Don’t judge me…

So, I’m hanging out the washing and have a distinct feeling I’m being watched. I glance around and it turns out a bloody great rat is sitting there watching me in the morning sunshine. I stare back at him and can’t quite believe my eyes, but it is. He’s just nonchalantly sitting in the sun and even my movement as I lift to hang the next thing doesn’t seem to faze him. I get out my phone and think I’ll take a pic but he dives off. Obviously camera shy.

I had talked to Andrew about our rat problem and his desire we make our little village pest free. Andrew lives way on the other side of our village. About 10 km away and is surrounded by native bush. Sounds unrealisitic but I’m not arguing. He thinks if we all keep setting traps and be vigilant, we can do it. We discuss rats habits and make a plan to set more traps, to not leave food lying around in the hen runs and management of compost bins and wormery. Jeepers as I run through what’s available I realise we’re like a flippin supermarket for rats. At the end of summer I popped the pumpkins on the fence and when I went to get one to make soup, I turned it over as it was so light, to find they had gnawed a hole and eaten all the middle out. It was hollow for Gods sake!

My beautiful pumpkin, completely empty.

Then today I decided with the ground still too wet to do much, I would turn the compost and the ready one could be popped on the new beds as soon as it dried out a bit. I have three bins. Third bin was empty so I began to turn the second bin into it. Standing in there I was busy shoveling when two rats dived out and ran around and around my boots. I smashed one over the head with the shovel and the other rat had hit the back wall of the compost bin and bounced back onto my boot and jumped up, about to run again, when I forced the shovel down onto his middle. Number two down. I stood there breathing heavily and screamed a mighty scream as the adrenalin needed to escape. I imagined all the cortisol running around my body and was amazed at how quickly I had reacted. I can barely catch or kick a ball.

My compost bins. One, Two and Three for three stages of composting. Interlocking boards made by Damen for me close to twenty years ago mean I can change the bins for each stage. 

A shiver ran through my whole body as I stepped out and just stood there staring at them. Almost full grown but still with the soft downy fuzz of a young one. Was two the whole family or were more about to spring out. I debated going back up to the house, but for what? I gingerly poked around the outside and now on alert, every shovelful had a pause. It’s one thing to instinctively kill a couple of rats, but to be deliberately contemplating killing was another thing altogether.
Of course I couldn’t just let then go them free. That would be ridiculous and as long as it was a quick death? I imagined Andrew telling me what terrible pests they were to ease my conscious. I remembered that man I talked to at work one day with Buddhist beliefs telling me that every living thing had the same rights to live. He marveled over the fragile wings of a bird and its strength and tenacity. I smiled thinking of those two having a discussion about it. Then I remembered my eaten out pumpkins. My corn stripped on the standing stalks and with each shovelful I imagined one, two or three jumping out at me and wondered if I could once again get more than one. By now I was determined none would get away if I could help it.

They were eating my chokos right off the vine dammit!

I was fully pumped when it happened and number three turned out to be the last. A quick smack and it was over. I disassembled the nest and marveled how she had gathered pea straw and shredded paper and made a cosy place to have her babies. Then I wondered where hell was she? Did she watch me from afar. Another shiver ran down my spine. I called out to the cat but shook my head thinking poor old Jebus who was now almost toothless and very probably deaf or just ignorant never came when we called him. You just happened to see him from time to time and he wouldn’t be much help. As I work, I’m thinking its time to get a new cat.

Almost lunchtime, I headed up and took off my gloves as I picked up an old choko that I had dropped on the path. Heaving it towards the first compost bin, I watched as it sailed through the air to see if it would go in. To my shock it hit a massive rat who must have been sitting on the top. It jumped with a squeal, its thick tail arcing in the air as it spun around and jumped out of the bin diving to the ground. I stood there, stock still taking in what had just happened when it shot past me on the path and into where my old pots are precariously stacked. Eyes wide and once again after the ‘event’, another blood curdling strangulated scream left my throat. Heart still pumping I took my boots off and headed upstairs.

There was commotion around the table as everyone was setting the table and preparing for lunch. Still breathing heavily I asked who heard me scream because no one, had come to see if I was alright. Twice! “I would have come if I heard you”, four year old Tai assured me. “I’m sure you would have Tai”, I said as I sat down. Exhaling I realised when I turn that bin I might just have some surprises in store for me. Arrggghhhhh!

My fresh compost teeming with worms who do all the work for me. 

After lunch, out I go and staying outside of the bin this time I’m swing shovelfuls over and soon forget about my rat problem. Switching to a fork I’m digging up wonderful great worm laden twisted piles of sweet smelling compost. That’s the thing about compost. If its made well it will smell sweet and be black and rich and amazing. And as I marveled over this I suddenly heard some squealing and lifting my fork was horrified to see four baby rats pierced onto the tines of the fork. I’m not sure if this was good luck or bad but quickly dispatching these into a nearby bucket I reluctantly plunged it in again and this time came up with another four. It was hard not to retch at the violence of it but at the same time, it was amazing and plunging in again and opening the nest right up I eventually got eleven. I was somewhere between elated and disgusted with myself, but just for about 30 seconds. I had a ton of work to do and just had to keep moving.

At afternoon tea Gilbert’s eyes were wide in disbelief and he promised to be better at trap setting and checking. He didn’t actually say, but I think he was proud of me. I saved us from more than a dozen adult rats, about to hit the ground running. Murder aside. I did good! We shared a chocolate bar with our coffee as we both contemplated our next jobs.  

Posted in Garden | 2 Comments

Every night before bed, I put my lipstick on. 

I got the call that Annie seemed to be in labour, and while it was stop-start, everything looked like it wouldn’t be long. My bag had been packed to dash at a moments notice, and the time had come. Who knows when is the right time. Annie had said, “you just have to be there…you just have to be”. “I will be on the next plane” I told her. It had seemed impossible that I would make this birth as the midwife said it would likely be fast, given once she went into established labour with the last one, it was only about 3 hours before delivery. So I had sent them a note, just in case I didn’t make it.

OK guys…I wrote… I’m going to do my best, but in case I don’t get there, here’s my thoughts on birthing. Trust your body. No one knows how long each stage will take but be sure the body knows exactly what it is doing and we are simply facilitating this process. Amy had said for her second birth she felt stronger and more confident and remembered thinking. “Bring, it, on!” She was ready physically and emotionally. I laughed when she told me and remembered thinking that for Tara’s birth too.

Women often get into a ‘Zone’ for birthing at the end. Brain waves slow down. Outside pressures, noise, activities fade away and only the birth is on her mind. The birth hormone Oxytocin is released when all the factors are right for birthing. With each contraction we release more oxytocin which increases the contractions. Then we release beta endorphins which are feel good and work as natures pain killers. Birth is not always painful. It can be powerful, as well as empowering.
You can do this too Annie, you were amazing at the last birth and you will be at this one also. See you soon. 

As if a test of her endurance, Annie didn’t deliver as soon as I arrived, nor did she for day after day after day, despite some lengthy and strong contractions. The body moves into labour proper when its ready, and so we waited.   
Would you have like to have been a midwife?” Chee asks me after I arrive. “A Midwife?, Hell no”, I laugh. I have been privileged to be included in ten of our twelve moko’s births and I absolutely love the role of doula, or mentor to our whanau’s births, but no, not a midwife. 

I was very happy in the days before the birth as I dug the garden over, spread compost, began making a compost bin, trimmed the lawns edges, pruned the grapes with Chee and went for long leisurely lunches. We went to the Sunday Markets and I bought every possible plant I could pop in the newly turned soil. Covered their spindly legs with pea straw and hoped a frost wouldn’t take them. 

“I’ll take the girls for a walk and let you both have some time”, I offered one day. Boots and jackets on, snacks packed we headed off. “We’ll be away for at least an hour, I called back, so don’t worry.” “Where are we going?” Three year old Aneeka asked. ‘We’re going on an adventure, I smiled. Lets see where we end up!” Two year old Piper looked up at me and grinned. We headed down to the Red Zone. I’d remembered going there with Chee and the girls last time. You end up at the riverside and its just beautiful this time of year. We came first to a man with nets out at a little estuary off the river. 

“Hello, I smiled when he looked up at us. What are you hoping to catch?” Unsure exactly what kind of net he had out. “Whitebait, he called back happily. I’ve seen two go by, but caught none so far”. “Do you usually have good luck here?” I inquired. “No, he laughed. I’ve had this net eight years and never caught anything, but then this is only the second time I’ve had it out. The first time was last week”, he continued looking at my probably shocked face when I thought he’d been whitebaiting for eight years and never caught anything. “I’ve just retired and its better to be out than sitting indoors”. I had to agree but there was no time to sit around watching. The girls, quickly bored with our conversation had started off to cross the bridge so I ran to catch up. We watched the ducks first who raced up, just in case we had food, which were soon followed by huge black swans looking at us like ‘we better have food’! I edged closer to Piper, who seeing them about to head in, went back to the water’s edge to rescue her pile of stones, and as soon as they got close I grabbed her up before yelling ‘Get away!’ and got ready to run myself. Shoot they look like they mean business.       

The Red Zone is where the houses were severely damaged during the Feb 11 earthquake. The land no longer considered safe to build on, the people have left, the houses have been demolished, the paths and fences removed, leaving acres of park like grounds with random fruit trees and the remains of established gardens. A rather eerie feeling as we pass along the riverside. What was a thriving community, is now an just an echo of families.  

We pretended we were on an adventure, stopping for our snack to sit on logs and I told stories as people ran past with dogs, and still more set up nets at the rivers edge. Guys drove slowly by asking the whitebaiters how they were doing and we listened to them call back, ‘no luck today’.   

We’d been away about an hour when Piper looked up at me and said, “I want my Mummy.” “OK, I merrily answered, lets go!” We headed off, me sure if I turned right we would soon end back up where we started. We walked and walked and walked. I was sure I needed to hear the local school on my left but I was hearing it on my right. Trying to get my bearings we played eye spy and I told crazy stories trying to distract the children as best I could, but ‘the shit hit the fan’ when Aneeka fell over. “Can you carry me, Aneeka wailed, dropping her body, my legs won’t go anymore”. “Meee toooo”, Piper chimed following her sisters lead. “Hmmm, I can’t actually carry you both but how about you have turns?” As Aneeka had dropped her lip good and proper I suggested to Piper I carry Aneeka first. “OK”, Piper immediately agreed, seeing reason easily. 

I felt that once we rounded the next corner if I couldn’t figure out where we were, I’d have to phone. It was cooler now and neither of the girls would take much more of these shananigins. At one point Aneeka looked up at me a little disgruntled and asked. “Nanny, are you sure you know the way home?” “Oh yes I do. It’s just a little way up here.” No point in all three of us being worried, while I kicked myself for not taking a pushchair. For the next bit I took turns carrying each girl but before we got to the corner, Muzz, Annie’s friend pulled up and nipping across the road headed down towards us. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. “We’re having an adventure, I explained, but actually…can you take us home?” “Of course, Muzz laughed. I wondered when I saw you put one down and pick the other up, if you were OK.” I didn’t know if she could fit us in, but at this point I would have climbed onto the back of a ute and didn’t give a toss about seat belts. We crossed the road and looked on in amazement as she rearranged her seats and belts and we were soon all strapped in safely and delivered home. I couldn’t believe how far we were still from home and doubt the girls will be so keen to go on an adventure with me again. 

Over the evenings I edited my China diary and explored the art of knitting again, fired up by a visit to Spotlight with Evon. We discussed the birth, using aromatherapy, distraction, massage, positive visualisations. We discussed what Annie wanted. A water birth was the first requisite. That was not negotiable. Good strong back massage. Ice blocks and barley sugar to suck on. They were good, she remembered. Everything was ready to go. Chee settled the two little ones each night and we caught up on ‘Game of Thrones’ to pass the time, until Friday night after dinner, we were on. Annie joked about it all stopping again, but we called Evon anyway who collected the two little ones. Not really wanting to leave their Mother at midnight, until dark chocolate was pressed into their chubby hands with promises of a movie. Annie and I fell into a rhythm of breathing and massage and Chee checked the set up. 

With the pool not yet full enough, he guided Annie to the bathroom and looking back at me with a terrified look, quietly conveyed we had run out of hot water. I threw on all elements, filled every pot I could find, as well as one on the fire and calculated whether this might do it. When Annie came back Chee broke the news to her that we might not have enough for a water birth and I really felt for him. “You know what Annie, I spoke strong and confidently. I reckon we just might have enough and this baby’s coming anyway, ready or not.” 

The midwife arrived and testing the water with her hand she tossed the temperature gauge to one side saying, “looking at that wouldn’t be helpful”. She told Annie to get in when she felt ready, while Chee and I added pot after pot to the side with a quick swirl before refilling. It was 2.45am when Jody arrived and 3.17 when baby eased through the birth canal and into the water, gently scooped up and handed into Annie’s arms, whose body was supported by Chee. A truly beautiful way to enter the world.    

How ragged is the body after a birth! I remember that complete and utter exhaustion as Chee and I took turns to stay at Annie’s side to help. We all settled into the lounge. Kept the fire going with warming teas, toast, and bowls of yummy stews as required. On the third night Chee said “You look buggered Mum. You go to bed and I’ll take tonight”. No complaints from me as I showered and readied for bed, but hearing baby in full voice thought I’d check they could settle her before I slipped between the sheets. Chee looked me a bit funny as I reminded them how to wrap her, hold firm so she feels secure with a regular pat on the bum. She was asleep in a couple of minutes. “You look nice Mum” Chee complimented me as I tucked her down. “Pardon”, I answered. I was in jamas with face cream. Was he being sarcastic? “You look nice he repeated, with your lipstick on”. “What lipstick? I said, as I thought back to having smeared Chapstick on before coming out. It’s Chapstick, my lips were dry.” “Ahhh no, he laughed. Take a look in the mirror. I think you’ll find its lipstick”. Pretty funny as I looked in the mirror looking a little like a crazy woman with my grey hair all over the place and Merlot lips. Turns out I had bought Merlot tinted Chapstick, ‘hydration plus’. With no mirror to guide me I had roughly applied what indeed looked like lipstick, which from then on gave us a nightly chuckle. 

Baby is a little gem, doing all the right things with her two big sisters keeping an eye on her progress. New additions to a family are such a momentous occasion made even more special when shared with love around a family. Our twelfth grandchild in almost ten years.  I headed home knowing they were coping well and that I would be back for another week in less than a months time, as we had pre booked a trip down.  

I am always amazed at how different each birth is, and yet how much the same they are. Three gorgeous girls for them, three years and under, each one already with their own distinct personality. This will be one heck of a roller coaster at times! They will have their hands full for a while, though fully supported by their village, I have no doubt they are up to the task. 

Posted in Whanau=family | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sometimes I’m a Mermaid 

I slipped on the deck one morning, running across to grab some lemons, and as I ran, one leg slipped out behind me twisting my knee as I hit the deck, my thumb wrenched back as I tried to stop myself. Still, I kept sliding and letting my lemons go rolling ahead of me l desperately try to stop myself from careering over the steps to the concrete below. I stop on the top step. There is no time to waste as the Gilbert’s in the car with the motor warming and I wince as I gather some of the lemons I am taking to Amy, limp to the car and slip in the seat. “I just slipped on the deck” I say to Gilbert as I put my seat belt on. “Aha”, he says, his thoughts on other things.

Every morning that I spa I stretch and make up exercises that I think will help. I twist from the waist side to side and pretend I’m a mermaid keeping my feet together and drawing my knees up. I make like a starfish and then do scissor legs. I have no idea if this will help anything but it feels great. I love the water. The birds are too busy to watch catching their breakfast insects. Occasionally Paddy the dog will stealthily sneak up and pop his nose over the edge of the spa and if particularly curious will jump up to look in. Given he’s about a 50 kilo Ridgeback and about five foot tall if he stands on his hind legs, I nearly have a heart attack as if a shark has just loomed up over the edge of my boat, and losing my grip sometimes I go under enough that my gasp almost has me taking on water. “Get out you bloody idiot”, I yell at him when I realise my life wasn’t in danger at all, and he lumbers down, still panting happily as if I told him I love him.

The jets switch off automatically after ten minutes and I know it’s time to get out. It’s a marvellous way to start the day and I’m warm with blood pumping. Sure as hell beats doing exercises I think, as I pass Gilbert who is doing squats in front of the TV.

My knee is not right and there is a spot in my back that feels like it’s on the verge of going into a spasm and I decide maybe this mermaid business is not working. Maybe I need some physio to help me along. “I’m at the end of my frozen shoulder unfreezing, my back feels tight, my hip is giving me jip, this finger locks up and this thumb aches. I’m generally feeling quite old and stiff”, I confide to Helen, my new best friend. I sound like a whiney old moaner. She marks all the problem spots on a picture of a body and takes notes. It’s not looking good, this body picture and lines of notes. “…and I hate exercises, I continue. I would shovel compost for an hour happily before doing exercises, but I love spas. Can you give me things to do in the spa?” I ask tentatively.

“I certainly can, she replies full of smiles. That’s perfect for what we need to do for you. We need to get you stretching and lengthening your muscles which have to some extent become short and tight. The hot water will help with that.  We need to keep you doing the things you enjoy, and strong and this is entirely achievable.” Wow, so glad I asked!

I smile. I’m excited. I have a prescription for exercises in the spa! She gives me the full check over. She finds out where I want to be. Do I want to take up running, or biking? Hell no! Its pretty simple I explain bringing it right down to basics. “I want to be a fitter, slimmer, stronger more supple me. Yes that’s it in a nutshell”. Now she smiles. “Ok”, she says and so we begin. I am so happy doing my stretching most mornings and I feel absolutely fabulous getting out all warm and ready for breakfast. Its funny but after a very short time I am feeling fitter, slimmer, stronger and more supple. I’m not sure if its just in my head, because as she puts me through my paces I still can’t do the things she seems to want me to do. Like touch the floor or reach past my knees when I go side to side and even when I try to do it, I feel surprised that I can’t. Helen explains its about the long term. We’re not so much just fixing a problem but keeping me in better physical health going forward. 

I tip toe out to the spa in the dark as the moon bids me goodnight, slipping past the tree line. I have much to be grateful for.

Posted in Health & wellbeing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A poke in the eye with a sharp stick. 

Over a period of a few days I noticed whenever I counted the hens, one seemed to be missing and each time as I debated looking around for her, I heard her squawking up in the hen house and assumed she was laying. After a week or two of this, I realise its always the same hen missing, so go and check. She’s there alright, but shes eyeing me up funny and I get in to have a better look and see she has a puss filled ball stretching from the side, over one eye. I approach her from her bad eye side and pick her up to take a good look. I can’t see any other way around it but to pierce the ball so the puss can escape. I mull this over as I take some food up to her. 

A vets bill is out of the question but I am to go to town later so drop into the chemist and say. “I have a funny question. I have a hen with a scratch beside her eye that has filled with puss and is now covering her whole eye. I’m thinking I sterilse a needle, pierce the swelling so the puss can escape, wash with a little saline solution and smear some bactroban on the wound. Does this sound like an OK plan?” I ask. He smiles and I know he lives on a small block also. “It’s a good plan, he nods. You can use Iodine too if you have it”. 

Later I say to the children. We have an operation we need to do on a hen and I may need some helpers, at which they become very excited and assure me they definitely want to help. 

I sterlise a needle, thread it into a paper towel and hand it to Wheriko explaining not to touch the sharp end. I hand the bactroban on the end of an iceblock stick to Kahu and tell her I will need it after I have cleaned the eye. She nods. To Tai I hand a small water bottle I have filed with a little warm saline/salty water. “This is to wash away any puss that comes out”. Gumboots on, my nurse aids are bubbly with the importance of it all, chattering as we go out the back door. 

We have discussed at length what I am going to do and why, and no one seems particularly fazed at the prospect. I easily pick up the hen who is outside this time feeding with the rest, tuck her under my arm, keeping my right arm free. “Needle!” I ask Wheriko and the children gather around, but as I pierce the bubble that sits over the eye Wheriko squeals, “Oh Nanny, that’s horrible. I can’t look!” she cries and runs behind the other two who are having second thoughts now. “Paper!” I call and Wheriko forgetting she is even holding it, has refused to come forward. She shields her eyes as she leans forward but steals a glance I notice. Kahu is also backing away. She doesn’t want to come any closer. I press the ball with my latex gloved hands and puss starts to come out. “Water, Tai! Water”. I need it now!” Tai stretches his arm trying not to step any closer than he has to. I squirt the water over the area. “Ointment!” I call. “Ointment”. No body moves. “Ointment, Kahu I need the ointment”. She brings it over and squeals as I smear the bactroban over the ball that isn’t as tight now. All three have decided they don’t want to be vets assistants any longer. 

“Don’t be silly I say. Is it better I help the chicken or leave her to die in pain?” “That was probably painful” Wheriko looks at me accusingly. “Well maybe not as bad as you might think. She didn’t fight or squeal much”, I answer. “Nanny she yells, You just poked her in the eye with a needle!” “Ahh no, it looked like I poked her in the eye, but I was careful to break open the little sac of infection over the top and not actually poke her in the eye, so not the same thing”. None of them look too sure about this.

There she is on the left. Looking much better!

To be honest I squirmed myself and said a few sorry, sorries under my breath. It was possibly one of the more horrible tasks I’ve had to do, but once I was holding her I knew I had to finish the job. I was surely rewarded when I went down a few days later to see her bounce out of the hen house and run down to me with the rest, in anticipation of the scraps I had. I had to look twice to be sure it was the same hen. I can see a thin skin over her bad eye but she looks happy and healthy and I stroked her as she snatched some scraps up and I felt so relieved. I’m not a hundred per cent sure she isn’t blind in that eye, but I think it was better than letting nature take its course in this case, and I think better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!   

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Birthdays and toffee treats

With a birthday on the horizon, I received a delightful card with a treat enclosed and unexpected results. 

Dear Gavin, I’m being formal here because its important.
I am about to celebrate a significant birthday. They all are these days, actually.

I opened the card I received from you, and Melanie and Sarah and all my friends at Arnet Law, and what joy to see not one, but TWO toffee bars! Not any old toffee bars either, but exactly the kind we used to buy when I was at high school. A rather long time ago. 

I tucked them away as we have six others sharing our household and four of them are children so after extolling the evils of sweets I was not about to let them see me eating them, and pretty sure I didn’t want to share them. On this point however I relented, as after the children were all tucked up in bed, I handed one to Gilbert and said rather smugly…”My friends at Arnet Law sent me these in a card, would you like one?” 

I had an ulterior motive, I have to admit. Gilbert’s birthday is after mine, and while I didn’t know how friendly he is with you all, there was a possibility he would also get two toffee bars sent, so I hedged my bets that I might get one of his, if I shared one now. Besides its not nice to be greedy.  

And now to the point of my letter, apart from a thank you of course.Thank you! I popped this toffee bar into my mouth and it snapped, just they used to in the old days. I closed my eyes as the chocolate melted to leave the softening toffee in all its glory and all the while, I kept thinking. Don’t chew, don’t chew, don’t chew. However, I found my mouth responding to that toffee as you would expect, and I began to chew. It was absolutely delicious. Until, you know don’t you…You know what I’m going to say. 

Until I noticed it became terribly crunchy. Now I was pretty sure toffee bars are not crunchy so I gently tugged it from my mouth to find half a tooth had tagged along for the ride! Damn, damn, and a lot of other words that are not polite.
So I did what you would do when you shouldn’t waste good things. I popped that lump of crunchy toffee right back in there and sucked on it, so as not to waste a single bit of that deliciousness until I was left with just crunchy bits. 

And now here’s my thoughts. I know I can’t blame you or Melanie or Sarah or the others who shall remain nameless, for chewing, when at my age I should definitely not have chewed, but maybe for people born after say 1950, you send something softer. Something we can reach into the envelope and be equally surprised and delighted and not fear the loss of our teeth. 

I know you are not near this age Gavin and were born wellllll after 1950, but there ‘WILL’, to quote your words, come that day. 


Gavin’s reply

Hi Tricia,
Thanks so much for the lovely email. We have all loved reading it! We often get calls or thank yous – but nothing quite as fantastic as that!

Soooo sorry to hear about your tooth though! A few people have commented that we should be careful! We might get sued!! (and Im not suggesting that you do that!!) We did consider the marshmallow bars – only they don’t arrive in once piece… or looking anything like what left the office!!!!!

I will take it as my mission to work through all the possible options for a replacement!!!
Talks soon!

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In Sickness and In Health

 When we got home Gilbert showered before going straight to bed, refusing any more pills. He reckoned they were making him feel sick, but an hour later he woke me and said he needed me to take him to the Dr, who promptly shoveled us to hospital after hearing the word ‘Thailand’. I explained that the children at home were all sick with the same symptoms and its possible it was the same thing, as he had become unwell just 24 hours after arriving in Thailand. The hospital Dr’s all agreed, but felt they needed to rule out all other possibilities, which I guess is just as well. So testing for every tropical illness began, followed by almost anything known to man and two days and nights later he was discharged with a three day medical certificate. Something he’s never had in almost fifty years of working. He actually had a second week off. I think if someone had come in with a gun Gilbert would have stood up and asked to be shot.   

As I was about to visit our South Island babies I asked at the chemist…”The whole household has been sick. According to the hospital he had Influenza B followed by a chest infection. I have been embarrassingly well. Is it possible I could be a carrier? Could I take Influenza down to them?” 

“No, he assures me. You usually shows symptoms 2-3 days after contact. So you either have it or you don’t. If you have it you are usually pretty sick for around seven days. If you are still unwell after that, it has often developed into something else, as it did in this case”. So I ask why I didn’t get it? “You could have come into contact with it last year or before and fought it off”. Basically my immune system has recognised it and kicked it to touch. Well, not his exact words. “Would you like to get a flu shot now?” he asks. “No thanks, If I have been in a household with seven other sick people and not caught it, I don’t need that ta”. “It would be a good idea to take some Vitamin C and some probiotics,” he continues. “Doing that thanks,” I reply. 

As I usually park in a car park a good distance away from where I am going, to fit a brisk walk into my day, I pass another chemist and decide to ask there too. Just to be sure. I tell the same story and she gives the same answer, except she tries to sell me something that if I take every day ‘just in case, I come into contact with something’, It will find the bug and surround it and suffocate it, or something. Ummmmm, No thanks. 

Later on I read stuff about flu shots and Influenza and I remember each time Mum got a flu shot she became very ill, which they said was a co-incidence and nothing to do with the flu shot. I have never had one and pretty sure I never will. I think I have proved to myself that its so much better to get a little sick every now and again. My immune system updates the bugs I have been in contact with, and I get recharged, and then when something really nasty arrives on the doorstep, my body is in a much better position to fight it, than if I had a flu shot for what was here last year and made into a vaccine. Not happy to put some man made poison straight into my system. Thank you.

Lindy and I board the plane after a relaxed wine and can’t manage to take a selfie that includes us both fully…I know…ready to go. The sunset is amazing as we land and Evon is already there to collect us. We are wined, dined and treated like Princess’.   

We have a great weekend. We walk around the Red Zone and Chee explains the proposed developments, while the girls are threatened by the swans when attempting to feed the ducks. The girls explain the Red Zone is there because of the earthquake as they collect sticks. Lindy and I attend the Trade Fair and still find time to go shopping. 

Watching these two cuties who are typically best buddies and enemies at the same time, like siblings should be. We celebrate Piper’s birthday with a yummy cake 

..and I enjoy reading the same stories I read to Chee when he was little.   

“When’s the last time you guys slept together?” Chee had texted me before we headed down. “About 50 Years ago. No problem unless she wets the bed or farts, then I’ll push her out”, I texted back. “Good he replies. You’ll be sleeping together. Lets hope neither of those things happen” And before we know it we are snuggled under two layers of duvet and sleeping soundly. Lindy had warned me of her snoring before we dozed off. “Did I snore?” she asked as soon as my eyes opened in the morning and stretched. “Well if you did, I smiled. I never heard a thing”. “Did I? I asked in return. “Not really” she answered. “You kind’ve purred.” “Pardon?” “Aha, she nods, it was like a purr”.

I’m home just 24 hours and come down with a nasty head cold that leaves me full of snot, a headache and tucked up in bed sipping hot water and cider vinegar between violent sneezes. After crowing like a fool about my fantastic immunity, here I am with possibly the South Island strain of the flu. 
I tell my hairdresser, and we’ve never discussed anything like this before so I don’t know where she stands, but she tells me she would never have a flu shot and believes in personal responsibility and good holistic health. However, she tells me she had a sound dressing down from a client recently when she was asked if she had had her flu shot yet and she had replied no. This woman berated her over the next twenty minutes for her selfish attitude and poor community spirit. People relied on those who worked in the public arena, like teachers and shop assistants, hell anyone that walked out their front door basically, who should all get their flu shot to protect everyone else from getting the flu. Hmmm…

She shook her head and said, “I didn’t berate her, because it would be unprofessional of me. Turned out this woman was a public health nurse who advises others on better health outcomes for themselves and their families.” My hairdresser made eye contact in the mirror to make her point as she held her arms out. “Not only was she hugely obese, she is one of the most unhealthiest looking woman I have met. I could have given her some suggestions on fitness and healthy eating…never mind a bloody flu shot!”  
Haha…I had to laugh and I had to agree. I do most certainly believe in holistic health. I also believe in personal responsibility and do not expect the Dr has all the answers, I do believe in not pumping our bodies with drugs to take care of what we are not giving it or doing. These are short term solutions and our bodies won’t thank us for it.       

I leave there and I can’t stop thinking about this and remember that there was a time that the Dr’s and priests and indeed many others, were in positions of authority. Never to be questioned. Drs not only said it was OK to smoke, in my grandparents day they encouraged it, and women were told it would help them have a smaller baby. Less birth complications. Lets be honest, The medical profession didn’t and doesn’t always get it right.
When my mother had babies, bottle was definitely touted to be better than the breast. They didn’t bother with colostrum as it wasn’t worth it and in fact my Mum received an injection to dry up her milk after at least one birth. The medical profession do a lot of amazing stuff but they got this one very wrong. 

As I look up vaccinations I am shocked to see the current vaccine recommended schedule. My grandmother had one vaccination as a child. My mum had around four vaccinations. As a child I apparently was offered around fourteen vaccinations. This year in 2017, we are recommended around thirty nine for our children starting at just six weeks old. Then four, for our teenagers, and annually for our elderly. But wait, there’s more coming on line this year. Something doesn’t feel right about this. For me in fact, a lot doesn’t feel right and the more questions I ask and the more info I have gathered over the last fifty years, the more things don’t stack up for me.
I’m glad I am in a time where we can question. We don’t have to accept what ever the Dr says. We can choose what we think our family needs and we all need to be ‘thinking parents’. I have a great Dr who not only welcomes my questions, he aids my learning and respects my decisions. I can decide what I will take and when. I can make an informed decision. You can too, and it doesn’t have to be the same as mine. I respect your choices. 

Sunset on the wing

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Bangla Rd

Being a work conference we are with a bunch of people whom are all, but one, younger than us, and whom we don’t know very well. Gilbert and I are fairly sedate, while some are leering up every night. Down Bangla Rd bars till morning, and most of them looking like death at a late breakfast.

Two of them arrived a couple of days early and hit the bars. They warn us of the scams. The barmen play games and it’s probably very cleverly rigged so you win some, you lose some. When you win, you get free shots and there’s a lot of fun in sculling the drinks as the victors are urged on. When you lose, its added to your tab. When you finish a drink, as soon as you put the glass down, warns Aaron, they replace it with a full one. If you touch the glass, you have to pay for it. If you don’t, you don’t have to. Of course most will pick the glass up…and the bar staff very kindly keep a bar tab. It was 20,000 baht in no time, getting up to $1000 NZ, explains Aaron, which is bullshit, but by then you’re legless and in no state to argue. Given the drinks are cheap here, it’s unlikely they have drunk that much, or lost that much. You would think that warning would suffice, but no. It’s like all the men turned into brainless morons.

Two other men go down a few nights later and they tell us the next morning, with quaking voices, a very similar story, only they refuse to pay at first. They argue with the bar staff. It couldn’t be 20,000 bah!. The barman’s friendly disposition changes. He summons someone over and says they refuse to pay. The slightly aggressive man who comes over, lifts his lapel and shows the men his badge. He’s a police man, but is he? And do you really want to question that? He threatens them with a taser. One of the men took one look and ran, actually ran to the ATM and duly handed the 20,000 baht over. They breathed a sigh of relief, told us who knows what they were putting in our drinks. Could have been spiked. They considered themselves lucky and headed back, arriving at the hotel at 4.15am. We listen to their voices and serious faces and as I retell the story back in the room to Gilbert, we are shaking our head and chuckling. Oh, could have been worse. Could have been Bangla lock up! 

We have seen enough of the Bangla Roads of this world to know it is a heaving cesspit, where the locals lighten the tourists load. Not a nice place to be and we are not interested at all. 

From where we have our final dinner in an open air restaurant overlooking Patong Beach. The sunsets reflection on the water through the Palms is absolutely stunning. We can see the light pollution over the streets. It appears above one area almost like a halo but its throbbing makes me think an electrical storm is hitting the area. The guy across the table leans back to take a look and tells me “no, that’s Bangla Rd”. 

We ready ourselves for a banquet


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