We’re Fine, Thanks

Canterbury Flooding

Today is Saturday May 29th. Kia ora katoa.

I haven’t written for a few days. I did try, but was having trouble with Word – I use it to draft whatever I’m going to say. It was misbehaving, and despite my copying my type, and restarting the laptop, it refused to behave. Then I got busy for the rest of the week.

I went to Tai Chi last Tuesday, and met an old friend there. It was pretty cold – the previous time the heaters had been stuck on 16C – a little warm for Tai  Chi. This week there was no such problem. We were glad of our winter woollies. It has been quite chilly in the mornings here.  I wore my puffer jacket – anything below 10 C degrees I take as a sign that it’s required.

On Wednesday, I had a very busy day. After a very cold start, I went to hymn singing. After that, I had coffee with a friend, and then went to see the movie Emma at the Community Centre. It was good to see the film again. How wonderful to see Miranda Hart as Miss Bates for a second time. The film is very stylised, and quite racy in places, but quite beautiful. What a master of dialogue Jane Austen is! How well it is acted!

After the film we had a light lunch.  The next day there was more singing, and in the afternoon I met a friend for afternoon tea.  On Friday I was due to meet another friend in Tawa. Afterwards I shopped at New World in Tawa. What a joy it is to shop somewhere different! It wasn’t crowded, either. Two of our grandchildren were at home on my return. I had bought some smaller jigsaw puzzles very cheaply at an op shop in Johnsonville. Unfortunately, they turned out to have very strangely shaped pieces, and be quite difficult.

We are due to have our Covid 19 vaccine (first jab) after Queen’s Birthday weekend. This is a bit later than expected, but really, there’s no rush; we can’t go anywhere; I’m sure many countries need the vaccine far more than we do here, and the Pfizer vaccine, chosen by our government, seems to have the fewest side effects (there’ve been no reports of blood clots after taking it). The print media are getting upset about the delays, but really, there’s no rush, and the delays aren’t as bad as Australia’s. In Australia, meanwhile, the State of Victoria has started a 7 day lockdown after an alarming (to them) number of community cases of Covid 19 – five yesterday, and four today. The travel bubble (quarantine-free travel between Melbourne and New Zealand has been paused, I think. Ho Hum. In leafy Khandallah, no one really wants to go to Australia, unless they have family there. What we all fantasise about is going to Europe again, and seeing Venice, cathedrals, Roman ruins, great paintings and sculptures, archaeological museums. My itinerary keeps changing as I add new places I must see if I go abroad again.

Another of my reserves has come due at the library – East West Street, by Philippe Sands. I am reading it again, with enjoyment – well not exactly enjoyment, but with  greater understanding. Once again, I am amazed at how totally peoples’ lives were disrupted during the Second World War; news was hard to come by; they took huge chances, and endured separations, and, against the odds, some survived, and their descendants try to assemble the bits and pieces of information about their lives, and get back some sense of self and of their family’s history.

It’s now Monday, May 31st.  Saturday was a quiet day, although we watched Testament of Youth on Maori Television – a great film. Yesterday I went to church, in spite of the cold and rain and a threatened thunderstorm (which didn’t materialise, here).  The church was amazingly warm inside – someone must have turned the heaters on early. This time we had another House from Scots College, and their chaplain, who led the service. We sang some lovely hymns – All creatures of our God and King (remember the Mr Bean sketch?) and Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer. The organ playing was quite amazing.

In the afternoon, we drove our to Titahi Bay, and then met one of our sons and his family for afternoon tea at Kaizen Café. The café has certainly changed, but they still had their wonderful rhubarb shortcake – a large serving, As no one else liked rhubarb, I had to eat it all. It was most delicious.  I had warm memories of the gift shop out there, but it’s being rebuilt, evidently.

We all went to the very nice Porirua Library there – a large library, with lots of quiet and not so quiet spaces. It also has lots of jigsaw puzzles – many large ones. But many children’s ones too, helpfully stored in plastic bags which have zip-locks and hang so that you can see what they are. What a wonderful place!

We also went into one of the galleries, which has a great creative space for children.

On our way home, JD showed me a property he has listed in Tawa, which I was interested to see. What a fine that adventure was! The access to the property was quite slippery – it had been raining, and was still wet, and although a path had been cleared, it sloped and had a rather shaky handrail in parts. The path wound down through the trees – it’s very secluded – till we came to the house.  There was a narrow path to the house, which was flooded, and required walking through water to get to the entrance. I was glad I’d changed my shoes.

To enter, there’s a porch into an entranceway, with a small bathroom straight ahead; two bedrooms with built-in wardrobes; two cupboards in the hallway; then a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. The floor is steady and quite strong, but all the windows have been broken, and the roof has caved in in parts. You’d have to be very careful showing anyone this property. Apparently there is a third bedroom underneath, the property being built on a slope, but we didn’t go down there. There are no internal stairs. You’d have to say, though, that the property has potential; it’s a nice section, and very private, if quite dangerous. What a voyage of discovery!

Overseas, Joe Biden’s presidency should be a quiet time, and one of relief, which it is, but the US Republican party seems to have lost any grip on reality. Several really alarming things have come out: most republican senators voting against a January 6 Commission; Matt Gaetz’s call to armed insurrection, and ever more restrictive voting laws; that’s as well as the ongoing “audit” of votes cast in Maricopa Country in Arizona.  So, in some ways, things are crazier than when the former guy (whose name shall not be mentioned) was president. Thank goodness he’s not, but in future, who can say? 

Talking heads are all talking about what’s happening, and the very worrying end of democratic norms (which were never that democratic, anyway); It’s a huge worry, indeed, as much of the world seems to vote against liberal democracy, even when they do have “free and fair” elections. Most of the talking heads are seriously concerned about the future, as, indeed, we are here. Once again, we are so fortunate to be in Aotearoa, and to have a good and stable and trustworthy government.

Here, though, it’s not safe everywhere. Christchurch is undergoing severe flooding. Poor Christchurch! They’ve endured so much, with earthquakes, the Port Hills fire, the mosque shootings, and now this. Here in Wellington it’s been raining heavily throughout the day, closing the Johnsonville Railway Line for a time, but now the rain has stopped, and the line has been cleared to open again.

Apparently my daughter is to undergo some training to help her cope with vaccination jabs and blood tests. She’ll have a jab if she’s distracted; blood tests are out of the question. I’m intrigued! 

That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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