Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the year that was

Well, it's December 31 and once again I have not been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours. I have not yet become rich or famous or won a Nobel Prize. The only thing I have done this year that seems significant in any way is contained in a spiral bound booklet of 57 pages. And yet the year doesn't seem like a dead loss.

I have:
1. Recovered from a broken heel. Lesson learnt: firstly, what it is like, in some small way, to be deprived of your mobility, to be stuck inside while everyone else is out in the sun enjoying summer. Secondly, not to jump off floating jetties onto a beach at midnight ever again.

2. Seen two of my good friends get married, and been bridesmaid for one of them. No lesson learnt from this, apparently, as I am still happily single, but it was a pleasure to be around and to be an important part of someone's life as they make such a significant decision.

3. Enjoyed hanging out with my family. Almost all of us were together, back in August - a rare occurrence.
4. Welcomed two new babies to the family - Daniel, who is pictured above, and Miriam, who is my niece and also my god-daughter, and who is not pictured because I am aware of how much her father dislikes his children being displayed for all to see on the internet.
Also gone through, with the family, the experience of dealing with serious illness of a little baby. Daniel underwent heart surgery a few months ago, and came through it well. Hundreds of prayers were sent up at that time, as you may imagine, and then many thanks.

5. Learned to love winter.
6. Made some probably lifelong friends at uni who made 2008 a pleasure.
7. Appreciated this beautiful country a little bit more.

8. Run a spiritual course of up-and-downs which will probably be described in more detail on my other blog in the next few days and which, I think, has probably made me stronger.

9. Had what I think can be described as the best year of my life, when a single year can be picked out. History Honours 2008 was probably the hardest thing I have ever done and also the most rewarding. I did things that I never thought I would be able to do. I am much more confident and also much more aware of my weaknesses.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the holiday

How was your Christmas?

Mine involved:

1) Driving down to Dunedin, the city where two of my sisters live. Two more of us travelled there, as well as my father. On the way down my brother-in-law and I stopped at Moeraki Boulders and I surreptitiously took this photo which I think is quite sweet:

2) Playing with two very cute additions to the family. My five-month-old nephew below:

And Oscar, the new puppy who lives in the house I was staying in. He's a Jack Frost, a cross between a bichon frise and a Jack Russell. He hasn't quite learnt not to nip people yet, but he's so cute that it's easy to forgive him.

3) Playing with new toys. The niece and nephew pictured below, and their brother, received this trampoline for Christmas, which, as you can see, they are enjoying a lot. In fact, I enjoyed it too.

4) Dressing up warm for the Dunedin "summer". Once again, I completely overestimated Dunedin's weather, and brought with me lots of t-shirts and shorts, and only one pair of jeans and a jersey. But actually it's almost pleasant having to snuggle up warm for Christmas - this coming from someone who has always had summer Christmases.

Friday, December 19, 2008

what are you looking for?

This was in the local newspaper today. It made me happy.

My gift of Christmas cheer to you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


So, who hasn't heard about George W. Bush and the shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad? Here's an article if not. Does anyone else feel bad for feeling a bit amused? At the same time, I have to say, I found Muntader al-Zaidi's words quite poignant. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!"

I don't think those deaths were entirely Bush's fault... but in some strange way it was almost refreshing to see someone responding to them with anger in a way that didn't involve blowing up more people. It was a gesture that was bound to make headlines, and his point couldn't be dismissed as just another crazy evil terrorist taking out his anger on innocent civilians. Sure, it was an insult, but who ever said that Bush was a person beyond insult?

Flicking through channels last night, I watched some of the final episode of The Celebrity Apprentice. (The Apprentice is bad enough, but seriously? The Celebrity Apprentice?! Anyway...) The charity chosen by Piers Morgan, the winner, was called "Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund", whose resources go towards rehabilitating and caring for wounded soldiers returned from Iraq.

Let me be very careful about what I say here, or I will come in for a storm of angry comments, but here it is:

Of course that is a noble cause, and worth doing. It seems to be mentioned quite a lot in US TV as something worthy of support. But I wonder... who is doing this for the Iraqi wounded? Are their widows receiving compensation for inadvertently being in the firing line of US soliders? Are Iraqi limbs being replaced with state-of-the-art artificial limbs? I don't know, because I don't live in the USA, but I wonder how much prime-time reality TV is being devoted to supporting these victims.

Those who defend their country are entitled to their country's support and respect, yes. But what happens to the people caught between a tyrant, al-Qaeda and invading hordes? Whether or not it is for a good cause, the civilians killed, maimed and injured by US soldiers are still victims.

And it is good to see their cause highlighted again in such a striking way. Even as a shoe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


If you would like a laugh, go and have a look at the comments on my last post, "blast from the past", for an amusing attempt at subtlety.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

blast from the past

I've been going through my things, because I'm moving into a flat soon, and trying to bring myself to chuck out all the stuff I have kept over the years just in case I needed it some day (like my notes from Maths from fourth form - and no, I have never looked at them since fourth form).

One of the things I found were my things from my early primary school years - all those good behaviour certificates and the books of stories I wrote when I was five or six. I'm trying to bring myself to throw out most of the certificates, but no way am I throwing out the stories. Anyway, I thought I'd share some with you. I started school age 5, in 1991.

From Mrs Moore, in 1992.

Yup, I won a medal at our school 'Olympic Games'. I think it was for the sack race, or maybe for egg and spoon race (which was actually a potato and spoon race because eggs break).

From Mrs Strang, in 1994. I remember being so annoyed at this. I had learnt to swim properly over the summer, but then when I came back to school they put me in the junior group for swimming lessons. I had to swim with the five-year-olds. How humiliating.
I was a relative whiz at spelling in my school but no one ever told me. I learned a few years ago that in a parent-teacher interview when I was about eight, Mrs Lowry told my mum that I was doing better in spelling than all the other kids in the school, even the oldest kids (aged eleven). Mum asked her not to tell me that because she thought I would show off about it. Ah, she knew me so well.
This is one of my early forays into the world of art. My skill is evident even then. I present... a postmodern comment on life in the modern world.

And if you can translate this, I will be very grateful. It reads, as far as I can tell, "I like Mum. She is nice. She let me ...... when I saw a [horse? house?]."
Has anyone else got souvenirs from their childhood to share?

Friday, December 05, 2008

my Christmas wish list

I have been tagged by Heidi - well, to be absolutely honest, I tagged myself really, and informed her of it. Using the wonderful polyvore, I have created for myself a Christmas wish list:

- a new cellphone. The keys on my current one are slowly dying. Sometimes I have to take the battery out just to turn it off. A nice new one would be great.
- books, of course. I do have one in particular in mind, called The Fellow-Travellers, by David Caute, but I couldn't find a picture of it for polyvore. It's an incredibly well-written history book that I used heaps this year for my research and I would like to have my own copy of it.
- a pretty dress. Granted, I wouldn't particularly like someone to buy me a dress as a surprise, but maybe this can be my Christmas present to myself.
- a mirror. I will include here the pot plant too. In January I am moving out of home and going flatting for the first time. I have most of the main stuff I need or will get them, but it would be nice to get some of the less necessary homey stuff that make life more pleasant.
- some cool jewellery. Always a pleasure.
- Agatha Christie's Poirot (with David Suchet) DVD boxsets. I have season one, and enjoyed it so much. This is a beautifully filmed TV series with great plots and good acting and I want to get more of the seasons.
- Similarly, Friends DVD boxsets. One of the greatest TV shows of all time (in my opinion) and I want it!
- a camera. I already have a camera but it's a big bulky thing that is annoying to take to certain things, and it would be very useful to have a tiny camera like these Fuji Finepix ones that I could just slip into my pocket.

Hooray! It's ages since I have made myself a Christmas present list. When I was young I would have written one and handed it out a few months before Christmas (and my birthday), charming, unmaterialistic young thing that I was.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

TOO... HOT...

If only I were a ski instructor, I could follow winter around the world...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hell Pizza

There's this pizza chain in New Zealand called Hell. The whole idea is to be provocative and shocking, thereby attracting their chosen demographic - cool people who like to push boundaries. Marketing campaigns have included dropping flyers in letterboxes with condoms attached, and billboards like the one below:

Obviously, it creates a fuss, and gives them a whole lotta free publicity.

Me - I'm not a fan. Not so much because of my religious beliefs or anything, although if it were only that Hell marketing campaigns would still probably bug me, but I find it so ironic that we are being urged to be rebellious and cool by giving them money.

I have had Hell pizza once at a friend's house, and it was yummy, but I refuse to spend money on them. Give me open capitalism any day. If I'm going to enrich some fat cat capitalist I'd like them to be quite open about it, thank you very much, and not act as if they're doing me a favour. But at the end of the day I don't really give a toss about Hell pizzas and I certainly wouldn't bother spending time arguing that they're wicked or something...

Until today. I saw this billboard in the newspaper:

Seriously?! They are seriously trying to sell pizza by using Adolf Hitler as a marketing ploy? Give me a break. Some things just should not be used for motives of profit.

Hell Pizza are not evil. They're simply idiots.