Sunday, 21 February 2016

GreeNZ Peace is Moving!

Kia Ora!
Since we have decided to resign from fully paid employment and begin a new lifestyle working in our backyard, it seems fitting to move to a more sustainable blog site!
Thank you for reading some of my blogs, I have enjoyed sharing with you.  I am excited to be moving to a new platform and blogging on a new site.  If you would like to see what I am sharing, please check it out HERE !

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Recycling Tetrapaks

 We live in the beautiful Western Bay of Plenty.  A quiet, peaceful little village hugging the shores of the Tauranga Harbour protected by Matakana Island.  It's a wee gem in the necklace that is the Bay.  On a sunny, clear day, we have these terrific glimpses of the inland harbour, over to the headland of Kauri Point, and outcrops of Matakana Island and Mount Maunganui.  It's friendly, and people pass each other in the streets and greet you.

But I am not here to talk about the merits of living here, more to the point, what to do with the useless used tetrapaks we buy at the supermarket when we purchase coconut water (silly!  They come in the greatest biodegradable nature-made containers!!), nut or grain milks (why not make your own - easy peasy!), or UHT milk (toss-up - plastic or tetrapak, not sure which is better, plastic can be recycled where I live).  I have dabbled with a few options but these are the most user-friendly solutions to recycling Tetrapaks I could share.
Cut the side off of a tetrapak and cut X's in the bottom with a craft knife, pushing a pencil through to create little holes out of the X's.
Fill the prepared seed trays with seedling mix and sow your seeds.  Wait for the magic to reveal itself.  The tetrapak seed trays become quite soft, so it is easy to pop individual seedlings out before planting into vegetable beds or garden.

Turn an old Tetrapak outer into a suitable wallet coin purse or travel sewing kit by cutting off both top and bottom ends, folding the sides inwards to create a wallet effect. Fold them in half (i.e two concertinaed folds).  Cut  a top cover to fold over and fasten with either ribbon or button.  The one above is a great little travel sewing kit.  The irony is that this Tetrapak is for organic coconut water, which happens to have been packaged in a perfectly organic biodegradable outer shell!!  But business being business, some company had a great idea!  Voila!  Let's remove the water from the hard-to-crack outer shell, pour it into a sterile Tetrapak with a longer shelf life and ship it all over the world!  Let's not be concerned that the Tetrapak container is not recyclable every where it will end up!!  And let's brand it as Certified BioGro Organic!   Truly, I think common sense is no longer common!!

 Above is another little Tetrapak coin purse, using a button and string to wind around to keep it closed.  Ingenious, (not my design) but sad that we have to resort to trying to make use of what is basically a useless item of throw away junk!  We pay a yearly fee for curbside recycling.  A few city councils do recycle these but when I inquired at my local council, they were befuddled by the question and had to hand my on to the next operator, who still could not give me an answer!  She searched through her brochures and wall charts, to no avail.  When I asked if they had plans to include Tetrapaks in future recycling operations, there was a disquietening silence.  And then suggestions I call another company or even look on the Council website for the information (I had prior to our conversation!!).

There have been times we have had to buy Tetrapaks though usually I tend to avoid purchasing them like the plague!  What to do with our conundrum?How can we create a groundswell movement where we as consumers, tell the producers exactly what we want and how it is packaged?  And will they actually listen??
Under Blue Bay Skies

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Writing on the Wall

 2.02.16 Post Script to this blog:  I have just discovered this bit of writing which I had done, prior to my December seizures.  Hmmn, it is interesting to see that my thinking has not changed much between the episodes.  Below is what I wrote in November 2015:

The Writing has long been on the Wall.  My husband had a brain tumor and subsequent neurosurgery 8yrs ago to remove it, and so I have always thought life is very precious, that we should enjoy it to the MAX!  With this in mind, I resigned recently, to finish teaching at the end of the year (I am a kindergarten teacher), so I can spend more time with my hubby.  Gearing toward time together......I have convinced him to also drop his paid full time work.  It wasn't easy but I managed to do it!
The Writing on the Wall....
And then 3 weeks ago, I had 2 brain seizures.  Phew!  Out of the Blue!  No warning.  No feeling unwell.  Only a minor sore back to bug me.  Funny how Life throws curved balls, without you having any indication of them coming, fast and furious!  Just Bam!  That's it Ma'am!  Time to take stock of Things.  We learn as we go.  No dress rehearsal.  Just impromptu acting out on the stage of Life.  Learning the dance steps in the middle of the show!

A couple of days short of my 49th birthday, we went to bed after watching something on TV, next thing I woke up on the bathroom floor, wondering what I was doing there.  My husband was talking on the phone and the before I could comprehend, there were 2 ambulance officers taking me to hospital!  I was hooked up to an IV drip on the side of the road and then I knew no more.
The ebb and flow of Life.....
 Apparently I had 2 seizures, one at home at 2am, and then the second on arriving in the emergency ward at hospital.  My poor husband witnessed both and said he felt helplessness and despair.  I woke up in intensive care, hooked up to an IV drip.  My worst nightmare.  Or so I initially thought.  This nightmare was rather surprising, and I discovered that I was strong, even in my weakest moment! I could shuffle to the toilet and back, with my Drip on Wheels, and return to my bed, with a sense of Immense Achievement!
I have done a lot of writing on the walls around our home!
In our bedroom....just in case we forget where to sleep!!

The doctor was a Nigerian doctor, Dr O, with the most beautiful big liquid brown eyes and smiley face.  At first he thought I may have had a brain bleed and wanted to do a lumbar puncture to check if there was blood in my spinal column but I refused, politely but firmly!  He tried to convince me but I challenged him to try other avenues, and the blood tests came back to reveal dangerously low levels of iron and magnesium and haemoglobin (the oxygen carrying capacity of blood), so I was given 2 pouches of life-giving red blood cells, and antibiotics (aaargh!) via IV.  After 2 1/2 days I was allowed to check out.

A Starfish out of Water.......
 What I learned:
  • The nurses and doctors in Tauranga hospital are the kindest, warm-hearted people I have met in any organisation!
  • The ambo's from Katikati are un-rockable, un-flappable people you could ever wish for in an emergency.
  • I am human.  I have weaknesses!  And I'm learning a lot!  About myself, health and well-being.
  • I have so much to do before I expire!
  • Food's horrid in hospital.
  • Magnesium is VITAL for human bodies!  It helps avoid seizures.
  • Healthy Living is like flying in the dark, without getting regular blood checks!
  • I am loved and would be missed by friends and family!
  • I have always feared the medical fraternity, but I have come to realise, we need them in times of weakness and illness. 
  • I can take drugs (legal) for the first time ever, and I will survive, and even though I look forward to ditching them, for the time, they are maintaining an equilibrium I need.

Leaving Footprints on the Heart.......
The last hospital stay for me was when I had my first baby (23yrs ago)!  And even that was accidental (was supposed to be a home birth but my husband ended up calling the ambo's to find out how long they would take to get there if we needed them - they came anyway!)  So I have lived quite a healthy, happy life.  Eating organic, much of it home-grown.  Don't smoke, don't drink, don't eat meat........ hell, sounds like I don't have fun, but I really do!!
Sailing through Life......
I have sailed through life, considering myself extremely lucky to be able to avoid all the niggles of ill health.  I thought I was healthy.  I didn't realise my menorraghia (heavy, painful periods) were anything other than my "lot in life as a woman"!  Silly me!  Years of heavy bleeding (hormonal imbalances) takes it's toll on the iron stores in the body, which in turn can cause havoc in the body.  Now I know and I want to warn other women who tend to put up with menorraghia; get it sorted!

Now I am taking iron and vitamin C supplements, along with anti-seizure drugs - so goes against the grain of what I believe to be healthy living, but the scare was big enough for me to take heed and follow the doc's advice.  I have decided I still have lots more to achieve, to do, to experience and to be. I am also using Progesterone cream (my body apparently makes NONE of it's own, 0.2, which should be a 5.5- 10.0 reading !) There will come a time when my body can function on it's own again, without the aid of tablets and potions. Anyone interested in getting their hormonal progesterone level checked in Tauranga can do so at Patient Advocates Ltd.

I have felt lots  of love during this period, from my husband, my children, my friends and family.  It is amazing how a scare can bond you closer to others, perhaps they are reminded too, how fleeting this time is on earth.  How easy our demise.  How fragile our existence.  And in the end, all that matters is Love.
Life without Love is like a barren landscape with no hope of rain.
Love Hard!  Love Long!  Love Hugely!  Love every day!  Love yourself!  Wishing you all a long and loving Life.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

SUMMER, at last!

Globe artichoke in flower
Summertime, and the living is easy!  And we're singing and humming along!  So, so happy!
Finally, summer has arrived.  We have had a sporadic, half-hearted attempt at summer, up until now!  The Land of the Long White Cloud has certainly lived up to it's Maori name, Aotearoa, ALL summer long!  Up until now, that is.   Yep, world-wide, weather patterns have changed.  When most Kiwis should have been out in and on the water, yelling, whooping, skiing, surfing and swimming, we've been holed up inside, scrounging for wet weather gear and even the odd woolly jumper to ward off the unseasonable chill!
Welcome, Sunshine!
 So all's not been roses and sweet peas in the garden, I mean, everything is late in the edible veggie patch!  God, in all his wisdom, forgot to put stop-cocks into plants, so much of our tomatoes and plums split while still green, in the persistent, non-stop rainfall, inviting fungal infestations and fruit flies, way before they were even ready to be picked!  But such is the life of the gardener.  We run with the ups and downs and do our best to dodge the weather gods' wrath.  Mouldy nectarines had their "good bits" chopped out to make nectarine compote (still yum!) and the fruit fly-infested plums were thrown to the birds (double treat for them - fruit and flies!). Luckily, there's still some left though, and to ensure a steady supply, I shall have to bag the remaining fruit on the trees, or else the birds will continue their feasting and leave us with nothing.  I simply tear up strips of recycled fabric and peg them around the fruit or tomatoes.  Then there's the plight of my beans.  Beautiful bean wigwams one week, rusty the next from too much rain!  Had to pull them all out to stop the fungal spores spreading to other veggie crops!  And the weeds.......Weeds that love all that extra rain, having grown to Empire State Building proportions!  Oh, boy!  The joys of weather gremlins!

At times, we have wondered how the sky could hold so much rain up there!  Huge reservoirs of mammoth proportions!  While parts of our country have had not a drop, we have considered building an ark in our backyard!  It was consolation to hear that we weren't as bad off as Wales, who had 81 days of continuous rain!  
So in the middle of summer, the rain seems to have moved on and the sun has managed to part the clouds in a last ditch attempt to shine on us and finally ripen our fruit!  The sun is so very, very welcome!  
We all love the sun!
Having been thwarted by weather and other events and circumstances, my garden has been a little neglected, but since then, I have been working methodically, slowly but surely on trying to control the jungle it's become.  Patch by patch, I am gaining control and winning the war on weeds.  You don't realise how big your bit of turf is, until you hand weed it, every square centimeter of it!!
I have begun a systematic clean up programme, and am happy to say that finally, I can look out and see a little order arriving in my backyard!
Bee Fodder
After a gigantic herb garden sort, chop, divide and ruthless weed culling yesterday morning, our compost bin is overflowing with the fall-out, but now we can see the lovely herbs and access them for our meal prep enhancement.  All the "off cuts" have been put to good use and I have dried many herbs in my second-hand dehydrator to be stored and used over winter.  I try not to waste much in the food production arena, it would seem self defeating! Which reminds me, I have a big bowl of Omega plums waiting to be processed today.  I may just freeze them for later processing into jam or compote in winter when fruit is scarce.  I have already made 8 bottles of spicey plum chutney.
Before:  Herb Jungle

After: Herb Garden
After our gardening mission yesterday, we headed off for a drive and then a splash into our local waterhole on the Uretara River.  Cool and refreshing!  What a lovely way to end our summer's day.  I LOVE summer!  Especially, a long-overdue one!
Splash into Summer!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A New Life

So I haven't written in a long, long time!  Not because I didn't want to write.  I love writing!  Lots has been happening in my life, and I just didn't know HOW to write about it.
New Discoveries.
Since our trip to New Caledonia in October 2015, there have been some earth-shattering experiences for me.  In October and December 2015, I experienced multiple seizure episodes twice.  Out of the blue.  I should say, my husband experienced my seizures, as he's the one to have witnessed and dealt with them.  I have no recollection, except some briefest moments in between!  Every life experience affects us in different ways.  What I have gained from this experience, is immense gratitude.  So many things to be grateful for!
We live half an hour away from the nearest hospital, and our small local ambulance service rushed me to hospital in both instances.  I am most grateful for these fine dedicated ambulance officers, who are mostly volunteers from our small town.  I am grateful too, for the dedicated care and attention of the multi-cultural hospital staff in Tauranga hospital.  Fine empathetic folk, patient, caring and kind.  I am grateful to live in beautiful New Zealand, were all citizens have access to FREE hospital care!  Amazing!  I am grateful too, for a loving, supportive husband and family, who cared for me during and afterwards, and still do!  And I am grateful for supportive friends, who showed their care and love in a myriad of different ways.
Lastly, I am grateful to be alive!  There is still so much I need to do in this lifetime!
Cycles of birth and rebirth.  Each year, chamomile reseeds itself and regrows in our garden.

After my first episodes, I left the hospital and I was ANGRY!  Angry at my own body for being such an ungrateful traitor!  I have never smoked.  Never drank alcohol.  Never took any drugs, legal or illegal.  Ate healthy food.  Vegetarian for about 26 years.  Researched health extensively and took pains to understand about healthy lifestyles.  Grew much of our own organic fruit and veges for the last 15-20 years.  So how come I ended up with seizures??  Could not understand it at all.  In retaliation, I asked my husband to take me to the supermarket and to his utmost horror, I filled my basket with junk foods, my reasoning: my body was so pampered with healthy options, perhaps it needed to know exactly what abuse was, so it could work harder and be more grateful for all that good care it had been so used to!

Well, that soon passed.  I was wrong!  And I discovered the hospital tests revealed dangerously low iron and oxygen levels in the blood, which meant there was insufficient oxygen to my brain, resulting in short circuiting!  Hence the seizures.  This was apparently a long-standing problem! 
Now I knew a little more, but was still confused.  As vegetarians, we have always been aware of eating iron-rich foods.........then... Lightbulb moment!  I have had 30 years of heavy, painful periods.  But I had always just thought this was just my lot in life.  Women's cross to bear.  Never thought anything more of it!  So we saliva-tested my hormones............... shock, horror!  My body produced almost NO progesterone.  Hence the menorraghia (abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation). 

Everything in Life is about Balance.

While still coming to terms with our findings, I had my second bout of seizures.  Hospital and independent Saliva tests confirmed the hormonal theory, and CT, MRI and ECG's all revealed nothing too spectacular.  Tumours were ruled out.  Another aspect to be extremely grateful for.  I am now on anti-seizure drugs (haha, me, who did not support the use of any form of drug, in whatever shape or form!), also adrenal support, hormone and vitamin therapy.  I am still getting used to being a pill-popper.  But at the moment, I have no choice and I am hoping the anti-seizure drugs are a short-term solution which is going to last only 6-12 months till I can get my hormones under control!
Butterflies undergo incredible metamorphosis.  This is my metamorphosis.
What I have learned:
  • The body is resilient.  It has been deprived of what it needed for so long, and yet it still managed to keep on keeping on.
  • I now have short term memory loss.  There are so many, many little things I do not remember since the seizures.  Names of friends.  What I did in the few months leading up to my episodes.  Where I have put things. The list goes on...
  • We should not just accept pain and discomfort as "our lot in life".  
  • When we show our weaknesses, true friends will always be there to show support.
  • It is okay to let someone else take the lead, to hold your hand and show you the way when you have lost your direction.
  • Every day I learn something new, about life, about humanity, about myself.
  • You might think you have everything planned, but sometimes, unplanned events just happen, and you have to keep up!
  • Life is precious, and magical.  We should celebrate our living.  Do little things each day that make you happy.
Find the beauty all around you.
There are also several changes that I have made in the last few months:
  • Mike and I had decided to stop working for a salary, just BEFORE my seizures.  Providence, of which I am now truly grateful.  Kindergarten teaching is a hectic environment, and one has to give 100% to the job.  I am only operating on 80% right now.  Our home environment will provide a healing space to be in.  Our living allowance will be a Mini budget, not a Mercedes budget, but we are used to living on the smell of an oily rag, so we should survive, particularly since we grow 80% of our food!
  • I am not allowed to drive for 12 months following the last seizure.  This is one of the most painful changes, as I have a gorgeous little Honda Jazz that I love to drive, with all the independence and freedom that provides me with.  But, I have two working legs, better get used to using them!  These are my new mode of transport!
  • My husband and I had planned to celebrate this year (2016) as we turn 50 and 60yrs respectively, with a long-dreamed-of trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  We still plan to go!  Life is precious.  Live it!
  • We are going to devote more time to getting fitter.  We are already on the way!
These words of wisdom come to mind, which I have always treasured in the past, and even more now,  as I face a future I have no idea of what it will look like.

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"Several years ago, this paragraph from A RETURN TO LOVE began popping up everywhere, attributed to Nelson Mandela's l994 Inaugural Address. As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people."
Marianne Williamson

Beautiful and wise, wise words, thank you Marianne Williamson!  They inspire me to Shine!

Let's all Return to Love.  With Love, anything is achievable.

A New Life.   2016, Morocco here we come!                      (Sculpture by Shayni Green.)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Reflections: New Cal Churches

I think it's the Catholic upbringing in me, I absolutely LOVE churches, temples or any religious artifacts!  So any travel adventures bring opportunities for visiting churches and cathedrals.  On our last holiday to New Caledonia, I snapped these images.
Often our religious beliefs are set in our childhood, and after being persecuted by our local church for being a divorced mother, our mother told us that you did not need to go to church to be a good person.  She told us that our body was the Temple of the Lord, take care to keep it clean.  It was good advice!

G. K Chesterton wrote: "Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."

Still though, I like to visit these places.  I find them compellingly beautiful, calming, peaceful places when they are empty, clean and pure.  There seems to be an essence reflected in these walls - perhaps all those souls having gathered there to pray, over time, collectively, and finding their own solace and peace within.

Details on the stone wall of the stunningly beautiful Saint Joseph's Cathedral in Noumea.

Nature adds Value!

High on a hill, the cathedral towers over the city of Noumea, building started in 1888.

Built to accommodate 1000 people, late-comers stand at the entrance.

Beautiful stained glass windows throw colourful light into a gloomy cavernous interior.

Under Sunny Skies

Monument of a French soldier?

Such architectural details flanking the cathedral....

The Blessed Virgin Mary!

Another stunning stained glass window
What amazes me, is that much of all these wondrous pieces of architecture had to be shipped all the way from Mother France!

An informal outdoor waiting room...

It is thrilling to imagine how these massive monoliths were built back in the day, when there were possibly no light-frame aluminium ladders, concrete mixers and a handy hardware store just down the road!!
Stumbling across another meeting house in Mont Dore...

The gated church invites you  in only on Sundays!

That clear blue Pacific Island sky...

For Whom the Bell Tolls....?

Another church on the way to La Foa, sitting in the shimmering sun

Mary pronounces that this is indeed, yet another Catholic stronghold!

Simple and magnificent.  Simply magnificent!

Reminiscent of the Rising Sun!

The swallows (on ceiling) joyfully dive-bombed us, showing off their aeronautical acrobatics!

These cool interior churches are welcome respite from the heat.

The Catholic School next door... Notre Dame.

Lifou Island churches going to the dogs....!

The carving welcomes patrons to the church car park

Humble interior.

Another simple, stunning stain-glass window.

I love this view from the church!


Another church on Lifou, huddled close to the beach.

Protestant Church resembling a castle!

Passing sultry sky-line.

The side entrance and bell-pull.

A window reflected in a window...

Windows in windows, and hidden self portrait.

Another humble interior, no less appealing...

Woven mats for sitting on the cool tiled floor.

Something about these colours remind me of Greece...!

It appears as if the church will tumble into the sea beyond...

Strolling to church along the beach....

Standing below the statue of Mary, looking out over Noumea harbor...

Majestic Mary

The Sacred Heart.

Remember, whatever your faith, take heed: your body is your temple, take care what you put in it and how you care for it!