Oh, the goodness!

May 23, 2007

Generally speaking, the Manpet and I are not big spenders. For a start, we don’t have the dosh and secondly, we both seem to have a somewhat limiting Calvanistic work ethic that says save…save…save and don’t spend a cent that you don’t have to. Well, slight exaggeration, but compared with, say, Paris Hilton, we are definitely at the thin edge of the spending wedge.

So to get not one, not two, but three items of life-bling all within a twenty-four hour period is nothing short of spectacular.

Yesterday, we visited Schmoo and her Man, who is in IT and he provided us with a beautiful wide screen LCD monitor to replace our old, donated 15″ CRT monitor. The new one, 19″, isn’t huge by todays standards by any means, but it will be ideal in the bus, as anything larger would be too big to put on the narrow, wee desk that we use there for our computery stuff. We did consider a 22″, but it would have been a little overwhelming from close distance.

This new monitor, one of the very few new things we have had in this line apart from some RAM, is an LG Electronics Flatron Wide. Not a common make in this neck of the woods, but apparently used by some of the local graphics guys, who swear by it. Certainly it is clear and bright – my digi-pix display perfectly, including all of those out-of-focus ones that I couldn’t really see before, even when zooming in Firefox or Photoshop. Clearly, my technique needs some tweaking! Using Photoshop is so much easier on this, as it allows me to see the photos without having all the clutter of palettes sitting over the top of them. There is room for them all to sit nicely off to one side. DVD’s display very nicely, thanks, compared with the 15″ that we used to use to watch them with. And, to top it off, it was insanely reasonable to buy. We did get a bit of extra help on this, as it was part of a bulk buy for the Man’s business, but they seem to be a lot cheaper than comparable models in other brands.

The other two bits of bling are lenses for my somewhat elderly Nikon Coolpix 4500. We have had it for around four years now, and paid an astounding $1200(NZ) – that’s around $870(US) for it – a huge lump of money for us at the time. Of course, nowadays, you can get a lot more bang for your bucks camera-wise for much less money, but I’m really happy with the excellence of the macro on this little camera, as well as it’s unique swivelly body that allows me to take pix in stealth mode. You can just have the thang sitting in yer lap with the swivel…er…swivelled and whack off pix of people totally unobserved. To the onlooker, you just look as though you are reviewing your pictures. Little do they know…

One of the disadvantages of the camera is that it only has a four times optical zoom. The experts say “Just get closer to your subject.” but that ain’t always possible, is it? A distant mountain is always going to be a distant mountain unless you walk a very long way and a wee bird in a tree is going to take flight right now, if you take one more step.

It also has a somewhat narrow feild of view in certain circumstances and this has been a disadvantage a few times. Panoamas and clever software stitchery are generally the answer to that, but sometimes, distortion puts paid to that.

I had looked at the price of wide-angle and converter lenses, but the new ones bought locally were collectively going to be just about as much as a whole new camera, so I was very happy to be recommended a website in Usa that sells secondhand, new and near new camera goodies. The guy who recommended them had bought from them a number of times and said that he had always been very happy with the quality and condition of their second hand stuff, so I went ahead and ordered a 2X teleconverter and a wide angle lense.

They just came today after much anxious waiting and chewing of fingernails. I like to be able to see what I’m buying, to hold it in my hand and take it away when I hand over the $$$, so inline shopping is a bit of a biggie for me. I’ve done a couple of books before, but never a big item that would sting if it failed to turn up. But yeah, here it is, beatifully packed and protected with extra cushioning as requested. I still have to try them out, but they look to be in great condition with clear, unmarked lenses.

Wow!!

Dear Diary, Yo Blog.

May 22, 2007

Dear Diary,

I’ve been thinking about you and me quite a bit lately – about how much we have both changed over the years. I can clearly remember your first incarnation. I was nine years old and you were a little square book. You had a lovely soft leather cover in green and a little gold lock with a key that worked. I wrote in you every day. You were not so much of a “what I did” sort of a diary, more a “what I felt” one. I poured my heart out into you. You lived under the mattress and your key lived in the drawer under my knickers and I thought my secrets were safe.

One day, you had moved while I was at school – just a little, and your key was in a slightly different place. I was no longer sure that my secrets were safe. You were nearly full of writing by then and I was finding that your pages were no longer big enough to contain my thoughts, so we said good bye and you were re-born a couple of weeks later. Your new hiding place was harder to find. You now lived behind the big hard-backed books on the bottom shelf of the bookshelves in my room. You had no key, as you were a discarded excersise book from school. I never did have much time for spelling.
I was more cunning by then and in your old, green self, I wrote occasional short, dummy entries – boring “what I did” notes that meant nothing. Your green self moved fractionally on occasions, but your new self never did, so I thought my secrets were safe.

Then one day, I came home from school and the world was in an uproar. Unbeknown to me, we were moving house and my parents had spent the day packing up. My room was nearly empty, a row of sealed boxes the only evidence that it had ever been lived in. When we unpacked at the new house, you in your excersise book form were nowhere to be found. I dared not ask about you and I never saw you again.

For a long time after that, you were physically absent from my life. I still wrote to you, but only in my head – long, detailed entries that explored and explained my life as I saw it.

Now, you have arisen in yet another way. You are both much bigger and much smaller than you were. Bigger in that I need all this wizz-bang machinery to produce you on, smaller in that you are, in your raw form, invisible to human eyes. You live in binary form, translated byte by byte from my mind to your memory, pixelating your way across the screen, there for all the world to see – if they know where to look. You do have a key and it is much harder to find, but I know my secrets are never safe.

About about.

May 14, 2007

I finally decided to fill in the “About” page on this blog. The words flowed OK, but where the hell has the thing gone? I see no “About”, although it appears as an editable page on the dashboard. The process of loading a page and making it visible to a blaudience seems to be different from that of writing a mere entry. So as a temporary measure, I made a text box, which natively has a weeny-tiny font text in it, to act as a substitute.
I did switch from Live Journal because I wanted more of a challenge, didn’t I?

*stands looking up at steep curve*

[Edit] OK, I found the answer. A short(ish) search in the help section revealed that to display “About” as a page, you have to drag the Pages widget to the sidebar.

*blushes like a noob*

Quite a ‘duh’ really.  But I’ll leave it here, just in case some other poor sod needs it.

Eyes at half-mast.

April 24, 2007

I am tired today. Really tired. We have averaged a mere four and a quarter hours sleep per night over the past four nights and it is beginning to tell. Friday night, we caught up with two friends who are moving out of the area. They stayed late and we certainly didn’t discourage them, but the early rising the following morning to deal with a pile of tasks and a meeting didn’t help. Saturday night we visited Jane and Henry. It was the first time we have been invited to dinner there, but they are not the type to rush you through the courses and then politely hold the dor open. We left at around 11pm, drove home and were in bed with the light out at 1am-ish.

Toss.

Turn.

Toss.

Turn.

Toss-turn-toss.

Eyes wide open in the dark, mind hamster wheeling. Somewhere between three and three-thirty I finally drift off, but vivid and disturbing dreams accopany me.

Sunday and another 7am arising to a task-stack, then a quick run over the hill to visit a workmate of the Manpet, who has recently had a knee replacement. While awake. His witty and colourful description of the operation and subsequent admission to intenstve care for complications had us laughing and cringing by turn. By the time we had swung by the kid’s place and caught up with Shmoo at the top of the Rimutakas, it was getting dark. Home to an early beddy-byes – lights out at 10pm.

12.30am. Eyes wide open. Hamster mind mode.

Toss.

Turn.

Etc.

3.15am.  Alarm rings, as the Manpet has to go to Sydney for the day and the latest check-in time for the 6.30 departure is 4.30am. 1.40pm, the Sydney-Wellington plane finally arrives almost one and a half hours late. By the time the Manpet has gone through customs and we have driven home, it is 2.30am. We finally hit the pillows at 2.45, almost twenty-four hours after we arose. 8.30 am, and it is time to get up again.

I’m getting too old for this.

So…what is this “Press This” thing?

April 24, 2007

Testing the goodness.

I don’t really get it. Write a page or write a post.

Learning curves.

*sigh*

A Short One Act Play

April 19, 2007

The Scene: A street in very small-town Foxton, New Zealand. A hedge separates the footpath from a backyard.

The Characters: In the backyard, two adults. On the footpath, two early teenage boys dawdle, one on a bicycle, one on a skateboard.

Curtain rises.

Skateboard boy: We can go back if you like.
Bicycle boy: Unnnh…
Skateboard boy: You could talk to her.
Bicycle boy: Mmmm…
Skateboard boy: You like her, don’t you?
Bicycle boy: Yeah, but…
Skateboard boy: So why don’t we go back and you can talk to her.
Bicycle boy: I dunno what to say to her.
Skateboard boy: Just say “Hi.” Ask her how she is.
Bicycle boy: I’m too scared. She might not like me.
Skateboard boy: She does. She’s been watching you all week!
Bicycle boy: You think so?
Skateboard boy: Yeah! She does! I’ll come with you.
Bicycle boy: Well, mmm, I might, then.
Me: (from behind hedge) Go on! Go back and talk to her! You know you want to!
Bicycle boy: Arrrgh!!!
Skateboard boy: Shit!
Bicycle boy: Who was that? (Pokes head around hedge)
Bicycle boy: Old people!
Skateboard boy: Old people? What would they know?
Bicycle boy: Yeah, what would they know. I’m going home.
Skateboard boy: Me too! Play Station?
Bicycle boy: Yeah! Come on!

As curtain falls, two “old people” grin at each other.

A Lesson from my Father

March 23, 2007

My father has always been somewhat emotionally detached. He has never, for whatever reason, been willing or able to verbalise warmth or love, let alone to demonstrate it. He has successfully driven away both family and his few friends with his irascability. He lives in a resthome, which gives me the odd twinge of guilt, because if I were a truly good daughter, I would take him in and care for him myself. But he is such a moaner – nothing, but nothing, is ever right. He never has a good day, he never sleeps a wink, the food is never to his liking, he is always bored, the staff are always too busy to spend time listening to him and I don’t ring often enough. And I know that with my tendancy towards depression, that were I to take him in, I would in all probability fall off my precarious perch of positivity. Besides which, he and the Manpet simply don’t get along. They rub each other up terribly. And I’m not willing to inflict that on the man I love.

My father has two grandchildren – Shmoo, who is 28 years old and Chris, who is nine. Dad’s relationship to his grandchildren has been pretty much on a par with his relationship to my brother and me. Stern, cold, distant and judgemental. Shmoo can remember staying out of his way when she was a child, because of his gruffness. My brother’s child, Chris, has always called him Grumpy Grandpa, because the first thing he hears when he does visit is: “Don’t touch anything. Just sit down and be quiet.” Shmoo visits him when she can, but that isn’t very frequently. She feels guilty about this, but my thinking is that if he had put more effort into accepting her as a small child, she would want to see him now.

The sad part of this is that I don’t think he particularly likes being like this. Whether he recognises his own tendencies or not, I don’t know, as we can never have that type of conversation, but he certainly must feel the results. Interestingly, he has a twin brother who is quite the reverse in temperament. Uncle is warm, welcoming, chatty and great fun to be around. Quite how two genetically identical individuals came to have such different personalities is one of those mysteries of life. A friend reckons that long, long ago, my Dad chose to be the grumpy one and that it stuck so well that he couldn’t get out of it even if he wanted to.

The scary part is that I have a lot of my Dad’s personality.
I can be unthinkingly critical. Often, I’ve said things that would have been far better left unsaid.
I look for the downsides. If there is a reason for not doing something, I’ll surely be the one to find it.
I’m not very social. I’d far rather spend an evening alone with a good book than out at a party. When I am with people, I natural tendency is to listen and watch, rather than talk and interact. I find reasons for not doing social things rather than for doing them. I’m happy with my own company.

And now this grandchild, this mokopuna is coming, no doubt to be followed by others. And I do not want to be towards my grandchildren as my father was towards his. I don’t want to alienate them with harsh comments. I don’t want to make them feel small and unwanted. I don’t want them to feel unloved.

I want to make them feel that they are special, unique human beings. I want to make them feel that they are truly in the centre of my universe, that they are always wecome, always wanted, always loved.

I can only hope that I am up to the task.

Sorrow and Joy

March 19, 2007

Today, the 19th of March, 2007, is a day of sorrow. It is the first anniversary of the the still birth at thirty-seven weeks gestation, of our first grandchild, our first mokopuna.
His actual death occured sometime during the days just before the sixteenth. Our darling daughter Shmoo, had not felt the baby move for a time and woke during the night, certain that something was terribly wrong. She had been an anxious mother-to-be, going for frequent scans and checks and unwilling to waken her sleeping partner Mike for what would probably turn out to be a false alarm, had dressed and driven to the hospital over a high mountain range in the dead of night where her worst fears were confirmed.

The events of the following days and weeks are seared into my heart forever. The details aren’t necessary here and indeed, it would be impossible to convey through the written word what went on, except in the most superficial manner. Mike was a huge support to Shmoo, never leaving her side during the following days that lead up to the actual birth of Little Pea. How he managed this without breaking down I will never know, as he was still grieving the suicide of a son from an earlier relationship.

Going into the dimly lit room after the birth and seeing our daughter lying with their wee, dead baby tucked snugly into the crook of her arm was the most utterly heartbreaking moment of my life. And you could clearly see what sort of a person he would have been. Most new-born babies are a little blank and although the etheric life forces are fully present, the still incarnating individual is yet to mark the new face with the expression of their individuality. But not this little chap; already, you could see strong expression on his face, the broad forehead, the stubborn, set little chin indicating his character. He would have been one of those small, determined children who stamp their way through life, crashing through all obstacles and opposition.

We all wept, impossible to hold such searing pain within. Weeping for ourselves, for each other, for the loss of such potential, weeping for Little Pea. We each cuddled him, handling his cooling body with the greatest of care. He felt so fragile physically, his head lolling, the neck without tone.

The specialist established that the reason for the loss was a condition known as a foetal-maternal bleed – a very rare occurance.

Shmoo and Mike had the wee man cremated and they laid his ashes on the ground in a special place somewhere out near the coastal lake.

But today is also a day of joy, as our daughter and son-in-law are once again expecting a child. A girl-child this time, Nam, due to be born some time during Matariki. It has taken a while for us to allow ourselves to feel joy as the hurt of the last birth is still present, but the scans show a perfect healthy baby and the risk of another loss due to the same condition is statistically so slight that it virtually doesn’t exist. But the apprehension is still there, hovering in the background. I wish I could banish that and just feel the warm positive joy that should accompany a new soul’s journey to earth.

How can the human heart simultaneously hold such conflicting emotions?