Monthly Archives: January 2011

Mother’s instinct

Fending for her young?

Mothers’ instincts are to feed and protect their young. Some go to great lengths.

I was reminded of an instance about 40 years ago when my own mother launched into protective mode.

As Bill related the story it seemed familiar, but the truth is that it had been filed away in the deep recesses of memory – not at the forefront. At least, not for me. For Bill however, the incident had left a deep mark – metaphoric that is.

We were holidaying in the Marlborough Sounds, at Portage. I had two older brothers who did very much their own thing during the summer break so I had persuaded my parents to allow me to take a friend with me – my best friend Sarah, who just happened to be the Vicar’s daughter. What a huge responsibility for my poor mother – Sarah was itching to spread her wings and have loads of fun with the lads!

In those days it was a hotel with very few ‘luxury’ rooms. Most of the rooms were single be rooms in an annex style set-up. My parents’ room was a good distance away and out of sight.

Sarah had set her sights on Bill. He was a few years older than us, extremely good looking and also out for a good time. He and his brother Tom knew my parents – we’d all been holidaying in that part of the Sounds for years. They were always extremely charming to them and loved giving a bit of cheek.

On the night of the incident, both boys had decided to follow us to our rooms. Unbeknownst to us and them, my intrepid mother was on to them. She lay in wait in the shrubbery – nothing was going to happen to the vicar’s daughter on her watch.

Quiet as mice they snuck through the dimly lit trees and across the bridge.


Bill felt the full force of my mother’s handbag on his cheek. Both boys fled.

Like many other stories, it has become family legend.

Bill has definitely forgiven her, and talks endearingly of the incident.

On friendship: from Keith Richard’s in ‘Life’

Magnolias - nothing to do with friendship but just as beautiful!

I recently finished reading Keith Richards’ (of Rolling Stones fame) biography, ‘Life’.

A seriously good book full of insights into the life of a rocker. I particularly loved these words:

“I usually make an instant connection with my long-term, solid friends; I can spot them straightaway – some sense that we’re going to trust each other. It’s a binding contract. Roy is one of them, from that first night. Once I’ve made a connection, to me it’s the biggest sin to let a friend down. Because that means you don’t understand the whole meaning of friendship, comradeship, which is the most important thing…

“I’d be nowhere without my mates…True friends. Hardest thing to find, but you never look for them – they find you; you just grow into each other…”

Alone on a desert island

I love the night life ...

If I were to be marooned on a desert island with only one music CD to listen to, what would it be? I’d want something uplifting. Something that would release me from my solitary malaise and give me enough scope for the times I want to dance, to sing, to be inspired or music simply to fill the silence.

I could choose the opera Tosca – by the time of my rescue and with a lot of practice under my belt (if I’ve got one), I just might have nailed my all time favourite aria Visi d’Arte. If I’m not rescued then perhaps,  as Tosca did, I’ll hit that top note and die with it on my lips.

So very very romantic.

But no, I don’t think that Tosca would be my choice – I need to dance. I need to throw my hands in the air with gay abondon. I need more.

So what’s it to be? Bach’s Mass in B Minor for elevating me to higher plains, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto for emotional drama, Mozart’s Gran Partita for sheer beauty, Gin Wigmore to get me moving, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake to get me dancing, Cold Play for emotional connection, the Beatles for nostalgia, the Rolling Stones for guts … or Duffy, Essential Classics, Rhianna?

Or a combination of the lot?

There are two movie soundtracks that I’m particularly fond of. One being that from Moonstruck (a Cher classic which has a good dose of classical), and the other from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I guess you’ve deduced the winner … it’s a soundtrack I instantly select when I’m out walking and in need of a bit of a lift. It has everything.

Priscilla will cater to all my moods, help me when I need exercise to work off all that coconut milk, back me when I open my voice and sing to the heavens, comfort and soothe my aching soul. And for my perfect desert island outfit …

... I've got to boogie...

Suggestion for 2011 from Wellington’s Mayor

Wellington, our beautiful city ... deserving the very best!

A few weeks ago, our local newspapers and radio reported on an email sent to City councillors from our new Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown.

In the email she suggested that councillors learn a new hobby or skill this year to help activate areas of the brain lying dormant (my words!). Learning ballroom dancing or a new language were touted as examples.

Talkback radio dined out on this suggestion and received lots of calls from listeners horrified that the new Mayor could possibly suggest such a thing. Doesn’t she realise how overworked the councillors already are?

I actually think she’s got a point, even though her timing was a little off – being new and all – and there may have been better ways of floating the suggestion. (We all know that emails are open to misinterpretation.)

You see, I’ve been actively engaged in learning (developing) a new skill, as well as building on existing ones. And I do agree, particularly in the first instance, you need a whole new level of concentration and commitment. You have to be open to listening to others who already have the knowledge, soak up everything you can and then see what works for you. You also need to give it time and be kind to yourself when progress is slow.

I’m really enjoying the challenge of being a novice and feel a real buzz when I nail a shot.

I’m learning golf – perhaps next year I’ll try ballroom dancing.

Living with diabetes – Dracula

The latest assault

Over the past 13 years Dracula has become a friend. I’m summoned to visit her every three months for a blood supping fest.

It’s all very civilized you understand – no baring of the eye teeth and sinking them with a vice-like grip into virgin flesh. No spurting of blood and trails over-spilling from the lips …

Dracula over the past 13 years has been a petite and beautifully groomed nurse probably now her early 70s. She’s greeted me with the same question every time. I could easily slip into remote control – no need to think about the answer. Occasionally I’ve considered making up another answer. Then I think about how many people she ministers to every day and how hard it must be initiating conversation when you might not feel like it. I relent.

The stock routine goes something like this: “Could you roll up your sleeve for me please – it doesn’t matter which arm?”, “Now can you make a fist and squeeze it for me – not too hard”, then she swabs the sweet spot with some alcohol-soaked cotton wool, finds a vein, positions the needle and inflicts pain. Claret-coloured blood fills three phials.

To her credit she is very gentle and apologetic. I don’t really need the apology – it really doesn’t bother me a bit.

The only part that does bother me is the fasting beforehand. No food or drink allowed from midnight before until it’s all over. For this reason, and because I’m an early morning person, I’ve managed to arrive at the local medical centre a good ten minutes before opening time at 7.40. At that time a queue is already forming …

The blood tests inform me and my doctor (and anyone else who want to know) how well I’ve managed over the preceding three months. The results give an indication as to whether the medication is sufficient or appropriate. Cholesterol – good and bad is also measured.

This morning I found that my little blood-sucking friend has given up the needle – she’s retired and a new Dracula has taken her place. Although this will see a change in the banter, it won’t change the routine.

What I can do to be a better friend

Strong and dependable

Three things I can to be a better friend?

1.  Express the value of their friendship openly and often …

2.  Try walking in their shoes …

3.  Listen intently … with my heart.

I will strive to be like the Moeraki boulder – strong and dependable, with no sharp edges!

Defining a friend

A loyal and trusting friend

“Friendship is more revered than any other relationship, including those with family members.” Friendship: A History, Barbara Cain (Ed.), Mark Peel, (Contributor)

The ultimate compliment is to become someone’s friend.

Friendship happens, not as a conscious decision. It grows out of genuinely enjoying each other’s company, sharing intimacies, discussing yourselves, your lives, your dreams, plans, what you want to do, and above all else – caring.

Friends enjoy sharing the good times as well as helping each other through the rough ones. Never questioning, never judging – just being there. Friends listen. Friends trust each other.

Trust means that friends are not afraid to tackle the tough stuff. They understand – they are forgiving.

Friends encourage you – they really want you to be your best.

They are generous in soul and spirit – if you ask, “Does my bum look big in this?”, they tell the truth. They always want you to feel good, to feel beautiful and for others to see the best in you.

There is no jealousy between friends.

You should never be afraid to ask anything of a friend. If they can help you, they will. They won’t let you down. You should never be afraid of offering help to a friend, even when they don’t ask.

Friends sense how each other feels.

True friends are loyal and steadfast. They will not discard you when circumstances change or when new friends come along. They have huge hearts …

Friends can live on the other side of the world and you may not see them for years, may only talk to them once or twice a year – but when you do, it’s as if no time has passed and there is no distance between you. You pick up the conversation from where you left off.

Friends are more precious than diamonds.

Without friends, life has no meaning.

Stream of consciousness

Waffling on ...

Scott Berkun (  suggested this week that we should put pen to paper (0r digit to keyboard) with whatever comes to mind … and let it happen.

I’m not sure just how interesting that would be. My mind is always going off on tangents. Wouldn’t that be incredibly frustrating for a reader who’s looking for something meaty and substantial? The fact that I start a thought – and then take off somewhere completely different without finishing the original line.

Reminiscent Beethoven’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ – not that I would call my ramblings a symphony, waffling on would be more appropriate.

This morning I treated my partner’s grandchildren to waffles for breakfast. I haven’t made waffles for years … they were a great favourite when my children were younger, especially if they had friends visiting. A story, now family legend, tells of a time when one our visitors (you know who you are) took afternoon teas to a new level!

The kids had arrived home after school and were ravenous as usual. I’d prepared the waffle batter  (my friend Trisha’s best ever recipe), set the table, put out the jam and the maple syrup, whipped the cream and had everything ready for an orderly tea party. It was not to be … at that time of day kids have had enough of good behavior, enough of being restrained.

Whipped cream was my mistake.

Firstly one of our guests decided that burying her face in the cream was in order. Uproarious laughter and a gorgeous face (female) dripping with cream and raspberry jam! The scene was set – spoons quickly dived into the bowl of cream. Great dollops were flung at each other. Mayhem …

The story was retold to today’s wee guests with much laughter. The protagonist is their aunty.

I didn’t serve cream this morning.

There I’ve done it again …

The sound of my laugh

Laugh for a zlote or two ...

Describing the sound of my laugh is an interesting question, as would be the sound of my voice whether talking or, scarier still, singing.

I smile a lot and have the wrinkles to prove it. What’s there to be ashamed of? I smile even when I don’t want to smile – it comes so naturally. Facial muscles go into auto-pilot and there it is, the smile – eyes, mouth, lips, cheeks, the lot – just like my Dad.

A smile has no sound even though you can hear it in the voice.

A laugh is different, loud (or not so loud) and spontaneous. It can fill a room, it can fill a heart. Along with a baby’s first cry, laughter is the best sound in the world.

Mine is not a giggle, or a cackle, not a guffaw or a snort – well maybe sometimes. I have a deep chuckle – I’ve been told it’s warm, inviting and infectious. It’s not high-pitched and can’t be heard above all else in a crowded room. It comes from my core and it’s genuine, very genuine.

I love laughing – anytime, anywhere.

Laughing with (not at) other people is the best feeling on earth. My last boss said that if she didn’t laugh at least 14 times a day, it wasn’t worth getting out of bed. I loved her when she said that …

My pet hate … like, you know what I mean …

Better to use hands than empty words ...

Once upon a time, we used to pad out our sentences with ‘um’ and ‘ah’. Whenever there was a gap between our thoughts and our words, we’d rush in with a stock standard filler. Times have changed.

Nowadays one word has taken over in popularity and rather than be pleased that a word with meaning has taken the place of ‘um’ and ‘ah’, I’m irritated. Not because of the word itself, but because of the way it seems to be liberally interspersed in every sentence – particularly with the young.

Please understand, I don’t have a problem when it’s used correctly. It’s the needless repetition that gets to me.

Like …

“Like, you know he called me on the phone and like he said we should go out, like you know, and he, like, well he said he’d be happy to pick me up. Like wow! Can you believe it? It’s like awesome. I’m like so blown away”

I can’t stand it – especially when sitting within earshot of teenagers on the bus.

It makes me want to stand up and shout, “Stop! You’re like doing my head in.”

Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo …