semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living



Sunday musings

Yesterday the man and I went to the library to get our fix of books.

Avid readers, it is not surprising that joining the library was one of the first things we did when we moved here.

And we have not been disappointed: our local library has a great fiction selection and a comprehensive non-fiction offering. The latter genre in particular hits the spot with the man who reads across many subject areas, including boating, engineering, biography, crafts, history, and travel. Occasionally, he will add a fiction book to his pile, but not often.

My taste is eclectic too. I read more fiction than the man. I read this purely for enjoyment, so it tends to be light stuff that I can either pick up and put down over the course of a week without forgetting the plot, or alternatively devour in a one-sitting marathon on a wet weekend afternoon. I like a good crime novel, but also read aga sagas, historical novels and some chick lit. Actually I read anything that takes my fancy! Like the man, I also take out non-fiction. This is often related to my latest information finding exercise and can be anything from how to prune a tree to a biography to history,

Which brings me to this week’s choice: I picked up a book* I had reserved by NZ journalist, Adam Dudding, about his father, Robin Dudding, who published the literary journal ‘Islands’ through the 70s and 80s.

I didn’t know Robin, or Adam, but I knew of them as they were a local Waiake family and I had been in the same year at secondary school as the second of Robin’s daughters.

I sat down yesterday afternoon and started to read it. I finished it this morning. It was enjoyable and thought-provoking – the measure of a good book.

My next read is called ‘Faith’ and is by Jimmy Carter. I am not sure how I am going to get on with this one, or the one I have about world religions, but I am interested in the topic. Why? I am working in a hospital where the pointy end of life and death is raw and exposed. Yes, it is often far from pretty, or fair.

But, much to my surprise, I have found many staff who are working with those who are so, so sick have some kind of inner faith. So agnostic me has questioned them and talked to them about what they believe and why?

So I have decided I need to read about it and learn more. And at the end of my reading, even if I retain my agnostic status, I will still hang out with my mate, the young chaplain, as she is one cool woman and definitely makes the world a nicer place!

*’My father’s island’ by Adam Dudding

New Life – First death

We’ve had our first death on our piece of paradise.  Yes, sadly we’ve lost our ram.

Two days before his demise, Mr Ram had been happily socialising with his harem in the paddock. Twenty four hours later the man moved the flock into another field, and although the ram was not as fast as he normally was, all seemed OK.

On the day of his death, I found the ram lying in the paddock. His girlfriends were keeping their distance. After getting the man’s opinion about whether a sleep-in was normal for a sheep on a statutory holiday, we rang Karl, our tenant farmer. Coincidentally, Karl happened to be driving past our place at that exact moment, so he turned his ATV hard left up our driveway and was tending the sick animal within milli-seconds of our SOS call.

His initial assessment was that the ram might have caught pneumonia, but as our tenant farmer’s expertise lies with dairy cows rather than sheep, he said he was going to get a second opinion from someone who knew more than he did. Fair enough.

He then hopped back onto his John Deere and left.

An hour or so later he was back with a drench pack and possibly a pocketful of drugs ready to do the para-medic thing. Sadly, it was too late, the poor ram had taken his last breathe about 30 minutes before.  To this day, we don’t know why. It could have been something he ate, old age, or even a nasty worm-thing that is picked up when grazing and kills quickly.  Or it could have been something else entirely. The chances are we probably will never know.

As a precaution, however, the other sheep were drenched.* I am pleased to say they are alive and healthy. P1010227.JPG

Country life: it’s not always nice or fair, but it’s always fair dinkum real.

*Our small cattle race is proving a total asset.





Carpe Diem

Muriwai Beach
Muriwai Beach

Muriwai is a wild beach with stunning and dramatic scenery on Auckland’s west coast. This rugged area is a favourite spot for the outdoorsy types, be they surfers, swimmers, fishermen, land yachties, or trampers, to name but a few.

Muriwai Surf Club

Last weekend the man and I made a trip to this spot for a very different purpose. We were there to attend the wedding reception of our son and new daughter in law. The function was held at the local surf club, a spectacular structure situated just back from the beach. As befitting a joyous celebration, the sounds of  laughter and music filled the air late into the night.

A mere four weeks earlier, the noises that pierced the silence here were quite a different affair. Sadly, it was a cacophony of sirens, rotor blades and, no doubt, distressed and emotional people, which disturbed the quiet of the twilight back then.

You see Muriwai Beach, which is 60 kilometres long, is a designated road. On that Sunday afternoon, four young men from other parts of the world decided to make the most of the lovely weather and take a four wheel drive along the beach.

In conditions considered to be perfect for the outing, the vehicle rolled. Eye witnesses’ accounts said that the vehicle flipped multiple times, throwing all but one of the occupants out. Three of the men were reported to be deceased by the time the rescue teams arrived, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the fourth passed away at the scene shortly afterwards. The news that New Zealanders sat down to watch that night showed images of the surf club as this was the building the dead were airlifted to that fateful night.

As I walked through the expansive premises of this facility last week, I thought of the four young men whose day out having fun had ended so tragically for them. They were a similar age to our son. I also thought of their nearest and dearest. To them, Muriwai will always be remembered as the place where their beloved sons’ and brothers’ lives ended.  In contrast, the man and my memories’ of this beautiful west coast beach are ones of happiness.

It is neither appropriate or important for me to second guess why the accident occurred.  I hope, however, that despite the tragic ending, the families recognise and take solace in the fact that the young men were out there having fun and embracing life that day.

A death, particularly one that is unexpected, is always a salutary reminder that there are no guarantees in life. The only option we have is to make the most of each day we have on this earth and live our life to the full.

Carpe diem.

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