When I was a kid, Mom would hang clothes out to dry. There was usually a row of 4 or 5 lines connected to capital 'T' posts and she'd have a couple of poles with notches in the end to hold the heavy clothes off the ground.

I never thought about the neighbors seeing what we hung out and I never thought to look at their washing, either. We all wore clothes--outer clothes and under clothes. It was  just a fact of life to see work clothes, jeans, shorts, shirts and undies waving in the breeze over the back lawns.

So, I get here and most of the lines are like the one in the photo. Several lines that run around a central post, each circle of line getting smaller as you get closer to the post.

                                     (photo stolen borrowed from the internet)

No big deal, I thought. Until Hubby did the laundry one day. He made a point to put the underwear as close to the pole as possible. Since I only used the outer few lines, I asked him why he did that--purely, out of curiosity. He told me that he was taught to put the undies on the inside so that the other clothes would hide them and the neighbors wouldn't see!

And they think Americans are stuffy!!


Nobody cared when I said it!

This is an article from the South Taranaki Star. Underlining is mine.
Really that bad? Yes!

Hub Catering operations manager Shona Nicholson is horrified at service in the area and says something needs to be done fast. She is calling on Taranaki businesses to get in touch and create a workshop to have service standards taught immediately.
Bizlink town manager Jane Burke agrees and says she is not sure Hawera retailers are aware of how their staff treat customers.
Rugby World Cup 2011 organisers have created a free online course – ‘‘First Impressions Training’’– to help frontline staff prepare for the Cup.
Mrs Nicholson recently spent several hours travelling from New Plymouth to Hawera delivering Halimoana business award nomination forms to Taranaki businesses.
She says it was part of the worst hours of her life and left her totally depressed.
‘‘No-one had a smile about them,’’ she says. ‘‘I was really disappointed, there is only one [shop] I would go back to.
‘‘We are not going to meet satisfactory standards as far as the World Cup goes.’’
But Mrs Nicholson has never been one to complain without putting in a bit of effort so she is offering to host a workshop for customer services staff throughout Taranaki to improve public relations before the World Cup frenzy hits.
‘‘It’s all about presentation and customer service, I just feel that Taranaki as a whole has lost it somewhere.’’
Jane Burke says, unfortunately she has to agree.
‘‘I definitely feel there are businesses out there where maybe managers or owners aren’t aware of how their staff are acting,’’ she says.
‘‘Many businesses in Hawera as a whole have room for improvement.’’
‘‘It’s learning how to deal with the customer right there and then, it’s something Bizlink would like to address.’’...

I have written a few times (ok, it's been more than a few times...) about how I find the customer service here lacking.  If you have time, you can click 'rude kiwis' in my label cloud and read more. So, now I am proven correct and all you people that sent anonymous comments that said '...if I don't like NZ, I should move back to the US because I'm not wanted here anyway' can bite me!


Does evil exist?

The story goes that an atheist professor enjoyed tormenting those that believe in God by asking the same questions with each new classroom of students. He had his plan down pat and  loved to watch them sit down in failed silence.

In each classroom he would write on the blackboard in very large letters-- "Does evil exist?"

After making sure the students noticed the question, he would then launch into his attack with the question, "Did God create everything that exists?"

There was usually a brave soul that would answer, "Yes, He did."

The professor would then continue, "Everything?"

"Yes, everything."

"So, God also created evil--since we all know it exists in our world, correct?"

And at this point, the student would usually sit down without having an answer and the professor would smile with smug satisfaction.

But,  then it happened. Another student in the back of the class raised her hand and said, "May I ask a question, sir?"

"Of course, you may!" he answered.

"Does cold exist?" she asked.

"Of course it does! Don't you ever feel cold?"

"Actually, sir, according to physics, cold is the total and complete absence of heat. An object can only be studied if it has and transfers energy in the form of heat.  We created the term 'cold' to explain the total lack of heat.

"Let me ask another question, sir. Does darkness exist?" she asked the professor.

"Sure it does," he answered.

"Again, you are wrong, sir. We can only study light and brightness. Prisms show us the different colors and lengths of light waves. We created the term 'darkness' to explain the total lack of light.

"And, as for your original question, 'Does evil exist?',  I can answer it the same way as the other two questions. Evil is the absence of God in people's hearts and lives...the absence of faith and love. Faith and love are like heat. They do exist, we see them every day. Their absence is what we call 'evil'."

With this the student returned to her desk and it was the professor's turn to sit down in failed silence.


NZ telly

We are considering doing away with our Sky (cable) TV because there is nothing new on lately. My favorite few shows are showing reruns--even though there are many more episodes of them made.

The movies channels show, mostly, movies I rented from the grocery store in KS before I moved here 5 years ago. That's just a statement of fact, not a judgement of the situation.

I understand that this is a very small country whose number of residents would have to be doubled to be the population of NYC. Yes, there are a few NZ made shows, but I don't  understand the jokes because I'm not British or Kiwi.

So when I read the following article on Stuff.co.nz, I thought it would be more advantageous for all the stations to just get together and show stuff that is more up-to-date from England and the US. But, that's just my opinion and it's not going to happen. But, hay, a girl can dream.

Sky TV ponders alternatives
Sky Television is weighing up whether to launch a new low-cost, pay-television service, dubbed Sky Lite, or add up to an additional 24 channels to its existing satellite service using radio spectrum freed up from the closure of analogue television broadcasts.
Chief executive John Fellet said he was cooling on a third option, which was to use the spectrum to broadcast a pay-television service to a new class of mobile phones that would be specially designed to receive television broadcasts. Another possibility was that Sky would simply hand back the spectrum to the Crown and claim a multimillion-dollar refund.
Fellet expected the company would make a decision by the end of the year. Read more here.

Hubby and Otterboy aren't that interested in tv and I usually have it on for the noise, so I think we'll just get another computer for games and stuff and be happy with no tv. It's time to get back to reading books. And there's always Youtube.


rerun 9/08

I wish you could go grocery shopping with me and see the limit there is to most every kind of foodstuffs. I can't begin to describe how frustrating it is when I am used to Walmart Super Stores!! Things like corn meal are non-existent, so I guess I will live without 'real' cornbread. Even chocolate chips or raisins are not always stocked, so I buy extra when they are.

I have learned to bake 'mince, bacon and cheese pies' [which are ground beef, ham and cheese in American]. You can buy them in most dairies, bakeries and restaurants, but it's always better when you make them from scratch and my bunch prefer bacon on everything!

I have discovered that there are several food items that I have cooked for years as staple foods but are 'new' to my NZ family. Among them are home-made mac and cheese, home-made soups, home-baked breads of any kind, cookies of any kind and cakes. Their favorites, by far, are Toll House cookies and American pound cake. [In case you're wondering, there are 'pound cakes' in many countries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_cake ]

So, in tribute to those who have yet to experience my version, I gladly share it now.

Betty's Pound Cake
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 tsp flavoring
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
Powdered sugar for final dusting
Preheat oven to 325 (160C). Grease and flour 10-inch bundt cake pan.

Cream together sugar, butter and flavorings [I sometimes use strawberry, orange and banana, but you can use your own combinations, or just vanilla]. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt and combine with butter mixture alternately with sour cream.

You can stop there for a delicious plain cake or add a cup of chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, dried currants, dried mixed fruit, coconut or whatever you like best!

Bake 70 to 80 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
Serve plain or with fruit [if yours lasts that long!]


Is communication a lost art?

A few weeks ago, Otterboy bounded home with a paper from his 10th year French class. He was excited about it because it was a form to house an exchange student from New Caledonia, an island north of New Zealand, for a week.

Seeing his eagerness to be a part of the yearly exchange of students, we gladly filled out the paperwork and he was the first one to turn his in the next day.

Last week we got an email with the details of the exchange students' itinerary and were happy to be one step closer to being a part of this project. We just assumed that everything was on course.

This week, Otterboy came home to say that the French teacher had put us on the 'reserve' list for the kids. He didn't really know what that meant, so I advised that he go to school the next day and ask the French teacher to explain.  He didn't get to see her the next day but was going to be sure to find her the next day.

Before he could go the next day, the French teacher called. And after the conversation she had with Hubby, I was not a happy camper. It seems that they pair the students up by age, which seems fair enough. The bad news was that most of the students are almost always from year 12 and 13.

Since Otterboy is only in year 10, there was no one his age to come to our house. But, they don't tell the students this because then 'they would have no homes for any younger students' who, by some strange quirk, got to come. Needless to say, Otterboy was shattered and Hubby and I were disappointed.

But it seems that it's about par for Stratford High School and their utter lack of communication and compassion and just plain good manners.

I mean, I don't think I would have really minded so much if the teacher had explained this to Otterboy when he turned in his form. That would have been understandable and would have softened the blow a little, I think.

I don't think it's asking too much to actually know what's going on at the school, but they just don't seem to care.

I do hope that we get to move to anywhere else before the next school year starts. If not, then I will just have to vent here, but I will warn you and you can just skip those posts :)

Stratford High School is not impressive.


WWII Diary returned to San Francisco family

The words of Delmar Grenz have finally made it home.
Retired Hawera couple Dougal and Barbara Kerrisk personally delivered the World War II diary their family has kept for 69 years to widow Kathy Grenz and three of her children in San Francisco recently. It completed a journey that started on a Wellington wharf in 1942 when Dougal Kerrisk's late brother, Gordon, found the diary while on guard duty.
Since the Taranaki Daily News tracked down the Grenz family in June, the story has made headlines in the United States, with Mr Kerrisk being filmed giving the diary to Mrs Grenz, who travelled from Idaho to her son David's home to receive it.
"I think I'm gonna cry," Kathy Grenz said on Idaho television. "I feel like I have a part of him again."
David Grenz said his mother's poor eyesight meant she just wanted to hold her late husband's diary, written when he was 17 during the bloody battle of Guadalcanal.
"She was just all emotional, just shaking. This has been a wonderful experience for her."
Mr Grenz read the diary for his family audience, including two of his sisters and his nieces and nephews, including one following his grandfather's footsteps by serving as a US Navy corpsman in Afghanistan.
"I wasn't prepared for the impact. There was this emotional buildup as I read and I got to a point where I got choked up and couldn't read any more.
"It was like for that Sunday afternoon we had our dad back for a while and that was wonderful."
Familiar with his father's handwriting and speech patterns, Mr Grenz had no problem interpreting the faded words and even offered insight into how the diary may have been "lost".
"He was desperate to become a raider. The raiders were like the Navy Seals, the guys who go in first.
"They had told them: `You have to get rid of your personal letters, no diaries or anything'."
His father was also "torn up" about choosing between his first wife Margaret, to whom he was married during the war, and staying in the navy.
"You could see he was crying as he wrote that because the writing was stained."
"He states `This diary has to stop now, we're going back'."
The Kerrisks spent the afternoon with the Grenz family, before David and Kathy showed them San Francisco the next day.
Kathy Grenz has returned to Idaho while her son is transcribing the diary on to a computer to provide copies for family members and interested parties.
"Whether she wants to keep it or maybe one of the museums might be interested, we'll see how that plays out," Mr Grenz said.
He wrote the Kerrisks a special message for returning the diary his family had never known existed. "I wrote, `From the bottom of my heart, thank you for bringing our father home to us'. I think that says it all."


Toilet paper and God

I am not the most observant person in the world and, as I have mentioned previously, I don't usually 'think outside the box'. I want a movie to have an ending. I don't care if it's happy or not, just tell me how the story ends.

I do, however, know when God is speaking to me--most of the time, anyway. And today He spoke to me through 'Cotton Softs double length, softly white, unscented, 2 ply toilet tissue'. OK, not through it and, of course, not with an audible voice. But, nevertheless, the TP sparked a God-thought (one that I know in my heart is from Him).

See, I have to buy 'Cotton Soft's brand toilet paper because all the others I have found here irritate me in places I would never be able to mention to you face to face. This was never anything I had reason to think about in Kansas, but when you move to another country, anything can be a challenge.

I prefer the double length rolls because they, obviously, last longer on the roll. I found them once in the local Stratford store, a couple of times in a Hawera store I sometimes shop at and a couple of times in a New Plymouth store. But, again, in this country, store stock isn't as reliable as it is in US stores. That doesn't keep me from looking in every store I enter.

Things have been a little intense around our house financially, as I'm sure it is in many homes across the globe right now. So, in an effort to save gas, I did our pay-day shopping in Stratford today. When I got to the TP aisle, I found the double length rolls for the second time ever! As I gleefully pulled three packs off the shelf, the God-thought crossed my mind that, if God can make sure I have the surprise of my favorite toilet paper, then He can surely take care of everything else that is a problem in my house at the moment.

That might not make any sense to you, but I will never be convinced that it wasn't the Man Upstairs telling me that He has it all under control.

Please don't go to the toilet paper aisle in your store and hang around waiting for a voice. Even if you do, it won't be audible. And you have to find your own aisle.


A great night out for dinner

Otterboy has been selling his model trains and accessories on trademe (NZ ebay-type place) because he has outgrown them. He got quite a bit of money for them and the first thing he wanted to do is take Hubby and me out to dinner at Marbles Restaurant (the only real buffet-style restaurant around). It was a fun night out for an occasional change of pace.

Thank you Otterboy for being so responsible and charitable!

I forgot to take my camera and can't find photos on the internet, but it's decorated with Roman gladiators with big noses on the walls and as huge statues. There's a HUGE dining area with big round tables placed throughout about a third of the space. Each one has a different cold food, bread, salad, seafood, dessert. There is also a hot bar along one wall  and a guy slicing roast beef and pork along another.

The food is pretty good, but I still have problems with the prices, but maybe I'm just cheap.

They are also advertising for Christmas. Yes, it says $35 for children under 5!

It's good to know that we have raised our son to be such a caring kid. He will do well in life.