Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

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).

Christlikeness or correct theology?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Again, I find myself I appreciating guest blogger Scott Miller’s open and frank sharing about his faith on Tony Jones blog. He articulates much that I can empathise with in a clear and simple manner.

If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I would say that I still believe that God is at work in my life, but maybe not in the same way that a 17-year-old understands. I would tell him that I still experience the authority of scripture, but I don’t find that authority in the words of scripture, but in the Event to whom scripture testifies. And I would say that I have not substituted human reason for revelation, but realize that I can only understand the revelation in human, fallible, finite ways, and that it is a mistake to think that anyone’s theology is every entirely adequate to express the revelation of the Infinite.

But above all, I would tell my gnostic-leaning 17-year-old self, it’s more important to be a true follower of Christ and actually act in Christlike ways than it is to have what you think is the correct theology. Ideas matter, but real, living human beings matter more. Don’t forget Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13:1-3:

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.

via Theoblogy

The Feds are in town!

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

A day of variety.  Awoke to learn that we seem to have some naughty neighbours.  After a quick tea, hooked up and checked over our trailer before taking it to the vehicle inspection station for its periodic WOF.

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Took a bunch of stuff to read as the queue is always a long one on Saturdays.  Upon arriving, I was surprised to see that there was no queue – until I remembered that this is the weekend of the annual local hot rod show.  While the roads were choked with cars as always, clearly no-one was getting theirs tested, judging by the large number failing checks at the police check point down the road.


Back home in record time and after fruit salad and coffee, I set to and tackled the ‘honey, do!’ list of tasks requested by SWMBO.  For the record this included:

  • Resurrecting the non-functioning turbine head on our Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Having fiddled with, disassembled, reassembled, tested, disassembled again, disassembled some more, cleaned, dried & re-lubricated the brush & drive components and reassembled again, I fixed the thing. I take my hat off to James Dyson and his design engineers – not only is the vacuum the best we’ve ever had, it is user serviceable and therefore flies in the face of the ‘cheaper to buy a new one’ mentality so prevalent these days.
  • Repairing the grip of the expensive salon-grade hairdryer.
  • Glueing a Dr Scholl’s heel file back together.

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After providing a quick lesson in how to use sandpaper to a crafty daughter making a wooden wall hanging, I jumped on the Brompton to run last night’s DVDs – The Tree of Life and Oranges and Sunshine – back to the store before heading to the library to scoop up a requested book for SWMBO and Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Lies for me.


Following lunch, I took the smallest and a friend to see The Adventures of Tintin. Great fun and technically brilliant but always felt like it was tailored to favour the 3D version with heaps of in-your-face action and, with its linear plot and set pieces, maximise the spin-off game potential.

Later, after a brief read, a longer nap and a fish supper, we decamped to the home of Canasta-playing friends on a whim when SWMBO decided she wanted to learn to play the game.  Whether it was because I’m tired, was sober due to being the designated driver or simply not the most motivated of card players when it comes to longer games, I struggled from the first hand.  Even with the patient coaching of my mate Paul, I found it hard to match the enthusiasm and growing skill of SWMBO who was under the tutelage of Paul’s wife Tracey.  That said, we somehow won.

Back home and with a glass of red wine consumed, I’m off to bed and to delve into the darkness of Adam.

Chinese Roulette

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Contrary to what it might seem, this is not a photo of conditions on either of the listing ships making the news recently. Rather, it is a picture of my good friend and fellow blogger Dave Funkypancake during one of our regular lunches, during which we catch up on family news and plan great things.  Given that I have recently moved into the office building Dave vacated not so long ago for another one elsewhere, our favoured ‘lunch special’ haunt is no longer a convenient meeting point half way between our desks.  So, back from our holidays – he in England and me on the couch – we set out to find a new lunch venue equidistant from our respective desks.  This turned out to be a small, new  and as yet not on the web food court on an uninspiring stretch of road on the southwestern edge of the CBD.

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Due to Chinese/English translation issues during the ordering phase of lunch, I was served first but with the wrong dish. After assuring our lovely server that, despite her encouragement, accepting the wrong meal wasn’t something I wanted to do, she took it away. Dave’s order arrived without drama shortly thereafter and I filled in the time by taking a photo of him starting without me whilst looking suitably quizzical. The lovely server arrived once more with another dish that I hadn’t ordered but, whilst the meal was cooked in an entirely different way, it did contain most of the same ingredients as the one I ordered.  This being the case and with our lunch hour rapidly running out, I nodded excitedly like I’d just won the lunchtime lotto and tucked into my surprise lunch of not-satay but still beef on soft-rather-than-crispy noodles with not-ordered-and-not tasty vegetables.  Only time and a few more lunches will tell whether we will make this place our new default m/eating place.

Bach to the future

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Through the love and generosity of good friends, we have been blessed to be able to spend the last few days in their family bach on the Hibiscus Coast.  In the spirit of many a Kiwi holiday home, it is only 45 minutes away from where we live but just 100m from a great beach, so the delightfully quirky (no two doors the same width) and slightly confusing (three levels in two and a half storeys) 1960s bach made a lovely place for a long weekend of relaxation and fun before I headed back to the office this morning.

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The bach was a testament to decades of a loving family life lived well together and was full of charming period artefacts like the bakelite Philco valve radio and the 1970s vacuum cleaner, not to mention the carefully labelled family albums and wonderful EktaChrome slides, complete with viewer.

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For the family, it has meant long sunny days at the beach with a bag full of books and sunblock, Sunday morning devotions together before a long walk on the beach to enjoy cappuccinos and juice at a cafe and leisurely stroll home through the tide pools and sand.

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It also provided a great opportunity for us to catch up with friends like the Smiffs and funkypancake & family, recently returned from Blighty and bearing large quantities of watermelon and cookies, which were consumed with lashings of tea and soft drinks.

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For all that, most of all, it was a great time for the younger members of the family to enjoy the very best of what the Kiwi way of life has to offer – fun in the sun, friends over for sleepovers, lazy days, takeaway dinners, kite flying, card games, jigsaws and crosswords, warm nights in creaky wooden baches  – and the chance to simply smile and be happy!

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North by North West

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

On Wednesday, I spent an enjoyable few hours cycling the North West Cycle Route end-to-end and back again shadowing, as I did, part of the route I commute along to my office. Along the way, I met and chatted to a few folks and I enjoyed getting new perspectives on the journey.

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Graffiti in Point Chevalier

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Newton signage…with my office building in the distance.

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Landscaping between Bond Street and St Lukes Road.

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Heading north from Traherne Island to Rosebank Road.

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Recycled hoarding in Kingsland garden nr. St Lukes Road.

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Heading south across Henderson Creek behind a companionable Doctor. As I rode with her and her family, we discussed sustainability, her doctoral research exploring healthy transport policy and legal aspects of liability in commissioning local infrastructure.  Always interesting to talk to others on their travels – something I can’t do commuting in my car along the same route.

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Rider’s eye view.

The unplanned planner

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

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On occasion, like when I’m on holiday like now, I leave things until the last minute and, just sometimes, it actually works in your favour.

A few years back, I had a great page-a-day daily planner that had daily Scripture verses, devotional thoughts and a whole bunch more stuff (even a reading plan) bound up in a neat book-sized leather-look cover.  Each year since then I have tried in vain to find the same planner, as I liked the layout, appreciated the quality of the binding and enjoyed using the planner.

Today, with a little Christmas gift money in my wallet, I felt a prompting to drop in to a bookstore I have been to once before rather than my regular one run by my friend Bogdan.  No sooner do I walk through the door than I see two copies of a planner sitting on the table by the door.  With a smile I realise that not only is this the planner I have been looking for but also that the store is, in all likelihood, the place I bought the original one three years ago!

Needless to say, I heeded the prompting and took a copy of the planner to the counter.  You can imagine the smile on my face when I was told that it was on discount too!

Funny how things work out, eh?