Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Time Of Year

I love it! Here in New Zealand the holidays start at Christmas, continue on through Boxing Day with a statutory holiday thrown in if either of those days fall on a Sunday often making for a short week the following week at the end of which the whole process starts again for the New Year celebration.

It's a time to sit back, relax & reflect. Many businesses close between Christmas & New year so the streets are somehow quieter - the pace of everything slowed down. There is no school for weeks. It's summer, it's holiday time & the atmosphere is somehow different even though many things just continue on as normal.

So why then, when I never ever naturally wake at 5.00am - even when I have to, even if a herd of rhinoceros were to stampede through my bedroom yelling out "Shoe Sale 70% off beginning in 1 hour" did I wake just before 5.00am the other morning? I read for a bit, had a wee panic when just before 5.30am there was a nice wobbly jerk & rattle, & upon leaping out of bed ready to take cover it finally occurred to me that the sky was glowing a rather nice shade of pink.

I never said I was alert - just awake. Kinda...sorta.

By the time I threw on some clothes, grabbed some gear & headed in the car to the beach I'd missed the most colourful part of the sunrise.

But still it was nice to catch what I did - & it was so quiet & peaceful.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Impressions

I wonder, if we realised what all of those impressions we absorb as young children would mean to us later, whether we would take more notice at the time. Regardless of whether we did or not, somewhere in our sub consciousness while we are blithely playing our way through childhood many things imprint on our brain & later surface again. A sight, a scent, a sound & we are transported back.

Unsurprisingly some things make more of an impression than others.... there are some that we are not even aware of, or at least later on in life we can't pin point when that memory was imprinted. Christmas brought all of this home to me this year.

I'd bought a few stems of Lilium Regal - the Christmas Lily, here in New Zealand. It's scent is absolutely amazing. I have some growing in the garden for the first time ever but didn't want to cut the few I had so purchased some instead. 
For one reason or another over recent years I haven't had Christmas lilies in the house. I'm not sure why as I always used to have them - even if I did have to pinch the stamens out because my ex-husband complained they gave him hayfever. Unfortunately removing the stamens also removed the delicious scent, but since he was often away I'd leave pinching out the stamens until I absolutely had too.

The second I got those beauties into the house I was transported back in time & realised that, to me, this was the one thing that said "Christmas" more than anything else. A fragrance. In that moment the amazing spicy, heady, intoxicating scent of those Christmas lilies was the most wonderful thing on earth.

Because of my trip to Brisbane there was no tree this year, no other decorations - just those beautiful white lilies & they spoke "Christmas" more than anything else ever has in recent years & I suspect ever could. I can't recall whether Mum had them at Christmas time when I was really young, although I remember my Uncle & Aunt had them planted right along the side of his house for many years & that there was always a vase full inside at their place.

I was more than a little pleased when my oldest son commented on the scent of the lilies on Boxing Day - it seems that the imprint was made when he was younger too.

Absolutely Positively Christmas.

Growing in my garden.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Almost Perfect Christmas

The lead up to Christmas this year was slightly different to our normal Christmas build up. A couple of decent earthquakes, a 5.8 & 6 magnitude accompanied by a swarm of aftershocks 2 days beforehand closed down malls & shops....right as I was about to head for them.

Sometimes procrastination is good - & believe me I had procrastinated all morning about heading to the Mall & doing all those last minute things, such as....well,  pretty much everything really! Gifts, food,  you name it. I hadn't bought anything apart from my nieces & nephews presents when I was in Australia.

My intention had been to get up early Friday morning & get the last of my gift shopping done before heading to the supermarket. But I faffed around answering emails, reading a tutorial & just putting it off in general & I wasn't even sure why. I'm so pleased I did!

Just as well  I came to the conclusion that Christmas will come regardless of whether I am ready or not a few years back, that it's not dependent on the trimmings & trappings or buying into the dreadful commercialism that it seems to have become.

Still, that doesn't stop me wanting to have the house looking a little like Christmas so this year, the first in many, I had splurged on a huge bunch of Christmas lilies & long stemmed red roses. Of course that was before I remembered that all of my vases had been broken in the February quakes - so then I had to splurge on a new vase (sorry honey, if you are reading this - I forgot to mention that part & the lilies didn't really look that great sitting in a blue plastic juice jug....).

More than anything I would have loved to have brought a really nice nativity set - but the only one I could find that fitted the image in my head had a price tag of $300.00+, so was somewhat prohibitive.

I did have plans of further table decorations, a lightly gold sprayed mossy branch hung with some small antique looking cream & gold angels that I have was to accompanied by a bird cage I had picked up in Australia that I had started decorating. Having to delay my shopping until the stores re-opened on Christmas Eve saw me run out of time to complete the mossy branch one.

Christmas Day came & it was wonderful. It was spent surrounded by family & I only say almost perfect as there were  two key members of the cast missing. The Mailleman, who is of course in Australia & Baby Boy who is deployed to parts that don't observe this particular celebration. I missed both of them dreadfully as well as missing the company of my daughter in law, Kerry, as she spent the day with her family.
It's more than a little strange to think that this is potentially my last Christmas in New Zealand.

That said, more than ever this made me realise what Christmas truly means to me. It's not about the trimmings & trappings or the decor. It's not about the food, the drink or the gifts - especially whether you get or give the latest techno gadget. It is certainly not about the mass commercialism that seems to increase with every year.

Quite simply it is about being surrounded by those you care about & remembering what the day is truly celebrating; Christ's Mass. I hope that yours was as blessed as mine was.














Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Wish for You




May your blessings be many
May love & laughter fill the air
May you anticipate the New Year with peace in your heart

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Grass Is Greenest Where It Is Watered.

A few months ago I read a book that had one specific passage containing a brilliant simple truth which has stuck fast in my mind;

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence.
No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it.
The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass where ever you may be. ~ Robert Fulghum (from "It Was On Fire When I lay Down On It")

With the mailleman away working in another country, and the rest of us here still, at times I feel as if I'm in limbo. The sense of impermanence was often bordering on the overwhelming - so there was only one thing to do and that was to start watering the "grass".

I know that the passage above is intended as a metaphor for making the most of what you have, focusing on nourishing and nurturing what surrounds you rather than wishing for more or different. However, as anyone who knows me will attest to,  in my case the way to ease that sense of impermanence was, among other things, to create a garden of some sort and to attend to those things that the property agents/landlord choose not to see to.

Of course my first stop was putting some colour into the garden - which means REAL plants, not grasses or flax, species that have something by way of colour or scent to recommend them. Of course I got cracking with all of this rule breaking before I realised that Christchurch has water restrictions this year resulting from damage done to our systems during the earthquakes.

It seems that, despite water restrictions, not only the grass is thriving.......

Ahh yes a dandelion.
Wassup Buttercup
Now this I wasn't expecting to find in the lawn - which is exactly what happens when you take the time to look closer.
Stay tuned - for this mini side trip back into gardening...at least for this season ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hey, Dad - Happy Birthday Again!

Ten days ago I got a Birthday Reminder from Birthday Alarms.com telling me you would have been 83 today ...as if I could ever forget. But what really blew me away was the fact that it's heading on for 5 years since you left us so suddenly & I still haven't cancelled that alarm. I don't think I can bring myself to do it.

To be honest you haven't missed much this year & in many ways I am relieved that you're not having to see the massive changes to this city. I far prefer the images of the Christchurch that 'was',  the city portrayed in the photos & tales of your childhood & youth here, to what is going on around us.

That isn't to say that we haven't  missed you... we have, especially Mum who has had so very much to deal with alone. She's had to handle a whole lot of things that she never expected to handle & make some pretty hard decisions, but it's Mum & it will come as no surprise to you that she has come through this admirably! I expect that hearing echoes of your calm accepting voice telling us not to sweat the small stuff & that everything will work out as it should has a lot to do with that.

Remember last year I told you that Kieran & Kerry were getting married in December?  It was an amazing day, beautiful & perfect in every way. The entire family was there from Mum down to the twins that you never quite got to meet. The only thing missing was you. If you could have heard the speeches Dad, you'd know just how much you were missed & the influence & impact you had on your two eldest grandsons. 
Jeremy made a wonderful speech, full of both compassion & humour that I know would have had you chortling away....especially the part where he referred to Kieran as a hobbit! I hope that Jeremy was right & that you were looking down on us all - he said that you would be proud of Kieran, but I know you would have been equally proud of them both, & the rest of all your beautiful grandchildren including the two that you never quite got to meet.

Kieran is away on deployment now & I know you'd enjoy hearing all about things where he is. Kerry is working towards a degree in early childhood education & enjoys learning about the scientific side of human development - you'd be in your element hearing some of the things she's been learning.




They say this gets easier with time & in some ways it does....except on certain days, such as today. I've been thinking about you all day while I was in plodding away the garden. I didn't plan it that I'd be putting up the string to support the scarlet runner beans today (I know, it should have been done a week ago!!) - but that's the way it turned out. I even planted the beans, descendants of your scarlet runner beans at Estuary Road, after dinner tonight. I know you would approve!!

The girls still miss you heaps & both acknowledged your birthday on FaceBook today. I'm not sure you'd like FaceBook so much - but I'd bet you would use it just to catch up on all the latest family photo's, knowing how much you used to enjoy looking at them. Michaela found a beautiful poem & posted it....it made us all teary.


So Dad, that's another year that has gone by all too quickly. Happy Birthday to the worlds best - miss you heaps.

Love always,
Deb

P.S - Just thought you might like to see your two youngest grandchildren - these were taken at Kieran & Kerry's wedding. I wish I could put up the video, but it's far too long - besides I'm pretty sure that Kieran would harm me if I did ;)

 Sasha

Finn

Saturday, September 03, 2011

One Year On

No one in Christchurch is going to forget being woken in the early hours of September 4th 2010. 4.35am & 45 seconds of  violent shaking that signified the time that the lives of everyone in this city were to start changing forever . Nothing could mentally prepare us for what was to come.

What everyone had thought was Mother Nature’s wake up call was in fact just her opening act.

One year on there isn’t a single person left in this city unaffected in one way or another. It isn’t something that can be imagined or understood unless you have been through it & continue to live it on a daily basis….even if you think you can imagine what it must be like, you can’t.

At the beginning of 2010 I was shocked & felt so completely helpless as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. I watched with horror as events there unfolded & then followed Haiti’s story well after the media had left it behind in its never ending chase for a new headline. I mistakenly thought I could imagine what those people were going through. I was to learn how wrong I was.

In September when we had our first 7.1 magnitude earthquake more or less the same as Haiti's, I knew how blessed we had been as a city to escape with a bit of building damage & no loss of lives. I grieved for the buildings, but could be grateful for all that we had left. 

 I took this photo at 7.00am on the 29th December 2010, having no idea why I chose the buildings & subjects I photographed at the time. Later I was to be very pleased I had.

In February that all changed. People learned what real fear was – the fear of having no control whatsoever over a situation. An earthquake is unlike anything else you can imagine. There is  no warning,  no subtle hint that something isn’t quite right & it might be about to occur.

An earthquake is not something that can be tested, diagnosed or treated – it is completely beyond any human control.  It’s not like going through any other event  you can imagine.

Having the earth shake around you, systems failing or becoming overloaded & not knowing what has happened ‘this time‘ beyond your immediate space is almost paralysing. The tightness in your chest, when you realise that your children are not where you are & that you need to get to them – or that you can’t get in touch with family members because networks are overloaded with others trying to do the same,  is a very real physical pain.

Apparently we’ve had over 8000 aftershocks. But really, in our day to day existence, they are the least of most people’s worries and to me it seems that those that have suffered the most personal damage or loss are the people that are also the least concerned about every little aftershock. Perhaps having something bigger to concern themselves with puts things into perspective. 

Many have fled the city some by choice simply because they are over it & others through necessity. 45,000 have moved within the wider Canterbury region & 26,000 have left it completely , all since February.26,000 private sector job losses in the region will have a lot to do with what seems to be a mass exodus.

The infrastructure of this city is still severely compromised. There are still many that don’t know what is going to happen with their homes, & others that are having to face the sad reality that they may never own their own home again. 

Sometimes it is hard to see the progress. But progress there most assuredly is – even if it is in the form of demolition. The roads are still a mess in many area’s & flooding has become an issue so the previously beautiful Avon River has been sand banked & isn’t quite as picturesque as it once was in many areas. But it’s not just those things that have changed.

It’s in the smaller things – the subtle differences that impact on every facet of your life one way or another.

Such as how if has affected our interior d├ęcor style…
After the September quake a visitor would arrive & you’d greet them with “Come in – but please excuse the mess”  & with a wave of your hand usher them inside. Everyone had a similar mess so it was no big deal.

As the aftershocks continued more & more got relegated to either the rubbish bin or staying safely on the floor where it couldn’t fall any further in the case of things that survived undamaged. Now when visitors arrive you don’t even bother to justify why artwork is on the floor leaning face in against walls …or why there are brown cardboard cartons holding the china that once was on display either side of it.

The upside to this is that “Dirty is the new Clean”
A combination of a mild winter, silt resulting from the bigger quakes & countless trucks travelling roads they wouldn’t normally use while transporting rubble from the red zone demolitions out to the land fill means we have a wonderful excess of dust. This dust gets everywhere, coating plants, windows & every surface you can imagine inside. It’s not selective – if you keep your windows & doors shut it will come in via the heat pump or air conditioning.

It also loves cars, managing to turn even the shiniest sports car into something that looks as if it has just done a cross country off road trip within minutes of being outside. Just as well my heap isn’t a shiny sports car.
I realised when it snowed last month that it was the first time my car had looked clean in months!!
“Fabulous”, I thought “What an effective car cleaner snow is!” It lasted 24 hours…..only because I didn’t take the car out & the trucks weren’t dumping that day.

Small things, yes. Easy enough to make light of & to bear for those of us that aren’t dealing daily with some of the bigger stuff. But it is those that are dealing with the bigger stuff that I worry about, these smaller things that are easy for many of us to bear can be like the last building block on the stack that causes the pile to tumble down for those that are dealing with trying to piece broken homes & lives back together somehow.

So one year & 8000 aftershocks on I look back at all that has happened since the initial quake, the mailleman’s heart attack, a few hospital trips for Mum, the passing on of two Aunts, my favourite Uncle having a stroke & I wonder whether the physiological  effects of this will ever be truly understood.

The ripples are many, not always obvious, & will last for some years to come.

 Kenton Chambers post February 22nd.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comparisons

My mind has been churning over making comparisons lately, so many huge decisions & choices to be made. Once again I find myself not knowing where to start & with no hand here to guide me it could become almost overwhelming .....if I'd let it. Revisiting the same thoughts & concerns repeatedly & making those same comparisons time & again serves no purpose & becomes all too consuming.

When those thoughts start creeping in I think of the three things you can't recover in life:
The moment after it's missed
The word after it's said
The time after it's wasted

So quite simply I'm not letting anything overwhelm me - I don't the time to waste on that!
I'm putting it down on paper, making lists 'pros' one side 'cons'  the other - you know the routine. More often than not I find myself seriously torn...really seriously, & it surprises me. Perhaps it would help if both sides weren't quite so even!


While I'm on the subject of comparisons two images taken just a few days apart.

 This was looking towards the sun rising on the morning the mailleman left for Australia.

Looking in the same direction 5 days later. 

By this time the snow was well on it's way to melting so there wasn't much left - but for me it was certainly a first seeing what was left of the snow on the beach. The mountains in the background have never looked so clear or so close. I wouldn't have missed this for the warmest of tropical locations on offer!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Oh yeah! "Time may change me - but I can't trace time" (thanks David!)

And boy have there been some changes around here! I certainly can't trace the time because everything seems to happen so fast. I think it was possibly the week before my birthday, on a laid back Sunday afternoon, that I suggested to the mailleman that if there was work available in Australia that would benefit our situation - then it might be worth looking at.

Within 3 days we'd gone from suggestion to reality & by the Wednesday evening that week he'd been given a date to be there - 3 weeks later on the 21st July. I'm still not sure what happened to talking about it, making fixed plans & weighing the pro's & con's - there simply wasn't time.

I pretty sure that my head was spinning from the speed of it all over the next 3 weeks, although the mailleman seemed to be his usual chilled out self about the whole thing - on the surface anyway ;)

I'm not entirely sure what I was worried about, it certainly wasn't being alone here, so perhaps it was the potential for the huge change this could mean for my entire family. I dithered, I went hot & cold about the idea, which was in fact already reality & I couldn't settle or focus on anything much....again.

In the meantime I watched as people still obsessed about every little aftershock & wondered what had given me the ability to chill out about & become objective about all the earthquake related stuff that is still going on. The answer that came to me was quite simple - creating, primarily with glass & in between times pounding metal. I realised that since I had started thinking about glass again my focus had shifted. Later when I was cautiously trying to pick up where I'd left off  it was the sole time that my absolute immersion in something was so intense that I thought of nothing else.....well, apart from the times we've had a decent aftershock when I've been mid way through some scrollwork.

That in itself has been educational. Initially as I'd feel a mid size one start coming, the fight or flight response would kick in - my body would tense, heart pounding in my chest & I'd be halfway out of my chair stringer in one hand & bead in the other ready to move. Very quickly I learned to read those pesky aftershocks a bit better though (hey, I hate wasting glass!!!) while sitting as still as one tends do at the torch. The heart still thuds - but the body doesn't tense up until those nasty suckers feel like they are going to keep building, before which I've had time to take the stringer out of the flame, pass it into my bead hand & reach down to turn off the propane.

As my focus has slowly shifted back to glass, first sorting it & reorganizing it, then later sitting there melting the wonderful mesmerising stuff for brief periods of time I have realised how utterly absorbing & cathartic it was.

So when I felt myself getting a little stressed about the mailleman leaving,  & starting to get uptight about all that seemed to need sorting & doing before he left I made myself a visual reminder..
So far it has worked...


You can go here if you want to generate your own Keep Calm poster. Try it - it's fun! This was just a quick effort a few weeks back, but they can be fully customised to include your own logo on the website.
If you want the full sized version of the one I created - go to the site & use the search image function - the key words are Flameworkers Mantra ;)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snow Day!!

Or rather it would be if the kids were at school instead of home because it is the School Holidays.

The anticipated dump of snow eventuated & this morning I awoke to the wonderful still, muffled silence that only a good layer of snow blanketing the city can bring. Utter peace! I well recall the feeling of stillness & silence that only a decent layer of snow can bring & knew before I even looked out of the window that the snow had given us a something quite special to wake up to. I wasn't disappointed.
Today was quite magical - although I'm not so sure I will feel that way when it melts.

Levi had a blast - the dog who doesn't like to go out in the rain & get wet became the unstoppable snow dog. Cavorting around the back garden & racing circuits that quickly spoiled the pristine white covering.....racing too fast for me to capture on camera!
There were a few still moments though.

 Hesitant at first!

 Figures that it's safe to play & explore.

What's that? You say I need longer legs??

Gabriela took her Dad up on the offer of a ride up to Waipara & took my old small point & shoot camera with her. I would have loved to have been on that wee trip!



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Snow - The Icing on the Quake

It's started snowing. Not something that happens that often here in Christchurch. After a brilliantly mild winter so far I'm not really surprised at this. Even the frosts have been lighter than they usually are at this time of year..... it hasn't even been cold enough for really hard frosts.

It's been trying to snow on & off all afternoon.....dull moody skies, the odd flakes of snow which couldn't really decided whether they wanted to be snow, sleet or rain. We've had that often enough - but it never seems to settle.

As of now it's officially snowing though, & what is more - it's settling!! This is quite exciting for a city that really doesn't get snow on any sort of regular basis. One decent dumping over a couple of inches that I can recall in the last 10 years doesn't tend to indicate snow being factored into our daily lives.

It will be interesting to see what happens if this continues & we get a good cover. I clearly remember the last time, in 1992, the power going out city wide & the most of the city pretty much grinding to a halt.
While this is a most welcome distraction to me - I can't help but wonder whether, with this city's compromised infrastructure, we are any better prepared power supply wise than we were back in 1992.

Watch this Space!! I'll update this post if anything spectacular happens within the next couple of hours :)

As it was a few minutes ago at 10.03pm


Edited to update:  11.30pm - It looks like it's settling :)

 Levi discovers SNOWWWWWW!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Parents These Days

What do mens boxer briefs, women's white singlet tops, socks & bandana's have in common?

Give up? 
Are you sure that you can't guess? Perhaps you can guess, but I'd put money on the fact that you'd be wrong - so I'm going to tell you ;)

Apparently, worn together as a complete ensemble, they are suitable attire to wear to a school dance.
I kid you not.


Picture this, if you will. Three teenage girls on a chilly Friday night getting ready for a school dance. One in particular had made a huge fuss of having to have her hair trimmed & straightened that day....in time for the dance, because one must look good right?

I can't pretend total ignorance of what was being worn, after all I had provided money for the shopping trip. I just expected the ensemble to be worn with something - preferably over it or, at the worst, over opaque tights. Yes,  that fashion blunder that see's shorts being worn over tights. That at least I'm getting used to!! It's mid winter here after all - tights would offer a bit of warmth....as would thermal underwear under the singlet tops.

Back to the preparations;
Giggling & girlish chatter filter through to the family area from up the hall. One of the girls Mum & I go up to explore. Both of us are a tad incredulous at what we see - but our exclamations of  "you can't possibly just be wearing that" are greeted with more giggles & firms assurances that is exactly what they plan on wearing.

Time to leave for the dance & the three gigglers all come out dressed in their finery. Singlet tops showing lily white arms covered in goosebumps, funky striped mens boxer briefs showing long expanses of winter white legs & folded bandana's wrapped around & tied in front. I'd have been speechless if it wasn't for the fact that all three just had socks on - no shoes!!

Having positively squeaked out "where on earth are your shoes" I was informed that they wouldn't be wearing shoes because they are required to take them off at the school hall door. I think I may have made a couple of other mild noises  about the foolishness of no footwear before hopping into the car to transport them to the dance - but really it's all a fog.

I could have made a fuss, I could have said all of the things that were going through my head - or refused to let them leave the house like that. But really the bits that mattered were covered - they weren't plastered in make up & looking older than their years, they didn't look cheap or tarty - they simply looked a little, dare I say it, silly.

I'm so pleased I kept my mouth shut!!

As I was leaving after I dropped them off another car pulled up discharging a group of girls into the bitter winter night. 
Three girls wearing men's boxer briefs, singlet tops, bandana's & socks.
Then another car....
You get the picture ;)

This parent is obviously out of touch. Hopelessly & completely. She was also chuckling to herself the entire trip home.
Can't say I'm particularly fussed with this fashion  'uniform' - but then again I expect my Mum felt the same about platform shoes & flared pants & some of the hideous things I wore back in the 70's.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

That Was Easy & Sensible Knickers

I woke up yesterday morning totally confused - sometime during the night I'd officially become 50 & I'd missed it! How rude. Shouldn't I feel different somehow - after all 50 is supposedly such a milestone (not to be confused with Millstone - which is something altogether different!!)

What to do? Should I start wearing sensible knickers? Trade in my fun boots & shoes for something more sedate? Perhaps today's equivalent of twin-sets - the boiled wool jackets would be the thing to help me feel 50! Maybe I should start dreaming of practical compact cars instead of doing up an old Ford truck.
I could always start dying my hair to hide the greys - only I don't have enough greys to bother dying my hair for that reason alone.
Surely I should do something to mark this momentous occasion appropriately for someone of advancing years - but what??

Then it occured to me that I didn't feel a single bit different to what I had the day before. If the truth be told the approach to turning 50 hasn't bothered me in the slightest - unlike turning 40!
That was a crock to be sure. I spent a whole beforehand year dreading turning 40 - it sounded so old. What a waste of perfectly good 'dread' that was - poor misguided girl! I seem to recall waking that particular morning to the realisation that I didn't feel any different too.

Age is just a number - minutes, days, months gradually pass & become a year. We don't count the minutes or hours & at 10.00pm  think "oh I feel an hour older than I did at 9.00pm"  so why would we think we were going to feel any different at the end of a year?

No - this girl is not buying into the number apprehension game, nor is she buying into age appropriate behaviour.

Of course it helps when you have a man that innocently mutters "your kidding me, is she really younger than you - I thought she was older!" & a wonderful studio partner that is genuinely surprised that you are 50 ;)



I did however figure what I could do to mark this occasion in an age appropriate manner - & subtly aged this photo of the wonderful flowers that my brother & his wife sent me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So Much For "Later This Week"......

As anyone who checks in on this blog once in a blue moon can see, publishing my "49 Things to do before I turn 50" list simply didn't happen......and , oh look, we are almost there at the big 5-0!!

One thing led to another, then yet another in this funny old life, mostly significant aftershocks, & I never even got around to revising the list. Having one very inquisitive puppy can be limiting too - boy, had I forgotten just how full on puppies can be. Puppies with 'character' are even worse - throw intelligent & teething into the mix, add a dash of attitude & you have one explosive little cocktail!

Only he isn't so little now.

He also knows how to head butt. A lack of attention on my part, when he thinks he should be getting it will earn me a head butt in the back of the knee's.

Did I mention he chews? He will chew anything, with the contents of my handbag being a particular favourite & chew toys running a close second. Of course it isn't much fun chewing the things that you are allowed - there is far more pleasure to be gained from sourcing a handbag, no matter how safely the human thinks she has it stashed & choosing from the treasure trove of contents which juicy morsel you'd like to chew.

Fortunately for a certain puppy he somehow managed to empty my wallet & chew the contents. I was a little annoyed, but would have been bordering on anger had he chewed the wallet.

Frankly I find it difficult to stay upset or angry at him for very long. Two seconds is too long - because it takes less than that for him to look up at me with those big brown eye's & those darn wrinkles that somehow have managed to furrow his brow giving him a look of worried concern which in turn gives the impression that he is sorry that he has angered his human.

This impression is false. The beseeching "I'm sorry, please forgive me" look is a cover. What it really means is "I know if I look at you like this you won't get really angry at me.... then in 5 minutes when you've forgotten what I did I can go off & find something else equally as naughty to do".

The little rotter has not only stolen the contents of my wallet, but my heart as well.
And, he's perfected "the look" down to a fine art.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retrospect

A little over a year ago we'd just moved into this house just in time for Autumn & Winter. I have great memories of the warm Autumn mornings sitting out on the patio with my coffee & admiring the clear blue sky & relative silence of this place.
I'm still not entirely sure how the anniversary of that one slipped past me, given that we'd received the forms to renew our tenancy the day before the earthed moved on February 22nd.

Just over 6 months ago we were looking forward to enjoying a relaxing Spring & Summer in this quiet suburb & anticipating two weddings with no small degree of excitement.

3 months ago I was looking forward to the February Artistic Challenge that Mallory & I had planned. I had even started on it in advance...for a change!

A little over 7 weeks ago I'd put a rather nice bicycle on Lay-By with the intention of getting some exercise that wouldn't put too much strain, impact wise, on an aching hip in my attempts to get fit. In an attempt to challenge myself by setting a financial goal to reach over a set period I knew it would provide the impetus I needed to start making & selling beads again.
I wanted that bike before the colder weather set in so that a daily habit could be formed before cold rainy days arrived making for an easy cop out.

I also planned on starting to swim again...just to try & exercise the area's that cycling wouldn't, & I'd almost built up the courage to get into a swimming costume to do so. A friend & I  had planned on going along to Aqua jogging to see what that was like.
However now Christchurch has no swimming pools....so really, swimming isn't an option. My bike is still sitting in the shop & I feel as if life is on 'hold'. It's an odd feeling & extremely difficult to describe or attempt to explain.

Right now I am wondering what on earth happened to the last year or at least the last 7 months of it!! The idiom "Time flies when you're having fun" tends to indicate that time drags when you aren't.....that is definitely not so. I'm still trying to figure where the last 7 weeks have gone.
Trying to get back into the swing of things when life constantly shifts around you seems difficult & many of us here are still trying to get used to the fact a lot of what we did & the places we went automatically just don't exist any more. When you realise that you also realise all the changes it means to plans made & goals set pre Earthquake.
This year I had made plans & set goals to do with selling my lampwork & some jewelry locally. Believe me I'm not that great at putting things down on paper - but this time I actually did it. I'm having to re-evaluate in a big way.

The other thing I started on was a list "49 Things to do before I turn 50". Most of them were fun things, nothing big or unattainable & it was easily 'doable'. That was to be the first part of my February Artistic Challenge - making that list into something a little more than just a written list on the first page of my Art Journal. The February Artistic Challenge got postponed because of time constraints - so as it stands it's just a list. A number of the things on it can't be done now & others will have to go on hold for a while...which is probably a good thing since I only have 3 months left to reach the "before 50 deadline".

I've decided that I am still going to go ahead with what I can on my list & later this week I will publish it here.


One of the things that definitely wasn't on my "49 Things"list was getting a puppy. But there you go - we have & we love him to bit's.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Idea's Anyone?

I was blessed in on February 22nd, no doubt about it. However I have a problem that I need help in solving.

All of my 104 COE Glass survived in tact - my Gaffer Glass not so much. The reason that my 104 glass defiantly survived is because of the fact that, when I set up my storage shelves in the garage, I ran a wooden wedge underneath the bottom front of the shelves so that they leant back towards the wall. Thank goodness that I did.

The reason I did this was really just to counter balance the weight of the glass where it overhangs the front edges of the shelves being aware from past experience with any laden shelves that it can cause them to easily tip forward. I pretty much have every large piece of furniture wedged in this place, primarily because I have always found that carpet edges don't provide an even surface for furniture that is against walls to sit on & because we rent we aren't allowed to put holes in the walls....& therein lies my problem. The easy answer would be to use brackets & screws to secure shelve & cabinets making them as earthquake proof as possible.

Now that I'm as ready as I'll ever be to tackle the job of assessing the damage to the rest of my supplies in my studio area & set things up again I'm also trying to figure out how to secure the taller shelving.

Unfortunately one my taller shelves that housed my supplies of pretty much everything else glass related didn't survive the same treatment of wedging & fell over breaking & damaging a whole raft of things. I've lost frit, enamels, chemicals & bead release,  the majority of which can't be replaced locally, & even though I imagine insurance will cover most of it I'm a little reluctant to restock my shelves unless I can make things a lot more secure.
I've drawn a blank - the "no holes in the walls"policy is creating a mind blank that I can't get past as quite simply I know what I'd do if this were my house.

Does anyone have any idea's?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something Good

Meet Levi. After much deliberation our little earthquake refugee has a name.


He's not the German Shepherd bitch I had decided would be our next dog if we ever got one & he's not the Siberian Husky that Gabriela had her heart set on when & if we ever owned a home again....which is when I told her we would be able to get a dog.

But he is ours, we love him & he rules us - well, he rules our hearts anyway. Levi is a mastiff/staffy/labrador cross - I guess that makes him a Mastador. I wouldn't mind betting that's what the pet shops would name his mix when they are justifying charging people an arm & a leg for the next in vogue accidental cross breeding anyway.
Marketing is everything ;)

In the two weeks that we've had him we have all learned how to smile again. We've also learned to put things away & out of reach. Well some of us have...
There have been casualties.

I'd forgotten how much puppies like to chew, & chew & then, for a change of pace, chew some more.
We have also learned that you could spend a small fortune on puppy chew toys - only to discover that just because it's chewable doesn't necessarily mean that puppy will like it. Nyla Bones come into this category - the maillemans trainers being far preferable. No doubt mine would be too - if I didn't put them away ;)
Plants are another favourite, especially the ornamental grasses in the garden. I'm picking that Levi doesn't like them any more than I do & just wants to help with some selective thinning.

Fortunately Levi is a bright wee boy & learning rather quickly. We've watched him blossom in many ways. He's gone from a puppy that was scared of the car & would lie flat on the ground as we approached it - to one who will willingly jump in the back seat & curl up there every time the door is open. He'll stay in the back while I'm driving & will happily wait when I pop into a shop...without chewing the seat belts. This earns him brownie points as it means that I take him everywhere, except  when I go to dancing...see, I told you he was clever!!

I know by getting him I have complicated our lives somewhat & that in doing so I have broken rules. But he needed a home & in exchange for that he's helping us heal.
I'd say that was a win/win situation.

The cats, on the other hand (paw?), would beg to differ!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Predictions & Fear



In this era of amazing technology we all have a voice. A voice that can be heard around the world if you put in the right key words, labels or tags & the right people happen to be searching for what you are talking about. Some people have an even bigger voice when they have media attention &, in my opinion, they also have a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner.

One such person resides in New Zealand, a man by the name of Ken Ring, or as he has become known “The Moon Man”. No, I’m not going to post links or add tags as the man has had far too much publicity already.... befriend google if you want to know more! In fact I don’t even know why I am writing about him other than the fact he has annoyed me so much & I need to vent.

You see this particular person is a weatherman so to speak. He predicts the weather based on the moon, moon cycles, lunar science & astronomical techniques.....well, at least that’s what he says.

He also predicted that Christchurch would have another huge (one for the history books) earthquake on March the 20th, 2011 just before mid day, right after the September 4th 2010, 7.1 earthquake. Not too surprisingly some people who had obviously been quiet terrified by the experience took notice & listened to what he was saying. Then we get the killer earthquake in February & many, many more took notice of what he was saying. Up until a couple of weeks ago I only had a vague awareness of the man & his prediction.

The build up to yesterday was quite phenomenal to watch. TV & Radio as well as social networking sites & forums within New Zealand were buzzing about it. It seemed that a lot of people were preparing to leave Christchurch for the weekend because of Mr Rings prediction. I was aware of it when we went out on Saturday – but it didn’t even occur to me until a lot later that it was the reason that everywhere was so busy. Cars queued at Petrol Stations, heavy traffic on the roads & supermarkets full of people. Call me obtuse!

Personally I think it’s a load of codswallop. I don’t dismiss the fact that the moon cycle dictates our tides or affects people’s behaviour & so on. Neither am I that clued up on geology – heck I can hardly even recall any of the geology I did at school (& I got some pretty high grades for it!). I’m not going to even pretend to be an expert or extremely well informed on any aspect of this. I don’t need to be.

The bottom line, for me, is surely if there were some tie in with the moon causing earthquakes wouldn’t scientists or astronomers have noticed this link many many years ago? Come on, people have been studying the night skies since time began – you can’t tell me that no one would have drawn the parallels between moon cycles & earthquakes in all of that time .....if one existed!

I’m saddened that the media gave this man undeserved attention which in turn caused so much fear with his scaremongering in a city where people already have so many issues to deal with. People that are already vulnerable & trying to sort out their futures in this post February 22nd world of ours.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Murchison Magic

Time for sharing something with a bit more positive in the mix. I've put together a photo essay of our time up in Murchison. The montage at the top are just photo's that give an idea of the area. & what it has to offer .The individual photo's below are of some pretty special memories I have of my time there.....with the associated descriptions & stories of course!

A moment that really made my heart happy was watching Gabriela coming back from her first horse ride of any real duration, on Dash, with a huge smile on her face.


Meeting Indie  whom I promptly fell in love with. A wonderfully well behaved girl of mixed parentage (Mastiff/Staffy cross) only a year old & so intelligent & loving.

The next photo is really special. Driving into the horse paddocks my cousin, Mike, spotted a bird in the distance. Initially we thought it might have been a native parrot - Kakapo or Kea perhaps, but as we got closer we saw that it was a raptor as it had prey in it's claws. Mike drove slowly & I took some photo's...wishing more than any other time that I had a decent zoom lens!! I eventually got out of the vehicle to see if I could get in a bit closer still - but this was as close as I could get. (Click on the photo to view at full size)
A bit of an internet search when we got home revealed that this was almost certainly a  New Zealand Falcon -Karearea ( Falco novaeseelandiae)..... a rare & threatened species on the verge of extinction. Mike submitted the photo's to the websites "Wingspan"& "New Zealand Falcon" & both confirmed that it was indeed a young Karearea & asked for the geographical co-ordinates of where it was spotted. We were so privileged to be in the right place at the right time!!



Meet the non-spitty Alpaca. Some time back I mentioned to Mike that I'd love an Alpaca. He promptly assured me they were nasty, smelly things that spat at people. After watching a grown man try to provoke this particular alpaca into spitting by making spitty noises, saying some things that I'm sure would have hurt the alpacas feelings & just behave like a mischievous kid in general - I'm not so sure that I believe him. All the alpaca deigned to do was give him "the look"!

Follyfoot Farm (that's what the neighbours call Mike & his wife's  menagerie of animals) & that is just what they looked like following me in after I'd opened the gate to one of the upper paddocks! I love this photo!


Horses are amazing animals. These three knew that their dinner was on the way, they were waiting for us at the gate when arrived & had started following the car to the back paddock knowing that Kris comes in around this time with their feed. I was on gate duty & had told Kris to go ahead & I'd walk up after shutting the gate. When I turned around & looked up I was absolutely delighted to see these 3, Dash, Starlight & Abby just standing there looking at me as if to say "well hurry up , are you coming or not" instead of having trotted off quickly after the car as they usually do!


Gabriela enjoying Gidget & Jazz. One very contented kiddo & two very happy dogs! Yep - that made my heart happy too.


My last sight of the horses just before I left to come home. I'd offered to go up & take their covers off & let them into the big paddock while Kris was at work. What a perfect scene.

It was so difficult to leave... I procrastinated for as long as I could & left mid afternoon to drive home. By way of compensation on the way home I found a place to stop & take photo's of the magnificant West Coast bush.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Not Without Guilt


Last week I did what I thought I would never do & left town for a few days. As it turns out it was the best thing I could have done as it gave me time to think without being surrounded by constant scenes of damage, devastation & sadness.
Time to try & sort out the various emotions that seem part of this mess was something that was desperately needed although at the time of making the hasty arrangements to go, after an impromptu comment posted by my cousin to my facebook page, I wasn't consciously aware that I needed time to sort my feelings - all I knew was that I had to get myself & Gabriela away for a while.
 
As I drove out of the city & felt the utter relief at leaving I also realised that I felt a little guilty – as if I was deserting a sinking ship. That was the first time that the word 'guilt' had come to mind.
 
The next few days went by all too quickly. We spent time with my cousin & his family just relaxing & exploring the countryside surrounding Murchison. We enjoyed being around the dogs & horses while breathing in the fresh air & scents of the country. I spent time outside at nights star gazing in a place where there is very little light pollution & the many more stars that were visible shone brighter than they do when viewed from the city. In the mornings we'd awake to low mist clouding the surrounding mountains & watch as it lifted to reveal their splendour bathed in sunlight.
 
As I cleaned my teeth or grabbed a glass of water I thought how nice it was just to be able to run water straight from the tap without boiling it first. As I showered I realised that for the first time in over a week I didn't feel guilty for actually being able to have a shower...or for having the power available to heat the water in the first place. And therein lays the problem.
 
Ever since the February 22nd earthquake struck I'd known how blessed we were to be just outside the area that was hit so badly. I'd known how fortunate we were to get our power back on the same day & our water restored within 36 hours - & for the life of me I couldn't figure why, yet again, we were spared most of the damage. It didn't feel right that this little area I live in was relatively unaffected while there were varying degrees of damage so very close to it on every side. I felt bad that we had what we did, when others had lost their homes. It felt selfish to be so grateful that my family were all safe when others had lost their loved ones.
 
After the initial stunned disbelief at what had happened started to wear off & the new reality slowly settled in it still didn't feel right to worry about small issues. I thought about filling out insurance claims – & a little voice suggested how dare I be thinking of replacing 'things'!! The thought of my 13 year old now having to attend a different venue for school which involves her travelling home by bus from the other side of town in the dark (when daylight savings finishes soon) didn't exactly thrill me, but again it felt selfish to be worrying about that.
 
Feelings of guilt & selfishness are bad things when they start undermining what, at any other time, are quite normal emotions & reactions when presented with a problem or concern. They colour your every thought & move, they inhibit your ability to heal, to move forward or even be able to see a future that is better than the present.
 
Part of the problem is that we don't see those feelings as guilt until we can distance ourselves from the situation, take stock of what we have been going through & think about those feelings we have been experiencing. After I got back & started talking to others about what was happening in their lives I've realised that I wasn't alone in the way I was feeling. I've heard people say "I feel quite guilty at how lightly I have gotten off" many times now....amazingly enough in some cases by people that have suffered through hugely traumatic experiences in the city on the day of the quake & have only just managed to get away with their lives.
 
The trauma counsellors that are available for people to talk to suggest that one of the best things you can do is get together with the social groups that you are involved in, carry on doing the things you have always enjoyed & talk with others sharing your experiences. As it turned out that was extremely good advice. I'm pleased that a strong desire to do something normal over ruled the feelings of guilt that arose from going out & doing something as frivolous as dancing a week after such a destructive event!
 
Once again I find myself working through a whole heap of feelings & emotions. Knowing that some of them are normal doesn't help a whole heap at times.
 
What does help is knowing that a bit of time away can give insight & in turn heal....& believe me there is no place better to do it than in a small country town surrounded by magnificent scenery, open fields, lots of animals & great human company.
 
When it puts a smile on your child's face that is just a huge bonus!!


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Copper Verdigris

You'll remember the February Artistic Challenge that Mallory & I blogged about - "Colo(u)r Me Copper" that we announced (late) a couple of weeks ago. Well this one was most surely a case of life getting in the way of art. 
The end of the month came & went & there was no reveal from me, not because I hadn't done anything but because my mind & life was in a different space. It still is - but I have decided to show you how far I got before the earth started wreaking havoc on land & lives here. I need some 'normal'.

Mallory had discovered this fabulous free downloadable tutorial on colouring copper (or brass & bronze) with ammonia & salt using a fuming method. There are other solutions such as vinegar, lemon juice, potassium (found in a lot of garden fertilisers)  that can be used to obtain different colours. Another option is, dare I say it, urine - although I'm not in any real hurry to play with that one!! Ammonia just by itself will do the job also. There are as many methods of applying the patina as there are substances to use to create a patina. For now

Being particularly drawn to the bright turquoise verdigris finish that appears naturally on copper, brass & bronze when exposed to air or seawater over time I began my play with the ammonia & salt fuming method. It was so quick & simple to do! 
As I watched the patina develop I recalled how some years ago I used lemon juice & salt mixed to a paste to clean a large brass coal bucket. After rubbing the solution on all over with a damp cloth  to remove the tarnish I had to rinse it off well before buffing the brass up to a shine. A few days  later, in the areas where the handle joined onto the body of the bucket, verdigris developed. It was obvious that I hadn't rinsed off the lemon & salt solution well enough where it had seeped in under the riveted plates that held the handle on.

The next experiments are going to be with lemon juice & salt ....& since as there is a wealth of information out there on the internet I expect I'll find a way to speed up the process along with other methods of applying it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Whatever

It's difficult to believe that it was only just over a week ago I finally got back to the torch for a couple of hours after such a long hiatus. It seems so much longer ago than that. Last Sunday morning I unloaded the kiln with little expectation, knowing that essentially I'd played with scrap glass just getting a feel for things again & was pleasantly surprised that my uglies weren't quite as ugly as I imagined they would be.

The mailleman watched my surprise as I examined the beads & commented "You'll have to get torching again this afternoon" & I replied with "No, but I'll be back into it head on on Wednesday". I recall him asking why I was waiting until Wednesday & explaining that I had a few things I wanted to do on Monday, along with dancing (which makes every Monday something to look forward too!) & on Tuesday I was going out with my sister in law in the morning & had some loose ends to tie up in the afternoon.

The 'few things' were getting the house ship shape, thereby eliminating any excuses about not being able to focus on work when everything around me was untidy, & to tidy up the vege garden. Tuesdays 'loose ends' were to finish off a couple of small projects I had been working on & rearrange my workspace. The house got tidied, I know that much.  I recall that on Tuesday morning being so pleased with how the kitchen looked as I headed out the door with my sister in law, knowing I could come home after our outing & put another coat of sealer on my new workbench top, run a couple of errands & then finish off my copper patina experiments all before Gabriela got home.
We all know how that turned out. The house doesn't look so tidy any more either. But none of this is very important.

What I had planned on doing on Wednesday was the important thing. The wonderful girls at Ris'tretto had sold the last of the Haiti Hearts & I'd promised them I was going to make more. That was to be Wednesday task.

Amazingly enough the Haiti Hearts had continued selling locally even after our 7.1 mag Earthquake back in September. I'm thinking that our wee shake back then most likely raised awareness & a deeper understanding for what the Haitians had been through. It certainly added further dimension for me even though the plight of Haiti had been on my mind & heart from that day back in January 2010 when it happened.

How strange it was yesterday to hear Helen Clark, our ex Prime Minister & now based in the USA as  the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, say that the devastation here was on a par with Haiti. She'd visited Haiti  right after their earthquake last year & now Christchurch. It's somehow added yet another layer to what already feels surreal.

It's also had a palliative effect. Perhaps it was a reminder that I needed at a time when it is so easy to get consumed by all that surrounds us.
When I start to feel a bit low & hopeless about everything that is unfolding around me or worry what to do about my girls whom I cant afford to send away out of it all,  & really don't know whether I would want to  be apart from them even if I could afford to send them to school else where in the country, I can't help but think that we have so many more options than Haiti did. We had so many options available to begin with than Haiti did.

I can't help but think of the systems already in place that allowed quick response times by emergency services locally & the speed in which international teams were able to arrive & get to work unhindered by red tape & politics.

Then it is not so difficult to see hope amidst this destruction.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Degrees of Seperation


As a city we've spent almost 6 months pulling ourselves, our lives & our city back together only to see it all destroyed in a matter of seconds.

5 3/4 months ago I called the first earthquake, not a tragedy, but an inconvenience. I got annoyed at friends that bemoaned breakages & damage. I told them that we were fortunate & so incredibly blessed because no lives had been lost. I wish beyond anything I could ever have imagined that I could say the same this time.

To go out among it is heartbreaking enough on it's own. It's a strange & heartbreaking sight, but then this city known for it's old Gothic revival buildings, beautiful parks, rivers & English beauty is now full of unimaginable sights.
Last time, after a short while of mourning the forever changed landscape, I could find the positive in what was left & be grateful for the old buildings & churches that have survived with little or no damage. Now I am struggling to do that.
How can you do that with a death toll that stands at 147 with 200 still missing?

On the afternoon of the 22nd February this city & the lives of everyone in it changed, irrevocably, for the worse. I knew without one iota of doubt when that sucker hit that this was going to be bad. I was shocked when I finally made contact with the outside world 30 minutes later to discover that it was only 6.3 magnitude as it had felt in every way so much bigger & more violent that the first one & I'd been sure in my mind that it was an 8-9 magnitude.

I can't really describe the hours that followed as just small bit's of information trickled in while I was out searching for a daughter that I knew had left school early only 20 minutes before the quake hit, then later trying to get to my Mothers over broken bridges & roads because I couldn't contact her. But later on that night when the power came on down at my Aunts place & we turned on TV the full shock & horror of just how bad it was hit home.

As I've said in many emails & messages over the past couple of days in a country that only has around two degree's of separation, instead of the usual six degree's, it was only a matter of time before we would be affected by the loss of someone we knew or knew of. The same will go for most in this city.

But this isn't just Christchurch's tragedy - it's international. Japan has 26 students missing, China 20, the Phillipines 14, 2 South Koreans & 6 from Thailand. It's thought that there are deceased & missing from over 20 countries. How on earth do you deal with that? Not just the people you know - but visitors that came to New Zealand, to Christchurch, by choice to study English perhaps or work in a country that was safer or the pay better. There are parents, children & families all around the world that are holding out hope that fades daily or already grieving. This all just breaks my heart.

I can find some tiny bit's of consolation in the stories that are coming to light, some extremely close to me, of near misses. A missed appointment in one of the buildings that collapsed or a detour that meant someone was late getting back to work in another, but they don't make the losses any less significant or heartbreaking.

To others the damage & loss of homes is a very real & immediate problem. Areas that escaped very lightly in the first Earthquake got hit hard this time & area's that got hit hard the first time have been hit again with even more velocity & damage.
With the September earthquake, because of where the fault line was, the hill suburbs avoided damage & most of the impact was felt by those to the South of the city,  in the city & the Eastern suburbs.

Five & 3/4 months of cleaning, making do, waiting & dealing with the EQC & insurance companies ensued, people got tired. Rules changed - so did what people had originally been told. The elderly especially wanted to know what was happening & how long it would take. Lets face it, some won't be around by the time their homes are replaced or repaired.

Now the suburbs that were hit the hardest last time have been hit hard again, roads damaged beyond belief & more homes damaged beyond repair. The hill suburbs have taken a huge hit with houses extensively damaged or destroyed by rock falls. Five days in & a lot of them  still have neither power or water. This also means that many of them have no real idea of the utter disaster in the Central Business District. They may have heard bits & pieces but that is completely different to actually seeing the devastation.

I have 49 years invested in this city, it may not be where I'd like to live the rest of my life, but it is as much a part of me as the blood that runs through my veins. The images I've seen stun me, each time it is like a physical blow to the chest - I can only imagine what they will do to the elderly that are perhaps ill prepared to deal with it.

I live in a little pocket that is seemingly untouched - yet I only have to walk as far as the end of my street to see the signs of liquefaction, a 5 minute walk up the road & around a corner & it is like a different planet, another 500 meters away in the opposite direction & the power is still out...in another subdivision around the age of this one that has suffered structural damage to many of it's homes. It beggars belief.

My family are all safe & well & I live in a small subdivision that is appears to be untouched.I've seen this referred to as luck - but do I feel lucky? No, I feel blessed, but also very conflicted. 

I see the hurt & the loss of others & feel so useless, it feels selfish to be happy about what I have got. Part of me wants to get in the car & drive as fast & far as I can away from here - but would I leave now if I could? No!! I want to reach out & help everyone that's hurting in some way, but all I can do is offer to share the safe haven & facilities we have here with whoever needs them or be supportive to people who need support in any way I can. But somehow it isn't enough. I want to do more & don't know what more to do.

It eases the heart a little to see the overwhelming International support. Teams of experts in all fields have flown in from  7 countries to do a job that few of us would want do, putting their lives at risk in the process. The 55 strong British search & rescue team, last deployed in Haiti, brought with them 11 tonnes of specialist equipment - mind boggling! Australia, the USA, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore have sent teams & support people to work alongside our NZ Police & Search & Rescue teams.

The NZ Military is putting every man it can on the job over & above the 1000 strong contingent that were already in the area from all around the country preparing  to leave on a Military exercise when the earthquake hit. It's humbling.
It's also reassuring to know that we have the best the world has to offer here at this time. Thank you world.

Please understand that the people of this city are bewildered & in some part scared. There are so many questions about the future that right now simply can't be answered. We have to get through the 'now'.Nothing in this city makes much sense any more. Soon enough the world will have other problems & media will move on & focus on the next news worthy issue. For those of us who live here, those that call Christchurch home, this is a luxury we don't have.

Broken lives, broken hearts, broken roads & broken homes - but not ever broken spirits. 
Kia Kaha - Forever Strong. That is Canterbury!


The UC Student Volunteer Army, organised by a University of Canterbury student to go out to the suburbs & help with cleaning up the silt & whatever needs doing.