Saturday, October 18, 2014

On the occasion of my fiftieth birthday...

Astonishingly (and refreshingly), there is no McDonalds on the island of Rarotonga.

If I'd been told this at the beginning of our stay, I would have expected a very un-tourist-y family holiday.

We stayed at the Edgewater, which turned out to be the largest resort on the island. With hundreds of hotel rooms and villas (we stayed in a villa), it probably covered more area and had more inhabitants than Avarua - Rarotonga' downtown. So yeah, it is touristy - but not actually not all that touristy.

Some of the resort's more charming aspects, which made our stay all the more enjoyable, include: the super friendly staff; the very attractive floral prints they wear; the free range chooks that wander about unimpeded looking for tourist-borne snacks; the tropical fish-laden lagoon and the Ika Mata (raw fish marinated in coconut cream).

The boy introduced TLM to snorkelling, which quickly became her favourite daily activity (I myself took a couple of goes to get into snorkelling - breathing through a tube whilst under water freaks me out). TLM's second favourite activity was splashing me in the pool.

I painted my own sarong, TLM and I learned how to make a head garland from the gorgeous array of tropical flowers, and we all learned more than we ever thought we'd want to know about coconuts.

We also took a tour of the sights, on our last day. I was highly amused at the "sights" that we took in - the local hospital, several schools, the Cook Island house of parliament (which looks like a low-income boarding house) and so on. But there were some highlights too - the spot where the seven waka were supposed to have launched, carrying those who would become the New Zealand Maori hundreds of years ago; the beach at Muri; and the interesting but tragic story of a particular church built from huge chunks of coral reef (sacrilege, I know), whose builders died in the hundreds from lime poisoning.

And now we are back home. It's a relatively chilly 17 degrees Celsius but at least it won't be too hot to sleep tonight.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

So, a no to the Kobo glo

I went and bought the Kobo glo yesterday, thinking it would be just the thing to hold half a dozen novels for our holiday in RAROTONGA.

But by the time I'd spent a couple of hours trying to set it up, with a few restarts to fix the screen freezing on me, I was no longer very enthusiastic about my new toy. All this, and I hadn't even gotten as far as registering. Then it wouldn't turn on.

So today the boy and I took it back to the shop and got a refund.

And we got a Kindle instead. The setup was so quick! And nothing went wrong! I've already downloaded several free classics and can't wait to play with it.

Monday, October 06, 2014

e-books by gum!

I've been on a fiction-reading binge, which is really quite a change from my normal diet of knitting books, knitting magazines and Frankie magazine. And Capital magazine. (Yes, many magazines in fact).

I have, in the last few months, read a whole 4 or 5 novels, and that's a lot for me.

The one I just finished was Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, which was really good except for the breathtaking glossing over of how the heroine, her baby and her sweatshop-worker mother managed to survive while the former gained a medical degree and surgical training.

The two novels before that were a couple of ghost stories set in Alabama (or thereabouts) by RB Chesterton (which I enjoyed except they were quite match-matchy).

The one before that....actually I'll stop here.

Because the point of this post that I have decided it might  finally be worth getting an e-reader, now that I'm consuming a respectable amount of text-heavy product.

I know the Kindle is very popular, but I don't want to be tied into buying only from Amazon. I want to be able to support local booksellers and local writers.  I also want to be able to borrow e-books from our public libraries.

So I'm think I will get a Kobo. The boy said he'll get me one for my birthday, but seeing as he has just forked over way too much money to send us all off on holiday to Rarotonga, I would be fine with buying it myself.

And then I will check whether it's worth buying knitting magazines in e-format.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

My eye, my stye and I

Not much to say (I just liked the title) - a dramatic swelling on the inner corner of my right eye, followed a night of unparalleled gunkiness...then it was all over.

Just extremely impressed at how quickly it came and went.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Post-election blahs

I am still a bit depressed today, that National are not only back in government, but won so decisively. It's not so much that I think Labour would have done a fantastic job, more that I hoped more people would have voted for the Greens - and that I really hate John Key's guts.

It's not personal - our lives have been pretty comfortable and this is unlikely to change because the election results - but because in my opinion the Greens were the only party that was willing to instigate big changes for the long-term good of the country.

Also, I've seen so much evidence of dirty dealings on the Nats' part that I don't understand why it hasn't affected their popularity. Like the fact the Judith Collins had to resign because of all her dodginess while she was Ministry of Justice, yet her electorate has put her right back into Parliament!

There's also the fact that evidently the vast majority of the NZ voting public seems to disagree with me.


Friday, September 19, 2014

There's a lot going on right now

I was kinda excited at the thought that Scotland might vote for independence from the UK (seeing as so many clever people were or are from there). I don't know how well they would have got on without England, but now we'll never know.

And tomorrow is Election Day in NZ. Traditionally either my brother or myself would take our mum along to vote too, after giving her a brief run-down on the two major parties' philosophies (really quick, as our Cantonese doesn't allow for sophisticated political discussion, nor witty dissing of those I don't approve of).

I wasn't sure what we would do about helping mum vote this election, since I'm far more aware these days of the other parties. It turns out that our mum is quite content with how things have been going re: state of the nation, though that's not surprising since her focus is on the size of her superannuation payments and whether she's able to get free stuff from the government.

So if she votes National then I will not stand in her way (in fact I will drive to her house, pick her up and drive her around the corner to her polling booth. Then take her grocery shopping afterwards). Even though I disagree with her and even though she is not exactly well informed about the political goings on etc over the last few years. I figure, even with her narrowly focussed viewpoint, she is probably about as well informed as the majority of voters are anyway.

Also....we are going to Rarotonga for my birthday!! It won't be for a few weeks yet, and is only for 6 nights, but we're all looking forward to our first holiday (barring long weekends) since our trip to the UK back in 2011 or 2012 (I forget).

After that, I have to prepare for three days in Auckland for work, then getting TLM ready for her Brownie camp over Labour Weekend. It's all on!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Listening to Louise Nicholas

I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it one bit, but I needed to watch the dramatisation of Louise Nicholas' story. I felt like I owed it to her to sit through the entire, horrible series of events, that it was the least I could do. Because I wasn't any use to her at the time when she most needed to be believed - when that news broke years ago it was just background noise, only dimly acknowledged as something going on beyond the edges of what was going on in my life.

During that scene, when she retells what happened in that house with those disgusting examples of human beings - and policemen - my gut curdled. The anger kept me up all night and swamped my other feelings, which were of admiration at Nicholas' bravery in speaking up.

I'll never be able to understand why she couldn't run away when Scholum turned in his car to take her to that house, nor why she kept it a secret for so long, as though it was something that was wrong with her rather than something that was wrong with those men. But it doesn't make what they did to her any less despicable. And if I were a man then at some point I would probably have apologised for being one.


TLM turned 9 last week, and we held her birthday party in the weekend - at home. At our tiny little working man's cottage in which our living room also houses the dining table and the fridge (they're the overflow).

8 girls all in the house at once, making lots of squeaky noise and competing at who could perform the most entertaining death scene.

8 girls gobbling packets and packets of popcorn and marshmallows (and sundry other snacks).

It was a beautiful day (considering it's mid-winter) and we were supposed to have an outdoor picnic, but that didn't quite work out so we ended up with a floor completely covered in bits of popcorn, hand-made "smores", raspberry lemonade and hundred & thousands that fell of the fairy bread.

And I hadn't spent so much effort cleaning the house (both before and after the party) since last spring. Exhausting!

A hat plus two and a half sweaters

Just a check-in on my knitting progress...

This is not a skirt - it's the body of a stranded knit jumper

a cowl in Zealana heron

the back of a surf top for the boy. It is taking a LOT of yarn and time...

A short, barn-red cardigan for me