Maybe I think too much

I love God with all my heart. I have for as long as I can remember. He is the reason I am still alive today. But, for many years, I have had trouble with how we celebrate His human arrival into this world.

Since the kids have grown and left, we don't have a tree with decorations or twinkling lights to welcome twilight. Did you know that both the tree and the lights we originally brought into the house to keep demons away? First because it was 'magical' that a pine tree was still green in winter and later it was lit up with candles to make sure the bad spirits saw it and were appropriately scared away. Of course, that has evolved into different meanings over the years--like the lights representing Jesus, the Light of the World--but that doesn't erase the pagan origins of the tradition and that goes for Halloween, too.

Also, for me, Christmas coming in the heat of summer--after so, so many years of picture perfect cold weather holidays--it just doesn't seem right to kill a tree and bring it inside until it turns brown. And, even after 9 Christmases here, I am still caught off guard, occasionally, by hearing a Christmas song on the radio in the car when the AC is on full blast.

Hubby and I don't exchange presents and haven't for several years. First off, I hate surprises. And secondly, we buy what we want during the year, whether it's a simple or huge. Of course, we buy what we need, too, and never gave the kids 'necessary' things for Christmas presents because I always detested them. Sorry, Mom. I tried to act happy about the clothes but deep down I knew it was just because Dad was cheap and I wasn't the favorite.

Another thing. Your friends don't give each other presents on your birthday. The presents are suppose to be for the one who is celebrating their entrance into this world. 'The spirit of the season' seems a pitiful grasp at straws for a reason to go overboard to cram all the 'good tidings' and 'good will toward men' into a few weeks. We should be giving Jesus the gifts for His birthday and the only one He wants is your heart. And, I'm pretty sure He would want you to be nice to people all year round.

The final reason I have so much trouble with celebrating Jesus just one day is that I am grateful to Him every day of my life and I tell Him so quite often. I can't find the gumption to turn it up a notch for one long day when I am so thankful the other days of the year.

Here they call the time of year when kids are home from school for the summer and parliament is adjourned for the holidays the 'silly season' because there isn't much real news so silly things like hoaxes and such are 'reported.' At first, I found that odd. But then I realized that it applies all over the world for this time of year. People do and buy and say things that they wouldn't ordinarily do or buy or say the rest of the year. It makes much more sense to show the 'Christmas spirit' all year round as a gift to the One who is celebrated. Go the extra mile, make the 'special' gift, do a good deed when it's needed--not just at Christmas time.


I just don't get it

I admit that I am not one to closely follow the news because 'news' here in New Zealand is different from that in America. I mean, an island country the size of Nebraska that bans guns doesn't cultivate much sensationalism. I hear the 'headlines' during the day from the tv and am satisfied with that.

Some times, when we hear the 'headlines' of news coming up, Hubby and I just look at each other and say, 'Slow news day.' It reminds me of the story of April 18, 1930, in England where it was announced, 'There is no news today.' and piano music followed.

For the last few weeks, the biggest news was that Australia was sending back New Zealanders who have ever committed a crime. To me, this is news, but, as is sadly true for most reports here, there was no real follow up or any definitive conclusions. I would have expected irate citizens and politicians ranting but none were reported that I saw. Maybe I missed it.

With international news like the awful attack on Paris, we got the expected blips of information in 10 or 15 second updates and then a full report during the news broadcast. I thought we were well informed and Kiwi travelers were all accounted for, which is a good conclusion for our little country.


...when a rugby player dies after losing a battle to cancer, programs were pre-empted, channel programming was disrupted and every bit of  'news' was taken up with the story and everybody's reaction from the coach to politicians to fans on the street.  Days of headlines are about him. Maybe the fact that I'm not sports-minded gives me a different perspective, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who lives here but doesn't follow sports.

I just don't 'get it'. As far as I'm concerned, anything that interrupts Dr Phil should be more along the lines of world devastation or alien invasion.


Crazy cat lady starter pack

The house seemed a bit empty and the rabbits were digging up the gardens, so Hubby and I decided it was time to get another cat. On October 25, we went to the cat adoption center in Hawera and got some good news/bad news. There were no adult cats available! We were happy that there were none to find homes for but that meant we had to go to New Plymouth to see what they had available.  There we found about 10 that weren't kittens to choose from.

After quite a while, we decided to bring home two cats.

This is Garfield. I would imagine he'd love lasagna but he settles for whatever is in the bowl. He is an older chubby cat, they said at least 5 years old, and he was found on the street. He has a wonky back foot that softly thumps when he walks so you always hear him coming. But he always has a lick for whoever is petting him and he doesn't mind at all being picked up (or the tiara and scepter!).

This is Sox. She's a long-haired 'teenage' cat (about 10 months old), and, to the surprise of the volunteers, came across the cat run to meet us when we got there. She is very affectionate, too, and, after a couple days of being afraid to go outside, is quite happy to wander when she wants and is rather quiet most of the time. I'm sure you can tell from the photo below that she is having such a hard time adjusting!

Hubby emptied the litter box around his veggie garden and hasn't had any plants eaten or holes dug since, which was a nice surprise. Good results all around.


a better view

We aren't really big on 'keeping up with the Joneses' but sometimes you just have to upgrade. Last week we bought a new-to-us car.

It's a 2008 Nissan Xtrail, imported from Japan. The electronic console (and, of course, the GPS with a female voice) were all in Japanese, as is the owner's manual. Strangely enough, there were a few English words on the console and I recognized the letters 'AV' but the rest was just a guessing game to figure out how the radio worked. We finally made it a game of  'I dare you to press the button', but the GPS would come on at random times along with a map that we think was the last directions to the port before it was exported.

Yesterday, Hubby had the console replaced with one we can read and understand. As he took the old one out to the shed, he said, 'Let's see if she can figure out where she's at now!'

My only requirement for the new car was that it sat up high so I didn't have to hurt my knees getting out. The Xtrail works very well, as it sits a lot higher than the last car.

It sits up so much higher that, when we took a ride along well-known roads, we made each other giggly by saying, 'Look! I didn't know that was over there!' or 'Hay! I couldn't see that before!'

Such a fun change. I think we'll be happy with her.


No Grace

It's been five weeks since she's been in the house. I last saw Grace before I went to bed on a Friday night and haven't seen her since. I assume that she has met her demise--hopefully, not a painful one. 

I hope her four years with us were as happy for her as they were for us.


My very own flowers!!

It's not actually 'officially' gardening weather, but I am excited to have some color in the garden already.


oh, my head!

We had a HUGE tree/bush removed from the garden two summers ago and it left a round patch of dirt where grass didn't grow. I thought I'd used that patch as a flower garden since I couldn't see us reseeding it with grass. 

Now, in my organized head, nothing had grown there for years, so I expected that only what I planted there would grow and I'd have wonderful colors all spring and summer. That worked out pretty much like I though last summer and I was happy with my first-ever starting-from-scratch flower garden.

I mentally made note of the first seeds I put out. Some grew well, some didn't. That's ok, You live and learn. All autumn and winter, I gathered up seeds and plans to make it a better garden this year. 

Imagine my surprise and confusion when, on the first warmish spring day, I found stuff that I hadn't planted growing up ALL OVER my garden!!

There's a LOT of this stuff that reminds me of parsley. Now that I think about it, it might just be cow parsley, but we will have to wait and see.

And there's this one that could be parsley's cousin.

I truly don't remember planting anything this close to the lupins!

And this large-leaf plant has popped up in several places.

When I saw 5 or 6 of these little guys that look just like the leaves on a penstemon we moved from another part of the yard to the garden, it finally dawned on me that many of these green things could have been a garden from years gone by!! (Sometimes, it takes me a while, but I eventually get there.)

So, the plan for this year is to let things go until they bloom and only pull what I know are not wanted.
It ought to be an interesting year for the garden.


more john deere

I forgot to include this thermometer in the last group since it's just sits quietly on the wall.

This is the first John Deere item that Hubby sent. It was full of flowers and now hangs in the kitchen.

I use this wind chime to tell when we have earthquakes :)

Newest additions!

If you want to know more about why I collect these, click the 'john deere' label below.


Special day

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the day I arrived in New Zealand. It's been wooly, weird and wonderful! And nobody died.


NZ tv

There aren't a lot of things on  NZ daytime tv that I actually enjoy but I do watch (or listen to while I do something else) some of the cooking competitions. I watch them mostly because I don't have to see what's going on to understand where things are headed.

Of course, there are ads for other food competitions on these programs and some of the trailers just make me roll my eyes to hear them.

One is 'Jr. Master Chef', a British show. First of all, as I have mentioned before, I can't see NZ kids being participants because real competition is not encouraged in the schools as far as I noticed. Everybody gets a reward. In fact, what we used to call 'graduation' in my day is aptly called 'prize giving' because--yes, you guessed it, everybody gets a prize, at least in the lower grades!

The other reason this show's trailers make me roll my eyes is one judge complimenting a contestant saying, 'That literally blew me away!' NO, IT DIDN'T! If it did, you would not still be standing there, you dipstick. Look up the word 'literally' in the dictionary.

When someone decides that a program should be mirrored in NZ, like 'My Kitchen Rules' or 'Come Dine with Me', it just doesn't translate well. I really do try to watch them and I try to like them, but it just doesn't work for me.
And so, the previews for the latest 'Come Dine with Me NZ' don't impress me either. See, as a kid, I was taught to always act civilized in public--look your best and use nice words, don't argue without good cause. No, that's not being a hypocrite, it's being respectful and a good representative of the family name. It seems that the NZ contestants have been raised differently because they act less than mature on national television with name-calling and bad manners.

Hubby thinks these shows are all manipulated to put people together who are guaranteed not to get along, thus making for 'good tv'. He might be right when it comes to NZtv. The Aussie and British versions, of course, have clashing personalities but nothing like the NZ shows.

Then there is the NZ version of 'The Great British Bake Off' that I heard advertised. One female judge said, 'That's the worst thing I've ever tasted!' Granted, as a judge, she should let her opinion be known, but it's not very professional for her to be that rude, even if it tastes like dirt.

Whatever happened to dignity and respectability?

Maybe I'm just getting old but I think that some words and actions should never leave the confines of your home--especially, if it would make your mother blush.


a tisket a tasket...

We went to the Hospice Op Shop [short for 'opportunity', NZ for thrift shop] yesterday and I found this great basket for my puzzle books.  Grace had other plans.


my learning curve in gardening

The weather has blooming times jumbled at my house. This camellia--named 'Frodo the Rhodo who's really a camellia' by my LOTR fan bestie (don't ask!)--isn't suppose to bloom until October some time. 

Like lots of other plants in the garden, the warm weather after a slight dip of temperature has, apparently, convinced it that it's spring already.

As I have mentioned before, I'm quite a literal person. So when I bought some hyacinth bulbs, I planted them according to the directions 'in autumn'. Well, the calendar said autumn, but I have since learned that bulbs can't read.

It wasn't cold enough for them to know winter was still on the way and they poked their little heads up soon after planting. *sigh* I do hope they will be willing to bloom again next spring.


taranaki countryside

I have lived in some rural places in my life. A couple of them were on dirt roads, which is understandable when there are just a few houses in the area. There was even a dirt road that was a shortcut to work (it probably had a name, but I never knew it) when I lived in Kansas, so I'm used to dirt roads.

The thing that I'm not used to--and that still makes me giggle on occasion--is the fact that the paved roads in the outlying areas sometimes just turn into dirt and gravel. I imagine the crew paving the road using up all the asphalt and just saying, 'She'll be right,' and going home.

We went down one of those today when I left the directions at the house and we were just winging it, looking around the countryside. [I do have to add that Hubby remembered most of the directions he had written down. Thank you, Hubby!]

We started and ended with a street sign naming the road we were on, but in the middle--as we went up and over a saddle (NZ word for a mountain pass)--the pavement turned to gravel and dirt. It was obviously the 'road less taken' because the sheep ran away from the car as we rode by. After we started down the other side, the asphalt reappeared like magic.

I really enjoy these rides that have no particular objective except to see the countryside around us. The hills are amazing to me and I never tire of seeing sights like this:

I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore


my john deere collection

When I showed you the John Deere tractor and baler that Hubby brought home a few weeks ago, you wanted to see the rest of my collection. Well, here it is!

The old-time truck is a bank. 


I need some gardening help

*I posted this on my photo blog last week, but thought I might get a bit more help here*

I have been gardening a lot these past few days and it's quite obvious that no one has done much in this garden in a long time. Even though it's hard work, I'm enjoying it immensely! 

I found these pods of some sort on top of the ground beneath the cherry trees. I have no idea what sort of seeds they contain. Can any of you great readers/gardeners help me identify them?

Thanks in advance.



A few weeks ago, I was musing about the fact that autumn was tardy in our neck of the woods.
Overnight, we went from a snow-dusted mountain to a snow-covered mountaintop.

It usually takes a while, little by little, to turn the mountaintop white, but I guess winter is getting in an early jab. Fortunately, the cold isn't expected to last very long. I hope not, because I'm not quite ready for winter. I have some autumn gardening to do yet!


When Google knows your birthday!

I know I shouldn't be so surprised, but it makes me smile every year!


Google+ is changing

You might like this news or you might not.

Apparently, the social interaction of the program didn't progress as they had hoped, so the proverbial 'they' are dividing google+ into two sections called 'photos' and 'streams'.

You can read it for yourself here and here.

Personally, I didn't like google+ demanding that I join in the first place.

I don't have that many 'conversations' on FB--and that would be with people I actually know, so I can't see bothering strangers in the middle of the night just to chat.

It will be interesting to see what it will evolve into.


Where's autumn?

It's not like me to complain about being hot--I save it all for any cold that comes my way--so, I guess this is more of a comment than a complaint.

I wonder when autumn will actually show up.

Even though we don't do all that solstice calculating stuff, I think our dividing the calendar by months seems to do quite well. March 1st was the official first day of fall autumn but it looks like summer wasn't informed of the change. 

I really don't mind, as cooler weather will get here eventually. Until then, I will enjoy the wonderful weather that includes a full moon showing up as the sun goes down on the opposite horizon.


Why Sky cable company sucks in NZ

SkyTV is the largest cable company (and only, for many years) in New Zealand. Since they have gotten start-up competition in the last few years, you'd think they'd put a little effort into their service.

Since I've been here, we have subscribed to a couple of their packages, each with its own drawbacks. Basically, you'd think that a cable show would be shown with little interruption--at least, that's what I think I pay for--but you are constantly bombarded with ads for their 'extras' whether you already subscribe or not.

Sadly, their 'premier' movies are the ones that I rented for $1 before I moved here. And since you have to PAY AGAIN for those movies (after you subscribe to the movie channels) it seemed quite behind the times for me.

Fortunately, we aren't into sports because, yes, you have to PAY AGAIN for any recent games on top of subscribing to all the sports channels.

I'm not sure why, but our tv guide was NEVER up to date for more than a few minutes--when we were trying to use it. I can't tell you how many times we joked about watching 'listings not available'--even after we complained and a wonderful sub-contractor came out and replaced everything for us. And, trying to see what was on more than 3 days ahead was NOT going to happen.

As for payment, we couldn't use the second most used browser in the world. Oh, no! Chrome was the 'only' one that you couldn't use to pay online. That wouldn't have been a problem is we could have set up an auto payment every month. No, not an option. They were, however, very eager to get a credit card number and take the payment whenever they wanted, but, I don't think so, Tim.

So after trying really hard to like SKY--we went from the whole package to bare bones and still had too many channels that we didn't want--we took the box back to their office. The lady behind the desk didn't ask one time why we were no longer interested. It could be that she already knew from other complaints or she just didn't give a fuzzy rat's elbow, I don't know. Whatever the reason, their PR needs some work.
When I got the refund for unused Sky today, I should have been shocked that they didn't even say 'goodbye' or kiss my butt or anything. Just:

We are very happy with IGLOO TV. The channels that they carry are just right for us. Well, if they would get 'the Box' and CI, I would be ecstatic, but for now, I can live without them.


Heaven's Bakery, round 2

I'm back from vacation holiday and have lots of photos to share, of course, but first, an update. Last August when we went to the Hawke's Bay area, I mentioned  a wonderful place for fun food called Heaven's  Bakery. I didn't have pictures then and you made me promise to get photos the next time, so here they are. I don't usually take photos inside so these are not the best, but you can get the idea.

The little colorful animals in the next two shots are made of meringue.

Now you know why it was so hard to decide!


holiday time

We will be on the road soon for a holiday across the North Island. I can't wait to see what I will bring back to share!!


little things

Sometimes, Hubby brings flowers from the store; sometimes, he brings me tractors. Either way, he knows his gift will make me smile. 

These are his last 2 presents from the grocery store.  
The little yellow circles are round bales of hay that the baler just rolled. Hay! It's my world and my story. If I say they were just baled, they were just baled!

 If you are wondering what the John Deere thing is about, click here.

It's pretty awesome how much John Deere stuff is out there. Maybe some day soon I will share our collection with you.


my first ever garden and other surprises

I have mentioned before that my brain can't find its way out of 'the box'. I confess, I am anal in my thinking. 

I hate movies and books that don't tell me how things end. 

I flunked math in college because I had to know why complicated math problems had to be solved in a particular order and nobody could tell me. 

I have to work really hard sometimes to understand puns. 

And so it is with our garden. 

As a bit of background, this is the first house that the owners built to live in as they build the 'family home' on the other end of the pastures paddocks. I have no idea how old this house is but it has wallpaper that I would guess is from the 1960's. 

I can't imagine how many people have rented it, but I do know that most renters don't do much with the gardens. We are exceptions and try to make each place we rent a little better than we found it. 

Last summer (our first in this house)  since I had hurt my back and Hubby was working a lot, there wasn't much done outside. Hubby did move some irises that needed to be divided and he planted some pink dahlia bulbs that we had brought with us. In the back, there were 2 huge, pink, gorgeous peony poppies growing. That's all--just those 2 flowers. So Hubby and I made sure that when it went to seed, we gathered the seeds to plant the next spring. He also re-planted my two jasmine plants that we brought in the space where the peonies were because it didn't get sun all day long. Besides having a huge unnamed bush removed from the front garden, that was the extent of our gardening.

This summer is quite different. Where the 2 peonies were (and the jasmines were planted), there are many peonies growing (apparently we missed quite a few seeds!) along with a heap of calendulas (of course, they grown everywhere) and some interesting plants that have tiny blossoms. Even with all their company the jasmines seem quite happy but my poor brain wasn't expecting this explosion of color!

In the front of the house, where the bush was remove, I planted that space for my very first ever garden from seeds.

In my 'organized' (Hubby calls it OCD) way, I planted specific seeds on one side and mixed seeds on the other. To my great and anal surprise, there is stuff that I didn't plant growing everywhere! Remember the peony poppy seeds? Well, I planted my seeds, but those plants are tiny and other poppies are taking over! In the photo below, all the light green in the middle are poppies I didn't plant and the tiny ones to the left are the ones that I did.

Hubby says that the weather is better for gardens this year than last and I'm sure that has a lot to do with all the blooming going on. I know I shouldn't be surprise that decades of people have come and gone in this house and some have planted their own gardens along the way, but I am still a little girl full of wonder as I see the fabulous colors of nature all around. 


heartfelt thanks

When I first started this blog, the world of blogging was so big and a bit intimidating. I never thought it would ever have a hundred views or any followers at all. But after 7 years I have had a remarkable 199,000 views and 246 of you are following my posts.

I am incredibly surprised and humbled by all of the interest in what I have to say. You all have my heartfelt thanks for your interest and encouragement. Thanks.