Thursday, August 27, 2009

Love actually is all around.

This is a tough post to write. I knew at the back of my head that, once I started this blog last year to update my life for family and friends, some bad things could happen that I would need to react to and maybe tell you about.

Up to now I've filtered out some personal things - obviously. You don't want to read about the deeply personal stuff and I don't want that stuff out there on the interweb anyway. Some things need to remain in the vault don't they. But I do need to communicate the following.

Two weeks ago I got a call from my sister-in-law that has had, and will have massive repercussions. She told me that my father had had a massive stroke and wasn't looking good. That sentence is still echoing in my ears as I write. Dad is a very private man who will hate this information getting out but I can't keep on writing a blog pretending it hasn't happened. My mood would reveal instantly that something wasn't right and I feel better getting this stuff off my chest. As my mother used to say, 'A problem shared is a problem halved'. So, dad, please forgive me when you eventually get round to reconnecting to the blog.

There is some general good news and general bad news surrounding this. The stroke was on the right side of the brain - therefore his left side (arm, leg) is affected, but he can talk, listen and swallow (those things are controlled by the left side of our brains). He is in a great place to make improvements, even though he doesn't agree. I've been really impressed by the staff at North Shore Hospital - both in terms of their care for dad and in their communications with me. He will be in ward 15 at the hospital for the foreseeable future, getting physiotherapy and care from some dedicated professionals.

I'll get back to updates on the lambs and the flotsam and jetsam of our lives for the next post - somehow none of that seems that important right now.

Love and peace actually - W

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hey hey the clouds are whey

Well we now know that Doug (the ram) wasn't firing blanks - Chunky has been joined by eleven other lambs - three sets of twins, triplets and 2 singles so far, with four ewes to go. Actually we've just come inside after discovering the triplets. The last had just been born as we went to check on them and we've put them in our hay barn with the mum. Hopefully she'll care for them all okay. It's been a day of continuous rain but luckily it's not that cold so we're, as I said, hopeful.

It's been a fabuloso weekend football wise - all my teams have won.

My boys' football team had a great 3-2 win over a side from New Plymouth Boys' High on Saturday. We've played that NPBHS team four times this season. The first one saw them beat us, the next one was a 2-2 draw, then a 4-4 draw and now a win!! Apart from being a terrific group of kids, my guys never give in, never surrender!

Arsenal had a great 6 - 1 away win at Everton and Rochdale won at home 1 - 0. Wahoo!!!

Love and peace and waggly tails - Wozza

Sunday, August 9, 2009

And all the world is football shaped

Lots of activity on the footy fields of late - Jesse will be thrilled that Chelski beat the damned United in the charity shield. Rochdale picked up a point away in their first league 2 game of the season - good start! And Arsenal gear up for our first game away at Everton this coming Saturday. The gunners have had a pretty good pre-season, winning the Emirates Cup and scoring some great goals, including this wonder goal by Arshavin.

Samantha reports that she is flatting with Liverpool and Chelski supporters but I think she can bet on some good results for the Arsenal this year.

Here's a picture of Chunky and his mum to finish. He's a week old - that's why I called him Chunky.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, August 8, 2009

If you're going to San Francisco be sure to wear some daffodils in your hair.

We've had a glorious weekend - the little weather pixie should be wearing sunglasses and sipping lemonade. Spring has really arrived. We have only the one lamb still (called Chunky) but the daffodils are now starting to bloom in earnest and buds are appearing on our trees.

We received our first emails from Samantha in San Francisco - here is an excerpt:
"Yesterday was such a fantastic day! we ended up going for a walk along the
coast to dead man's point before heading into some part of town and getting
authentic mexican burrito's for lunch, which we ate on the grass next to the
exploratorium. I saw Robin William's house, more of Golden Gate park, a flock of
pelicans and some crows. Then we met up with Ian (Jesse's brother) and went rock climbing..well not me, i just watched. But the best part had to be dinner! we
drove across the Golden gate bridge to Marin to Jesse's mum's and WOW Cathy made me a vegetarian stuffed pepper, salad, potato salad and New Zealand wine and the rest of the gang had steak n stuff. we sat outside next to the pool with candles until dark. The owls came out and started hooting every five seconds so we retreated indoors where we all got peach sundaes and sat down to watch the
Giants game. I didn't understand at all, especially when the whole family was
yelling at the screen ??? I'm just chilling...writing emails, listening to
music and watching all the surfers get destroyed by the waves."

Suffice to say we are all desperately jealous of her! She told us about a local second hand book shop that even has LPs. Sounds like heaven to me.

Jade is also busy planning her escape next year to Toshi station to pick up some power converters. Actually it's either Victoria University in Wellington or Massey University in either Palmerston North or Wellington.

I love hearing from all of you out there in Wozza's World. I love getting everyone's emails but must mention PJ's ones in particular. I never know what part of the world Pete is going to email me from. Recent ones detail his experiences teaching English in China and he sounds like he's thoroughly enjoying life. And thanks Michael for the San Francisco music selections.

Many of you out there are Woody fans and will appreciate this message (sent to me by Steph - many thanks Steph!).

Love and peace - W

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let's go to San Francisco

We said farewell to Samantha today. She flew off to Fiji first (as I type she is still in the air on her way there). Then she has a short stop over until flying to Los Angeles. From there it's a short flight to San Francisco where Jesse and his family are waiting for her.

We built up to the big day over the last week by watching the Pirates of the Caribbean series which we always associate with Fanfa. The first one (The Curse of the Black Pearl) is a classic and is definitely the best of the three. The second one (Dead Man's Chest) is a bit of a chore then it's back on form for the third (At World's End). It's actually a lot better than I remember it at the movies.

Samantha has done the round of farewells lately - including with Michelle and Gavin. For that one she baked one of her famous lemon meringue pies.

Today we took our last snaps of Fanfa for a while - she'll be back in a year but she's promised to keep us updated and I've commissioned photos of her at a Starbucks in Seattle.

Finally here are the Flower Pot Men doing a cheesy mime to the big hit of the title. Here's to you - San Francisco.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Starbuck's sharpening his harpoon,The black man is playing his tune, An old salt's sleeping his watch away, He'll be drunk again before noon.

I have a guilty secret to reveal. I love Starbucks.

I love the idea of Starbucks, the coffees and products, the atmosphere, and the convenience of Starbucks. I love where Starbucks came from. I love the novel Moby Dick by Melville and I love the fact that Howard Schultz decided to name his company after a character in the novel. The title quote above is from a song about the hunt for Moby Dick - called Nantucket Sleighride - I love that song too - see my music blog - . I loved the fact that in London I could find a Starbucks whenever I needed one. A lot of love!

The only slight chink in that love is the way Samantha and Jade refuse to accompany me into Taranaki's sole Starbucks for the best mocha and pastry in New Plymouth. They always cite some objection to child labour or sweatshops or something. So I decided to see if they have a point. Where does one go these days for such information? Yes, you're right - google on the interweb.

I started my search with the general info page at Wikipedia. It was with a slight feeling of trepidation that I clicked the wikipedia hyperlink, . What if the girls were right? I've pooh poohed their claims for years but not with any concrete facts and figures to back me up. Mind you they hadn't produced those either - just a 'I heard they...yada yada yada'.

The wikipedia page wasn't that helpful. It told me only that Starbucks has been a frequent target of protests on issues such as 'fair-trade policies, labor relations, environmental impact, perceived anti-competitive practices, and rumors of support for the Israeli military.' They don't really elucidate beyond that except to dispel the rumour and outline the perceptions of anti-competitive practices (having loss making stores close to competitors). So no conclusive proof of wrong doing. I did get the address of an interesting blog though which has no affiliation with the company. It's worth a visit!

The charge about Fair Trade (and therefore child labour) is complex - it leads to statement and denial and counter statement type commentary. See this exchange on a weblog for instance - It seems, as far as I can tell, that Starbucks made a commitment in 2000 to sell and use fair trade coffee more. By 2004 the progress had been slow (see the global exchange site for details from their p.o.v. ) By 2009 the Fair Trade move by Starbucks resulted in the UK being 100% supplied but this hadn't been accomplished elsewhere in the world.

In general though the company has been moving in the right direction. 'This latest development in Starbucks ongoing commitment to Rwandan coffee farmers and Fair Trade builds on the decade-long relationship between Starbucks and Fair Trade organizations around the world, which also has seen Starbucks become the largest buyer of Fair Trade certified coffee in the world' (this from an independent flex-news source - . But then you read the blog I mentioned and it tends to suggest that this isn't much of a commitment.

This sort of stuff could drive you mad. I decided to go to my local NZ Starbucks as the tiebreak. The party line is available at if you're interested.

In the end I have to go with the fact that the NP Starbucks uses/sells/offers Fair Trade coffee - and if I follow the think global/act local credo - that does it for me and my conscience is clear. So that ticks off Fair Trade, Israeli support, and anti-competitive practices (this saturating the market concept also doesn't apply in NP - it's the only Starbucks in the district so it's not running at a loss to stop other coffee houses operating).

As for labour relations - NZ Starbucks lifted their game after Auckland baristas went on strike four years ago and various concessions were awarded as a consequence.

So from wikipedia's list there is only one aspect left to consider - environmental impact? Well wikipedia doesn't go into any detail about that so I'm not sure what the fuss may be about. The TV news tonight had a story from Africa of Levis and Gap jeans being made and dumped. It had severe effects on their local water ways (blue dye in your drinking water anyone?). This made me wonder anew about Starbucks. Could they also be responsible for wide scale environmental destruction?

Back to google. Seems those paper cups are a problem (so ask for the mugs whenever you can) but the Seattle newspaper I read says, 'Some environmental groups, including Conservation International and the Environmental Defense Fund, have partnered with Starbucks over the years and laud it as a company that embraced environmental awareness before it came into vogue.' Okay so, phew, no destroyed African landscapes there.

My conclusion, then, for Jade and Samantha (and by now - anyone else out there terror stricken by the thought of visiting a Starbucks contributes to the Earth's ruin) - you can relax a bit guys and join me for a non-guilty latte or a mocha the next time we go to New Plymouth.

In other news - our first lamb of the season was born today, and Samantha's countdown is down to two sleeps before she flies out to the land of Starbucks central (she's visiting Seattle after landing in San Francisco).

Love and peace and make mine a medium mocha, no cream - Wozza