Monday, 29 September 2008

Goodbye Bikers, Welcome Back Sleep !!!!!

Now don't get me wrong, I do like motorcycles. A number or years ago, back in New Zealand, I even used to ride one. Okay, it was just a little Kawasaki 125 and not a Harley, but nevertheless, I once was a biker!

My little bike looked a little like this. However, it was blue, a lot older and not as flash. I got it when the twins were about 18 months old and walked outside one day, to find both of them sitting on it !! They were both really fascinated by that bike.

For the last week, we, in this area, have been host to STREET VIBRATIONS , a huge rally for motorcycle enthusiasts, mainly Harley owners. There were about an estimated 30,000 bikes participating, this year.

Life becomes *interesting* during that week, for us permanent inhabitants. You can recognise us, especially those of us unfortunate enough to live next to or within earshot of the various venues or the main street, by the matchsticks that we are using to prop our eyelids open during the day.

Many of the Harley owners, that come to town, are Doctors, Lawyers, Judges and other *Pillars Of The Community*. But, for a week, in Reno, they can indulge their wildest fantasies and become 'Bad Boys' and .....

Some of them discovered the speed ramps on the new parking garage at the Peppermill Casino. You can just make out the aforementioned ramps to the left of this photo that I grabbed off the net. They thought it was fun to noisily blat up and down them AT 2 AM IN THE MORNING !! I'd also like to mention, that I live almost directly across from said parking garage !

On Saturday, I went for a walk, with the intention of getting photos of some of the bikes and the bikers. Many of the bikes are beautifully detailed and many of the bikers are weirdly outfitted. Can make for some interesting photos.

Sadly, most of the venues have been moved downtown. In recent years, both the Peppermill and Atlantis casinos, hosted venues, but for whatever reason, did not this year. I wasn't going to venture downtown as it would have been way to crowded.

The local Hell's Angels chapter, also had a booth down here and I would have been too tempted, to stand near it and loudly ask prospective buyers if they realised that they would probably be contributing to David Burgess's legal fund. I thought, that for the sake of my health, it best to not risk that particular temptation.

So I just wandered around locally to see what I could find...

First I found proof that bikes could save on parking space ....

Then I noticed this bunch heading up Virginia St. The original reason for taking this photo, was to illustrate the probably vain hope, that the City Fathers would pour some of the revenue they gain from this event, into providing footpaths. One of the quirks of Reno, is that footpaths will suddenly end for no reason and then appear again a block or so away. This is on the main drag in Reno. One would think that you'd have a continuous footpath all the way up.

I turned around and walked back the other way and as I was waiting to cross Plumb Lane, a biker pulled up beside me and offered me a ride. I peered at him over the top of my sunglasses and politely declined. I've heard stories about what happens to ladies who hop on the back of strange bikes! :-) Just kidding ... well half kidding.

He then complemented me on the way my , current, red hair, glinted in the sun and again invited me to hop on his bike. Again I declined and he rode off into the sun. I didn't get a photo of him..

I guess, at 57, I still have it (tongue firmly implanted in cheek). :-) Though he was bit of an old dude....

Then I came across these three bikes. They rather reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Poppa Bear's bike, Mama Bear's bike and Baby Bear's bike.

The littlest bike was rather cute. But I did seriously wonder about the existence of the parent's brains who must be letting their kid ride around on one of these. Though at least there was a helmet sitting on the seat.

Then there was a loud squeaking and creaking of leathers from behind me and the owners of the bikes arrived. Probably wanting to check out why I was taking photos. I was most relieved to see that the Three Bears consisted of a three adults, a man, a woman who was just a little taller than me and a little woman. The small bike belonged to her. I briefly though about asking if they would mind if I took a photo, because their leathers were quite impressive, but then I though that might not be too PC, specially since they were kind of glaring at me.

But now, until at least next year, they've gone and sleep is once again welcomed home .....

Saturday, 27 September 2008

It's Saturday!!!

I'm off to take a walk and get some photos for my next rant...

In the meantime, I'll leave you with some of my favourite commercials from NZ.

A little tug at the heart strings ...

A couple of bulls, on the prowl ... (a little bit racy)

The Toyota 'Bugger' ad ... (has a swear word in it, but really not seen as that, over there)

Where would you be without your Grizzly ?

A blast from the past and Stubbies ... (and it ain't a beer can)

Dear John (this one has memories, as it was filmed near where I lived, Wellington ,NZ. I remember seeing some of the action)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Friday Foto Finish Fiesta - Frustrated Fotographer :-)

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm a bit of a frustrated, wannabe, photographer.

I'm definitely on a learning curve. I often find beauty in all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Sometimes, what I see with my eye translates well through my camera lens and other times what I'm trying to convey flies wide of the mark.

I was playing around with the settings on my camera, a small HP Photosmart that J gave me for Xmas a couple of years ago, snapping candid photos of Taylor, who I think was getting a little bored with the whole exercise. Especially, I think, with my calls of 'Taylor, look at me. I was interrupting her viewing of 'Hannah Montana' , you see ...

Anyway, these are a couple of shots that I caught. I was using the sepia setting and I then 'spotlighted' the photo, which darkens the background and highlights her face.

I rather like the effect. Her Mum, thought she looked a bit sad... (Well, if someone was firing a flashy thing off in your face, while you were trying to watch HM, then you might look a bit sad too :-) .. )

I think she looks a bit pensive. She has that 'Not again, I'm trying to concentrate!' look.

What do you all think? Constructive criticism gratefully received !! :-)

Feelings ...

I was reading this post today on Debbie's blog and it got me thinking.

I've been thinking a lot lately, about the direction I want my blog to go in or even if I want it to go in a direction. Or, gasp, if I even wanted to continue blogging.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that yes, I did want to keep blogging. I've met some neat people online and I'd miss them if I gave this up. :-)

So that left me wondering what I wanted to do with this space of mine online.

Originaly, I think I sort of started off with the idea of using it to post my favourite recipes and give family and friends, back home in NZ , a look into what I was doing.

Then it started to morph into a weight loss blog, but that wasn't really what I wanted either. For me, there was only so much I could say about that particular journey of mine, which, incidentally, I've started on again. From time to time I'll share about it and the weight loss progress tracker is back up again.

However, there is so much more to me than just that. Which brings me to what I think I've been struggling with over the last couple of months. I had a sort of 'Eureka!' moment in the bath this morning, after reading Debbie's post. It's okay, I didn't frighten the neighbours by doing an Archimedes, nor was I tempted to :-) I was completely cured of that by this moment I once had, courtesy of my middle son and a couple of Mormon Missionaries.

I hadn't really been sure as to where I fit in the blogasphere or even, to a certain extent, IRL. In fact, I think the real life one, is something that I've been struggling with for a long time.

What I realised this morning, was that I don't have to fit in anywhere. I can be who I am.

I detest being pigeon holed. For most of my life, I've been some body's something. I've been my parent's child, my husband's wife, my kid's mother and so on. Don't get me wrong, I've been proud to be most of those, especially the last two. However, there was always this little voice inside me, that was asking, 'What about me ?' 'Does anybody see me ?' 'Is this all there is ?' To a certain extent I felt guilty for feeling that way. It seemed easier to be what people wanted me to be and not rock the boat.

I've also struggled to come to terms with past abuse. That's coloured a lot of my life and the way I feel and react to things.

From now on, I'm going to celebrate the me who is evolving. There is the rebel. There is the activist. There is the person who genuinely cares about people. There is the frustrated writer and photographer. The wild child. The strong sense of humour, that has probably helped keep my sanity. The cook. The wise woman and so on.

Which brings me full circle back to my blog. I want my blog to reflect all that. To reflect all that makes me, who I am ...

I think that makes sense, does it not ?

I found this video on You Tube that epitomises a lot of how I feel. It shows the strong women of one of my favourite shows 'SG1' and also a song that I feel very connected to ...

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Look What Arrived In The Mail

I'm like a little kid, I love receiving mail. Well, not so much bills, but mail from friends and acquaintances ... you know what I mean.:-)

I think that in some ways it's a shame that letter writing and card sending has been taken over by email and other computer fueled ways of communication. In many ways it seems less personal ...

Suzanne at AT HOME WITH THE FARMER"S WIFE hosts a POSTCARD PROJECT whenever she pops off on vacation. That's something else that I'm still getting used to saying, 'Going on Vacation' instead of 'Going on Holiday'. But I digress ....

The idea is that you send her your mailing address and she sends you a postcard from wherever she may be....

Yesterday, I received this in the mail...

Thank you ever so much, Suzanne !!! It was much appreciated. :-)

Ahhhhhh ... summer holidays .....

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Anzac Biscuits

As long as I have lived here in the US, I just cannot get used to calling biscuits ... cookies.

So, taking a line from George and Ira Gershwin .. 'You say cookies, I say biscuits.'

Which is my way of introducing a tasty treat from down under, 'Anzac Biscuits'.

Like the Pavlova, there are a number of stories around as to how Anzac Biscuits came to be and which country, NZ or Aussie, invented them.

The story that I was told, at my Grandmother's knee, was this....

Anzac biscuits evolved from traditional Scottish oatcakes. During World War 1, wives in New Zealand and Australia wanted some type of nutritional biscuit to send to their men, who were overseas fighting in the war.

Problem was, that whatever was sent, usually had to go by Merchant Navy ships, that travelled very slowly. As a result, the baked goods needed to be something that would not spoil.

A group of women came up with the idea for a biscuit made from butter, flour, golden syrup, coconut and sugar. Once baked, they were packed into air tight tins and shipped off to the men serving at the front.

Originally they were called 'Soldiers Biscuits'. After Gallipoli Campaign the name was changed to Anzac Biscuits.

I use golden syrup in this recipe. In the US, you can find it at many International food stores. Some supermarkets also stock it, Here in Reno, I've found Lyle's Golden Syrup at Cost Plus World Market and Smith's Supermarket. You can also buy it online, including at Amazon. just type in ' Lyle's Golden Syrup '.

Golden Syrup is made by evaporating sugar cane juice until it becomes a thick, sweet golden syrup. It's used as a sweetener in Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and other countries with ties to the British Commonwealth. We also use it in cooking and baking. It's great spread over a hot, buttered, English Crumpet .

You can substitute, honey or a syrup made with equal parts of honey and light karo syrup. It won't taste the same though ...

This is my version of Anzac biscuits.

Chocolate Chip Raisin Anzac Biscuits

1 stick (1/4 cup) + 2 tbsps butter
2 tblsps golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup dessicated (shredded) coconut
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp hot water
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

Melt butter and golden syrup together, over a low heat. Do not boil. Put aside to cool a little.

Mix sugar, flour, coconut, raisins and chocolate chips together in a bowl.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. Mix the baking soda mixture in with the butter and golden syrup. You don't want to do this when the butter and golden syrup is still really hot as it may foam out of the pot. You want it to foam a little. Don't worry if it doesn't though.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the butter mixture in. Mix ingredients together. You want to end up with a firm but moist mixture. If it's too dry, add a little more melted butter.

Drop in teaspoonful lots onto a baking tray. I'm using a silicone baking mat in the photo, which explain the blue colour :-) You can be generous with the teaspoonfuls.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a golden brown. The biscuits will spread out somewhat.

Take out of the oven and leave on baking tray until the biscuits have firmed up a bit. They will fall apart if you try to remove them immediately.

Leave them on a cooling rack till they are cold. They will crisp up as they cool.

Once biscuits have cooled, put them in an airtight container so that they stay crisp.

Makes about 34.

Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

It's Ne-VA-duh, Darn It !!!!!!!

Welcome to Nevada, fellow BATW travellers!!! This State has been my home since Christmas Day 1994. I'm originally from a little country down under, called New Zealand.

One of the first things you need to know about Nevada, is how to pronounce it. The mispronunciation of Nevada, is a sore subject to many Nevadans, as President Bush, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, to name a few, have found out. So for those of you who intend to visit Nevada and don't want to sound like a tourist, here's the correct pronunciation.....

Okay then, everybody got that? Lets move on with the tour ...

Nevada has so many faces and contrasts, it really hard to know what to write about, so if it's okay with you all, I'll just ramble along.

There is the beauty of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains, with their ski resorts, such as Mt Rose and Heavenly. Lake Tahoe is shared between Nevada and California. Which leads to situations like the Cal-Neva casino, that has the State Line running through the middle of it. As a result, gambling is legal on the NV side of the casino but not on the CA side.

Nevada's deserts are also spectacular. Black Rock desert, part of the extended playa of prehistoric Lake Lahontan, plays host to BURNING MAN every Labour day holiday. It's also claimed to be the flattest place on earth and because of this, it is ideal for experimental vehicles.The World Land Speed record was broken here, in 1997.

Sand Springs Desert is just out of Fallon, on the stretch of US 50 that runs through Nevada and is known as 'America's Loneliest Highway'. Here you find SAND MOUNTAIN , a popular pace for off road vehicles. There is also the burnt out remains of Salt Wells Villa, one of Nevada's brothels. This brothel was a popular red light stop for the Top Gun airmen from Fallon Air Naval Station, plus some of the local law enforcement officers. The brothel was almost burnt down about 30 years ago, when the wife of the local Sheriff, fed up with her husband's visits to the ladies, threw a Molotov cocktail through the front door.

This stretch of US 50, that runs from Fallon to the NV/Utah border and roughly parallels the old Pony Express Trail, is rich in history . As well as Indian Petroglyphs, ghost towns, historic cemeteries, it also has these beehive structures.

They are charcoal ovens and you will find them in Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park. They were built in 1876 to produce high quality charcoal for the silver smelters in Ward, NV. They closed down around 1879, however a use was still found for them. They provided shelter for prospectors and stock men during inclement weather. The story is that they also were used as hideouts by stagecoach bandits.

Nevada is also the State of Wedding Chapels, they are everywhere. In Nevada, it is very easy to get married, as Britney Spears discovered. The marriage licence counter at the local courthouse is open 24 hours and there is no wait period for a licence and no blood tests.

It's probably a bit of a misnomer to call them 'Chapels', in Reno anyway. Many of them are just store fronts, with a glitzy sign over the door and wedding paraphernalia in the windows.

If it takes your fancy, you can have Elvis marry you. Well his impersonator, that is. After you have tied the not, he will even croon a love ballad to you. 'Love me tender , Love me true, All my dreams fulfilled, For my darlin' I love you, And I always will '. Sorry,was getting carried away with The King there. Now where was I ? Right, weddings....
Now, I know you've all experienced drive thru's at the bank, the fast food outlet, etc, but how about a drive thru wedding? You drive up to the window, pay your money, say your vows, get pronounced man and wife and Elvis drives you off into married bliss.
Or you can ride up on your motorcycle ....
Or you can ride a bicycle built for five, with Elvis providing pedal power at the back....

Can't really end the tour without a few facts about Nevada.

Nevada became the 36th State of the Union on October 31st, 1864. The myth is that it's gold and silver production was needed to finance the Civil War, so it's admission was rushed through. The fact is, that Abraham Lincoln needed NV to be a State to enable his reelection and also to help ratify the 13th Amendment.

Nevada is home to Ellis Air force Base and Area 51. The Government, however, denies the existence of Area 51, even though it's pretty obvious that there is a secret installation there. The Air force has said that it operates a facility at Groom Lake, but that it's secret and they can't talk about it. Groom Lake is where Area 51 is supposedly located. Draw your own conclusions. :-)

The State animal is the Bighorn sheep. The State flower is the Sagebrush.

The US Government owns approxiamatly 80 % of Nevada, which is okay, because it's all desert anyway! The rest of us 2.5 million + Nevadans live on the rest of it.

Which brings me to Reno, where I live .....

Reno calls itself 'The Biggest Little City'. See, it says it right there on the arch that spans Virginia St, which is our version of Las Vegas's Freemont St. We are not quite as glittery as our bigger brother down at the other end of Nevada. However, that's a good thing.

We have our own brand of fun. There is ART TOWN , THE BEST IN THE WEST RIB COOKOFF , HOT AUGUST NIGHTS and this week STREET VIBRATIONS .

There's also the Reno Balloon Races. The Dawn Patrol and Dawn Glow are something else. very magical and worth getting up at three in the morning.

Well, that is a brief tour of where I live. Hope you all enjoyed it !! Do come back soon :-)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Hairy Airport Landings....

Landing at Wellington International Airport, in NZ, can be *interesting* at times.

The airport is on a narrow isthmus between the *mainland* and what was once an island, before a major earthquake, in the 1800's, joined them together. In the 50's a rather insane decision, was made by the city fathers, to place Wellington's airport on the isthmus. It was finally opened in 1959 after a major engineering and reclamation effort.

Wellington is not known as 'The Windy City' for nothing. At the airport you can get some strong wind gusts, especially side gusts. This makes for some spectacular take offs and landings. The wind problems are further compounded by the fact that the run ways are short. There is really no safety margin for mistakes at either end of the airport, just the sea. A pilot once told me that is you can land and take off from WIA, than you can land and takeoff anywhere.

I've been a passenger on flights, coming into Wellington, where the whole cabin has given the pilots a standing ovation,once we've landed ... it can be that hairy!! I also lived right next to he airport, so I had a ringside seat to some of the shenanigans. Despite all this, the airport has an extremely good safety record, which is a tribute to the flying skills of the pilots landing there..

This video was made by the airport's fire service. Shows their machines and some of their training. The last part of the video, from 2:26 onwards, shows some of the take offs and landings, that I'm talking about !!!

A near miss at WIA. Look how close to the ground the plane is, before the pilot aborts the landing . Been on one of those types of flights, as well !!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

The Week and GIVEAWAYS !!!

It's Saturday !!!! YAAAYYYYYYYY !!!

This week has been interesting.

My little Artful Dodger has, again, been on the deck, inspecting what we have out there . The last time, I was a little taken back to see that his Dad ??? was watching him. Hope we haven't got a Fagin situation developing here...

Had a really funny experience with Taylor and Lori, Taylor's Mum, on Thursday. I told her, Lori, that I was sooooooo going to blog about this one :-)

Every Thursday, I take Taylor to her Karate lesson after school. Then we go back to my place, where Lori picks her up after she's finished work, usually around 7:05 PM.

That's until last Thursday. About 7:15, I get this frantic call from Lori, telling me that she was on her way to pick up Taylor. I started to laugh and asked her, if she'd forgotten her. Apparently she had made it all the way home. Gone to the bathroom and glared at Taylor's clothes lying on the floor and muttered about her child's habits. Came back out into the kitchen and started talking to Taylor's Dad and then had a feeling that she'd forgotten something!!! :-)

I'm sure, that if we are all honest, we have all had experiences like this, especially after a stressful day. My daughter still reminds me of the time that I forgot her and her twin brother, after her netball practice and left them sitting outside the netball courts for about an hour !! So Lori, don't feel so bad. I've done worse ! :-)

The official pupil head count was held, at school on Thursday. As a result, we are now getting another Kindergarten teacher!!! About time too, as trying to teach a class of 30 + kids, many of whom have behaviour problems, do not speak or understand English or have limited knowledge and use of the language and are unable to write their own name or even use a pair of scissors correctly, is an almost impossible task at times, for the poor teachers.

On top of the volunteer work I do in the classroom, I've now been *suckered* into being the volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator. I'm actually quite excited about this, even though it's going to be extra work. I'll be working with the school's Parent Coordinator and she's pretty pumped up about the whole idea as well.

We're intending to put a volunteer training program in place as well as a recruiting drive. We also have plans to train parents in how best to help their kids with homework. What to work with them on, at home, so they can do well in the classroom. Simple things, like writing their name, using scissors the right way, holding a pencil, reading to them, etc. All these things can make a huge difference in teaching time in the classroom.

So I have some questions for you all ....

If you have volunteered at a school, what sort of things have you done? What would you have liked to have training in? Do you have any other suggestions comments?

If you are a teacher, how do you use volunteers in the classroom? What do you wish they were trained to do? What would you like to see in a program aimed at helping parents prepare and help their kids to succeed in the classroom? Any other suggestions or comments?

On to contests...

There are some exciting Giveaways taking place right now....

Those Saucy Ladies at SITS have a CONTEST going on right now for one of these ....

Click on the contest link to get the details. This is something that I could really, really use. Be very useful for school projects, etc !!! I have my fingers and toes very firmly crossed!!

Tiffany , has a Pay It Forward Contest on her personal blog, for one of these ...

Another awesome prize from a totally awesome lady !!! Click on the contest link to get the details, but you better hurry as the contest finishes today. I've been trying to find the time all week to do this post, but life has been a little hectic! I've actually been drooling over photo printers for awhile !

Phewwww ... that was a long post. If you made it to here, congratulation and I'll be back :-)

Thursday, 11 September 2008


I think that I will never forget where I was on this day, 7 years ago.

I had just woken up. Sacha, my granddaughter was sitting on the couch watching cartoons on TV and my daughter was in the kitchen cooking eggs.

I grabbed a cup of coffee, switched on my computer and logged on to the NZ newsgroup that I read.

The first thing that caught my eye was a thread about a plane crashing into the WTC. Thinking it was probably a small plane, I switched the TV to the 'Today' show (much to the annoyance of Sacha) and life changed. The second plane had just flown into the WTC and reports were coming in about the Pentagon being on fire. A little later we heard that another plane was missing, believed hijacked.

I screamed for my daughter. She stuck her head round the corner of the kitchen, then slowly walked into the room and sank down beside me on the couch. About half an hour later I remember looking at her and noticing that she was still holding the spatula that she's been using to cook the eggs.

Those cowardly acts, by those terrorists, changed life as we know it forever. I, personally, am working hard at trying not to let those changes affect me, because by doing that, I think we allow the terrorists to achieve one of their main goals and that is to paralyse us with fear. They are not going to do that to me!

This is one of my favourite poems. It was written by Laurence Binyon in 1914 and the fourth verse, is read out at ANZAC and other services that are memorials to the war dead in NZ, Australia, England, etc.

It specifically mentions England, but I think it is also applicable to 9/11 and the people that died that day as well as those that have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, fighting to protect us, Swap 'England' for 'America' or any of the other countries that have sent their sons and daughters into battle.

The truth is that 'At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.'

This is for them, on this day ...

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Sometimes It's Hard Not To Cry...

Currently I'm sporting a mildly spectacular bruise on my right arm. It's faded a bit and is one of three, on that arm, that I got from hitting a box that was jutting out as I walked into my bedroom. Took that last painful one, to give me the clue that perhaps if I moved the box, then I'd quit feeling the hurt !!

I was helping a child with a word sort, in the classroom, when another little one sidled up to me. She put out her hand and gently touched my bruise...

C .... 'You've got an owie, Mrs Hayward-King.'

Me ... 'I know honey, I'm a little clumsy sometimes.'

C .... 'Does it hurt?'

Me ... 'Not now, but it did when I hurt it.'

C .... 'Mrs Hayward-King, are you married?'

Me ... 'Yes dear.'

C .... 'Does your husband hit you? '

Me ... 'No honey. ( knowing, with a sinking heart, what was probably coming next ) It's wrong to hit. '

C .... 'My daddy hits my mommy. She's gets bruises like that. '

Sadly, this is not the first time a child has said something like this to me. Your heart just breaks for them when they tell you, so matter-of-factly, that the police took daddy away because he hit mommy or that daddy is in jail for the same reason.

It's so hard to know what to say to them, as you have to be careful as you don't want the kid going home and saying 'My teacher said that you should be hung, drawn and quartered for what you did!'. That's often what I want to say ... or something equally unrepeatable..

In this case, I simply gave her a hug and told her that I was sorry and that it was sad that her mommy was being hurt and that it wasn't a good thing to hit people.

You just feel so helpless though, especially when you realise that these little girls will probably grow up, thinking that this behaviour is normal. All you can do, is hope, that maybe what you say, may make a difference...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Kea Next Door

The KEA is a native NZ mountain parrot, that has a reputation of being intelligent and ready to steal anything that's not tied down.

It appears that I have the human version living next door to me...

Yesterday evening, I was just about to leave for the store to buy some cat food. A I walked out the door, I saw my next door neighbour's 3 yr old going down my front deck steps, with our yellow plastic, dog food scoop, clutched firmly in his chubby little hand.

'OI', yells I. 'BRING THAT BACK NOW." Young blighter takes off running as fast as his little legs can take him, still clutching his prize.

I take off in pursuit and as I round the corner of his house, see him disappearing inside the front door.

I go up, knock on the partly opened front door. I can see straight into the living room. TV is on, lights are off. No Mum or Dad in sight. There is however a pile of stuff sitting in the middle of the floor, with a lit flashlight sitting on top.

The young Artful Dodger, pokes his head round the door. I look at him sternly and say "You need to give me that back."

He disappears and then comes back and solemnly hands me ....

.... one of the basting mops that my husband uses for BBQing. Okay, hadn't realised that was gone, but thank you for giving it back, young man !!

Still no pet food scoop, so I put my hand out again.

He looks at me and then disappears again. This time he comes back with ....

... my gardening trowel !!! Hadn't realised that was gone either...

At this point, I'm really trying hard to keep the stern look on my face as he sheepishly regards me with his big, brown eyes. I put my hand out again and waggle my fingers. He disappears around the door again and I'm doing a mental catalogue of the other things currently on my deck. He reappears and holds out .....

.... the dog food scoop !

I thanked him and asked him if there was anything more. He firmly closed the door in my face. I guess that was a 'No'....

I'm now wondering if that's where the grill scrapers and other little bits and pieces, that have turned up missing, have disappeared to.

The less funny side of the whole incident is that he appeared to be home alone. I did see his Mum run out after him about 20 minutes later and after I'd caught him on the deck twice more. At that point I was just about to take him inside and call the police to do a welfare check.

Mum doesn't speak a word of English, so I'll talk to another neighbour this evening, who speaks Spanish, and get her to talk to her about his burgeoning larceny and the need to supervise him a bit better...

Monday, 8 September 2008

When Out Meandering ...

...I often see some strange/weird/really odd/wonderful sights. I often find myself wondering about the story behind them...

It's not unusual, around here, to see sneakers hanging from the power lines, like these ones, which I came across while out walking the other day. This, is something that has always puzzled me, as I don't recall seeing this back in New Zealand.

I've been told that they are....

* A way that gangs mark their territory. Well, I suppose that's better than peeing on the street corners or painting graffiti on walls....

* Crack dealers advertising their presence. The police in those sting operations, that you see on TV (not that I watch those programs, mind) need to look into this. All they'd need to do is rent a house in the hood and sling a pair of their size 12's over the power line and sit back and wait for the knock....

* Sign that the owner of said boots has just lost his virginity. Can't wait for the next boot slinger I see. 'Hey kid, congratulations on popping your cherry!'

* Signifies that someone has died at the house and the hanging boots are a sign of respect. So, why don't you see high heels ?

* An expression of Americans need to decorate, especially for the holidays. Hmmmm ... maybe that explains them wooden, ring thingys, that are displayed next to those boots. It's an art display!

Taylor and I came across these socks, at a local park, on Saturday. They're artfully arranged, toe to heel, on one of the concrete block structures, that the local council has installed for skateboarders.

They've been decorating that block for a couple of days now. Previous to that, they were hanging over the back of a seat on the opposite side of the park.

So many questions here...

Who moved them from one side of the park to the other?

What is the significance of them being arranged in this way?

A local vagrant's laundry ?

Somebody, inspired by 'The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants', is filming a local version entitled 'The Brotherhood Of The Travelling Socks'? (They look like men's socks, so it must be a brotherhood.)

If I go back to the park tomorrow, will they be in a different place?

Same day, same park.

Okay, the main explanation here, is that some people are pigs !!

But, you have to admit, the elastic Ace bandage is a bit of an anomaly. So what's the story here?

Did it go down like this ... 'Look George, my sprained wrist (from throwing boots over lines) is all healed.' (removes bandage and drops it on ground)...

So, do you sometimes wonder about the story behind discarded objects you see lying around?

How they got there?

Or am I just plain weird? :-)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Friday Photo Fiesta, Bull Riding and an explanation...

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

Hello all. My appreciation and love to those that have enquired as to why I haven't been updating.

I sort of went AWOL for awhile. Not sure why. Probably a combination of a number of things. I found myself logging on to my blog and sitting there staring at it and wondering what the heck I was going to write. Not sure why.

School has been extremely stressful, with the class numbers growing (32 in the Kindergarten class!!) and this year seeming to have more problem kids than previous years. Roll on the next couple of weeks, when we have the official head count and the possibility of an extra teacher and a reduction in class size!!

I've also had a general feeling of blahness. The seasons are beginning to change and fall is on the way. I'm really looking forward to the cooler weather as we have had a long, hot and dry summer. However, I'm beginning to wonder if I have some sort of mood disorder that is bought on by the transition from summer to fall as thinking back, I've noticed a change in my mood, about this time of the year, in the past. Doesn't last to long, but it's a pain in the rear while it's in residence.

Anyway ... what ever the reason for my general composure at the moment, I've decide that I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps and say, in my best Arnold impression .... 'I'M BAAAAAAACK' :-)

I was going through my photos and found this one, taken about 12 years ago, of my daughter and I, on a mechanical bull thing, at the local rodeo. Not the most flattering photo that I've had taken of me !!! Plus, I was kind of worried that I'd either fall off the back of the thing as it went backwards or squash my daughter as it went forwards !!!

My family has been responsible for me riding a few odd things. A few years after this was taken, it was a camel. Yes folks, I rode a real, live camel !!

We were at a local Farmer's Market and my Granddaughter, Sacha, then aged about 2 1/2 spied the camel rides. However, to ride a camel at that age, the child required an adult companion. My daughter was out as was heavily pregnant. My husband had supped a couple of beers. Can't remember what my son-in-law's excuse was, probably a 'I'm not getting on that thing!'. So yours truly found herself perched way to many feet above the ground, clutching on to an extremely excited toddler!

I now fully understand why camels are called 'Ships Of The Desert'. It is possible to feel seasick while riding one. They walk with a swaying motion. It also didn't help that said toddler was shrieking, in delight 'Go faster camel, go faster!'. The camel obliged and the camel's owner, with not that many people waiting for rides, gave us a couple of bonus minutes.

I was very glad to feel the earth beneath my feet again, even if it did sway slightly for awhile!!

Somewhere, I think I have some undeveloped film of the event. That's supposing , of course, that one of my more sensible relatives, had stopped laughing long enough to actually snap a photo!!

Okay, have 40 minutes to have a shower and get out the door for another school day. At least it's one of the calmer classes today !!!!