Monday, December 22, 2008

Countdown to C-day

Well... this might be the last post before the big day! I'm feeling pretty much under control on the present front and getting organised for the big day.

I spent Saturday baking. Tom was away on Kawau Island working so I had the run of the house and no distractions.
I made chocolate chip log to take for desert on Christmas Day. This is something I haven't had for many, many years.... probably not since I left school. Mum used to get me to make this and I have fond memories of it. I hope it's as good as I remember! It's basically chocolate chip biscuits dipped in port or sherry and sandwiched together with whipped cream and then once the whole packet is assembled, covered with the remaining cream and frozen... very, very rich!

I also made 3 batches of the Pioneer Woman's favourite christmas cookies from childhood and beyond... phew... what a mouthful! I made these for the first time last year, they were so colourful that I think this will become a yearly favourite of mine. I had to make a few adjustments... I substituted butter for the shortening, I found I had to cook them a little longer and I cheated with premade icing in a tube. The tube icing was a real blessing as I don't have much of an affinity with piping bags, they tend to burst at the most inopportune time, I went through 3 last christmas!!

I really enjoyed myself. It's not often I bake so it was nice way to spend the day. All the cookies have found new homes... some for the bar staff at our local, some for our mate Wazza and his family, a tinful for my wonderful neighbour and the rest I took into work today.... it's nice to be able to share them!

Please... help yourself...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creativity strikes....

I know... I know! I wasn't going to start any new projects until I finished the ones I already had on the go... But that isn't quite how it works... it's not the nature of the beast!

And it's been soaking up spare time so that I haven't updated the blog... oh well, there's only so much time in the day.

So... I have a new painting/collage that will be my random gift for Christmas. We don't do the whole present thing for everyone any more. We tend to buy for the kids and have a different arrangement for the adults now that the family has expanded. Participation is optional and it means only one present to think about. This year we've set a value of about $20... if you want to get a present you have to buy a present, then we number the gifts and draw numbers... trade and negotiations are allowed! So I have one of my ... er ... creations to give this year. I won't put a photo up yet (maybe after it's been gifted) as I don't know if my family read this on a regular basis and I'd like to keep it a surprise. Trouble is, I've had to hide it away because the more I look at it the more I like it... I won't be upset if I draw my own number!!

And then there's my latest creation... Bling bling!! A necklace to wear to my work Christmas function on Friday. All the bits have come from the dollar shop so I don't think the materials cost any more than $5... Yeah! Teamed with a $10 dress and $10 shoes from a second hand shop. I'm not too proud to wear pre-loved gear... and I must have enough Scottish ancestry to begrudge spending a pile on a dress I'm not likely to have the opportunity to wear again! I'll be going as cheap chic!! Given that the theme is Flash or Trash I reckon I'll fit into both categories!!
Oh well... maybe now I can get back to the patchwork and maybe I'll get it finished.... eventually!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Farha, far away

Oh my… where do I start on the Sydney Trip? I don’t know that I want to do a blow by blow account but let’s see how that goes…

It was odd to be going away knowing Terry had passed away. I don’t think I had comprehended it properly still and with Tommy over on Great Barrier it made it all the more difficult. Still, as Tom pointed out, Tel-boy would have wanted us to get on with living rather than moping about after him… I was determined to do my best!
We flew Emirates to Sydney and by the time our shuttle dropped us at Parkside Apartments in Parramatta it was around 8pm – going on dark. We claimed beds, dumped our bags and headed down the road for a walk so we could get a sense of where the theatre, dance studios where and…. The Bazaar!!! Wheeee!! Shopping!!!
It was a pleasant surprise to find the theatre just a short stroll from the apartments – only 5 minutes away. The dance studios where many of the workshops would be were only a little further down the road. The train station and mall were not much further on from there… it was all so much more compact than I had imagined after my forays into Google Maps…. Good … less time walking, more time to do other things!
We stocked up on milk, bread, cereal, etc, walked back to the apartments to unpack and then turned in for the night.
Most of us were awake quite early the next day… our body clocks betraying us, still on NZ time!
After working out a system for distributing the two sets of keys between the 5 of us in our apartment and swapping cell phone numbers everyone went their separate ways. My first workshop wasn’t until 11:30 so I stayed back to shower and breakfast but by 9:00 I was itching to get out so I packed a day bag and set off down the road. I made my way to the theatre where the bazaar was still being set up. Most stalls were up and there were a few people milling about so I started poking through the goodies. Vicky came racing up behind me having snuck into the bazaar before it was quite open and was very excited to have already found a costume and purchased it! Crikey… the shopping frenzy had started! I steeled myself… I did not want to buy anything on the first day in the flush of excitement and then regret it after… it was not going to be easy!
I made my way down the street and found a café around the corner from the dance studio. I sat back with a coffee to watch the world go by for half an hour before registering for the class. I played a bit of “spot the belly dancer” seeing ladies with hip-scarves, armed with bottles of water, some already loaded up with bags of goodies from the bazaar, all making their way along the road towards the studios.
I’m sad to say I was quite disappointed with my first workshop in as much as I had expected something quite different – based on the description. The blurb for the workshop told us we would “examine how to transfer from one technique to another, focusing on transition of movements” and “explore precision arm technique in conjunction with hip technique”. But basically we learnt choreography… what? To be fair the description did say “In this class you will learn a short choreography focusing on the examples of the movement transitions you have learnt” but I had expected at least some discussion on the actual techniques included in the choreography and that the choreography itself would be would be a tool through which we could learn and consolidate the moves. It wasn’t… we simply learnt the choreography … a string of moves to a piece of music with no real attempt to expand on why we would do certain moves… It was quite disappointment and I was now worried about what the remaining workshops would entail!
Still … I was there… doing it… it would be okay! I wandered back along to the theatre … or rather to the bazaar, for another look over the goodies.
I had set myself some rules about what I would look for … I was interested in finding a sword, silk veils, endless wave harem pants in particular and I really did not need any more coin belts or hip scarves with coins on. So far I hadn’t found any silk veils or harem pants and there was really only once style of sword there… but they didn’t ring any bells for me. And then I saw them… assuit coin belts! Oh dear! I fondled them for a while before doing a few more laps of the other stalls… returning occasionally for another look and all the while telling myself I didn’t need another belt with coins… sigh.
I returned to the apartment later that afternoon to freshen up for an early dinner with the whole group at El Phoenecian before the show. It was a truly spectacular dinner! Most of us opted for the banquet which meant we got to try a variety of dishes. Banquets are always a very sociable way of dining and I enjoyed the dips and salads and most especially the lamb kebabs…. Mmmmmm-mmm!
Then it was off to the show!
I really had no idea what the show would be like having only really been to teacher/student shows here in NZ. To be honest I walked out of the show a little under whelmed and initially I wasn’t sure why… the dancing had been beautiful, the music fantastic and there where most certainly very entertaining and comic moments… I was tired and a little disappointed. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I had not realised I really did have some pre-conceived expectations based on Belly Dance Super Stars videos which is really an entirely different beast. In hindsight that was wrong… and a bit of a shame because it left me with niggling doubts about the worth of the show. Comparing the Farha Tour to BDSS is like expecting Riverdance when you’re watching Irish dance… wrong, wrong, wrong. And I wished I’d made more of an effort to go and see the show again, as some of the others in our group did. Still, it has opened my eyes to Egyptian dance and I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to see it.

The rest of the trip was a blur of workshops and shopping… I won’t go through it all in detail or this post will never happen! The remaining workshops and lectures were fantastic so my concerns after the first workshop were unfounded. I had an absolute ball and would go again in a heartbeat!

And now... I'm going to bail... and leave you with this...



Friday, November 21, 2008

Young@Heart

While I pull together a post about my Sydney trip have a think about going to see this movie...



I saw this last night and I can't recommend it enough. What a wonderful movie!
It has a certain poignancy with the recent passing of a couple of mates, who will now never get to the age of the cast but who I know would be in there boots and all! But then again, they're probably doing that already.

The songs these wonderful people sing take on a whole new meaning simply because of the ages of the choir... there's a certain irony when a little wee 92 year old woman sings "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by The Clash (or "The Crash" as she calls them)... and then as she finishes performing the song on stage the audience roars back.... "STAY!!!"

Tears were streaming done my face the entire time from the sheer emotion of it... there were sad moments, yes, but also many rip-roaring thigh slapping moments as well that had me laughing so hard the tears didn't stop!! There were times when I'd spontaneously start clapping... and others in the audience had their own moments as well... sitting in a theatre with tears rolling down my face at a rate of knots I could hear others sniffling around me, collective Aaaaaaw's when there was bad news and every now and then something would really tickle someone and they'd burst into a short applause themselves....

Don't wait for this to get to TV... go see it in a theatre...

...Take tissues!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's been a bit quiet around here...

... because I've been away... guess where... let me give you a clue...



Yes... after months of waiting it was finally time to see the Farha Tour. I had a fantastic time but am too tired to write about it now... it has been a week of great highs and lows.

A very special friend passed away last week before I went away and while I was away another friend also died suddenly. So despite the fantastic trip I feel emotionally wrecked right now...

I'm not up to much more of a post than this at the moment ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Island hangover...

Waaaah!!
I'm back on the mainland... not quite kicking and screaming but I was a long way from being the most enthusiastic passenger on the 6 seater plane back.
It seems to get harder and harder to tear myself away from that place. I worked remotely today and even curled up in the wee shack that is our island home it seems a treat. It's so quiet that I get loads done. I had to chuckle when I read the weekly "what's happening" email from our directors that included... "Janene is working from home today".... it is more and more like home... more so than our home here on the mainland even.
Being back is tough ... my feet felt like they were in concrete boots as I trudged my way back to where the car was parked at the airport... my head felt full of cotton wool and when I got back to the house it was hard work just getting up the steps and letting myself in... there has been no sense of relief to be back... just a quiet sadness that I am... it's like a hangover without the alcohol.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dooo-dooo-doo…looking out my back door…

Or rather looking out my toilet door… sorry for those of you with more delicate sensibilities…. but really… if your toilet had no door… and this was your view from the bog… tell me... how could you go wrong?


Monday, October 13, 2008

Chuffed with myself....

So... since my big clear out I've had quite a few opportunities to add to my treasure trove of craftiness... but... I'm pleased to say that I've remained disciplined about it all.

At the end of last term we were starting to learn a gyspy influenced choreography at dance class. This involves wearing a very full skirt and a lot of swishing about with it... almost a spanish influence... so... a new skirt was going to be needed. I gave the devil on my shoulder (telling me to whip up to Ikes and buy some material for it) a twack and found a piece in my stash that would do nicely. I think I had planned to make some harem pants or something like that when I originally bought it but that hadn't happened. The skirt is now made and I can't wait to get back to class to try it out learning the rest of the dance!

I've also pulled out the patchwork quilt I've been working on for ages, on and off. That is my evening past-time for now and is one of the last unfinished projects I have about the place... it's time to get it finished! When I hauled it out I was surprised to find I don't actually have a lot left to go until it is done so I feel quite motivated. I'm looking forward to seeing it finished and on the bed.

And in the meantime I dream about what I will do next....

...I'd like to try and make a big collar type necklace - think Cleopatra - using multicoloured glass beads I have stashed...

... I haven't done a painting in a long time and have some ideas brewing there...

... or the next bellydance bedlah, a silver one maybe...

... or an idea I have involving shells I've collected, some jewellery probably...

... or ...

... actually, I should just shut up and go work on my patchwork!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Grrrrrr!!!

I’m feeling rather unsettled the last couple of days…. Something is brewing…

Possibly partly because I’m missing our wee poppet, who flew back to Wanganui on Sunday… she is growing up so fast and is becoming a real character….

Maybe partially because of the storm that has been brewing and starting to manifest itself now… atmospheric pressure?

But mainly because I watched the Zeitgeist Addendum on Sunday evening… my blood is boiling.
I’m not even going to try and explain it here… I don’t believe I can do it clearly or eloquently enough, better for you to take a look at it for yourself.

Earlier this year I saw Zeitgeist - The Movie at a screening on Great Barrier. It was enough to make me start questioning the way things work – including whether the makers had their own agenda for control. It also left me feeling somewhat helpless – what could I even do about any of it anyway?

So having seen the Addendum I’m left swinging between raging anger and total despair.

Anger… at the greed of the world… the system that we’ve let rule us to the point where it’s become every man and dog for themselves…. It has escalated to the point where there is a whole generation feeding on instant gratification through credit…ME ME ME!! Where money and things are king… where we are constantly drip fed new technology that is out dated the moment you’ve been suckered into buying it… where people no longer know or care about their neighbours and community…

And the sadness at what we have become. We have let this happen to us without questioning... We have trusted those with the reigns of our society and been misguided... At knowing that even if the proposed solution ever comes about it won’t be in my lifetime… certainly not on a world scale - although I have hope our goal to live to the island will get us (personally) a lot closer....

I find it difficult to even verbalise the things going through my head so I won’t ramble …


But you might not get any sense out of me for a wee while…


And now… to distract myself, and for the joy of being productive, I'm off to finish a new skirt for belly dance – surely that’ll make me feel better!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

When will I learn?

Gah! just lost a whole new post to the internet gremlins... off to try and re-write it... I should know by now to write a draft file and copy it over to blogger rather than writing it direct... GRRRRRRR!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting my house in order

I'm most certainly not the most tidiest person in the world but I generally know where to find everything I need. That said, a "rationalisation" of all my bits and bobs has been well over due. While Tommy has been away I took the opportunity to go through my bundles of craft supplies, beads, material, ribbons, thread etc and weed out the crap.
I got a couple of under-bed storage bins for all my fabrics... and set a new rule... I can keep what fits in the bins... if they are full I can't buy any more material unless I first use something out of the bins... use the old before topping up with new. There were a lot of memories as I sorted through my hoard... material left over from throw cushions I made for my bedroom when I was about twelve... pale lemony prints... yum... left overs from a dress I made to go to the Dalmation Ball when I was about eighteen... wine velvet... mmmm... gosh I hang onto some crap!! I was ruthless with a lot of the stuff and ended up with few bags to get rid of. These I took into work and they were soon claimed by a few crafty people for patchworks and other projects... and the remainder went home with someone that was going to take it to a local kindy... I feel much better passing that stuff on to new homes rather than just tossing it in the rubbish!
After that it was time to go through my collection of beads. I had a bin I use to store most of my collection... all in smaller containers, wee jars, etc. Not exactly the most efficient use of space. I must have done through at least 150 wee snap lock bags as I tipped all my beads into individual bags that I then was able to sort into groups according to color and size... and the whole lot is now living in it's own set of stack drawers... a much better solution!
After that I attacked my tangle of lace and ribbon. These I have also put into individual zip lock bags so that they can no longer contort themselves into one giant knot, making it impossible to find anything! As I slowly detangled it all I found wee scraps ... three inches here and two there... why had I hung onto these? Anything under about 6 inches was turfed... no more softy hoarder here!
All my threads were next... at least this wasn't so bad... I threw out a few reels that had very little left on them and the rest are all stored together.
After all that effort the house doesn't actually look much different but I now have a framework of storage for my crafty bits... and I feel much more motivated to carry on through the rest of the house.... it's about time I sort through my clothes and weed out the crap...

....but not tonight

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Like chips and dip...

... once you start it's hard to stop!
I've been spending time re-organising my sewing and craft supplies over the weekend. We had gorgeous weather yesterday and I felt a bit guilty spending most of the day indoors.
So after a jaunt to the markets at Browns Bay I decided to get out the weed spray and blast my neglected garden. I mixed up a batch of round-up and went around the entire section blasting the weeds all around the place. I may well have to repeat the exercise in a couple of weeks to catch anything I missed today but I felt pleased to have finally paid my garden some attention and it was nice to be out in the sunshine!
As I was putting the sprayer back in the garage the fan palm next to the drive caught my attention. It could do to have some of the fronds trimmed back, so I grabbed my pruning saw and went to it. These palms have nasty thorns and despite being really careful I still manage to rip a hole in left hand.... youch! Still it was nice to be outdoors and as I hacked away at the palm I cursed the hedge which was really getting beyond a joke... that could do with a haircut too. Perhaps if I just trimmed back some of the taller shoots at the road end of the hedge it wouldn't be quite so annoying.
Out came the loppers and I went at it... and went... and went... it seemed such a shame to only tidy up one end... I may as well carry on and do the lot. The further I got along the hedge, the harder I pruned it. And by the time I got to the end I had pretty much decided that the hedge would have to go altogether some time over the next few months. Since the neighbours put a fence in we really don't need the hedge any more, getting rid of it will make the front of the house a lot more open. It will also mean that when we eventually make it to the island and rent this place out it is one less thing for tenants (or us) to worry about maintaining... we find it enough of a chore ourselves which is why it gets out of control! I'd have poisoned it then and there if I could have found the Vigilant but I think I took it over to the Barrier so that was the end of that idea... for now... I'll let Tom have at it with a chainsaw I think.
I surveyed my handywork and felt quite chuffed with my effort. It's been a long time since I've had a session in the garden and the 3 hours or so I spent out there had flown by. Judging by the sounds of lawn-mowers and weed-whackers around the neighbourhood I wasn't the only one out taking advantage of the first really nice weekend we've had in a long time!
There's plenty of time to finish the indoor chores another day!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Feeling very grateful...

... and really quite humbled by the responses to the news of our miscarriage. First off responses in the comments here on the blog... I didn't really think anyone was reading... but to get sympathetic and supportive messgages from complete strangers is really quite special. Thank you.
I've also had messages and phone calls from people I really didn't expect. My cousin's wife called me... I barely know her but she wanted me to know that she understood, having experienced miscarriages herself. Also from the daughter of a friend of Mum's who emailed me... I haven't seen her for many years and yet when she heard about it she wanted to offer up her advice and support... It's extremely touching and very much appreciated.
Other people have heard and shared their own stories with me and then there are many people haven't contacted me directly. I can understand that, but they have passed on messages through Mum, Tom and other family members.
It has been a real eye opener for me in terms of just how common miscarriage is. I guess it's not really something that gets shouted from the rooftops and it's hardly a conversation opener. For people that haven't been through it, it's an uncomfortable subject... what do you say? And yet there seems to be a real sisterhood amongst those who have and they all reach out to help others.
My thanks to all who have reached out to me!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A bit fuzzy around the edges…

Awesome!! The show went really well… at least so I’ve been told. My memory of it all is a bit blurry as I was starting to really come down with a nasty bug… blergh!!
I was feeling off most of the day on Friday, all over achy and tired. Still I trotted off for the dress rehearsal keen as a button.
There would be no cameras allowed on the night aside from the official photographer so it would be our only opportunity to get our own snaps. I’d left my good camera behind and picked up our little sport camera as I left home. My classmates’ daughter was going to watch the dress rehearsal as she had volunteered to help in the kitchen on show night and would miss the actual show. She offered to try and get a few snaps for me which was wonderful (and where the photos for this post came from).
The day of the show I was really starting to feel crappy. By the afternoon I submitted and slept on the couch until it was time to get ready and leave.
There wasn’t a lot of room in the backstage change area so I hung out my costumes in order and laid out my bags each containing the accessories I needed for each set in a space that was free. Then it was time to get ready…. The whole time slugging back energy drink and sucking on cough lollies.
The show got started and backstage we gathered around the TV with the video feed from the stage to catch what we could of the other performances.

The first dance I was involved in was a group sword number about halfway through the first section of the show. At the dress rehearsal it had gone really well, the sword balanced well for me and stayed on my head through twists and turns…. But not tonight…oh dear! It started out well but once I got the sword on my head it decided it did not want to be there… what a disappointment.

Still, there wasn’t time to dwell on it, I had to be changed ready for the next number. We would be winding up the first half of the show with a tribal number. I was really looking forward to this number as it changed each time. There was no choreography to remember and so there was nothing you could really get wrong. It was certainly fun to perform!

During the intermission I scurried to get my hair extensions in and the next costume on because we were on second in the next section with our wings number. By this stage I was starting to feel really awful, as we waited in the wings for our turn to perform again I realised I was still sucking on a cough lolly… I crunched it up as quickly as I could as tried to make sure all evidence was gone by the time we needed to be on stage. We had struggled a bit with this choreography. The first time I’d performed it we had nine of us on stage but tonight there was only four. Still the dress performance had gone okay so it should be a breeze…. And it was… that was until about half way through the dance when things started going haywire. I think at different points from here on in we all messed up at different points. I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened but it was an awful feeling…. To just be blank… and not know what came next!!! Gah!! I was most pleased to get off stage after that one!!

I had 16 minutes in which to be ready in costume for my next piece… my solo! There was no time to think about what had gone wrong with the wings number! I slugged back more energy drink and popped another cough lolly in my mouth as I hurried to get ready. I wasn’t really nervous… more numb… by this stage it was a struggle to stay upright! I was really pleased with the reaction from other dancers to my performance at the dress rehearsal. I’d been paid so many compliments but even so I still find it a bit hard to believe in myself. I know my music inside out so I wasn’t concerned about forgetting the choreography for this… if I did, I could just improvise… no-one would know any better! I needn’t have worried as it went without a hitch – my first solo in a show, my first solo performance for non-dancers!! Wow! I did it!

One more change of costume, one more performance to go… the finale! I love the number that we’d be performing to close the show. It is such a fun and cheeky number! Aside from not being able to hear some of the base notes to begin with it went without a hitch!!

Hooray!! It was over… all I could think about was getting home to bed which is a bit of a shame! Still, I have the DVD to look forward to!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Counting down...

... to the show!!

I didn't tell you about that did I? With everything else that has been going on I hadn't talked about this and yet over the last few weeks it has given me an alternative focus. The preparations have had me in almost meditative states as I've stitched, beaded, plaited ...



Tickets sold out last week so we'll have a full house... Wow!! Not long to go now ... 4 more sleeps!! Crikey... perhaps I shouldn't say that it's a bit daunting! Gulp!
I've been keeping busy getting costumes prepared... Five, count 'em, FIVE costumes!! I'm in 5 different numbers of the show... including my first on stage performance of my solo... no pressure!
I've found a lot of solace in getting existing costumes up to scratch and creating new ones. It's such a fun process... although the house is a looks like a bomb went off at Spotlight.
It's not just getting the actual costumes ready but figuring out how the changes will work. Organising all the bits required for each change and deciding on hair options that will work with each outfit and yet be easy enough to get ready between sets... potentially a logistical nightmare... and yet I think I'm almost there with it all. A coathanger for each costume with ziplock baggies attached holding the respective jewellery and accessories. I'm hopeful that my system works, but we'll find out at dress rehearsal on Friday night!!
Fingers crossed!

Friday, August 29, 2008

And so it goes...

Life goes on... It has been two weeks since the scan, two weeks since everything came crashing down around me. The weekend was spent quietly at home trying to get our heads around what had happened. There was no point trying to find a reason ... it just simply was.... there were tears and conversations as we digested everything. We both seemed to be on much the same wavelength in terms of how we were dealing with it although the lions share of tears were mine... me and my leaky eyes!

Going to work on the Monday was hard... it was meant to be the day I could share our great news but instead I had to try and keep a grip on reality. I spent a great deal of the day gritting my teeth and trying to reign in my grief... At 3 in the afternoon I got called down to reception to pick up a delivery. Flowers from my Tommy.... it was the final straw for me for the day so I gave up and went home.

Tom didn't have any work on that day so was home when I arrived and was worried that sending the flowers had been the wrong thing to do... poor boy! I knew it was done with love because he was feeling helpless... he couldn't make me feel better any more than I could make him, and yet he still tried. I still had all the pregnancy hormones happening, I had "talked" to this child and started a connection, it was all so physical for me, whereas for Tom it was more conceptual (his words). We both had to find our own way to cope with this, and our experiences would both be quite different.

The following morning I got ready for work but I lost the plot as I was walking out the door... I couldn't do it, I couldn't face anyone, it was too hard.... I crawled back into bed. I didn't want to be anywhere for a while. After Tom left for work I pottered with my craft work... keeping my hands and head busy, but not too busy to think about what was happening. I knew that as much as I wanted to ignore the news, pretend it never happened... it had... and life will go on with or without me.

The next day I was back to work again and I had plenty to keep me occupied so I didn't have lots of time to dwell on things. I booked an appointment to see my GP as so far there was no sign of my body aborting the pregnancy. When I saw him on the Thursday he explained that we could continue to wait and see or I could see the hospital about having a D&C. I was feeling a lot stronger, ready to move on from this and get on with life. I was booked in for an assessment with the hospital the following day.

The assessment was pretty straight forward, lots of forms to fill in and an explanation of the procedure before checking when I could have it done. The soonest would be the following Monday.
Another weekend spent quietly around the house. Luckily, with the show coming up I have plenty to focus on with getting costumes organised... I don't think I've been quite this productive with my crafts in quite a long time!

Monday rolled around soon enough and we got to the hospital at 7am. I was called through to prep for theatre almost immediately. The staff were all marvellous, very sensitive. Tom was sent home and told he'd be called when I was ready to be released again. Once I was taken to pre-op he couldn't see me again until I was released so there was no point in him hanging around at the hospital. I kissed him good-bye and was led off to wait for theatre.

There's not really much more to tell. A wonderful nurse stroked my hand as they stuck all the monitors on. She was still stroking it as the anaesthetic started to work... I could feel my eyes getting heavy... the blood pulsing in my ears.... mmppphf....
"It's working"
"What's that love?"
"It's working... I'm going under...."
"No dear... it's worked... you're waking up... you're in recovery"

Lord... that was quick... I was still a bit disorientated and as I looked around the room the finality of the situation hit me... I wasn't pregnant any more. That was it... over. I could feel the sobs ready to burst out of my chest but managed to calm them with some deep breaths.... haaaaaaaaa.....

After that I had to wait around in recovery for a couple of hours to ensure I was in a fit state to leave. Tommy picked me up and looked after me for the rest of the day, fussing about like mother hen! I am a lucky gal!!

Since then life is returning to normal. I feel as though I'm past the worst of the grief, and I have plenty to be thankful for. It took me a while to actually hit 'publish' on that last post. I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. I had needed to write about it but it was very personal and I wasn't sure that I should share that with the rest of the world. Part of the devastation of finding out I was miscarrying is feeling so alone, disconnected and insignificant. A great deal of the healing for me is finding out that I am not. This is something that is apparently quite common. When we were given the bad news initially we were told as many as one in four pregnancies ends with miscarriage at varying stages. That was just a statistic to me to begin with... just a number, it didn't help. But as people have learnt about what happened to us I have had many of them reach out with a story about a friend, a relation, or themselves and how they had been through a similar experience, sometime multiple times.

It seems like a selfish thing to say but there is comfort in knowing you aren't alone in the experience, and I can draw strength from all those that have been before me. Maybe by publishing these couple of posts I can pass on some of that to someone else who may need it.

And so, life does go on.... and I look forward to every moment!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not what I wanted to say...

I had planned this post for a while… A couple of times since my last entry I went to put in a filler post but decided against it… why not wait for the really big news?

Sadly, this is not that entry… not the big news… and most certainly not the entry I’ve been planning to write for quite some time… I’m not sure when that entry will happen now.

I had planned to announce an imminent new family member. Something I’ve wanted to share for quite a while now. Once we'd had the first scan I was going to let work know about my pregnancy and start planning maternity leave, the beginning of a whole new phase of life, letting everyone know how excited we were...

I had had my 12 week visit with a midwife, and booked our first scan for last Friday afternoon - 13 weeks. We walked into the clinic nervous, excited and ready to see our forming child for the first time. Tom held my hand as I lay on the bed and our technician (Hugh) got started.


Hugh was very quiet to begin with and explained that I had a retroverted uterus and that was making it difficult for him to “see”. He also went on to explain that this wasn’t anything to be concerned about… well that was a relief… but it was making his job a little harder. He continued to look hard at the screen and remained very quiet. I thought it was a bit odd that he wasn’t explaining what he was seeing but it was my first scan – how should I know how these things went? Heck he was probably concentrating on keeping the scanner pointed at the right spot, around my other organs behind which my (newly discovered) retroverted uterus was hiding …. Right?

And that’s when he turned to us and said “I can’t see a heartbeat”.

In that moment we went from being excited new parents to … what?

Hugh turned the screen towards us and pointed out the foetus and told us how it was much smaller that it should be and was only about the size it would be at eight weeks not 13 weeks there was no sign of a heartbeat he’d give us a moment while he got a second opinion from someone else….. I barely remember what was said.

As he left the room the blood was rushing around my head and I felt like I’d been thrown off a cliff. Tom squeezed my hand and we both said to each other how it just wasn’t meant to be and it was just nature’s way. It would be okay, we’d start again.

Deep breath… deep breath…

Hugh came back in with confirmation… and a pamphlet on dealing with miscarriage… He was very sorry, and not really any consolation… but there would be no charge for the visit. Well thank God for that… I couldn’t get out of there quick enough… out the door and heading for the car, gulping down the fresh air as I scrambled for the car. Gritting my teeth and trying to keep it together… and Tommy… God… how was he feeling?


What a shitty way to find out... there'd been no real signs of anything being wrong and yet in split second all the plans and excitement from the last couple of months dissolved around us.


Where to from here?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another day on the water

Damn... it's tough but someone's gotta do it!! Not too much explanation except to say that we had a great day out when I arrived on the island last Friday. I outdid the boys fishing but they went for a dive and I think the haul of crayfish the ended up with winning the day.... see for yourself...


video

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Show time

So it went really well!

Luckily we had a rehearsal in the morning as one of the girls observing told me that I had a bit of a problem with my costume. Despite feeling very secure in my bra apparently from an audience perspective it looked as though I was ... er ... about to fall out of it at any moment! Oh dear... the last thing I want is for the audience to be nervously waiting for a costume disaster to unfold!

After rehearsal I made a few adjustments to the bra so I would be more suspended and not the audience!

We had to meet over at the theatre a couple of hours before the show to have a run through on the stage. After that a few of us wandered to a nearby Thai restaurant and had an entree each.

It was bitterly cold outside ad we were frozen by the time we got back to the theatre. The last thing I felt like doing was changing into my costume... brrrr!

There was nothing for it though... I couldn't put it off any longer so I changed into my costume bra and threw my cardigan back on over top to stay warm while I fixed my makeup and got the rest of my kit on.

By this stage with all the bodies in the dressing rooms we were warming up a bit. We all took turns at having our photos taken and it was about then that one of the others pulled me aside...

"You've got black stuff under your arms!!"

"What??"

I looked at my armpits... black fluff every where... what the?? Ah... it was fluff from my cardigan that had stuck to my deodorant! Ha!! Lucky it was spotted before I went on stage! Still it was good for a laugh, a few of the others were wearing wigs or hairpieces... why not fake armpit hair, I reasoned!

Finally it was our turn to perform. We had a blast. The piece we performed was a mix of group choreography and individual solos and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.... once again though it was over far too quickly. I have seen some fantastic photos of our performance but as yet don't have copies so you will just have to be content with these ones taken backstage...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lock out

When I arrived home last night thankfully the rain had stopped. I grabbed my stuff out of the car and got to the front door to find the key wouldn’t turn. Blast! The lock had been sticking a bit the last few days and I had made a mental note to take a good look at it over the weekend… not soon enough obviously! This had happened a few years back and I’d ended up replacing the lock. I cursed myself for not having the back door key with me.
I went down to the garage to find a hammer or crow bar so I could bust open one of the side windows… popping the catch on that would be easier to sort out than a broken window…. Looking around I realised Tom would have most of the tools with him on the Barrier and the rest of the “house tools” were… well… in the house.
I rang Warren who was on his way home for the evening and told him what had happened. He arrived within 10 minutes with his tool box…

“Waddya need?”

“Got a hammer?”

He handed one to me and scurried after me as I went around the side of the house…

“You gonna smash it!!??”

“Nah mate”

I jammed the claw under the edge of the window and levered it…. Pop! Inside the handle flew off and I opened the window.

“Chur… can tell you’re from Dargaville” Warren grinned, “Didn’t know you were so good at break-ins!”

I climbed through the window and got the door open after a bit of jiggling the key and the catch. The door was unlocking with the key from the inside but not from outside. We fiddled about with it for a while, gave it a spray of CRC and I decided that’d do on the lock for the evening… I can sort it out properly on the weekend, in the mean time I’ll lock it from the inside and use the back door.
That just left the window to secure. The catch was busted and I’d need a new one. After a bit of digging about in my tool box Warren found a bolt that would hold it all together. It doesn’t look pretty but at least it’s secure.
Warren packed up his tools as I thanked him for helping me out.

“Cheers mate, you’re a love!! I owe ya a beer!”

“Or 5 or 6”, Warren laughed as he headed off home!

Good on ya!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Life gets in the way of blogging!

Don't you just hate that?
So still frantically working away on the costume and eagerly awaiting the arrival of some beaded fringing I ordered through ebay. I'm not sure if it will arrive in time for me to get it onto the costume so I'll have to work on my plan b in the meantime. I've given myself a cut-off of Monday for the fringing to arrive, anything after that will be pushing my luck in terms of finishing it ready for the show!
Work has been really hectic this week. It must have been playing on my mind a lot as I've been waking up far too early and not able to get off to sleep. I've ended up getting up and going to work rather than toss and turn and disturb Tommy's beauty sleep. This morning I was at work by 6:45..... that turned into a struggle towards the end of the day and I was pleased to get everything finish by 5pm and get the heck out of there!!
So... just a quick update... now back to my costume!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Distracted

It's been a while huh? Things have been busy around here and I've been somewhat distracted by a new project.

We are performing in a show at the end of June and the costuming requires a bedlah. The only bra and belt set I have is a bit small for me at the moment so I decided to make a new set. I settled on making a gold set as I can use that with many different coloured skirts so I should get quite a bit of milage out of it.

I looked around for a gold material to use as a based but struggled to find anything suitable and was starting to consider using black instead. I tried to find some black stretch velvet but was foiled at every turn... luckily... because I finally found some fantastic gold stretch material that would be perfect. I cut the cups out of an old bra to use as a base and reinforced them with strips of webbing and felt to make them sturdy enough to take the beading I want to apply. I have some rather ambitious plans to create sequined and beaded appliques to attache to both the bra and belt. The only problem is I don't think I'll get it all finished in time for the show. I've decided to concentrat on getting the bra and belt fitted properly with some basic beading for now. I have some black and gold embroidered ribbon that I'll use as an accent and add "danglies" ready for the show. Both will be easy to remove so I can add the appliques I've planned when I have more time to get them finished. That will take the pressure off for now and I allow me to complete the appliques without rushing!

Here's where I've gotten to so far...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Full of it...

... the bot that is. Gah!! I woke up Saturday feeling like crap and was really annoyed... I had plans for the weekend to get stuck into some sewing. I moaned and grumped for a while then collapsed on the couch for two days... yuck! Monday and Tuesday were both spent at home, no way was I working feeling like crap!
I went back into work yesterday feeling a lot better but still not 100%. I've been hacking anf coughing away, I hope it doesn't take too long to shake this off!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Early morning antics

I was fast asleep... deep, deep sleep.... when... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!!

A bloody alarm sounded somewhere nearby. After a few seconds it stopped and I figured someone must have tripped a car alarm. Then... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!! It went off again... and stopped... and went.... and stopped.... Tommy woke up and cussed and after a few more repeats we were both cussing....grrrrr! It was 2:45am for goodness sake!! Tom got up saying he was going to do something about it.... not quite sure what, but we sure as heck weren't going to sleep with that racket going on!

I crawled across the bed and peered out the window to see if I could spot where the offending vehicle was but the noise seemed to be coming from further up the street. It was at that point something caught my eye, a flashing light. I could see through the small window above the bed that it was the alarm unit on my elderly neighbour’s house. I called out to Tom as I quickly hauled on trackpants and a sweatshirt... "It's Eunice's house alarm!"

"Has she gone away?" Tom asked as we both ran to Eunice's gate.
"Not that I know of...."

I helped Tom unlock the gate in the dark. "Do you think I should call the police?"
Tom nodded and went to check out the house. I ran back to our place and called 111. When my call was answered I explained the situation and stayed on the phone until Tom came back. He wasn't able to see anything, no apparent break in, but could hear a radio going inside. "I'm going to break a window to get in, she might be having a heart attack or a stroke!"

I relayed this to the phone operator who said they had a car on the way. When I asked if we should break in the advice I got wasn't particularly clear "Well someone might have to... there's a car on the way"

Tom swore when I relayed this to him... "She could be bloody dying in there! I'm going to break a window to get in!"
The police operator said they would end the call now but we should call back if the situation changed. We both ran back over to Eunice's and I started banging on the door and calling out.

Tom found a rock... "Don't break the door, there's another door inside the porch that might be locked, you'd have to break that too."

I was starting to feel quite panicked by this stage, what if she was lying inside needing help?

We both looked at a little window next to the deck... "Fûck it" Tom said raising the rock.... and paused... "Hang on... I think the porch light just came on, that wasn't on before was it?"
I shook my head, and as I turned to bang on the door again Eunice's head looked out through the inner door.

As she let us in she told us she couldn't turn the alarm off. Eunice's hearing isn't so great and she'd initially thought the siren was on the radio which she had going next to the bed. She hadn't heard Tom banging on the door initially and was a bit bewildered.

After both of us trying to punch in the alarm code unsuccessfully, we asked her what alarm company it was. "There's a sticker on the door...." she said.
By this time another neighbour had arrived. Tom found the company name and Eunice pulled out her phone book. I found the number and dialled.... bloody answer phone!! Never mind, there was a mobile number to contact so I tried that. A groggy voice answered and I explained the alarm was going and we couldn't shut it off. Eventually we established there was a manual override key to turn off the outdoor sirens. Eunice found the key and we got those shut off, at least it wasn't continuing to keep the whole neighbourhood awake any more! The indoor unit however was still emitting a very loud, shrill bleep constantly. The guy on the phone explained that the battery unit might have failed and we'd need to open the unit to disconnect it.

The police had arrived by now and poor Eunice was a bit shaky... "I'm going to call Ian, he'll come around and fix it". I tried to tell her that she didn't need to call him and we would get her sorted out - I figured there wasn't much point in waking more people up! While I was talking to the police and relaying the instructions from alarm guy Eunice did call Ian though. I can't really blame her, I think by now she really needed someone familiar to comfort her.

Tom went to get a screwdriver and the police, having ensured no-one was in danger, left us to it, as did the other neighbour. Tom opened up the control unit and removed the battery... nothing happened initially.... but then finally the piercing bleeping ceased! My poor ears were thankful!!

We put the jug on for a cup of tea... this was well needed by this stage. Tom went back home to warm the bed back up for me and I waited with Eunice until Ian arrived. She was worried that this incident will be used against her, “They’ll say this is another reason why I should move!”. I tried to tell her that it wouldn’t have mattered if she did live elsewhere, the alarm would still have failed – it was nothing to do with whether she is capable of living alone or not!

We poured a cuppa when Ian arrived and I explained to him what had happened. He will get someone in to replace the battery and give the whole system a look over. Eventually things settled down so I gave Eunice a hug and went back home.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep the rest of the night as my brain was working overtime but I must have managed about an hour or so because eventually another alarm woke me – the clock radio… at least this one was not unexpected!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

World Belly Dance Day


Who'd have thought such a thing existed?
I celebrated by going to a Drum and Dance Jam organised by my teacher. It was a fun afternoon! When we arrived there was no power as linesmen were working outside on the street but that didn’t slow us down at all! The music ran off a battery pack and there were plenty of drummers. It was a great opportunity to get into costume and dance in an informal setting.
There were also a few stalls selling jewellery, costumes and doing henna tattoos. Danger, Danger!! Temptations!! I did score a few really good bargains without doing too much damage to my wallet!
I had worn my “new” tribal outfit to see what people thought. I got loads of compliments on it so I guess I don’t have too much more to add to it! I was really pleased to hear it looked good!
I forgot to pack the camera so no photos at this stage… maybe next time!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Civic Duty

Last week it was my turn to have a crack at Jury Service. The last time I was selected I wasn't able to go as I was away on holiday for the first day or so and because of that I was excused from turning up.
The time before that I was horrified to see people that could not even follow simple instructions were able to sit in judgement of others. Two initial jury panels were balloted from all those who had turned up. I was in the first group. We were introduced to our court attendant, Cheryl, and we were told we'd be going to Court 10 with the attendant once the trial was ready to proceed. The second group was to go with another attendant, Joanne, to Court 4. Our attendants went to check on whether the courts were ready while we helped ourselves to a cuppa. When they came back the two groups filed off with their respective attendants except once we arrived at court 10 and Cheryl did a head count, there were too many people.
"Okay folks, my name is Cheryl and we are in court number 10. Are you all supposed to be here?" Cheryl was greeted with nods, mutters and blank stares but everyone seemed to think they were in the right place. The only way to resolve this was for us all to stand and then as our name was called to sit again. Two people remained standing.... "I'm sorry but you two are not on my list. What court number were you told to go to folks?"...... "Duh-uummm...er Numba 4"... Oh dear!! If they couldn't manage to get into the right courtroom how the hell should they be expected to concentrate through a whole trial??
I wondered if it was really true... that the people that show up for jury service are the ones that are too stupid to get out of it?! I resolved then and there that I as far as possible I should do my duty and attend Jury Service whenever I was called up!
As it turned out I was not selected for that particular jury and didn't make it onto another panel. On the Tuesday when I arrived we were split into two groups, one to come the following day and the others to show up on Thursday. When I arrived on Thursday they didn't need any more juries for the week so I was sent away again.
This time however I got to see a bit more action!
First off the bus system! I was able to make use of the new expressway so after a short walk down to the closest staion I was able to catch a bus for a short, fifteen minute trip into the city... I couldn't beleive how easy it was! Totally painless!
I was selected for a jury panel and shuffled off to the courtroom for the selection process. The charges were read out to the defendant and they involved several counts of sexual content with a minor. They are really quite graphic when the charges are read and specific deatil was given... cringe... I really didn't want to hear any more detail about this and my stomach churned as my name was called and I made my way to the jury box. Just as I was about to sit down the defendant's lawyer called out "Challenge!". Phew! That meant I wasn't to sit on this particular jury! Amen to that! Once the jury selection was over the rest of us went back to the waiting area where we were eventually excused for the rest of the day.
The bus trip back again impressed me even more than the one in. Buses leaving the city centre for my stop every 15 minutes! A far cry from the bad old days when I first started working in Auckland!
The next day I was selected for another panel but the trial wouldn't go ahead until closer to lunchtime so we were excused for an hour or so under instructions to be back by 11:15.... woohoo! Shopping!!
I had a bit of a wander around Queen St and then went back to the courts and waited... and waited... until about 12:30 when we were told the trial wasn't ready to go yet and we could wander off again as long as we were back by 2:00. I went out again but only long enough to find a bite to eat. Tramping about the inner city wasn't so much fun any more so I went back to the assembly room and filled in time "dancing" my belly dance solo and developing it some more... in my head not for real! Eventually we were called through to the courtroom. As they read out the charges for this case I cringed again... another sexual case, this time with even more counts to plead to, I lost count after 10! Oh God please don't let me get into this jury! As the names came out of the barrel the seats slowly filled up. There weren't so many challenges in this case but I held my breath until the last seat was filled... thankfully mine didn't come out of the barrel at all. It was late in the afternoon by this stage so once again we were excused for the day.
On the Wednesday morning I was selected in another panel. Again the case wasn't ready to start so we were excused for an hour or so. This time I didn't bother leaving the building. It was cold outdoors and I was over the idea of inner city shopping! Eventually we were called through to the court and this time I actually made it into the jury. The charge in this trial was aggravated robbery, committed in 2006. Once we'd selected a foreman the trial began with the first witness. When we broke for lunch I felt as though I needed a spell from the city, the noise and rushing about was doing my head in! I grabbed a bun from a sandwich bar and found my way into a small park behind St Patricks Cathedral.... ah!! that was better, it seemed a lot less stressed there than anywhere else I'd been in the last couple of days!
When it was time to get back to business we were ushered back into the retiring room. There was a bit of discussion over the evidence we'd heard so far but this was to fill in time as yet again it seemed we were waiting and waiting to be called back into the court. The time for the afternoon session came and went as we chatted out the back... waiting!! Then... once we were seated back in the court the judge told us there had been a development, and the nature of it would become clear soon enough. With that the registrar stood and read the charges out again and the defendant plead guilty!! Good Lord!! After all the waiting about and finally getting onto a jury, and more waiting about, the bugger had denied me the chance to see out the trial! No verdict required!! He was soooo guilty and he knew it. I reckon the only reason he changed his plea was in the hope of a lesser sentence, which, by the way won't be decided until the end of June! Gah!
Still, after that we were excused for the rest of the week. They had already selected panels for the remaining trials that week so we were no longer required... So that was the end of that... until the next call up!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let's Dance!

Woohoo!! The show was fantastic!

To be honest I'd been feeling quite blasé about the whole thing since the practice on Wednesday night. We ran through the choreography quite a few times and each run through it seemed to get shorter and shorter! When we first started learning it I wondered if I’d ever manage to make it through without forgetting something. All the extra hours we put in for additional rehearsals outside of class time paid off and by Wednesday night everything was running through so well I almost felt as though the show had been and gone already. At the beginning of this process the piece seemed to last forever… so much to remember… but now it just flew by! I almost felt as though it was over already… I figured when it came to the show we’d get ready, wait our turn, stand nervously in the wings then it would all be a blur of light and music … then we’d be back in the wings clearing off the stage again… it was almost an anti climax before the event!

We had a dress rehearsal in the afternoon which made me a bit nervous. The space on stage was a bit different to what we were used to so there were a few last minute tweaks that, despite being really minor it was a bit perturbing given how smoothly everything had worked so well. Would I be able to remember? Crikey… the butterflies were starting to set in!

I called into the pub and had a beer for my nerves on the way home… that helped me relax a bit. Once home I distracted myself by helping Libby get ready. She was going to wear her costume so she got dressed and I did her hair for her while she chattered and told me how she would dance on the stage after me. Before I knew it, it was time to go.

We arrived at the theatre and found our seats next to friends. I wasn’t performing until the second section of the show so we were able to sit in the audience through the first section of the show. Wow! There were some amazing acts and it was almost a shame to have to go and get ready.

I met the others out the back and we got our costumes and had a couple of group photos taken. It didn’t seem to take long at all before our stage call. As we go into position in the wings ready for our entrance I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself to enjoy the moment… I wanted to remember how it was to be performing rather than simply doing it and getting out of there with it all being a blur after…. I didn’t need to worry… man, did I have fun! The moves were all pretty much second nature now, each change in the music signalled another move and it just seemed to be happening… Awesome! This was great, we were doing it! I couldn’t help but smile! I was able to really soak up the atmosphere… fantastic!

I changed back out of my costume and hurried back out into the audience to watch the rest of the show. When I got back to my seat Libby stood up and told me it was her turn to dance. I figured I’d take her up near the front and let her dance in front of my classmates but someone told me to let her go up on the stage. I found some steps up to the stage and helped Libby up them. Then there was no stopping her! She marched up to the start of the front of the stage and stood there… waiting… next thing there was clapping from the audience so she started dancing… so confident and not at all shy! The clapping got louder and people were zaghareeting her… she was in her element! Then, suddenly Libby decided she’d finished, she bowed and marched back off the stage again! It all happened so quickly that Tom didn’t get any photos – he was too blown away with watching her!

All in all a fantastic evening!!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another weekend in

Well, mostly anyway!

Tom had organised a Rug Doctor machine for pickup at 7am Saturday morning so he was up early to get that underway and gave the floor a good going over. I was pleasantly surprised how well the carpet came up... I'd had my doubts that it would do any good but I guess I'll have to eat my words now.

I had a rehearsal for the show at 10am on Saturday morning which went really well... we're counting down to the show now!

Then it was straight back home ready to go and pick Libby up from the airport! She is up for the first week of the school holidays and it was good to see her! She's a real jet-setter these days and flying doesn't phase her in the slightest. The flight was running a bit late but as we waited and watched down the arrivals corridor we could see her being escorted, along with another small boy, up to the terminal. She was chattering away with the wee man and the attendant like they were old mates. There's no stopping her taking every opportunity to increase her social circle!

By the time we arrived back home with her my parents had arrived for a visit. They ran away from home back in February and have been travelling around in their bus living a gypsy life since then! By all accounts they've thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They weren't going to stay the night as they had to get home for business but we had a nice afternoon with them catching up and an early dinner - home cooked fish and chips using some of the kingfish from the freezer... Yum!

On Sunday Rob, Stacey and the kids came over for a visit. It's been quite a while since the kids had caught up and after some initial shyness (and refuelling on lunch) the girls raced about dressing up, having make believe birthday parties and rescuing each other from a plague of rebel frogs that apparently invaded the bedroom intermittently... what great imaginations! Braxton was somewhat excluded from the girly games but that didn't seem to phase him in the slightest. He happily drew pictures of us on the magnadoodle and showed off his creations. He's talking a lot more now and is a real little character! When it was time to go there were tears, Tialia wasn't ready to go, she was having such a good time! It was good to see them and catch up with Rob and Stacey, it's been a while!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty quiet. Tommy spent some time writing on his blog, Libby watched her favourite movie - Madeline, and I worked on my next movie pulling together photos and video from different events... something I'd been meaning to start on for a while now... the first one for the year is up over on the "family blog".

So it was another relaxing weekend... even though we had plenty going on! I guess with winter looking like it's nearly here we'll have a few more of these coming up!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hippy Shake Update

So, on the Belly Dance front all is going swimmingly ... or perhaps that should be shimmyingly!
The dance we have been working on for the upcoming show is really starting to come together now. We've had some extra rehearsals outside of class time and that has really helped! The most difficult part has not been the actual dance moves, but the "formation flying"... the parts where we change positions on stage and interact with each other. These bits are really starting to work well now after making some small tweaks to how they come together... it's going to look soooo cool on the night!
As for my solo development class, that too is progressing nicely! I had a few spots in the music where I had the moves sorted out and it has been a matter of joining the dots... coming up with moves to join the pieces I found relatively easy to choreograph. Working in stages like this has made it far less daunting and I've pretty much sorted out the first half of the piece... just a bit of refining needed there so in the next week I want to sort out the remaining half. It should be relatively easy as this was the part of the music I was most attracted to initially and I have a lot of ideas to get started with. It will be a matter of trying them out and seeing what works best. This class has been extended by a few weeks to allow us to get our choreographies finished and test run them on each other so we can refine them from an audience perspective. We have the opportunity to perform them for a wider audience at a drum and dance jam in May.... and... if we're keen in a show later in the year! Cool!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Golly... it's been a week!

Wow! No update for a week... and I'd been doing so well on that front!
It's been a pretty ordinary week, which is lovely for a change! And we had no plans to go anywhere or do anything for the weekend so it was spent pottering around home... not very exciting I suppose but it was really very nice having not done it in a long while!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sparkles Galore

I needed to find a dress to wear in the show at the end of the month. We had fairly loose guidelines to follow, basically a straight dress, any colour pretty much (except for fluorescent) with sparkly bits and preferably pattern or fringe across the hips to accentuate any shimmying. I had a bit of a look around but didn't see anything that would fit the brief. I started trawling through trademe and found a few possibilities but generally anything remotely suitable was going to be far too small… I’m no waif!

I began to resign myself to making a dress and decorating it and then I found a compromise... a plain dark blue stretch velvet dress in the right sort of style... I was a bit hesitant about the sizing but after confirming the measurements I started bidding. I won the auction in the finish and I could hardly have made it for the $20 I paid for it.

When it arrived in the post I tried it on immediately. The fit was snug but it was perfect for the show! Now for the fun part… the sparkly bits!

In my treasure cupboard I had some purple beads I’d bought I Bali quite a long time ago… they’d be perfect for making fringing from and although I wasn’t entirely thrilled at the idea of threading them all they really were the perfect colour. I also had some pre-strung gold sequins but I felt I also needed sequins that would pick up the blue of the dress as well as the purple from the beads… I knew just the colour I wanted… a paua, or oil slick colour would do me. I went down to get some at John’s Place Emporium. I found exactly what I was after straight away but you can’t go into that shop without looking around at the other goodies… and thank goodness I did! I found pre-strung beads in the exact colour I had at home… if I bought those then I could save myself hours of painstaking work. I knew that it was going to end up costing a lot more but given that life has been so busy lately, time could become an issue. I didn’t want to have to rush through this and be disappointed with the results. I could also supplement it with the beads at home… at the end of the day I was still going to pay less than I would for a ready made outfit, and it would be unique, one of a kind!

With the decision made I scurried out with my goodies and went home to get started. I had been thinking about the pattern I wanted and had decided to keep it fairly simple with clean curves and the fringing. I was about to started sketching outlines with chalk when I realised that I probably should do this while I had it on so that I could take the stretch into account … along with my curves! So there I was standing in front of a mirror drawing on myself … or rather on the dress with chalk! Then the stitching began in earnest… first the lines of sequins then the beading… oh how I thanked myself for using the pre-strung stuff… no threading, no chance of beads coming undone… just stitch it on! Because of the stretch in the material I had to ensure anything stitched on allowed for this so it was all done with the dress stretched over an embroidery hoop.

I couldn't tell you how long I've spent on it so far but at least now it is now at the stage where if I don't do any more it will be fine for the show. I'm picking it's more than likely I will add more at some point however I'm aware that I could over do it and it will end up with too much on it so for now I'm letting it rest awhile. I am very pleased... it actually looks better once it's on!

I took it along to class last week and everyone wanted to see it on so I ended up wearing it for the whole class... I love it! The fringing sits in just the right place and moves beautifully when I dance! I can't wait to wear it in the show!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Back for more ...

Sunday rolled on around and as I peeked out from under the covers to see it was daylight outside I thanked my lucky stars Daylight Savings finished this weekend giving us an "extra" hour to sleep in this morning. As I rolled over to check the time a groan escaped... good lord was there any part of me that didn't hurt? We had another hour before we needed to get up... I carefully snuggled up again and tried to remain as still as possible in the meantime.

We all met at the shop at 8:30 and along with coffee discussed the weather, where to find weather reports and how to utilise them to plan a day trip. Based on the forecast that predicted southerly winds we were to be paddling on the northern coast of the Whangaparoa Peninsula.

Off we all went and met again at the boat ramp at Tindalls Bay. Andy parked on the ramp and we unloaded as quickly as possible so as not to tie up the ramp for too long.

We each picked out a kayak, different to the one used yesterday so we could get a feel for the different makes. Once we had adjusted the foot pegs and loaded up, Andy showed us how to enter the water "gorilla style" - scooting the kayak forward with hands over the sides pushing against the sand. Once we were all afloat we set off as a group.

It really is a relaxing way to travel, cruising along and chatting to whoever happens to be near you at the time. Looking out to sea we could see Great Barrier further out and closer in the birds were working in several spots. Every so often the bait fish would rise and skitter across the surface close to us... Tom wished he'd brought his rod along!

I had realised pretty quickly after we left the beach I'd made a mistake when I set my foot pegs... I'd tested them out with my legs straight out in front but of course when you're on the water you bend your knees pushing against the pegs to lock yourself in. This wasn't an major but it meant I was on tippy-toes for the first leg of the trip and this got quite uncomfortable towards the end... I'll not make that mistake again!

We made good progress along the coast although the group seemed to be a lot further out from the shore than I'd expected. This meant we were just paddling from spot to spot rather than getting to look at nooks and crannies in the rocks, which, I think, would have been more interesting. I guess though some people weren't quite as confident about being too close in to begin with.

As we arrived at Army Bay, where we'd planned to stop for lunch, we grouped up and Andy reminded us about how to handle a surf landing. The waves were pretty small but it was still a good opportunity to test out using the paddle as a rudder. We landed one by one on the beach pulled a couple of kayaks right up the the sand to use as tables and tucked into lunch.... ravenous!! While we were filling our stomachs Andy led a discussion on different places to go kayaking around New Zealand, we each had to come up with somewhere and he would give us a run down on the best times to go and things not to miss at each place.

Before long it was time to head back again. I reapplied sunblock, picked out a different kayak and set the foot pegs up... remembering my earlier mistake. As we scooted our way back into the water I realised my skirt had popped off the cockpit... Damn, I was virtually afloat!! I back-paddled a bit, trying to keep the kayak straight into the waves and sorted the skirt out... back out again, this time with a helping hand from Andy giving my kayak a shove to get it afloat. Thanks mate!

Off we paddled.... this time sticking a little closer to the shore and getting a bit of a closer look. The kayak I had on this leg handled a bit diffently and was a bit more sluggish responding to the rudder... a matter not helped by the fact I hadn't tightened the straps up enough... something else learnt! In the finish I gave up on using the rudder and pulled it back up. Instead I played about with the different sweep stroke we'd learnt and used my paddle to steer on the way back.

As we got closer to the beach we started out from we grouped up again and Andy encouraged us to try out different rescues before we had to go home. This was by no means compulsory which was a bit of a relief. By this time I was feeling quite exhausted from the efforts of the weekend, all the physical activity combined with a day out in the sun and salt air... I was almost at the stage where I just wanted to curl up in my comfy chair and snooze! Still, I'd gotten in a couple of extra rescues in the lake on Saturday so I wasn't going to feel guilty about not getting wet today! A few people took the opportunity and I assisted someone else getting back into their boat before heading back to the beach to pack up.

Back at the shop we were all presented a completion certificate and an information pack. We each had to sum up our experience in a few words. Mine were... "I want to do more"... ...

I suppose that means I'll be needing my own sea kayak... time to go shopping!!

Oh how I ache!!

Almost every part of my body is sore from overuse or bruising... Why?

A good friend of ours gave us a family membership to the Yakkity Yak club as a thank-you present about 9 months ago. As part of the package a weekend course on Sea Kayaking was included. We have been so busy over the last 6 months that up until now we hadn't booked ourselves onto the course. As we had nothing yet planned for the weekend it was time to bite the bullet and actually do this thing... after all, it would be a shame for the membership to run out without us completing it.

Tom has a sea kayak and uses it on a regular basis so he was looking forward to the possibility of rolling while I was along for the ride, figuring a lot of what we'd learn would be applicable to our sit on tops.

Saturday morning arrived with us on time at the pool and ready to get wet. There were 8 people on the course in total so 4 kayaks were unloaded and taken down to the pool. We were to pair up and take turns in the kayak. Tom, being the gentleman he is, let me take my turn in the kayak first. I slipped off the edge on the pool and into a kayak, sealed the cockpit with the skirt and braced myself for whatever was about to happen next.

The instructor, Andy, called for a volunteer to act as the demonstration model. I took a look around and as no-one was looking likely I thought perhaps it was best to volunteer and get it over with. Before I could open my mouth my kayak jerked forward, a strange voice coming from behind... "Pick me!! Pick me!!" ... thanks Tommy!! So I floated forward and the lesson began.

The first steps involved building confidence in and under the water whilst still in the kayak. Andy would talk us through it, demonstrate what was going to happen using the test model (me!), then one by one each person gave it a go while their partner was there to help flip the kayak over for the exercise and pull it back upright again. The routine involved turning 90 degrees to get one ear wet, then 180 degrees under water and back up again. Next came a series of exercises to help orientate ourselves upside down and under water. The first was to bang loudly three times on the bottom of the kayak (while upside down). This was also a signal for help!! Then a series of exercises banging a couple of times on the bottom to the front and back of the boat back to three times in the middle to signal help... or..."get me upright!!". Then to the front right, front left, back right, back left - Andy called this "the hula". Then finally a wet exit, basically getting out of the kayak while it was capsized.... cool... I was good at this!!

We swapped over so our partner's could go through the routine as well... revenge is mine... bwahahahaaa!! Nah, not really, the last thing I wanted was to be responsible for drowning my Tommy in a pool!!

Next on the agenda was learning various rescues, self recoveries - where you basically got yourself back into the kayak, and assisted recoveries - where another kayaker would help empty and stabilise your kayak for re-entry.

The first self rescue was called "The John Wayne" and involved heaving yourself over the stern of the kayak, swinging a leg over to straddle it and, keeping a low profile, scoot yourself forward, riding the kayak until you were over the cockpit, slipping your bum down into the seat then "folding" your legs one by one into the cockpit. I think this is the move responsible for most of the bruising on my inner thighs... ouch! We also learnt self rescues using a float on one end of the paddle so the paddle could act an outrigger for stability and at the same time also act as a ladder to hook your leg onto to get you back up into the kayak.

The assisted rescues were a piece of cake in comparison but we tried a couple of variations and took turns at being the rescuer and rescuee. At this point I felt as though we'd learnt a lot to help even with the sit on tops and in particular the self resue with the paddle float will be a skill that will transfer should I ever need it.

We clambered out of the pool, helped put the lane markers and covers back, and changed into dry clothes. Once the kayaks were all loaded up onto the trailer everyone headed back to the shop for lunch and some discussion on the types of things you should have with you for a day trip.

Fed and rehydrated, it was time to learn the next skill set down at Lake Pupuke. It was here we learnt different paddle strokes. First off we learnt how to paddle sideways, not quite what I expected, I'd have thought that going forward might have been first!! Still, as we would be rafting up together to watch new techniques at different points during the lake session this was going to be an important stroke. It was a bit windy where we put in and it was hard to tell whether we were doing this properly because we were being blown about. We set off across the lake for a more sheltered spot. Paddling forward with seems pretty straight forward but Andy spent time to ensure we new which muscles should be engaging at the different parts of the stroke, pushing (or punching) the top arm forward rather than pulling the bottom arm back, a subtle difference but it makes paddling less of an effort. He also checked our form as we set off and then had us turn around and paddle backwards for a stretch. Once we were more sheltered we practiced using the sideways stroke... it's a cool movement and not dissimilar to a belly dance move... I almost went into a trance doing this!

Time to raft up... and put this stroke into a real situation. I edged sideways towards the next person, wow, this worked a treat, I was doing it! Then .... whoops, my bad! I thought I was close enough so I reached across to the next kayak, stretch... strrreeetcchhh.... just..a..little...more..... SPLASH!! Ha, I was in... and out!! I popped out from under my kayak to see everyone looking at me!! Ha! At least I knew how to get back in!! Andy came over to assist me by stabilising my kayak and I clambered back into the cockpit without any problems... the lesson resumed...

Next we learnt how to turn using sweep strokes from the front of the kayak, and then make tighter turns by combining a sweep from the back of the kayak... I really enjoyed these moves, it was almost balletic and again, done over and over, something that could set you into a trance.

Time to learn bracing... this involved edging the kayak.... leaning so the water came up the side of the kayak, and push the paddle down ward to help spring back upright. We started small, only going over a little way. As I got the hang of this I started leaning further and further, closer to the point of no return. it was a bit freaky to have the sensation of tipping and react quickly enough, in the right way, to push back up again. As I practised, pushing over further and further, the water got closer to my spray skirt, and then up over it and yet I recovered. Wooohooo!! Yeah, this was cool. I transfered to the other side to try that. I must have been a bit over confident because the first time over in the right and.... SPLASH!!! I was in again!! Oh well, at least I was getting in some additional rescue training!! Might as well get our money's worth... at least that's what I told myself!

So enough of that.... We learnt how to stop next and after a game of chicken to test it out Andy showed us how to use our paddle as a rudder - something we'd need to know in the surf. This was tried out on the way back to the shore buy getting up some speed and then flicking our paddle back to steer while the momentum died off.

Back at the shore we loaded up the gear... that was all for today! I was starting to feel the muscle fatigue from using muscles in a completely different way... it was a great feeling and that night I slept soundly... and snored like a buzz saw, by all accounts. I needed it ...

Sunday would bring new challenges!

Friday, April 04, 2008

What was I whinging about?

Well, after the torment that was belly dance class last week which ended with me feeling like crap about my progress (or lack thereof, as I saw it) things are looking up.
I had spent time listening to the music and watching parts of the instructional DVD the teacher loaned me, but... I still felt a bit stuck in terms of what moves to put to the music.
On Saturday we had an extra practise for the Wings number we will perform in the show and in our breaks we watched Louise practise her tribal fusion number. I think this is where I had a bit of a revelation, seeing someone performing right there rather than the smooth production of a DVD. I picked up a few ideas to toy with. I also got some unexpected encouragement from one of my classmates who, after I told her how bad I felt after last class, said to me "But you looked so confident! You really looked like you knew what you were doing! Oh no, I wished I'd told you that on the night!!"
To be honest I don't know if I'd have believed her if she'd told me that after class, but after a couple of days of introspection and setting myself a few goals it was just what I needed to hear.
I stopped to buy a cheap MP3 player on the way home so that I had no excuse... I would take every opportunity to listen to the music I could.
I got home, loaded it up and started dancing... I tried out a move I'd seen Louise do, it fitted the music nicely so I started adding a few more moves... Over the next day or so I had moves set out for the first 40 seconds or so of the music.... progress at last!! And I was also starting to formulate a few ideas for parts later on in the piece. I started to allow myself to believe I could do this after all!
Wednesday night rolled around fast enough and this week, while I was so excited to have broken through a wall, quite a few of the others had hit their own wall. Some of them seemed to be feeling like I was the previous week. They hadn't had time to work with their music and were starting to feel like they had made the wrong decision over their choices of style/music. Some of them asked outright for help which spawned the next exercise for the class.
We each had to pick someone elses piece of music and improvise to it. We'd spent a lot of time listening to our own music and only heard parts of each others so it was a bit like improvising to a new piece.
I volunteered to go first and chose the veil number. I borrowed a beautiful silk veil and went for it... it was so much fun! Having had the revelation for my own piece that sometimes less is more and that trying to do ever move in the book at once was overkill I was really enjoying myself. Some hip drops here, wave the veil, a shimmy, a turn, some more hip drops... I was doing it! I spontaneously went to perform angel wings, a move that involves flicking the veil up in front and walking into it as you stretch you arms out wide. When perform correctly the veil flicks over each arm creating wings... really pretty! This is where things went a bit awry....
I had never before worked with a silk veil and they behave in a different way to chiffon or other materials. Being lighter and therefore more "floaty" they are beautiful to watch but you have to be aware they are more... er... temperamental... Silk being the diva of veils they are a bit more highly strung than their plainer counterparts and need a bit more pandering to for them to perform well for you.
So there I was, making angel wings... Flick.... the veil flew up in front of me, twist... ready to fall back over my arms... I stepped forward so that the veil would settle at my throat and the move would be complete.... except... I wasn't ready for the veil to punish me, obviously it knew I was a beginner and I wasn't treating it with the respect and adoration due to a star, the queen of veils. So as I stepped forward the veil settled... it floated slowly down... flutter flutter... oh so pretty... but I was too fast, I was rushing it and this diva wasn't going to be dictated to by a novice. It floated down to settle... not at my throat, it settled over my head!! So there I was arms outstretched with the bloody thing blinding me.... maybe trying to suffocate me for treating it like a mere common chiffon veil. I tried to blow it off as if it was a stray hair on my face... I tried again... and again. There were giggles from the class (including myself) and the teacher was telling me to work with it. What a hoot! I'm not sure how I got it off in the finish and soon after that my minute of music ended. As I sat down I resolved to get myself a silk veil to train and tame!
Everyone took their turn and when someone chose my piece of music I found it really interesting that for one part of the music she danced steps with a turn to the back, a pose and then turned back to the front again ... it was almost the same moves I had already decided to use for exactly that part of the music. This was really very encouraging! To think that someone else heard the music and interpreted it in virtually the same way as I had... it was a confirmation that I was on track.
The whole point of the exercise was to help each other see what others spontaneously did to the music and to help build ideas to get started on our choreographies... a bit of a think tank I suppose. When you've gotten so close to the music, listening to it over and over, finding all the accents and learning it by heart, I guess to an extent you get too close to it. You start trying to plan every move to the music rather than simply letting the music move you. With that in mind I'm going to keep working on my music a few seconds at a time... and let it happen!