Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sewing with Becky

One of the things I've been looking forward to about having some extra time on my hands, is getting back into sewing.  My grandma taught me to quilt and crochet when I was young, but many years of schoolwork have made it hard to find time for it lately.  Cole's landlady was kind enough to lend me a sewing machine, so I've been making up for lost time.

I decided to start easy with some couch pillows, though putting in my first zipper proved to be a little trickier than expected.

My next project was a table runner for our big Thanksgiving feast, complete with New Zealand inspired fabrics.

Then Cole got me some Christmas fabric for my birthday, so I had to dress up the house a little bit with stockings and a wreath, especially since we were looking for extra Christmas spirit this year.

One of our bedrooms had a transparent curtain that looked out on the entry way to our back door.  I decided our guests might appreciate a bit more privacy, so I made a new curtain.

I've started a quilt that I'm really excited about and will probably take the rest of my time here to complete.  When we were driving all over the south island for our Christmas trip, I made Aaron stop at all of the fabric stores to fill in my gaps.  He was great about it, but I probably owe him some trips to an electronics store in return =)

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, Cole was worried about being bored this winter since we won't be able to keep exploring outdoors, so I taught him the basics of crochet one evening.  He's a natural, so everyone expect lots of warm hats and socks in July (our winter)!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mount Cook, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is dedicated to 'the journey'. We've all heard it said that 'it's not the destination. It's the journey.' Well, the journey this time proved to be as interesting as the rained-out destination. I'm sure you'll agree:

We headed north and made a supper pit-stop in Queenstown. while in line at the fish-and-chips stand along the lakefront, a Hippie came up trying to trade the shop workers a bag of cherries (it is prime cherry season in NZ right now) for an order of fries. They refused him. The hippie then asked the people around if anyone would like to buy cherries from them or trade them an order of fries for a bag of cherries. To my amazement, no one in the crowd lunged at the opportunity as fast as I did. He was a very nice hippie, letting people sample the cherries and making small talk with everyone. A lot of people were quite smug and wouldn't take his cherries or talk to him, but we became fast friends.

I totally came out ahead on this transaction.

When you sit on a bench on the lakefront with food, this is what happens. Those ducks were aggressive. My hippie friend is in the circle of hippies in the background. I took him the rest of my personal order of fries when I had eaten my fill. they were all pretty happy about that. The ducks were mad though. You should have seen them devour a bunch of fries some lady threw on the ground. It made me look at ducks in a whole new light.

Moving on up the road, we got to Cromwell, Home of the Giant Fruit. 
There  are other towns with similar structures. One has a giant fish. One with a bunch of clydesdales.

So that was the ride up. For full disclosure, I will admit that we OBVIOUSLY grabbed some ice cream and hot chocolate from Patagonia, our favorite place in all of NZ... and we may have found another location in Wanaka on the way home, which was a great surprise!

But it's one of the gems we found in the middle of the weekend that ended up being the most incredible find of the weekend. When we were coming back from a dip in the hot springs pools at Lake Tekapo, we thought we would swing through Twizel (a tiny town) to see what was going on there, really thinking the answer would be 'nothing'. But we found Christmas. Creepy Christmas, that is.  We could see tons of Christmas lights from quite a ways away, and thought we should check that out. as we drove up, there was a lot of apprehension as to whether or not we were supposed to go in, but the boys out-voted the girl, and before poor Rebecca could protest, we were walking into one of the most bizarre places in the world. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "The Hillbillies" of Twizel, NZ:

This is a private residence where the owners 'decorate' for Christmas. It is basically a village of sheds full of themed items that is there all year. They put the extra spin on it with all the lights at Christmas. As fate would have it, we were there the first weekend they turned the lights on... How am I so incredibly lucky????

This doesn't even come close to relaying how uncomfortable the atmosphere was. There is loud Christmas music there, along with a dog barking. It really felt like a scene for a slasher movie. 


Now imagine this in the dark, with only the Christmas lights to cast an eerie glow on everything.

I will say that the owners were actually quite delightful. They took us inside where teddy bears were dangling from the ceiling so densely that you couldn't see the actual ceiling. We talked for over half an hour. The lady was so proud of her wonderland. Aaron made a comment that we hadn't felt the Christmas spirit until we got there. She said " so this is like America?". Aaron very masterfully said "We don't have anything quite like this". the lady heard "This is better than America" and she then proceeded to scream that to her family back in the house.

Are you getting a sense of this place yet?

It's important to remember the Reason for the Season... in an arcade game... in the dark...in the most unsettling place  you've ever been.

Unfortunately, this wasn't an actual bar.

this underwear-laden fence was what we had to walk through to get in to this place. You can see why Rebecca didn't want to go in. But we're so so so glad we stopped here. 

Signing the guest book!!!  We were HERE! and we loved it. 

Thank you Hillbillies.
Thank you Universe.

Mount Cook, chapter 1.

A couple of weekends ago, we went up to the Mount Cook region for a weekend camping trip. This area is around Lake Tekapo, and is a World Heritage Site noted for its crystal clear night skies. It is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to view the stars. Armed with a library book about the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere and a tent, we had big plans for star gazing in the shadows of New Zealand's highest peak, Mount Cook.  And like so many grand plans, this one didn't go according to schedule. About 20 minutes after our arrival on Friday night, it started to rain, and it pretty much rained for most of the weekend.  In the very short time we had a clear night sky, we were able to see a couple of constellations that we studied on the car ride up there, and I did see a shooting star. So our stargazing wasn't a complete failure....  and I have to admit that although the weekend didn't go nearly as planned, it still ended up being a fantastic weekend with some very unexpected beautiful surprises. So many, in fact, that it's going to take a couple of posts to really come even kind of close to being able to share it with you. so this is chapter one.  We'll start with the Lupins.
We just happened to be passing through prime Lupin country during peak season. We were both surprised and amazed.

there were fields of these all over the place.

This is pretty perfect!




They even grow next to the super-blue lakes.

And then we hit the perfect sunset at the perfect lupin field, and we were all a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. It was beautiful beyond words.

They come in a ton of varieties from dark blue to white, covering the purples, pinks, yellows, and an occasional peachy color in between. Some are solids, some are white/color mix.

a combo variety.

So many pictures of this sunset. It was hard to choose which ones to post. Truly incredible. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

that's the spirit!

Well, a Southern Hemisphere Christmas is shaping up to be just kinda weird. The days are getting longer and longer. It gets dark about 10PM now, so Christmas lights aren't really a thing since you can't really turn them on and get the impact until most people are thinking about bed. And the weather is just getting warmer (which I'm not actually complaining about) so it doesn't really lend itself to the Christmas Spirit I'm used to. Christmas carols are played here and there, but aren't shoved down your throat. People tend to have BBQs and beach parties as opposed to curling up inside, and the idea of a White Christmas, is just that: an idea. Lots of patients ask me about the famous White Christmas experience. The other odd thing is that all the Christmas decorations are still mostly winter-themed, with snowmen and all the other wintry stuff. Stores even have snow displays or fake snow painted on the windows. So they do still kind of get into the decorating, but it's no American Classic Cold Christmas.
  So with that comes a little decline in my Christmas Spirit (which is still pretty good. don't feel sorry for me. I probably get a little too excited usually). And the Christmas Spirit isn't the only thing that's a little less over-the-top for me this year. My Christmas Tree (my pride and joy back home)  has gone from this:

To This:
Still not bad. It is topped with a little Glass Kiwi one of the nurses I work with gave me!

Have a closer look:

To Help Bring up the Christmas Factor, I decided a tree wasn't going to be enough. So I snatched up this gem: 
It's hard to tell from the picture, but it has a ton of gold glitter and is actually 3-D with the little elves that live in his beard : )   My favorite part of this was when I bought it, then had to carry it several blocks across the streets of Invercargill. I pretty much giggled the whole way b/c of all the looks I was getting carrying this ridiculous giant Santa face around. I may have taken the long way back to the car...

I also got this little fella to hang out with me while I blog:
It changes colors.  It plugs into my USB drive for power. It's instant Christmas Joy.

Maybe the reason Christmas Trees aren't so major here is because everything else is still green and pretty with all the flowers in bloom and the trees all leafed out. At home, the Christmas Tree is the only plant that really looks alive (which is funny b/c they are either fake or dead b/c they've been cut down....) Here, my tree has a backdrop of live trees, flowers, and the occasional rainbow:

So as Christmas charges at us, I'll be trying to amplify the Christmas Spirit in the Southlands. There is actually a Santa Parade in Riverton on Christmas Eve, so I'll go check that out after work on Tuesday. then I'm on call Christmas Day. I've been invited to the house of every person I work with and a few patients as well, so I may make some rounds and visit people here and there between skyping in for the family events back home. 

So although Christmas Day will be a little less exciting for me this year, I will say that New Year's Eve this year is bound to be pretty epic. I am meeting my cousin and her friend in Sydney (Australia) for a week and a half, so we'll be among the first to ring in the new year, and at one of the biggest NYE celebrations in the world. I head over there December 27th. It'll be great to get a dose of family, and at the holidays at that, so that's making being away for Christmas a lot easier. 
To those of you that are with your loved ones this time of year, enjoy it. Don't take it for granted. try not to let the hustle and bustle get to you. Be grateful for the holiday buzz. For those of you who are away from your family for the holidays, I hope you make the most of it and find some type of beauty in the situation you're in. It's there. You just have to look for it and acknowledge it.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mass Casualty!!!

Last Monday, Aaron and I were asked to participate in a training event for the local ambulance crew and fire brigade (volunteers from the community). It was to involve a mass casualty  simulation at the local sawmill.  Of COURSE we wanted to participate!!!  It was as fun as it sounds.  They needed one of us to be the doctor, and one of us to be the most critically ill patient in the scenerio. Given that I am more than slightly more dramatic than Aaron, and he is CLEARLY the better Doctor, it was an easy decision as to which of us would play each role : ) We were asked to arrive early for briefing and make-up...  and the make-up part was awesome. There were seven total patients, and it was decided that an 'earthquake' had occurred and the sawmill had been hit pretty hard. There were several 'injuries' to hands, legs, heads, etc, a couple of burns, and I was supposed to have a liver laceration (internal bleeding).

fake gross injury kit, complete with ability to have actively bleeding wounds!

My right upper quadrant trauma painted on. Do you believe the pain on my face?

His forehead laceration looked amazing!

Dr. Stink Eye.  Luckily that healed up before the actual event.

Painting on a burned face.

Broken Leg!

the Burn Victims of the day.

Dillon had a gnarly finger injury and a syringe full of blood to squirt on to really sell it at the time of his discovery.

Gross/cool, right?

this is me getting buried under a pile of rubble.

Ready to earn my academy award.  Little did I know at the time that it would be at least half an hour before the teams would arrive, so I had to lay under that on the cold concrete floor for quite a while before I was pulled out by a first responder. I think my shivering just made it more believable.

HELP MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Once the situation was started, the fire brigade and ambulance crews were paged on their normal systems, and responded as fast as they could. They did a great job in securing the area, the fire brigade assessed the safety of the building and some ambulance crew members triaged victims and started treatment. I got carried out on a board by the fire brigade, then properly assessed by the ambulance crew and my diagnosis was considered pretty quickly (good job to Poss and Rae!) and I was transported by ambulance to where the helicopter would have picked me up had it been a real emergency.  Dr. Whiting was busy helping with the facial burn victim, then got transitioned to me when the severity of my condition was relayed to him. He astutely assessed me as 'one to watch' as I could decompensate quickly... and I did. My blood pressure tanked and I lost consciousness, but the crew did all the right things, and I'm happy to announe that they saved my life. We had a debriefing afterwards and talked about how it all went.  Overall, I thought it was a huge success.

And to top it all off, the lady who organized it all (one of the ambulance crew members) brought us a Pavlova (traditional New Zealand Dessert, delicious!) for helping out! Talk about a win win win win win situation!