Summery Sleigh

Part of the Christmas fun in the central city is Santa’s sleigh, parked on the ground floor of The Crossing.  As we approached it there were several elves in Santa hats sitting inside, but they quickly disappeared.  A sign warned that feeding or riding on the reindeer is strictly forbidden, but people are welcome to sit in the sleigh for photos (how could I resist?).

Ruth in Santa’s sleigh

I’m always pleased to see free family entertainment like this.  If you’re planning to bring children into town there’s also Ballantyne’s window with the story of Santa’s Lost Letter.  All lots of fun, but I wish there was more acknowledgement of the Summer Solstice at this time of year.

We can enjoy the festive season
for me, mid-summer is the reason

Floral Friday

The first gladiolus has flowered.  These bulbs came from my mother’s Auckland garden, and it’s appropriate that it should flower now as next Monday would have been her birthday.

It’s at this time that glad’s do come
to bring me memories of my mum

Posting Protocols

Our gifts for the U.K. were posted on the Friday before the Monday Christmas deadline.  The daughters received them the following Friday, two and a half weeks before Christmas.  Luckily they are well brought up daughters who wouldn’t dream of opening their presents early.

Yesterday I went to the Post Shop to send more gifts for a January birthday, and met a friend who was posting her family Christmas gifts to Japan.  I asked whether she was worried they might not arrive in time as the deadline had passed, but she told me parcels usually take only three days to get to Japan, even in December.  That’s quicker than a letter sent elsewhere in N.Z. these days.  I do wonder whether NZ Post really needs to advertise such an early deadline.

Posting box with extra slot

Near the Post Shop I noticed this posting box with a difference.  The lower slot must be good for a child, or a person in a wheelchair, or perhaps for Santa’s elves.  With the continuing drop in posted letters and cards I guess they’re trying to be inclusive.  I’d be more impressed if the price of postage went down, or even stayed the same for more than a year.  These days stamps on letters are almost never franked, and a couple of friends have told me they soak off the unmarked stamps and re-use them.  I haven’t done that yet, but it must be tempting for anyone on a limited budget.

To send by post is far from cheap
as prices ever upwards creep.

Sleeping Together

The Te Reo course I hope to take next year includes two noho or weekend marae stays.  I’ve been on marae before, and my only apprehension about these visits is the thought of sleeping in a room with many people.  By the time we go in May the other students should no longer be strangers, bu it’s some time since I’ve shared a bedroom with anyone except Stephen, and I do like to have my own bathroom close by.

In my 20s and 30s I was very happy to sleep marae-style with friends.  I can remember a time when several Values Council members slept on our lounge floor, and I joined them, leaving Stephen alone in the bedroom.  Council times together were infrequent and precious, and we enjoyed chatting into the wee small hours.

Tramping holidays and Women’s Studies Conferences also meant sharing sleeping accommodation, but it’s been a while.  When Stephen was involved with Alf’s Imperial Army I once slept in the same room with eight Wizards.

My sleeping bag has not been used for about ten years, and will need a thorough airing.  It will be an adventure and a learning experience, but I imagine I’ll be glad to get home to my own bed.

Two nights spent sleeping marae-style
will be an interesting trial

Weight Loss Woes

I’m pleased to have lost eight kilos over the last six months.  My motivation was my G.P. telling me if I didn’t lose weight, and thereby lower my cholesterol, I would need to take statins.

I’ve achieved this loss by cutting down on biscuits, cakes, and sugar.  I still have occasional treats, but they are only occasional.  I’ve also cut down on carbs and bread made with flour.  Juliet suggested I try paleo bread, and that’s worked well for me.  There are two brands I like: Venerdi Super Seeded, and Dovedale Purple Paleo.  They’re expensive, but they keep well in the frig.  If I feel the need of a more substantial snack than fruit, I have a slice toasted with hummus or peanut butter.

There is a downside to downsizing.  Some of my trousers and jeans are now too loose around the waist.  I can’t wear a belt because there are no belt loops.  Stephen suggested braces, but I don’t fancy those.  It seems defeatist to hold on to trousers that are too large in case I put weight on again, so a couple of pairs have gone into the bags for the City Mission, and I need to go op-shopping.

Ready for the City Mission

It’s good to lose some weight no doubt
but sad to have to throw clothes out

Cultivating Cacti

Succulent plants are not my favourites, but I’ve been wanting to find a use for two cracked coffee mugs.  I knew that cacti can be grown in such containers with no need for drainage, and I’ve been on the lookout for suitable plants.  At Sumner yesterday we came across a market, and I bought a pot with three cacti plants growing in it for $3.50.  One of them even had flowers.  A further stall also had cacti, planted attractively in corks, some of which were fridge magnets.  That stall holder explained that these would need to be watered with an eye dropper.

Cacti in corks

When I got home I separated my three cacti, which were root bound.  I planted them in my two cracked mugs and a small glass dish, with a layer of stones in the bottom and potting mix on top.  It will be interesting to see how they fare.

Cacti in mugs

I’m now wondering whether taller plants would have been better, and I hope the two in mugs flower soon.  I understand they need to be watered sparingly just once a week, and it’s a good idea a few minutes after watering to tip the container sideways to remove any excess.  They also need sunlight.  Not sure yet just where they might live.  In the meantime they’re on the kitchen window sill.

I hope they won’t be truculent
my new plants that are succulent

Santa Spectacular

Along with thousands of others we went to watch the Santa Parade.  After years of taking part we have a soft spot for the parade, and appreciate that its current route is very close to home.  We took our folding chairs and chose a spot close to the Fire Fighters’ Memorial.

Waiting for the Parade

Watching the crowd beforehand is almost as good as seeing the parade, with children dressed in a myriad of costumes.  We were surprised at the number of people pushing their way up and down the footpath while the parade was on.

The parade took over an hour to pass with an amazing cavalcade of floats and people.  Some were old favourites, some were new, some were strange.  There were bands, gymnasts, ethnic and youth groups, steam punkers, and some vehicles whose only purpose seemed to be to promote their business.

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There was just one pipe band.  I was reminded of the days when I used to take two small daughters to the Auckland Santa Parade, and one would start to complain loudly as soon as a bagpipe sounded in the distance.

The airport fire truck shot out jets of water, welcome on a hot day, someone else had a bubble device, and foamy ‘snow’ came from Santa’s giant sleigh.  This was great entertainment for young and old, and an excellent introduction to the festive season.

The sight of Santa’s giant sleigh
means Christmas now is on its way.