Sunday, April 29, 2012

All's well that ends well

Not quite the way I intended to spend my Sunday, but feeling a little under the weather, indulging in a book for pleasure - as opposed to academic reading - is not really wasting time, is it? Plus I had only one day left to meet my goals of reading a book a month.
The third and final of the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson - The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest -  didn't have me totally enthralled at the beginning. It seemed too much like an extension of the previous book, as opposed to being its own story. But about 2 days ago it started getting interesting, with today necessitating a marathon read to get it finished.
I few too many peripheral sub-plots lines for my liking - which, if a movie for the trilogy eventuates, will not be missed if left out - but still a strong main plot line building to a well knitted together crescendo towards the end. I was grateful for the tying up of necessary lose ends in the final chapter as it seemed for a bit there that a couple of stragglers would be left hanging. And as for the relationship of the central characters, this too was suitably resigned. I like it when something - like a book or movie - that has ended is truly 'finished'. Means I don't feel ripped off.

Mincher Garden

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I visited Mincher Garden in Coatesville yesterday. More can be found out about it in this NZ House and Garden article. I have been there several times as the owners are Cavalier people, and allow our club's Christmas Ribbon Parade to be held at their property.
It's an extensive property however, (and a recognised garden of national significance), and I had only seen but a small part of it. My friend Aimee gave me a guided tour which took in the duckery, several formation areas, ponds, streams and native bush.


This was taken looking out from inside the "Twitchers' Hut"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

City Boys Go Country...

A trip to Mincher today on a 'photographic assignment' for a friend... it was to photograph her dogs (seven cavs, a lab and a papillon - oh and her chickens!) so I took the boys for an outing. It's always a bonus to visit  someone who welcomes canine children.
Well. Hugo was the first to disgrace himself. My boys are not usually fond of water so when he fell in the stream I can only surmise that he didn't realise the surface weeds did not mean he could walk on water. Hardly believed when the other two followed suit. And that's not to mention almost losing them down the drive as they all took off- we presume in pursuit of rabbits.
So on the one weekend that I did not have to wash Stirling for a show, all three had to have a bath when we got home...
I then took the opportunity to photograph my own dogs when they were all squeaky clean!

Mr Manky

My show dog!!!

At least Reilly only got wet belly-down

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Twenty-seven Cavaliers

Fantastic ANZAC weather + 27 Cavaliers = a great doggy afternoon at the Botanic Gardens with the 
Tiki Cavalier K.C.S Club.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mutually Beneficial

This morning my friend Linda "let me" take some photos of her little one, Karissa. I think she sees it as me doing her the favour, but I think it's a win-win situation. We both had garnered ideas from Pinterest to try out, not that they all worked as we had envisaged! Karissa was a bit tired and I had my settings a bit up the wop for a few, which therefore don't meet my standards. So we have decided to try for 'mach 2' sometime in the near future.
That's not to say that this beautiful little girl - and her lovely big sisters - did not give up some great shots today, as this selection shows.

We will Remember Them

Sonnet for ANZAC Day

By: Alf Wood

Sound the Last Post again, lest we forget
the freedom that we cherish has been bought -
not found like mushrooms in the field; the debt
is ours to pay, mindful of those who fought
and fell - yet still they held the torch aloft!
May we remain as zealous to withstand
the traitors who would make our fibres soft,
as well as enemies beyond the land.

The trumpet has the power to move us still,
and though the debris of a flood of years
lies over hand and mind, an aching thrill
comes rising perilously close to tears.
Sound the Last Post to hold the memory bright,
then sound the Rouse and keep the torch alight

Photo taken at yesterday's Anzac Assembly @ Reremoana School

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It was worth a try

Early weekend starts to travel to dog shows recently have allowed me to observe the morning glory of the man-made ponds in Wattle Downs... mist rising... swans gliding... but traveling on a schedule puts paid to stopping for photo opportunities.
However waking ridiculously early has become annoyingly habitual in the one year when I don't HAVE to get up early to go to work. So this morning I decided rather than linger over my morning coffee, that I would get out and take some photos in this spot. Sadly I did not get one shot I was happy with. The mist was sadly lacking this morning, the birdlife decided not to swim into the light for me, and a green slime has invaded the water disrupting any chance of capturing any sort of reflective shots in the still water.
But seeing as I made the effort I thought I had better post a photo anyway... Better luck next time!

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Beautiful Boy in B and W

May MPS Club Night will be upon me before I know it, and I have done no special photography missions at all lately. As with last month's set subject, I am pretty uninspired by the set subject topic of monochrome.
So I revisited some previous shots to see if any translated OK in to Black and White which, I understand, falls under the monochrome umbrella.
I have always loved this photo of Hugo. If you knew this little dog you would agree that it encapsulates his personality to a T - cheeky, confident and totally loveable. It was stolen on the spot without no consideration at all given to settings etc, and I had my wee 50mm fixed on, dialed down low, hence the very shallow depth of field. I had to work hard on the colour version to bring the most out of what was captured in camera, but have never been completely happy with the amount of shadow across the left (right as you look at it) eye, and the distraction of an inconsistent background.
I think there is much more clarity in the Black and White version, and I was able to black out the wall and curtain into a solid block.
I am not sure if I will enter it, but because I like it as a B and W, I am definitely going to print it and put it on the rapidly growing 'famous' hall wall. (Becoming a bit like going straight to the pool room, for those who appreciate the humour of The Castle)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Big Girls Don't Cry

There's something about live Musical Theatre that always means it will forever be one of my favourite forms of entertainment. Maybe is was being brought up with an appreciation of this art form, maybe because of my own (very novice) attempts at stage performance. If I was to be born again with the ability to choose attributes, having an amazing singing voice would come a close second to having a body like Heidi Klum. And I would probably strut that amazing voice out on a Musical Theatre stage.
I had bought tickets for my parents to see Jersey Boys for Christmas last year  - and one for myself of course - mainly because I was confident that it would be one they would absolutely love. (My father admitted at half time he had been dubious about it, but he gave me one of those super-squeezy hugs at the end and so knew I was right) But I myself did not envisage loving it as much as I did.
My personal taste in music is generally contemporary, and pretty varied. I can be attracted by a strong melody, a quality vocal and frequently, a rocking guitar. You wouldn't find me playing hits of the 70s or 80s, or reminiscing by repeatedly playing greatest hits albums. That said sadly, in my 'advancing years', my musical appreciation does not stretch to all genres, as I often admit to my nephew, who fronts a metal band. The guitar, yes, the vocal, not so much. Sorry David.
But I digress. The reason I did not expect to enjoy Jersey Boys so much is because the music of Frankie Valli and/or the Four Seasons is not of any of my 'eras' (unless you could the title track from the original Grease movie, which was indeed not even a song from the original Grease musical) I would not really choose to listen to Sherry Baby, or Walk Like a Man... though I must admit to liking Oh What A Night - mainly because I always comment that I was conceived late December back in '63 lol.
But I was totally sucked in by the music in this format.

The appeal came from a total appreciation of the harmonies and blending of the voices. Just beautiful. That and the slick choreography, which was clean, simple, and perfectly in unison. Added to the musical enjoyment was an interesting story, cleverly told from the 'seasonal' perspective of each of the members of the original Four Seasons. I also found myself falling a little bit in love with Bob Gaudio, or was that the guy who played him? Whichever way his character was the one who most interested me, and Declan Egan was certainly easy on the eye (and ears).

The only disappointment for me would be buying a $20 programme (as I always do) to find all the photos are from the original Australian cast, not the one we saw today in Auckland. I thought the cast was great and deserved the recognition. So I found the interview they did on our Good Morning programme earlier in the year. And one that featured Frankie Valli himself, on his recent trip here to perform. Couldn't find any video footage of the actual show either - funny that - but here's a clip of a montage to the song they did as the finale.
And the significance of the title? I refer back to my opening paragraph. I love the live theatre experience. The energy and emotion that emanates from the stage often 'moves' me. And move me today it did - I got tears during the song of which this post bears the title!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Double Triple That!

Study update for those who care.
Whilst most other teachers have been on holiday over the past two weeks, I have not... meant to be. But somehow I seem to have had a lot of down time. Can I blame some on being a good, kind responsible person who takes care of nieces and nephews in holiday time, and tends to friends who need post operative love and support? Sounds like a feasible explanation, so I'll take it!
I have achieved two major things; discussing my intentions with the two lovely teachers I hope to work with, and getting my Ethical Approval Application away. A meaty document supported by several letters to a range of stakeholders - students, parents, teachers. principal - and the data-gathering design that I can create at this stage of the process. Six copies (hence the title) clipped together and posted away in plenty of time - I hope.
And now once again, a little girl waits. The documents will not be reviewed until May 9 I discovered today. A fellow Masters student told me he had heard that only 10-15% of applications pass the ethics committee in the first reading. I am hoping those ones come from the A grade average students!
Until I have approval I am unable to proceed with any consent forms or data gathering. But I can chew away at my Methodology chapter (not a fun prospect) and my Literature Review (a much nicer task IMO)
I am hatching a plan to do some of this in another locale... watch this space.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mrs Benbow's Bootees

I don't actually remember meeting Mrs Benbow, but I have knitted her bootees several times. I cannot recall my mother's connection with her, but I do know that this is where the pattern for these bootees came from. (Hopefully Mum will comment and fill us in)
My mother has always loved this pattern, as have I, because the bootees are square-toed and 'boot-like'. I was fortunate that Mum shared it with me, as she kept it safely as her own special pattern for years. I wonder if Mrs Benbow was as protective of it!
I remember copying it long-hand from our 'Family Book' many moons ago, and am amazed that I still have it recorded on the same writing paper, held together with a sewing-up needle. I must type it up for posterity, and perhaps to share... but only with Mum's permission!
This time the bootees are for my hairdresser, who will colour and trim my locks for the final time tomorrow before taking time out to welcome a much wanted baby boy in a few weeks. Not only do these bootees provide a means of thanking her for trussing my locks so well, but also helps to tick another goal off my 50 List - Knit a garment for someone's child.
It is probably a good thing that hand-knitted jerseys are a fashion statement of the past as my shoulder tends to seize when I knit these days... So a garment for a little person was a sensible goal to encourage me to get the needles out again.
Hmmm, recalling the hand-knitted jerseys I can feel another blog post brewing... It could be ugly!
But not these bootees. They are just a bit cute.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Treat

I love it when fun things arrive in the actual mailbox, as opposed to the virtual one - it doesn't happen that often in this digital age. So when the parcel containing my recently designed and ordered cards turned up today, I was uber keen to see how they'd turned out. I got them cheap cheap through Vistaprint on a Treat Me deal, so was rapt with the return I got for my meagre buck. (I think it was Treat Me... subscribe to too many Daily Deals!) Happy to be using my own photos too :).

I am intending to use them to fulfill one of my 50 list goals - to contact and stay in touch with those that matter to me, from the past and present. Just hope I can find their snail mail addresses!

Back of card 

Crisis, What Crisis?

Well fellow New Zealanders, who are the only ones who will really understand and appreciate the topicality of this post, today my crisis point arrived.

I reached the bottom of my Marmite jar.

To mitigate any withdrawal from the thick, savoury mud-like  yeast extract spread we Kiwis love to smear on our hot toast, I had proactively purchased a jar of Vegemite earlier in the week. I had been raised on Vegemite, how different could it really be?
Answer: Quite a lot. Aside from the obvious taste, I did not find the brown as appealing as the black goodiness of the true yeast extract, the Vegemite smell was less tempting and it seemed to clog on my Vogels as opposed to silkily spread itself across the grains, as does Marmite.
However despite being a Marmite lover, I must say I am a bit amazed at how this thing has played out in the media etc. A win-win for both companies as far as I can see. Maybe they co-conspired to taunt the New Zealand psyche into having us believe we cannot live without our black gold... be that of the M or the V variety. That said, I would sooner live without the V myself... Marmite all the way!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You scratch my back and...

I am not sure who is more pleased to see each other when my niece and nephew come to stay - the dogs or the humans. My boys love the attention, and the kids love giving it. Cuddles all round.
Hugo especially seems to love these kids - probably because of all the scratching his constantly itchy skin gets from them. The kids love pampering him too because of the reactions they get; uncontrollable leg twitches and persistent pats on the arms when the petting stops, to encourage it to start again...
The little bugger even left my bed during the night to visit Dan downstairs, demanded a scratch then left again. He also visited Megan, who said she was already wake with a headache, and then came back to bed and woke me... Not sure whether to thank him or throttle him. Whilst she went back to sleep after a little TLC and a cold flannel to the head, and Hugo was snoring at the foot of my bed again within minutes, I was wide awake for a good two hours after that wake up call.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The party life's not for everyone...

Well I went to an unusual birthday party today, for Caeser the Border Collie. I did not really know any of the people there, but the boys do rub noses and sniff bums with some of the canine guests from time to time when we're out walking on the Peninsula. It was on a walk meeting that Caeser's owner invited me to this do a few weeks back.
Someone counted 19 dogs, ranging from Chico the chihuahua to Bear the German Shepherd. There were schnauzers, a miniature poodle, cairn terrier,  chocolate lab, golden retriever, bichon, dachshund and many more.
There was absolutely no unpleasantness between the dogs at all. Some enjoyed the canine interactions more than others.  Hugo and Reilly were pleasant to the doggie guests for a while, but their preference was definitely for the human touch, as they moved around the people batting their eyelids and getting continually petted.
Unfortunately, Mr Stirling was a bit overwhelmed. The party life is not for him. He spent most of the time under a chair, on a chair or on someone's lap... Chico the chihuahua was quite persistent in wanting to get to know him, but he was not willing to reciprocate. When Bear the German Shepherd was even in close proximity, Stirling got his big boy bark on. From under the chair. But he did come out to eat cake. At least he enjoyed that part of the celebrations!