Sunday, December 31, 2006

The last day

I have had a lovely day today. Up in time for Mass - and funny enough it was the feast of the Holy Family and was all about FAMILY. Ha, just as I have managed to be alone with no family around for a few days and here they were espousing the joy of family. I could have felt guilty but I didn’t. I know this is not 'real' life and I'm sure I would get bored after a month or two. And yes, I do love you all, but it's so nice being able to do ANYTHING I want WHENEVER I want. No cooking, no meal times, no cleaning, no dishes, no talking, no noise, no mess, nada, nothing. I LOVE IT.

But it all ends tomorrow. I'm off to join up with Seán and his guys for a few days in sunny (it better be!) Timaru. Then Zoë arrives home from her time on a farm and it will be back to having to be someone other than 'just Jo' for another year...

Anyway, I did have a lovely day today and it's not yet finished...

Church (tick), walk (tick), coffee (tick), movie (tick), coffee (tick), karate (tick)...yet to come, ummmmmmmmm...dinner? naahh…whatever I like (tick).

My walk was a spectacular series of wrong turns. I was trying to walk up Signal Hill. I found the sign at the bottom of the hill and it was very explicit about 'Stay on the formed track' and had little yellow arrows, but the arrows pointed away from the formed track to a slightly less formed track, I dithered here and there and took about five different tracks all which petered out or didn't head the way I wanted. I finally found a 'formed track' that seemed to head in the right direction. Thirty minutes later though I was still on the wrong side of a stream and could hear dogs baying and I began imagining that they were chasing me. It was a very primeval place (see pix - click to enlarge). I finally started going up, but was sure it was the wrong up. And it proved to be. I ended up on the wrong hill. And the dogs were from the SPCA, safely in cages. I'll try again tomorrow.

I drove around a bit to find another walkway (after traipsing 30 minutes back through mud, to the car) and after a long vertical climb found the most spectacular view of the harbour I have seen for a while. I whipped out my camera but the thing was out of batteries. So I sat and looked at the view. I'll do it again with Seán and take a charged camera.

All this walking is in aid of a three-day tramp I'm doing in a couple of weeks. I'm wearing in my boots; and today I had the most delicious pair of socks on. Odd to go on about socks but they are truly divine and felt like slippers inside my boots - I want more! They originally cost $33 but I got them on special for $19. New Year sales, maybe?

I'm on a mission…for socks!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Listen to me!

I had my hair cut yesterday, the hairdresser told me all about her ex son-in-laws attributes, mostly negative (including having-it-off with a co-worker in the toilet at their work do...way too much information here lady!). I didn’t want to hear it.

Does she not realise that one of the pleasures of a hair cut (apart from the head massage - joy, oh joy, if I was rich and famous I would have one every morning) is the ear of a minion to blurt out all of YOUR problems to, duh!

Now they are all stored up, ready to burst out into the first sympathetic and probably inappropriate ear.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stairway to...

This morning's walk was just an hour. A loop from home that I have walked and run before. It consists of as many sets of stairs as I can find, I was on the track of a forth set but recalled that I had to get home in time to drop Zoë at the bus station.

Stairs - Barr Street to Shirley Place

Stairs - Hocken Street to Kenmure Road

Stairs - Mailer Street to Glenpark Avenue (down and up and down)

Harbour view at highest point of walk

Another harbour view with my tennis club in the corner

What to do?

I have made a list of all the things that I both enjoy doing AND that are good for me. I have little planned for the holidays and so intend to do at least two things off the list each day. It's up on a whiteboard and I’m ticking things off when complete (x's here, as the lovely ticks I did in Word didn't transfer :-(). It's not as good as keeping an exercise journal, but it's working so far (all three days of it!) Walking is actually the most useful and necessary as I have a three day tramp planned for later in January, with lots of UP.

So far the list consists of:
• Gym x
• Walk xxx
• Run
• Swim x
• Bike
• Karate x
• Tennis x

I should probably add:
• Housework- clean out wardrobe, drawers, clean kitchen floor, etc…
• Gardening- cut grass, weed spray, sweep paths, clear vege garden, etc…

But hey, it’s holidays and those things are so not fun!

Also important (but not on the list due to their adverse affect on my fitness) are:
• Reading
• Watching Videos
• Blogging
• Txting
• Emailing

Zoë is off for a week on a farm in Waikaia. Jed is away to his dad’s from tonight. Jack is in Timaru with his dad. Ben (who doesn’t live here anymore, but he’s still mine!) is off on a ‘road trip’ to Nelson, for the New Year. And so I am here, finally, I think, ALONE…lets see how long I last. I have always found, in the past, that this longed for peace and quiet begins to pall about the third day.

I'll go and pump up my bike tires and see if I can squeeze a wee ride in amongst the rain showers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wet, wet, wet...

Even though it is grey, misty, and just a tad chilly, I thought a swim was due. I swam a lot last year and got to be a regular at the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, but that was because I was training for a few triathlons. This year my focus has been karate, which doesn't really involve a lot of swimming :-p

I like swimming, but unfortunately my shoulder didn't today and I felt every stroke with my left arm as I churned out my 1km. I'll see what it feels like tomorrow.

This pool is always a delight to swim in. On a cold day it is pleasantly warm, on a hot day it's just lovely to be swimming in clear water outdoors ( a rarity in Dunedin).

On hot, sunny days I always have an opposite case of 'the grass is greener'...If I'm at the pool I look over at the beach and think yaah, I'm not getting sand everywhere and being buffeted by waves; if I'm at the beach I look over at the pool and think, 'you silly people, you should be out here in the real world'. Fortunately I always think I am in the right place.

They have a Web Cam so you can check out how busy the place is before you go (I only lane swim and detest having to share!) - it's actually just a surf/weather camera, but hey, I can pretend it's for my own personal benefit :-)

A known quantity

I know breast-feeding is best! I loved it, miss it, would love to do it again, and admire those that do it, but.....when it's not working and the bottle has to be used...there is nothing more satisfying than watching a bottle of milk disappear down a baby's throat!

'That' much milk has gone into that baby...she HAS to grow.

Boxing day

My washing machine broke down a couple of days ago so I have been making frequent visits to my dad's house to do washing. I'll try the repair shop tomorrow, but I expect there will be no one around until after New Year. Meanwhile the water left in the machine is getting smelly....I need to find a length of hose and syphon it out. Tomorrow's job.

I began today well with a visit to the gym, weights and a couple of sessions on the treadmill. Then I came home and ate dumb food, again. Jed popped in and out and in and out with his mates, they are all at a loose end. Ben and Zoë hit the shops - Zoë finally scraping up enough cash for an ipod nano (in pink!)

About 5pm I walked down to the hospital (took about an hour) for a Phoebe visit. Zoë and I then mooched around eating cherries and trying to spit them into rubbish bins, very unsuccessfully, I have no spitability at all. A nice chick flick - The holiday - predictable nonsense but good actors -then a stroll home through dark streets and mild drizzle to arrive home at midnight.

A day done.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas day in Dunedin

Lovely Christmas day, very relaxed!

Scrumptious food.

A great game of tennis – finally children old enough and skilled enough to play, I have waited years for this!

And a lovely end when I ‘baby-sat’ Phoebe for hours and hours at the hospital while Jane and Stephen had Christmas dinner with his parents. She took a full bottle off me and was a special wee bundle to nurse quietly on Christmas night.


I haven’t been able to post for days! Some weird message keeps pooping up when I try to upload anything…

“Safari can’t open the page “”. The error was: “lost network connection” (NSURLErrorDomain:-1005) Please choose Report Bug to Apple from the Safari menu, note the error number, and describe what you did before you saw this message.”

It’s not just in Safari, it happens when using Firefox too. I’ll give the Apple bods a ring and see what they say. As it appears to be random since I’ve logged in today.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No more work

Whew! That’s it for the year. No more work until January 18th.

I have huge plans to get stuck into some serious training. Biking out to Brighton in the mornings, and then off to the hot salt-water pool, at St Clair, for a few laps each day.

I was down at the gym on Monday and tried to go through my normal weights routine but was horrified to feel my shoulder start to ache. I might leave all those exercises for another month or so.

Running is going well. I ran the walk I did on Monday (5.8km) and it was grunty run. Lots of stairs; one of which you run down and then run back up, because running down stairs is such a waste of time. You then have to run down them again, to carry on the loop.

But Christmas first...

Phoebe returns to Dunedin

Phoebe is home for Christmas! And so, at 10.30pm, Zoë and I rushed off to the hospital to see her. We were vetted at the door before they would allow us in and then escorted to the children’s ward. Phoebe is not yellow anymore, but was sleepy from feeding and traveling. She has tubes running hither and thither and it was hard to know where to grab her without disturbing them. More visiting tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hello Darling!

A big, warm, welcome to my husband, Seán, who has decided to read my Blog. He feels that I don’t tell him enough about my life and so is going to catch up here :-)

Beach education vs shopping

A busy day today, in a weird way. Theoretically Tuesday is my day off, but I had signed up for Jack’s ‘Beach education day’ This involved transporting a car full of 9 and 10 year-olds to the beach and then making sure they didn’t drown. Since there were about 5 lifeguards involved in the ‘beach ed’ day, I figured that I was a little redundant once arriving at the beach. The teacher thought so too, and so most parents were told they could go ‘off’ if they liked and be back for lunch and the swim at 12.30ish.

Suited me! I whizzed off with Zoë and did a little shopping in Mosgiel*, had a coffee and then went home to make some lunch. Back to the beach to watch the lifeguards protect the children while swimming. Redundant again! Stood though an achingly long and noisy beach safety talk and brought the children home again.

Funniest moment of the day was when all the children were made to lie down, feet facing the beach, and then watch an enormous wave rush up and drench them all to a chorus of screams (especially the boys!). I wish I had had a camera to catch their horrified faces. The air temperature was 17, but I imagine the water was a little chillier.

I’m home now baking chocolate chippie biscuits for my brother’s 49th birthday do tonight. Smells good!

* Mosgiel is a wee town just outside of Dunedin. Being over the hill on the Taieri Plain it both avoids coastal breezes and is dead flat. Making it the perfect location for OP (old people). Trillions of rest homes, hospitals, retirement complexes, etc are situated there. The main street is well known as one of the most dangerous around – just so many inattentive people!

However it was the footpath rather than the road that very nearly proved to be my downfall. Zoë and I almost being bowled over as two scootterised OP and a third with a walking stick all swerved and halted, in a synchronised fashion that suggested this is a daily occurrence, to have a wee chat.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Last run to holidays

I was delivering a bag of books to one of my housebound Bookbus customers this morning and as I approached her doorway this vile “Ho, ho ho!” rang out, followed by the raucous sound of “Jingle bell rock”. I jumped, but the cat that was sunning itself on the porch just gazed at me.

Nasty, nasty, Christmas decoration.

Delicious day in Dunedin today, calm and still. I went for a walk at 6am and had the town to myself. I always feel the need for a notebook around my neck when I walk. My brain goes into hyper-drive and I have the most amazing ideas and insights. All forgotten, of course, as I walk back in the door at home. Maybe my heart-rate monitor could double as a Dictaphone?

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Blog 'Granny' comes to stay

Anne and Jean Michel leave Dunedin today and head up to Timaru. They stayed with us for two nights and our family enjoyed the experience immensely.

MD was able to dust off his French again and draw Jean Michel into the conversation while Anne, with her delicious French accent (with a tiny tinge of Ireland?), entertained us with her many inspiring stories. You could not wish for more perfect houseguests.

My only regret was that I had to work both Thursday and Friday mornings and so missed out on breakfasting and chatting more.

My children were entranced with Anne and she seemed to be entranced with them. I think this lovely lady sees only the good in everyone she meets and so only the good occurs. I would like to keep her in our house to ensure that we stay the way she sees us.

Anne intends to travel abroad for seven years, returning home occasionally for the birth of a grandchild or any other major life experience happening in her family. So keep an eye out for her, because it would be your lucky day to run into ‘Granny’.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blogger meets blogger?

Very exciting! Tonight I will meet my third blogger, from another country, face to face!

First there was Julie whom I meet up with in New Caledonia.

Then Kate from North Carolina who was staying in Dunedin for a while.

And now Anne, a close friend of Julies, is coming to stay with us.

My family thinks I am mad linking up with ‘strange’ people, but I think I am fortunate to meet these lovely people.

Blog on baby!

Happy 50th Anniversary Jane and Bill Bailey

If my mum were alive today it would have been her 50th wedding anniversary.
Does that mean that it is my dad’s 50th wedding anniversary today because he is alive? Or do wedding anniversaries end when people die?

Anyway – “Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary Jane and Bill Bailey”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Phoebe smiles again

Zoë’s sister Phoebe (eleven weeks old today) gives her first smile after a Kasai operation to fix her dud liver. She was diagnosed with biliary atresia a few weeks ago and is up in Starship hospital (Auckland) with her mum and dad.

Hope you are home for Christmas sweetie!

5th Kyu

There was only one funny thing about my grading to 5th kyu last Saturday and that was my belt. It had a mind of its own during the entire 2 1/2 hours, slipping further and further around to my back. I later found out that the higher ranked karateka, who were scattered around the dojo, took a great deal of amusement from watching its travels. “I’ve never seen a belt do that before!’ one Kyoshi commented, asking, “ Did I have trouble dressing myself this morning?”

That aside, the grading was as hard ever. I had two hopes going into it. One, that at last I was as fit as I have ever been and maybe that would make it easier. And two, on finding out that there were only six people grading that it might be a little shorter than usual.

One, being fit didn’t seem to help. I’m sure it did really, but I felt just as shitty as usual during several phases of the grading. Maybe because I have to work harder to reach my limits, which are higher, and I end up feeling just as crap. Good, I suppose, because if you cruised though a grading it would be pretty naff.

Two, having fewer people going for the grading made no difference at all. Jun Shihan went though every possible block and strike and what seemed like trillions of push-ups between each set.

There were two yellow belts grading to 5th Kyu, which was good as I dreaded being the last on the floor. The very last thing we did were our kihons, one at a time while the other was in push-up position with someone sitting on their shoulders. My fellow yellow belt was a ten year old who seemed to take forever to finish his stuff while my arms trembled mightily under a Senpai’s weight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fab site!

You (vast number of readers) probably already know about this site. I figure that by the time I know of anything vaguely cool; Blogs, u tube, whatever, it is not actually cool anymore. But hey, just trying to help.

Google reader (well the minute portion of it that I utilise) is basically an inbox for all your favourite web sites. I am only using it for my favourite Blogs. It means that I can open up one site and it tells me which Blogs have been updated. No more opening each Blog each day (or five times a day when bored) just one look and I can see who has been productive straight away.

It’s easy to load them; they have a wee box that searches for ‘feeds’. Only two Blogs out of the many loaded don’t seem to have feed. Kim (?) why?????

But it has revolutionised my blogging. Super cool. Thoroughly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Awesome Zoë #2

Zoë kicking Jed during his 1st kyu grading – that’s what little sisters are for isn’t it?

"She puts on that karate face
As cool as cool can be
Up herself like no one else
Her name is Awesome Zoë"

A few lines that Zoë’s friend Kim scrawled a while ago…Hope you don’t mind Kim!

Awesome Zoë #1

Zoë, Jed, Jack and Ben - September 2006

My darling daughter is 15 today. She is flying up to Auckland to visit with her dad, Jane and her baby sister Phoebe.

Phoebe is up at Starship hospital after being diagnosed, at 8 weeks of age, with biliary atresia . Basically, her liver is poked and she will eventually need a transplant. First though is an operation (Kasai) that will place small pieces of her intestine alongside her liver to take the place of bile ducts that never formed. There is a 50% chance that this will work and keep her well enough to grow big enough for a liver transplant to be viable.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Stephen and Jane. Phoebe has been such a long awaited and hard fought for treasure of a daughter and this liver problem has been such a shock to us all.

But, back to my daughter… Zoë is (in her fellow student’s words) awesome. She is so mature and capable. I know she will cringe, but we are reaching that stage in our relationship were she is more like a sister than a daughter. We can share (often far too much information, in her eyes) just about everything. Actually, I think it’s more me sharing with her! She has a wee habit of putting her finger to her lips and quietly saying “shhhh” if I share too much. She has started, helpfully, pointing out advertisements on the TV such as incontinence pads and hormone replacement treatments. I’m not that old yet thanks honey!

She is as stubborn as a mule and doesn’t put up with any shite from anyone. She has never gone though those foolish teenage girlie years, maybe that’s a wee loss to her, but she just doesn’t see the need to primp and pose and ogle after the boys. She forms strong friendships with those she admires and sticks by her friends even when she doesn’t approve of their behaviour. She has no time at all for posers and bitchiness. Zoë is no drama queen.

Zoë is a 1st kyu (brown belt) in Seido karate. This means that her next grading will be to Shodun (blackbelt). She is a tough wee girlie who has put a lot of time and effort into her karate.

She is enjoying having a baby sister after living with three brothers. Her school is just over the road from her dad’s and Zoë has made a habit of calling in before and after school to visit with Jane and Phoebe. Her excuse for being late to school one day was that she was changing Phoebe’s nappy. Another day, sitting in maths (I think), she realised that she could smell Phoebe. In fact, it was her clothes that smelt like baby - in a good way - as they had been washed together :-)

I hope you have a lovely visit with Phoebe in Auckland and give her special hugs from all of us left back in Dunedin. I know you will be a great support to your Dad and Jane over the next few days.

Happy birthday and God bless you, darling girl!

Monday, December 04, 2006


Karate camp was a blast. The weather fantastic, blue skies and warm. I had a very smelly gi after wearing it for two nights and ten sessions - including beach training (rolling around in wet sand) and two runs.

I have decided that the army missed out on a great recruit in me. I loved the routine of living to the bell and being told what to do and when to do it. There were no decisions that I had to make about food of clothes or organising anything. Just so relaxing!

Cell phones and watches are banned leaving you at the mercy of who ever are running the camp. A large bell was used to call everyone in for each session, including in the middle of the night; from fast asleep you had to race into the hall to perform one thousand kicks or punches and various other karate stuff. Bleary eyed and tousled headed you then fell back, all sweaty, into your bunk. It was very surreal.

The beach sessions were hilarious, sinking wrist deep into the sand while doing push-ups and splattering other people's gis with sand splots when kicking. Undies appeared like magic through soaking wet gi pants, after doing sit-ups – very colourful. I was slightly worried as I was wearing a delightful beige pair that I imagine became translucent when wet.

The people were friendly, the food was plentiful, the etiquette, while enforced, was not overbearing. It was great to see so many higher ranks all together. Dunedin dojo is quite small and we are in awe of our three Kyoshi (5th dan), but here there were 7 or 8 Kyoshi, a number of Jun Shihan (6th dan) and the boss Shuseki Shihan (Renzie) top guy for Seido in New Zealand.

We didn’t get to see them do much as several gradings were going on over the weekend (including MDs) and they were busy with those. We did have quite a few sessions with various Kyoshi though and that was always illuminating. The camp was quite top heavy in the higher ranks, over half were Shodun (blackbelt) and above. Only eight yellow belts attended, three from Dunedin. That was a shame as I was looking forward to having a greater variety of partners.

My shoulder held up wonderfully and although every muscle in my body aches, it is that good ache of a body well used, not abused. I think I will be going for a grading this weekend. I’m annoyed I didn’t do it at the camp, but you had to register a month ago and I wasn’t confident of my shoulder. Their grading was half the length of the gradings we have down here. Next year maybe?

MD’s grading was eighteen hours long. All he can tell me about it is that his preparation was perfect. It is all secret squirrel stuff and very mysterious. But he did well and looked strong and happy on his return to the camp. He is now a Yondan (4th dan) and is called Sensei. Cool. Well-done sweetie!