I shared with Janis how our house in Nanaimo had a bidet in the ensuite bathroom and a laundry chute.When friends and family came over to visit the first thing they wanted to see was the bidet.Then they would throw something down the laundry chute.Janis brought up a good point. “As long as your guests didn’t get the bidet and laundry chute mixed up.”
Iceland is very windy. Cement filled tires secured to the porta potties.
Cement filled tires secured to porta potties. An exceptionally windy area of Iceland.
Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is very windy.
April Fool’s Day.
I decided April Fool’s Day was a perfect day to make a fool of myself and share some silly and fun photos.
Every day is a perfect day to take care of our mental health.
Yes, life is exceptionally challenging and serious right now.
If laughter is the best medicine, then I choose to distract myself, even temporarily, with something that makes me smile.
I hope it makes you smile, too.
Do you have an April Fool’s Day story or prank to share?
Especially two weeks before our wedding anniversary.
Is there ever a good time to lie?
It is actually an act of omission.Something I did not want to tell him.
Is this still considered a lie?
It Started Last Sunday
I had booked a massage.A real treat.
Before the massage, I took off my wedding ring and I placed it in my wallet.
An hour of bliss followed.
On the way home I stopped at Discovery Coffee to buy coffee beans.They have the best coffee in Victoria and it is worth the drive to pick up the beans.
A perfect end to my week.
I realized I was not wearing my wedding ring.
I was quite certain I had placed it in my wallet.
I checked my wallet. No luck.
I did have spa brain yesterday, so I might be wrong.
I completely emptied my purse.No luck.
I phoned the Spa to see whether anyone had turned in a wedding ring, a simple gold band.Nothing.
I phoned Discovery Coffee.They checked the back desk where lost and found items are placed.Nada.
Darn.I Feel Sick To My Stomach.
It is just a ring.A material object.
I am actually surprised I haven’t lost it before now.
I take it off before every yoga class, sometimes placing it on the towel next to me.I used to take it off before running when I used to run.My fingers swell and I am not in the mood to have anything cut off.
It is only a physical item.It is not as if anything serious has happened, especially to anyone I love.
Physical items can be replaced.
Then why do I feel sick to my stomach?
Plenty of Fish circa 1976
Plenty of Fish circa 1976
Forty-one Years Ago
This ring was given to me as a symbol of commitment and a promise we made to each other.
Forty-one years ago it was a shiny, simple, smooth gold band.
Forty-one years later this ring shows some wear and tear.Not unlike all marriages.
This ring means even more to me now.
It represents a friendship and a life we have built together.
It is symbolic of our enduring love for each other.
Riding through life together
Love is a gamble
Do couples start to look alike?
I Do Not Want To Tell My Husband
I am disappointed and upset.I will likely start crying.
He may not even notice the missing ring.
I could replace the ring with a similar looking gold band.
My husband would say the right things to make me feel better.He always does.
He has been my best friend for over forty-one years.I have always been able to count on him.
Lightning Lake, Manning Park, B.C.
Top of the World Drive, Yukon, 2011
I phone the Spa and Discovery Coffee again.
A last-ditch effort to find the ring.
Nothing was turned in at the Spa.
A friendly voice answers at Discovery Coffee.“Yes, they have found the ring!”
Am I Using Up My Good Luck Quota?
I often think of luck as a finite amount of good in my life.
I am allocated a limited quantity of good luck in my lifetime.I do not want to waste it.
I recently wrote about finding the Ruby Red Slippers link here Now my ring shows up.These are two small examples of something good going my way.
What are the chances?
I would rather save the good luck for the most important parts of my life, the people in my life.My loved ones.
I realize life doesn’t work this way.
We play the cards we are dealt, good and bad.
I am grateful for the hand I have been dealt for most of my life.
Do I Tell My husband?
Lying is not a good thing.
Yet, we are also not perfect.I am sure the both of us have kept silent at times or told white lies to spare feelings.
We believe in communication in our marriage.Even on difficult subjects.
After all these years, I could not hide anything from my husband.We know each other too well.
Communication is often non-verbal.
Lost Or Found
I was not aware how much this ring meant to me, until I lost it.
A good reminder for a great deal in life.
I also do not need an object to remind me of our respect and love for each other.For us, love is a verb.We show up for each other every day.
I was planning to tell my husband about the ring, lost or found.
When he opens his inbox today and reads this story.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.
Thank you for the forty-one years we have shared together.I look forward to many more.
Aukland Zoo, New Zealand
Aukland Zoo, New Zealand
Have you ever lost a special item? Are there times when not telling the truth is a good thing?
A friend shows me her Grandmother’s ring on her finger.She is emotional and very moved telling me how much this ring means to her, how much her Grandmother meant to her.
Another friend shows me the ceramic bowls she created in her first few pottery classes.She describes preparing and centering the clay.She explains how this challenging process requires stillness, concentration, calm perseverance and becoming one with the clay.
Our three year old granddaughter brings me artwork she has created along with an elaborate description of the shapes and colours.Her unfiltered pride is evident in her smile when I display her painting on the refrigerator.
Are objects simply inanimate materials?
Is an heirloom handed down from past generations only symbolic of a special relationship?
Does artwork merely showcase the craftsman’s talent and skills?
Or is there an essence, an energy present that animates these physical materials?
I had not really thought about these concepts until I began to learn more about the Maori culture.
We were surrounded by many art forms visiting New Zealand this year.The Maori believe art is an expression of the life force, the energy within you.
They believe that a physical object, a Mauri, contains a vitality, an essence.
Maori art conveys spiritual information, ancestry and culturally important topics.
The Maori believe that the gods create and communicate through the master craftsmen.
We had the opportunity to visit Te Puia in Rotorua this year. Te Puia is home to the “New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.”
Today artists learn through classes and much practise.The styles vary from region to region.
Traditional Maori art was created using the materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax, and feathers.Many artists continue to use these natural, organic materials today.
What do I think?Do I believe a person’s energy can be attached to an object?
Entire fields of science and pseudoscience are dedicated to the concept of objects and energy.I went down the “crystals” rabbit hole when reading about this subject.Possibly a future story.
I had not given this topic much thought until we were exploring New Zealand and learning about the Maori culture.I respect the Wisdom of theAges. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities.
I find I appreciate art more when I learn about the history and cultural significance of an item.
The Maori traditions have helped me recognize the spiritual connections we have with our environment and the emotional connections we have with our ancestors.
The effort and meticulous care taken during the creative process is an expression of our inner selves, our essence.
Are materials infused with love and energy during the creative process?
Is this life force passed on to the artifact?
I do believe it is.When I learn about the traditions, the history and the spiritual significance
I have a great respect for the incredible forces that shape our planet Earth.
Living on Vancouver Island, we are prepared (somewhat) for “the big one.”
Most of the time, I try not to think about it.
It was difficult to not think about it when we were exploring around Rotorua in the North island of New Zealand.The geothermal forces were evident all around us.
We were visiting two specific areas:Te Puia is a large geothermal reserve and contains an eco-cultural centre. Wai-O-Tapu is a scenic reserve with the largest area of surface thermal activity within the Taupo Volcanic Zone. More on Wai-O-Tapu in a future post.
We spent the first two hours at Te Puia with a guide, learning more about the Maori culture, history, vegetation and geothermal formations in the surrounding area.
The Te Puia area contains many hot, steaming, bubbling mud pools, pools of boiling water. The depth and appearance of these pools can vary depending on the amount of rain and how often and how long the geysers erupt.
Our guide informed us that increased activity in this geothermal reserve often means that other areas on our planet are experiencing changes to the Earth’s surface.An example he gave us is a tsunami or an earthquake.
Interesting and scary!
The Te Puia reserve contains inactive and active geysers. The PohutuGeyser is the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere.She (the brochure calls it “she”) erupts once or twice each hour and can reach heights of thirty metres.
We visited the geysers in Iceland last year.The name “geysir” originated in Iceland.The Te Puia area had similarities to the Iceland geothermal areas yet also appeared very different.
Iceland 2017: Strokkur Geysir & Hverir
The Earth’s crust is very thin in both areas.Our friendly, knowledgeable, very large, robust guide stomped on this thin crust to allow us to hear the hollow sound.A description would have sufficed.
I don’t think a demonstration was necessary.
At approximately 3:30pm many of the visitors had left.A few people decided to wait for the next eruption and potential photo opportunities.After 45 minutes, some of the smaller geysers in the area showed increased activity.
A rumbling noise began.
Then the Pohutu geyser began to erupt.
We expected to watch it erupt for about two minutes, and half an hour later it continued to erupt and increase in height.This created waterfalls coming down from the rock area.An hour ago there were no waterfalls in this area.
I didn’t feel confident staying close by, especially after all of the information from our guide.There was a hotel nearby that had been recently closed due to geothermal activity on the site. Te Puia (weblink)
The ground beneath the building was unable to support it.
I left and walked about one kilometre back to the entrance of this geothermal reserve.
If any significant events occurred in this area, would one kilometre make a difference?
The staff at the entrance reassured me that length, height, and time between geyser eruptions vary a great deal.
I didn’t see any of the staff hanging out at the Pohutu Geyser right now.
I have a lot of respect for the natural forces on our Planet Earth.I am very aware that geothermal effects, earthquakes, tsunamis are beyond my control.
Unusual and increased activity may occur near an erupting geyser.The thin crust of the Earth may not be able to support my weight.
If I am nearby, I plan to distance myself at least one kilometre away.I may be safer.
We were tramping (the New Zealand word for “hiking”) in the Central Otago region of NZ.This area has many cave-like tunnels created during gold mining in the 1800’s.
Central Otago Region, NZ 2/1/19
My husband was exploring inside these dark tunnels and he wasencouraging me to go in there with him.I was adamant that I was not going into a manmade tunnel in an isolated area, especially in a country known for it’s earthquakes. It was not a good idea for him to go in there, either.
Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19
As he was coming out of a tunnel he caught a glimpse of a nest.It was well hidden behind brush on the side of a wall.
We were surprised to find eleven eggs in this concealed, camouflaged home.
These eggs were large.Much bigger than robin’s eggs, yet smaller than chicken’s eggs.What bird is capable of laying eleven eggs?
At that moment, we saw a rabbit running over a hill. Neither one of us wanted to consider the possibility of The Easter Bunny.How foolish.Yet, my husband and I just looked at each other, scratching our heads.
Rabbit, Hokitika, NZ 2/5/19
One of the first things I noticed about NZ is the numerous, diverse birds and waterfowl native to this region.
What kind of bird and what size of bird would lay these eleven eggs?
We had no access to wifi so I couldn’t ask google questions.
We did not disturb the eggs, spending a brief amount of time takingphotos.One of the eggs appeared to have a crack in it.This egg may have been damaged or a chick was ready to hatch.
Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19
We came across very few people on these trails, spending our day tramping in the desert-like hills.When we met a couple of hikers, we did not share information about the nest or the eggs. We wanted to keep this bird’s secret hiding place safe.
Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19
For the rest of the day we carefully scrutinized the different birds we saw.We couldn’t imagine how any one of them could carry eleveneggs.
In the evening we did have access to 100mb of wifi.It was a faint, slow, inconsistent signal. Sometimes we could see words.Other times we could see photos and words. We were hoarding our wifi mb and using them sparingly.
A quick check into Messenger to see whether any new family news.Then, our priority was to google “what bird in the Central Otago region of New Zealand lays eleven eggs?”
We compared our photo of the eggs to other pictures online.We are quite certain that the eggs we found are from a Pukeko bird and more likely Pukeko birds.
Pukeko Bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19
The Pukeko bird is very common and widespread in NZ.Pukeko birds have a complex social life and a highly variable mating system. The birds may nest as monogamous pairs, polyandrous (one female, two or more males), polygynandrous (the male and the female have multiple partners) and polygynous (one male with multiple females, although the female will mate with only one male).Are you still with me?
Pukeko bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19
Each female will usually lay four to six eggs.A nest can contain as many as eighteen eggs. Multiple breeding females will all lay eggs in the same nest.All group members contribute to chick care. Weblink Link
The eggs in this nest likely belonged to two or more Pukeko birds sharing the nest.
We learned Pukeko are very territorial and aggressive, especially when defending their offspring.We didn’t see any birds near this nest.
Even though Pukeko birds are abundant and widespreadthroughout NZ, they are new to us. It was interesting to learn about their complex social groups with multiple breeding males and females. We were very fortunate to uncover this nest which prompted us to learn more about the native birds of NZ.
We have solved The Mystery of the Eleven Eggs.
As for us and our tramping adventures?After 42 years I have learned that I cannot tell my husband what to do, even if I want to protect him and prevent any serious mishaps.
I can only stand by, capture the photos, and be prepared to seek help if necessary.
If any unfortunate predicaments do occur I will continue to be a caring, supportive, loving wife.
You visit Havelock, New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel capital of the world. Definitely one of our favourite days exploring NZ!
This area is in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds region on the South Island of NZ.
We left early on the Pelorus Mail Boat out of the town of Havelock. This boat delivers mail, supplies and people to remote coastal areas.There are no roads, ferries or cruise ships.
Living out west on Vancouver Island, we have had the opportunity to spend the day on mail boats.It is a nice way to let someone else do the navigating and spend a relaxing day enjoying the scenery.We were looking forward to a break from driving the challenging NZ roads.
It was a gorgeous day, some areas calm, some windy with stunning scenery in every direction.
The captain and guide were very kind, fun and knowledgeable about the history and wildlife in this area.
The Green-lipped Mussels are endemic to NZ.The name comes from the distinct emerald green colour of the shell.They are sometimes called Green Shelled Mussels or NZ Mussels.They may have anti-inflammatory health benefits for some people. (weblink)
We saw many mussel farms in the inlets of Marlborough Sounds.Up until now, I have enjoyed eating mussels, although, I had no idea how mussels grow in the coastal waters.
Spat (juvenile mussels) are collected, where they wash up attached to clumps of seaweed. Spat arrive at a mussel farm and are transferred to ropes in seawater until about 6 months of age.They are removed and then reseeded onto long stretches of rope, and grown for another 9 to 12 months.They are then harvested.
Most aspects of farmed and wild mussels are identical. The mussel farms are located in the same areas where wild mussels thrive.Mussels require sheltered areas. There are over 600 mussel farms in NZ and they cover thousands of hectares of marine space. (weblink)(link)
We saw some boats go by carrying huge white bags.Each of these bags contain over a ton of mussels.These boats were obviously very low in the water.
We stopped at a remote lodge for lunch.Of course, we ordered the mussels.
I bit down on a mussel to the sound of a crunch.Was it a piece of shell or my tooth?Hiding underneath the mussel was a pea-sized crab.More on this later in a future story.
We stopped for a hike on a secluded beach.The only access to this area is by boat or helicopter.
We came across colonies of beautiful, big seabirds called Gannets.
We were introduced to a huge insect endemic to New Zealand called a Giant Weta.It is described as a relatively harmless insect.Only a few of them bite.I didn’t know which side of the fence this Weta belonged, the biting or the nonbiting side.And using the term “relatively harmless” does not make me feel better.
A highlight towards the end of the day was to have a large school of Bottlenose dolphins swim around us.Even, Trish, the guide became very emotional. Although she travels these inlets every day,she had never seen this many dolphins stay as long to play.
We have been surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible natural beauty in NZ.Every day has been an adventure.We have learned about the history of the Islands.We have been fortunate to witness the diverse marine life and wildlife native to this country.
Exploring the Marlborough Sounds region on the Pelorus mail boat was definitely a highlight for us. It was one of our best days in New Zealand!
And what will I continue to order for my favourite meal?Mussels, of course!
The past few weeks in New Zealand have been filled with amazing adventures, exploring and long road trips.
It was now getting to the end of our trip.We arrived at Cook’s Lookout Motel, Paihia, an area called the Bay of Islands, the very north part of the North Island.
The information about this motel had indicated access to wifi.I had planned a couple of days of catching up.Messenger and FaceTime with the family.Surfing the internet.I wanted to read the blogs I follow.I was planning to research some information to add to my stories.
The owner of the motel had a complicated story about major wifi glitches in this area the past few weeks.No wifi for guests right now.
It was slightly disappointing. Although, not unexpected.
Over the last two months in New Zealand we often have had minimal or noaccess to wifi.Sometimes, we were allowed only 100mb of use.
I really didn’t know how much I rely on the internet until it was no longer available:
Researching my husband’s spider bite:symptoms;should he see a doctor?
The weather forecast each day
Sending birthday wishes to friends and family
Is the Giant Weta harmful?
Names of bird species we encounter
Opening times of attractions
Restaurant open/close times
Confirming our flights
Who won best actor category at the Oscars?
What would you add to the list?
Giant Weta – “New Zealand’s most recognizable creepy-crawlies”weblink
Kea – species of large parrot found in the forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand weblink
What did I do without wifi for 5 days?
I finished reading books I had started at the beginning of this trip.
I went swimming.
I did more tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking).
I wrote stories.
I took photos.
I watched the sunrise and sunset.
I sat outside, breathing in the fresh sea air, truly enjoying the scenery.
90 mile beach – North Island, New Zealand
90 Mile Beach – North Island, New Zealand
Do I miss not having wifi?
We have gone camping in areas on the west coast of BC and in the Yukon where we were truly unplugged.I plan for it, and I actually look forward to the respite from the online world.
Long Beach – Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
My stress level and angst significantly decline when I am oblivious to the daily news, fake and otherwise.
Wifi affects almost every part of our lives now.It is how we communicate, surf for information and often do our shopping and our banking.Our entire vacation was researched, planned and booked using the internet.
I did not miss access to wifi while we were on the Bay of Islands.
We were there for only five days.
The first thing I did when I arrived home?
I plugged in my computer.
Postscript: I wrote this story about one week ago while we were still in New Zealand. We experienced a wonderful, life-changing adventure. Everywhere we went we met kind, thoughtful New Zealanders. I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Christ Church this week. My heart goes out to the victims, the victim’s families and all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, this is not fake news.