Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Know Your Worth

As she swooshed down the slide at the park, a little girl called, "Can't catch me!" I turned to see who she was talking to. A boy about a year older (so that makes him the grand old age of about 4), stood at the top of the slide and paid her little attention. Again she climbed up, brushed past him and as she pushed off and slid away she taunted, "Can't catch me," then added, " a dollar fifty!" The boy pretended to ignore her but as he passed by, but not within earshot of her, he muttered, "Two dollars fifty!"

WORTH... of value

Even under pressure this kid held his ground. There was something he knew that she didn't. Even at this young age, he knew something of his worth. Do you know your worth?

By the time we reach adulthood we have a bit of an idea of whether we feel loved and valued and as we travel further along the road of life and we hit a few potholes, valleys and sometimes the odd crevasse, the idea of how much we think we are valued can take a battering. Divorce, bereavement, missed opportunities and mistakes compound.

Perhaps worth and value is not determined by our education (or lack of), a job title, who we marry, how we look or even how we feel about ourselves. Is it possible each one of us has worth and value irrespective of whether we feel loved? Do we have worth simply because we have life?
What a privilege to get up each day, thankful, hopeful and knowing that no matter what might be said to us or even not said to us, the approval of others is not our goal and our life is important, valuable and cherished. Just a thought.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Win Win Situation

I've decided to blog more regularly with shorter blogs, you know, tasty morsels of inspiration on tap for when you need it most. I value your comments and feedback. So here we go...

WIN - to secure a result or be victorious.

Driving home tonight, I saw a beautiful thing. There, resting high in the night sky were a set of numbers up on a board, illuminated like a beacon of hope for all opportunistic motorists: 105.9 cents per litre. You little beauty! And it was only Monday. Usually discount fuel day is Tuesday but then I noticed ripper prices on a Wednesday, then the occasional Friday and now Monday. Someone's playing a game here, don't you think? I cruised into pump 2, filled the tank and sasheyed inside to pay. I sashey since I started Zumba. Walking is so yesterday.
"Love the price," I said, to the cashier/manager with a Cheshire cat grin.

"Yep," he replied. "Can't please everyone though. People get grumpy and complain about others cutting in." He looked perplexed. I couldn't help but smile on the inside as I remembered the Granny cutting in on me (see Showdown @ Pump 3). Once again there were so many things I could say, in fact I had a whole story and sub-story I could have unravelled in a detailed and yet highly entertaining fashion but the queue behind me was growing so I just smiled and said, "Really?" And shook my head as if in disbelief. Cheap fuel and letting go of a misdemeanor for the second time... that's a win-win situation.

To be able to live your life to the full you absolutely must be willing to leave the past behind. All the 'what might have been's" need to be laid to rest. You can't go back and change anything but you can make the most today, so tomorrow is more of what you want it to be. You decide.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Side of Heaven

I knew it was going to be an interesting trip back home when I saw Pat Rafter (tennis ace and Bonds underwear model) stroll through the departure lounge like a cool breeze on a hot day and then the guy next to us checked in a surfboard bag with a spear gun inside. Gripping fear turned to a flood of relief when I suddenly realised if we encountered menacing sharks at thirty thousand feet – he was our man!

We’d promised our children a trip to the snow for several years, so when my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary on August 20th rolled around this year, we made plans and booked our flights to converge on the South Island of Aotearoa (The Land of the Long White Cloud), known by a third of the world as New Zealand and not known at all by the other two thirds. Their loss.

Flying over the Southern Alps en route to Christchurch, the closest international airport to our destination, was like a moorish, visual appetiser. Through smoky-grey clouds, we caught glimpses of snow-encrusted peaks, shingly ravines and open stretches of barren, brown pastureland as if someone had cast a giant dirty canvas across the earth.

My single, most favourite thing whenever I land somewhere is that moment when I walk out of the airport terminal into the open air. It’s a snapshot for the senses. Arriving at Brisbane, our visitors notice the warmth and humidity when they step outside. Not going to happen here! I stayed back and waited for Mr Practical’s long black coffee and excitedly watched each of my family pass through the exit. The doors parted, they stepped out and the Antarctic blast slapped them unapologetically in the face. Priceless!

Living in a sub-tropical climate they have no idea what cold is. When they start whining, I like to break into my ‘I remember when’ rendition of horror winter childhood memories, including painful descriptive accounts of chilblains on toes and breaking thick ice in our horses water trough with bare hands. “It’s all up here, kids,” I say tapping to the side of my head. Ah, the joy of being old enough to have a little tragedy and trauma to draw upon to toy with young minds.

It was my turn. I braced in front of the exit sign. Slap! Ah, fresh, crisp air. After a series of deep breaths but stopping short of an asthma attack, it was time to quit blowing ‘smoke’ with our breath and hit the road. There was a roaring log fire and a roast chicken dinner waiting down the road.

Two hours later, the outside temperature in single digits and now dark, we pulled into the shingle driveway of the home I knew from the ages of ten to eighteen, to be greeted by my two favourite retirees in the whole world. Warm hugs momentarily smothered the night chill and the distinctive oaky smell of the log fire burning wafted across the evening air. And yes, I do believe I could see stars in the night sky. Another benefit of living in a semi-rural area and having a small human population compared to a mammoth sheep population is that sheep don’t require night lights. Genius.

Food Glorious Food
My father is the Masterchef of the home. Since retiring, he’s enjoyed the odd cooking class and delights in serving up all sorts of culinary fare for my mother. Score for Mum! Since buying his slow cooker a year or two ago, all kinds of delicacies have emerged massaged and marinated in a non-obtrusive manner, poised on the end of a fork, ready to collapse effortlessly in the mouth. It’s like a day spa for over-worked cuts of meat.

Venison (yes, that’s Bambi) bathed in red wine and garlic, Asian-style pork served with wilted baby greens and the all time classic, corned beef and when left to stand, is joined by its trusty dance partner – the mustard sauce. Fred and Ginger – a foxtrot in every mouthful.

There are certain prerequisites when I go home. Most involve food and one of those high on the list is yams. And plenty of them. They are harvested in autumn and stored in sacks (or frozen) in the cool, dry surroundings of Dad’s garage. Many good things can be found in Dad’s garage; a screwdriver to suit every need, knives of varying blade length and shape to cut binder twine (fancy word for thick string) or behead the tops off hideously large parsnips precariously pulled from the dark, rich soil of their own garden or even a recycled jar with a lid to house screws, buttons or even fishing hooks should the need arise.

And then there’s the generously sized chest freezer – stop right there. When my father says the freezer is ‘getting low’ (ie. empty) all that really means is that there is a small space to fit something else in. I remember as a child, volunteering to go out to the garage, which is separate and towards the front of the house, to retrieve the ice cream for dessert. Knowing there was a certain amount of time allotted to complete such a task, because any longer would arouse suspicion and questions may be asked, a swift pace there and back would mean more time to pick at the edges of the rock-hard mass of ice cream before anyone else. A little extra treat which I felt was a necessary ‘wage’ given the sacrifice of walking out to the garage. Feeble excuse. Whatever...

These days, it’s still packed full with blanched vegetables from their garden, meat and pears from the tree by the living room door that the man said should be cut down when they moved the house onto the block thirty-something years ago. Wrong! Mum wanted a view of the mountains from that sliding glass door and the tree, so they angled the house to accommodate both. It pays to speak up. All these years later, the pear tree that could’ve become sawdust and warmed the house for one cold evening, has continued to show it’s gratitude by producing ridiculously large yields of fruit each year.
Getting back to the yams. I don’t know where else in the world these ruby, bobbled gems grow. They are not the same as yams grown in the Pacific Islands. When removed from the oven, these ochre-coloured darlings lying in neat rows look like miniature soldiers in reddish coats. A spritz of olive oil before roasting makes them glisten and therefore completely irresistible. It’s hard to describe what they taste like; some kind of delicate potato (?) and I’m not willing to divulge just how many I consumed but I will confess I did adopt the ‘when in Rome’ philosophy as all gourmet travellers should.

A Change of Plans

Usually when I go home for a visit, I sleep in the bedroom next to the living room which I switched with my sister when she left for the Air Force at the age of eighteen. In winter, this room was always the warmest and the one that was least likely to grow something sinister from mould than my original room which is now referred to as The Bottom Room. It was tastefully re-decorated (heads up: it was the eighties) in peach for my sister during her absence. That was a nice surprise for her.

However, on this visit we were escorted past my hand-me-down old room to... my parent’s room. *Insert knife-stabbing shower scene music from Psycho*
Standing at the foot of the bed, Mr P and I stood and gazed at the generous queen bed covered in a lovely floral bedspread. The curtains were new and Dad had gone modern and stripped the wallpaper from the walls and adopted a random swished, brushed look with a paint colour called, Sea Mist which really was just an elegant way of saying grey. It contained fragments of cement for a slightly textured effect, he explained. I was impressed not only by the grand job he’d done but that there was something other than wallpaper on the bedroom wall. Remember, these folks are from the wallpaper era.

I started to object to the fact that my parents had voluntarily ousted themselves to The Bottom Room which I like to think of as Siberia and into single beds. As I moved over to sit on the bed, I strongly stated they really shouldn’t move out on account of Mr P and I and immediately sunk effortlessly into the pillowy layers of their new mattress.

“On second thoughts,” I said, “if you insist!”

“And no funny business in our bed!” interjected Dad.
“DAD!” Puh-leeze.

The room was cleared and I, feeling a little grossed out about my father’s boundaries for conduct concerning his bed, did what any normal, modern woman would do. I posted a comment on FB.

Retracing Old Steps

There’s only one thing to do with well-fed children on a cold day and that’s to evict them outside. Being the weekend, we headed to the local school adventure playground. It’s all changed since I went to school there in the late 1970’s. My children affectionately call it The Dark Ages. We assured them it was literally dark. We only had candles. Electricity only came to New Zealand in the mid 1990’s (Mr P’s joke. For a good three or four minutes they believed him until they checked with Grandma who wasn’t in on the gag.)

I took my boys to the monkey bars where my best friend and I used to pretend we were Olympic gymnasts. We thought we were really something. We even scored each other’s performances – rather generously I might add. After a very limp demonstration it was painfully obvious why I never made the grade for the real Olympics. But it was from these exact monkey bars, one summer in the early 80’s that I fell and broke my wrist and my mother gave me an early birthday present - a horse encyclopedia. A treasured gift. After the hairy dismount in front of my boys, however, it appears all that is really needed now is a firm reality check... and perhaps a physio.

©2010 Philippa Vette

Coming soon... Our trip to the snow, a curious place to buy a garden hose, breathtaking scenery, woodfired pizza, the reunion with high school girlfriends, how to out-smart a puppy and the anniversary shin-dig...