Wednesday, November 16, 2016


The Christchurch earthquakes 5 years ago left us feeling like a third world country as we struggled to deal with the scale of a major disaster in our second largest city.

The midnight earthquake, about 60 hours ago, which hit North Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington, our capital city isolated rural communities and came at the beginning of our tourist season but we seem better able to cope with the emergency this time.

The worst affected town, Kaikoura, is the Whale Watch capital. This was a small coastal town with a depressed economy until some locals set up Whale Watch. Kaikoura is set on a rocky stretch of coastline, I will never forget the first time I drove along this coast. It appearedto go on forever and is a an amazing experience. Mountains steeply climb directly up from the sea. For an hour or more the road wriggles along the sea shore a few feet above sea level.
The railway runs alongside the road. There are many rail tunnels and a few road tunnels. The mountains soar above the sea causing a crick in the neck as you try to take it all in. Here and there seals can be seen basking on rocks or even the road itself.
One time we had a memorable trip south in late winter. The sea to the right reflected the blue of the sky and quiet waves splashed white along the rocky shore. On the left were mountains capped with snow flowing down the nearly vertical sides like icing on a cake. Emotional tears often flow as we drive around our beautiful country. It was one of those days. A crisp sunny day that is etched into my memory forever. When we travel I become overwhelmed by the spectacular beauty not forgetting the beauty and peacefulness of our forests, beaches, hills and plains of our homeland.

State Highway One is broken. It links the North Island to the South Island from Wellington where the Interislander Ferry carries foot passengers, trains, freight trucks and passenger cars to Picton, a three hour trip across Cook Strait. SH1 then continues along the east of the South Island to Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill our most southern city.There is an alternate road route going west before crossing the Southern Alps. There appears to be 100 kilometres , (63 miles), of road closed by slips or crevices. Some sections are open to 4WD with care. We expect the road north of Kaikoura to be closed for several months necessitating a long detour. The road from Christchurch to Kaikoura through north Canterbury should open next week.

As I write the Navy has come to the rescue. HMS Wellington is surveying the sea bed before HMS Canterbury delivers desperately needed supplies and helps with evacuation. It is expected that 600 people will be evacuated today and more again tomorrow. Yesterday helicopters, military and private, lifted out as many people as possible starting with elderly, young families, pregnant women and others with particular needs. A few desperate tourists chartered private small planes or helicopters so they could continue their holiday or catch pre-booked flights from Christchurch. To indicate the scale of the effect this has on tourism, just one operator has to reschedule 900 people who had booked to be in Kaikoura during the next week or two.


The people of Kaikoura are looking after hundreds of tourists as well as their own community. It has been a stressful two days with no water limited sewerage. The Marae, Maori meeting place, has put out about 7,000 meals including crayfish, (lobster), and paua, (abalone.) Local restaurants with gas cookers have provided meals for those who have been camped out too. Water was beginning to run out. I know from Amanda and Wayne's experience in the Christchurch earthquakes that water is the single most important thing in a disaster. Imagine having to use portaloos and no water to wash with let alone to drink. Hand sanitisers such as Purell are at a premium.

Talking of the Navy.... This year the New Zealand Navy celebrates its 75 year anniversary. Ships are arriving in Auckland this morning for a week of international fun. USS Sampson is heading for Kaikoura, as is an Australian frigate. People are being brought to Christchurch, where they will disembark in Lyttleton Harbour,which is still not fully operational after the Christchurch earthquakes. HMS Wellington has to check the seabed there too before large ships can enter.

Here in Christchurch, we remain almost unaffected. I've only felt 2 or 3 shakes all of which were gentle rocking with no jolts but they did seem to last a long time. Christchurch people have crowded the Supermarkets to stock up and there was some concern that fresh supplies would be delayed. I don't think this is likely now but memories of shops running out are still fresh in the minds of people here.

We had Tsunami warnings but generally nothing to worry about. Many people within one kilometre of the coast were told to evacuate and there have been a few complaints about the lack of co-ordination, no sirens or too many sirens, and in particular information coming too late had there been a serious Tsunami. Mostly there were only high tides and waves not very different from a strong east coast storm with a king tide. The one house, that we know about, that was damaged by a Tsunami wave was at the end of an inlet where the water had nowhere else to run. It was clearly a powerful surge of water.

Today life continues it's normal pattern. Amanda and Wayne have returned to their normal work routine and Ava-Jane  is back on her usual timetable with her main carer, the next door neighbour. John and I live in the sleep-out attached to their garage which is comfortable but has no running water. Now that winter is over the run across to the house, about 20 paces is no hardship.

John and I have heaps going on. I had all my top teeth out a while ago. Last week I had some of my bottom teeth out. Tomorrow I get stitches out and also impressions done. Hopefully I will eventually have  a super-duper fitting top plate and partial bottom plate for the cost of a brand new small car. It's been difficult to accept the cost but I know I must go to the best possible person because of the way Bells Palsy has changed my face and the way I eat. Maybe I could have flown to Mexico and had implants but not quite as practical as I will need lots of follow-up.

Our family Beach House which has been listed for sale for the last 12 months after some renovation and upgrades went to auction last Friday. It was passed in but we now have a written offer. Negotiations are tedious with 4 trustees on our side. We have many phone calls, emails and documents to print, read, sign, scan and return. Our current buyers are not even close to the capital value, 1.45M NZdollars or what other similar properties have recently sold for. I hope we can reach an acceptable settlement.

This was my mother's home and she died in January 2012. We had a sale in June 2014 until it was discovered we had no Code of Compliance Certificate from the local authority, who then demanded some upgrades and repairs before issuing the CCC. While the work was being done we freshened up the house with paint, carpet and curtains hoping to make it more attractive to buyers. We listed the house again about a year ago and this is our first proper offer. It's a beautiful property. I know there are a few negatives but the difficulty has been finding someone who is financially able, (we are told this is the top 3% of buyers), who like it enough to spend a lot of money.

John and I have been looking at properties in Christchurch and so far have seen three which we might have purchased had we had my share of cash from the Beach House. Hopefully we will shortly be buyers. I must admit I'm feeling a little frustrated as property values are increasing all around Christchurch again.

We are looking at the seaside suburb of New Brighton. I don't think we will let yesterday's events, when people were rooted out of bed and evacuated for 8 or more hours, put us off. The Tsunami siren went continuously for most of that time then intermittently until mid-day. It was very much a non-event but better to be safe than sorry or dead.

It's a beautiful sunny day in Christchurch. much better than the weather bomb which hit Wellington on top of the earthquake.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I'm not going to write much tonight.

We're safe and no problems here caused by the earthquake.

The affected area of New Zealand is having a rough time with hundreds of after shocks some of which are severe. The affected area is well north of Christchurch. Our capital city, Wellington has some damage. Some of the business area is cordoned off and at least one 8 story glass building is unsafe.

It's hard to watch the news. This is too close in time and district to the Christchurch earthquakes and stirs too many uneasy memories.

As for the sale of our house, we are patiently working through the process of negotiation. I hope the potential buyers are patient and don't get tired before we can reach agreement.

It's almost 9 pm here. The light is fading and I promised myself I would go to bed early.

So it's goodnight from me.

Monday, November 14, 2016


We are perfectly safe although that's not so for everyone.

Here's an edited copy of an email I sent to family 2 hours ago. 

A few minutes after midnight we woke up in the middle of a long gently rocking earthquake. It was somewhat unnerving because it went on and on and on. I believe it lasted nearly 2 minutes and that's a long time to shake and wonder if there's going to be an unpleasant ending.

John rolled over and was asleep almost immediately. I got up to check on Jake the dog and Mac the cat. Jake rushed in and is staying as close as possible to me.

Because it was fairly gentle I didn't expect it to be a big deal in Christchurch but guessed that somewhere someone was probably having a bad time.

I began to settle when one of my nieces, Melanie, sent a text then there were phone calls. Wayne, our son, wanted to make sure we were safe and knew what to do to stay that way. neighbours came and checked as there was a tsunami warning and the sirens were going off at New Brighton although we could barely hear them even when outside. In fact that siren continues. We want to live there but hours and hours of a wailing tsunami siren is somewhat off-putting.

 I quickly loaded the Earthquake Map and saw that something serious was going on in North Canterbury. Like Wayne, I could only feel sympathy for the people who have struggled with drought for the last couple or more years and now severe earthquake. News is slowly coming in of damage to roads and some people have been hurt but nearly 5 hours later and dawn approaching the news is still pretty sketchy. Roads, railway, ferries, telephone and power have all been affected so there will be plenty of frustration among travellers and with communication for many people today. Schools and some universities are closed. What is astounding is the spread of damage and yet here, in Christchurch, I feel totally safe from this particular series of earthquakes. I hope that when daylight comes and we get a more complete picture I won't find it has been a false sense of security.

People in Christchurch are pragmatic about earthquakes but there remains a great deal of fear. Anyone who has experienced severe earthquake will never be blase about them. Most of all there is concern for those who lived and work close to the epicentre. Much of the area is sparsely populated.

So it's been a weird week.Donald Trump became president of USA; We auctioned the Beach House and got our 2nd offer in 4 years; I had a few more teeth out and am on the way to having expensive dentures*, maybe in time for Christmas, and now after being left in charge of Wayne and Amanda's home and animals ugly earthquakes and tsunami warnings shake us up. As an aside to all that, on Saturday we picked up 15 eggs, which I had purchased on Trademe, to put under a clucky hen. All I need is a couple of lambs but I think we have run out of lawn for them.

We watched Grand Designs NZ on TV earlier in the evening. It now seems ironic that the featured house was built in an area we are interested in and the owner cum project manager was building with future earthquakes in mind. Just to ease your concern we won't be choosing to build on a sandhill although that turned out to be not too big a problem.

I'm still wide awake in spite of very little sleep so will close on this note. no shaking in the last 30 minutes. Not that I've felt all 25 of them thank goodness.

As I get this ready to post there have now been 38 shakes and many are close to Kaikoura a major tourist spot where whale watching is a part of the fun.

Although it's now 7am I'm going to try and get some sleep.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


The sun shines. I have some time completely to myself.

Ava-Jane and Amanda have gone to Playcentre. They'll be back soon. John is on his laptop and feeling unwell - probably a tummy bug. Living with other people we seem to be more prone to getting things like tummy bugs and colds.

Oops! I waited too long to start this. They're back so I'll pause until Ava goes to bed.

We've experienced a week and a half. So much happening.

I had all my top teeth out on Tuesday, that was all 5 remaining teeth. I've chosen to wait 3 months before getting a top dentures fitted. It just makes more sense to give plenty of time for healing after the facial surgery a couple of months ago.

Thursday morning we came inside to talk to Amanda and Ava. Wayne had woken up with an abdominal pain and vomiting but still went to work. He lasted 2 hours. Came home went to his doctor and was sent to hospital. His appendix was removed that evening.

The neighbour who minds Ava-Jane while Amanda works had an operation for varicose veins and was not well following, so we became chief baby-sitters for the week. No hardship but tiring.

Saturday John went to a trucking show at Ashburton. He detoured to pick up David, eldest son, and they had a nice day. So did I but I was pretty well done by afternoon. It was a relief when Ava went down for her afternoon sleep. Amanda was working a full day, opening and closing the Baby On The Move shop because her friend/owner /employer needed to be home with her family. Earlier in the week, one of her sons had fallen during sports activity at school and broken both wrists. Wayne couldn't help me except to read stories to Ava. She loved having her Daddy home. He's not to lift anything over 5 kg for 4 weeks. But he went back to work yesterday. Just 3 days after surgery!!!!!! Can you believe it? His job is quite physical but they seem to have found safe things for him to do.

I phoned our middle son at the weekend. He's the one in a wheel chair. He had a motorbike accident 25 years ago which resulted in broken vertebrae and spinal injury. I was disappointed to learn he has type 2 diabetes. The good thing is he has little choice except to work on his diet and change his lifestyle. We'll be seeing him soon so I hope I can help him with it.


We have our flights booked for our next trip up north. Jane, our daughter, is coming to Christchurch to see her precious niece. I so wish we all lived closer to each other. We are going north to watch over the cats and have a nice break staying in the Beach House we are still trying to sell.


We fly into Auckland on Sept 17th and pick-up Jane's car from the airport car park. We'll come home on October 4th. Hopefully Greg is coming up to stay with us for a few days and that will save us a trip to Rotorua. We will be going Hamilton way for a couple of nights to catch up with my brother and sister. My mother's brother, now aged 98, is in failing health so we'll visit him and one of my cousins too. I just hope we are not going to end up going to a funeral as well.

Meantime I'm working on my own diet and lifestyle. Nothing much to say about it yet. I'm endeavouring to be low carbohydrate, medium protein and never afraid of fat, especially butter and coconut oil. Mostly I'm successful but there have been a few days off plan. Yesterday was one of them. I seem to be struggling every which way. My physical fitness is barely a notch above zero. I've decided to join a gym when we get back from up north. I have a treadmill but I know I need much more and I'm not self motivated right now.

John is watching TV which I'm not interested in so I'm hoping to have a nap too while Ava is asleep. Grandma's can do that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I am terribly apprehensive this morning. I have a miserable 5 top teeth left. My partial plate broke about 8 months ago and since then I've lost a tooth to an abscess. The remaining teeth are cracked, have broken fillings or in at least one case an old root canal job is past it's use by date. So today they all come out and I'm going gummy for 3 months. Yuck!!! I hope I'm making the best decision as it will be months before I know the ultimate result. Since I have suffered neuralgia for as long as I can remember I'll still have to deal with the niggling pain from time to time. My facial surgery has more or less completely healed but there seems to be quite a lot of numbness and nerve damage which is slowly improving. I have tried to care for my teeth but the real damage was done when I entered my teens and now I blame my intolerance to wheat and the resulting gut inflammation although it wasn't so evident back then.

On a brighter note I am succeeding to get my diet on a better footing. It was so much easier when we lived in our own house with appliances, pantry, work bench and running water all at hand. I guess I am adjusting to what we now have or I wouldn't be able to improve my habits. So far I'm still drinking coffee but it's all black and unsweetened, which I brew fresh each morning. I must admit I do not drink enough plain water or my favourite ginger and lemon infusion. My coffee is fairly weak. I am experiencing an old problem. Acid Reflux. I've had one lot of surgery for this about 20 years ago but when my diet gets too crazy with Nestle cappuccinos, sugar and wheat/baked products it comes back to avenge me.

That's a bit of a wake up call as it's not fun waking in the middle of the night nor is it fun when swallowing becomes difficult.

Arthritis has become a bit of an issue too with aches and pains and little yelps when I bang my thumb or other affected parts. This pain vanished after I became 100% wheat free so I have lots of incentive to make this work.

I've also been too lethargic to make the change until my discomfort became stronger than my laziness. It becomes a vicious circle. One that is very hard to break especially when you live in a not so food friendly zone. My son and his wife are pretty good but there are always things around to tempt. I just have to turn a blind eye to them.

It hasn't been a simple change to make. I don't have the energy to put into it that I once had .... the good news is that each day I grow a little bit stronger. Yesterday was almost 100% clean. I did have a half slice of a bread roll at lunch yesterday. Totally unnecessary but for a while I felt as though I needed something starchy with my egg. Next time I will be better prepared. Did you know you can toast a slice of kumera, (sweet potato) as a replacement for bread toast? Sounds yummy. 

I've got a long way to go to be a fat burner as I once was but that is my ultimate goal. I suppose I'm trying to put together all the stuff I have learned about diet and exercise and how my body responds, with the reality of our environment.

I have hopefully organised myself so that there will be lots of healthy smoothies in the immediate future. A few months ago I purchased What the Fat? a book by 3 New Zealanders. A professor of human health, a dietitian and a  chef. I am using it as a foundation to my menus.

I have been through my records and I think my lowest most recent weight was 3 years ago in September 2013. My weight stalled for a long time then some of the foods which should have stayed off my menu began to creep in. With Life/Family Issues and feeling unsettled about moving and now 'in waiting' to be able to choose our next home, I began to stress eat and not be careful with my choices. Today I have about 12 kg or 27 pounds to reach that lowest number again, which is somewhere around 80 kg or 175 pounds.

I'm not measuring anything be it my own weight, carbs, portions or ketones. It will be interesting to see how this goes. My only measure is general health and well being and the fit of my clothes. I have one pair of jeans which will not fit until I have lost that poundage. I'm thinking I may not try to reach my ultimate goal weight, which is around 60 kg or 132 pounds. It all seems quite ridiculous now that I'm heading toward my 80th birthday. Okay! I'm only 77 but we all know how long it takes to lose a pound or two let alone 30 of the darn things.

The real measure for me will be the benefit of moving more freely and feeling generally healthier. I'll also feel more comfortable in my clothes and have better choices. Surely this equates to growing older gracefully. 

Yesterday's food included:- for breakfast - nutty granola with plain yoghurt and sweetened whipped cream; lunch - omelette with ham cheese, and broccoli; dinner - pork steak spoonful of potato and broccoli with a dash of butter. and a small snack of cheese and 3 or 4 pretzels. My servings were all small to modest and I think this morning I'm starting to feel slightly better than yesterday.

This morning I will have chia seed with coconut cream and a little whipped cream with a nutty granola sprinkle. The rest of the day depends on how I feel. I have some smoothie ingredients lined up.

Time for breakfast and then a shower before I run out of time.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Yesterday I wrote a blue post and decided not to publish it before I'd had a second look at it. I felt really down. Probably because it was the nearest to a clean food day I've had in ages. Maybe I had low blood sugar. Beside that our situation is not always easy. I wonder if I will ever have my own home. The months slide by and we are no closer to making plans than when we came south nearly a year ago. When you are 77 and your husband is close to 81 every month's delay is hard to bear.

But ..... I have been catching up with blogs I normally read. I was at least 6 months behind on most of them. Sometimes I wonder why I must read them all. I have such an eclectic mix. Weight Loss began this addiction and I have moved on into LCHF (Low Carb High Fat), Paleo, Wheat Belly, Fat Head and so much more, not to mention RV travel blogs and quilting which has overflowed into craft and art.

This morning I opened up a blog by Jane LaFazio, an artist and what a treat! Jane is in London visiting the Tate Gallery for an exhibition of Georgia O'Keeffe's work. She had a link to a BBC documentary. All I can say is Wow! I want more. What an amazing and interesting woman.

We first heard of Georgia O'Keeffe when we visited Santa Fe in 2006. This was our first, and at the time we thought it would be our one and only, trip overseas from New Zealand. We spent 7 weeks zigzagging from Miami Fl. to Mobile Al. to Indianapolis then west and on to California where we flew home from Los Angeles. One of the highlights was our day in Santa Fe. Unfortunately I didn't feel well which made it difficult to enjoy our walk around the city. Later I realised I showed signs of altitude sickness. I was so impressed by the architecture. I love the adobe style buildings. We visited a few shops including a tiny art gallery off the square where I saw Georgia O'Keeffe's work for the first time. We don't have money for famous art works and we didn't have space for anything much. I bought a couple of post cards and touristy stuff. From then on her work has fascinated me. I may not always like it but it grips my heart. After watching this video I now understand why. She painted with her heart and soul.
If you want a treat watch this 65 minute video.

It's good to feel like writing up a blog post. Hopefully more to come soon. We are moving toward spring weather. I love the hopefulness and joy that comes with spring. Here in the south we will experience more of a change in the season than we would on the Coromandel Peninsula.

I'll be back soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


My face is symmetrical .... well I hope so as there's some swelling. After 4 years and 5 months it will be nice to look in  mirror and not cringe. Honestly, I'm not vain. But my face looked so ugly with the twist and hollow left side as the muscle wasted away. For me the saddest part was losing my smile. What had once been a nice bright smile became a lopsided, twisted grimace. I felt as though I had lost any semblance of pleasantness and always looked cross or angry even when happy. I had to learn to smile a Mona Lisa type smile and always engage my eyes. Not a bad thing to do since eyes are a window to the soul.

Our wee grand-daughter was very concerned to see so many ouchies on Grandma's face. It took her all of 24 hours to be willing to come close enough to cuddle.

I was very relieved when the anaesthetist said I was well enough for a full anaesthetic. He listened to me carefully when I said I'd had some serious vomiting after other anaesthetics and he chose to not use gas but only intravenous. I woke up a couple of hours or so later, bright eyed and bushy tailed. That was a dramatic change from past experience when I could remember nothing for many hours after going into recovery. In fact, in the past. I have no memory of anything prior to waking in the normal ward bed with John telling me it went well. Then I would be sick for days, so much so I needed a drip for dehydration as well as the anti-nausea drug.

Long ago I came to the conclusion that doctors and surgery for me were not going to happen unless I had a broken leg or similar. I guess a broken face fitted that bill. I was so nervous. I wanted to run away except that I knew I would be very unhappy with self if I did so.

All's well and now I can heal up. I look forward to seeing the result sans bandage, stitches and swelling.

Three major things left for me are sorting out my teeth, Mum's house selling and getting our own home. Other than completing the List I can get on with living a normal life.

It's mid-winter here and very little snow on the mountains. I think it's cool this morning, 3'C/37.5F  and we should have a daytime temperature around 11'C/51'F with some rain. It is unusually warm with some parts of NZ going up into the 20'-23'C/68'-73'F I'm not complaining as it makes it easier for us if it doesn't get too cold. Snow in Christchurch is fairly common although it doesn't lie about for more than a few hours. The winter still has the coldest months to come so there's still time for snow in the city. I hope not.

I need to rest again. Catch up in a day or two.