Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Tragedy

Our friend David died last Thursday. He was the principal at Mr B's previous school, and was a great friend and mentor. He had bladder cancer. The first lot of treatment looked to be successful, but it came back in his lymph nodes, and only about a month ago was found to have spread all over the place. He died peacefully at the Nurse Maude Hospice at the age of 60. The biggest blessing for David, and for his friends, was the introduction of Maureen to our lives. If you believe in such things, Maureen is like an angel on Earth. David's wife (fortunately) left him after he was diagnosed with cancer. He met Maureen, and they have been together for about 18 months. When I first met her it was like catching up with a family member. She is the most warm, caring, funny person you can imagine. She and David had wonderful times together, with lots of travelling, looking forward, and even finishing off building a house together. Maureen nursed David right to the end, at huge personal cost, as it was an exhausting task. I admire her hugely as her first husband died of cancer, and it was a journey no one wants to take, let alone twice.
We went up to visit David yesterday. He was beautifully dressed in a gorgeous suit, with his favourite tie on. He has a simple pine coffin, and wanted everyone to write messages on it, which we did.
This post is about love. Treasure the ones you love. Give them your very best. Make the most of them every day. Maureen, you are a role model for us all. XXXXXXXX

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Tony!

Our lovely friend Tony had his 40th birthday yesterday. The day was simply dreadful, with more rain than we have seen in ages. I went to my orchestras early in the day. I got a big surprise when Miss Doyle, boss of the 'cellos, wanted me to join a chamber music group. It was real honour, as I have only been learning for a year and a half. I'm off to practise in a minute, so I mustn't dally with blogging.

Anyway, back to the birthday. It was supposed to start with a picnic lunch at the beach, and finish with dinner in a gazebo in the gorgeous garden. The gazebo tried to fly to Australia in the night. The lunch was cancelled. We turned up at Tony and Claire's house and they had transformed the entire house. There was seating for over 50 people in the living room. The spare room had the buffet, the garage the bar, and the bathroom was the coat room. I found it really hard because there were only 5 people there I knew, including Mr. B. I took a prowl in the garden to see the finished landscaping and took some photos in the dark. I think they turned out quite interesting!

Artichokes. Mr. B and I love them so much that we have decided that we need a clump in our new garden. I have never actually eaten a fresh one. We like they way they look. Can you see the brilliant cobalt blue flower peeking out from behind?
This is a sculpture of a cabbage tree. It is not quite a metre tall, I think, and is by a Christchurch artist. There is a life-sized one at the Botanical Gardens. Sorry I cut off the bottom, it was pitch black looking through the camera lens.
Tony and Claire have a stunning wee vegetable garden that is incredibly productive. They have some interesting features in it, including this gorgeous weather vane. I want one! I think that is a bean making its way up the pole.
Last, but not least, this is Lola. She is a chocolate Burmese. Actually she looks quite plump here, but she is really a slender and dainty wee thing. I guess she has her fur all fluffed up in the inclement weather. I think she quite enjoyed the party as she was weaving in and out of all of the people for most of the evening.
Anyway, the food was so yummy. Claire is a wonderful cook. I must get the recipes off her. There was a beautiful bean and spinach salad with almonds and a delicious citrussy dressing. And the best risoni salad ever. The pudding consisted of a fleet of hazelnut meringue cakes with raspberries. There were lovely speeches, and the opportunity to share in the dedication ceremony which took place at church this morning for their dear wee baby girl Millie. That was for the people who wouldn't be making it to church (like us). When we went to go Tony said such lovely things to us that I burst into tears, and when I went in to say goodbye to Claire, who was busy feeding Miss Millie, I was blubbing worse than Millie ever does. Thankfully they are the kind of friends that don't mind a few tears, although I'm not sure what the other guests thought as I made a hurried exit clutching my hanky.
I'm off to practise now. I'm looking forward to a fun week at school, all going well. Mr. B is going away for 4 whole days. I might need some e-mails! XXX

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mucking around!

Sorry, still messing around with photos. I can drag the photo but it never changes from the circle to the rectangle. So I am trying Internet Explorer and making the photos smaller.

Can you believe it!!!! It moved, and in the create post section! Lets try again with a bigger setting.
Oh, I am so happy now! Yay! I feel like a proper blogger at last! Thanks Sal and Gigibird. You are treasures XXX

Another great day!

Yay! I had another wonderful day at school. Remember how I told you about the heart shaped biscuits that I prepared for my lesson today? Well all of my students had a go at icing their biscuits, and they looked gorgeous with their pretty pink and red sprinkles. My students are all severely intellectually disabled, so it was lovely to practise spreading using a knife on such sweet little biscuits. I took some photos, but I was late leaving school and forgot my camera. Hope it is still where I left it! I was rushing off to my first 'cello lesson of the year. What fun! My 'cello teacher is the sweetest person ever.

Today I am popping in a photo of my two precious babies when they were much younger. Miss Purrsia died when she was four. I have some very special photos of her on her last day, but it is too hard for me to put one of those in, as she was so sick. When Monty and Purrsia were tiny they caught the rhinotracheitis virus off their mother. The breeder gave them to us. Both have had ill-effects from the virus. Purrsia only had one eye, and long term sinus issues. Eventually her kidneys failed. Monty is so, so dear to me. I sleep with him snuggled up to me every night. He is about 10 now, and is currently rather plump and happy. Long may it continue.

Before I forget. Happy Valentines Day to my wonderful husband. When I got home from 'cello he had been busy cooking tea for me. What a darling. XXXXXX Love you Sweetie!

Ps. Going in for another go at photo wrangling- thanks for the advice!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Throwing my weight around

Today I put my foot down. Someone was trying to boss me around. Wrong move. Last year I would have been a walkover, but with my new philosophies and intensive planning to back me up, I grew a spine and stood my ground. It was only over something tiny, but it was the principal of the matter. Hopefully the first of many victorious moments for Poppy Black!

I've popped in two pictures of Miss Dog playing frisbee with me. She has a very short attention span and only played for a couple of minutes. Isn't she beautiful. The running dog photo is not the best photo in the world, but I love the way here ears are swept back as she gets some speed up. Thank you for the advice on bloggy layouts. I'm going to try moving the photos around. 

No, they won't move. They get a dotty line when I click on them, but refuse to move. Tantrum coming... no, dignified calmness.

On another note. Perhaps more crafty. I baked a lovely batch of heart shaped Belgium biscuits today. They are for my students to decorate tomorrow. Traditionally the recipe has lots of spices.
I halved the spice quantities to make them more appealing for youngsters. We will sandwich them with raspberry jam and decorate with icing and dear little heart shaped sprinkles. Happy Valentine's day! XXXXXXX

Oooh I just found I can pull the photos around after I publish the blog. How weird is that? Trouble is they won't go into the text. Maybe I have to leave a huge gap. No, that didn't work. Any ideas? 
The photos just pop back to where they started. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A touch of philosophy

I was pooed on by a seagull on my 20th birthday. It took me years to get over it. I would cringe whenever a seagull flew over, and it took the fun out of going to Sumner. Lucky for me I would (hopefully) laugh if the same thing happened. I still get myself in a tizzy about many things. Today, when tackling an issue that plagued me last year, I realised that there is simply nothing I can do about it. So I decided to try my best to apply Philosophy No. 1. "Don't get your knickers in a twist over things you can't change." I closely follow this with "Behave with dignity in the face of challenges." 

So instead of throwing a tantrum over the sodding layout problems I am having with my blog, I shall just skip a line and carry on. You see, I can't put photos into my text, which is very disappointing, and if I make an error and delete it, the writing won't stop at the side of the page. It just keeps on going, and of course, Dear Readers, then you cannot read my inspirational writing.

By the way, the Scout (or is it Brownie?) motto "Be prepared" is standing me in good stead this term. It means I don't really stop from 7.30 when I arrive at school, until 5.00 when I leave, but I am ultra organised, up to date, and enjoying the results. Plus I have adopted my friend G's habit of making lists for everything. And using a whiteboard pen to make lists means when I have completed each task, I have the satisfaction of making it disappear off the board.

Off to make dinner, do some more work (cutting and sticking) and then blobbing on the couch to watch House. Sounds good to me. XXXX

Ps. I confess that I do love celebrity chef's cookbooks. Since I hardly ever use a recipe when cooking I keep them for reading purposes. I love to read recipe books in bed (and generally fantasise about food). After 3 goes I still didn't get Gordon Ramsey's recipe to work properly. Sorry Gordon, I give up. Gigibird, you had better send me a list of trustworthy recipe books (does Delia count as a celebrity?).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend almost over

I'm about to go and work on dinner. It will be my third attempt at a Gordon Ramsy chicken creation in a white wine and creme fraiche sauce. The first attempt was too salty, I thought because of the capers in the recipe. I replaced the capers with mushrooms, and it was still too salty. So this time I'll use water instead of stock, and won't season the chicken with salt before browning it. I'll add some at the end of cooking, if necessary. I'm going to use heaps of mushrooms.

Yesterday I went to rehearsals for both of my orchestras. I was very anxious about Orchestra 3 as I struggled with the music when I joined late last year. But yesterday I had very little trouble sight reading my way through. It was fun. Then later I went to my other orchestra, which is called the Barbados Street Sympathy Orchestra, and is for adults who just want to have fun playing. The music is easy and the atmosphere very jolly. Some of the musicians are positively ancient, which is lovely. There are masses of clarinet players as the orchestra is conducted by the Christchurch School of Music Director, Mark Walton. He is the most incredible clarinet and saxophone player, and is hugely supportive of adult beginners. He has recruited a hoard of very mature clarinet students. I've done my time playing clarinet. It is a ghastly instrument to play. I transferred to flute after about a year early in my hideous time at high school. But now I play the cello. I am so looking forward to my first lesson for the year on Thursday. I've been learning for about 1 1/2 years now. This year I am determined to master the Grade 5 scales and exam music, although I won't do the exam. Plus I want to prepare a couple of pieces for performance at the end of the year. I would love to play some Debussy!

Today we took a friend to visit the Show Home of our new home. She was very impressed. Then we went out to see the completed fences on our section. It looks great. I am going to stain them a colour called New Denim Blue as we have done that here, and the colour looks great with roses smothering it.

Wish me luck for school tomorrow! We are visiting the Mona Vale rose garden tomorrow, and will make heart shaped Belgian biscuits on Valentine's Day. Plus we will do other heart themed things. I bit of romance is good for everyone. XXXX

Sad, sad news

My dearest little PC is dead. He was my lovely Mother-In-Law's very precious Burmese. He was the most darling little man, with a huge personality. PC was rejected by his first owners as he had snuffles, which caused his breathing to be noisy, and his eyes to weep. When the parents in law lost their cat Nermal it wasn't long before the vet was ringing them with news of a young cat who desperately needed a new home. So along came PC. He was larger than life. Into everything, incredibly nosy andvery destructive (he ate picture frames and cardboard boxes), he endeared himself to almost everyone he met. When my Father-in-Law died suddenly of a heart attack, PC became M-in-L's very important companion. Unfortunately PC also died too young, of a blood clot, which paralysed him in the night. The vet was superb, but there was nothing to be done, and now he is gone. He leaves heartbreak in his wake, and there is nothing I can do to make it better. Much love to my wonderful Mother-In-Law. XXXXX

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Waitangi Day

Today is a holiday. Thank goodness. I am recovering from the first two days at school. Waitangi Day is a commemoration of the signing of a treaty between indigenous Maori, and British settlers. The treaty has caused controversy ever since it was signed. I'm fed up with the whole thing, however love the holiday. I'm not at all interested in politics.

Today I have posted a photo of the embroidery I completed recently for my super special friend. I can't see much being done during the term, which is a real shame. I get worn out by school.

We visited our piece of land today. You can see that they are well underway putting up the fences. I am already imagining the roses smothering them.

Friday, February 1, 2008

January Challenge

Well, as promised, I can officially unveil my super simple, and very wearable cuff. It is made of felt and vintage buttons. I had all sorts of crazy ideas, but sometimes the simple ones turn out best. Then I have more time for embroidery. I've popped in a wee taste of a project just completed. I will reveal the rest soon. Miss Ruby Two Shoes sends her apologies. Due to work commitments her cuff will be online within a few days.

Now I can officially announce the February Crafty Challenge.
Recycle a piece of clothing. It must be fabulously creative and wearable in public.

On the sewing front, I picked up a skirt pattern and a 3/4 pants pattern. I am looking forward to unleashing my budding dressmaking skills on them.

School starts on Monday! I spent all week there and am exhausted. Hopefully I can keep the posts coming. XXX