Category Archives: Family

Happy Granma’s Day

Looking back over my blogging years, I have found several that I really like.  This one from July 2012 is a favourite.  I hope you don’t mind reading it again.

The boys are all older now but they still give me much joy.

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.  ~Ruth Goode, author 1902-1997

I particularly like the quote from Ruth Goode.  She was an author who , according to her obituary in the New York Times “wrote about subjects as disparate as the scenic attractions of Maine, advancements in medicine and the life of the impresario Sol Hurok…..”  And she obviously loved her grandchildren.

Three boys

Child labour?

I’ve had a really special day today.  Three of my four grandsons have been here and what a joy they are.

They range in age from 12 to 16 and still get on well.  The 16-year-old is particularly careful to include the youngest one in everything, although he is well able to look after himself.

Having picked one up from his mother’s office and the other two from the train station we set off for the garden center to collect the final two bags of stones for the patio.  I was planning to use some of their time with me (and their energy) to get this job finished eventually.  It’s never too early to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Well…Granma was so busy talking that she got onto the motorway by mistake and had to drive miles out of her way before arriving at the garden center.

Here we were greeted like long-lost friends.  Lotte and I have been regular visitors to the center since the patio was fist thought about.  And they recognized Jae (the youngest) from our last visit.  So, purchases made the boys loaded the bags into the back of my car and we set off for home.

They came in for a drink and biscuits before starting – don’t all workmen?  They certainly do here in New Zealand.  And for the next half hour the street rang with their laughter as they spread the stones, filling in the blanks that Jae and I had missed last week.

Two boys working

James and Jae – the oldest and youngest working together

Lotte helping too

And four extra hands/paws are welcome

Rob

Rob beavering away but can’t we afford shoes?

James and me

Sharing his muddy hands with Granma!

Soon it was finished and everybody had a great time.  Isn’t it so true that many hands make light work?  And what joy to be surrounded by happy, laughing, young folk.

Then lunch.  Easy to feed growing boys.  Plenty of sausages, buns, mayo and tomato sauce and the boys made their own hotdogs.  I demurred.  Hotdogs are not among my favorite things.

Sausages

Now what to do for the afternoon?  They couldn’t make up their minds.  Of course, they were slightly constrained by the fact that Jae still had his leg in a cast.  So I made the decision.  Sir Peter Jackson and Weta, the animation and special effects company – Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, King Kong, Xena Warrior Princess among others – are based in Wellington and they have the ‘Weta Cave” a museum open to the public.  Strangely none of us had been there before and so we took ourselves off.

Weta Cave

Weta Cave photo Scoop

This was very interesting as it had models from all the films Weta and Sir Peter have been involved in and of course, they had many collectibles for sale.

Three very well behaved brought up young boys asked for nothing.  A big change from when they were younger.

Of particular interest to me was the short movie/DVD giving a behind the scenes look at Weta and interviews with the founders and directors of the company.

Roxy Cinema

At the opening of the Roxy Cinema in April 2011

And then on to the Roxy Cinema.  This is another of Weta’s projects.

The old cinema had been abandoned years ago.  It was derelict and had been so for some years, following a brief period as a shopping center.  The shops were very sad and there was no good reason ever to go there.

Several years ago the building was bought and saved from demolition by Jamie Selkirk, best known for his role as editor on the Lord of the Rings films. The building lay empty for several years during which time Selkirk won several Oscars.  He then enlisted the help of Tania Rodger, manager of Weta Workshop, with a view to rebuilding. And the final product can only be described as stunning.

In April, the ‘cream’ of Wellington society was invited to a gala opening.  The theme was 1930s and as you can see from the photos even the cars were authentic.

The Roxy has a rather pleasant cafe on the ground floor.  So after touring around the cinema we sat for a breather – tea for Granma (well, I am English after all), coke for one boy, hot chocolate for another and for the third, and eldest and so sophisticated, iced coffee.Iced coffee

James has just finished a six week course through school on making coffee – Barista training.   Apparently this was an elective and he will get eight points for doing this course. When questioned he said he thought it was really for those boys who would not stay on for another year and might get a job making coffee.

Then, with his new found knowledge, he regaled us with how one makes iced coffee and assured me that no, we couldn’t make one in the blender at home.  We need an espresso machine to froth the milk.  Don’t have one and am not about to get one.  Sorry James.

So our adventures ended.  A trip home where they watched a DVD.  My son and his wife joined us for dinner and then later my daughter and her eldest son came in for a short time.  Drew had been competing in a water polo tournament in Auckland and Cate had picked him up at the airport and thought she would call in not only to pick up her younger son but also to catch up with her brother, his wife and their boys.

It was lovely to have both my children and all their children together.  A rare happening and a fitting ending to my lovely Granma’s Day.


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Remembering

On this day three years ago I wrote about helping my daughter move house –A Tiring Day.  I note that I said “Never want to move again”.  Well the best laid plans and all that.

Since that day three years ago I have moved twice and am saying once again “Never want to move again”.

And the help I gave my daughter at that time has been returned in so many ways, particularly helping me after the death of The Architect.  I count my daughter amongst my most treasured blessings.

thanks

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
Oscar Wilde

 

Sunday in the Summer Sun

Another glorious day on the Kapiti Coast in New Zealand comes to an end.

I spent this day with my son and his wife lying at the side of their pool and idly gossiping passing the time of day. How very pleasant it was. Hot sun and cool drinks, perfect.  But it was a tall glass of lime and soda for me – our drink drive laws are very strict and so as I was driving home tonight, I had no alcohol. But who needs alcohol to enjoy oneself?

I did briefly think of Sandy and her dilemma but decided that could wait to be sorted out on another day.

Raumati jpg

Sunset at Raumati Beach.

 And the sunset at the beach reminded me of one of my favourite Max Lucado quotes 

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless,
remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers,
“Do you like it? I did it just for you.”

Bah Humbug

I spent much of this lovely summer afternoon indoors researching for a post I was going to use today.  I sat down one hour ago to write it and had all my facts together; I just had to put them all together in a cohesive form that hopefully would intrigue you.  Having spent that hour typing somehow I lost it all.  Tomorrow is another day and so I shall make another attempt to get it written.

Doesn’t it bug you when this happens!

So what to write about now that there is only 35 minutes left in this day.  Could I tell you about an idle morning spent with my daughter?

We started at the Salvation Army Family Store where we dropped off more things from my downsizing.  They are always happy to see me there as I have been dropping things off often in the past couple of months.

Then we went off to the garden centre for some plants to put on my small deck.  Did I tell you I painted it yesterday?

Then a stop for coffee to round off a very pleasant idle summer morning.

So not quite the well researched post I planned, but as we rarely spend any extended time together I thought I would share this with you.  However, I must say here we now have dinner together each evening but it’s never just the two of us.

“One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one
is always having surprising discoveries.”

said Pooh― A.A. Milne

Down to the wire – 11.55pm

 

Trusting Family

Recently I discovered Five Sentence Fiction  and decided to try my hand at writing a story in only five sentences.
This week’s word is FAMILY.

The soldiers burst into the school, yelling, shouting orders and firing rifles.  The children, scared, huddled together under their desks trying to hide from the angry men.  But they were soon discovered and brought out of hiding with the girls being separated from the boys who were locked into the school hall with the staff.

Then the terrified girls were herded onto buses and quickly driven away from the school.

Only then, when the firing had ceased and the yelling had stopped and it was possible to think, did the petrified child think of her family and knew they would find her and take her home again.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

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Tea Drinkers Unite

It had been a tiring day. Visit to the hospital, discussions with the doctor, the therapist and of course, her mother. It was very distressing that her mother barely recognised her; she often thought her a nurse.

The one bright moment in the harrowing afternoon was when an orderly brought the tea tray. At that moment her mother reverted to how she used to be, graciously pouring tea into the bone china cups and offering cake and biscuits.

This ritual of offering and accepting the cup of tea brought her mother back to her, if only for a short time.

The 100 Word Challenge is to tell a story in only 100 words.
This week’s theme is “Cup”

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Writing 101: Size Matters

Well today is Wednesday here in New Zealand and I should be completing the Day 13 Challenge, but I haven’t completed 11 and 12 yet.  So being very late with this, I shall try to catch up once again.

Day 11 and the challenge is:

“Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve.  Which town, city or country?  Was it a home or an apartment?  A boarding school or foster home?  An airstream or an RV?  Who lived there with you? and

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.”

London 1950.  We had recently moved from an apartment to a brand new house.  My parents’ house had been taken for road widening or something before I was born and in addition to a paltry sum of money ( (their words) they were given a Council owned apartment to rent.  This was in a low rise block in a good neighbourhood but as it had only two bedrooms it was rather cramped for a family of five.

So we moved.  Again the house was Council owned but in a different part of the borough and totally new to us.  Mother was delighted.  It was in a group of ten houses five on one side and five facing them.  Each set of five houses were  attached and we were fortunate to have an end one.  This meant we had neighbours on only one side of us.

The house had three bedrooms, a living room complete with fireplace, a dining room also with a fireplace.  The kitchen was at the front of the house and had a fire that heated the water.  A bathroom and separate lavatory completed this  house – I think it was probably 800 sq feet in all.  At this time I shared a bedroom with my elder sister and later with my younger sister.  At no time did anybody think that I, as the middle daughter, should have a bedroom of her own.

Mother was delighted with the move and the house.  She kept this house clean, polished and shining to within an inch of its life, and even polished the copper waste pipes from the kitchen, so proud was she.

But what I remember most about that house was the love and the the laughter which out played any tears and cross words.  Of course, with three daughters, two of which were coming up to the teenage years, there was the occasional slamming of a door and a “no speak” phase but these didn’t last long.  Mother was the disciplinarian and father the peace maker.  I often wonder how he kept his sanity in a house full of women.

He used to take himself off to work early in the morning but was always home by 6pm at which time, dinner would be ready and whatever plans we three girls had for the evening we had to be there for dinner.  Oh there were some lively discussions over the dinner table.  Father usually had a funny story to tell us about something that happened at work.  And of course, we all had to tell what we had been up to that day.  Our successes were lauded and our (occasional) failures commiserated upon.

I clearly remember father singing.  Beautiful love songs to his wife particularly if he thought we couldn’t hear him.  For us he sang Music Hall songs (Vaudeville for our US friends).  I remember Lily of Laguna and Sorrento in particular. These have stayed with me and my children and grandchildren have all been entertained with songs of that far off time.

As I have written before, this was shortly after the war ended so there were few, if any, luxuries.  But the love, the laughter and the friendship that existed within that little house have followed me through my long life and I hope that what I learned during those years has been passed onto my own family.

Rainbow

My rainbow

New Zealand Calling

After months of not writing a blog, I got up last Friday (04/04) fully intending that this would be the first day of many blogs.

I have had a lovely few months.  We had a holiday at the beginning of the year away from the stresses of an architect building a home for himself; then we spent 5 weeks travelling around the country with my sister from England and sharing with her some of my favourite places in this beautiful land;then more friends from overseas.  We had a few days in Australia visiting 4 artists in their studios and then a trip to Hobart in Tasmania to visit MONA – Museum of Old and New Art.  What an exciting time that was and what an amazing building.  Here’s the link. Please take a look you will hardly believe what has been achieved here.

In February we moved house although the new house isn’t ready to move into and following a series of minor (or maybe major) disasters it wont be ready for another two or three months so we are going to Europe for three months.  We are busy planning our trip with friends in Italy with whom we shall stay and then go to Spain with them.  How exciting!

Fire at storage unit

But the best laid plans – on Friday (04/04) we heard that there had been a major fire in a storage facility in Wellington and yes, all my worldly goods were stored in that facility.  Panic ensued and nothing else was thought of for the rest of the day.  However, the next day we went to the site and discussed the situation with the General Manager and the Fire Chief.  We were told there would be water and smoke damage but both thought it would be minimal.

So there followed a week of waiting to be told that we could go onto site; meeting with removal men to determine where the soggy goods would be stored; going to the new facility and sorting out what had to be removed immediately – boxes that disintegrated as they were lifted.  These mainly held linen and scarves – easily washed so no real problem – and shoes.  This was a different matter as they all had to be stuffed with newspaper and dried at the fire.

Of real concern though was the artwork, prints etc.  Fortunately my daughter has just bought a house with a self-contained apartment attached.  So we moved the pictures into that and set the dehumidifier.  It looks as if we have been really lucky.

Books, photos and papers were in plastic storage bins so again we have been very lucky.  The photos and letters were what I was most concerned about.  Everything else is just stuff.

And now we are told that the fire was arson.  The mind boggles at how anybody could do something like this.  All week we have heard terrible stories of people having lost everything.  CCTV coverage shows a man entering the facility with what looks like a drum of petrol.  Let’s hope they get this man quickly.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The Adventure Begins

London skyline

Well I have now been in London for 14 days.  I arrived after two very long flights from New Zealand exacerbated by a mix up in bookings. But the frustration was quickly forgotten when I eventually arrived at my sister’s house.

Since then the time has been spent mostly in catching up on each others news and meeting family.  And I am part of a very large family.  Father was one of 13 and each of the siblings had a couple of children, with the exception of one sister and one brother who had none.  So while there are only two surviving siblings of Father’s there are plenty of cousins.  And my sister has three children and six grandchildren so life has been rather busy.

One highlight was a visit to a retirement home where one of the surviving sisters lives.  She is suffering a form of dementia.  She was perfectly lucid for most of the time we were there but then she couldn’t remember any of us, not even her son,his wife and their two little girls.  How very sad.  She also became very tearful when she was told that her brothers had died.  Very sad and scary because she is only 8 years older than I am.

NZ House

via Wikipedia

Today we have been to NZ House to have a copy of my passport certified.  Somehow I have mislaid my driver’s licence so I had to apply for a replacement.  Have you traveled on the public transport in London?  One bus ride, three tube trains and one hour and forty-five minutes later we arrived at the Haymarket and NZ House.  I had quite forgotten how big, noisy and crowded London is.  It is a shock to a “colonial” even a “colonial” who was born and brought up in London.

And how strange it is that when I am in NZ I call England “home” and when I am here I call NZ “home”  Today I felt quite at home in New Zealand House.

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.
Maya Angelou, American author and poet
1928 – **

And London has of course changed since I was last here.  The changes to the East End are amazing –  this is because the Olympics were mainly staged in this area last year.  More on these changes shortly.

 ** Thanks to Nancy for pointing out that this originally read 1982.

My Father’s Hands

I have said before that I read and use Judy Reeves “A Creative Writer’s Kit”  As part of this kit there is a book called ‘Prompts and Practices”.  Each day of the year has a suggestion for what to write.  And today’s was “Write about your father’s hands”.

Well if you have been reading or following me for a while now you will know that I consider myself the luckiest person alive in that my father was a fabulous person.    I wrote about him in September last year – Memories of My Father.  He was a special man.

But now his hands.  These were the strong hands of a working man.  He had been a cabinetmaker all his life and so his hands were rough to the touch and scarred from using and being nicked by his tools.  The hands were  strong and capable.  Apart from being a master craftsman he was a virtual jack of all trades.  He it was who reupholstered the couch when it needed to be done; he decorated the apartment and then our house, he fixed leaking pipes and he fixed his daughters’ lives when any of his girls was unhappy.

On my wedding day those were the hands that held mine in the car on the way to the church and those were the hands that passed  me over into the care of my DYS (dashing young Scotsman).

Those were the hands that lovingly cradled his first grandchild the day she was born.  Those hands went on to cradle each of the other grandchildren in turn.

Those were the hands that helped a small boy build with Meccano pieces and on a later visit showed that small boy how to use some of his tools.

Those were the hands that picked up small people when they had mishaps with their tricycles.

The nails were short and bluntly cut.  I remember when I was visiting him in London late in his life that I offered to do his nails for him.  He agreed and so the next day when I went to see him I took my manicure things with me.  Of course, I had no intention of giving him a manicure, it was just to get a laugh out of him.  He took one look at all the implements and said “Just cut the nail straight across”.  However, he did enjoy my applying hand cream.

So my memories of my father’s hands are many.  He was a good man and his hands feature in many of my memories of him.

Sadly he is no longer with us and is sorely missed by his three daughters and their families.  At his funeral they played “Unforgettable” and that certainly sums up my father.

“To live in lives we leave behind
is not to die.”
Judith Baxter, daughter, sister & friend.