Name this plant!

We have a few of these plants growing in the garden. They first got my attention because the leaves grew at 90-degree angles. 
They have grown into this and one has little round balls growing on them. I thought they might bloom, but so far, no blossoms.
Do any of my garden savvy friends know what this plant is?

**Edit**Thanks to Merinz who identified it as Euphorbia lathyris.


30-year grudge

Who holds a grudge for 30 years? I mean, what sort of things have to go through your head for all those

months (360) 
weeks (1560) 
days (10950) 
hours (262800) 
minutes (15768000) 
seconds (946080000)

That's a long time to be mad at the world because you can't control every little thing around you. If you've ever lived with someone else, you know that you have to learn to compromise and you can never, ever have everything your way. It just doesn't happen. Well, not in a healthy relationship, anyway.

I find it amazing that my kids hold a grudge for about a second and a half. They can be mad at me for something I said (most likely, reminded them of something they forgot) and give me 'the look' and then a minute later we are laughing about something on telly like nothing ever happened. When I was their age, I would get upset with Mom and still be mad a few hours later. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure that she noticed that I was still mad at her, but I digress.....

In my less-mature days, I would hold onto bad feelings for quite a while. Until I realized that the person I was mad at wasn't even aware of my feelings. I had to learn to forgive so that I could stop wasting time that could be better spent on other things. Because I knew that they weren't using their time thinking about me. They were preoccupied with their own lives. 

But then the ultimate of grudge holders came along on Facebook. (Cue mysterious musical notes: Duh. Duh! Duh!!) TUG (the ultimate grudge-holder) wanted to be my friend.

Flashback....Long before we knew that TUG existed, when I was 13, her husband (JP) spent the summer with his married sister upstairs from us. We became friends, along with his two younger sisters, playing basketball in the alley, walking to the store, going across town to swim at Wolf Lake. Our families got together and I'd spend time at their folk's house in a town about an hour's drive away. Somewhere along the way, he gave me my first 'real' kiss and, thus, stole a little piece of my heart forever. 

After a while, life lead us to different places and the two of us married different people. JP called me at the hospital when I had my son, although I thought it was curious that he never said his name, even to the nurse who answered the phone. Then, when TUG called me at home to ask if he had called me because she found a phone number in his wallet, I knew how things were at their house. 

And that's what immediately came to mind when I got her friend request on FB. So, I ignored the request and checked out her profile. I found one of the aforementioned younger sisters and sent her a message asking about the family in general. I didn't get an immediate response, but that's not unusual on FB.

I did, however, get a message from TUG. The first line said, 'we are happy'. Now anybody with any sense know that if you have to start out with that sort of statement, it's not true. She then proceeded to call me names and tell me that she knew about my message to the sister. I blocked her on my and the kids' accounts.

Whatever she thinks, I know for sure that I am not guilty. But, I suppose it's flattering--in a sick sort of way--that she still thinks about me after all these years.  

I do feel sorry for JP because he was a sweet, gentle man who loved with all his heart. Sadly, she has stomped it into a million little pieces (I can see it on his face in the ONE photo that has him in it). But, then he made his decision to stay with TUG. The one thing I regret is that he never asked me to marry him. He thought he wasn't good enough for me. Silly man.


Teaberry shuffle

Our phone company gives us new phones occasionally as an incentive to stay with their service. They're not flash, but then we usually only use them to text, so we don't need much.

So, I was thinking about some ringtones to download and the 'Teaberry Shuffle' popped into my head. You know, this one...

So, I'm looking around the internet for it and came across this link....


It's to
Old Time Candy Company

...where you can buy teaberry gum, neccos, turkish taffy, chocolate cigarettes and all the good stuff from my childhood!

I just had to share this link for a stroll down memory lane!

The ringtones will have to wait!


Our tree

We have come to rely on my faithful ficus as an alternative Christmas tree for the last 2 years. I think it's fun to be a bit different and it's much easier than a real tree or putting up a fake one!


It's the silly season

The 'silly season' is that time in the summer when news is slow and reporting resorts to those stories not usually given another thought. It has, indeed, begun.

It started with the last week of 'school'. Years 9 and 10 had yet another week of no learning which is, instead, turned into an 'optional' activities week. Otterboy chose to watch movies all week, while being filled with crap 'snacks' provided by the school. Hrumph.  And, once again, our fine Stratford High School took it upon themselves to decide what would be shown and the kids got to see 'Zombieland'. It is rated 'R' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1156398/ ) and the school showed it to 14 and 15 year olds. When we discussed it with other parents at a dinner, the general concensus was, 'they don't care and won't ever change.'

On a lighter note, we had the annual food bank donation drive last week. The city police cars and fire trucks rode up and down every street of the city with their sirens on while volunteers collected bags of food that we left beside our mailboxes. I think that's a very cool thing for the community to do and this year was their biggest collection ever!!

It rained a bit yesterday and today, for the first time in several weeks. It has been so long that the city was already on restriction for watering outside.  I would think the city could look into collecting the rain that fell for days on end last winter.  But it's really not that bad for us since we are not into gardening much at all this year.

Getting lots of Australian TV programs has introduced me to a great Australian comic named Wil Anderson. His stand-up uses a lot of 'f' bombs, but the man is FUNNY!!! Here's his website, http://www.wilanderson.com.au/.

We plan to get another cat after our holiday at the end of January. But until then, I decided to see how much I could lure the neighbor's cat into our lives. (Shame on me for being so vengeful because he said such nasty things about our poor Phred when he died). I believe we have lured Biskit (that's what we call him) as much as he will be lured. He comes into our house and wanders around, tentatively, when he thinks nobody's there. Our computer is in an extra bedroom down the hall and one day, I saw his little face peering around the doorframe but he was out the door before I could catch up! He also climbs up the privacy fence to get to the roof, like Phred did, but when he sees me in the patio door, he climbs straight down and expects some kitty love scratches. I used to think he came to get the milk we put out for him, but he just likes some attention. He won't ever be a house cat, but I'm pleased that he enjoys our company.

There has been a rash of bicycle accidents around the country, mostly in Auckland, the biggest city. The first thing that 'they' (whoever 'they' are) decided was that drivers need to be taught better how to share the roads. I think we would all be better served by teaching people to look before they open their car doors into traffic so the bikes don't have to swerve into traffic to avoid the door. A little courtesy goes a long way.

I"m still trying to get into 'the spirit' of the holidays, although, I've never been one to get into the over-decorating or over-buying. I guess I'm way too pragmatic for that. I might not get all pumped up for just one day of the year, but I do appreciate the Reason for the Season and the fact that God works all year round and not just at Christmas time.


Floppy bakeware

If you are as old mature as I am and anything like me, you laughed and scoffed the first time you saw these...silicone pans.

Actually, I said, 'Ewww!' the first time, and all subsequent times, I saw them. I thought, 'How could that possibly not melt!'  If Hubby was with me, he would point to them and mock, 'Ewww!' with a fake shudder to add effect. (What a sweetheart.)

Then we moved to this house. The fan on the oven never worked and the rental agent didn't seem to want to pursue the fact, so I just let it go. I figured that I lived without a fan in my oven all my life until I moved to NZ, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Well, it turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought. Especially when I baked bread. This oven left the tops nice and brown but the bottoms quite doughy and white. 

And my mini meat pies in the Texas size cupcake pans...the tops looked wonderful, but the bottoms didn't look cooked at all. I was not a happy camper--the family looooooooves pies.

I tried baking everything a bit longer but that didn't work. I tried getting the oven super hot before I put the bread in. That didn't work either.

So, out of complete desperation, I tried one of these floppy pans...a small loaf pan. Just to see. And hope it would work. Fingers crossed (I know that doesn't help, but it made me feel like I was helping) and holding my breath (well, ok, just taking a deep breath as I put them in the oven). And then the wait. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. (yes, I know, clocks don't tick-tock any more, they sort of click along, but I was trying to add to the dramatic effect) Anyway......


The pan worked beautifully. It distributed the heat much more evenly around the dough and my bottoms were brown. I was so impressed that I went out and bought several more, including (of course) mini pie pans.

I may be old mature, but I can still learn a trick or two!


Ski field at Stratford

We took a hike part way up the mountain following the trail to the ski field.
This is the ski field...the light green part. 

Yes, people hike for about 30 minutes up a trail (with equipment in hand) used by the DOC (Dept of Conservation) to here, where they put their skis and stuff on the cable car.

Then, they go through this tunnel (which is an avalanche shelter)...

...down, across the gully, up the other side (you can see the railing in the shot below)...

...to get to the lodge to ski.
 It seems like a whole lot of work to me but it must be worth it.


Hawera push bike pub crawl is on!

For those of you who end up at my blog while googling information about the Hawera Pub Crawl, there is good news! Here is the latest newspaper article from the South Taranaki Star: 

For my post about last year's pub crawl and for a link to my photos, click here.


phantom children

I am the type of person that appreciates the strange twists that come about from day to day living. Our family has a lot of weird stuff that doesn't mean a thing to anybody but us. The perfect examples of 'you had to be there...'

For instance, if you heard one of us say, with a British accent, "We don't like it," it would be followed by snickers and giggles from the rest of us. And, I'm sure you wouldn't expect anybody looking out the car window to yell, "John Deere!" when one was spotted, but it happens in our car. You would probably try to ignore one of us imitating, in slow motion no less, someone  taking a bullet for another and saying, 'Nooooooooo!' in the middle of a SkipBo game.  See? You had to be there.

So, when a phantom set of children popped up in conversation a few weeks ago, I wasn't really surprised.

You see, Otterboy and Missy spend a week at our house and then a week at their Mum's house and the two households have some things that are distinctly different, like the food that is served and what the kids' responsibilities are. We have always tried to be open with the kids and try to keep discussions about the differences on a light note. Naturally, we have some inside jokes about the differences and these seem to come up at the dinner table.

And then, it happened.

When one of the kids asked for more meat, Hubby said, "Well, the other children always ask for more vegetables. They don't ask for more meat."

"What other children?"

"The ones that are here the weeks that you aren't."

And, not missing a beat, the discussion went on about what 'the other children' did and didn't do.

I was relieved that they reacted so well, but had a twinge of guilt that it might not be emotionally healthy for them. I guess I needn't have worried because these 'other children' come up in conversation a lot. And then, Otterboy played his trump card last week.

 He told us how the 'other parents' buy them more ice cream than we do!!

So we now have phantom children and phantom parents. I don't know if it's  healthy but it sure is interesting!