Thursday, 7 October 2010


4 MDF crosses made for a fund-raising art exhibition. The orange one is my least favourite, the blue one with the leaf shapes the most favourite. All sold.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Driftwood Cross

How about this - beautiful! Debbi and I made this in about an hour for the Inspire Art Exhibition. Pieces of driftwood glued to timber, sprinkled with yellow sand from Golden Bay, and found bits and pieces of jewellery, beads, shells and pretties.

Of course, it would be nice if I could manage to take a photo that's in focus, lol.

We bought 3 paintings at the exhibition. When we receive them, I'll put them up.

Tooth Extraction is NOT fun!

It's been a long week - last Sunday I had a rear bottom molar removed. I'd had a late lunch of Crumpets and Boysenberry jam on Saturday, and bit down on a seed. The rear half of the tooth sheared off, and was left flapping. Every time it closed back up against the tooth, it touched the nerve - argh.

It took the dentist 45 minutes to remove two roots, and left the back of my mouth looking like mincemeat. Unfortunately the pain didn't diminish, and I managed to get an appointment with another dentist yesterday morning. I had tried to phone the original, emergency dental clinic, on Sunday, but they were closed!

Smile dental removed a fish-hook shaped piece of root - both ends had been poking into the soft tissue, aggravated by jaw movements. Two lots of antibiotics, pro-biotics, painkillers. Blasted tooth has cost nearly $400.

It still hurts like nobody's business, but hopefully, this time it's healing. The pain has been so bad, even a sleeping tablet hasn't been able to keep me asleep at night. I slept thru till 1100 this morning, which helped.

Becca and I picked up my girlfriend's daughter (Emily), and we went and played a round of black-light mini-golf - lots of fun, had lunch at the Mall Foodcourt, then returned Emily. Home to bed for me, and another 2 hours sleep.

For the first time in 8 days, I was able to eat without experiencing excruiciating pain - hooray!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


My garden says it's official - Tuesday 21 September - Spring Equinox!

The first California Poppy has blossomed in my garden, along with some Freesia's which have been showing their pretty faces for the last two weeks. Tho we've had a spectacular week of southerly rain and wind, and the lawn feels like walking on a sodden sponge, the garden is starting to blossom.

Strawberry and tomato plants have gone into a special tall strawberry planter, but not into the actual boggy garden.

At 1830, the temperature is heading down to 10 deg, after another day of squally winds and showers.

It would be nice to think that the weather is going to improve soon, and I can do more than look at the garden.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


Well, at least feeling tired and buggy and horrid. Of course, blowing my nose for the first time in a couple of hours helped too. I've been out in the warehouse at work for the last 3 hours shifting boxes off pallets and either onto the steel, or back onto pallets. It's too warm to wear a vest, but not quite warm enough not to. There's lots of dust, one of the guys stands in the roller door space and smokes, and my sinuses are dribbling.

I stayed home on Monday with this latest headcold (#3 since the flu I think), went home early and slept 2 hours yesterday, but I've worked a full day today. It's pathetic, but I actually drove the couple of hundred metres up to the coffee shop to get the mocca and a brioche.

The edict to handle every box, combined with the headcold, and a strained sacro-iliac joint means I'm not feeling an entirely happy pixie at the moment.

So ... happy things?

Um - the sky is blue, it's warm, the birds are singing (and randy). It's not that far to home time. It's JAM tonight - if I can stay awake. David is attending a Stress Management seminar. Becca is at Findlay Camp at Lake Karapiro (is this a happy thing????!!!) The mocca's really good!

Friday, 10 September 2010


I've always maintained that a weed is really just a plant that's in the wrong place (unless, of course, it has prickles, like Gorse or thistles).

So when I finally went to use the bathroom about 2 hours after I got home, and found a bunch (well, 3 stems) of beautiful blue flag iris and some pinky/apricot tulip blossoms in the vanity sink, my second reaction was "oooh, pretty weeds!" The first reaction was, "oops, darn, should have checked earlier!"

I went down to the other end of the house to find David in his study; "Pretty weeds." says I.

I must admit, the flag iris's are my favourite - I love the beautiful blue, with cream inside, and that they last for at least a week.

On the other hand, the 'real' weeds in my garden are running riot. It's been relatively warm (not less than about 12 deg) for the last couple of weeks, and a reasonable amount of sunshine, and LOTS of rain. There's a pretty purple flowered weed, and forgetmenots, california poppy, nasturtium's, fireweed and who knows what else. Every time I think about going outside to have a look, it rains again.

We did manage to weed the front flower beds a couple of weeks ago (they're only about 500cm wide and about 4 metres long - already there's 'weeds' poking their heads back out, but the begonias and stuff look very pretty.

I have two blueberry plants crying out to be planted, they have little pink buds on them! AWWWWWWW.

The massive 7.1 earthquake in Christchurch last Saturday, and then the continuing aftershocks haven't affected us. My son Alex lives in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton, which sounds pretty safe. He was writing an assignment when the quake hit at 0434 in the morning - grabbed his monitor and computer and hung on for dear life. Only damage was a mirror. It sounds like the area that he lives is fairly stable, but the aftershocks are starting to affect his area too. There’s been more than 300, up to 5.4. An incredible amount of destruction, but no lives lost. I’m hoping he’s got involved with a student group that’s helping clean up the city, rather than the other bunch who are skateboarding the broken roads.

Makes me wonder when it will be Auckland's turn - but we'll be toast, not shaken and stirred. The city is built on a volcanic field, with more than 52 dormant and extinct volcanoes - the last to blow was only 600 years ago.

It seems to have been a really long month. Recurring stress-related migraines, lower back pain (now I've strained my sacro-iliac joint), hayfever, and not enough exercise. Serious blah-humbugs. I'm going to rejoin the gym, having quit a couple of months ago to try and save more money. I've tried 2 Zumba classes, but I really don't like latin American music, or the dance moves.

Church is good – a lifesaver really – or maybe a soul and sanity saver? It’s become a very important part of my life. I really enjoy the weekly Bible study too, JaM. It's interesting finding out the deeper meanings and background to the text, and the conversations afterwards are always stimulating.

It’s interesting to have confirmed the huge effect music has on my life/emotions/happiness. Now I listen almost exclusively to Christian worship music (the likes of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Newsboys, Mark Harris, Kutless) – Christian Rock, I guess you would call it. There are some songs that make me just stop what I’m doing, close my eyes, and worship the Lord. Todd Agnew’s ‘Grace Like Rain’, Malcolm Gordon ‘Haere Mai’, Hillsong’s ‘Here I am to worship’. College helps too – having a community, a family, a group of people that really cares, that I can talk to. I had to stop doing Sunday School/Kidzchurch - I found it too isolating. Once I’d cleaned up the schoolroom, I’d get back into the hall to find everybody leaving, having missed the lesson, communion etc. So now I’m on hospitality – almost every Sunday, sigh – helping set everything up, serving cake/snacks after the service, and then cleaning up. So, depending on my mood, I can hide in the kitchen, or go out and talk to people.

I’ve been to a couple of women’s conferences, and on Friday night we have a ‘women’s night’ of massage, painting and chatting. Could be fun.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Weekend Away Part .... 4?

Saturday 24 July - In the Afternoony
After stuffing our faces with pizza, we drove to Paradise Valley Wildlife Park. The lions had just been fed, and were munching away on their beef bones. The two older females really didn't care that we were within a metre of them:

A younger male was irritating one female, who kept up a very low-pitched growl, warning him to back off.

You can see here how close we were to them!

We wandered up to the lion cub enclosure, where about 20 people were already in with the lion cub. We stayed for about 10 minutes, getting a quick pat, but the enclosure was far too crowded. There were all sorts of interesting animals, including a Thar, llama, goats, black sheep, donkeys, Kea, and a possum asleep in a treestump.

These are a couple of the kea running round, being silly:

We got back to the lion cub enclosure around 4.30. By now, it was 2 hours after the scheduled feeding time, and most of the tourists had already gone through the place, and gone home.

Chase, the lion cub, was pretty tired by now, and the keeper was giving him some quiet time. She let the four of us in, and then opened two doors so the cub had the full run of his enclosure, instead of the half he gets when it's full of people.

We got to play chase with Chase! He sucked my thumb, and nommed on my fingers. His hair was very coarse, and more like a brush than a cat or dog's hair. He chased us around and around, leaping up and wrapping his paws around as high as he could reach. A truly amazing and awesome experience.

We returned home on Sunday, and made it to the Harvest Church Mid-Winter Christmas party!

What a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Textured Paintings

"Hope" comprises self-adhesive gibstopping fibreglass tape laid in the form of a cross, polyfilla with the word 'hope' inscribed in it, polyfilla mountain; sand beach and a "ghost" leaf. The first layers of paint were dark blue, purple and red, which have made it seem far too dark. Tonight I'm going to visit my friend Debs, and after JAM (Jesus & Me bible study),she's going to show me how to fix it up - she has LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of paint!

"Faith" is in it's very first stage - polyfilla mountains, clouds and sea, fibreglass 'beach'. Faith is written in Greek - pistis.

Not sure if I'll get to play with this one tonight or not.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Weekend Away - Part 3

Well, as promised, video footage. Becca took this with the dinky little digital camera we had got her for her trip to Singapore - photos, video & audio for around $150!

This was actually shot on Sunday morning, before we left to go home, so I was stone cold sober. But it was as much fun sober as it had been chookied the night before.

It was FUN!!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Long Weekend Away - Part 2

We (Becca, David, Lucia and I) went away for a long weekend to Rotorua.

Lucia is our Korean Homestay, here for about 8 weeks. Although she's spent about 2 years studying English, it's from American accented lessons, by people for whom English isn't in their first few languages, and concentrating on Grammar and stuff. We speak with a Kiwi accent, use Kiwi colloqualisms, and speak very fast (so I'm told).

We were on the road by 0900 on Friday morning, 23 July - a record for us, and made it to Katikati by lunchtime, to visit David's parents, and ask for financial help. Investment property - phoey! Terrifying black hole is more like it.

The drive to Rotorua was nice - would have been quicker if we hadn't taken a scenic route (ie, the wrong road) out of Tauranga. Marama Resort is on the top end of Lake Rotorua - almost opposite Rotorua city itself, and waaaaay out in the countryside. Most of the units are 2 stories, with a lounge/kitchen downstairs, and 2 bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. There was a canal right outside the unit, which was really cool. We took a walk around the resort, talking to the Australian Coot's (black birds with a white beak), and looking at the trout swimming in the canal.

Dinner was at the resort restaurant - lovely lambshanks, that disintergrated when you looked at them. Seriously blew the meal budget, but well worth it. Went back to the unit, where David and the girls watched "Spiderwick". I went to bed and read "This Present Darkness" by Frank Perelli. I couldn't cope with seeing goblins and demons and other nasties on screen, as well as the word-pictures of these creatures in the book.

SATURDAY 24 JULY - Buried Village, Te Wairoa We thoroughly enjoyed it, but Lucia was bored! Te Wairoa was one of the villages that was buried when Mount Tarawera erupted in the mid-1880's, wiping out numerous villages, and the tourist attractions of the Pink and White Terraces. The museum was comprehensive, and well signed, as were most of the buildings they've excavated. It was really nice in the sun, but cold in the wind. Pictures of Becca and I wandering round the village.

This is a rainbow trout, here to spawn. There were dozens in the stream around the village, of varying sizes. Pretty pretty, nommy nommy ....

Last picture is of the 90 ft/30m waterfall. We had wondered if the trout were climbing this, but evidently not. Looking down from the top, it looked like the rocks were giant teeth!

After about 3 hours here (and for me, a trip thru the museum again, as I hadn't had a chance to read and look at everything), we went down to Rotorua and got Pizza, garlic bread, chips and softdrinks for lunch. Sat in the park, on the edge of a large pond/small lake, *enjoying* the smell of sulphur.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

What Happens When You Have a Weekend Away

Well, what does happen when you have a weekend away? Susie gets just slightly chooked after a couple of sherries, and bounces down the very steep stairs of the rented apartment at Marama Resort, Rotorua. Yes, I did enjoy myself. Yes, I couldn't stop laughing. Sometimes, it's quite good being a shorty!

When I figure out how, I'll upload a video clip - with sound! Don't you just love modern digital cameras!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Happy Fourth of July - Baptism Day

Happy Happy Happy, Joy Joy Joy!

I have been baptised!

It feels like I've finally reached the end of the beginning of the journey. I felt very privileged this afternoon. Not only was I the 100th person to be baptised into our church since it was planted in 2002, but the man that performed the baptism, Alistair, who is a Messianic Jew, also said parts of the baptism rite in Hebrew. That was amazing. My parents managed to get to the pool in time - mum in her wheelchair. I was totally thrilled. After they dunked me, I did a porpoise-dive back under the water, and came up hooting.

I've been crook all week - tummy bug, food poisoning, and then on Saturday, I finally succumbed to Becca and David's bugs - NO VOICE! This morning, at church, I was totally freezing, couldn't stop shivering, and had to get David to take me home straight after the service. Curled up on the couch with wheaties and a duvet, and slept for an hour, before going down to Westwave pool for my baptism.

Being surrounded by other believers makes all the difference - I feel like I've finally found a home. And when I got home, there was a lovely pot plant on the doorstep, with a card from the pastor's wife, thanking me for being a blessing in her life, watching me come to Jesus, and hoping we'll be friends for a long time.

And, just to top off this week - I got an A- for my final essay - and there was I thinking it was a load of fluff! Hehe.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

And in other breaking news ...

I'm getting baptised! Rock on, Fourth of July. I am so very very excited - it feels like it's the end of the beginning of the journey.

Becca is off to Singapore on 3 July - 10 days. She's ok with missing the baptism, and looking forward to the trip.

I've finished the 12 Week Ways of Knowing course at Laidlaw College - a combination of Philosophy and Theology.
Essay 1 - 2000 words:B
Reflections - 200 words: 2 x B; 2 x B+; 1 x A-; 1 x A
Essay 2 - just posted to the College website, 2 weeks before I know the grade.

Signed up for the next paper - Worldviews and Ways of Life - Block course mid-August.

And Time Races past ...

A month has passed since I last posted, and so much has happened.

Reading back through my Journal, I can see how pessimistic I have been about mum. Yet last weekend, we moved her into Selwyn Village's Sarah Selwyn Hospital. She has her own, very nice, room with en suite bathroom, a big picture window that looks out onto a cobbled courtyard, retaining wall and raised garden. The room has an electric hospital bed with high quality medical-grade mattress. Working on changing that to a KCI product, lol!

Since I last posted, I've taken two weeks stress leave. In the first fortnight after Mum's strokes and heart attack, I had spent over 40 working hours at the hospital, and around 35 working hours actually at work, getting a full days work done each day, plus doing school work, and ordinary mum stuff.

Monday 24/Tuesday 25 May
Sue on 2 weeks stress leave, David on RDO's: We both went in to visit mum on the Monday/Tuesday. It had been a week since David had seen her, so he could see the definite improvements that had accumulated, which I was too close to see. Both days she was bright and alert, and reasonably coherent. The words still get lost between brain and mouth, but she's getting more articulate. She wanted to catch up with Annie Whetton, so I asked Dad/Bill/Grandpa to contact them. They are still using a big 'cargo' hoist to move her from bed to chair.

We spoke to the Consultant Doctor, who was talking about what would happen when Brenda leaves hospital. Essentially the amount of exercise and effort she puts in at this point in time determines the range of movement and quality of life post-hospital. If she doesn't practice sitting, hand manipulation, swallowing and transfers (putting the weight on her good side), she will have to rely more on others to meet her needs.

The physio and therapist teams are currently working on getting mum to sit for lengthy periods - about 7 hours today. This strengthens back muscles, helps with breathing, and to keep herself upright, and swallowing. Both the speech therapist and consultant are happy with the progress in her speech. She can maintain conversations, get most words out, and it is only when she is tired that she starts slurring and getting muddled. Her upper dentures have "disappeared" - we suspect thrown in the rubbish by accident - so this has made it a little harder for her both to eat and be understood.

When she is being moved from bed to wheelchair to ordinary seat, she has been upgraded from a 2 person cargo-hoist arrangement, where they put a body sling around her and use an electric motored overhead hoist to lift her up; to one where they put a wide band low around her waist, and pull her up and forward into it. They can then lift her to a standing position.

She spent an hour in the gym today, practicing sitting and transfers. Was quite tired when I got there to see her. She said she wasn't feeling hungry, and didn't want any lunch, but when I produced homemade scrambled eggs n cheese + mashed pawpaw, she wolfed them down, asking for more. The hospital food is pretty disgusting/bland and just not like home.

The lady in the bed next door says she behaves quite differently when we aren't there, to when we are. ie - much more bolshie when we're not around! She has been a bit teary today and the nurse suspects she may be suffering from depression. She was saying to me (sue) that it just wasn't fair, not meant to happen like this etc. Having Ah-Poo to cuddle does seem to have helped. She also desperately wants to catch up with her friend Anne Whetton, who is dying of cancer. I will talk to Bill about getting in touch, and seeing what we can arrange.

David noticed a big improvement seeing her a week apart, and was pleasantly surprised that her wicked sense of humour was in evidence, and that she could talk about and was hungry for news.

Wednesday 26
Chaos day. Bill hadn't remembered to contact the Whetton's, and the number in their phone list was out of date. When I got through to the Retirement Village where they were living, there was only an answerphone. Fortunately, someone picked up the message straight away, and rang me back. They told me Annie had died at the beginning of the week, and her funeral was RIGHT NOW at St Andrews Church. We made it to the church by 1130, I got to put a sprig of lavender on Anne's coffin for mum, and to say goodbye on her behalf. Dad and I also got to the reception afterwards. Annie had actually died on the Friday of the previous week, and the Whetton's had left half a dozen messages on Dad's answerphone, which he had deleted. Grrrrr. I went to visit mum in the afternoon, and took in a copy of the Order of Service (whatever it's called), that had a lovely photo on the front. As usual, mum greeted me with tears - because she's pleased to see me, not because she's upset. I told her that her best friend was dead, and that I'd said goodbye on her behalf. We had a good cry and a cuddle, and she spent the next couple of days grieving for her.

Thursday 27
Mum doing well this morning - feeding herself. We had a good long talk. Got told by a couple of the other ladies in the ward that I'm a good daughter - then the grumpy one said I should show more respect - I said "Good Dog" to mum when she ate her food, to which mum laughed.

Friday 28
Took in a pile of clean clothes for mum. Arrived to find three old ladies sleeping peacefully - quite a lovely sight.

Saturday 29
Took Tyler in to visit mum - she was asleep when we arrived, so took him for a gallop around the domain, then brought him back to the hospital where mum was waiting outside the building - Bill had brought her down from the ward in her wheelchair. Was thrilled to see Tyler, and to be outside.

Tuesday 1 June
Took mum down to the coffee shop - got her a small flat white - she really enjoyed the outing. We're much more mobile now with the wheelchair. We're using a smaller, liftup hoist to move her now.

Wednesday 2
Meeting with Pip Cotching, the social worker. They think mum will be ready to move out of hospital in the next fortnight or so. Dad has already decided on Selwyn Village in Pt Chev Mum cried a bit, more about the dogs than anything else. She realises she needs hospital level care at the moment, and that she can't go home. Interview took about an hour, while we discussed all the ins and outs, including finance. Still waiting for dad to send the info to his lawyers (as of today, Monday), to see if they're eligible for a subsidy. Hopefully we'll find out more later. We have 90 days from when she moves into a resthome to settle the payment details.

Thursday 3
Mum was asleep when I got there, smelled of stale perspiration and urine. Went downstairs and bought some deodorant for her. Got her into clean dry clothes as well.

Friday 4
Spoke to both mum and dad. She's keen to visit Selwyn. Spoke to doctors, nurses, physio, social worker, uncle tom cobbley and all! Everyone is happy for mum to have an outing. Booked a mobility taxi for Saturday morning.

Saturday 5
Crash and burn. Mobility taxi NOT booked - hadn't been written down. They said they could send another one, but after half an hour had to give up, because mum was getting too tired. Bill was very frustrating. He had forgotten everything we'd discussed about this outing. His gammy leg was playing up so he had a rest in the hospital 'departure lounge' while we took her for a walk through the domain and wintergardens instead, all bundled up in a big jacket, blankets and hat. She was laughing and joking, calling out "I'm free! I'm free!" She had a terrific time.

Monday 7 (today!)
Hospital in the pm - Bill already there. Asked mum if she'd like a coffee - Bill said they'd just had a cup of tea. Mum said YES! I'd raided her clothing drawers at home again, and found some Samoyed clothing - that, and my appearance, gave her a good cry. Another good outing for her, sitting outside the Muffin Break. Then we took a turn around the 13th floor, having a nosey.

All in all, we think she's doing a lot better than we could possibly have imagined this time 4 weeks ago. She can hold a conversation, enjoy and make jokes, give as good as she gets. She is daily getting stronger, and now can be moved either using a strap around her waist, or just by helping/picking her up and turning her - as we did today to get her from bed to wheelchair. She knows she can't go home, that she needs hospital level care, at least for the meantime, and as long as we can sort out regular doggie visits, she's ok about going into a private hospital. She's much happier about life in general, getting bored being in the hospital, and seeking more stimulation.

On Wednesday morning, which was when the Admissions lady at Selwyn Village was due to return to work, I rang her to make sure that Mum had been put on the waiting list for a bed in either Christ's Hospital (the older building with shared bathrooms) or Sarah Selwyn Hospital (new building, new, single rooms with en-suite bathrooms). She advised that a couple of beds were now available at the new hospital (33 person waiting list!), (ie, a couple of clients had popped their clogs over the long weekend), and she would put her name down on the list, but mightn't be able to hold it for as long as two weeks. (The time frame I'd been given for mum's release).

When I got to the hospital at midday to visit Mum, the Social Worker, Pip, announced that mum was ready to be discharged, and go to a private hospital. We could either do it Monday next week, or on Friday - ie, tomorrow! Oooh, says I - um - how about Friday, because then I have the weekend to get her settled in, and move in furniture etc. If we did it on Monday, I'd have to juggle work again, and I've run out of leave. Mum and I filled in all the necessary forms for a Needs Assessment to apply for a subsidy for the hospital care - high level care is required. She was excited and teary at the same time. Looking forward to leaving, having her own room, with her own stuff, getting a good nights' sleep; but afraid of something new. I got the ward administrator to organise a mobility taxi for us, so we could visit the hospital and check it over, before moving day.

THURSDAY: Rang Selwyn Village, just to let them know we were coming to visit. Room 41 in Sarah Selwyn Hospital will be hers. Mobility taxi arrived early, excellent service, and a nice drive to the retirement village. Walked in the door. Mum pointed at a basket with blankets just inside the foyer: "Where's the moggy?" They have a cat there! Happy Happy. It was off on patrol, but comes in regularly for food and cuddles. Welcomed by the receptionist, who remembered me ringing, the manager, and a nurse, who was deputised to show us around. It felt very much like a 'home' and not just an institution. Everybody was friendly and greeted us with smiles. The room wasn't ready yet, but was clean, tidy, and smelt nice - not hospitally. Separate ensuite with shower, toilet and vanity, single hospital bed with good quality medical mattress. Huge picture window with louvre windows either side, looking out onto a cobbled patio, retaining wall with plants hanging off it, and sunlight coming into the room. Filled in some more forms, then went down to a small lounge, where mum got a cup of tea. The hospital physio found us there. She'd just spoken to Auckland Hospital's physio, and been told by reception that "Mrs Cottle is here right now!"

Mum was exhausted by the end of the trip, and we tucked her into bed to sleep when we got back.

Tuesday 15 June
Well, she’s been in the hospital most of 4 days now. I’m hoping she was just tired, but she grizzled about the other residents, some of her clothes were missing, there’s too much noise (about 4 different TV channels going, radios, people talking), doesn’t like the food.
The ward nurse in charge on weekdays took me down to the ‘laundry’ room, which is where the stuff that has been washed is returned to. Oh heck – we have to label everything with her name. Ordered labels for both her and Becca on-line from Aussie.

Now you’re up to date with Sue’s news! Hopefully, life will slow down a little now.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Waiting ...

Took today off. Cancelled the weekend away in Rotorua we had booked about 6 months ago. Took Becca to school, came home and crawled back into bed, and had a lovely slow start to the day. Visited mum in hospital again.

Tuesday afternoon mum had a heart attack. Wednesday afternoon she had a 'continuation stroke' - ie, the original one let loose again. To treat the heart attack, they would need to use blood thinners. If the doctors give her blood thinners, it will trigger another stroke. Oh goody - the ultimate 'Catch-22' situation.

Today, Friday, she can sit up in a big comfy armchair for a couple of hours, before going back to bed. During those couple of hours, you can have a conversation with her, although she gets confused quickly. After that, she is sleeping again, crying out and talking in her sleep. They are using a hoist to lift her in and out of bed, and every time she is moved she seems to be in pain.

All we can do is sit and wait and watch. I don't think she is going to get any better than she is now. I don't think she will ever walk again. I'm not even sure if she will leave the hospital alive.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Update - High Functioning Cognitive Skills

And the good news is .... High functioning cognitive skills. There doesn't appear to be a lot of damage to mum's brain from the stroke. While she is having problems getting the words out, they're still there in the brain, just 'mis-filed'. From what the speech therapists were saying this afternoon, it's mainly names she is having problems with, but, if given the first sound, can often get them out.

I spent the morning at the hospital, with Bill and Mick, first talking to a (different sort of) speech therapist, who was going to check Brenda's swallowing reflex and breathing. Pneumonia is a huge problem because food and liquid can go down the trachea instead of the throat, if there is no cough reflex. Hooray - she can cough like a horrid coughy-thing!

Next was an occupational therapist. Thorough description of the house and mum's daily habits, discussion of what her normal routine is, how much she was able to do for herself etc. Gives them a baseline to work up from, and an idea of how much help will be required.

Had a quick lunch of Nacho's with David to bring him up to date, before going to get Becca from school and take her up to see her Grandma. They both handled it very well. I had told Becca enough so that she wasn't too shocked by the change, and we had to wait while the speech therapists finished their test, which gave Becca time to adjust.

Took Becca home, and went to college - 1 hour tutorial, 3 hour lecture - Logic and Language. As usual, Mark Strom had more to say than time to say it in, and he's now 4 weeks behind on lecture notes. He has admitted that he's not going to catch up, and we'll have to buy the textbook the lecture notes will be turned into. Sigh. Still another week before we get essay grades. The tutor is spending 6 hours a day marking, at 30-45 minutes per essay, with around 100 to mark. As usual, the lecture was a lot of fun.

Now I'm home, had a couple of crumpets, a glass of wine, and a glass of cranberry juice - feeling a lot better.

Almost time for bed.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Stroke of luck?

Oh heck - It's 3 months since I last posted!

No, I haven't done the Faith piece yet. Started College instead - two B's and 1 B+ for my journal assignment. Hanging out for the essay mark.

More on that later. First, the bad news:

Why the title? Well, it could have been a lot worse.

Sometime early Friday morning my mother suffered a stroke – a blood vessel on the left side of her brain burst. She had been feeling nauseous in the night, and had “cramps” in her legs. When she tried to get out of bed and stand up, she found the right side of her body wasn’t co-operating, and collapsed on the floor. Dad covered her, called the doctor, the ambulance and me, in that order.

We spent all day Friday in the Emergency department, where she was poked, prodded and questioned by a number of doctors, had blood taken, and two CAT scans – the second with dye. It was 5.00pm before she was taken up to the Stroke ward.

I'm not really feeling any grief in all this - we've been waiting for something similar to happen for so long, it was just a matter of when. Friday morning, and the phone call from Dad, was actually the worst moment - I went into hyperdrive, making calls, and got to the hospital before the ambulance did. I just held mum's hand, and acted as advocate for her and dad - the practical me took over. One thing I've learned over the last six months, since becoming a Christian, is that I am a true "Martha" - practical service is a basic part of my makeup.

On Saturday night, we picked my brother Mick up from the airport – he had managed to get a flight from Melbourne, after receiving my email about mum that morning.

I stood up in church this morning to ask the congregation to pray for mum, and then the assistant pastor and his wife prayed with me in front of everyone - waaaay to much public time! (Our pastor is on holiday in Tonga at the moment).

Mum is actually doing surprisingly well - afternoons seem to be her best time - Mick and dad say she was looking pretty frail and unwell this morning, but when David and I got there this afternoon, she was looking pretty good, and joined in the conversation, laughing and joking. We're going to take Becca in to visit her tomorrow. We only stayed about 20-30 minutes, she got tired very quickly, but still looked pretty good, and could pick up a glass of water easily with her left hand.

We are going back in tomorrow about 1100 to try and catch up with the specialist team in charge of her care, and find out what's in store for us all. As of Friday afternoon, they were talking about 5 days on the Stroke ward, and then about 5 weeks on the rehabilitation ward.

I have no doubt that mum will be up and about again. It will take a while to find out how much damage there is to her brain, and at the moment, her right arm and leg are "disconnected" - we'll find out over the next few weeks whether the neural connections can be rerouted, and to what extent. I was joking with her today about getting her a mobility scooter, souping-up the motor, and having races with it. She thought that was very funny, and she was pleased to know that both I and my sister-in-law are praying for her. (Thanks Barrie – sisters-in law, and sisters-in-Christ!)

I've actually had a surprisingly good weekend - Saturday afternoon, after visiting mum, David took me to the garden centre, and got me a big terracotta planter, two blueberry plants and a bag of potting mix. Before going out to get Mick from the airport, I baked apple muffins for church. This morning was church, where the worship band absolutely rocked, and I was given a lovely cup, and a book called "Mary's Prayers & Martha's Recipes" for being the newest Christian mum (celebrating Mother's Day). Then we picked up Becca and went to the mall, where she got me a little resin wall plaque "If Mother's were flowers, I'd pick you!" Then back to the garden centre to get some little viola's. Put one in the cup, with some glass beads, and took it in to mum.

Tomorrow I'm having the day off to go in and see the specialist team, and then take Becca to visit mum after school. Then college for me from 1600-2130 - wow, what a day!

Stay tuned for the next update.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Faith Fills My Cup

After Wednesday night's JAM (Jesus & me) meeting, I got talking with Deb, the pastor's wife, who mentioned she was entering a competition called "The 'F' Word". Her initial reaction had been 'no way' till a little voice said 'Yes, Way!' We talked about me entering, and then she showed me some fabric sample booklets she'd been given. Then she went out to her car and got a book of 'sheers'. My little brain started bubbling with ideas.

As I now do, I'd been thinking and praying for inspiration. I certainly didn't want to use THAT 'F' word! Creative ideas have started bubbling up in my head again, as the drugs work their magic. I'm sewing a purple dress as the moment, which, because of the high humidity and RL getting in the way, has ground to a halt - also known as procrastinating coz it involves sewing 4 long straight seams down the centre front, then doing about a gazillion button-holes.

Driving home from work last night, doing about 100k down the motorway, I suddenly started getting what I can only describe as a 'data dump'. "Hang on, God, I can't do anything with that RIGHT NOW!" Once I got to the end of the motorway, where the traffic goes from FAST to STOP on the bridge over the upper harbour at Greenhithe, I got out pen and journal and started writing and drawing. In the stop-start nose-to-tail traffic, with about 15 minutes of quality time, and Radio Rhema blasting out, the image below (with additional colour pencil when I got home) is the result.

As you do, I've also written construction notes, and inspirational ideas on it. Inspiration sources include Matthew 26, and Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, that day's Adventures in Odessey (yeah, I'm hooked to a kids Christian soapy :) and the daily meditation for that day, also from Matthew 26, and the Thought for the Day: When my cup hasn't been taken away, God's strengthening Spirit will with me stay. Ideas regarding construction include shibori dyeing, sky-dye sunset fabric, the use of Angelina fibre and sheer fabrics for the blood/water/wine and beam of light, fussy cut plants and maybe the rock, a whole or half plastic lizard (gotta have the lizard!).

The competition closes on 13 February, so I may not get it finished in time, but I think the main point is that I get it started.

Last night was a meeting of interested parents and children to discuss what was going to happen with the Sunday School this year. All the parents and children previously involved have left the church, and it was felt that it was time for a change of direction. Becca was invited to become a Junior Youth Leader. Although we've only been involved for about 8 weeks now, she's shown her leadership skills and intelligence. Of course, the chocolate fountain and cheese fondue were good reasons to come as well!

As usual with something like this, there are only a small number of people that actually turned up, and an even smaller number (5) that will meet again next Monday to refine what was discussed. Yep, I'm one of them. I'm gonna be a Sunday School teacher! Only about once a month, but it's pretty neat, and I'm excited about being involved.

One of the hardest things to get out of the large group was what the 'Vision' is, what are we trying to teach the kids. I think that's something the smaller group will be discussing again, lol.

Becca is keen and excited too, and looking forward to getting her first Bible. We discussed the idea of the Junior leaders reading a story to the 5 & 6 year olds, so a more complicated version can be read to the older kids, and she was coming up with some great ideas to involve the littlies. David has agreed to be a Standby Teacher/Leader if someone else is unavailable. So many new things happening in our lives!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

I think I'm now officially old - not that I feel or look old, but there's no room on a cake for that many candles. This photo was taken in the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour, Sydney November 2009. Me, blissed, looking at the beautiful garden, which is pretty much how I've felt today.

Had a fantastic day! Doctor said my weight and blood pressure and glucose levels are excellent. Becca and I went and got her school uniform and stationary pack for school starting Tuesday (it's Auckland Anniversary weekend coming up), Spotlight .... oooh, so much choice, so little money. Buttons and thread. Sigh. The Mall for lunch - frozen coke and Chinese buffet - yummy! Home to sew for me and play for Becca. Flowers from David - blue stattis(?), and crimson daisy-things (doh, can't think what they're called! Met the parents for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Fantastic meal - more flowers (blue hydrangea and yellow roses, just opening), card and lottery tickets!

The food was great, and just kept coming. As dad and Tom got drunker, the conversation turned very strange, till David could be seen sitting at the table, his hand across his face, biting a finger to prevent himself from either laughing, or saying something completely inappropriate. Me? Well, dad was sitting on my left side, also called my "deaf" side, so, if I wasn't paying attention, I'd miss what he was burbling. Just let it all pass me by, and enjoyed the evening.

Dad is still having probs coming to terms with the whole Christian thing, and when told that his grandson Alex was attending the Parachute Music Festival (as in Christian!), he first declared he was Muslim, then Jewish, and didn't undertand that sort of thing.

Went downhill as we went to leave tho - Dad's car had been towed. None of us had noticed the "Clearway" signs, or realised that not only was the road being dug up, but the road crew were working on it tonight. David took B&B and Tom back to their place, then came and got me. Then he tracked down the towing company, so we went and picked up the car. I drove mine, while David drove dad's - he was totally tanked, but had planned to drive home from the restaurant!

Finally home just on 2200, and suddenly it's nearly 2330. Work tomorrow. Time for bed.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Photo's on Fotki

I've started creating some albums on Fotki, so I can share them with anybody that's interested. This one is for the trip we took to Sydney last year, for the KCI Christmas party, held on a floating glass gin palace.

Here's the link:

link to fotki

If you're patient, or have high speed broadband, run the slideshow. Of course, once I'd renamed them, I realised that it would load them in alphabetical order, so you lose the sequence - darn!

It started out at 245 photos, cut down to 170 (after removal of dead possums - more on them later), and dud shots, and drunken colleagues revelling in the 35deg+ temps.

Did your mother dress you?

The words on the t-shirts are different .... couldn't resist getting a photo!

A Song is born ...

Monday 18 January:
After a long and restless night with my hip hurting like crazy, I woke up when my husband's alarm went off at 0640. As I lay there dozing, the words of a song started forming in my brain. It got to the point where I knew I had to start writing it down, before I lost it, so I got up, got my notebook and a pen, and started writing. The words were dropped into my brain a few phrases at a time, then I'd doze for a couple of minutes, then a few more, until I finally asked if I could please go to sleep as I had to go to work in a couple of hours.

It still needs some fine-tuning (lol, pun intended), and more words, and a tune, but here it is:

Thin Places/Sacred Spaces
I find you in the sacred spaces
I find you in the thin places
Where my heart has opened wide.
When I sing Your praises
My spirit soars on high.
I stretch my arms to fly with you,
My thoughts so high with you.
Voices ring, I will sing
Blessed be your name, Oh Lord
Blessed be your name.
You hold me as our praises ring
My love for you I will sing.
Your names are great, in the sacred spaces
In the thin places
Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Messiah
One God, one voice, one song

Finally got back to sleep around 0700, to be woken at 0800 by the phone. Do I want a couple of 5 litre jerry cans back, that we'd used for getting fresh milk from the dairy farm? Um - no. Not a bit. Thanks. Bye.

Made a visit to Spotlight, and bought 3 metres each of Grape and Violet poly-cotton fabric. If my craftroom wasn't imitating a sauna, I'd be in there now working on a summer dress - pictures to follow.

Becca's lost two molars in the last fortnight - and she's only about 4" shorter than me! 11 in April - she's growing up so fast.

Tuesday 19 - No lyrics or music overnight :( But woke feeling semi-blissed, and then the added bonus of a cuddle in bed with Becca. Visit from a mortgage broker - we fulfill the banks' requirements for repayments, but don't have enough equity to borrow extra money - oh dear, how ironic. Don't know whether to laugh or cry!

Wednesday 20 - Got my morning soy cappa with vanilla, went and sat in the shade and the wind on the kerbside in the carpark at work. Listened to some of my favourite Christian music from Matt Redman - a 'thin place' moment.

Oh Lord, blessed be your name. You give and take away.

Thursday 21 - Went to the acupunturist again - not nearly as good a result - I was much more sensitive this time, which she says is a good thing.

The wild weather in the States seems to be getting crazier, with typhoons, mudslides and super-high tides in Southern California.

Friday 22 - Something really stinks on my side of the bed - found that the sheepskin smelled of urine (probably yellow-dog), and that the carpet underneath it was damp and stinky. Scrubbed it, and sprayed some odor-remover stuff. As of today, the floor is pretty much dry and crunchy - can't smell urine - yet. Had a sleeping/anxiety pill - slept 11 hours straight! Of course, I knew that meant I probably wouldn't sleep well on Saturday night, but what the heck.

Saturday 23 - Slept till 1000. Trip to the osteo, who clicked and clacked my back/hip - that was good. Grocery shopping - ugh. Waxed my legs - oooh - WHY am I doing this? Nice result tho, lol. Stick to the professionals for bikini line methinks (yes, it did hurt too much!)

"Live" rpg - Spinward Traveller. Was going ok till the server we use crashed, and kicked all the players off-line. An early finish.

Because the shopping was under-budget, David said it was ok to buy a bikerack for my wagon - it straps on somehow, so you don't need a towbar. It will be so much easier not having to shove 2 bikes and 2 dogs into the car.

My new friend Marcia (from Church) came round to borrow some more books - unfortunately, I'm missing the second Gabaldon book (Dragonfly in Amber), and Becca's reading the first book of Katherine Kerr's Daggerspell books.

As I expected, a broken nights' sleep, mostly because I'd set the alarm to get up early for church, and kept waking to check if it was time to get up. Sigh.

Sunday 24 - At church by 0930, for the Prayer Meeting at 0945. Got sidetracked helping in the kitchen, laying out cups, communion trays and stuff. Sang along with the band as they practiced. I'm officially on the "hospitality team" roster as from next weekend, once a month. Missed the Prayer Meeting.

One of the guys spent an over-nighter in hospital with heart palpitations, but all the tests came back negative - looked seriously unwell tho, and left early.

I prayed for him; a little girl who's had long-term heart problems, and went into the children's hospital to get her heart flutter cauterised; the son of one of the ladies, who looks like he's broken his arm; also prayed for a lady who's having her depression bite deep, and is isolating herself. Damn, I know that feeling. Went over to talk to her after the service.

Worship was great, Aaron the Pastor was on fire - talking about Praying Women; Hannah and Mary. All the women stood up, and the men prayed for us. Very nice.

Becca went home with Marca and her kids, so we went and had coffee and wedges, then home to get dogs and bikes. Took them for a gallop from one end of the park to the other, till they were pooped.

Went to get Becca about 1530, and stayed and talked and talked and talked and talked. So, I have 4 new books to read. It was so much fun to sit and talking with interesting people, while the kids raced around like lunatics, having fun. Dog tired by the time I got to bed.

Thank you Lord for a fantastic day.

new books to read:
Jesus Freaks - DC Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs - not sure about this one.
Intercessory Prayer + DVD, Dutch Sheets - this looks interesting, still working on the prayer thing.
The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian - looks interesting, and read a couple of quotes from her other books during the day (of course - syncronicity rules!)
Captivating, Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, John & Stasi Eldredge - again, looks interesting.

Finished reading - Marcus Borg, Heart of Christianity. Writing a summary of it. Love the idea of panentheism - God is above us, around us, beneath us, inside us. That's how it's felt for me so far. He has some interesting ideas.

Started reading - What's So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey - 10 pages in, and already enjoying it.

Dear Lord - please be with all my friends, and the people I love in the week ahead.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday Happy Sunday. Do I have to go to work tomorrow?

And another weekend has raced past... the pain in my hip has been phenomenal. So bad, that when I left my book at work on Thursday, I didn't have the energy to walk back across the carpark.

I visited an acupuncturist on Friday - first time in about 25+ years. Great massage, needles, and cupping. I have a lovely set of bruises/marks from the cups, but had my first pain-free night in over 2 weeks. The feeling of relief was huge.

Went to see The Lovely Bones on Friday night, with a friend. Lovely imagery, cgi, and ... plot... uh, yeah, well. Went away with a feeling of dissatisfaction. So many opportunities to take the story deeper or further, and all passed by. The movie end was very frustrating, with no feeling of resolution. Dinner at Nando's was good, and then a long talk. Late night, but no pain! Invited her, husband and children round for Sunday lunch.

Osteo on Saturday morning, with quality gossip time with the receptionist - great to catch up. Home to clean bathrooms and toilets.

Saturday afternoon was 4+ hours of fantasy roleplaying, set in an alternative Ireland called "Eremon", 300 BCE. Lots of fun, playing with people from as far afield as Canberra, Illinois, Utah, Milwaukee and NZ. My character is a Sidhe - one of the fairy folk, who can't work majick without permission, after setting fire to the privy of a caravan of travellers (bat guano and sulphur!)

Sunday: Church - lots of lovely singing - I do love the singing. Sunday lunch grew to include more friends from Church, and their kids - 8 adults, 6 kids. Collapsed on the hammock about 5.00 pm and fell asleep for 15 odd minutes. Suddenly it's 10.00pm, and I'm typing this up, watching a doco called Battle 360, with a dreadful beat-up narration, about the Battleship Enterprise in WWII. Cool graphics tho!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Welcome to Twenty Ten - or is it Two Thousand and Ten?

2010 2010 2010!!!!!

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? It's already half-way thru January, and I keep meaning to update my blog. Well, I'm finally getting round to it.

Christmas: Went to Church for the first time EVER on a Christmas morning - nice, loved the singing (as I always do!), got home to find David's parents had arrived early - oops! 11 for Christmas lunch - both sets of parents, brother and his wife (almost need subtitles for the strong Californian accents of both of them), me, hubby and 3 kids. Lots and lots of yummy food, and lots of talking. Nice to have all the family together. I even managed to find presents for both Mothers - sets of bathsheets and flannels in salmon and aubergine - and they liked them!

Spent Boxing Day gardening - it's always so much more fun gardening in company. Grapevine and climbers got tidied, front garden bed got turned over, and a general tidy-up. Back to Church on the Sunday, with David's parents. Comment from FiL - grumble "not used to going to a church without a suit and tie" ... hmmm - how often do you go to church? Except for funerals? Retail therapy at Mitre 10 - got a couple of big terracotta planter pots, and plants - a climber for the patio, and flowers for the front. All but one flowering plant survived.

David rigged the hammock just before New Year - really nice lying in it out the back, in the breeze, swaying gently. He was working New Year's Eve, I was tired, and in bed and asleep by 2200. Slept thru till 1100, with the help of a sleeping pill. Then of course, couldn't sleep properly for the next couple of nights, sigh :(.

Avatar 3D - Awesome! Wanna see it again, and buy the DVD. Loved the animation, and the live action, and the scenery and .... and KFC for dinner! nom. Happy happy happy.

3 January 2010 - 14th Anniversary! Went for brunch at a cafe in Titirangi - big breakfasts and coffee, then to Lopdell House, to look at an exhibition of glassware - amazing what artists make, and how much they charge for them (and that people will pay for them!!!!)

David worked in the afternoon, and I played Space Cadets RPG - 6 gruelling hours. This is fun? Well, in hindsight, it was. At the time, I wasn't enjoying a lot of it. What would you do if someone threw a gas grenade into your room? Or you found yourself in command of a US Naval Destroyer going to the rescue of a Coast Guard cutter boarded by pirates? Short answer - not do it right.

The return to work was a culture shock - I'd got used to (relatively) late nights, and lazy mornings, and pottering during the day - oh, and of course, reading and reading and reading ...

Back to School: Signed up for a paper at Laidlaw College - "Ways of Knowing", essays, assignments and exam: 503.515 Ways of Knowing: This course spans how we know (epistemology), how we interpret (hermeneutics), how we think from the Gospel (theological method), and how ideas shape society (public discourse). The aim is to throw useful light on how people actually make sense of themselves, ideas, events and things – both when we think about thinking and when we don’t – and to suggest how we might engage and influence in the marketplace of ideas.

- adds 15 more credits to my NZQA collection. Starts 1 March - really looking forward to it.

Hello possum! Been catching possums in a trap over on the reserve - 1 mother + joey, 4 males. In trouble with Animal Welfare for cruelty to animals because I've been drowning them in the pond. Why am I trapping and drowing possums? They are noxious introduced pests, omnivorous, to the point of eating not only eggs and baby birds, but adult birds on the nest, and anything else they can catch (sounds a lot like humans!) They destroy trees with their voracious appetites - they eat 2-3 times their bodyweight daily. They also carry TB, which they pass on to livestock and hedgehogs, who then pass it on to humans.

Animal Welfare were talking about prosecuting me for it!!!!! It's cruel to drown them, and when I asked for more humane alternatives, suggested I shoot them - pointed out you can't discharge a firearm in a built-up area; or to chop their heads off with an axe! Get real - take a possum out of a cage, and wave an axe at it? I do not need lacerations thanks!

The Animal Welfare woman left a message on my voice mail tonight: "she may have a solution for me". So, I can keep on trapping? Can't wait till tomorrow to find out!

OUCH! I've managed to strain my left hip. How? lol - don't really know, but possibly from pushing my bike uphill after checking the stoat traps up at Waitakere dam. Hurts like hell - like a corkscrew is being driven into my hip joint. Walking makes it worse, resting better. Been to the osteopath - useless. Voltaren has stripped my stomach lining, so no painkillers. Acupuncturist tomorrow - we'll see how that goes. It was so bad today, when I left to go home, I forgot my book, and didn't have the energy to walk back over the carpark to get it.

Thursday morning - 0300 - Angelina caught a tiny field mouse. Sat on the fence chittering, with it in her mouth. Went out, she came over and released the mouse, while the dogs watched at the door. Caught her mouse, and went off to chitter again. Bark bark bark. Another long long night.

It's only 2120, and I'm thinking of bed.

Books read this month:
Lee Strobel; Case for Christ & Case for Faith - grr - once over lightly, but had its moments, and answered some questions.
Edited by Marcus Borg; Jesus at 2000 - some very interesting lectures, and some very dire ones, but all in all, an interesting read.
Chuck Swindoll; The Grace Awakening (argh - didn't need sleeping pills after this one!)
Robert Heinlein; Space Cadet - I'd forgotten how cool this book is - a rollicking good yarn (Starship Troopers is waiting at the Library)
James Ryle; Hippo in the Garden - quite funny

Books in Progress
Marcus Borg; Heart of Christianity - now this one rocks!
Larry Kreider; Building your Personal House of Prayer - interesting, but having a hard time finding the time to put it into practice. (gee, maybe I'm reading too much?)
David Ebershof; The 19th Wife - only about 20 pages in, it has another 20 pages, and if it doesn't grab me ... bye bye.