Thursday, February 24, 2011


How can it be that we are out here carrying on almost as usual when there are so many people who died so close to here? So far the authorities have only released the names of four of the dead, but there have been almost 100 bodies recovered, with many more missing. Some names are coming out of those who are definitely missing in the rubble, and as time goes by, hopes are fading. Many of the bodies being extracted are unrecognisable from the crush injuries. We got a distressed call from our old neighbors who had a mess at their place so we went into town to help them out. A garage from a neighboring property (not our one) had collapsed and fallen onto the roof at the corner of their house and squished into their metal garage, compacting it a bit. Plus a whole lot of water and silt had pushed up under the driveway and made a big mess. I helped tidy up the house and then did lots of sweeping and scraping to clean up the driveway. Johnny helped to temporarily seal the hole in the roof and moved stuff around in the garage. On the way home we saw the Knox Church, where we used to live (weird I know, but there was an apartment in the church hall). We were married there, and now it is a skeleton. We drove past a big tank thing that the army had blocking the road. The central city is cordoned off.

I think Johnny will be back at school on Monday. I'm not sure if we will be at my school because the sewerage and water may not be sorted. The Selwyn District Council is now advising us to reduce water usage (including limiting showers and flushing) and to boil all drinking water. We're lucky at home because we've still got water and electrical services plus the toilets are working. Not sure where the pipes end up though, which is why we have to reduce waste water output. We've got plenty of food because the Lincoln supermarket was open today, plus we've got heaps of veges. Fortunately I was able to get my paws on some chocolate today. Oh, the relief.

We've been waiting anxiously to hear the names of the people killed as we don't know if we know anyone. The Crafty Neighbour arrived in tears this evening because one of the (most likely) deceased is someone she knows pretty well and she just heard. I'm sure there will be many more moments like that. I think most of the people I know directly in Christchurch are accounted for, but you never know. Not being originally from Christchurch means I don't have an extensive list of acquaintances, and most of them were safely in schools.

It is so hard to believe that so much of our beautiful central city is in ruins, and that there are so many dead people. I could walk into the city from where I work and there were water bottles sitting on desks in my classroom that didn't tip over. How much were the buildings in the central city weakened by the earlier earthquakes?

Hopefully I'll have something less earthquaky to report next time. Right now it is all we are thinking about.

Ps. Fortunately we are sleeping very well- most likely because we've already got so used to aftershocks after the thousands we've had over the past few months. Some people are reporting that the people of Canterbury are having "no sleep" due to the aftershocks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday we had another earthquake- a 6.3 magnitude quake- which has done massive damage to our city and has caused the loss of many lives. Currently there are an unknown number of people trapped in collapsed buildings. It looks like a war zone in the central business district. It was on a different fault than the September quake, and was closer to the city, which is why there is more damage. I was located not far from the central city, and dived under the table with one of my teacher assistants while we were jolted and rocked for what seemed like a long time. None of the students at school were hurt and we gave lots of cuddles and reassurance while they waited (in some cases) for hours to be picked up to go home. I was desperate to get home and back to Johnny and Miss Dog, but had to wait until my last student was picked up near to 5pm. We were so lucky out here. I'm sure our house got another good shaking, but nothing was damaged or moved much at all. The last huge earthquake was on the Greendale Fault which passes close to here. This one was located in the Lyttelton area, which is further from here. Apparently a major quake on one fault line puts pressure on others in the vicinity. Not reassuring news, and I'm glad I wasn't aware of that until yesterday. Who knows how many fault lines there are around here. The Greendale Fault was completely unknown until it ruptured.

We are thinking of the people trapped, killed or injured and have no idea if any friends are among the casualties. We have to boil our water and have no sewage system currently. Fortunately we have plenty of stored water and our electricity did not go off. I wish we could do more to help, but Johnny is in at his school, and I'm following civil defense orders and staying at home. I could be digging myself a longdrop toilet shortly. I'm glad I've been digging for victory and have plenty of veges in the garden.

We are so lucky and our thoughts are with the people who are not so fortunate.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Worship and Weeding

A big hello to everyone and a rose to thank you for your patience during blogging term time. This is Grace (an English Rose), which is somewhat appropriate given my activities of the day.
Today our friends were having a "dedication" for their one year old daughter at their church and we were invited to attend, followed by a bbq lunch. Me at church! Not just any church, a baptist church. It was all rather interesting and the music was good. I like a sing-a-long any time. I wanted to interrogate the pastor and ask him if he was talking metaphorically or literally. And I'm still wondering how Jesus ended up with a brother called James, in the Middle East. As you can probably tell I have more of a religious bond with the big tree over the back than any higher power (Johnny says I am a druid of some sort), but I thought the people at the church were very friendly and can see the attraction of the church community.

I've been worshiping at the altar of the horse again. This week I was getting more confident and was pleased that I didn't have that lost, wobbly, way too high up feeling that I've had for the first wee while of each lesson previously. I did get frustrated with myself and may have even exposed Sam to a bit of language not normally heard in polite circles. I'm trying so hard to get my trot right, but have trouble maintaining a steady rising trot while steering in circles. My instructor kept telling me do this, do that, don't use that rein, kick him on, and all I was trying to do was stay on and keep going in the right direction. Poor Sam. I'm so unfit and blobby so have sworn to work on building up my fitness because that will be the biggest thing preventing me from advancing. Not that I'm imagining going further than being able to have a happy hack out on an amiable steed.
Note the hand position- when my instructor demonstrated on Sam I noticed my hands were too far forward, which was pulling my hold body forward off balance. I've got them back further and look more relaxed. The trick is keeping contact with his mouth without pulling on it.
Trotting. Note the tilted body position-I need to be more upright. When I get scared I go into the fetal position. If he stopped, stumbled or shied I would be forward already and would be more likely to tumble off.
I managed to get his neck to curve beautifully and worked very hard to work him in a curve around the circle.
Lovely boy. I love him so much. He was very pleased indeed when I discovered he loves having his forehead rubbed. He doesn't mind cuddles either. I just wish I could get my body and brain to work together to avoid being shamed out and mocked by Johnny (the riding expert who has only been on a horse about twice in his life). It is such hard work that I had 6 glasses of water in a row afterwards.

After worshiping in the house of the baptist's God I worshiped in my own personal chapel- the garden. Look- the first chili pepper. Mexican food- yum.
It is well worth growing capsicums around here.
The baby bear pumpkins are very shy and I have to sneak a peek under their leaves to find them.
Despite my efforts, the tomato forest remains a rampant tangle. I've started picking both yellow and red tomatoes off this patch.
The cavolo nero always looks interesting and is well worth growing. I like adding it to soup.
This is what it is all about. Spray-free, horse poo enhanced veges. Fantastic.

I'm sure you're all deeply curious about my week.
Monday- 8am meeting, School, 'cello lesson.
Tueday- School, staff meeting with deaf advisor, haircut.
Wednesday- School, paperwork time, exercise.
Thursday- School, meeting/paperwork, exercise.
Friday- School (going on the bus day), horse riding, dinner out??
Saturday- Big walk, Huge street party for neighbour's party with pig on a spit.
Sunday- Big walk, Eventing - I might hang out with the Butcher's at a one day event.
Hopefully some cooking, housework, 'cello practise and gardening will fit in there.

Ps. Martin Clune's Horsepower has been wonderful!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Legs, hands, backside, head, shoulders ...

There's a lot to remember when you're on a horse.
In this photo I'm trying to check out my leg position. Sam is being incredibly patient. He was very co-operative when I was practising my trotting too. Well, he didn't throw me off and run for his life. I look like a dumpling so I'm definitely not showing you any of the other photos Johnny took. Plus the faults are endless. Look- I'm wearing my new helmet plus one of my plastic tooth covering retainers as a mouthguard. My riding instructor had a nasty accident on Monday when a horse stopped dead and threw his head back, smashing it into her face. She has a broken nose and her teeth got all pushed back into her mouth. I don't think Sam would be such a devil, but I might tip off the side. I am loving it so much, but it is scary as anything. Awesome.

Today I managed to fit in a bit of a 'cello practise amidst all of the house cleaning and gardening. Yes, the tomatoes received some more attention Clip and snip. I made pasta sauce with my onions, garlic, basil and tomatoes tonight. I found a handful of plump yellow pear shaped big cherry tomatoes. Quite exciting really. The corn could be quite disappointing as the cobs are scrawny rather than sturdy and large. The first of them have hairy tops turning light brown. I poured on plenty of water and gave them a pep-talk. I've got five pumpkins turning from dark green to orange, which is a strange transition. Miss Dog and I walked down the road today to see the brood mares with their beautiful foals. The babies have recently been branded. I know it is probably some kind of legal requirement for racing horses, but a horse's fur shouldn't be marred by a string of letters scarred into their skin. I wonder if they anaesthetise the foals first.

It has been hot today. Tomorrow might be hot and damp. I've got a friend coming around and we're off for a girl's lunch out then a shopping trip. I don't want to buy anything unless it is a super bargain because I've got to be good so that I can afford my horse lessons. By the way, school is going really well this year. I'm quite relaxed about the whole business. Excellent.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boiling hot

Oh it has been so dreadfully hot today. I realised at about 8.00am when I went out for a walk with Miss Dog that it was going to be a roasting day. She sensibly found a big pool of water in the nature park and lounged in it until she was wet and filthy. It was over 35 degrees C earlier in the afternoon. I got stuck in and finished off my blue quilt. It took a long time to do the binding and also to put on the ric rac.
I'm very pleased with it as a sampler of all of the techniques I learned at the machine quilting class. It isn't really my colours (well the purple doesn't excite me as a home decorating colour), but it feels lovely, is interesting to look at and will be at home on the couch in the living room.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Fun Friday

I've had a great week at school. The class is working well and my teacher assistants are doing an amazing job. Even better, I went to my riding lesson today and went hacking out along the road with my instructor, who was riding a beautiful white horse called Oscar. Oscar is a top eventing horse, and is a bit of a drama queen (not today though). I didn't even have to trot, but learned so much about position and control. It is quite different riding a horse like Sam than riding school ponies because he has been highly trained and responds to signals from your whole body. He was naughty at one stage, which was scary, but we managed to get back under control without a disaster (he got a fright and then decided he wanted to go home). I was glad he didn't bolt because I was sure I would come off. No photos today because Johnny couldn't come out with us. He hung out with Ben, who was getting his mane plaited, and wasn't too impressed. We saw baby Fraser too. He is getting so black.

I'm sending my happy birthday wishes to Mrs CT today. Happy birthday to you! See you tomorrow. I've got quilting class tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I'll get my blue quilt finished.

Yay- sleep in day tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just popping in

Since you love to read my blog I'll see if I can pop in more often. I had the first day back with the class today. They were all really good with only one or two mad moments. My growly voice only came out once. It was much easier starting the year with this familiar class than it was last year when they were all new to me.

Johnny and I went to the twilight eventing this evening, which we both enjoyed. I was judging show jumping and Johnny picked up rails. Not too many today - overall the competitors did well. There were some great naughty horse moments. One reared and bucked and generally carried on. Apparently the recent rain has caused the grass to grow and some horses were probably extra bouncy as a result. After my first lesson I'm just impressed at how the riders can stay on. I used to jump but I can't imagine ever being able to do it again.

We've got some birthdays to celebrate this week- Mrs CT and Big Al are having birthdays. Happy birthday to them both and see you on Saturday! XXX

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back to school

I feel I should say "see you in 11 weeks" but will try to update my blog once a week during the term. I've been busy, busy, busy and have enjoyed getting ready for school as it is so much more peaceful at school without the children. We had a swimming day yesterday - learning how to teach swimming. I had fun in the pool. I've still got one quilting lesson, plus two twilight events to go to. I've got the horse riding and cello lessons too.

At the weekend we went out to my cousin's great new house. She has two of the most superb ponies I've ever seen. They are palomino Welsh Cobbs. Oh my goodness the older one, Whinney (or is it Winnie?) is so beautiful as her coat has developed beautiful dapples in her goldy fur. Her little brother, Cloud, is gorgeous too, and is currently lighter, with a fabulous crinkled mane and tail. He will grow bigger, and is rather flighty. They are stunning.

Sorry about the current horse obsession. You'll just have to put up with it, possibly until I fall off a horse and decide not to mention horses again.