Archive for February, 2012

Family member appears on local Radar

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012


With SWMBO out at a school meeting, the eldest out with friends and the middle two at dance rehearsals, it was just me and the youngest at home tonight.  Eschewing the usual drivel on the TV, we settled down to watch Radar’s Patch which we have on loan from the great ‘free to borrow’ selection at our local library.

The show, which won Best Information/Lifestyle Programme at the 2010 Qantas Film and Television Awards, follows Te Radar‘s humourous but informative attempt to live sustainably on a typical Kiwi quarter-acre section using methods he picks up from those he visits during the show.  As the house and section is just a few kilometres from our house, we enjoyed some quality couch time watching a few episodes and spotting local landmarks.

Halfway through episode five, as Radar is filmed enjoying the local Santa Parade that rumbles down our High Road every December, we each did an open-mouthed double-take.  We reversed the DVD and played it again and, sure enough, there with her friends yelling ‘Merry Christmas’ from the church float, is the same girl sitting next to me!

A great way to end a lovely ‘dad and daughter’ evening.

On being asked to dry dishes for the second time in an hour

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Like many I suspect, I used to wonder what ‘dying to yourself‘ meant when I heard it bandied about in books or conversations about Christian faith and living.  The following helped my understanding when I first read it – and still does.

“I was in San Francisco recently staying at this bed and breakfast place for people who are in the city to do ministry. It was a small house, but there were probably fifteen people living there at the time. The guy who ran the place, Bill, was always making meals or cleaning up after us, and I took note of his incredible patience and kindness. I noticed that not all of us did our dishes after a meal, and very few people thanked him for cooking. One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table. I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy. I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness. Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye. “Don,” he said. “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”

—Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

The passage popped into my head again a short while ago as I headed to the kitchen to dry dishes for the second time in an hour. I hope and pray that I’ll become more like Bill and less like me as time goes on.

Valentine Dilemma

Monday, February 13th, 2012


xkcd on the money, once again.


Nice weekend, Mr Bond?

Sunday, February 12th, 2012


I slipped a year closer to the half-century in the middle of last week and received cards from friends and family near and far.  In the card that she gave me, there was a small handwritten note from She Who Must Be Obeyed, cryptically hinting that we were to leave our home to the mercies of our four girls plus various invited friends on Saturday morning for a mysterious romantic night away over the weekend.

Well, she must have been salting away the grocery money for years because, after a relaxed and leisurely lunch at The Packing Shed in Oratia, we drove up into the Waitakere hills and ended up at the Waitakere Estate.  The estate is Auckland’s equivalent of an eagle’s nest Bond villain lair – complete with helipad and steep winding approach road – set above the bush overlooking Auckland.

We had a great room with view right across the city and harbour to Rangitoto and the Coromandel beyond. Beneath our balcony was the pool and, following a walk through the bush and tall kauri listening to the call of tui, we had a cool, refreshing swim before relaxing and taking in the view. With a pre-dinner ‘nana nap’ under our belts, we headed to the dining room and a table that gave us a few of the city and Waitemata harbour in the setting sun while we ate a lovely meal and chatted about all sorts.

SWMBO skipped the starter but I couldn’t resist trying soft shell crab with stir-fried vegetables and Asian-inspired sauce, which came with the waiter’s hushed but redundant reassurance that I could ‘eat the shell as well’. After that, we tucked into a main course of fresh snapper for her and 60 day aged Waikato eye filet for me, along with sage-stuffed onion, roast new potatoes and a ‘trio of mustards’.  We finished off by sharing a NZ manuka honey cheesecake with sauteed rhubarb, nut brittle and nasturtium flowers which prompted the waiter to again advise me of the edibility of my meal.

After a nightcap (to aid digestion, you understand), we slept like the proverbial log and awoke to a sunny morning.  After a hearty breakfast overlooking forest and city, we packed up and headed home to see what was left of the house.  While I am not always comfortable in such luxurious surroundings, our getaway was a beautiful gift of time spent together.  I am determined to cherish such times, be grateful that we can experience them when so many have so little and know that we are blessed beyond words when we do.

Heavens above, Mrs D must have been salting away the grocery money for years – that, or we’re on bread and water for the rest of 2012. Just back from twenty-four hour birthday getaway at Auckland’s very own ridge top Bond villain lair (complete with a helipad). Great room with view right across the city and harbour, pool and sauna, fantastic meal and all the trimmings. Determined to cherish such times and remain grateful; feel blessed beyond words when so many have so little.

Of Kite and Cat

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The womenfolk of the homestead were all preoccupied with their own affairs yesterday so I grabbed a few hours of bloke time and retreated to my workbench.

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There I discovered that if you mess around for an hour or so in order to find the right combination of drinking straws, tissue paper, glue, plastic string and a paper clip, you end up with a fantastic tetrahedral ‘pyramid’ kite for almost no money.

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Down at the local domain for flight testing, the kite jibed and chopped around madly, swooping and spiralling insanely enough to indicate self-destruction if it wasn’t tweaked to deliver a more stable flight.

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The addition of a tiny tail of two straws and string plus a few tweaks of the bridle, to help it sit on rather than in the wind, worked wonders.  It flew like a beauty in variable winds for 30 minutes – during which I just enjoyed myself and put up a few prayers – until I had to pack up and head to a youth ministry meeting.

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Sadly, in my rush to go out, I just left the kite on the workbench, completely forgetting that we have a mischievous moggie in our home.  Moral of the story?  Never leave your handcrafted pride and joy where your inquisitive white cat can play with it.  That said, this tragic molestation does give me the perfect excuse to head to the store and buy the materials for Mark II!

You can see more photos of the construction and flight phases on this Flickr page and a truly murky video clip here.

Dying and Flying

Saturday, February 4th, 2012


In between work and family life, I have had a week of introspection and consideration, spending time considering my priorities in the year ahead. This has meant evaluating, shifting and, in some cases, discarding the big rocks in my world.

Funny then that I should could across a link to Inspiration and Chai, the blog of Australian palliative nurse and singer, Bronnie Ware.  In her most widely quoted post, Regrets of the Dying, she relates the five most common wishes she has heard expressed by those she has cared for in their last days.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Bronnie offers her comments and perspectives in the full post here.

I reckon that I managed to clock up a little of Nos. 1, 2 and 5 earlier today when Maisie and I headed over to the local domain to fly kites. As well as the new kite I bought for Maisie when we were at the beach a few weeks back, we also flew a Worlds Apart Air Sport 170 CX, a couple of Pocket Parafoils (see above) and a homemade dustbin liner and dowel sled kite.

This we did to the backdrop  of cries of ‘Howzat!’ from the cricket club and the inevitable Westie dad teaching his very young offspring how to annoy others and break local byelaws by riding a mini-motorbike with stabilisers.  My mild but silent annoyance at the kid riding across our kite lines at one point changed to horror when, despite the mad shouting of his father, the tiny kid missed the brake and rode headlong into his mum and a younger sibling in a pushchair.

While I wouldn’t want to be unkind, the kid made a half-decent attempt at getting himself, mum and sibling a Darwin Award.

First Day at Big(ger) School

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

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Middle school at KingsWay begins in a few hours so here’s a picture of sprog No. 4, in school uniform for the first time in her life and about to head off to catch the school bus with her mates for the first time in her life. Very excited would be an accurate description (her, not me – well, maybe me a little bit too).