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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

A summer wedding

35 years (and 11 days) before, she was an adorable little flower girl. On Friday, she was a joyful, beautiful, bride, and walked up the aisle (garden path) with her father on one side, and on the other, her 15-year-old son. She lost her long-time partner and father of her son suddenly almost five years ago. He had lost his wife and mother of his son some years earlier. So perhaps because of these tragedies, as well as the fact that they work so well together now, and are now both so obviously happy, that we were all incredibly delighted to celebrate with them.

The sight of her in her gorgeous dress, and the beaming smile on her face as she first saw her soon-to-be husband, saw my eyes well up. They continued leaking throughout the ceremony. I blame pollen, or wind, or … something!

The sun shone, and the gardens in their house the perfect location for the ceremony and drinks afterwards. Even the hydrangeas were in full blue bloom to match the bridesmaids’ dresses, and the colour of the clear, happy sky.

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(The 18th in a continuing series)

  • A heart full of love and enthusiasm is vulnerable, but the love is worth it
  • Life isn’t fair*
  • Never complain about being normal. Some people aspire to it.
  • Having bacon every day is not so bad either.
  • We have to be brave (and prepared) when technology lets us down
  • The best Aunts and Uncles spoil you
  • There is fun to be had when devices are absent (voluntarily or involuntarily).

* I knew that one, but it’s worth remembering

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… on my very first photoshoot:

  1. Check all the settings before you start, especially the ISO if you last used your camera to take a night shot!
  2. Check the white balance.
  3. Learn about white balance so I can check it.
  4. Don’t be so scared of losing focus on parts of the body that you don’t change the focal length.
  5. Even when the background is scenic, vary the focal length.
  6. Don’t rely on autofocus. (Don’t worry, I didn’t.)
  7. When teenagers are the subject of the photoshoot, don’t bring the parents or other on-lookers, ie distractions.
  8. Be bossy! With the subject(s), and especially the subject(s)’ parents.
  9. Be kind, and learn to relax the subjects so they have fun!
  10. Move around. A lot.
  11. Maybe my left knee isn’t up to doing photoshoots.
  12. Review the composition regularly. Is it seemly?
    and a bonus tip, but very important,
  13. Wear sunscreen.

Still, I’m pretty proud of the results. It helps to have photogenic subjects!

 

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Scattered families

Well, I couldn’t get organised enough to write my Microblog Mondays post in advance, so I’m writing it now on Tuesday morning in NZ, which is also known as Boxing Day.

The season this year has been special, because of the return of the Californian branch of the family, for the first time in eight years, and the first time ever for Christmas, and so I am relishing the time with them, as the girls go to college next year and who knows when we’ll see them again.

One of my nieces is a talented (and hard-working) softball player, with a scholarship to a good college, and – through her father – has NZ citizenship and has been included in the squad for the New Zealand women’s team. So it was a real pleasure for us to take a four-hour drive last week to a provincial town where the team was playing, and see her in action wearing the fern and the flag and the New Zealand black uniform.

There have been inevitable discussions about life and politics in the US and NZ, about college aspirations and travel plans, and many other topics, trying to squeeze years of casual conversation into a few days, which is the sad thing about having family living so far away.

I was  also honoured (and intimidated – I’m very much an untrained amateur) to be asked to take the twins’ senior pictures. The weather didn’t cooperate, as I’d hoped we could do it after Christmas Day when I was more relaxed, so I had to squeeze in mince pie and meringue baking with the photo shoots, and leave my husband to organise the pre-Christmas cleaning (inside and out), which he managed admirably. We got some beautiful shots in farmland, under native tree ferns, and on the beach, and I’m going to have fun going through them all and doing some editing, and will wait to see if they use my photographs or have to revert to other options back home!

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(The 17th in a continuing series)

  • It’s good to be enthusiastic about things we love, whether we win or not.
  • Good manners and gratitude take us a long way.
  • When we love our pets, we get the love back.
  • Stand up to bullies, because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Cocktails (or mocktails) can make us happy, and should be savoured.
  • It’s worth taking pride in our appearance, especially on special occasions.
  • Writing to your penpals is important.
  • I’m more like my sister than I realise.

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One of the joys of hosting visitors from overseas is showing them about my city. Yesterday, instead of staying at home and writing my Microblog Monday posts, I was walking through our town with my sister-in-law from Perth, Australia. She lived here briefly in 1989 and has visited periodically, and now as her children are growing up, it is easier for her to leave them for a few hours, and we recall the pre-children days when we used to explore the Wellington designer shops on each visit. Yesterday, we poked through a few NZ designer clothing stores (she tried on and rejected, I drooled and resisted), poked through some favourite gift shops (she purchased, I didn’t, though I did find a display cabinet that I want to buy if it is for sale, but that’s another story), and had a long chat over udon noodle soup for lunch.

But first, we visited the Gallipoli (a battle in World War I that is iconic for Australians and NZers) exhibition at Te Papa, the National Museum, which her children had visited a few days earlier when the adults had retired to a nearby restaurant (a good excuse for me to try a place I’ve been wanting to visit for ages) for a more sophisticated lunch. Amidst the exhibits of clothing and provisions and the simulated trenches and periscopes and the animated battle scenes, Weta Workshop (the brains behind the special effects and models of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/King Kong movies, as well as a myriad others, have created huge life-like models of particular personalities at Gallipoli, some soldiers, a doctor and a nurse. We see their eyes, their sweat, their injuries, feel their fear and pain and exhaustion and caring, and hear their stories, thanks to letters shared by their families. It’s a reminder of how lucky we are in little old Wellington, to have such world-class artists here to bring these people and their stories to life so poignantly.

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Late last year I brought home some of the items I’d chosen from my mother’s house after her death, and since then I’ve been getting particular pleasure out of using a few simple, small items no-one else wanted.

  • A particular teaspoon that always used to sit in our sugar bowl when I was growing up, as we used it daily to sweeten our tea, or the porridge or weet-bix for breakfast, now lives in my own sugar bowl.
  • Whenever we had colds, a lemon and honey drink was prescribed, made with a glass lemon squeezer that was perfectly proportioned for the job at hand, unlike any others I’ve found in the 30 years since. Now though, my search is over.
  • One of the first things I learned to cook was a stew that needed to be thickened once the meat and vegetables were ready, and I would vigorously shake up a flour and water mixture in a small aluminium* canister with a thankfully tight lid, ensuring all lumps were gone, and use it to thicken the sauce smoothly. It lives in a kitchen cupboard now, and although I don’t use it very often (preferring these days to thicken by reduction, or use arrowroot or cornflour), I smile whenever I see it.
  • The glass measuring cup I used when I learned how to cook, and most importantly how to bake, now sits in the same cupboard, and I use it whenever I can, although as it predates metric measurements, I am less confident in using it for anything requiring precise amounts.

These valued inherited items don’t make me rich, but they do make me happy.

*yes, that’s how it is spelt.**
**yes, spelt is spelt spelt.

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