Monday, 18 December 2017

#52Stories, Week 51, What do you look forward to as each new season approaches ?


I’ll start here since I have a spring birthday. Blue skies, trees and shrubs bursting into leaf, blossom buds appearing – sometimes even before the leaves, spring showers and soft breezes. Slowly lengthening daylight hours. Cool nights. Birdsong. Baby animals and birds.


Sunshine, dappled shade, trips to the beach, lake, river. Barbecues. Warmth. Water play. Christmas, holidays, salads. Blue skies and sudden downpours. Stone fruit and berries – picked fresh if possible. Crickets and cicadas singing. Gentle breezes.


Cooler mornings. Changing leaves, red, green, orange, yellow, brown. Dew lingering on leaves and flowers, first frosts. Clear skies. Indian summers. Cool breezes, surprise showers.


Shorter days, longer nights, cosy evenings, comfort food. Stormy days, stormy nights, rain, frosty air, maybe snow ? Woolly hats and scarves. Camellia, Magnolia, Rhododendron, Daffodil braving the chilly air, a sign of what is to follow.

Friday, 15 December 2017

#52Stories, Week 50, Which of your childhood holiday traditions have you carried on into adulthood. What new traditions have you started ?

Making a fruit cake is the obvious tradition which I have continued. (Although it has been missing the last couple of years since I became a bit of a gypsy.)

I still send cards each year, not as many as I did once. Not because there are less people to send to; more that I make my own and lack of organisation often means I run out of time. It is also more costly these days as postal services struggle to run their businesses. But as connected as I am on the web, I still believe in snail mail. If we all give up and don’t use it – it will be lost forever. (In New Zealand anyway. Other countries who complain about their services still have effective services operating today. Don’t get me started on the indefinite amount of time it takes to send and receive mail on three teeny islands.)

So, making cards is a new thing and there have been many different designs over the years (I just found about 15 or 16 years of photos !).

Packaging. This has become a real part of the process for me. The thought which goes into the gift and then the presentation.

Writing a Christmas newsletter to update friends and family of the happenings during the year.

Decorating with a theme. This too has gone a bit by the by since moving around more. White tree/Red & green tree/Gold tree/Silver tree/Red & white tree

I have a bit of a thing about snowmen – like Frosty who I made some years ago.

I have a couple of other snowman ornaments packed away. I like penguins too – not so many of those ornaments though. Santas too – big fat round ones, tall skinny wizardy looking ones; and then houses. “Claire’s Card Shop” which was given to me one year as well as a gingerbread house and others lit by led lights run on batteries.

Then there is bunting – nowhere really to put this up this year so it is safely in a box with the others waiting for “one day” to arrive.

Carols by candlelight, or just carols in the park. One thing I miss from Wellington is the Onslow Brass Band. They would walk around the streets, stop at intervals and play carols, collecting for charity at the same time. Hearing the strains of a carol played across the valley or at the bottom of the drive always had that “feelgood feeling”. Like Christmas really is here.

Going to church for Christmas Eve carols, sometimes going to the same church each year, other times going somewhere else, a new faith or a church in a different suburb.

Checking out the Christmas light displays. This probably started when we lived in Hamilton when Lauren was 2 or 3 and we went to the lights at the Temple in Tuhikaramea. Lots of late night driving to streets and suburbs far afield ensued. Sometimes we’d go after the Christmas Eve church service as well. This year, no car, so it will depend how far we need to walk.

Some traditions have gone for now; retired – letters from Santa, snowy footprints under the tree, cookies and milk left on a table and water outside for the reindeer.

#52Stories, Week 49, What were some of your favourite holiday traditions from childhood ? How far back do these traditions go - to your parents or grandparents' generation or even beyond ?

For these traditions I am sticking with Christmas. Apart from Easter there aren’t really other specific holidays that we celebrated growing up in New Zealand, unlike Thanksgiving or Independence Day in the States.

Making a fruit cake seems to have been something which has happened every year. Standing on a chair, stirring (with a bit of help sometimes), making a wish. I remember helping Nana and Mum, and then I remember Lauren helping them both – and me, in later years.

Where did that start ? Did Granny Fuller make them as well, and so my Nana continued that tradition and passed it on to some of us ?

We used to get an orange or another piece of fruit in our stockings from Nana and Granddad – never coal though, so that was good.

The postie used to deliver masses of Christmas cards from friends and family all over the country and some even in other parts of the world. Some of these came with notes about what had happened during the year on the inside, others came with handwritten letters.

Thank you boxes of chocolate or similar were left in the letterbox for the milkman - and maybe for the postie too ?

Making crepe paper streamers and paper chains to decorate our bedrooms or the tree.

Decorating the tree – I remember some years having a biggish tree inside propped up in a bucket. We would go with a trailer to collect it from somewhere – a forest? someone’s farm? At some point though a small tree was bought and grown in a pot to come inside each year…then came the artificial ones; and no more hayfever from the pine smell.

We would leave a pillowcase on our beds on Christmas Eve and when we woke up – voila ! No idea how Santa got inside filled up the "sack" and back out so quietly.

Some part of Christmas Day would normally be spent with cousins, and grandparents at one house or another - or on holiday somewhere. One year, in the snow at Milford Sound !

Thursday, 14 December 2017

#52Stories, Week 48, Let the planning begin !

In 1978 I got my first passport.

That September I went to Fiji with my friend Jo. We had both been working for a year or so since leaving school. Jo’s parents had been to Fiji before and had a network of friends there.

I travelled up to Hamilton from Wellington (did I fly ? I cant remember) and stayed at Jo’s. Next morning her sister in law Jane took us to Auckland to catch our plane. Our first night we stayed with the sisters at a convent. Interesting people – nuns.

The next morning we waited at the convent gate with our baggage for a bus and made our way from Nadi to Suva. We stayed in Suva for a few days – maybe a week ? with friends of Jo’s parents.

While we were there we met some other people and when it came time for us to head back to Nadi they gave us a ride – instead of bussing again. We spent a couple of nights on the Coral Coast and then about 3 or 4 more in Nadi. Lots of lazing about the pool, a day trip to Beachcomber and Treasure Islands, cruising the waters in a glass bottomed boat looking at the coral and brightly coloured fish.

It was loads of fun !

When I saw Jo just before we moved from Auckland this year, we were talking about that holiday and decided we are going back. For our next big milestone birthdays.

Rather than 40 years since the first time, it will 41 years instead.

Let the planning begin.

#52Stories, Week 47, In what ways do you sacrifice your time to volunteer in your community ? Do you serve at church, at a local school, at charitable or civic organisations, one-on-one in your neighbourhood ?

Right now, I don’t.

I did have good intentions when I moved that I would get involved with things while I was looking for work. But really, looking for work seems a tad more important right now – tricky as it appears to be.

In the past though there have been a few occasions where I have been a volunteer.

Collecting for charities; Red Cross, SPCA, Plunket…

Brownie leader, Pippin leader, Division/District Commissioner/Coordinator with GirlGuidingNZ and all my “other” daughters.

Wellington City Ambassador – greeting cruise passengers and welcoming them to Wellington, answering questions, making suggestions for activites and giving directions

All of them lots of fun – and soon I am sure I will find something else to do as well.

#52Stories, Week 46, What animal welfare causes capture your heart and inspire you to take action ? Habitat loss, pet abuse and neglect, wildlife preservation, animal testing, factory farming ?

All of the above.

Send me a petition about animal welfare, cruelty, habitat loss, wildlife preservation, animal testing and I will sign it.

Fill my social media feed with images of cute furry animals suffering and I will normally take action and/or repost it to spread the word.

I’ll bake cupcakes for SPCA Cupcake Day, sponsor an animal with the zoo or WWF, make donations to charity collections, buy tshirts, bags and paraphernalia supporting said charities.

When our little Sparkle left us for Kitty Heaven we took all her bowls and toys to the SPCA. Last time we moved we donated carloads of household goods to the their charity shop.

When we holidayed in the States we planned our itinerary around being able to visit and volunteer at Best Friends in Kanab, Utah. A long way to go for one afternoon, but totally worth it.

Local cat cafĂ©’s working in partnership with animal rescue and fostering groups; Lonely Miaow, Kitten Inn, Red Zone Cats. GREAT people doing AMAZING stuff with very little resource.

PAW Justice too, like the SPCA working to eliminate cruelty, animal testing, abuse, neglect.

#AdoptDontShop #SaveThemAll #TreasuresNotTrophies

Monday, 11 December 2017

#52Stories, Week 45, What environmental issues are most important to you ? Air and water pollution, climate change, recycling, deforestation, endangered/threatened species, renewable energy ?

Plastic, people.


It is the evil which is destroying our water,
killing sealife, birdlife and in the end the ENTIRE planet.

Stop using it,
stop buying it,
stop accepting that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g needs to be packaged in it.

Use beeswax wraps, glass containers, paper packaging, take your own bags shopping for produce and any sort of shopping.
Say NO to the plastic bag.

It starts with us.
The more of us saying NO,
the sooner the producers of this evil will need to CHANGE their business plan.

Be a conscious shopper
Be a conscious recycler
Lobby your council to have a regular organic rubbish collection
THINK about what you are sending to landfill

Watch this  
change your ways.

It starts with US

So, there is that rant…

…don’t let me get started on the filthy dairy industry polluting our waterways,
ruining our land, overproducing milk, dumping milk, manipulating the natural breeding patterns of dairy herds

...or deforestation and climate change

For generations we lived sustainably on this ball of earth floating in the universe. The past 2 centuries have seen great changes technologically, but they have come with a total disregard to the planet which has nurtured us so well.

It starts with US