Sunday, March 2, 2014

I have been a little preoccupied...


Due to being preoccupied I have not updated this blog as I had always intended to...and that is something that I am going to remedy.

Preoccupied with what? With the EQC repairs (earthquake damage) to our house, and the additional work we did on the house at the same time. We now have house with insulation in all the walls, new double glazed aluminium windows, a slightly altered kitchen with a big new bench, and the house has been fully redecorated! As you can imagine, I am rather happy with this!

It was such a work in progress that it occupied most of my energy for many months. We are still  not finished, but it is only the exterior house painting to be done and the driveway and footpaths to be repaired.

Not much writing got done during this time!

The pictures just show a bit of the process.

I will be back to update further...as we have just returned from an Asian holiday....




Sunday, July 21, 2013

Out for a ride

Sunday.
Sun.
Warm winter day.

Me? Time to fit a quick ride in!

The previous weekend had been wet, busy, and no time to go for a bike ride. This weekend I was at a Wing Chun seminar on the Saturday and then Sunday I managed to get everything done in time to head off.

Normally I don't do anything less than a 50 kilometre ride on Ruby (2013 Specialized Ruby Comp Compact), but this weekend it was already well after 2 p.m. when I managed to go riding, and so I only got a 40 kilometre ride in. The temperature drops around 3 p.m., and when the sun is lower in the sky sun-strike becomes a risk -- one day, in the car, I saw a cyclist knocked off his bike because a driver was blinded by the sun.

I am not a fast cyclist, so I don't break any records out there...but I am the one you see giggling when she 'bolts' through an intersection! I love nothing more than getting up to the traffic lights and not having to un-clip before they turn green, and when that happens...I stand up in the pedals and sprint that bike, flying past the cars! It is deeply satisfying!

I am definitely getting fitter with the cycling, and when I put on the padded suit at Eskrima class I have found my endurance is much better!

Cycling is not just fun, and great exercise, it's time to just ride with my thoughts, sometimes I will be processing a problem, sometimes I will be thinking about my energy, and sometimes I will be thinking about the novel I am in the progress of writing. Yeah, I know, I am a writer, a fighter, and a biker.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

What does autumn signify?



We have entered autumn, here in New Zealand. This is an interesting season when looked at from a spiritual comparison.

This is the season where we let go of that which does not serve us, that which is not aligned with our highest growth. As the trees let go of their leaves, so too should we let got of bitterness, anger, resentment, pain, hurt, and anything else within us which we no longer which to keep. Simply let it go.

It is important to do that because when autumn ends we will enter winter. Winter is the season of going within and rebuilding ourselves in line with our highest potential. We cannot successfully embrace that if we are still holding on to our negative baggage.

Spring, of course, is the first burst of that new growth, that potential.

So, now that you have some idea of how the seasons can truly be a reflection of our own growth, are you will to step forward and make some progress?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just venting...



Okay, I am going to admit here that being referred to an orthopedic specialist has thrown me and messed with my head.

It started with shoulder pain months ago in two areas, the front of the shoulder and the top of the shoulder (the AC joint). I had physio and acupuncture which both helped—and which I rather enjoyed! Often I had other muscles which decided to come to the party and so they too were dealt with in treatment. I was doing great until I mowed the lawns. The grass was long, the first fertile burst of spring growth, and it was still a little damp, but the bins would be emptied the next day and I knew I wanted the bin empty for the weekend so I could weed the gardens—which would fill the bin again. I mowed, and had to empty the catcher repeatedly. And afterwards, I hurt big time. At 1 a.m. I was tossing back painkillers and went back to bed with a gel ice pack on my shoulder.

It was, I informed myself, time to see a doctor. Maybe they could help me understand what was going on. The doctor was great, but to confirm the inflamed bursa she referred me for an ultrasound and X rays, and prescribed some painkillers—and the painkillers work beautifully!

When I was having the ultrasound done I talked to the lady and so she told me what she was seeing, and pointed out the thickened bursa, and the muscle that was not able to move properly because of the inflamed bursa. She also looked at the AC joint on the shoulder and compared it to the other shoulder. The left definitely had a much bigger carrot shaped gap and one side was higher. That was all I could see, and I did not think it would be a problem.

Two days later my doctor called me, said she had the results, and the bursa was definitely inflamed and thickened, but they were quite concerned about the large gap between the bones in the AC joint and the rough look to the end of one of the bones. She said she wanted to refer me to an orthopedic specialist.

Bugger.

I am now booked in, and see the specialist in a little over a week, but this has really messed with my head. Why? Because as soon as someone tells you that there might be something wrong with the bones, you start feeling phantom aches and pains! And that is exactly what happened. I started to hurt more! I took painkillers, I went to bed with the ice pack, but I could not shut off the worry in my mind. I love learning martial arts, and I am wondering if this problem will one day mean I can’t train, and I am a writer who works at a laptop, so what will happen to my ability to work all day... these worries started filling my head, and I started to feel a bit sad. I haven’t even seen the specialist yet and already these crazy fears were filling my mind. So, I am here, writing what you are reading because I need to talk, to find a way to get this out of my head!

The shoulder hurts with some activities, so I will modify them. Okay, that helps.

I can tell my family and ask that they not leave the heavy pots for me to clean as the lifting hurts my shoulder. I’ve been referred to a specialist so they will take my request seriously. Okay, that helps too!

I can use Wing Chun principles in how I move to take the strain off the shoulder—which will have the added benefit of improving my Wing Chun. That helps too!

I can look at my diet, and try to give my body as much excellent nutrition as possible. That will definitely help!

I do healings on other people, so I will start to do them on myself every night. That will help!

I will discuss this situation with my physiotherapist and ask for exercises that will support the entire shoulder, and then I will do those every day. That is definitely going to help!

I will practice some Wing Chun every day to train my body to use direction, intent, focus of energy instead of simply muscle—it is a fascinating art! This is definitely going to help me!

If I want to be the proverbial picture of health, then I have to see it, to eat in a way that will ensure I achieve it, to think in a way that resonates with good health, and to keep my body in balance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

If my body is trying to tell me something, I will listen to it, and then I will support it though every means I know. If I listen better, it will not need to shout so loudly.

You see, I knew it would help to come here and just talk it through. I feel much better already!

When I sit here and write, I find my answers, I find my calm. And I feel infinitely better now than when I first began to write this entry!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best 'Oh My God' Meal Ever!



How often do we eat a meal, during which "Oh my God" is uttered far more than it ever has been in the bedroom?

I had just such a meal at the Millhouse Restaurant (Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand)...

The journey from shaky Christchurch to Queenstown was in reply to an overwhelmingly insatiable desire for the salt caramel tart a foodie friend had told me about. I had been in discussions with Millbrook regarding the salt caramel tart and was promised that it would be prepared for me if I booked in and came down.

I booked.
I came.
I was hungry.

Showing an unusual capacity for self control, I did not order three courses of salt caramel tart, but I did abandon the idea of an entrée, because I wanted to reach dessert with enough hunger left to fully—with reckless abandon—enjoy and appreciate every moment of the salt caramel tart.

My husband, however, is not a sweet tooth kind of guy, so he ordered the oysters for the entrée., which were beautifully prepared, and beautifully presented.

(I am assuming he was well aware that I would not be sharing a single molecule of my long awaited for dessert!)

For the main he ordered the lamb, which was again beautifully cooked and presented.

Visual appeal is a huge factor when dining out. First we must be aroused via the eyes, and then via the aroma, before we fully release ourselves into the taste experience. Yes, it is like sex...there are steps to be fully comprehended and appreciated. You can't rush it, you can't skip steps, certainly not when you are in a truly good restaurant.

Being a vegetarian can be limiting when it comes to dining, and it is not often I find myself getting gastronomically aroused, but when I saw the Blue Cheese Ravioli, I felt a certain excited anticipation rising! When it arrived it was not what I had imagined, it was more, it was a story on the plate, from the bed of paper thin overlapping slices of beet, to the salad leaves of the matching colour, roasted hazelnuts, scattered quarters of roasted baby beet, small coin sized baby beet chips, snow pea shoots, halves of yellow cherry tomatoes, and then the glory of the blue cheese ravioli. On slicing into the ravioli, which were perfectly cooked, the inner thick creamy blue cheese filling oozed out. The combination of blue cheese ravioli and beetroot is a perfect partnership.

It was only a year ago that I first tried blue cheese, and came to understand the unique flavour – and also came to understand why people adore this cheese! The blue cheese ravioli filling was not too strong, in fact the balance was perfect, any stronger and it would have overpowered everything on the palate, too subdued and it would have been an ordinary cheese filled ravioli…but this ravioli filling was the perfect balance for the rest of the dish.

On to the dessert, the very thing we had driven all the way to Queenstown for (my husband still thinks the weekend was a romantic getaway, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that the trip was all about my lust for a tart!)

The tart arrived at the table.  A chocolate lined base, filled with salt caramel, topped with swiss meringue, and sitting atop a bed of apricots and a berry coulee. The apricots were intense, a perfect match to the rich sweetness of the tart. The berry coulee had a twang to it, but it sang a different note to the apricots, and it too was the perfect balance to the tart.

Eating the tart was one of those experiences where you know you are grinning like an idiot but you can’t help yourself. All you want to do is cry out “Oh my God! Oh my God!”

Gastronomically orgasmic!!!

The wait staff were all friendly, and prompt, the environment was relaxed, and food arrived at the table at a good pace. Everything was cooked well, with the flavours carefully thought out, and each plate was presented to look as good as it tasted.

The menu prices were fairly standard for a good restaurant, and the whole meal, plus a glass of wine cost $134.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Of course our city will rebuild!


We are a city that has been somewhat ravaged. And what has every ravaged city, in the past, done? Rebuilt. Almost every city that has ever been ravaged has been rebuilt.

What Christchurch has the chance to do, is to build something special. We lost almost the entire CBD, and so we have the chance to have a custom designed and custom built CBD.

 In front of a vacant site.
We have entire suburbs that are pretty much unliveable, and so there, also, we have the chance to create something new and special, something for the people of Christchurch. That may be a forest, with cycle tracks and walkways. It may be a nature reserve, a place created in honour and memory not just of those who died and were injured, but also in honour of every single person who helped, every police office, every soldier, every builder, every plumber, every road worker, ever man who dug and repaired the sewerage system, every person who delivered a port-a-loo to the suburbs, every doctor, every nurse, every counsellor, the lady in the street who hugged you, every single person who helped! The land that can never be built on again—for we surely can never be so stupid as to assume earthquakes won’t happen and liquefaction doesn’t exist—and so this land needs to be put to use in a way that honours what has happened.
Re:Start in the CBD!

September 4th 2010 started a cycle of seismic events that, even at this point of writing, has not stopped, and is likely to continue for decades (on a dwindling scale). Where once our city was still, now she rocks, and rolls, and dances and sways. This is the new ‘normal’ for our city. And we are beginning to accept that, to find a way to not be affected by these events quite so much, so that we can carry on without the constant burst of adrenalin, and get past that fight-or-flight response. That is a lot easier to write than to do, I know.

These days, in a shopping mall, we will stop if a 5.5 aftershock barrels through the city, and we will wait to see what happens. Will it build into something bigger, or will it stop? Will we need to run? Will it fade away? And when it fades away we get back to what we were doing and carry on shopping, unfazed—no doubt making a mental note to check www.geonet.co.nz when we get home to see how strong the shake was and where it was centred. These days a 5.5 hits and no one cries out, panics, or screams. If it begins to build into something bigger then yes panic will set in, but…let’s be honest here: if the mall was going to fall down it would have done so by now!
I guess this building was damaged!

Our city was ravaged, our emotions were ravaged. Do we rebuild as stronger people? Take a look around our city, at what has been done with some of the empty land where rows of shops have been demolished. We have temporary cafes set up, we have a ReStart shopping area in the CBD that is built with colourful shipping containers, and it is thriving! We have shipping containers used as display windows to hide the empty land behind. We have shipping containers creating a barrier between the roads and where rocks may fall from the cliffs above in the event of aftershocks. We have art on blank walls. We have gardens where there would otherwise be an empty plot of land. With the great Kiwi ‘No. 8 wire’ mentality, people have done what they could with what was available! We pulled together to create, and we support those creations. We are a people with initiative, creativity, and above all, a strong sense of identity and purpose. We will rebuild this city, and we will be so utterly proud of it!
Lyttleton Petanque Club, where one a fabulous deli and cafe stood.

A city whose people coped with streets of liquefaction, ruined sewerage systems, broken water systems, port-a-loos in the streets, water tankers in the streets, schools that doubled up with one school there in the morning and another school—whose own premises were badly damaged—in the afternoon school session, we coped, and we did what needed to be done, because there was no other choice.

Some people think Christchurch people should just abandon the city and move elsewhere. Fair enough. But, who is going to buy our houses? Where are we supposed to get the money to buy another house in another city? Where are we supposed to get jobs? Christchurch is our home, and we will rebuild it. Since when did Kiwis walk away? The CanDo attitude is rife in this city, and always has been.

The ‘Greendale Fault’ ruptured on 4th September 2010. It had been still for sixteen and a half thousand years…but think about that time sixteen and a half thousand years ago. Earthquake and aftershocks. It happened then, it is happening now. This is nothing new. The earth has always moved. It is perhaps incredibly naïve to expect the Earth to not move!
This is the art on the side of a building.

Christchurch will be a stronger and more beautiful city. The people of Christchurch will be stronger, closer, more resilient, more self sufficient, and we will support each other.

People may ask, “Where were you when the quakes hit?” and in the answer “I was here, in Christchurch, for each and every one of them”, there is a solidarity, a brother-sisterhood, a unification amongst people. We were united by earthquakes and destruction.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012


 So far 2012 has been all action! And much of that action was way overdue.

The outgoing
  • Kitchen – cupboards cleaned out. Unwanted, unneeded, and out of date stuff all tossed! (Why do I buy polenta when I know no one else in the house likes it, therefore I am never likely to use it?)
Organised!
  • Wardrobe – old and unwanted clothes cleared out and put in the mission bins. (Seriously, was I ever going to wear that 1980s coat ever again?)
  • Desk area – everything filed, tidied and put away. (No more piles of papers on the floor.)
  • Shed – rubbish cleared out, tidied and swept.
  • Gardens – weeded, planted, and seedlings growing. (Cherry tomatoes ripening as we speak!)
  • Baking – lots of baking done, mostly by my gorgeous daughter! Never-tried-before recipes attempted and conquered!
Cupcake



I had been itching to go through the cupboards and have a good clear out! I had some stuff that expired four years ago!

Including old televisions and a lot of weird ‘shit’ we took 300 kilograms to the dump!



The incoming
Seriously big desk and chair!
  • New desk – a good, big, solid desk that I can happily work at, with drawers so I can file things away and keep my work area tidy. I plan a year of amazing writing!
  • Office chair – good leather one with support for my back and a head rest so I can sit, close my eyes and let the story come find me when it needs to! (Chiropractor care has made me very aware of my spine and posture and the kitchen chair I have been working from for years was just not doing me any favours).

What is the benefit of all this? I have a clear space, a simplicity, around me, in which to let my thoughts and ideas flow forth to fill this space. I plan of doing lots of writing this year. Last year I—like everyone else in my city—assumed that eventually the earthquakes and aftershocks would stop, and then I could get back to normal…but now we know that this is going to go on for decades. It is time to make this reality my normal, to work through it regardless, to be unaffected by it. (At least if a big one hits and I have to dive under my desk, my new desk is one I would dive under—whilst the old one was so rickety you would only dive under it if you wanted to die!)

Pinwheel scones ... so utterly delicious!

This is the first time in my life that I have ever had a really good desk, and a good chair. This is the first time I have said ‘I deserve this’, instead of thinking I should make do with whatever we had. I deserve this.

We often say ‘this is my year’ but we seldom hurl ourselves into that year, and into the work with such abandon that we make it our year. It really is time to dive in deep, to swim deep, to explore the depths of whatever I am capable of.
Macaroons ... done and dusted (and damn delicious!)

We do not know what we are capable of until we try, until we give it all we have to give. I want to give everything to all that I do! Everything!