No more excuses

No more excuses. No more procrastination. It is Monday after all – and I always start a diet or exercise plan on a Monday. Heehee. No matter that I usually give up on Tuesday- but this time ( at least for a week or two) I will persevere. 


I have just returned home after three weeks jaunting around the South Island NZ in our caravan. We did some pleasant and easy walks. We ate several dinners out and drank copious wine too. Unsurprisingly I realized that I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was. 


My excuse; Having spent the last 9 -10 weeks with my arm in a sling following rotator cuff tendon repair surgery, my fitness level and balance has declined somewhat. Sooooo – here I go again. 


I looked tentatively at that Exercycle covered in dust and cobwebs. It made me feel guilty as it sat neglected in the corner. 


No excuses left. I pulled it out to the centre of the room and plugged it in. Then I actually climbed aboard and switched it on. ‘I’ll just do 5 km,’ I thought to myself. Well,  10km and 30 minutes later,  I switched it off and just like that  my first small step was done. 


Maybe I’ll even dust it tomorrow before I have another go. I think the spiders vacated their cobwebs when I started pedalling. 

#WQWWC #13 – Fair or Not Fair?

This week’s topic for Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays is fairness, equal, eqitable, just or the counter point “Unfair!” Merriam Webster defines fairness three ways: impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination, having light-colored hair or a pale complexion, and beauty.
This is my response. 

OVERHEARD

“It’s not fair.  It’s so not fair!  Sooooo not fair! Not fair!  Totally not fair!” “I don’t  have any – where’s mine?”

I don’t even have to say which grandchild this was. Except she is super cute, gorgeous and very dramatic. But it did make  me wonder what was so ‘not fair’?  ls it life or just our reaction to it?  Is it just one of life’s little disappointments?  Or is it much much more?

What is fair?  What does it feel like? How do we teach fairness?

What if we said – “Life is not fair nor equitable so what can or should we do about it?

I remember the “equity vs equality”workshops I attended in my educator days. Examples of historical injustices were difficult topics to explore let alone acknowledge. There were such interesting yet challenging debates across the room.
“We are not responsible for the bad decisions and atrocious actions of our ancestors” was regularly heard as attendees grappled with the harsh truths they were hearing. 

And yet, aren’t we all both beneficiaries and victims of those past societal wrongs?  We live in societies formed for mutual support and protection. Whatever happened to that?? Whatever happened to taking individual responsibility for the benefit of community?

Should we still be enjoying the privileges that came to us because of the colour of our skin or the geographical location of our birthplace? Shouldn’t we have evolved to be better than those that went  before?  We have better education and more knowledge these days. 

History could teach us lessons if only we are prepared to suspend judgement and learn from the lessons of the past.If individuals would take some self responsibility.  Would that help?

Social justice should mean that some need,  and get, more equitable opportunities than others. Yet still, all peoples are not equal.

 What can be done to acknowledge and rectify the wrongs of social injustice and unfairness?

Do we start by teaching the children – or do we need to unlearn our own prejudices first? 

QUOTE:

Children learn what they live.
If a child lives with criticism... they learn to condemn.
If they live with hostility…they learn to fight.
If they live with ridicule… they learn to be shy.
If they live with shame...they learn to be guilty.
If they live with tolerance... they learn confidence.
If they live with praise... they learn to appreciate.
If they live with fairness... they learn about justice


Dorothy Nolte

SundayStills – Feb 7 – Fallen Behind

Fallen behind

I’ve fallen behind – having shoulder surgery will do that! Currently typing with my left-hand. The next 8 weeks in a sling will be challenging. 

Fall – although we call it Autumn down under. 

Autumn/Fall

Falling apart 

Falling Apart

Fallen down – and the rain was falling. No wonder that sheep looked at me like I’m crazy

Fallen down

Falling off – the diet – recovering from surgery means taking painkillers = eating comfort food to protect stomach lining = best excuse for balancing the diet ever!

Balancing the diet

SundayStills 2021 – my favourite #Landscapes from around the world

Croatia landscapes:

Such happy travel memories of our Croatian trip.Plitvice lakes and Krka waterfalls – so many water-scapes and waterfalls.  Walking alongside, walking across, around and above the waterfalls was a magical experience.  Water, water everywhere.  

“Plitviče Lakes National Park is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. It’s known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water.

And when we got to Krka we could swim close to the waterfalls. How lucky were we to have this experience when we visited in 2018. 

2020 was the final year in which visitors to Krka National Park were able to swim in Skradinski Buk, the largest and most-popular water asset situated there. From January 2021, the practice of swimming in this section of the park has been banned.

“Krka National Park is situated along the Krka River in southern Croatia. It’s known for a series of 7 waterfalls.  Skradinski buk is one of the most attractive parts of the park. It is a massive, clear, natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. It is the lowest of the three sets of waterfalls formed along the Krka river.  In an area 400 m in length and 100 m in width there are 17 waterfalls and the total difference in height between the first and the last falls is 47.7 m. 

Swedish landscapes

Where my Swedish family live in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Sweet memories of our most recent overseas trip in 2018 – who knows when we will return?

NZ landscapes
A little closer to home – these images of the South Island of New Zealand are special to me as a ‘mainlander’. Taken over several road trips around the South Island in differing seasons, each has been a particular highlight.

Aoraki, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo- the magical mountains and lakes of the Mackenzie region. 
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet). It lies in the Southern alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island.”

Hurunui Hinterland – we explored the Hurunui River from the source at Lake Sumner, a remote high country lake through the hinterland and Canterbury Plains to the Culverden basin and thence to the coastline of the Pacific. 

“The Hurunui River is one of the most diverse braided rivers in Canterbury. It has two main branches, each with distinctive attributes originating east of the Main Divide in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Some 150km long, the total catchment area of the river is 2671 km2.”

My last image has to be an especially favourite landscape though – it is the point of light at the end of the beach where I live.  No matter how far I’ve travelled,  there is no landscape like the one I live in – at home.

And that is the point of this post.

The Point of light – Ohingaroa Bay

Life’s for Living – Every.Single.Day – Adventure #1, 2021

In keeping with my ‘Life’s for Living – Every.Single.Day’ plan, today we went on an adventure. The skies were cloudy although the weather report was for a sunny day.  Intrepidly, we launched the boats and off we puttered across the Sounds.  Rounding the point we encountered choppy waves so we headed behind the mussel farms seeking smooth waters. 

A couple of splashes of rain sprinkled upon us then suddenly it stopped and out came the sun.
We cruised in and out the mussel farms, around the bays and coves, past a shag colony and a couple of rustic boat sheds.Every man and his kid were out fishing. Family fun in and on the water. Kids were swimming, some were paddling kayaks, and  others were just strolling on the little beaches. It was just like Camp Granada.


Aaah- summer living in the great outdoors.

Eventually we arrived at our destination – Fernside is a cute little bay with a picnic table.  Our friends had bought a bottle of bubbly wine. That was a nice touch which went well with our corned beef and mustard sandwiches. We chatted and relaxed in the sunshine. Along came a weka and its baby. It appeared that they loved the cupcake wrappers and the cucumber slices.  A couple of apricots too and their feast was done. And so was ours. The bubbly wine was supped, the sandwiches were eaten.

 The tide turned and it was time for us to return.  Time to pull up the anchor and start the motor. Oops!  The motor was flooded. It wouldn’t start. First rule of boating- always start the motor before the anchor is hoisted. Hmmm. Minutes later, the motor burst into life and blue smoke belched across the sea. We were homeward bound.

The choppy waves had calmed but then we rounded Putananui point. On the home stretch we had to leave the lee shore and splash our way across the Mahau Sound. Salty wet splashed spectacles and soaked to the skin, we arrived back at the beach.

Within a half hour, the boat was washed, the motor flushed and the boat , trailer and tractor were back in our own boatshed.

The adventure was over.

SundayStills – Color Challenge: Glacier Blue

Yay – A chance to reminisce about glaciers I have visited.


1990:

My first glacier visit was during a work trip to the West Coast of New Zealand.  Back then we could actually walk to the face of the Franz Joseph Glacier. My colleague and I had travelled on the Sunday so we could spend some time exploring before starting work on the Monday. That was such great experience and one never to be repeated since it became too hazardous to get up close and personal to the glacial wall due to the high rate of retreat- and a couple of unfortunate injury  incidents due to falling ice.

2017:

On a South Island road trip, we stopped off at a viewpoint to marvel at Fox Glacier. Viewing made easier by following a short gravel road to a handy carpark.  Fortuitously, there was no cloud cover and we got this spectacular view.

Fox Glacier – 2017

2020:

What an adventure we had on our trip to Tasman Glacier.  

“The Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier in New Zealand and a must-see natural wonder in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.  The short walk to the Tasman Glacier view point is approximately 40 minutes’ return. The view from the overlook takes in spectacular scenes of Aoraki Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, as well as the lower Tasman Glacier, vast terminal lake and its mighty icebergs.

Climbing up Tasman Glacier view track to view the Glacier was a bit of a challenge for me.  The sign clearly said a 15 minute walk but it took me a much longer than that. Luckily I had my hiking stick with me to support my knees. ‘ Up with the good and down with the bad’ is what they had suggested after my knee replacement surgery a few years back so I decided this was the way to ascend those steps. My operated knee is now my good one as the right knee is also deteriorating so up I went one step at a time. No wonder it took me awhile.

Everyone who was heading back down told me “it is not too much further and worth it for the view” – this as I was  struggling up the 550+ rock steps.

They were right – it was worth it.

Three trips to the glaciers in 30 years. Maybe next time I will do a helicopter flight instead?

2020 – My reflections and favourite images

January  

It was all about balance. In 2020 I was determined  to find a better balance in my life. It began well when I found this balanced rock sculpture.

It is all a bout Balance

February 

The weather was warm. We enjoyed the ‘Music in the Mountains’ rally immensely. Lots of rock music to dance to, jam sessions amongst the vans, friendly fellow campers (650 caravans and motor homes)  and a swimming pool to cool off in.

March

March started off so well.   I celebrated my 70th birthday with my NZ family and friends and was almost overwhelmed by an extra special unexpected  surprise visit from my Swedish son. He travelled 4 days to stay only 6 days before rushing back to Sweden before Covid closed borders. Birthday celebrations were wonderful surrounded by family and friends. And the very next day,  I captured my WWM – world wide minute at 5.47pm  “Smile and the world smiles with you”

10 days later,  on 25th March, NZ went into Level 4 lockdown.  That was a shock to us all. Was this the beginning of the end of the world as we knew it?  2 days later, It was a very quiet 49th wedding anniversary celebration for us. Up early the very next day we drove the quiet roads to the pharmacy to queue for our flu vaccines. Our first experience of masks and hand sanitiser.

Time passed slowly in lockdown however that was not such a bad thing. It gave me spare time to think about and work on my dream to start a blog. Photographing the light,  creative writing and  life stories – it was about time to get started and stop procrastinating. 

Lightwritelife was underway – in my mind at least. It was to take a few more months to publish my first post. Many evenings were spent researching, discovering blogs to follow, practicing some writing exercises, and searching my photo archives. 

April

In the meantime, I played around with a variety of photography techniques. Light painting has often intrigued me and I have tried a few methods. This time I enlisted my friendly neighbour and her daughter as the twilight descended. Social distancing between our respective bubbles was a bit tricky at times as the excitement grew.

May 

Still life flashlight  painting whilst still moving back down through Covid-19 levels. As part of my life stories writing preparation, I had found some family treasures so I used them as still-life light painting subjects.

June 

Winter was suddenly upon us so with just one last cloudy, moody sunset, it was time to head indoors – besides which our home renovations began in earnest – no time or energy to use my camera so I took the opportunity to edit some of my photo archives in the evenings instead.

I also launched my blog – exciting and nervous times.

Moody sunset

July 

Composite editing. My  first writing prompt “The page where the heart speaks words” fitted so well with my first attempts at composite editing.

"When the heart starts beating rapidly it is time. 
Don’t think about what others might think, just speak. 
Believe that the words will come.”
Freedom to dream

August 

At last we could take a break from the hard work this building project had become and we headed off to Christchurch to celebrate the 1st birthday for our 7th grandchild. It was such a joy to be part of his dinosaur party celebrations. His sister had missed her 4th birthday party due to lockdown so  it was a double  celebration.

A feast for dinosaurs

September

Forever grateful to the ‘team of five million’ led so ably by Jacinda Adern’s government. It was time to start our delayed trip down South.

My cousin celebrated their 50th Golden wedding anniversary – I was humbled yet elated to be asked to take photos.

Bridal attire – Golden wedding anniversary

A week of dinner parties with (my) girl cousins and their partners followed. Such fun to be part of their extended families too.

We were intent on exploring in our own beautiful country – well the South Island at least. Re-discovering Aoraki/Mt Cook, Tasman glacier icebergs, Milky way, astrophotography,  caravanning and salmon fishing in the Ohau canals with (his) cousins. I was back in my happy place – camera in hand.

After an awesome 6 weeks away, we returned to find the renovation pixies had not completed our home renovations in our absence – oh well it was back to the building tools and daily struggles.

October 

Our friends invited us to Golden Bay for a few days – it was so awesome to revisit some of our favourite places, camera in hand once again. Golden Bay really is Golden and Green –  and every colour in between.

November/December

Nearing completion of the total transformation, it was down to the wire as we were still cleaning up the newly glued vinyl tiles as our family arrived on Christmas Eve.

More family arrived as did their in-laws and friends – it was tent and caravan city at ours!  It seemed by each meal-time the numbers multiplied – starting at 4 adults and 2 grandkids for Christmas dinner, until suddenly we had 14 adults and 12 kids by News Year’s Eve.


After a tumultuous year it was a good omen to witness a full moon arising at 11.30pm, News Year’s Eve – and fireworks!

And so we farewelled 2020 and welcomed 2021. 

My 2021 pledge to myself:


Capture the light  –   every. single. day….. 

Write some words –  every. single. day….. 

Life’s for living – every.single.day…..

Art-ache and pain

Super Moon
A wearable work of art
Once again I lie awake pondering 
Is it just another sleepless and restless lunar night? 
It must be a full moon. 

Is it the thoughts rattling around in my brain. 
Or the pain in my shoulder again?

Popping painkillers  might ease the aches  but what to do about my sore heart?

I’m feeling bereft and saddened. 
What can I do to be happy again?
And then this morning- I found this quote .....


"Art, undeniably, is conductive to happiness.”   Unknown

Now I know why I must do. Return to my art - ASAP 

I’m looking forward to 2021 and moving forward with my photographic art.

Total transformation

It started during our nation-wide  lockdown over March, April and May 2020.  This crazy idea that we could renovate our laundry and bathroom ourselves. What were we thinking? Clearly our crazy thoughts were in response to this crazy Covid-19 pandemic.

Tomorrow is just another day
Unless my world ends when
Viruses come out to play 
What a crazy game that would be…

And just like the virus, it has created some unexpected casualties. (More about that later)
Spending time in isolation within the same four walls lead to bouts of boredom  interspersed with wild fantasies  about future proofing our lives as we grow older and our bodies become more decrepit!

 Why not take that hot water cylinder out? We could get rid of the header tanks in the roof cavity. We could remove the warm nesting places for the resident rats. No longer would we hear their skittering feet tramping above in the ceiling. Whilst we were thinking about removing the hot water cylinder, we decided to replace it with gas water heating. That would reduce our power bill and be an economic benefit to our budget. Why waste electricity keeping litres of water hot when a simple gas califont could provide instant hot water at the turn of the tap?

Of course removing the hot water cylinder meant we didn’t need those plumbing pipes in the ceiling and walls. The whole system would have to be removed.  Let’s simply take the ceiling down and the wall linings off. Out with it all!

We need to remove that old pink bath with its low pressure shower. It will be much safer than stepping into a bath to take a shower. Lets move the vanity too. Why not switch the bathroom door with the laundry door?  That should be simple enough. It is time for a new white toilet and that old pink handbasin will certainly have to go too.

New Zealand’s nation-wide lockdown was moved down to Alert Level 1 on 8 June and at last the shops were open again. And so began the first of our many trips to the local hardware stores. Our DIY delights were just beginning. 

Plans were made, budgets were set and then we started the demolition. Why did I not realise that this would be very physical work?  Out came the cupboard walls, shelves and wall linings. Down came the ceiling, the pink batts and the rat carcasses. Up and down the stairs we trekked, carting out the rubbish, filling up the first of many trailers with assorted bits of plumbing, scraps of wall and ceiling boards.

There were Difficult Days – lots and lots of difficult days.
“Every day is a new day”. she reminded herself. Just  because  the last few weeks had been filled with difficult days did not mean that there wasn’t to be an end to them.  

She could finally see the light at the end of the building  project tunnel. All that was needed now was the final plastering and painting part of the project before the vinyl tiles can be laid. 

Whilst she did enjoy the painting, the  preparation was the trickiest and most challenging part of the process.  It was a bit like the ‘soot’ storm she had endured when the gas califont got choked up with soot.  The technician had purged the system but none of the men present had thought to shut the house doors so prevent the soot from infiltrating through every room in the house, bathroom included!
She had been absent when that ‘soot storm’ had struck.  She had struggled with the monumental  clean up from that spectacular catastrophe. Now a mere few weeks later, she had the ‘white clouds’ of the plaster sandstorm to contend with.

Donning the dust mask was another new experience for her.  She hoped the mask would protect her sensitive ashmatic lungs as she swept yet another pile of dust and dirt. But hopefully that would be the final test of these difficult days.  

We suffered from Alternate Deficiencies:

We take turns, him and me

One day he is ‘hard’ of hearing
I call It selective deafness,
The next day, it’s my turn to say “pardon, what did you say?”

One of us is suffering and complaining about knee pain, the other one of us just soldiers on with shoulder pain until the job is done.  Alternately, we commiserate and share, 
“Pass the anti inflammatory ointment please” 

The builder and the apprentice (aka the go-for) have long and meaningful conversations about tools. 

When is a drill a bit or a drill?
Do you want the power drill, the battery drill or the bit that goes in it?”

Deficient explanations alternate with unclear requests. What’s a ‘go-for’ to do?

“Where is my….?" ( insert any type of building equipment/ tools in here)
Let’s start with the builders pencil.  It is always ‘where you left it’

Or maybe that ever elusive tape measure, or the hammer, or the pliers- “ no, not that one - I meant the multi grips- um no….. Get the Size 8 crescent.  And just where is my chisel? "

Is there ever a stupid question? 
Or is the only stupid question the one that isn’t asked? 

At the end of a long hard day building, 
we sit and analyze the alternate deficiencies of each,
Over a glass  (or 2) of wine and a bottle (or 2) of beer.

Remember I said we started this project in June?  Now here it is mid December and there has been a total transformation.

Not just the renovations. Whilst the bathroom, laundry and toilet have undergone a total transformation,  so too have those potentially ageing bodies we had been preparing for.  

Unexpected Casualties included: 

Already arthritic knees now compete with calf muscle aches and strains,  Torn rotator cuff muscles in urgent need of surgical treatment. Weight gain due to lots of medicinal wine, beer and fast food in addition to those Covid comfort calories. Bruised and strained bodies on a daily basis.

 Accidental injuries:

  1. I didn’t intend to jam his fingers in the door. 
  2. He didn’t mean to leave that spiked wood in the way of my forehead. 
  3. I really tried to hold the ladder steady, and that tape measure, and that ceiling gib board but my shoulder stopped working so I had to. 

And what have we got in return?  

  1. An empty bank balance.
  2. A sense of satisfaction. 
  3. A lovely fresh bathroom with plenty of storage and instant hot water in the new shower. 
  4. A neat laundry tub with drawers and a comfortable new loo too.
  5. And that new flooring looks good enough to eat off. It sure makes a change from eating sanding dust and ‘famous last words’.


What have we learnt? 

  1. Never do this again! 
  2. We were already way too old and decrepit to do such hard building stuff. 
  3. Relationships and bodies take a real hammering when doing DIY.

Our vocabulary became punctuated with swear words. The neighbors noticed. Their response was to bring us wine, beer and platters.  “Tools down” they would command us  almost as forcefully as we sounded off to each other.

Maybe one day we will look back with fondness on how well we worked together as we completed this total transformation. Maybe pigs will fly?

I wonder if there is a vaccine to prevent this geriatric foolishness disease from being caught ever again? 

Three things challenge #455

It’s official. I have a creak in my shoulder socket.
It’s not quite a soft  tissue injury. It’s not one but two full tears and  one partial tear in the rotator cuff muscles. It is very painful especially at night.

I knew I shouldn’t have gotten onto that ebike. I wasn’t keen at the time but I got ‘ encouraged’ by my friend. That’s when the troubles began. 

Months later, one day the wind was gusting too strongly for me to hold the caravan door. Another tear in a different rotator cuff muscle.

 The last straw was when I crash landed my broomstick as I arrived at the Halloween themed pub quiz night in full witch regalia. I fell through the door someone opened unexpectedly just as I grabbed the handle. That was an embarrassing and painful entrance. The only consolation is that our coven of witches won the quiz that night.

So here I am, awaiting shoulder surgery sometime within the next few months. Pill-popping is now the order of the day – and night.  And I have given up riding broomsticks and e-bikes.

Beware the broomstick