Saturday, March 29, 2008

Girls' Day Out

The Girls' Day Out event is on this weekend. I've never been to one of these and to be honest I have no real desire to... The type of girl's day out I enjoy is the one we had over our New Year holiday...

We had a great time over on the Barrier at the beginning of the year. At one point Tom was Over at our part ime neighbours - the family that own/have shares in a couple of sections next to us. Louise mentioned to Tom that she's always wanted to go out on a fishing charter but never had because it was difficult to get onto on as a single person. We decided to organise a trip out for Louise, Andrea an myself and leave the boys at home one day. I rang Craig of Tryphena Charters to set something up.

We've been out with Craig quite a few times now and knew he'd be the man for the job. He's keen on his fishing and always so enthusiastic when he takes you out. He's also very generous with advice and tips on technique and tackle... top man! We always had a good time out with Craig and never fail to come home with some good stories and a fair whack of fish.

We arranged to meet him at Tryphena wharf at 2pm in a couple of days... we were all set!

On the day we were going to go Tom, Libby & I went down to the cafe to treat ourselves to breakfast. When we got back there was a text message waiting for us from Craig... "I have a plan - can you come earlier?" ... this was intriguing! When I called him to see what was up he said he wanted to take us out for kingfish! OH.MY.GOD!!! I'd never caught a kingfish before! I ran through the bush to see if Andrea and Louise were home and check if they were cool with leaving earlier. Louise have her foot in a cast after slipping down the hill and injuring her archilles but said she was still up for it. I think Tom was a smidgin (only a little smidgin) envious at the prospect of us catching kingys... he had never caught one at that point either!

We drove over the hill to meet Craig and he motored out towards our fishing spot for the day. He'd given us a rundown on the dos and don'ts and we fired our jigs over the side. Before long Andrea yelled out... she was into a kingy! I don't think the others really knew what they were in for so when Andrea's line started peeling out she hung onto the rod for dear life! Craig started coaching her on when to wind back line and when to let it run... after a while she reckoned it was too hard... Craig told her "You hooked it... you have to get it back to the boat before we can unhook it!" She clung to the rod, knuckles white from the effort. After a few more minutes she said she didn't think she could hold on much longer so I took over for her. Eventually we landed the fish - he was beautiful!! Not a monster but most certainly a good sized fish! Andrea looked stunned when she saw the size of it... it turned out to be the biggest fish of the day.

Craig manouvered back over the spot again and once more the jigs went over the side for the next drift. He threw a popper out the back to show us the kingys chasing it back to the boat. The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blurr, I couldn't tell you who caught the next fish or how many fish we even caught. Not all of them were lagal size and of those that were, most went back for another day. Every drift over the pin, except one, we hooked up a fish and once or twice all 3 of us hooked up at once!

After her first fish Andrea had a better idea of what to expect and landed all the rest of her hookups herself. Louise had it sussed, she had her cast jammed into the side of the boat she was able to lean on it for extra leverage. We had a ball! There was only one rod end between the three of us so whoever hooked up used it... or whoever had the biggest fish on at the time. Craig later admitted that he did have a gimble on board but his attitude was "the fish feels pain, you feel pain, it's a fairer contest".

Our bodies ached from the effort and eventually, after about 6 or 7 shots at "one last drift", we decided enough was enough! We had 4 fish in the boat and it had been exciting day!

When we got back to the ridge everyone was waiting. I though Andrea's husband was going to faint when he saw the size of of them! The kids were buzzing with excitement and everyone traipsed over to ours where another neighbout (from below our section) did the honours and carved them up!

I went to bed exhausted and aching, and dreamt all night about jigs flashing through the water! The following morning the bruises on my legs, groin and stomach had started to show through and my arms still felt like they were going to fall off... but it didn't matter, I couldn't stop grinning every time I thought about our day on the water with the kings, our awesome girls'day out!

Friday, March 28, 2008

What a phony!!

Okay so issues about being back on the mainland aside I was however looking forward to belly dance classes! I'd missed one week of class so was keen to get back into it even though I'd not really had any chance to practice the choreography we've been learning, nor have I really put any thought into the dance and music for my solo development class over the week away.
I jumped in the car keen and eager to head off to class, turned the key... click... turned it again... click... crap - flat battery!! I'd taken my car in for a warrant recheck in the morning after replacing the brake light bulb, what I hadn't realize that at the testing station they turned my lights on and so when I got back home I didn't know to turn them off!! Gaaaah!!
I called the AA for a jump start, left a message with my teacher to let her know I'd be late then waited for an hour for the AA to turn up and get me going again.... gggrrrrr!
So, I missed all but the last 5 minutes of the first class. I got there in time to join in one last run through the choreography and actually surprised myself by keeping up with most of it except the formation flying parts.
Solo development class was another story though. This week we were all to dance in front of the class to the second minute of our chosen piece of music... again we were to be videoed to watch later along side feedback from the teacher. As we'd done the chair dance a couple of weeks ago the thought of dancing in front of the others wasn't too daunting.... that was... until... I watched the people before me get up and do their thing. It seemed to me that they've put a lot more thought and practice into their pieces than I had. I started to get a bit worried.
My turn came around eventually and I got up to give it my best shot, it could have been worse, at least I managed to keep moving and not freeze up but still I felt as though I could have done a lot better if I'd put in more effort (any effort) since the chair dance. The entire time I did my best to interpret the music but the style is still quite foreign to me and I felt quite disappointed with myself.
At the end of class my teacher tried to transfer the video and feedback from the chair dancing to a flash drive for me to bring home and analyze but there was some sort of compatibility issue so instead I stayed on to watch it and read the feedback before heading home. There was a lot more positive feedback than I'd expected and all the points to improve on were very fair and most definitely warranted. I got home with a determination to make more of an effort to improve.
I set the alarm for earlier so that the next morning I got up to put in some practice before work. This was when I started to feel quite dejected, nothing was happening naturally, nothing was spontaneously jiggling, shimmying or popping and I felt as though I was constantly thinking about what to dance. What was I thinking when I chose this style of dance!
There was no way I was going to be able to come up with anything like the videos I'd seen of the gorgeous dancers making it look oh so natural! All my moves were on the "up" rather than being earthy and grounded... Why did I ever consider I could do this? Who did I think I was? I'm no dancer! Had I bitten off more than I could chew?
Thankfully my teacher had loaned me another DVD to watch. This one was more of an instructional DVD rather than pure performance. I've started watching it and practicing some of the combinations and now have clawed back a little hope that I can do this. Whatever comes out of this class I have to remember a few things... This is the first time I've gone through this process! My physique is a whole lot different from those fantastic dancers I've watched performing so no matter what I do, at this point in time I'll look nothing like them. And... I'm still learning for goodness sake! I need to lighten up on myself... this is meant to be fun for God's sake!!
So I’ve been listening to the track over and over and realize that I will have to make the choreography far less ornamental than anything on the DVDs I’ve seen… at the end of the day it will be mine and I will have learnt a lot by going through the process.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The end of the magic...

... for now....
So I'm back on the mainland and it doesn't quite feel right. I was really not looking forward to leaving our little corner of paradise... and was even less enthusiastic about arriving back in the city. I think that perhaps my brain is resisting reality because I feel very floaty and am operating almost "out of body". It's a bit bizarre really, it's a bit like I still have sea legs and I feel as though I'm hovering a few feet away from my body. My balance feels out of whack and everymove feels like going through treacle. It's almost as though I'm operating in a different gravity field when I get back and that my body is resisting becoming attached to this reality ... I'd much rather be back on the island.
I'm just going to kick back and try to fit back in... slowly... very slowly... and check my Lotto tickets!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Having a grand time ... thanks for asking!

But have been far to busy to write so here's some teaser photos from our latest GBI trip... more later :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Last night I went to a showing of the film Zeitgeist at Claris Sports Club. Tom had already downloaded the movie so I had already seen most of it once.

I am not yet sure what I think about it... there is a lot to take in.

There were about 25-30 people at the club to see the film and some of the reactions were interesting to watch/listen to.

Part of me wishes I hadn't seen it at all... I don't want to have to think about it... It's too confronting... I don't want to have to make a call on whether I believe what its saying.... I don't want to believe that there are people in this world so consumed by greed they have no regard for the rest of us except as a means to further their own wealth...

and what exactly am I meant to do about it anyway?

But... I have seen it... and it keeps popping into my head .... and I keep thinking about it... and even though I don't really want to, I think I might have to watch it a few more times to get my head around it... I guess that's the point.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Home alone... away from home

Yay! Back on the Barrier!!

I was a real sadsack most of the day… my own fault. I’d stayed on at the pub last night and was suffering for it this morning. I didn’t have any motivation and basically lay about feeling sorry for myself most of the day. Funnily enough, the closer I got to the Barrier the better I felt. The drive to the airport with the windows right down helped… as did the bottle of V I skulled on the way! By the time I got off the plane I was feeling a million times better! What a magical place this is!!
Steve picked me up and drove me up to the bach… the first time I’ve been traveled over here without Tommy also being here!

I opened up and walked in… Phoooaarr! What is the pong?? I looked around…

Can you see my welcoming committee?

On the bench to the left??

Take a closer look…

That’s the last time we’re leaving the trap set when we’re not here!! Just as well I got rat bait to lay this trip!

So, I got that cleaned up, hooked the fridge up to the gas bottle and set it running and have been kicking back enjoying the peace and quiet.

Now I’m off down to the Club for dinner and a movie… and given my improved state of health… probably a beer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chair dance.....?

... anyone? anyone at all?
Well.... the latest installment of my Solo Development class was very... ummmm... interesting... challenging.... freaky...
Lordy I nearly freaked out!
We had been given a DVD each to watch and review. In class this week we had to give our opinions of it and then... sit on a chair and interpret our chosen piece of music in dance from the top half up.... Yikes! Not only that but our teacher was videoing each of us so we can see it later alongside of any comments she has to offer... gulp!
Luckily I was not first up but still it was a daunting experience.
My DVD was Tribal Fusions... I was able to review this quite easily. The performances ranged from what I considered to be belly dance to more modern dance (without necessarily being belly dance). Some pieces I loved - some I hated with a passion!
Then ... my performance time... it didn't help that initially the wrong music was playing - most certainly not the track I had picked out from the beginning! Once we got that sorted it was crunch time! As I had watched the DVD I realised I would need to work on my arm technique and had been thinking about this not realising just how soon I would need to put it into practice. I made it through the first gruelling 60 seconds but it was hard!... No hips, no stepping..... I found myself becoming more internalised to trying and shut out distractions - not necessarily a bad thing but also not making contact with my audience. I did start to relax more towards the end and just "let it happen" which resulted in a spontaneous "flutter" ... I surprised myself with that one!
What I am really keen to find out is the feedback from the teacher... I won't be in class next week so I guess I'll have to wait for that.
The really interesting thing about this whole exercise is that it was a whole lot less frightening than "the circle of death" does this mean that I'm finding more self confidence in my dance? I suppose it must... so I guess this class is achieving exactly what I'd hoped for! Challenging me as a dancer... how scary is that?
Watch out world!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Going on tour!

I'm really excited! I've been busting to say something but I didn't want to jinx it before it was set in stone...
My bellydance teacher is organising a group trip over to Sydney in November to see the Farha Tour! How exciting!
I put my name down a couple of weeks ago as a definate starter and we have just been waiting to hear if there would be enough people to make it viable. We do!! Today I paid my deposit and am really excited.
As well as seeing the show there will be opportunity to attend workshops with some amazing dancers so now I'll have to study the workshop timetable and work out what it is I want to try!

Squeeeeeee!! Did I mention how excited I am?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not JUST another brick in the wall...

Wow! What a weekend... and another step in the process to our mudbrick house!
We travelled up to Dargaville on Saturday with the intention of getting more "hands on" and experience the mudbrick process first hand.
Saturday afternoon we went out to visit Craig and Kimberly (my cousin) at their new house site and spent a few hours out there chewing the fat and catching up. They took us to a neighbouring site to see the start of another mudbrick build.
I went over and picked up one of the bricks to get a feel for them.... phoarrr! Not at all lightweight!! Craig reckoned they were around 13kgs each when wet.... Lawsie mercy!
Tommy was very excited to see the site as a work in progress and buzzed about asking questions, poking & prodding and picking up bricks. As Tommy quizzed Craig and they chattered away like a couple of wee boys in the sandpit Kimberly said to me... "Pssst... Hey cuz... you can almost see Tommy drooling!" ... no almost about it... he was!! And the glorious sunset Kimberly had organised for us went (almost) unnoticed... All that night I dreamt about lugging bricks about in rather surreal circumstances.... not unlike what I imagine the building of the ancient egyptian pyramids to have been with labourers (including me!!) racing about carrying bricks into position like busy ants, whips cracking, the sun beating down, loinclothes ... I'm sure you get the picture... I woke up Sunday morning feeling quite spent already and with a smidgin of concern about what I was letting myself in for....
We had gone up north with the intention of working on one of Craig's projects... a mudbrick building for a local paper making business (incidentally owned by my Father's cousin) so we packed up on Sunday morning and set off. We stopped in town to get some stuff for lunch and some gloves then drove out through Te Kopuru to the building site.
The rest of the day was like making mud pies and thankfully not at all like my dream! The pace was very relaxed. Although there was heavy work involved it was at a sedate pace, there was no rushing about, no whips cracking and (praise be) no loinclothes!! Most of the time it was more like playing at mudpies than hard graft, much to my relief.
The building process was up to the 13th course. Craig and Boots set out the corners and ran their string lines, with Tommy hard on their heels watching and quizzing them... Then we started helping with laying the next course of bricks. In order to do this we clambered up on scaffolding laid out a bed of mud mortar and after placing the bricks mortar was slopped between them puushing it int the gaps with our fingers smoothing the excess off the face of the wall. Being the shortest I found it a bit awkward trying to place the bricks properly into the mortar bed so in the finish we settled into a routine with Tommy and Craig placing the bricks while Boots or I shovelled mortar up to them and brought more bricks. Boots was also buzzing about mixing more mortar and loading more bricks into the water drums. There were no set roles and really everyone worked together under Craigs direction.

It all just kind of happened with someone doing what needed doing as it needed doing... really quite an organic process!

We left at about 4 in the afternoon to make the trip back to Auckland with Craig telling us our apprenticeship was served...

"That's all there is to it!" he told us, grinning.

Tommy was buzzing with excitement about how easy all it was. It had been one thing to know, in theory, how it was all worked but having experienced part of the process first hand has made it so much more real and certainly more achievable. I had a bit of an afterglow, that lovely tired feeling you get after a day's physical work to achieve something. We contributed in a small way to something that will become a fantastic building but more importantly we have had an experience that really proves to us that our dream of building our own mudbrick house is not a dream at all, it's an entirely acheiveable goal.

As if that wasn't enough, on our trip back we had another experience that reminded us why we want to move off the mainland....

Monday, March 03, 2008

Chemical reaction...

In a conversation with some workmates somehow the topic turned to MacGyver. I can recall seeing the pilot show for this where at one point MacGyver saves the day by plugging a leaking acid pipe with a bar of chocolate. Now, I'd have written the whole thing off as a crock of codswollop had it not been for science class...

...5th form science class, with Mr Calder.

One lesson we we treated to a somewhat spectactular demonstration of the same reaction MacGyver used. It involved mixing sulphuric acid with sugar to demonstrate the dehydration properties of the sulphuric acid. Mr Calder brought out a really big beaker - it must've held at least a litre. Into it he poured some sucrose ... he seemed rather gleeful, with a twinkle in his eye. Then as he added the suphuric acid he was fair dancing about like a pixie.
Initially we weren't very impressed... all that seemed to happen was the sugar tuned yellow... not very exciting really....
But then there was a bit of a waft... and a bit more.... fumes like smoke started filling the room and the distinct smell of burning toffee permeated everything. As the thing fizzed and spewed out smoke it got to the stage where we could barely see each other...
"Okay, everybody outside... come on now... is everyone here? Standstill while I do a head count..."
Ha!! We had to hang out outside while the air cleared in the classroom. This was going to be something to talk about. As far as any of us knew, this was the first time anyone had evacuated a science class! Eventually the haze cleared and we started filing back i nto the class.... Lo! there! ... where the beaker had farted and spewed forth all those fumes... was a tower... a black tower of.... now what was that reaction meant to produce?.... A carbon tower rose out of the beaker and stood there... at least 18 inches tall.... As we all stood about with our mouths agape in awe, Mr Calder grinned, eyes twinkling... it was the BEST.SCIENCE.CLASS.EVER!!

This doesn't even do the experience justice.... but gives you some idea...