Saturday, December 29, 2007

Down Under beauties

November in Victoria Esplanade Gardens, Palmerston North, New Zealand, was delightful. There were quite a lot of plants in full bloom, some had finished blooming, such as spring bulbs, and many just coming into bloom. Gardeners were busily planting beds of begonias and other annuals for a beautiful summer round display.






















Monday, December 24, 2007

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

WITH A KIWI FLAVOR

Tune
Sung to the usual tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
Remember to slow down the line " Five - big - fat - pigs ! "


On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas
....
and so on, until...

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupiu swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipi
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!


Pukeko = type of bird found in NZ
Ponga Tree = a fern tree that grows in NZ
Kumera = a sweet potato
Piupiu = a skirt made from strips of flax.
Haka = war chant/dance
Pipi = small shellfish
Puha = a type of sow thistle that is eaten as a vegetable in NZ
Poi = Maori word for ball
Huhu = a small edible grub
Flax kits = small woven bags



Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hou

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bubba Claus



A new contract for Santa has finally been negotiated. Please read the following carefully.

I regret to inform you that, effective immediately,I will no longer be able to serve Southern United States on Christmas Eve. Due to the overwhelming current population of the earth, my contract was renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local 209. I now serve only certain areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. As part of the new and better contract I also get longer breaks for milk and cookies.

However, I’m certain that your children will be in good hands with your local replacement who happens to be my third cousin, Bubba Claus. His side of the family is from the SouthPole. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls; however, there are a few differences between us…

1. There is no danger of a Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus. He has a gun rack on his sleigh and bumper sticker that reads: “These toys insured by Smith and Wesson.”

2. Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave an RC cola and pork rinds [or a moon pie] on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn’t smoke a pipe. He dips a little snuff though, so please have an empty spit can handy.

3. Bubba Claus’ sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared,flyin’ coon dogs instead of reindeer. I made the mistake of loaning him a couple of my reindeer one time, and Blitzen’s head now overlooks Bubba’s fireplace.

4. You won’t hear “On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen …” when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead, you’ll hear, “On Earnhardt, on Wallace, on Martin and Labonte On Rudd, on Jarrett, on Elliott and Petty.”

5. “Ho, ho, ho!” has been replaced by “Yee Haw!” And you also are likely to hear Bubba’s elves respond, “I her’d dat!”

6. As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus’ sleigh does have a Yosemite Sam safety triangle on the back with the words “Back Off!” The last I heard it also had other decorations on the sleigh back as well. One is Ford or Chevy logo with lights that race through the letters and the other is a caricature of me (Santa Claus) going wee on the Tooth Fairy.

7. The usual Christmas movie classics such as “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” will not be shown in your negotiated viewing area. Instead, you’ll see “Boss Hogg Saves Christmas” and “Smokey and the Bandit IV” featuring Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus and dozens of state patrol cars crashing into each other.

8. Bubba Claus doesn’t wear a belt. If I were you, I’d make sure you, the wife, and the kids turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

9. And finally, lovely Christmas songs have been sung about me like “Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” This year songs about Bubba Claus will be played on all the AM radio stations in the South. Those song titles will be:Mark Chesnutt’s “Bubba Claus Shot the Jukebox,” Cledus T. Judd’s “All I Want for Christmas Is My Woman and a Six Pack,” and Hank Williams Jr.’s “If You Don’t Like Bubba Claus, You Can Shove It.”

Sincerely Yours,
Santa Claus North American Fairies and Elves Local 209.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bobby's Dime



There are certain stories that really tug at my heart. This is one of them!




Christmas Story of the Dozen Roses

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them, and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift.

He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend," Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity.

Bobby had two older and one younger sister,who ran the house hold in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything with only a dime. He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift.

The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you." As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white
box. "That will be ten cents young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime.Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true.Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son,"

As he returned inside, the shop keeper's wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?" Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime. "When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift.

A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. "When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses."The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

May this story instill the spirit of Christmas in you. Have a Joyous and Peace-filled season.

"Bobby's Dime" by Thomas Pucci


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Miniature Railway

During my visit to my home town, Palmerston North, in New Zealand this past November, My brother and I rode the miniature railway in the Victoria Esplanade Gardens. Graeme said all the years he has lived just the other side of the fence surrounding the gardens, he had never ridden the train. It took a visit from Sis to get him to ride the train, and after we had arrived back at the station after our ride, Graeme said " I wonder why it took me so long to get around to this, as the ride is fun and well worth doing"

Some of the Scenic Railway history
As usual click on the pictures to enlarge.

Little kids and larger kids (those would be the kid at heart adults) waiting to board the train for their ride through the gardens.

Upon signing the visitor book and looking at previous pages, I noticed that there had been visitors from many, many countries around the world.

Keewee and brother, ready for their ride through the lovely native bush, past gorgeous flowers and shrubs, and the kids playground, then winding back around to the railway station.

Off we go under the foot bridge, then winding around through the park, for a wonderful experience on this beautiful warm late spring day.

Some of the native bush we rode past. Palm trees of all kinds Ponga trees (tree ferns) and many other types of vegetation.

There was a father and son who rode the train several times, and it really is no hardship as the fare is only $2 for adults and about $1 for kids. What better way to keep the kids entertained?

The cars had to stop and let us go by just like on the rural roads.

video

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why, Why, Why

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Why Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

And my FAVORITE......

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.





Sunday, December 09, 2007

Where did they go?

I feel as though I have lost a few days this week. Is this because I am growing older, or did I forget what I have been doing to fill the days? *chuckle"

On Tuesday MrC and I spent a whole day up at Coupeville, in court, before a judge concerning our property. Wednesday we were so wiped out by this experience we had to rest, though I did whip up the first trial Pavlova for the Fishin' Club's Christmas party to be held on Friday night. I had forgotten that the weather does effect how a Pavlova turns out. If the day is damp, as it was, Pavlovas are inclined to spread out on the cookie sheet, and my first attempt came out looking like a manhole cover. *groan*

Thursday, I whipped up another Pav. darn if that one was just about the same, *double groan* Hmmmm! what can I learn from this? Cook them in a Springform pan. Yes, that's it, ( light bulb moment) This was the right decision as the third Pav turned out just as it should.
Now what to do with the two manhole covers? well eat them of course. MrC was only too happy to help dispose of two, tasty, but albeit flat Pavs that I had to stand aside, or be run over as he made a rush for the kitchen after I told him the Pavlovas had to be eaten. You know I had to help him, old sweet tooth that I am.

Friday I made a Lemon Cheesecake to take to the party, as you can never have too many desserts.

Lemon Cheesecake on the left, and a perfect Kiwi topped, Pavlova beside it, on the right.

Saturday, and today, Sunday I am resting ( and dieting, nuff said)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

NZ trip----A weekend on Drambuie

And, no, that does not mean a weekend drinking Drambuie.

After visiting the Tararua Wind Farm on Saturday, Graeme, my brother, drove us to Mana where he has his boat moored. We were to spend the weekend there and to meet up with my younger brother, John, whom I had not seen for more than 20 years. John was working on the charter boat, Pamir, and was due back at the marina on Sunday evening. (more on John's story later)

Mana Cruising Club is where Drambuie, Graeme's boat is moored.

This huge anchor is right at the entrance to the club.

DRAMBUIE

I emailed Graeme and asked him for more details about Drambuie, especially for George, who asked me about her.

Here is what Graeme says: She is a 36ft kauri carvel planked launch.. built in 1980 where or by whom I do not know as yet....she is powered by a 180hp turbo ford diesel giving a cruise speed of 9--10 knots max 14 knots. She sleeps five has all the usual domestics. fridge, freezer, toilet, shower, gas, water, heating, liquor cabinet, good galley, and she catches fish........

Drambuie is undergoing some changes, and sometime in the future she is going to be put in dry dock and totally gone over. There is painting to be done, a new door into the cabin to be installed and much more. You can see where some of the paint has already been stripped, in preparation for a new paint job.

"Gee Sis, give that camera a rest!"


Part of the marina

"smile for the birdie"
John and Graeme on the dock where Drambuie is moored

The coast guard ready to help in times of distress.

A beautiful sailboat.

There are many, different kinds, shapes, sizes and age of boats in the marina. There are planked boats, fiberglass, concrete, aluminium and probably other materials I have not thought of. Quite a few folk live on their boats year round.

This catamaran is huge.


There is something magical about the evening around the marina. The air was calm, the marina and boat lights glowing softly, the voices and laughter of people drifting across the water, as they enjoyed time on their boats, and a feeling of peace and well being. I must say, I slept so deeply and woke in the morning feeling as though I had had a good night's rest. I think that it had something to do with the gentle rocking of Drambuie throughout the night. Of course it could also have been the few glasses of wine I had with my dinner.



Saturday, December 01, 2007

It is always nice

Looking from the inside out.

The snow has been threatening since early this morning. Now it is coming down in big wet flakes and is starting to stick.

This is a day to stay indoors beside a warm fire, and find a good book to read.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Tararua Wind Farm

On Saturday Nov. 10th, my brother told me we were going to drive to Mana to stay on his boat "Drambuie" for the weekend, but before we did, he would take me on a drive to visit the Tararua wind farm.

Keewee AKA as Sis, and my brother Graeme

A healthy crop of wind turbines.

Even before leaving USA for New Zealand I had done some research on the wind farm and had already made plans see the wind turbines so was quite happy to have my brother take me to see the Wind farm.

The blades on these wind turbine machines, range in length 25-50 metres (27-54 yards) depending on size and design of each machine.

Oh! my goodness, I knew these structures were large but standing underneath one as the huge blades turned made me feel soooo small. Think of an ant standing at the base of a 12' blade of grass, I think you get the picture.

These turbines were actually in a different location, and I believe they are called the Apiti turbines.

The Tararua Wind Farm is the largest in the Southern hemisphere and is located just 10 kilometres NE of Palmerston North, on a 5.3 kilometre ( about 4 miles) long ridge of the Tararua ranges. For more technical information on wind turbines, HERE is a link.

The internal working of a wind turbine.



video

I leave you with a short video of a working wind turbine. The sound of the moving blades increased and decreased along with the speed of the wind.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 2 in Palmerston North NZ

Thursday 8th November and the beginning of my second day in NZ. I was wide awake at 4am which was my usual 7am USA time, this just has to change, I told myself, otherwise I am going to be exhausted by the end of each day. ( It took another couple of days, for my body to figure out that I could actually sleep in until 7am)

My plans for the morning was to drive to my daughter, Tina's home, spend some time with her, then do some exploring in the afternoon.

I was just about to leave my cabin when there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to find a young Maori man standing on the bottom step, he proceeded to tell me that my bonnet was unlatched. Huh?? It took me a second to translate into USA language, Oh yes, the hood of my car was unlatched. I could see right away that there were Kiwi terms I had not heard in a while and I would have to do some quick translation. *chuckle*

I spent the morning with Tina, going grocery shopping with her and her chore provider, then returning back to Tina's house to fix some meals to put in the freezer, so the chore provider could have a break from cooking for a few days.

After lunch I drove to the VictoriaEsplanade Gardens, which is conveniently just behind the Holiday Park where I was staying. The development of the Esplanade began in 1897 with a gravel footpath laid on one end of the 361 acres of land granted to the borough of Palmerston north in 1876 for use as a public park. The gravel footpath was named "Victoria Esplanade Drive" to commemorate Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee.

The Date Palms line both sides of one of the roads through the park

The Victoria Esplanade covers an area of 19 hectares (approx 361 acres) adjacent to the Manawatu River.

Some of the bird aviaries

There is a conservatory and lath house, plant displays, native bush with trails throughout, a fernery, bird aviaries, BBQ and picnic areas, a kid's paddling pool and playground.

My brother and I rode the miniature train. More on this adventure later.

A miniature railway winds throughout the esplanade. You take in the color and fragrance of the Dugald Mackenzie Rose Garden, and much more. So you can understand why I spent much of my free time wandering the garden areas, trails and checking out everything there was to see. It is a most relaxing beautiful place to spend one's time.

The cherry blossoms had finished blooming, but the Azaleas and Rhododendrons were still beautiful