Sunday, 25 December 2016

BOXING DAY

It's 5.00am on Boxing Day morning, sleep is eluding me so time for some reflections.
29 years ago today my son Rory was born. Such a long time ago yet it has passed quickly.
What a joy he is, and I hope he has a happy day relaxing with his friends and Rose. We had a lovely day yesterday and kept it small and simple here at home. The smallest and the last Christmas we will ever have in this home. It was easy and happy and we all ate far too much, as we'd had a brunch earlier in the day with Georgia's man Dane's family.

Today I'm going over to Takamatua to spend it with my big sister and her tribe and my younger brother and his wife. We were all hoping our other sister would be there too, but she is sadly very unwell and in hospital. I am excited because today is the day I'm going to give them a special book I have been working on for quite some time. I've had 5 copies of it made, one for each of us, and I've had them for a couple of weeks now, published and sent from America, and I can't wait to give it to them. It was all too busy and hectic in the week before Christmas. I will just have to wait a little longer to give it to my other brother and sister. It is a book of "Our Mother's Prayers" made up of hundreds of prayers written on a variety of cut up wheetbix and cruskit and bell tea boxes and similar, over several decades of Mum's lifetime. I found these prayers when we were going through Mum's things after she died on the tenth of the tenth in 2010. They are beautiful and real and raw and a living testament of her love for us all, and of what an amazing woman and Mother she was.

I am strangely a little nervous now it is finally time to reveal this big project. 
There is stuff in there that will make each of us cringe on occasion, but it's all part of the rich tappestry of the life of our Mother, of her strength and courage, her grace, and her love and acceptance of us all, just as we are.

I have had much professional help and support from fellow blogger and journalist, Soberman365. He photographed every single prayer beautifully and laid them all out in the book, while I typed them all to be shown on the page opposite the photographs. It looks so cool seeing the hand written version of them all, next to the typed, which is in a handwriting font. Then I've tried to sort them as well as I can into date order, which has been the hardest and most time consuming part of it all, even more so than the typing, as they span close to thirty years. The cover is made of a mix of all the cut up packets and looks colourful and interesting, and  if it wasn't for the title on the cover one would never guess the depth of the content inside.

So off I go for a day in the sun, and it will also be fabulous to see the progress on my house again now that the gib is nearly completed, and the big oak door I've had made has been installed last week.

It's early evening now and I've had such a nice day catching up with family, my niece with her husband and four gorgeous children. My other niece and her Mum too whom I haven't seen in ages. My sister and brother love their books, and I know they will treasure them, and will read it thoughtfully in quieter moments than today gave us. I know that Mum would be happy today.







Sent from Samsung tablet

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

BUILDING THE FUTURE


5.59am on a Thursday morning. Just woke up with a smile on my face! I was dreaming about hammering the cedar onto the house with special little copper nails, and wondering if they do it by hand or with a nail gun and I was hoping it was by hand. Not sure why, as it will surely cost me more. Maybe because the cedar costs so much that it deserves to be treated with the utmost care. Then I got to thinking about how cool and fun it is to be building this home with my kids being involved every step of the way. Rory as the builder, and Georgia as my consultant on all purchases and all things to do with colour and style. We discuss stuff about the house every time we see each other and often on the phone as well. What I love about it is their enthusiasm and excitement. All three of us nearly have to pinch ourselves sometimes to make sure it's real. But then I guess Rory’s aching back after a long day keeps it real enough for him. And the multitude of complexities he needs to store in his brain.

It is like we really are building our future. For me it's my immediate future, which is scary and amazing and exciting and brave, and that will change their immediate future as well. Now there will be a fabulous destination for them to take little breaks, bring friends over for weekends, and somewhere they can have a boat, get into fishing, go swimming, take nice walks, wander around the cafes and shops and streets of Akaroa. They can listen to music under dimmed lights on the deck long after this old sober Mumma has gone to bed. And I hope before the first year has passed I can organise a working bee weekend where we get a few over to help me build a cool outdoor oven/fire where we can slow cook legs of lamb, bake a ham or have a crack at making our own bread, and enjoy some outdoor ambience while we're at it.

It is with immense satisfaction and dare I say it, even a measured amount of pride, that I'm forging ahead in the creation of this home that will one day become theirs. Some say you shouldn't speak to your children of their inheritance, and to be fair, our parents didn't speak to us about ours, but the world's a different place now and I don't see the point in keeping something so obvious a secret. It is the land I inherited that has provided such a beautiful location for this home, and it's much more fun to share the excitement, and enjoy the humour. Like Rory saying "Can I put a power point over here Mum? I'll be putting a workbench in this corner one day". The thought of them enjoying the home with their families after I've gone is one that makes me smile, knowing they will always be grateful I had the guts to take the project on. As it's turning out, it is no small project either. I'm glad I didn't know too much or fully understand the complexity of the plans, or the true cost involved before I started, or I likely never would of!

The enormity of what is still to come is daunting, like the sorting out of this house in the city, and the streamlining of my business, at which I am all at sea due to my right hand man, Dave, being ready to retire after Christmas, and new staff I'm trying to get trained up continually letting me down, and not working out. There are just four weeks until Christmas and still a massive amount of preparation for the caravans to be ready for their touring holidays. Somehow I’ll get through it all and all will be well.

I am grateful every day that I eliminated my favourite hobby, getting pissed, as taking that out of the equation has enriched my life so much more in the ways that count. I am capable of holding all this together somehow, working on several other projects at the same time, handling the pressure, keeping calm, and actually enjoying the process.

I adore my children, Rory and Georgia, I am so proud of both of them, and I am very happy and grateful for the fabulous relationships we all have with each other. This is what matters more than anything. This is what counts. This is what makes for a happy life as I'm growing older.
This is pure gold for me. A big day awaits me and I am happy. Bring it on!





Friday, 7 October 2016

PONDERING MY WAY THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH


I am beginning to feel like a shell of my former self. I don't know what I want any more, and that scares the hell out of me. I seem to be out on a bit of a limb in all ways!

I am enjoying the build, and Rory's warm and sunny nature makes it so much less stressful than it could be. It is awesome to be doing this with him, but it is still a lot of pressure just to be doing it at all. Such big ongoing decisions to make, all of which are quite crucial, and with such a lack of experience in these things, it’s really keeping me on my toes, I’m just winging it as best I can. And all the while I am trying to imagine what it will be like living there. Beautiful, yes, but I have never in my life felt quite so alone as I do now, this year.  I have never before spent such vast quantities of time completely alone. I am somewhat disillusioned, and a bit at sea. This isn’t how I had hoped my life would be at 2 years and 3 months sober. The remote location at Takamatua certainly won't help this, (the permanent population on google is incorrectly 0, hahaa, there must be at least 30, and the nearest town, Akaroa, 624 rising to 15,000 in tourist season). On the bright side, at least by then I will be used to being mostly by myself. I am trying to learn to love it, and there is much about it that I do love, but it is hard to get used to, particularly without ever softening the edges with an altered state. And more particularly, when for all of my previous life I have been surrounded with people. It is like I have retreated into myself unconsciously, to succeed in being alcohol free, and now I am kind of invisible.

So what else am I feeling? A deep emptiness, maybe a little depressed, and rather confused.
I think I am realising that neither my family nor my friends really bond with the sober me. They prefer me the way I was, which is understandable I guess. I was way more fun, I had more humour, more personality, I was more reckless and I suppose easier to be with, up to a point. The point where they probably stopped drinking and I kept going.

My friends have all but forgotten my existence, or so it would seem. I guess though, at this age everyone has got their own stuff going on in their lives, and in winter we all hibernate a bit, so I mustn't be paranoid. I do sometimes miss that old reckless me too, and I sometimes ache to be sitting amongst old friends having a good laugh. But the truth is that some people find having someone in their midst who is not drinking, when they are, to be quite confronting. It seems to make them feel uncomfortable about their own drinking, often to the point where they start talking about it, and almost justifying themselves. Frankly, I don't mind a hoot what anyone else does, I am not even thinking about their drinking, I'd much rather not talk about it, and it’s never me that brings it up, but it is just what happens. Usually it soon passes and we get onto other things and have good conversations, but it is sometimes a bit awkward at first. It is hard enough to learn to socialise sober, but having this completely unintentional glitch to get through is a bit of a burden sometimes. The very last thing I want to do is make anyone uncomfortable. So I get torn between making an effort to go out, or staying at home in my comfort zone because it is easier.
I have also realised that when I am not working I am a bit lost. I can hardly wait until it is late enough to go to bed. How sad is that? That is definitely like a shell of my former self!!

I guess I must trust that all will be well, that wounds will heal, family will unite, laughter will return, my new home will bring new energy and perhaps new people into my life, eventually, and the serenity those views will bring to me daily, will be a balm to my soul.

I know, even if others don't, that the life I am living and the person I am striving to become is the best version of myself I can be. There will always be a vastness of room for improvement. I am human after all, and right now my human frailty has risen right to the surface and it is that which I am living and breathing daily. I need to keep a stiff upper lip as my Dear Dad used to say, and I need to allow and observe and sit with my feelings and feel the rawness and accept it, and move on.

I will continue to offer support to others daily in their own brave quests to give up the booze.
I have a very busy week coming up. I am honoured that Mrs D has asked me to monitor the Living Sober website for a week while she takes a well-deserved break from all social media and technology, for the first time since before the LS website was even launched. I will strive to do a good job of that. I will strive also to be a sister that my family are proud of and I hope that they will try to see me as I am. A straight sober and sensitive sister who loves them all, and who is working her butt off and living on her wits to try to pull off the biggest dream she’s ever had. 




Saturday, 17 September 2016

A LAKEHOUSE GATHERING


Last week I flew up to Tauranga and stayed with my very cool friend Charlie Gilbert, whom I met right here in 'blogisphere" when we both first started blogging after giving up alcohol on the same day, 20th July 2014. It's the third time I've been up to see her, and we met up once in Wellington too at the big gathering there in October last year. We've become good friends and we both know it is a lifetime friendship we will have. Since I was last up she has ended her 10 year relationship, sold out of her shared home, farm and business, and purchased and moved with her two children into a beautiful waterfront home in Tauranga with views to die for. Her Apsie teenage daughter has changed his name to Felix and is wearing man’s clothes, dyed his hair pink and got a nose stud.
She has founded a group and set up a very relaxed premises for educating quirky teens who do not fit into the school system, and it's going off, the teens, including Felix, are loving it and thriving, and it’s getting big attention from various agencies who simply cannot help these kids. There is a film crew there at the moment doing a reality documentary following one of the Tourette’s kids. I call Charlie the Aspie Whisperer. Other agencies already want to come and gawk at how it's done, but she won't allow her tribe of teens to be intruded upon in their safe space which they love. She's started another small enterprise at her home, doing a course for the teen girls on hair and makeup, clothes shopping and nail polish etc, and they all just love it, and love her, as do the parents. She also does respite day care in her home some days for an Aspie boy whose Mother needs a break. I am so very proud of her, it is a beautiful thing to witness such courage and ingenuity in the face of huge adversity. To watch a friend find her true calling, break new frontiers and thrive, is nothing short of amazing.
Watch this space. She will go far.

After staying a couple of days in Tauranga we dropped Felix off at Aspie school on the Friday and both kids would stay with their Dad for the weekend, while we went up to Rotorua for our long awaited weekend with three other Living Sober members at a big luxury Lakehouse at Ngongotaha on Lake Rotorua. What a phenomenal weekend. One flew in from Brisbane, one from Wellington, one from Dunedin. We were three ladies and two men. All of them the most fabulous and brilliant characters, and it was just beautiful to forge deeper friendships and to know and understand them all so much more. These friendships are quite unique in that there is already a powerful trusting bond formed from our communications on the LS website, so when we all get together in person it feels like old friends gathering, yet some of us hardly know each other. On the Saturday we had a few friends arrive for a big afternoon visit, all friends from the LS website, two from Whakatane, one from Taupo and one from MataMata or Hobitown, and Mrs D who was up in Rotorua for a big Addictions Conference. It was very cool to entertain them all in our lovely big warm temporary home, and we feasted and drank mocktails, and talked about our lives, our struggles and our triumphs, amidst much laughter and warmth. We enjoyed watching our resident Swan Whisperer, Phil, attracting about 20 black swans and many ducks with his bags of bread and left over curried egg and rocket sandwiches. I had such a wonderful time deepening these friendships with amazing people whom I love and trust, and I feel greatly enriched by the experience, and the privilege it was. We would all love to do it again.

Home to some tricky family issues taking place in my absence, but hopefully that will result in us all being more understanding, loyal and united as a family. It is beneficial to all to recognise and respect each other’s qualities, forgive the shortcomings, and celebrate our differences.

The roof is ready to go on my new house this coming week, it was supposed to be yesterday but the roofer has had to delay again. This is So exciting for me and it will be great to see the progress that will follow. The windows are ordered, the joiners measure up next week, the tiler was over there yesterday checking things out, and the drainage guy too, so there's plenty going on and sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe I am really doing it, and that my son Rory is really building his Mumma's home, and doing a fine job of it with such excellent communication and patience with me, it is so appreciated. How many builders would be merely amused at a client who changes her mind about nearly everything at least six times!! What a lovely nature he has. We are all so excited and blown away, Rory and Georgia and I, that it really is a happening thing and soon we will have a lovely home in paradise to relax in and soak up the sun and views and the peace, whenever we want  for the rest of our days. I look forward to the patter of little grandbabies feet, and to all the love and laughter and promise the future holds for us all.

I feel the spirit of my Father on this land, I always have, and I know Mum and Dad would be proud of us all for honouring them and their gift of this land, by putting down these strong roots for our future generations. I am feeling so lucky and blessed.


Friday, 26 August 2016

SPRING HAS NOT QUITE SPRUNG

I've been wondering where I used to get all the time to drink. Generally once I started drinking that was about it for everything else.  I might cook or make a couple of phone calls, but mainly it was just drinking and music and talking, oh and sometimes playing the fool! I seemed to manage an awful lot of responsibilities for all of those many years I was quite happily boozing my way through life, I honestly don't know how I did it.  I am even a little bit in awe of myself. There is so much to do and arrange and focus on and remember every single day, what was I thinking by knocking back  hefty amounts of alcohol pretty much every night? I am So glad I do not do this any more. Every day I wake up with a clear head and feeling at peace with myself.   No regret, no uneasy feelings, no guilt, no queasy stomach or headache, no feelings of  "how am I going to get through today". Instead I am happy, hungry, full of energy, rearing to go, and ready to accomplish all I'm able to in that one day. I love the sense that I am not wasting any of my life any more. There is so much yet to do and to learn and to see and to feel. I am excited about all that is ahead for me. The unknown aspect of it intrigues me.  To imagine the grandchildren that are not yet born.  To imagine the people whom I will love and laugh with that I have not yet met. Life is full of change, particularly for those of us who are open to it, and I feel today that of all the seasons, Spring is the one that brings the most positive change, to us as well as to nature. I look forward to new growth in my garden, and in my heart and my soul as well.
I have a lovely fire going and I'm warm and content and cosy, but I will be happy to farewell our winter for another year, and next Winter I will be embracing it in my new home, and so much closer to nature. Yeah!  Bring it on...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

TWO YEARS SOBER

I always told myself if I reach two years sober I'll "out" myself on Facebook just in case it encourages or inspires any others to take a deeper look......
So I put this up yesterday and "the crowd went wild" 57 comments and 112 likes so far and they are still trickling in.....sheesh!!


YAY!

Might as well say it’s two years today since alcohol has passed these lips
Sometimes miss my fun party self, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this
When I was boozing, I wasn’t just snoozing, not quite the proverbial train wreck
Gave it a good nudge for two thirds of my life, comes a time when a girl think’s Heck!
The me that I’ve found underneath my facades has gained so much more than I’ve lost
I am free, I am strong, I live real and raw, feeling all my emotions whatever the cost
No guilt, no shame, self-respect is my game, and trying to be all I can be
It’s different and lonely and sometimes it’s rough, but it beats being out of my tree
So many upsides OMG who knew?  Always real, authentic, gritty and true
Growing up in a culture that idolizes drinking we get sucked in without even thinking
Now seems the time to stand up and be brave, it’s way more than dollars and health that we save
Every aspect of life enhanced in all ways, brain is awake, not in a daze
Clarity, empathy, intuition galore, motivation, energy, time for others, lots more
I’d have to say it’s the best thing I’ve done, and the biggest reward has come from my son
He saw my life change, saw the battle I’d won, he gave up the piss, yes indeed and the weed
Feeling pride and awe deep down in my core, I’m so impressed, and I know I am blessed
I’m lucky and plucky and happy and free coz my son and my daughter are in turn proud of me
I’m winning and grinning, don’t need to be told, that this is pure gold for me growing old.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

WINTER



Ever since I left the booze behind I've found winter to be the hardest to get through.  I got sober in July 2014 so this is more or less my third winter.  I don't actually know if it has much to do with not drinking, or if it is just that I always feel so much more alone in winter.  It really brings it home to me what it's like living without a partner.  I miss the companionship, the conversations and the laughter.
I miss having someone to eat with and I miss having someone to bring in the firewood for me.
In summer I guess I miss all these things too but I am usually so busy that it's almost a relief not to have to think about another person's needs.  Looking back, winter was a great time to while away a few hours by the fire with music and southern comfort, friends and laughter.  It's interesting how easy it is to romanticise how it was before.  My last sentence conjures up a vision of me and a few friends sitting around a nice fire laughing and talking and having a few drinks.  True.  That is what we did, and many happy times were had.  But when they'd gone did I stop?  Nah!  Was I having a few drinks or were they having a few drinks?  They had a few drinks while I had about twice as many.  They went home and I'd put another log on the fire, another cd or record on the stereo, pour another drink and party on.  Trouble with me was I got so used to it I could go to bed and read a book after that, then get up in the morning and run my mini empire!!  Hahaha.
Do I wish I was still doing all that?  No.  There's just some bits I really miss is all.

This winter I'm keeping pretty busy with choices and decisions surrounding the build, and I really enjoy going over there fairly often to see the progress.
It's fabulous having my son build it, he's doing a great job and loving it.  I get to have far more involvement in the small complexities than I would if anyone else was building it.  He consults me on many things that are small details but will make all the difference in the over all finished product.
I feel really lucky knowing my son has got my back at all times.

I've been thinking a lot about what it will be like to live there.  I've longed for this for a great many years.  As the reality becomes closer a little bit of vulnerability and uncertainty is creeping in.  Yes I'll have a lovely home with beautiful views, and the peace and silence that comes with it.  What I am really doing is isolating myself even more than I already feel isolated.  So I will have to make sure that I make an effort to keep busy, to meet new people, to stay focused and involved in my business, and to not allow myself to be completely on my own for too long at a time.  I shall remember that it is only an hour or so back to the city and there's heaps here that I enjoy doing on my own.  It's a long way off yet too, so plenty of time for more pondering.  The photo's are taken from up at my sister's holiday home which is right behind mine, and my brother and his wife are also building a holiday home, and my nephew and his wife have one too.  Note the difference.  They all use them as holiday homes but I am going to live in mine permanently.  I am happy that as we are growing older we will all see more of each other than we have through these busy years of bringing up our children and beyond.  Everything about what I'm doing feels right actually, except the hideous costs involved!

Can't think about that just now, or I'll totally freak!!

Hey Ho!  I will go into it brave, trusting and positive with an open heart and an open mind and see what life brings my way.








Monday, 20 June 2016

A GATHERING



Today is the Monday after a fabulous weekend with 23 members of our tribe from the Living Sober website gathering together here in my home for a whole day and evening of eating, drinking, laughing, talking and getting to know each other.  It was a whole three day weekend for me as the first two guests arrived Friday and the last one left this morning. Most stayed elsewhere, I only had four to stay. They have come from as far South as Southland and The Catlins and as far North as Auckland and Hamilton.  It has been an amazing privilege to have the opportunity to meet these women, some of whom I've met before at the Wellington gathering last year, and some for the first time.  The beauty of these new friendships is that there is already an inherent trust in each other via the website, where we all do share our innermost feelings and fears and failures and triumphs.  These people know more about me and what I am about than my own family do I think sometimes, and it is likewise with them.  They will share things on LS that they would not bother to tell their husband or best friend or sister or brother because they simply don't "get it" like we do.  I think that was the feeling all of us experienced this weekend, a feeling of relief to be with like minded people who understand the struggle that it is to live our lives always in the raw, never anything to dull down strong emotions like anger, hurt, or disappointment, or fear and anxiety, never an altered state to help cope with the daily ups and downs.  We are all extremely pleased that we've taken alcohol out of our lives, and are no longer sucked in to the belief that is pushed upon us daily by all forms of media/social media and by the heavy NZ drinking culture we grew up in.  The belief that to have a good time one must drink alcohol.  A party, a BBQ with the neighbours, a wedding, a picnic in the park, a meal in a nice restaurant, a visit to a girlfriend, and on it goes, end of the day, end of the week......well I know myself I found any occasion at all a good occasion to drink alcohol, that is what we did, that was normal.  While it is great to be on the other side now of that illusory trap, it is also fair to say that giving up alcohol does not instantly make for a glorious fulfilled life.  Giving it up is where the work begins.  And it is work, and it’s tough.  It is hard doing the inner work required to really know one's self, to be completely real and honest with yourself at all times.  It is hard (for me) changing from being a very social person to one who spends tremendous amounts of time alone.  It is hard accepting that some of the people you considered friends were really drinking buddies and do not have much interest in who or how you are, now that you don't drink alchohol.  They are just busy on their own endelss cycles of what we used to do ourselves.  It is sometimes relentless and daunting facing the life you have now and the empty or lost parts of it that booze used to fill.  Without ever really realising it or thinking about it, drinking used up so much time, filled so many spaces, glossed over so many anxieties, hurts and problems.  It allowed us to believe that everything was okay in our world, and it soothed and smoothed the rough edges in the relationships we have.  It allowed us to bury some of that which troubled us, for a while.  It let us forget those slippery feelings of guilt and self loathing, and let us rest and breathe easy and push those uncomfortable feelings down, for a while. It had such a powerful hold for so much of our lives.
Not any more, that's for sure, and it has been amazing to communicate all weekend with like minded women who actually understand all of that, the joy and the pride and the heartache as well, and so much more.  There has been much laughter, some very real and honest tears, a shared warmth and depth of feeling that is so natural, so real and trusting, and yet so rare.
 I seem to have swayed towards the gritty raw and difficult stuff here, it is very real for all of us, and we spoke of this.  We all agree we have gained an enormous amount more than we have lost, with the changes we have made, but it was good to acknowledge that it has not been, and is not a walk in the park.
I miss the laughter the most I think, I really did love being a silly drunk idiot sometimes.




Monday, 23 May 2016

BUSY TIMES BUT STILL WINNING


It’s sure been a while since I’ve written a blog, truth is I’ve had a busy couple of months.  There’s quite a lot to do and arrange and choose and decide when building a house.  Who knew about the myriad of little perplexities that arise, even quite early on in the piece that require consideration?  I decided before the beginning of the project that I would approach it with interest, enthusiasm, trust and faith in my builder, and that I would embrace the difficulties and the triumphs and enjoy the process.  And so far that is working out mighty fine.  The excavation, foundations and retaining are a wee bit complex and taking a long time, but the floor and the deck are built and ready to be covered, and the frames are ordered, so soon enough there will be walls.  My son is great to work with and we make a good team. 

Sober life in general is going pretty well.  I had an old friend, Kevin, staying for quite a while, about 7 weeks all up with a break in the middle.  He has moved back to New Zealand after 25 years in Australia, so it was good to be able to help him get on his feet.  He drinks and smokes, so that was a bit of a challenge having it around me on a daily basis, but it also gave me a good current example of a person who can enjoy a few drinks and then stop.  He loves going out and listening to live music and so do I, so it also gave me a chance to get out a lot more than usual for dinners and music and social interaction.  I have been rather quiet socially since I gave up the booze, so it was good for me to realise how much I still do enjoy watching and listening to a good live performance, in fact I think I enjoy it more than I ever did.  There’s none of that obsessing about the next drink, or going out for a cigarette, there’s just my focus on the music, the instruments, the sounds from each one, and the raw talent of the musicians.  I’ve always loved live music when partying, but I love it even more now.  It’s a bit more rare to get me up on the dancefloor these days, but hey, it has happened!

Oh I turned 60 last month and had a great night out at The rough Diamond Caf√© in Diamond Harbour where there just happened to be some excellent live music that night.  Brenda arrived down from Motueka for a surprise visit for my birthday, the darling, so she and the kids and a couple of others came out with me, and it was such a good night and very cool to see so many old friends from the years I lived over there.  Wonderful to see Brenda, and the next night we went to the Wunderbah to see Carmel and her band do a Tom Waits Commemoration.  Absolutely excellent, cabaret style, very entertaining, world class musicianship, the crowd went wild!

So now here I am Sober at Sixty and looking down the barrel of a fabulous future, where eventually I will move to my new home in Takamatua and see what life brings my way after that.  One thing I know it will bring me is beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the tranquillity and balance I feel when I live near the sea.  I have missed that for a very long time now, having been in this home since March 2005.  I have had a very busy 11 years and they have served their purpose nicely in all ways.  I don’t mind when I move to the new house, just when it is ready will be fine, I am just winging it all in every way really, I have no fixed idea of how or when it will be.  It will be such an enormously huge change for me, it is almost scary, but it feels natural and right to be going back to my roots, and to spend the next part of my life surrounded in the beauty of the hills and the sea, on the land I grew up on, and to be closer to some of my family who are there often.  Yep!  Bring it on is what I say!


Thursday, 17 March 2016

ROAD TRIP






Coming to the end of a fabulous road trip with my long time friend Jane.  We've been away for a couple of weeks here in the North Island.  We are celebrating our 60th birthdays which are coming up in April and May.  We've been right up through the Bay of Islands and Northlands and down to the Coromandel and pretty much everywhere in between.  We are in Taupo now on the Lake front and have just got back from a very cool restaurant. Tomorrow we are going for an early swim in a hot water spring in a river under a bridge that some locals showed us, then we're off to Napier.  The Bay of Islands and Northland are absolutely beautiful and I'd go there anytime at the drop of a hat, but it's the Coromandel that has stolen my heart.  I honestly don't know why anyone bothers going overseas when we have such stunning beauty on offer right here in EnZed.  We hiked around the rocks and then along a beautiful track and over the saddle into New Chums Beach and what a treat that was. Miles of pristine untouched golden sand beach with many huge Pohutakawas for shade.  I can only  imagine how stunning it must look when they are all in flower.  The water was blue and warm and wonderful and I enjoyed a fabulous swim and some body surfing.  We went to Whitianga after that and got a penthouse suite over looking the beach and in the afternoon we went out on a boat around all the bays and islands and saw Cathedral Cove, and we went into a big cave and saw lots of fish and kinna through the glass bottom.  It is all very picturesque and I took some great fotos.  We found another gorgeous place called Tairua where our friends Peter and Sue have a bach so we walked all over the place there, and we both want to live there.  Beautiful beach, only one person on it at lunchtime, and a big lagoon as well, and all so immaculately kept, mowed bright green grass for miles around the lagoon.  Some houses have a big deck over looking the beach, and another one at the back overlooking the lagoon. Opposite this place is another place called Pauanui which looks quite rich, lots of nice big yachts and houses but not quite the same homely feel of Tairua.  We went through Thames on the way in and up the west coast to Coromandel Town.  Both of these places are full of quaint and gorgeous little old cottages which are beautifully kept, and fabulous old buildings and pubs in both towns too. The drive up the West Coast was breathtaking and spectacular.  As was the drive down the East Coast and on out to Waihe and Whangamata and then down to the Mount and Tauranga.
Earlier we'd been to Whanganui and right up the river to Jerusalem where James K Baxter is buried, he had a commune there where my friend Sarah used to live back in the seventies. We went to Mt Taranaki, Dawson Falls, New Plymouth and Pukakura Park. We had a nice walk around and breakfast in Raglan, my first time back there since going there on the way to Ngarawahia Music Festival in the early seventies. We stayed in Auckland for a couple of days with Peter and Sue, which was so cool, and I got to catch up with Kerry and Duncan and Rose and Paul as well. Then on up to Whangerei, had a good look around it's beach areas then up to Paihea for a couple of nights and there just happened to be a Harley Davidson Convention on there for the two nights we were there, so there were 2000 bikes and about 3000 riders/passengers.  That kept things busy and interesting.  We walked over to Waitangi and saw the Treaty House, the beautiful big wakas, the magnificently carved Meeting House and the new museum.  We had a really nice two bedroom apartment in the bush which we were lucky to get, and we stayed a couple of nights there.  We explored Russell, going across on the ferry, and we drove right up the coast to Whangapaoa and out to a gorgeous beach and we were awed by the beauty.  Back to KeriKeri and a cafe in dense bush surroundings that was very hard to find.
I am so glad to have seen all these places. Apart from the Coromandel I have seen them all before, but many years ago, like about 25 or longer.  It is good to remind one's self of the beauty of New Zealand.  Really we needed way longer than 2 weeks to cover so much ground, but I am so grateful for all we have seen and experienced. I am also grateful that I am not drinking and that I seem able to cope with it being around me every night in the motels and at the restaurants. I did not ever want to be the sort of sober person who feels threatened or uncomfortable by the choices other's make.  It was me who had the problem, not anyone else.  I just stick with my lime and soda and feel 100% every single day.  Bring on tomorrow.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

I'VE TAKEN THE PLUNGE AND THE BUILD HAS BEGUN




OMG I am actually doing it......finally! After several years of planning, designing, working with architect, getting approved plans, freaking out at cost, pulling the pin, taking another look at it, getting more quotes, all hideously far too much......well now here I am now actually started.  I am very excited and just a tad nervous as I don't really know what it will cost.  If you have everything quoted it costs up to 20% more to allow for contingencies.  So I am winging it.  Knocked back all the build quotes and instead I've got my son, Rory, and a local Akaroa builder on a labour only contract and I will pay all the trades myself.  Rory has totally got my back and is excited too, to be involved in his first build out on his own after completing his apprenticeship. We will project manage it together, each doing what they are best at. There's a long road ahead and no doubt some tricky times but I am going to try my very best to keep the stress levels down and enjoy the process.  My sister and her husband live right behind my site and have very generously allowed Rory to stay there during the week while they are in town, which helps enormously and just makes everything so much more possible and it feels so good, and he just loves it at their house and feels like a rock star!  Building by day, rapping and writing songs by night.

Everything else is ticking along, although it has been an extremely stressful start to the new year due to some personal family difficulties, which have put us all under a lot of strain, but happily now things are beginning to settle down.  My business is very busy at this time of year so while everyone else is on holiday I barely get even the stats off and need to remain focused and busy the whole way through the season.  Making hay while the sun shines so to speak, and that is going well.

Looking forward to early Feb when I'm going up to see my blogging mate Charlie who has invited me up for a few days for the second time to stay on their wonderful farm near Mt Maunganui and Tauranga, with their 360 degree views of the hills and the sea.  We really "get" each other and have become great friends.  After that I'm doing a road trip with my friend Jane right round the North Island for two weeks in March.  It's to celebrate our 60th birthdays which happen in April and May but we thought we'd better head off while the weather is hopefully still pretty warm.  We've been friends since we were 12 so that's 48 years now!!  Sheesh!!

The AirBnB thing I'm doing is also keeping me pretty busy and I'd better go now and pick some flowers for the room for tonight's guests which is a family with a two year old! All the money goes into the "build fund" so there is a very definite purpose and reason for opening up my home to strangers. It's really not very hard and they are all very nice, varied and interesting people from all over the globe, and people always interest me, so it's a bit of a win all round really.

In case anyone wants a wee report on the sugar intake, it is only slightly improved.  My experiment didn't work, hahaha, but I have since been a little bit more disciplined.......if I don't buy it I can't eat it.....yer right!

Friday, 1 January 2016

AND HERE'S TO 2016.....HAPPY NEW YEAR


It’s been a while so it’s about time for another blog and what better time to write one than New Years Day?

Last night was interesting. I was pondering not doing anything, but then thought I’ve got the rest of my life to have lonely New Years Eve’s if I choose them so I won’t start that caper yet!  I drove over to the Port early and picked up my wee mate Carmel and we went into town to Vesuvios where she plays on Sunday nights.  We had some delicious and interesting vegetarian tapas, some great conversations between ourselves and with others, she had a few wines, I had lemon and soda and just before 10pm we went down Victoria St and up to Boo Radleys where she was doing a New Years Eve gig with 3 other excellent musicians. I had a table quite near the band but was essentially on my own then as Carmel was busy doing amazing things with her two saxophones and singing her beautiful heart out.  There were people dining and partying and the place was packed.  Met some young women at the table next to me and joined them so we could move my table and a few empty ones to make them a dance floor.  Several times I went up to the bar and bought Carmel a gin and soda, I only had the one drink there, you can only drink so much when you know you’re not going to get a hit off it (amazing how the brain works).  I had to keep an eye on my drink and give it a sniff each time I wanted a sip because the girls at the table were all pretty trashed and were unknowingly playing musical drinks.  Over the course of four hours there while I thoroughly enjoyed the music, I also enjoyed observing the changes in people as the night wore on, particularly the girls I was now with.  Two of them were partners and there was this quite hot young guy in a check shirt hanging around who probably didn’t know that (I did because Carmel told me) and each time one went to get a drink or go to the loo (both tasks took ages) he would get all over the other one on the dance floor and be touching her arse etc and she would be flirting back all sexual.  I was waiting for a showdown but it never happened.  The other girl each time missed it by seconds, and then soon after it was her turn and she was just as bad.  It was hilarious to watch.  I ended up dancing for something to do, and once I got into the groove I stayed up there for about 2 hours so I’ve had a good work out.  In the end the girls were hugging me and slobbering all over me and can’t wait to meet up with me again hahahaa none of them had any idea I wasn’t drinking.   At mid night one saw my glass was nearly empty so in order for a good toast she tipped half her glass in mine!  Shit!  So then Carmel just got me some water off the bar and we all toasted away, they didn’t actually notice what had just gone down.  I lasted till 2.00am and then we tried to arrange a cab for Carmel with my personal taxi man, Ken, I hope he went and got her at 3.00am.

What I noticed about this night was I actually had a really good time.  And it was a long time, from 6.30pm till nearly 3.00am by the time I got home. Daughter text me as I was leaving asking if I was still out, I said yes, she said “gangsta mum” and could I come and take them home, they were pissed at Barettas, so off I went and collected them amongst some real lively revelry on St Asaph St, people and cops all over the road, yahooing, staggering……found them by texting and gave them a lift home, because I could, and they were very grateful.

I think it is true that when you stop drinking you have to fake it till you make it socially, and I think I’ve just started to make it.  I know the drunk people are having a really good time and they are harmless and even quite endearing in their clumsiness and raucous stupidity.  I felt quite detached from the actual drinks.  I nearly took a photo of the bar at  Boo Radleys as it was the best and most beautifully displayed array of liquor I have ever seen, and I appreciated that for what it is, it is a bar, they sell alcohol, and they seem to be doing a damn good job of it, energetically shaking cocktails and literally running to keep up with the customers and clean glasses and clean space.  Excellent staff.  I was honestly glad to be sober.  I would rather be me than any one of them.  I wouldn’t mind Carmel’s talent or the drunk girl’s looks and figures, but all in all I am happy enough just being sober me in all situations.  I liked having my wits about me, and I liked being my true self when introduced and chatting to a couple of the band members, who also appeared to be sober (too busy to drink probably).  I liked waking up this morning feeling good and capable of achieving the things I need to do today. Busy washing sheets and making beds for more guests expected this afternoon.

The only big thing about myself at the moment I’m not very happy with is my addiction to sweet yummy things which is making me fat.  So I've decided today to take a different approach to my burgeoning sugar addiction.  Willpower doesn't work on this one, believe me I've tried.  So I've just finished whipping up some cream, downing 3 meringues with sliced strawberry, I've filled 2 left over brandy snaps that I've been staring at longingly since Christmas, I'll leave those in the fridge to get that slightly soggy thing going on, then down they'll go, then I might have some (sugar free hahaha) ice cream and chocolate sauce.  If I go out I will buy some raspberries and have my all time favourite......raspberries and ice cream, fresh cream, icing sugar and a meringue.  I shall not eat one thing today that is not sweet and bad for me.  Oh new idea....I'll go down to the deli at The Tannery and get one of their most delicious home made chocolate √©clairs with the layer of thinly sliced strawberries underneath the cream......mmmm..... and I will finish off with chocolate in the evening.  This is a true addict speaking here, and I am thinking this will cure me, on this the first day of a new year, and that after today I will be so dismayed and disgusted with myself that change will force itself upon me.  It is either that or I have to quickly fall truly madly deeply in love and then lose this lucky person, as the emotional grief of that scenario is the only way I know how to lose weight.  I am happy to be entering a new year as mad as a hatter, as that is probably the only way I will get through what I have set myself up for this year.  And I'll leave that for another day.  Happy New Year to us all xo