Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Heartbreak

My darling ginger friend. I loved you so much, and still do. At 18 years old, you had a long, long life, and your heart was ready to rest. We were so privileged to have you for over a year. Your wee routines, soft ginger and white fur and remarkably tiny voice were always a source of pleasure for me. And you loved my routines. Visits to the bathroom, where you could be guaranteed a cuddle and kind words, food on demand, and happy times in my workroom. You loved the raspberry patch for naps in the summertime. We buried you near the raspberries, and planted a plum tree on top. I will miss you so, so much. You were a true gentleman pussycat. XXXX

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Winter Woollies

Zanny. Dear, sweet girl. She's a bit like me. Not exactly supermodel material, but fabulous anyway. It was a lovely sunny day today when I went out to have a ride. Yesterday was quite warm, so Zanny had some time without her cover. Now, it is the middle of winter here, and it is incredibly muddy on the farm. Yes, she took the opportunity to have a lovely roll, and I had no hope of getting it all off. You can see she hasn't got any shine to her coat because there is so much dust through it. And her legs and neck are very furry. They were caked with dirt. 
 Her tummy is full of foal. Look how round it is getting.
 She is in good condition, even though she looks awful here. I'll have her looking better by the end of the upcoming holidays, because she will get more grooming sessions.
 I'm sure she deliberately doesn't smile for photos. I made noises and tried to get her to prick her ears towards me, but she was determined not to play the game.
In contrast, while we were out for our sedate hack, she had her ears forward the whole time. We had one wee trot, but the ground was quite squishy after melting snow and heavy rain. I can't wait to ride her once she is no longer pregnant, because we will be able to do some more adventurous stuff. That won't be for a long time. Meanwhile, I am having a lovely time because I feel completely safe with her. She never does anything alarming. I know her little quirks now, and cater for her blind side by letting her have a good look when she is unsure, or position her so that she can see what is happening. She looks after me and I look after her. We're the perfect team. 

By the way, I found out in the latest Horse and Pony magazine (which is full of Emily stuff!) that one of their "top 10" NZ Olympic horses was blind in one eye. 

I helped with the feed-out today. I love it, as I get to chat to so many horses - around 17 today, I think. They are always so pleased to have their dinners. A couple have quite rude manners and you get the ears pressed back and a fierce expression, but if you thrust the bucket under their noses they get a mouthful of chaff, and all is well. Al is funny. He looks very scary and waves his head around with the most ferocious expression,  but he is all drama and no action. I don't trust Red though, because he will spin around and kick out. It is heaven helping out. 

I am so looking forward to the holidays. I have had a couple of days out of class on a course last week, so I'm very pleased that my students will have me all week. I prefer it that way, and they do too. We're ending the week with a "wacky mufti day" so I'll have to think of something a little bit extraordinary to wear to raise a few eyebrows. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Tribute to Uncle Joe

Our dear Uncle Joe passed away yesterday after falling ill with pancreatic cancer towards the end of last year. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the funeral because the family had a little service today in accordance with Joe's wish to have an ecologically sound funeral, and I couldn't make it in time. There will be a big community service on Saturday. He was a well-known figure in his community of Golden Bay, having a strong interest and extensive participation in community politics. He was also an enthusiastic poet, participating in the local Live Poet's Society, and contributing his compositions to special family and friend occasions. His poetry had also been published. Joe also had a passion for vintage cars, and had a growing collection housed on his idyllic property by the seaside.

Joe was fortunate to be able to spend his entire illness being cared for at home by my aunt, who is a nurse, with the support of the district nurses and the children (my cousins). I am sure he wouldn't have lived as long as he did under other circumstances. Auntie Marg's loving and dedicated care was as special as anyone could wish to have during such a terrible time.

Earlier this year I wrote a poem for Joe. I'm not a poet, but felt it was a fitting tribute to him because he always had a poem for every occasion. Some of it won't make sense to most people because I recalled memories of being around Uncle Joe from my childhood.

A Tribute to Uncle Joe 

A stone skips and dances 
Across the wide Waimea River,
Because of you. 

A swing in a vast tree,
Singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Tomatoes under glass,
Kiwifruit coiling,
A taste of ripe boysenberries,
Blackened chops over charcoal. 

Your feather and your sword.
A plea, a rant,
A verse, a joke,
Guardian of the land and people. 

But now,
Tall totara fallen.
Taken by an enemy no words can fight.

Tears fall,
but your goodness lives on
In the air we breathe
And the soil you tilled. 

The waves will gently lap upon the shore,
Forever more, 
And we will remember you 
In the sunlight glinting off the water,
In your Golden Bay. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Today I didn't end up going out to see my darling Zanny, which I am sad about. It was very icy and very much an indoor day out where she lives, so I reluctantly decided to stay home. We did some things at home. I made some delicious pumpkin soup from one of my homegrown pumpkins. We had morning tea with The Crafty Family, at their place, while Miss Dog played with Meg and Molly, and I did some more work on my scrapbooking pages, including Lucy's page. I love hunting out the best photos and then choosing the layout. It is like making mini quilts.

Fortunately my hip muscle is settling down a bit. It still hurts, but I'm not making owwwww noises whenever I move. Sleeping was a significant challenge last night, so hopefully I can settle comfortably tonight. I did manage to squash my fingernail under the heavy handle of the knife when I was battling with Mr Pumpkin today. At least I survived with all my fingers still attached, even if one is a bit bruised. I've still got a black patch on one of my big toenails where a mayo jar landed on it. I seem to recall being rather accident prone (read clumsy) as a child, and seem to be regressing.

Everywhere I look there are projects to complete, books to read and interesting things. I'm having an extraordinary amount of fun scrapbooking. I have to resist that long-held habit of hoarding the materials. I still remember the disappointment when, as a child, I discovered that I had hoarded some paints for so long they had dried up. So I'm just getting stuck in and hoping for the best.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Snow and Scrapbooking

Firstly, I must apologize for the state of the photos in this post. The light worked against me, both indoors and outdoors. I had a fiddle with the colour balance in the snow photos, but pitch black dog on white snow was difficult to capture with a simple wee camera. 

As you can see, we had snow during the week, and I took these photos on a walk with Miss Dog in our neighbourhood. It was Thursday - no school! We had a SNOW DAY. Yay!!!
 Miss Dog loves exploring in the snow. She snuffled her nose under bushes and raced around.
 Up and down the snow drifts. The snow was thick on the ground, and broke branches on trees.
 Considering we have just entered winter, this was a remarkable snowfall. I wonder what other weather this winter will bring?

Today The Crafty Neighbour, her Crafty Mother and I went to visit Scrappin' Patch in Rolleston. I dabbled in a bit of scrapbooking after my last visit, and this time had more of an idea of what would work for me. I decided to make album pages for Lucy and Henry, our darling niece and nephew. I thought it would pay to get into the cute papers before they grow up any more. I couldn't resist this cute woodland creatures paper for Henry. The photos are so sweet. I'm strictly a beginner, but this looks fine to me, and suits Henry. It is much better in real life.
 I grabbed this fantastic robot paper and card robots to make a page for his next visit, which is not too far away.
 I love this pretty girly page, which is for Lucy. I have to find some pretty photos of her. I've also got some gorgeous fabrics to make something for her. Another project to think about.
 I decided to get stuck in and finish off the pages I had started earlier this year, before sewing took over again.
 When I see photos of myself on horseback it is hard to believe that it is really me! I've got friends on these pages too.
 I couldn't resist this page. It can be cut up. I might make a picture with it. I adore the old fashioned seed packets.
 And look! Hexagons for a quilting page.
 This one is just the round part with the scalloped edge. Gardening perhaps? Love the red spotty gumboots.
 I got some sweet floral themed papers too.
Now I've got to get very busy and create some more pages.

Tomorrow will be a horsey day. I wanted to give Zanny some time to recover from the cold days. I remember how tired Sam was after snow days last year. Unfortunately when I picked up the vacuum cleaner to move it this afternoon something felt like it ripped across my hip, and it wasn't my knickers. I wish it was. I've hurt a muscle and it is really painful. Time I got Windsor Pilates out again to "strengthen my core." I thought that the last time I hurt my back, and I never did. The newest injury will teach me for my lack of regard for my midsection. Especially if I can't get my leg over Zanny tomorrow (in an equestrian manner, of course!).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Favourite things

Well, the Queen didn't make sure we had a lovely warm day for her celebrations today. It was so chilly that I was rather grouchy by the time I had finished fumbling and dropping pegs repeatedly while hanging out the washing. It still felt a little damp hours later when I went to retrieve it. 

On a good note, Johnny decided that he wanted to make cheese scones, and I certainly wasn't standing in his way. He doesn't bake very often, so it is always a nice surprise when he does. 
 The scones looked pretty cute when they were waiting to go in the oven.
 And they puffed up nicely too. I love a hot, buttery scone.
 That was morning tea taken care of.

I was busy working on the Forty Wishes quilt. I love the soft colours, which seem to be enhanced by a scattering of red patches with wee white spots. Mmm, I love spots!
 Each block is cut from four strips of the width of the fabric joined. Super easy to do. I bought ready cut strips which gave me a coordinated range of fabrics and saved a lot of time. Each block is turned 90 degrees from its neighbour to create the pattern.
 You can see the red strips scattered. They give it a bit of zing. The binding will be the same red spotted fabric. This quilt covers a queen sized bed with some overhang. My biggest quilt by far.
 I'm also working on a much smaller project. This is the kit from my Cath Kidston Patch book.

 I cut the templates from freezer paper, which is not commonly available here, but can be purchased from quilting supply shops. It is super cheap in the USA, and used for food wrapping. It surprisingly can be ironed onto fabric where it remains until you peel it off without a trace. You can reuse it several times, so is fantastic for making applique templates, and for hand-pieced patchwork. It is also used for foundation patchwork. I cut 12 little petal shapes for the dresden plate pieces, then ironed them onto the reverse side of the fabrics, which I had already cut using a larger template.
 Now I've got the wee stack of petals to hand-turn, sewing them onto the template, carefully folding  the fabric around the shape of the freezer paper petal as I go. The curved top is tricky as it requires tiny pleats and wee stitches to hold them in place, otherwise the petals will end up without a smooth   border.
 Dresden plate making is not everyone's cup of tea, but I am fond of hand sewing, so it suits me perfectly.

Yesterday I dropped into Stitch to visit Fenella. I was pleased that I did because she had these lovely wide backing fabrics on special. I have admired these since they first came in, but they don't come cheap at full price. So I grabbed a bargain.

It is extraordinarily difficult to find extra wide fabrics that are attractive enough to go anywhere near my quilts. I love these and although I haven't got any place for them currently, they were worth popping in my stash. I am going to explore the world of pure cotton sheets for the back of quilts. I would love to use gorgeous coordinating quilting fabrics joined, but can only justify that when I can find a bargain.

Even though it was chilly here, I decided to risk a trip out to see Zanny. As Johnny said, there will be plenty of wet weekends coming up. I can't bear the thought. Darling Zanny was waiting at the gate because I called to her, then went to chat to Viv to see if she wanted a ride too. Hopefully Jack is sold, but he is just waiting for the final decision. Viv had taken him out earlier in the day, so she and Emily decided that Frank could have a quiet walk. He has been out of action for a month or so lame, so I was quite honoured to head out with him again. I thought he might be a bit fresh and flighty, but he and Zanny ambled along together like brother and sister, happy as anything. It was much warmer over at the farm, as it often is, so we had a lovely time in the sun, with a good chat on the way, and Shadow, the foxy, explored as we rode. I feel so fortunate to have magic moments like that.

Have a wonderful week! XXX

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

A three day weekend feels like a birthday for me. The glorious anticipation of three wonderful holiday days off school. It hasn't been a bad week at school, in fact we did have some brilliant moments, like our tea party, complete with scones with jam and cream, and a lace tablecloth. But who doesn't love glorious days off work?

This is a bit of a dull post for most readers, but I like to keep a record of special days, even if I don't have any photos, and only want to prattle on about horses (again).

Today I had a very leisurely start to the day. Reading in bed, and then a lovely chat to my dear mumsy, complete with a cup of tea. The weather was dreary here, but no rain. I had a date with Zanny planned, so headed out to the farm after lunch, and the weather was lovely and mild there. I stripped off my scarf and jersey and felt a bit silly being so bundled up. Viv wanted to come out with us on Jack, but she let me go out and spend some time with my girl before she came out, because she doesn't groom, just tacks up, and I love preening and primping Zanny so she looks her best, which takes time. "Doesn't groom?" I hear you ask. Yes indeed. I LOVE thoroughly brushing Zanny, and carefully picking out her hooves, and I don't hear her complaining either. But Viv is always busy, so sees grooming as an optional extra. 

Today, we both had our mounts ready (one muddy, and the other sparkling), when a young man came to have a test ride on Jack. Darling Jack is looking for a new home, so, although a little disappointed to miss the good conversation while riding, I was happy to let Jack go off to the arena, and Zanny and I went out on our own. Now that shows Zanny's truly wonderful temperament. She had Jack standing there beside her all ready to go, and we just walked away from him with no debate. I love that about her. We had another brilliant relaxed ride. I decided that she needed to stretch her legs a little and we had some trots along the broad grass verge, which we both enjoyed. I always like it when we ride past the crazy chicken lady's house, and today there were feathered creatures everywhere, including an enormous turkey wandering on the road, that let out a raucous gobble as we approached, making me jump a little, and Zanny look with interest. 

Zanny's tummy is so round, and Viv said we will be able to see the foal moving before too long. I leaned my cheek against her flank, listening and feeling, and all I heard were enormous gurgles (horse farts in waiting). I've been trying to imagine the dear foal curled up inside. I am so hopeful all is well with it. Twins would be the worst outcome, and I know Viv has that in the back of her mind. She will lose them if that is the case. We were laughing about her being the surrogate mother to my child. I'm glad I don't have the stretch marks she must have under her fuzzy winter coat. 

I'm planning some sewing and possibly a visit to Stitch tomorrow. I promise photos are on their way. 

Ps. I wonder what people buy the Queen for her real birthday? A spangled lead for one of her corgis? A multi-pack of her favourite brand of knickers (full briefs, I'm sure)? A pair of gold tweezers for plucking whiskers from her chin (for the photos, of course)? The latest Jilly Cooper novel? It must be a dilemma for her nearest and dearest.