Friday, March 25, 2011

Playing Ladies

Take a whole lot of happiness, mix it up with some humour, add a lug of fun, a spoonful of sleep dreprevation, a case of wine, a splash of vodka & red bull, some pretty frocks, great food, perfect weather, and awesome company. Shake it all up (or just stand still long enough in Christchurch and it will shake itself up) and you pretty much get my last few weeks.

Rachael and Dean's wedding day FINALLY arrived on Friday, March 11. I had flown up to Auckland on the Tuesday beforehand and stayed with Mum and Dad for one night. An added bonus was that they had picked up Kathryn on the way to the airport so I got to see her as well. AND I got to tease Moos when we dropped Kathryn home. He loves it. Really.
Kristine and I caught the 'Naked Bus' (which, ironically, they prefer you to wear clothes on, FYI) from Warkworth up to Kamo, Whangarei on Wednesday morning. Cheap as chips too if you're ever thinking of bussing around New Zealand. So we got 2 hours of uninterrupted catch up time WITHOUT having to concentrate on driving. Brilliant.
Kristine and her husband, Derek, are expecting a baby in August so we had lots to discuss about 'our' baby. Oh yes, Derek is very aware I am the second Mummy and doesn't seem to mind. What a good bloke.

The few days before the wedding were full of dress fittings, meeting people, rehearsals, drinking, eating, manicures, pedicures, laughing and very little sleep. And then it was Friday. The BIG day. The weather was perfect. The setting for the outdoor ceremony was at the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi on the grassy area by the waters edge. The walk down to the celebrant seemed to take FOREVER but I was fully concentrating on walking as there were a few dips in the grass. I didn't want to trip and fall over and take all the attention of Rachael, the stunning bride.

Rachael had had a pretty major operation 3 weeks previous to put rods in her spine and had recovered really well. We weren't sure if she was going to be able to walk properly in time for the wedding but she did an amazing job of healing in time and coped really well - even dancing up a storm after dinner.
The day/night was brilliant. Most people stayed at the hotel the following night as well so Saturday included more wine, laughter, and sunshine.
It was a really great weekend.
I stayed at my friend Swayze's house on Sunday night and then flew back from Whangarei on Monday. Back to shaky Christchurch.

On Friday 11th March there was a devastating 9 magnitude earthquake 72km East of the Oshika Peninsular of Tohoku in Japan. Followed by a tsunami which completely wiped out whole towns. As if that wasn't bad enough, 3 nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings. There was a very high risk of radiation. And just when I didn't think things could be any worse for Japan, I saw a news report and it was snowing. Freezing temperatures for those missing and for the search and rescue teams trying to find them. The last time I checked there were close to 10,000 deaths and up to 14,000 missing. So, so sad.
I managed to get in touch with my friend Sayaka in Japan who is safe and well and had been up to stay with her parents who are also safe. What a relief. I was very worried.

After having been in an earthquake myself, I now have a better understanding of the ongoing effects after the initial shake. It's the constant aftershocks, loss of power/water/sewerage systems/petrol, the closure or destruction of supermarkets, even the uneven roads and liquefaction that I just never knew about before, but they really take their toll. The things I usually take for granted.
I know Japanese are strong people and I hope they can recover from this awful tragedy.

Last Friday we had a Memorial Day for people who lost lives in the Feb 22nd Christchurch quake. The service was held in Hagley Park and an estimated 100,000 people filled the park. I didn't attend but Claire, Averil, and Scott went and said it was good. Prince William came to Christchurch for the service and briefly spoke. Many likened him to his Mother, due to his warm and caring nature. He has been quoted as saying that instead of gifts for his April 29th wedding to Kate Middleton, he wants the money donated to the Christchurch Earthquake Fund. What a great guy. I hope he discussed that with Kate first though!

Everyone was feeling a little highly strung last weekend due to Ken Ring's earthquake prediction for 20 March. Ken Ring is an Astrologer and author from Auckland who claims he can predict weather for an entire year. He also issues predictions of earthquakes.
His prediction for an 8 magnitude quake between Kaikoura and Canterbury on or around March 20th saw lots of people leave Christchurch for the weekend, unable to cope with more devastation. A 5.1 aftershock occurred on March 20th but this was apparently not outside the scientifically expected pattern. No scientists accept Ken Ring's claims or methods.

Everyone at Roxburgh Street seems well and happy and working hard. Claire's work is not open yet so they have been working from her boss's house looking after about 10 children a day to try and help the parents who need to get back to work. Hopefully the centre will be checked soon and given the all clear.

Averil has been back at Shirley Primary for the past few weeks and things seem as busy as ever for her. Always planning, that girl. Claire sent me a pixt the other night of Averil sitting on the couch with books and work scattered and there was little Min sitting next to her on the couch learning - or so it looked like. Bless.

Eru is working long hours out in Riccarton at the Macpac Outlet store and they seem to be doing very well. And Scott is keeping busy at work shoeing horses left, right, and centre.
Today is Scott's 32nd birthday so yesterday Claire and I went with him and some friends of his to the Riccarton gallops. It was a good day and we won $148 on the last race. Afterwards we went to a couple of pubs before heading home around midnight. It was a long day but we all had fun.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Last time I updated this blog I was interrupted by a second major earthquake measuring 6.3, here in Christchurch centred in Lyttelton. You may have seen the devastation on the news. We were lucky with the first quake back in September last year - due to the time it hit most people were asleep, safely in their own homes, and we had no fatalities. This time we were not so lucky. So far there have been 163 confirmed deaths. The youngest being just 5 months old. Very, very sad. There are some suburbs still without power, water, and phone. If I had to find the silver lining in all of this it would be the communtity spirit. People coming together to help neighbours, families, friends, and even complete strangers. And the rest of New Zealand pulling together to offer support and open their homes to those who have lost theirs. If anyone can get through this it's Cantabrians. They are a strong and resilient region.
Below is a photo apparently taken as the quake hit. I presume the photographer was somewhere up the Port Hills. Scary stuff, huh?

I am so, SO thankful that my family and friends are all safe and accounted for. I can't even begin to imagine how much worse it must be for those who have lost loved ones.

On to happier events of late. Like a rat deserting a sinking ship, I jumped on a plane and flew to Queenstown for the weekend last Thursday. To be fair I had booked tickets about 2 months ago but couldn't get on that plane fast enough! It was a relief to get out of shakey old Christchurch and go somewhere safe to spend the weekend with some people that I love. Mum and Dad had also arrived that same day so it was REALLY nice to see them too.
And of course, the whole point of the trip was to meet my 17 day old niece Hazel. What a teeny, tiny precious wee bundle. She is bigger than Annabelle was at birth but I tend to forget how little she was and was amazed at Hazel's mini-ness. Fingers, ears, lips. All perfectly formed but just so little. Total cuteness.

I'm getting better with babies. I wasn't so scared to hold her in fear of breaking her. Babies are quite bendy, you know. Ha.
Dad's birthday was on the Thursday so Mum had made a fig cake (yummo!) and taken it down for his birthday cake.
On Friday Mum and I took Annabelle for a big walk into town along the Frankton Walkway which was really nice. It was a nice day so perfect for a bit of an outing. We stopped at the playground so Annabelle could have a swing, see saw, and climb. She is so confident and interested in giving things a go. Even on the big slides that scare me! I talked her into the smaller slide which she seemed happy enough with.
On the way back Annabelle walked for a bit of the way and she made Nana run saying 'Faster Nana.' Bless.
We were all plum tuckered out by the time we got back to Larch Hill.

While I was in Queenstown my Speed Dating results came in. I got 5 matches from the 6 fellas I ticked. Unfortunately the one I especially liked didn't feel the same. Boo hiss. Nevermind. 3 of the guys have been in touch and we plan to catch up in a couple of weeks once everything has settled down a little. Watch this space.

Lance was down during the week so we had dinner together on Wednesday. It was nice to catch up with him. After talking to him on the phone I always feel a little sad that we aren't together anymore because we get on so well. We discussed this and it reminded me that we are POLES apart and aren't heading in the same direction - in fact, he is pretty much running the other way! But I am glad that we are still friends and it is nice to see him when he's in Christchurch.

Friday was my flatmate Belinda's 36th birthday. We went out to The Yaldhurst Tavern which happens to be the third pub we never quite made it to on our country pub crawl a few weeks back. The rugby was on so we watched that first and then got serious about drinking. After the Yaldy we went to the Golden Mile with the free juke box. Rent-A-Crowd came out for the night too (Claire, Scott, Averil, Renee, and Julia) and we had a BLAST! Another really good night. Friday nights out is the new black. Sooo much better to have TWO days to recover before having to go back to work.

Tomorrow night I fly to Auckland for one night in Warkworth before heading up to Whangarei on Wednesday for my friends Rachael and Dean's wedding on Friday in Waitangi. We will dress up in pretty frocks (not Dean) and act like ladies for one day only. I am really looking forward to it as I know it will be a fun wedding with loads of laughs.