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!


That strange thing.....

For those of you who knew what was going on with my succulent (click here for original post) (and for those who were as confused as I was!) I am delighted to show you the final blooming...


It sure photographs well, don't you think?!


Miners are feared dead

A second explosion at a New Zealand coal mine Wednesday wiped out all hope of rescuing the 29 miners missing after a powerful blast six days ago.
Police and mine bosses in the South Island town of Greymouth said that, just as a 16-man rescue team was preparing to enter the Pike River mine, a huge explosion ended all hope.
The blast, caused by a build-up of methane within the mine, made it "extremely unlikely" that anyone could have survived, bosses said.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/world/Second+blast+ends+hope+saving+miners+Zealand/3874784/story.html#ixzz16EatlG3z

Our prayers are with your families and friends.


NZ miners trapped

In case you haven't heard, NZ had a mine explosion last week and the miners are still trapped underground.  Please pray for them and their families.

Rescuers waiting for the all-clear to enter the Pike River mine face a harrowing two-hour walk, carrying up to 24 kilograms of equipment, to search for their trapped "brothers".
One of the missing men is one of their own – a Mines Rescue worker. But the situation is so dangerous that a worker taking samples from the surface of the mine on Saturday had to be evacuated.
As soon as the poisonous gases have reduced to safe levels in the chambers, the rescuers assembled at the mine entrance will make their painstaking descent.
"The logistics of deployment underground are quite vast," said Trevor Watt, general manager of NZ Mine Rescue.

You can read more here:

and here:


I suck at procrastination

I get livid with Hubby sometimes because he's a procrastinator. I don't say anything because it's not ever really important that he do those particular things right away. Nobody will die if he doesn't and we won't have to move or anything. It's just that I am the type to do things 'now' so you don't have to worry about them later. They will be be done and you don't have to think about them any more. I try to get this through to the kids, but they don't seem to be enthused about any sort of 'work'.

I just realized that my 'do it now' attitude might border on compulsion. Or might be a step across the line of being a compulsion. Here's the story, you decided.

I was putting away the dishes from the drainer when I notice that there were a few dirty dishes on the counter. Among them was a large cookie sheet that I had used to bake some potato wedges. I think to myself, 'Self, if you wash the cookie sheet, the counter will not look 'dirty' in the morning when you get up.' So I wash the cookie sheet.

Then I notice that both of the cups that Hubby uses for coffee were dirty. I think to myself, 'Self, if you wash one of them, Hubby will have a clean cup when he gets home from work in the morning. He would like that.' So I wash one of the cups.

Then I think to myself, 'Self, there are just a few dishes left, so you may as well wash them all and be done with it and the kitchen will be clean when  you come in for morning coffee.'

Yes, I did all the dishes. I suck at procrastination.


The truth about bacon

As a young 'un, the older generations of my family always served bacon with eggs, biscuits and gravy when we had large family breakfast occasions (like early-morning arrivals from out-of-town). They served lots of bacon. There was usually bacon left to nibble on when the meal was over.

I like bacon. I also like breakfast sausage with my eggs, sometimes. And a slice of nice smoked ham is good, too. But, the men in my life have always preferred bacon. They politely said 'No' when I suggested sausage patties or links. They just wanted bacon. I always thought it was because were stuck in a rut, but the fact of the matter is that they just want bacon. Period. Don't try to change their minds. Bacon is what holds male testosterone together.

Never would I have though that bacon was such a dramatic food until I moved to NZ. No, NZ bacon is not the same as American bacon. It gives me a headache trying to figure out how to explain it all, so if your world only included one type of bacon, click this link to see what I mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon .

And with the bacon all figured out, I have tried to introduce actual ham to my new family. Hubby is always on board with different food, since he figured out I  know my way around the kitchen, and will enjoy just about anything I put in front of him.Except spinach, but that's another story....

The kids, on the other hand, are...well, I'm just glad that they don't pay much attention to things. Apparently, they decided they didn't like 'ham' at some point because they think all ham is 'pressed  ham' (I think that's what they mean), so I just serve them ham and let them assume it's bacon. That keeps everybody happy. And I don't have get a headache worrying about what kind of bacon to buy.

Bacon. What would the world be without it?


NZ school system sucks...still

A few months ago, I posted an article about the NZ school system (click here to read it) that suggested raising the bar to get into university. I don't know about other districts, but I do know I have a few suggestions about Stratford High School.

The first one would be to actually have classes for the whole school year. I realize that this is a radical idea, but it might just work. See if you follow my train of thought....

The school year, this year, is suppose to end on the 10th of December. Missy's last actual 'class' will be on Friday, the 12th of November, because she has final exams spread over the next few weeks. Apparently, the school is not equipped to actually keep her in class and give the tests at the same time, so her whole class has 'study leave' for almost a whole month. 

The 'seniors' (grades 11-13) 'prize-giving' (that's the equivalent of 'awards night' for those not familiar with the term) is Thursday. During school time. But only after having at least one 'practice' for it--making at least 2 days that Missy could be in class. 

Obviously, this schedule upset has thrown off the whole school because Otterboy and the other 'juniors' (grades 9-10) have the day off. I mean, gee, who would have seen this annual day coming?

My second suggestion for Stratford High School is yet another radical idea. It is to actually read the transcripts of the incoming students and use those to place the 9th graders juniors in the correct class. I'm pretty sure that the primary schools keep records. And, I'm equally sure that they are, for the most part, accurately kept. I think it would be a nice gesture to actually put them to use. I bet the teachers who wrote them would be thrilled to know they are used instead of simply taking up file drawer space. This would give the high school a whole extra year to actually teach the kids something instead of herding them all into classes for a year to babysit and then determine the classes they need.

I have another suggestion for teachers: Appreciate and encourage your students who are eager to learn more than the rest of the class. Otterboy is a typical teenage boy, but when he comes home and complains that he's bored because he's done all the work and the teacher doesn't take enough interest in him to keep him focused in the subject, it breaks my heart.

Now I know this is a lot for the school to comprehend--especially, when they can't even put enough effort into their permission slips to tell me everything I need to know before I turn my precious child over to their care. But, they need to start somewhere. Enough students have been cheated.


You never know...

I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door--
not by the beauty of it all, nor the lights nor it’s décor,

But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp—
The thieves, the liars, the sinners, alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kids from seventh grade who swipe my
lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,
was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I’d love to hear Your take.
How ‘d all these sinners get in here? God must’ve made a mistake.
And why is everyone quiet, so somber? Give me a clue?”

“Hush, child,” He said, “They’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.”


Strange thing in my garden....

I have very little experience with succulents and was going to repot this one until I noticed that it was growing strangely. I left it to see what would happen and this is what happened! And, apparently, is still happening...

Is this normal?


The squeaky wheel get the oil

Having lived in the US for so long, it's hard for me to comprehend the idea of blindly accepting whatever services you can get and calling it 'good'.  I suppose the fact that NZ is such a small place with very little competition for any service-based companies fosters such attitudes, but I was not raised here and I know that people can and will do better when pushed.

Yes, I am speaking of the land agent fiasco (click here for the story) in which we had no hot water for a whole weekend because there was no land agent available to give a crap help us.

We did, indeed, notify the landlord and when he got our letter informing him of the situation he couldn't apologize enough. He was under the impression, as were we, that Harcourts Agency in Stratford took care of rental properties 24/7. Apparently his mother is a land agent in New Plymouth and they both were shocked at the lack of service.

Well, I am relieved to tell you that I got an email today that said,
 'I am sorry that you were unable to contact anyone from this office when you had problems with your hot water recently.
Procedures have been put in place with an emergency contact number on our answer service at the office....'
Which makes me wonder: Does everybody just sit on their thumbs and wait for Monday morning when they have a problem? I gotta tell ya, that's not my style.

For the money we pay for rent (a lot) and the money the landlord pays for management (not a little, I assume), it's a shame that you have to squeak so loudly to get a little oil. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And we did. And now we are squeak free. For now.


Love through the eyes of kids

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.' Rebecca- age 8  

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'  Billy - age 4  

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' Karl - age 5  

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.' Chrissy - age 6  

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4  

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 7 

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss' Emily - age 8  

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'  Bobby - age 7  

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.' Nikka - age 6  

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7  

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6  

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8  

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6  

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine-age 5  

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.'
Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4  

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4  

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' Karen - age 7  

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'  Mark - a ge 6  

 'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'  Jessica - age 8  


I think rum would be cheaper to drink...

I posted this photo a while back when I was shocked that bottled water was the same price as Coke.

And this shot last week shows that the price of bottled water has surpassed Coke. What is this world coming to??


new tricks

This weekend was Labour Day weekend in New Zealand. The weather was wonderful for the three day weekend and, I am so happy to say, it was pretty quiet at our house. That's a good thing.

It means that the neighbours that called the police on us for harassing them by calling noise control were quiet, even though they had company.

It also means that the neighbours that threatened to call the police were quiet, too.

I guess you can teach an old Taranaki dog new tricks!


Weather, weather everywhere....

In Kansas, you can see weather coming for miles and miles. In Stratford, if you see any sort of clouds around the mountain, you know it's going to rain in some degree. I found this article that explains it rather nicely.
Mountains make a barrier for moving air. The wind pushes air, and clouds  in the air, up the mountain slopes. The atmosphere is cooler at high elevations, and there is less of it: lower pressure makes it hard for lowland animals to get enough air to breathe. Dense masses of warm, moist air that move up and over a mountain swell as the air pressure confining them drops away. The air becomes colder in the same way as a pressurized spray can's contents become colder when the can's pressure drops rapidly. (The phrase that describes this phenomenon is adiabatic expansion.) Water that existed as a gas under the high pressure and temperature  of the flatlands now condenses into cool droplets, and clouds form over the mountain. As the cloud continues to rise, droplets grow and grow, eventually becoming too heavy to float in the air. The clouds dump rain, and snow, on the mountain slopes. After topping the crest, however, the clouds may have no more moisture to rain on the other side of the mountain, which becomes arid. This rain shadow is best illustrated in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, where the  tall Redwood Forests cover the ocean-facing side of the mountains and Death Valley lies in the rain shadow.
               from     Mountains - Weather Effects Of Mountains

I first thought this whole weather thing would be a problem and make hanging clothes on the line a bit tricky. Then I realized that the neighbors didn't seem to care what the weather was--they just hung clothes out whenever they were moved. So the conclusions I found were these:

  • If I look out all the windows and see even a small patch of blue anywhere, the clothes should eventually get dry today. 
  • The rain is so fine on this side of the mountain that it doesn't hinder the drying process to any degree unless it's blowing sideways. [Sometimes, it's pleasantly balmy and I don't realize it's actually raining (misting, we used to call it) until I get outside.]
  • Except for the dreaded winter months, the rain is always intermittent--the blue skies and sunshine can break through the clouds 10 times over a period of a few hours, interrupted by some mist or drizzle or having both sunshine and rain simultaneously.
  • Even if the clothes don't get dry today, they will be nicely rinsed in pure, mountain rainwater and will dry tomorrow.
I have learned not to worry about the laundry. And I have, thus, learned not to worry about many things over which I have no control. Life is always a learning process.


Danger, Will Robinson!

Here's the major intersection. I guess we timed it right to avoid all the dangerous traffic!


I should be a land agent

Sometimes I wonder if I live in a world that is somewhere in that sparkly gray area between reality and the way I think things should be.

In America, I rented most of the places I lived. I usually answered an ad in the paper, met the landlord, checked out the property and then decided if I wanted to rent it. It was a simple transaction. There were no people in between--no agents, no nothing. I was of the opinion that you only needed an agent if you had large properties to maintain or sell.

That's not how it works here. Everybody has a 'land agent'. I'm not sure what the advantages are for the owners, but we found out this weekend that it's definitely not an advantage for the renter--at least, not if you have a problem over the weekend. Or, at least, not our particular agent.

We had no hot water over the weekend and the agent was NO help at all!

Now, you have to keep in mind that the power companies hook up water heaters on a separate line because they can legally turn them off for 4 hours at a time if the need arises for electricity--like during the summer when A/C's are running.  We did consider that option when we notice the hot water wasn't so hot around midday on Saturday. So we waited.

And waited.

And still no hot water, so we called our agent and left a message on her mobile. Nothing. We called several times and left messages and I even called her office and left a message, all this time, waiting for an acknowledgement that she knew we had a problem. Nothing.

We fumed and fussed and finally decided that we would go to the landlord (who lives just down the street) if she didn't call us back before 9:30AM on Monday.

Well, she calls about 8:45AM Monday all cheery, saying that she doesn't get her messages until Monday morning. Since I hadn't had a shower in 2 days, I was not in the mood to be cheery and said something to the effect of 'I thought you had died' or something like that.

She then replied something cutesy about she needs a day off like everybody else, I think, but I was too busy trying not to say, 'Why do you have a &(^%$ mobile phone if you don't take it home with you, you moron!' or 'It's your #^%$% job to be available for tenants 24/7, that's what the landlord pays you for, you freaking rude Taranaki redneck!'  You'll be pleased to know that I was controlled and didn't say either one.

Come to find out, the fuse (that is a very old system) had burned out the holder, which shut off the power to the hot water cylinder. He fixed the fuse and we are waiting for the electric company's 'ripple' to turn it back on.

Knowing that we will have hot water soon is a soothing notion so we are calming down. We are still considering sending a letter to the landlord to formally ask if we can call him if we have a weekend situation again.

I guess being a land agent is a pretty cushy 9-5 M-F job,after all, just showing homes and looking around every few months. If I every feel the need to work outside the home, that's what I want to do!


You should be so lucky!

I haven't updated you on our wonderful tv listings in a while. It's the one thing that I find quaint but a bit erratic. We, of course, get a lot of British TV, but the American stuff is what intrigues me.

We got to see the first 5 whole seasons of Survivor, twice a day. Then the first season again. Then nothing. Now there's a Heroes and Villains season on once a week.

And I get to revisit the 70's and 80's without moving from the couch. And I don't need no steenkin TVland!! We can watch one episode (or six) of a program and it will disappear forever.

These are available lately....

Sledge Hammer
Miami Vice
The Guardian and The Mentalist
8 Simple Rules
Malcolm in the Middle
Ugly Betty
Home Improvement comes and goes
US version of Life on Mars (as opposed to the British version that came out first)

We saw the last episode of Bones and now have hit-and-miss reruns. We saw the last episode of Friends, too, and it's still on twice a day.

I'm glad to say we have a few almost-up-to-date shows, but, as I said, they are subject to disappearing at any moment.

I'm loving
The Big C  
Human Target

I watch these, too...

CSI- Miami
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
Without a Trace

I don't know what happened to NCIS-Los Angeles  after the few episodes we had.
And, of course, the Simpsons are everywhere!!

There are some American shows that I don't watch for one reason or another. Mostly because they are really lame (IMHO). If you're bored enough to want to check it out yourself, here's the link....

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!


The ultimate question

A man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, 'Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.'

Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.'

'You don't know? You're a Christian man and you don't know what's on the other side?'

The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, 'Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before.
He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here,
And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. 
I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing...

'I know my Master is there and that is enough.'


Some good news about Taranaki...

I mentioned in an earlier post that Christchurch was cracking down on boy racers and I'm pleased to know that New Plymouth followed suit! Sadly, the article below says they are going out into the countryside towns (which we have noticed in Stratford) but I hope they just get tired of spending all their money on petrol to get to the smaller towns and give up.

Personally, I think the speedways should be opened,at the District's expense, once a week and let them wreck their cars themselves. It would pay off big time.

Boyracer nuisance goes bush

By LEIGHTON KEITH and RYAN EVANS - Taranaki Daily News

Boyracers are going country.
Chased off New Plymouth's streets by a new bylaw and the fear of their cars being crushed, boyracers are playing havoc in the countryside....
He urged people to take down vehicle descriptions and registration plate numbers where possible. "We will actively follow up any written complaint."...
Earlier this year, the New Plymouth District Council adopted a bylaw banning cars at night from Bell Block's De Havilland Drive and Connett Rd. The Government has also addressed the problem, allowing authorities to confiscate and crush the cars of repeat offenders.
Speaking for boyracers, New Plymouth woman Shayna Dreaver, 20, said the shift to rural roads was because there was now too much risk involved in the city..
She said boyracers were worried about getting caught since the Government introduced new "car crushing" legislation last year. "It [the car] is like their baby, they saved up to make it and now it's just getting crushed."

Read more here. http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/4201039/Boyracer-nuisance-goes-bush


South Taranaki, the armpit of the universe

An article on the front page of the South Taranaki Star, Thursday, September 30, 2010

I couldn't find this story online, so I scanned the article for some semblance of credibility. I'll rewrite it exactly how it is written so you don't have to squint to read it.

Shouting and swearing, a man stormed into the South Taranaki SPCA to dump a ginger and white male cat, calling it a pest and saying he just driven 20km and wanted it "shot, drowned or knocked on the head".
The cat-rage incident on Friday left staff members stunned but they were alert enough to jot down his car details.
SPCA centre supervisor Atholl Byers says the cat is very friendly, in good health and obviously someone's loved pet.
"We believe the man was rude and refused to leave his details because he knew it was someone's pet, possibly a neighbour's.
"I was on the phone and the man started shouting at my volunteers who handed him a sign-over form so that we could legally take the cat into our care," Mr. Byers says.

"He flat out refused and was very rude to our SPCA volunteers.  I had to tell the person I was on the phont to that I'd call her back. 
"I politely explained to the man that in order to take custody of the cat, no matter what the reason is, we have to have a signature.  He was very aggressive towards me and shouted at the top of his voice.

"He said he had driven 20km to bring this 'f***cat' here and I'm not signing any form.
"He said shoot it, drown it, knock it on the head or something I'm not signing it.
"His wife stayed very quiet, I tried to explain again that we would take it, if like everyone else, he could just give us his contact details.  He turned around and shouted to his wife, 'We're out of here'."
Mr. Byers says he asked one of his volunteers to write down his number plate and make/model of car.  He has just dumped or abandoned an animal.
"Sadly the plate was a number short on the silver car.  (The number has been recorded by the SPCA and the Star).
"The cat is a very lovely tame and social animal.  It is by no means a stray.
"The man was obviously a cat-hater of sorts, viewed the cat as a pest to himself and has probably picked it up on his street.
"I'm not surprised he didn't want to put his name to it and got so upset because he new he was trying to hand us someone's pet to put down."
**If this is your cat or you th ink you may know who it belongs to, please contact Mr Byers on 278 5605, PO Box 648, 62 Beach Rd, Hawera, or spcasouthtaranaki.co.nz.

I did find it online here 


Spring has arrived!

After weeks and weeks of unrelenting rain--the kind that falls 22 out of every 24 hours, with winds at night that sound like they are going to blow the windows out of the frame--we have finally had 3 whole days of sunshine! And more is expected tomorrow. Yay! 

I guess you don't know miss it until you don't have it any more, so we celebrated by going to Hollard Gardens to see what almost twice the 'normal' rainfall for September had brought. What we found was an abundance of color, especially the magnolias, with promises of much more to come.

 Spring is truly here. It was a long wait.


My neighbors are ignorant as well as rude

We moved into a new rental home just before Christmas last year. The neighbors next to us seemed friendly enough. The Mom works at a local store and always has a smile on her face when I see her. In a quick introduction over the fence, the Dad seemed nice and jokingly mentioned something about the neighbors not being shy about calling ringing 'Noise Control' [the district agency (for a lack of better word) that you call ring up when your neighbors are being noisy] on him and his kids. That should have been a red flag, but I guess I still want to see the positive and I didn't stop to figure out what that really meant.

We live on a corner and we really didn't (and still don't) see the neighbors behind us out and about much. One day, I saw the lady who lived there and asked her about a cat that was always looking in our windows. She was very pleasant and it turns out it was her cat, but I still think it lived at our house at some point.  Anyway....it also turns out that Hubby works with the son who has moved back in with Mommy and Daddy.

In my mind, it's very simple. If loud music were acceptable, then there would be no 'Noise Control' to call. Duh. So, when I took all the bass thumping above the sound of the TV I could handle I called. And called.Yes, and called some more.

The neighbors beside us eventually called the police to see whether or not we were harassing them by calling so often. We weren't. They finally got the message.

The neighbors behind us still play music loud on occasion. They didn't get the message. However, they really proved their ignorance last week after Phred died. Missy called from her Mum's house when Phred was missing for about 2 days to see if he was here. She said that the granddaughter of the neighbor behind us told her that someone had seen his body, but they didn't know who he belonged to.

When Missy came to our house at the end of the week, the first thing she said was, 'I have changed what I think about the neighbors behind us.' It seems that, when the granddaughter told them it was our cat, someone (I assume the dad, who is the one who plays the music) told her that if he had know it was our cat, he would have scooped it up, gift-wrapped it and brought it to the door as a gift for calling Noise Control.

All this makes me hope that my family is right when they say it's probably just Taranaki Kiwis who are rude. I do hope that when we move away from Stratford in a couple of years they are proven correct.


What is wrong with this picture?

I saw this sign at a gas petrol station and couldn't believe my eyes! Coke and water, the same price!! This is suppose to be one of the 'most unspoiled unspoilt' countries on earth and people pay for water--especially at that price?! Kinda makes you wanna go, 'Hmmm...'


Peachy chicken

There are no peaches in this recipe. It's called Peachy chicken because that's what the kids call me!

My family adores this simple recipe.

You can use any amount of chicken that suits your family.

Cut chicken breast meat into cubes, about 1.5 inch (about 40mm) cubes.
Dredge chicken in plain flour, covering completely.
Add chicken pieces to hot oil in pan.
Shake 'chicken seasoning salt' onto pieces and fry until brown (5-10 minutes).
Place in bowl lined with paper towel to absorb oil.
Serve alone as a snack or as part of a meal.

About my recipes...

If you click 'My recipes' at the top you will find my re-worked page for my recipes. They are in alphabetical order and linked to separate pages now.

I have made a slight addition to the Apricot Bites recipe and added a new recipe for Caramel Popcorn. We tried it the other night and it has a light flavor to it--just enough to want to keep eating until it's gone!


Another farewell, all too soon

It seems like just yesterday that Phred came into our lives and just as quickly he is gone. Apparently, he lost an argument with a car over the rainy, dreary weekend.

This is how I will always remember him, in his favorite resting spot--just beneath my chin.

Rest in peace, my friend.


Predicament, the movie

We went to see the movie Predicament last night. It was written by an Eltham resident and filmed in Eltham. Click here for a few more photos I took of how they converted the town back to the 1930's.

This was the inside of the local theater theatre in Eltham that was transformed into part of the house for the movie.

There's not a lot on the internet about the movie The articles in the local papers were more about the author and excitement about using the town of Eltham as a setting than the movie itself, so I really had no idea about the actual plot until a few days ago when Hubby came  home with some info after asking around. But then, as I have mentioned a few hundred times before, the reporting here sucks.

It was about an only child who is totally embarrassed and left out by his father's tower that he is building in the front yard garden. He befriends a thug who uses him and the thug brings along a friend who is just--well his name is 'Spook'--what does that tell ya?! They get into some really weird trouble with the rich folks, trying to blackmail them and it goes down hill from there.

I was very impressed with the movie and thought it was well done--for a New Zealand (read 'low budget') work. The characters were very believable and well presented. A happy ending is always a good thing for me.

I'm pretty sure that the other four, yes, four, people in the whole theater theatre liked it too, although I prefer places with HEAT! I wore extra clothes and a woolly hat that covered my ears, and I was still cold! But, I'm in New Zealand. Shopkeepers don't understand words like 'warm' and 'comfortable'!!

I have no idea if you will ever get the chance to see Predicament, but if you do, I think you won't hate might like it, as long as you are comfortable when viewing it. I don't think it will win any Academy Awards, but it was a pleasant hour and a half.


No more excuses

The next time you feel like GOD can't use YOU, remember, 
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...
And Lazarus was dead!