Friday, April 19, 2013

thoughts of a 90 year old (found on facebook)

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come...

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

hike to Ben Lomond peak, Queenstown (28.02.2012)

Alright, over the past few months I had been rather lazy and motivation to do any kind of hikes was lacking. But then I felt the urge to climb a mountain and when those urges arise you do best not to resist them!

Ben Lomond stands 1747m high and is the peak visitors can see left to the Gondola, when looking up from the township. In case you have too much energy or time you can attempt the climb right from the bottom (vertical rise 450m) but neither applied to me. I rather enjoyed the ride up in one of the many gondola cars, enjoying the view over Queenstown. Some of my workmates have done the walk previously and asking for their advice and opinion I received responses that varied from "that's a walk in the park" right to "you'll be crawling up there on all fours!". Very helpful, right?!

The first section up to Ben Lomond Saddle I managed to reach in 2 hours and I was quite proud of myself. The hike was steep and tiresome (as I said before I've been out of practise for a while) and I had to pause for air often. In hindsight I think that wasn't a bad thing since I had enough time to enjoy the beautiful view over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu opening up in front of me. Every now and then I had to pinch myself when a loony ran past me up the steep mountain. I will never understand those people!

When I reached the saddle I had to skip my well deserved break since I couldn't find a place to sit and continued my climb up the peak. The first part looked comparatively easy and with my own field-tested routine (look down, do a few steps, force yourself to breathe and whatever you do, do not look up!) I made good progress up the mountain and thought myself close the summit. Unfortunately what I assumed to be the peak was only a massive ledge and after you make your way around it it becomes worse. Bloody steep, path disappearing every now and then, and huge boulders and chunks of chist that are too big to just climb them (my legs are just not long enough to do that!). So here you have it, in some parts I ended up on all fours! Twice I was thinking about turning back because I had enough but then my pride stopped me and I thought I'll never hear the end of it. So I kept going; crawling, puffing and swearing and praying for an end. When I finally arrived the summit after 1.5 hours with shaking knees, I was so incredibly proud of myself. I love this feeling!

The view is incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring. To one side you have Queenstown, Frankton and Lake Wakatipu and to the other side you look right into the Southern Alps with it's hundreds and thousands of mountain peaks and nothing inbetween but more mountains, valleys and a few lakes here and there. I couldn't get enough of it!

It is well know that the way down is worse than the way up and I always like to challenge that comment. But they are right. I had to be so careful not to slip and fall that I didn't take in anything from the surroundings and halfway down to the saddle my knees seemed to be in a wobble contest (can't say which one won but they both wobbled at their best). After 6 hours I finally arrived back at the Gondola, where I treated myself with a piece of chocolate cake before heading back to the hostel and having a long shower. I was dead tired and slept like a baby that night!

The track is well worth doing, but I recommend to only attemp the hike in good weather. I would have been devastated if I hadn't been able to see through thick clouds and fog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

short trip to Melbourne (January 2012)

Since leaving Melbourne in May 2009, I have always wanted to come back one day for at least a visit. This resolution finally came true late January this year when I accepted a detour via a flight to and an overnight stay in Christchurch, before flying to Australia. The same happened on the way back when I spend a very uncomfortable and cold night at Christchurch airport, laying on the floor and trying to get some sleep (which didn't happen, in case you were admiring my ability to adapt to those inconvenient conditions).

I arrived on a Tuesday morning and had to leave Sunday evening. Enough time to re-explore my old home. First though I had to get used to the heat. When I left Milford a few days previous to my arrival in Melbourne, the thermometer didn't show more than 15 centigrade -now I had to cope with almost 40!

The days I spend with a mixture of sightseeing and catching up with old friends from New Zealand. The condition of my skin (there is no beating around the bush here, it was white!) was taken into account as well and so I spend plenty of time in the sun. Most times unintended while sightseeing (which isn't always pleasant and can sometimes turn into an annoyance) and at other times voluntarily on one of the many lawns. Let me assure you, the sunbathing was always done carefully and in compliance with my wellbeing (well, when you could fry eggs on your skin it's definitely too hot and time to leave the sun!). I didn't get too much of a sunburn except for those parts of your body you reach with difficulty when applying sunlotion.

There are some things I didn't get around to doing when I lived in Melbourne and I tried to do a few of those during my short visit. A visit to the nightmarket at the Queen Victoria Market is one of those missed events. Well, an event it was, a memorable one too but I can't say I need to see that chaos again. Hundreds of people tried to make their way through the aisles of the market and thousands lined up for food, blocking the way for everyone else. I was hoping for exotic cuisine from foreign countries I've never tasted before but the queues were far too long for my liking and so I ended up eating - have a guess..........- eating a German sausage with Sauerkraut and mustard because they worked efficient enough to keep the waiting to a minimum ;-). That evening was quite a disappointment to be honest and so I went back to the hostel to grab my camera gear and do what I had done the previous nights - night photography. I had developed a liking for that kind of photography while I lived in Melbourne and so it was nice coming back to my old domain.

I was also looking forward to doing a wine tasting tour with my German friend Katrin, who had arrived in Melbourne during my stay (after a trip through the outback). Although I had made a booking weeks earlier we never made it to the Yarra Valley. Long story short: We had booked with operator A but never saw any of their busses. Nobody came around looking for anyone and so after a while I checked my mobile, saw that somebody had tried to contact me, called back and found out that it was A, trying to find me. Unfortunately the driver had left because he couldn't find us and now he's too far out the city to return for us. I learnt that I shouldn't have looked for operator A since they have sub-contracted operator B who should have contacted me 48 hours prior to the trip advising of the situation. None of that had happened and so I hadn't bothered approaching buses of operator B because I didn't know we were supposed to go with them. What a screwed up situation! I asked for a refund and was told to leave my email address (which they already had from my booking...) and the manager would get in touch with me. Guess what, he never did and my follow up emails were all ignored. They left me no choice but to contact my bank and ask to retrieve my money from the operator's bank account. It took a while but they managed in the end and I've got my money back. Operator A (which is Autopia Tours) has still not bothered to contact me so I assume they haven't even noticed the money went missing. I am quite disappointed with their customer service. This is not the way you handle a situation like this. Sure, things didn't go the way they were supposed to that day but good customer service doesn't show when everything is going alright but when you have to deal with unusual events.

By the way, during my stay, the Australian Open were in full swing just a few yards away in various venues around the city. I didn't make it to one of the events but I joined hundreds of people at Fed Square, watching parts of the matches on the big screen. I guess during the Australian Open every Melbournian becomes a tennis coach and expert and knows a thing or two to say about what's happening. Since I don't know much about tennis and the rules I found that quite helpful at times.

It was awesome being back in Melbourne and I hope it won't be the last time in that wonderful, vibrant and exciting city. I'll be back, I promise!

Monday, December 12, 2011

update December 2011

And here they are again, pangs of remorse for not writing more often. But why bore you with wish-wash of pointless stuff that interests nobody.

Nevertheless, a few of my thoughts:

New Zealand has won the Rugby World Cup 2011 and frankly I am glad it's all over. At times it was pathetic and boring to watch. Most kiwis have never seen serious threats deriving from the other teams and that made it even worse as the media was celebrating the All Blacks as winners before the whole thing had even started. That would have ended in embarassement and mutual depression nationwide so I am just happy for the All Blacks to have defeated the French (in a rather boring match).

John Key is the old/new Prime Minister of New Zealand and although I don't agree with a some of his policies, I still prefer seeing him on top instead of Labour's Phil Goff.

I have been to Fly My Pretties in Dunedin late October and going to the concert was a dream come true. Seeing that I have missed them so many times for various reasons, I just had to book the tickets as soon as they became available. I won't bore you with superlatives and I am only going to say that this wasn't my last Fly My Pretties concert!

Milford Sound is still the same (and always will be) and we are having our share of brainless tourists doing stupid things, asking ridiculous questions and complaining about the weather. I know what you are thinking, it can't be that bad. Alright, here we go. The other day a three year old child fell into the water because its parents didn't think it was important enough to watch the little one wandering about outside at the Discovery Centre (a floating structure, surrounded by water!). One of the staff had to jump in the water for rescue. People walking onto a busy road (State Highway 94) to take pictures and people serving themselves hot drinks while out on the Tasman Sea with 3 metre swells. And with all those stupid questions I could fill an entire book ("When will the dolphins come out, roughly?", "How far above sea level are we?", "What's the name of the lake?", "How did you get the boats through the tunnel?"). I have heard them so many times I can't even laugh anymore.

Not much longer and I'll be going to Melbourne for a short visit. Melbourne has been my home for 12 months and it's always going to have a special place in my heart. I am looking forward to going over in January although it will take me a few flights and overnight stays at Christchurch airport to get there and back. But I know the pain and the wait will be worth it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

timeout in Europe (June and July 2011)

It feels like yesterday when I got back to Milford after 2.5 years of absence and travelling Australia and Canada. And yet, it was last October. 10 months and an eventful summer season have passed and I have been away on a holiday in Europe for a little over 5 weeks. I have spent time with my family and more important, with my gorgeous nephew, have travelled to London, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris and have done several day trips in Germany with my parents, too.

I have been to London twice before and I always love coming back to this wonderful city with all its history, busy locals, crazy traffic and tourists en masse. 3 days and nights I enjoyed the sightseeing, walked my feet silly, observed random people in the underground trains (a very interesting thing to do do pass some time!) and asked myself how London will cope with even more tourists and spectators during the Summer Olympics next year. Truth to be told, although I am quite used to a city being packed with people, I have a feeling that London will be worse than Vancouver, just for the fact that the Summer Olympics are much bigger than the Winter Games. I am still quite jealous though not to be part of the Summer Olympics, especially since a few of my former workmates from Vancouver are now part of the London Organizing Team. But I can't have it all. Good luck to London and I hope (and I am quite confident) that you can pull it off! One of the things I hadn't done before on my previous London trips was a visit to Windsor Castle outside of London. I took the train and enjoyed leaving the busy city behind me. There were still heaps of tourists of course but by far not as many as in London and so it was a good timeout.

One of my London highlights was catching up with my friend Catherine, who I worked with in Vancouver for VANOC and we have also travelled to the Canadian Rockies together. When you travel around as much as I do, it is always great, seeing your old friends because goodbyes at most times are for good, which is one of the sad parts of an unsettled life like mine.

Amsterdam was my next destination and I only spend 2 nights in this extraordinary city. My old Fraserway buddies Diane and Emilie gave me a surprising welcome at the airport and took me into town. I don't think they realized but that was the best thing they could have done for me. Except for when I am flying home, nobody ever picks me up from the airport and so it is comforting to know this time you don't have to worry about how to get into town and to your accommodation. Just sit back, relax and talk about the good old times in Vancouver. Time was precious and so we did as much sightseeing as we could on that same day of my arrival. We went on a boat cruise through the canals of Amsterdam (best way to explore Amsterdam!), went for delicious dinner in a Spanish tapas bar and afterwards headed to the famous Anne Frank House, where Anne and her family where hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Although very interesting to see, the tour was rather painful because there were far too many people. Like a duck family we all walked in line behind each other, from room to room, throwing a glance at the exhibition items before following the others into the next room. There was no time to just stop and reflect on what you were seeing at that particular moment. The house was done up nicely although no furniture was to be seen. That had been Anne Frank's dad request when he approved the museum. The book shelf was there though, that used to hide the steep staircase up to the Annex. We climbed the stairs and it's a good reminder of the way those houses in Amsterdam are built. Very slim and high and most times the stairs are too narrow to get any bulky items up the stairs.

On the second day we caught up with Agnes, another friend from Vancouver, who had come all the way from further outside Amsterdam to have dinner with us. It was great seeing her too and I am more than grateful that she made all that effort to see me! Dankjewel Agnes!

Third stop was Rome and I was particularly looking forward to visiting the Italian capital due to its rich history and famous sights. When I first arrived in Rome, I struggled getting my bearings since it was so much bigger than Amsterdam (and yet, so much smaller than London or Paris). When I went for a walk first, I got lost and stumbled across one of the papal churches only by accident. For the second and third day I bought a ticket for one of the many open bus tours and that helped the whole sightseeing thing a lot. Just hop on the bus and decide where you want to get off. The weather was great and my tan must have improved by 200% during those days although I am not really a fan of heat and sweating all day. But better still than the winter temperatures in New Zealand. If you think London is filled with tourists, than think again. Rome is overcrowded with tourists to an extend that it becomes frustrating and annoying especially when you have to line up for hours to see the Colosseum or the Vatican. As mentioned before, it was hot and there is hardly any shade that could protect you from the merciless sun. My advice to any Rome visitors; whenever possible try to purchase your tickets in advance (sometimes possible by buying tickets at other attractions) or try to go with a group. There is always an extra line up for pre-purchased tickets, Rome card holders and groups and those queues are usually pretty short. My biggest disappointment was the Sistine Chapel. To be honest due to time restraints I travelled as a philistine, not taking much time for art or museums and that’s the reason why it pissed me off having to walk through the Vatican Museum for hours, in line with what felt like ten thousand of other tourists, going to see every single painting and statue in the museum when all I wanted was to see the Sistine Chapel with the famous fresco of Michelangelo. I had another frustrating moment at the sight of the famous Trevi Fountain with literally hundreds of people in front of it, ruining every shot. I took three shots and left, not even taking in this masterpiece of a fountain! I was also very close to losing my temper with the many intrusive street vendors trying to sell hats, sun umbrellas, silk scarfs and other useless stuff. No matter how many times you have said no to them, there was always another vendor just seconds away who offered you the exact same stuff. And single blond women work as magnets for those street vendors, trust me!

My trip was nearing its end but I still had one destination to go: Paris! Far too late I realized that I had not planned enough time for Paris and so had to skip the trip to Versailles as this would have been too crazy time wise. I arrived in Paris late due to my flight leaving late and then the train from the airport to the city had problems too. I don’t even know what happened to the train since I didn’t understand the French announcement. Welcome to France! The same day of my arrival I ventured out to take some night shots and I ended up at the Eifel Tower. Quite impressive that tower! For my only day in Paris I bought a ticket for an open bus tour, expecting a timesaving and effective sightseeing program (as we Germans do). But I didn’t take into account the inability of the French to organize something as easy as selling bus tickets. Everywhere I have been so far, there are heaps of street vendors, selling those tickets on the street in order to make the whole jump on the bus process quick and easy. Well, not in Paris. The only way to buy your ticket is on the bus and when you take the first bus in the morning, you spend at least 10-15 minutes at every stop, waiting for all those tourists to buy their tickets as they get on. After more than an hour and having seen not even half of the tour, I decided to leave the bus, and explore Paris on foot. I walked down to the Louvre, which is an impressive building! Unfortunately again, I didn’t have time for the inside and took pictures only. Later that day I came back for some great night shots. Montmartre and Sacre- Coeur where bustling with people as well and those idiots decided to sit on the stairs infront of the church, which made it nearly impossible for other people to get through. Well done! I always said, tourists are stupid and brainless and this trip has done nothing to change my opinion.

I wouldn’t have thought that flights from Paris are so expensive but getting back to Germany on a plane was out of question. Instead I took the train and travelled on the fast ICE most times. The German railway services surprised me with on-board-service from Paris to Frankfurt and a train attendant’s toe-curling English that made me shiver. When I got home I needed a few days to recover from the tight schedule and enjoyed some time with my parents. I also caught up with a few friends from school, that I hadn’t seen for many years and the day that I flew out again we also visited my brother and his family again so I had the chance to say goodbye to my nephew Henry. That little fella will be missed dearly and I wish I could spend more time with him. But then again, I can’t have it all, that’s life.

So, there it is, dunno why it took me so long but I guess I just needed to sit down and think about what I was going to say.

Have a good one,