Pain is gain?

cartman beefcakeThere’s a #Beefcake fitness challenge going on a work and whilst I do have a habit of being a ‘joiner’ and am all for office camaraderie, I think I may sit the rest of this one out.

The first week was stairs – 300 and something of them situated in a tower block not far from the workplace. The idea was to see how fast you could do it in.

Whilst I was tempted – it was one week in from starting and I do want to make a good impression – my knees said “Do that and we WILL kill you.” My left  hip chimed in with “And I will ache and ache for days so you can’t sleep.”

Fair enough. I skipped it.

The second week was 30 minutes of exercise. This could be anything from walking to gym routines – and a variety of different activities would get you bonus points. More people took up this challenge, including myself. The fact it coincided with the release of Pokemon Go was probably a major motivational factor. I did that one – mainly because I walk a minimum of 60 minutes every day to and from work. Why not take advantage of an existing situation? I didn’t care about the bonus points; just getting my name on the Beefcake Challenge ladder was enough.

Last week was “5 for 5”, seeing how may squats, lunges, burpees, sit ups and push ups you could do in five minutes. That’s five minutes for each activity, not five minutes total. I thought “Nah. I’m good.” and decided I would wait to see what Week Four would bring.

I walked past the Company meeting room around lunchtime on Thursday and the #Beefcake organiser was just finishing his session with a person checking his times and counting. I popped my head in to say a few encouraging – ok, smartarse – words. Before I knew it, I was doing squats. 80 of them. In five minutes.

Two things I have learnt from this experience:

  1. Doing 80 squats from a cold start is not going to end well. And not just for that day but for days and days and days after. The pain – oh, the pain – of trying to sit on the loo; get into the car; get OUT of the car or walk around the lake – lying in bed, even.
  2. Mr #Beefcake Challenge has missed his calling. With two sentences, he managed to get a fairly sensible woman who hates squats with a passion to do them. And not just do them but do LOTS of them. He should totally be a fitness instructor … or Head Torturer for some dictatorship.

The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole painful episode is that there are several people hobbling around the office at the moment muttering “Curse you, Phil” under their breath.

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Wigging out

wiggly good timeMy daughter and her boyfriend have just finished their seven week trip around the US and Canada with a day at Comic Con in San Diego. They got into the spirit of the event, dressing up as Princess Leia (the original version with the buns and white dress) and a Jedi warrior. They also met some really cool people, including Adam Savage from Mythbusters fame.

Before we got the opportunity to move to New Zealand this year, we actually had Melbourne Comic Con in our sights.  Like the kids, we’d dress up and enjoy the atmosphere and meet famous people. I’ve only just realised the one little issue with that – I don’t handle meeting famous people very well.

Last weekend, we dropped into our local Countdown on the way home from pokemon hunting a lovely afternoon walk. NIH and I were standing at the packaged salad section of Fruit and Vege, debating which salad dressing to get for the coleslaw (Ranch is nice but Japanese Sesame adds a whole new dimension IMHO) when a guy with a grandma-dorky style light blue beanie walked past and started massaging the avocados.

I stopped mid-sentence. My jaw dropped. My eyes bugged out of their little sockets. NIH looked at me quizzically.

“Oh. My. GOD,” said the little voice in my head, panting slightly with excitement, “That’s Anthony, the Blue Wiggle!”

I turned slowly to look at NIH. I thought I whispered but it may have been louder (apparently I stage whisper – you know, so the people at the back of the room can hear).

“OH MY GOD THAT’S THE BLUE WIGGLE”

Once NIH registered that I was not having a stroke – just a ‘moment’ – he looked over where I was pointing with my eyes. Or the salad dressing. It’s all a blur, really.

“Oh. Yeah,” he said casually, “So it is.”

I then proceeded to back AWAY. Yep, back away. I could no more front up to a famous person and ask for a selfie then do over 80 squats in five minutes (but that’s a story for another blog).

Moving slowly, so as not to frighten the Wiggle (although I believe he had headphones on and was probably bopping away to Big Red Car or some other major hit) I backed up to the Nuts Section (appropriate) at the back of the shop so I could still see him but not run the risk of having him see my dopey oh-my-god-someone-famous face and know that the weird older lady limply holding two bottles of salad dressing had figured out he was “someone”.

Was it him? I’m sure it was him. I mean, I wouldn’t know for sure unless I just walked up and said “Hey, aren’t you the Blue Wiggle?”. Or possibly both flatter him and show my age with “Hey, didn’t you used to be in The Cockroaches?”. But I think we’ve established either scenario was never going to happen.

Meanwhile, NIH thought the whole thing hilarious. In many respects, I’m fairly confident. I can speak in public (even recite my own poetry) and have been known to get up on stage once or twice. But saying hello to famous people is not within my range, it would seem.

The rest of the quick shopping trip saw me pretending to be calm on the outside whilst the little voice in my head was still shouting “Oh. MY. GOD!”, sounding more and more like Janice from Friends.

In light of this revelation, it seems attending Comic Con is not such a great idea and would render me speechless to the point of jibberish. Quite possibly I’d spend my time back-peddling away and hiding behind whatever I could, whilst my inner Janice went wild.

Maybe there’s a Nuts Section there as well.

Obsessive compulsive or just like to be organised?

weather

It even tells you what to wear!

I can’t be the only one who compulsively checks their weather app one hundred times a day … can I?  I reason the obsession by telling NIH that I am as yet unaccustomed to the wide and varied weather changes Hamilton has and therefore checking the weather app on my phone is not only necessary but very wise.

I mean, how else am I going to know what to wear?

I like to know that I’m not just crazy and it is actually quite cold.  I also like to know if I should carry the umbrella to work with me – even though it’s quite compact and I might as well just take it every day and stop trying to guesstimate.

In short, I am a control freak and since the weather can’t be controlled, at least I can feel as if I have some semblance of containing it. As a result, I love checking out new weather sites and since moving to NZ it’s been a struggle to get a phone app as good as Weatherzone.  Not only did it give me details of the daily weather, but also a forecast of the next five days and pretty pictures as well.

After quite a bit of experimentation, I found Yahoo! Weather to be the best thing for Hamilton. It uses flickr images to deliver the ‘pretty’ factor as well as giving an hour-by-hour summary of temperature and climactic activity.  I feel suitably informed on what I should expect when I step out the door of our unit.

Or at least I did … until I was put onto the MetService website – New Zealand’s answer to BOM. Not only does it have detail upon detail … but it tells you how many layers of clothes you should consider wearing if you’re stepping outside!

I’d be so interested to see what it would advise if the temps ever got up to the range of a typical summer’s day in Emerald ….

Holy cleaned out sinuses, Batman!

First waterfallRemember how I was saying I have a bit of a competitive streak?  Sometimes … ok, most of the time … that streak gets me into all sorts of trouble. My first whitewater rafting experience is definitely one of those times.

HOLY SHIZZLE!

HOLY COMPLETE IMMERSION BATMAN!

You see, NIH and I celebrate our birthdays only a few days’ (and just over a decade) apart so we try to take time off and do something amazing for ‘birthday week’. In the past six years, we’ve celebrated our birthdays in Canada and Europe; patted a tiger at Dreamworld and walked the Brisbane Story Bridge (albeit belatedly). There’s only one birthday week where we didn’t do anything spectacular – pretty good record, I’d say.

So this year, we were lucky enough to already be in New Zealand so tick box for ‘away from home’. And NIH often talked about the couple of occasions he’d done whitewater rafting so I knew he was keen to try it out again here in the land that is king for such adventures.

Now, I had never previously experienced such pleasures, being a mother with three children who depended on me to not drown on some escapade such as rocketing down the face of a waterfall with a life jacket, helmet and obvious death wish. In short, I was a newbie and therefore terrified of trying a Level 5 course with a 7 metre drop – the largest drop in New Zealand apparently.

A summary of the conversation NIH and I had one afternoon when contemplating such an adventure went something like this:

Me: There’s a great one here that is a Level 3 – includes picnic lunch and lovely sites. Doesn’t that sound great? Honey?

NIH: Meh. That’s ok. I’ll wait until someone comes to visit and wants to go on the Level 5 with me.

Now, my brain heard that last sentence and translated it to “When someone who isn’t a COMPLETE AND UTTER PUSSY wants to go on the Level 5 with me”.

Challenge accepted.  So basically what ensued over the next two days was me talking HIM into doing it. Crazy, right?

Still ALIVE

STILL ALIVE!

Meet my close acquaintances, everybody – Fear and Losing Control. They have governed my decision making since a wee small kiddie and until a few years ago, they made me a timid-on-the-outside-fair-boiling-mad-on-the-inside passive-aggressive crazy person.

Then my life went to hell and I discovered that despite all the shit, I actually could survive – thrive, in fact.

So when the unwitting gauntlet was laid down by NIH, I picked that bastard up. And even though my sinuses had a fair cleaning out during our rafting experience, it was an absolutely magical adventure. I totally loved it and will definitely do it again … when it gets warmer.

Looks like Im having fun

THE INSTRUCTOR SAID “STAND UP AND SMILE”

If you’re ever near Rotorua, I totally recommend Rotorua Rafting. The guides were fabulous and really knew the river. They were also great at making complete novices like me feel relatively safe! The river itself was just beautiful – no words can really describe it.

I’m so glad I took the plunge.

Yep, pun intended.

A confession

2015-04-03_17.46.25[1]You know how sometimes the “YOU” in your head turns out to be slightly different to the “YOU” in real life? Anyone who’s walked past a mirror can put their hand up here. But I’m not talking about physical attributes so much as personality.  For instance, I always thought of myself as someone who was a pretty casual go-with-the-flow kind of person. Not very competitive – more like someone who just wanted everyone to be happy and enjoy life.

Turns out … I’m not. I’m a competitive little so-and-so who likes to THINK she doesn’t care but in actual fact she does.

On the soccer field, I believe totally in the code of ‘playing the ball, not the player’ and making sure fun and fitness is the prime target of the game, not who wins and who loses.  But don’t jab me repeatedly with your elbow, friend, or I shall be after you with the wrath akin to a premenstrual woman who has been asked if she’s shitty because she’s premenstrual.

NIH has discovered my petty desire to win competitiveness in the last few years, now that he’s put a ring on it and good luck getting away now, buddy.

There’s an app called Swarm – look it up. It’s fun. Basically you’re making sure you check into more shops, bars, supermarkets, towns – even countries – than your friends. And since there’s just the two of us (that we know of) on it, life gets a little … competitive.

And since I work in the city I have more opportunities than he does to check into places. And I can be mean strategic about it too. Yesterday I checked into a different coffee place than usual (+10 points for new place; +5 points for most number of coffee shops; +2 points for 5 weeks in a row checking into coffee shops). The coffee was pretty ordinary, I have to say. But if I’d checked into the regular coffee place that has nice coffee (where I’m the Mayor (+2 points)) I wouldn’t have received as much.

We’ve gotten so bad we’ve had to agree on rules. For instance, we can’t ‘check in’ to New Zealand every day because essentially we haven’t left it yet. NIH travels to Rotorua twice a week. Now I’m not implying that he TOTALLY USES that fact to his advantage to check into Hamilton and Rotorua to gather points in a DESPERATE BID to beat me. Oh no.  I’m totally calling it, bud.

It’s seriously been getting ridiculous and we’ve both had our sulky moments where the other person has totally creamed us that week. I was starting to worry about our behaviour.

But last week, a new app came out. You’ve probably heard about it – Pokemon Go.  So, perhaps our Swarm addiction will calm down a little now and things will get back onto an even keel.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Doduo that needs my attention and those eggs aren’t going to hatch themselves …

Homesick

homesickI find the most amazing thing about relocating is how quickly you settle into a new way of life. Maybe it’s just me, because I’ve had so much experience, but usually there’s an initial six week period where everything is new and strange and the longing for how things used to be (however shitty they were) is at the forefront. You pine for people and places familiar and like a fish out of water, you’re left gasping for air at times, the homesickness is so strong.

But then, there’s a subtle shift.  Routines start to emerge. Streets start to feel familiar. You no longer need the GPS to know where the bloody hell you are. Before you know it, you’ve got a new job and a few friends and the merry-go-round of daily living starts up again.

I reckon our saving grace as human beings is our ability to adapt.  We are amazingly resilient as long as we have the basics – food, water, warmth and rest, according to Maslow.

I am into my second week of work and already the place and people are starting to feel like home. My job is very broad, from clambering under desks to plug/unplug computers to checking inventory lists to unlocking locked accounts to domain maintenance to god only knows what else. It’s a great workplace with a really fun atmosphere. People are passionate and work hard but they have fun while doing it.

I’m already getting used to the daily foot commute of 30 minutes each way (although this morning I may have been quicker as it was about 2 degrees!) and love watching the world wake up as I go. The one hour walk also keeps my phone fitness do-dah from nagging me about exercise and I feel justified in not spending extra time and money at the gym. I actually kept my phone in my pocket at work today and with all the running around I do, I easily made 10,000 steps. Sweet!

We are settling into a pattern at home as well. Shower, dinner while watching two episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine or something equally short and hilarious then NIH retires to watch something on his iPad and I catch up on one episode of something not to his taste (at the moment it’s Doc Martin) before we collapse in bed around 9pm and starting the whole process again with the 6am alarm.

I’ve adapted, you might say. But then, something will pull me up. A word. A thought. Or, as in today’s case, a website. I was using Google Maps to check out the postcode for an address in Melbourne to send a monitor to and out of curiosity, googled our former address. The picture above popped up and all of a sudden there’s a lump in my throat.

I miss it.

Yes, Emerald was very hot. I found it harder to deal with every year. Yes, it was quite remote, although when you’ve lived there for years, you don’t realise it until you move to a metropolitan area. Yes, there were few attractions to entertain you.

But as NIH mentioned at breakfast yesterday, we do miss our community – our tribe of friends and family. We’re fairly independent people and not much for living in others’ pockets, but it was nice to have people who like you to hang out with once in a while.

I know we’ll make new friends and will slowly build a new tribe here. But still …

So I guess this is a shout out to all our tribe we left behind.

We miss you.

A minute to tell you about me

My new workplace is vibrant and dynamic, even though it’s full of tech-heads and web nerds. They are totally the coolest bunch of people.  They have a lunch meeting once every two weeks to allow each division to ‘show and tell’ what they’re up to with various projects, as well as nurture overall team spirit. At this meeting, any newbies are given a minute to stand up and tell everyone about themselves, either through a little speech or interpretive dance (seriously – it’s in the induction package.)

I think I’m a pretty cool dancer, especially when I’ve had a few drinkies, but I wasn’t too sure that was the way to go for me. What do you tell people about yourself? Just lay it all out on the table or little tidbits and if they want to know more, they’ll find out later?

I pondered on what I could do that would a) be impressive (like I said, they’re all cool kids and I wanna be cool too) whilst b) show them a bit about me.  So I did what I always do.

I wrote a poem. Here it is:

A minute to tell you about me
Or give an interpretive dance
Whilst I’m thoroughly tempted to Nay Nay
I’m afraid of your looks of askance!

So I’ll just offer up a short poem
To give you an insight of me
Not so epic as that Ancient Mariner
Although I did grow up by the sea.

In a country you may be familiar
Australia, the land of much heat
Where most of the wilderness creatures
Are quite keen upon you to eat.

Aussies aren’t all like Steve Irwin
Yelling crikey and cracking a smile
If I see a log in the river,
My first thought is “Argh! Crocodile!”

Karate chopping and girlishly screaming
Leaving all else behind in my wake
If you catch this performance, be assured
I’ve mistaken a cord for a snake.

I have realised that Aussies are guarded
We’re subconsciously on ‘high alert’
Approach from the rear if you must,
But warn me or else you’ll get hurt.

A librarian and graphic designer
You could say I’m a real study tart
Addicted to gathering info
Lifelong learning is close to my heart.

I’m also a bit of a traveller,
And willing to give things a go
So when hubby said “Whaddya reckon
Could you live in New Zealand – yes or no?”

I wiped off the sweat from my forehead
January. Central Queensland. Bloody hot.
“Well, it’s cooler than here,” I replied,
“Let’s do it. I’m in. Why not?”

My kids are all grown so my role
As the mother was quite obsolete.
So we sold, packed and rented the house out.
Waved goodbye to the kids, dust and heat.

Here we are – awesome sights, friendly people
We’re so glad we chose to be bold
But the best thing (apart from Enlighten)
Is the fact that I’m finally cold!

A newbie to country and workplace
So grateful for a wonderful start
I love it all – am so happy to be here
Thanks Enlighten, from the bottom of my heart.

Row, row, row your boat

riverWe have had two excursions up the Waikato River this month and both times it’s been a delightful day, but for different reasons. The first trip was the happy result of a totally spontaneous brainwave courtesy of NIH one Sunday morning. He remembered that Vilagrad Winery does a Sunday Lunch – better yet, you could catch the Waikato River Explorer from Hamilton Gardens and get a wine tasting thrown in for good measure! This effectively killed two birds with one stone so we rang at 9am and found they could fit us in that day. Winning!

river2The Waikato Explorer has been cruising the river since 2012 and is such a great way to check out this fabulous waterway. Coming from outback Queensland, we are blown away by not only the clarity of the water but its incredible speed. It takes the boat 60 minutes to travel up the river to Mystery Creek and only 30 minutes to come back down!

Watching it turn around and shoot off back the way it came after dropping us at the wharf really showed the power of the water and explains just one of the reasons why the river is a great source of hydroelectric power, having eight dams located along its length.

Explorer taking off

Thar she blows!

While beautiful, it had been quite cold on the river so we were grateful to get into the minibus waiting to take us to Vilagrad and were looking forward to lunch – and wine.

vilagrad overall

The winery is a family owned and run business that’s been in the area since 1906 and has enjoyed five generations putting their two bobs’ worth into the mix. It was obvious from the moment we walked in that this place is a permanent fixture for families and large gatherings, with long tables set out with gorgeous yet simple decorations and reservation cards.

outdoor seatingThe main eating area is a temporary marquee, as the winery suffered a devastating fire in June 2015 – although as newbies to the area, we had no idea until told! They have done an amazing job of making the temporary seem part of the place but have plans to rebuild in years to come. They lost 50% of their wine stock and the 100 year old cask room in the fire but have done an amazing job of getting back up on their feet again, hosting Sunday lunches and special functions such as weddings and managing to win awards for the wines they did save!

oh wine my best friendNew Zealand is predominantly a white wine producer so perhaps I shall have to adapt my red wine tastebuds. However, Vilagrad produce three red wine versions and I tried two, which were both tasty with the lamb roast we had for lunch.  We had a tour afterwards and a tasting of some more product. Their Tawny Port was so amazing we bought a bottle (I see it’s sold out on their website – wish we’d bought more!) and the Vintage Port was nice as well. After lunch, it was back on the minibus and a quick 20 min trip back to town to the carpark. Fantastic day!

indexOur second trip on the river was for Fieldays 2016 (the Waikato region version of Emerald AgGrow). The annual event is absolutely massive, with preparations starting at the beginning of June for the opening days of 15-18 June.  Because of its popularity and resultant headaches with traffic getting into and out of the Mystery Creek Event Centre, we opted to pay $30 return each to take the Waikato Explorer. Less drama and much better scenery.

people everywhereWe knew it was big – but had no idea it would take us four hours to walk up and down each ‘street’ to make sure we covered it all! The exercise app on my phone was very pleased with me for hitting over 12,000 steps for the day. After a late night the night before, we were totally stuffed by the early afternoon.

demos everywhere

Test track – people were lining up for a ride!

Heaps of food stalls, great demonstrations happening and lots of taste testing to be had.  The crowd was pretty intense as well with what seemed to be everyone in the region out to check out all the goods and services on display.  The weather even behaved itself and didn’t rain, even though the clouds hung around most of the day.

By far, the most exciting event of the afternoon was watching the Tractor Pulls – and I’m not being sarcastic here. I was totally enthralled!Tractor pulls

There’s so many events and things to do within close proximity to where we live. It gives you a much clearer perspective on the great vastness of Australia and especially where we lived before. We’d laugh and shrug nonchalantly when travellers commented on how far it is between places. We were used to it – it was nothing to travel six hours return just to go shopping for the day. I think I’m getting a clearer picture of just how unusual that is to most people!