh – and the ‘crossing the line’ ceremony was indeed a momentous event of onboard ship life.

We learned that the equator was an imaginary line not the big bump in the water we had been told to expect as we crossed over in the middle of the night.    We experienced the full ‘crossing the line’ ceremony which consisted of being hoisted onto a canvas chair perched above King Neptune’s pool filled with evil smelling foamy water, having green lather rubbed into our hair, made to drink foul tasting ‘poison’ and then being tipped backwards into the firewater pool was all part of the adventure.

Although I didn’t know to at the time, this was to be this troopship’s final  voyage. And yet, my travel and transportation adventures had barely just begun. 

Even the seasoned  traveller had a first flight”

My memorable first flights:

Aboard a DC6 plane flying back to New Zealand in three 7 hour flights meant airsickness, viewing beautiful coral islands and the night lights of Brisbane.

A spontaneous 4 seater plane trip to Christchurch with my friend, her pilot husband and our first babies. The pilot fence- hopped a couple of times and then landed in a field.

A Bristol freighter trip to Wellington with 3 young sons – 40,000 rivets flying in close formation.And that wind on arrival nearly blew us all away!

An impromptu single-engined plane trip from Nelson to Takaka when the mountain road was closed yet I still had workshops to do over the marble mountain. 

The  Metroliner  (nicknamed the flying pencil) on a cold frosty morning where the pilot had to use paper towels on the windscreen to see where he was going.

A float plane from Wellington to land on the water in the Marlborough Sounds where I live on the beach front.

And then came the big jets – and many long haul flights.  Endless departure lounges, empty flight gates and jet lag.


 “The train is a small world moving through a larger world.”

My train travel adventures started with my first job.  After a week of training in Invercargill, the southern most city in New Zealand, I boarded the steam-powered overnight train to return to Christchurch. Sitting in an unheated carriage all night with no pillow or blanket should have discouraged me from train travel forever, but it didn’t.   Since that early experience, there have been many train trips throughout Europe. 

Whether it be trying to sleep on an overnight train from Milan to Paris, where we shared a couchette with a Russian  fashion buyer and a Japanese Cirque de Soleil dancer, to being mugged on the express train to Charles de Gaulle airport, train travel is an adventure unto itself.

From standing in the dining/bar car on the Eurostar for the trip from Paris Gare du Nord  to London St Pancras under the English channel train, to our ‘walking’ from Milan to Venice!  Well, it took us almost the whole trip to find an empty carriage so we effectively walked the length of the train as it chugged to Venice. We had indeed ‘walked’ for the duration of the train trip.

In Switzerland we were nearly kicked off the panoramic train through the snowy Swiss alps to Interlaken -wrong tickets!  

In Sweden, father and son watched an All Blacks rugby match as the train trundled us to a beer festival. 

In Italy, we were returned to the railway station to catch the last train back  to Bergamo after yet another beer festival. (An occupational hazard when your son is a Swedish brewer) Thank goodness the train actually arrived as we had no clue as to where we were. 

From Munich to Verona, we took the slow train due to the scenic route being closed – a tad disappointing for us.  

The train from Frankfurt to Prague was almost uneventful in comparison although the train was stringently scrutinised by border control.

In Colorado, we loved the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge railroad so much we did the return trip too.

From the Kuranda Scenic train and Skyrail trip in Australia to the Hungerburg funicular cable car in Austria, and from  gondola rides in Queenstown to the London Eye, these unique methods of transportation have helped me to ‘feel the fear’ of heights and do it anyway. 

It’s hard to imagine I have had an irrational fear of falling down stairs for most of my life yet due to having to use various forms of travel transportation, I can now use escalators, gondolas and glass-floored elevators.  How far I have come in my transportation adventures from that first overnight steam train trip? 

“The mode of transportation you choose to travel on your life’s journey matters less than the wisdom of it’s driver.”

Written in response to WQW #18

Happy birthday – whoever you are!

She came into the cafe to meet friends for coffee. At the counter ordering her coffee when suddenly the staff and then the whole cafe erupts into singing her happy birthday. What a lovely way to celebrate this person’s special day.

It makes me wonder again at the power of singing to brighten someone’s day. 

So just how universal is  that little song? How many languages can you sing that ditty in?

I can sing it in Te Reo Maori, French, Italian, English – how about you?

Special smiles all around. Does this happen in other countries?  

This made my day and it wasn’t even my birthday that day.   It also reminded of my own recent birthday treat at a cafe.  I got $9 off my order as a birthday gift time during my ‘me-month’.  A really cool idea – and a great marketing ploy. 

Back to the concept though. What are we really saying to that person whose birthday it is?  Are we happy that they are another year older? Are they happy?  

Do they want to celebrate their entry into this crazy life?  Or is it enough to just wish that they have a special day?

Shouldn’t every day be special? Well life is short – make sure it is good. This is in our own hands. 

I remember on my birthday a few years ago, I was feeling a bit bereft just because I waited all day without getting any birthday greetings on Facebook- of all places. It turned out that day was the day Facebook went down!  Shock and horror!  I felt neglected, even invisible to my family and friends.  Then I thought – what is so important about recognition? 

It had me wondering why I felt I had to rely on that social media platform to feel remembered and valued?  Why? Am I not enough for myself?  Why do we need validation? Am I so egocentric that it must be all about me?

Should I worry about what others may or may not think about me?  Or get upset if they don’t even appear to think about me at all? Which is worse – to be not thought of or to think that no-one cares enough to acknowledge another year’s living?

And yet, a simple act of acknowledgement is all it takes to make a person feel loved.

Note to self: Remember to remember others’ birthdays and make  the time to do this with meaningful words not just the trite ‘happy birthday’.  Make someone else feel that special feeling. 

Update:

But today really is my birthday and I have been out to lunch at Havelock with friends and then back home to a scrumptious dinner of rainbow trout and creamed mushrooms  and a delicious red wine.

 And I got a singing ‘happy birthday message’ from my grandchildren – and yes lots of facebook messages too.  I feel special all over again if yet another year older – which is of course a privilege in itself.

Life’s for Living – Every. Single. Day.