Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life, death and a whole new year

Welcome to 2009! I trust everyone had a good Christmas and New Year? There are a lot of photos from the festive season and I don't know if I'll be able to upload many of them but I will do my best. Also, so much has happened that this post may turn into a novel. Apologies in advance.

Mum's assurances that things were 'going to be simple this year' fell by the wayside at spectacular speed. On the 22nd we had a High Tea for all the neighbours which was fun but Mum and I spent a full 9-4 day (without breaks, it seems) baking way too much food - cupcakes (icing, spinkles and all!), 2 types of scones, muffins and 2 kinds of sandwiches. By 4pm, when people were meant to start arriving, we finally tore ourselves away from the kitchen and sat down for a well earned glass of wine.

4.05 came, 4.10 passed and by about 4.15 Mum was starting to worry that no one would turn up. By this point we were all waiting patiently for any sign of life coming up the drive when finally Walter appeared around a corner and the festivities began. For such a slow start, a good number of people arrived after a while and it was all very jolly (I have become my mother).

So the High Tea was a success apart from the fact that we only served one cup of tea all afternoon/evening. Everyone got straight into the stronger beverages and became merrier as the hours passed. What was supposed to be a simple afternoon tea turned into a most-of-the-night party. By the time everyone had left we were all too knackered to even think about dinner and went to bed full of cupcakey goodness instead.

The next day Mum and I had decided to go to Hastings to get all the food for xmas (this is after a ridiculous trip to Dannevirke on the 21st to get things for the High Tea. We created havoc in both Dannevirke and Norsewood after a forgetful 'incident' on Mum's part involving a bag of pills that she desperately needed, a very tolerant bus driver and a nonexistent bus stop - I may have to tell that story later if I have time!).

So we left home at about 10.30am and expected to be a few hours. Ha! We didn't get home until 7.30 that night and that was without a vineyard stop! We scoured Hastings and Havelock for various items that they didn't have - raspberries (I was not prepared to pay $8 for 15 raspberries when we have 1000 on the bush outside - why were we buying raspberries??? Who knows), pomegranates (bye bye pomegranate punch), turkey roll and bagels. That was 1/100 of the list of items on the shopping list but those 4 took the most time. And the crayfish of course.

Hastings New World is really amazing... just not that close to xmas. There were so many people there that by the time you got to the last aisle you felt like you'd made a couple of hundred new friends, you'd seen them all that many times on your journey about the store. Mum and I were screaming at each other from one end to the other, "Have you got the tofu?? What about the yoghurt!? You're on that section... don't forget the goat's cheese!!" and we'd fly past each other, knocking people out of the way, terrified that they would get the last loaf of Vogels. I have never seen anything like it. At least in Takaka, where we used to shop for xmas in Awaroa, the population is substantially smaller and most people there don't buy things like tofu and goat's cheese! Anyway, we did it. Just. And we got the crayfish after a huge debacle at the fish shop where the girl said she's do it all while we went to New World and then we'd come and pick it up but she had failed to inform the other staff about this so Mum went in to get it and they said, "Hmmm... no, I don't think we have your order". You can imagine the panic. But, they actually had done it. Maybe they were looking for a fight?

We also, quite apart from the food shopping, had not yet finished xmas shopping so had to ran back and forth between Hastings and Havelock trying to find things. It was a nightmare. I was about to cry and/or punch someone. But we did mangae to get everything minus the 4 items mentioned above so we had to delegate those things to people who were coming up from Wellington.

So, Xmas was fun. Jen and I found ourselves mid morning in odd outfits with a glass of bubbles and Grippa-Ball on the front lawn. Ok, maybe it was only me in the odd outfit...

For the first time in years we had nice weather on Xmas day so brunch and lunch were eaten outside on the lawn. We even had some refreshing Glogg that I had made a few days earlier. I am now a fan of glogg. It's meant to be a mulled wine kind of thing from Sweden but I found a summer version of it. Yum.

Dinner was crayfish instead of traditional turkey and it was actually a nice change (quite apart from the fact that I don't eat turkey). It wasn't that deathly ill full feeling I used to get when we had turkey. It was just enough for us not to want to throw up at the though of Xmas pudding. The dog, however, obviously overdid it...

Carole, Michael and Lily arrived on Boxing Day after gathering some of the ingredients that we were unable to find in Hastings. Xmas day had given me a horrible throaty sickness so I wasn't a box of fluffies while they were here and tended to stay home rather than head off on walks and things. But it was great to see them all even if it was only brief.

On the 28th everyone started arriving for New Year so there was no break in between. Marty arrived with Costa and Gretchen that day and few others arrived a bit later. Carole, Michael and Lily very wisely left that day as well as from then on in it just got busier and busier.

On the days leading up to New Year, Pete got back onto dam building. Our last one from a couple of years ago has been washed away (which is probably a good thing because the river has also changed course so there is no water there anymore). I think Pete spent more time telling people to put rocks in different places than actually building but the building team this time was considerably larger so it didn't take them very long. Actually the first dam they built was in the shallowest, widest part of the river in an area that had not many, if any, big stones around. Marty went down, pointed out these flaws and they moved it up stream a bit. So now it's looking good. So good, in fact, that Mono has had a couple of swims now even though he's not a big fan of the water. He's getting better though.

On the 30th we all (about 15 of us) went to Lime Rock vineyard in Tikokino for Jen's birthday lunch which was nice. I think a lot of us were a bit worse for wear from the night before (lots of people who haven't seen each other for quite some time) but it was really lovely. We took a picnic (well, we ended up buying a whole picnic from Waipuk because silly me had forgotten about that minor detail of a picnic!) and sat at their old wine barrels under umbrellas (it was so hot!) and had a wine tasting and bought some wine and just had a nice afternoon out.

By New Year's Eve there were about 25 people staying with us. Some people had come passed on their way to other places for New Year but there was a solid 20 at all times. And, excitingly, on this day 2 of the pheasant chicks hatched! So cute! Babi and Dinky happily sat on them that day and we left the eggs under them in case any others hatched. I had given up hope of any of them hatching but the wait was worth it. But with new life there was also a death in the family. CJ, Jamie's dog, on his one untethered foray into the garden made a beeline for Foghorn Leghorn, our big white rooster. The rooster stood no chance and CJ had a play with him. He died instantly from CJ breaking his neck so at least he didn't suffer. We buried him out in one of the paddocks after everyone went silent when I asked if anyone wanted to pluck and eat him. Jamie felt bad but it was probably for the best. We didn't want roosters to start with and I wasn't sure what we were going to do with them. One rooster is manageable but 2 could be bad. They would probably start fighting. But on the whole New Year was fun. We tried to write Happy New Year with sparklers but there was a lack of organisation so it fell to pieces a bit.

We missed the count down because we were too engrossed in Lionel Richie but that didn’t stop 2009’s arrival. So here we are in a new year with new resolutions (I have none yet... I will think about it) and new additions to the brood.
On New Year’s morning, Fi and Tim came in to our room and said that there was a problem with the pheasants/chickens and that Babi and Dinky had kicked the chicks out. One was almost dead and the other 2 were ok but the chickens had already given up on motherhood. So they had picked them up and were holding them trying to keep them warm. One more chick had hatched and it was looking pretty unhappy. It was freezing cold and hardly moving so Fi and I both had a chick in our cleavage for an hour or so to warm them up. The other one was ok temperature-wise so Tim held onto him/her and we set up a box for them with a light in it to keep them warm. Vicky came over with some feed for them a while later and they were looking very happy with themselves. Fi and Tim named their two Noel and Sadie and the other one I named Clyde. Unfortunately, a day after Tim and Fi left, Noel went really strange and clumsy and gradually just got weaker and weaker and eventually died. I don’t know what happened. Poor little guy. Sadie and Clyde are both looking healthy though. Marty and Mark built the The Ritz yesterday so soon they will be outside (still with a light to keep them warm). They are in the inside part at the moment but I think they’ll get a bit cold outdoors at such a young age so we’ll keep them in for a bit. I hope they survive.

New Year’s Day was fairly relaxed. Some people stayed up to greet the sun and others didn’t last quite that long. I went for a ride on Dino down the road which was nice. He thought the cows were trying to race him so jig jogged the whole way to Vicky’s place and then calmly walked back as if to gloat about beating the cows. Strange horse. While I was gone everyone sat on the deck and chatted and Rach did some flax-weaving...
A New Year
Everyone left on the 2nd or 3rd. Pete and Rach stayed on and Mark and Tracy made it to Waipuk before their car broke down and they had to stay for another couple of days. They all left yesterday and it’s quite bizarre having the place to ourselves again. We got into the aviary today and did some serious weeding. I did a bit yesterday as well but today was a mammoth effort. Didn’t take that long but it’s made a huge difference. We can see the veges now! Amazing!

We went for a swim in the river just before and took Dog Dog with us. He came in of his own accord which is good. It was so warm down there today. Like a bath. Now dog is asleep and has been dreaming about exciting things. Marty is about to make dinner and I’m going to watch some TV I think. Pete and Rach may come back in a couple of days. They’ve gone to Auckland but may decide to come back via the bay.

This has been quite a post. If anyone has made it this far congratulations!

See you all soon I hope

Kerry :)

1 comment:

Peter said...

Re the dam, I think you'll find that structurally, architecturally and atheistically the first dam I started building would have been a lasting monument - I mean I even commissioned a registered Master Builder in Jamie to help with the foundations. The problem was the turbines I had ordered from Germany were delayed and that’s why I had to start on a second dam.