One wedding and a funeral in Boomer Life Today

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This past week, we celebrated the life of my 92-year old father-in-law, who died 30 Mar and the marriage of our niece, who wed on Apr 5.  Those who have followed our blog will remember reading the tribute to my father-in-law on Father’s Day. He lived independently until a few months ago, when a number of chronic conditions necessitated a move to a residential care home. Unlike some who enter care homes, his health deteriorated quite dramatically (not due to the care he received). He had suffered several heart attacks, was battling ongoing infections and also struggled with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.  His funeral drew friends and family from far and wide – more than 200 in total.  The end of one life ……

…. and the beginning of another, for our niece and her husband.  Ninety guests attended the black and white-themed outdoor wedding and afterwards everyone enjoyed a sit down dinner and evening of toasts, stories and dancing.  A fitting start for what we hope will be a long and happy life for them!

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

 

Quilting retreat in Boomer Life Today

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A few weekends ago, I packed up paintbrushes, rotary cutter, ruler, fabric, sponges, sewing machine, scissors and lots of home baking and headed into the countryside west of Auckland to Bella Rakha Retreat Centre for 2 days of quilting, socializing and fun. I have never done anything like this before and it was good to leave the city behind.  Friday, everyone arrived at different times so it was wine and BYOdinners from about 4:00 pm onwards.  Early to bed, each in our own room, we fell asleep to the sound of rain hitting the window panes as the tail of a cyclone passed through Auckland.

Next morning we were up early and enjoyed a communal breakfast in the dining area. By 9:00 a.m., we were ready to participate in the first of two workshops on thread painting.  To begin, we traced a picture of a gerbera on white calico. Next we painted our tracings and while they dried, we had a delicious morning tea of sweet and savoury baked goods, fruits and cheese. Back in the work room, it was time to set up our sewing machines and enhance our “paintings” with free motion machine embroidery.  I couldn’t get my sewing machine’s tension sorted out, so wasn’t able to complete my project, but others who had newer machines stitched masterpieces.  Lunch, afternoon tea and a lovely catered dinner later, we played “truth or lie”, laughed and chatted ’til late.

Sunday, most were up early for the second workshop, but I slept in. Fortunately, I did manage to catch up with the next activity, which was painting calico with sponges.  The result? A very convincing looking sky, which could be used as the background for a quilted landscape of your choice.  Since I hope, at some point to try to do an appliqued street scene,  learning how to create skies was of particular interest to me.

The whole weekend a bargain at $125!

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Disclosure:  Bella Rakha Retreat Centre did not solicit or pay for mention in this Boomer Life Today blog post.

“If you knew then what you know now” in Boomer Life Today

If you knew then what you know now……what would you have changed in your life?  It’s a fascinating question don’t you think?  I was thinking of this the other day after hearing a colleague say recently that he would never advise his children to follow in his career footsteps.  I couldn’t help agreeing with him – not that I have any children, but I wouldn’t follow the same career path if I had it to do over again.

In the beginning it seemed like a good choice and while it has “put food on the table” for over 30 years now, it hasn’t been easy.  I was one of the lucky ones out of graduate school to land a job – 75 students graduated and only 3 of us had positions to go to.  Mine was due in large part to the fact that I was willing to live in a city in northern Ontario, where to get most places you had to fly.

Since then I’ve made the most of my profession -  it’s taken me around the world, but it has also involved a lot of sacrifice, hard work, risk-taking and perseverance. Although it requires a Masters degree to practice in North America, in other parts of the English-speaking world, including New Zealand, you can practice without any degree.  Salaries, even in Canada and the US do not reflect the education required to become qualified. It is a very under-appreciated, misunderstood profession and many are losing their jobs as organizations trim costs and streamline processes.

If I was to advise anyone choosing a career, I’d say to do something that interests you. Avoid careers where you have to continually justify your existence within organizations. Although money isn’t everything, ensure that your salary reflects the training required and that the qualifications are consistent worldwide.

What would you change if you knew then what you know now?

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Bathroom renos in Boomer Life Today

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New main bathroom

New main bathroom

We have been having our bathrooms remodeled and are finally coming to the end of what has been a stressful half year.  We had heard others speak of the horrors of having their bathrooms renovated and thought we’d avoid problems by hiring a designer/project manager whose work we had admired.  However, we were not prepared for what would happen or how long it would take!

Our project manager assured us she had a team of very competent tradespeople with whom she had worked for years.  But, there was just one thing after another that went wrong from leaking pipes to cut wires in the under floor heating circuit!  The latter was the final straw because those at fault didn’t want to own their mistakes.  Work was delayed while we consulted lawyers and trades and building associations to determine a course of action.  Finally after heated arguments and a lot of stress, the problems have been resolved.   It has taken a long time and a lot of money, but the results really have been worth it.

We opted to incorporate universal design into our new bathrooms – things like slip resistant floor tiles, comfort height toilets, a walk-in, barrier-free shower, vanities hung at a height of 36″ (around a metre) from the floor with drawers instead of cupboards for easy access,  improved lighting and magnifying mirrors.  They are features that make it easier for anyone to enjoy the bathrooms, but are especially good as we age.  The beauty of the design is that they don’t look like bathrooms for “older people” – they are modern and stylish.

If you are thinking of remodeling, do a little research and find out how you can improve the functionality of your rooms without sacrificing style – you’ll be glad you did!  In New Zealand, it might even qualify your home for Lifemark accreditation.  To find out more about this program, click or touch here.

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Disclosure: Mention of Lifemark in this Boomer Life Today blog post was not solicited or paid for.

Word play in Boomer Life Today

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http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4015/4429031934_0d3a858886_z.jpg?zz=1

Seen recently on a passing wholesale food truck in Auckland “Could crop circles be the job of a cereal killer?”  Clever plays on words have always amused me so I couldn’t resist sharing some of my favourites.

Take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition:

THE EYES:
When you rearrange the letters:
THEY SEE

SLOT MACHINES:
When you rearrange the letters:
CASH LOST IN ME

ELEVEN PLUS TWO:
When you rearrange the letters:
TWELVE PLUS ONE

A boiled egg is hard to beat

You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it

A will is a dead giveaway

An auction: a place where you get something for nodding

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.
Then it hit me.

Oxymorons

sweet tart
old news
now then
jumbo shrimp

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Moving on in Boomer Life Today

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Tunisian carpets

My father-in-law has moved into a nursing home and his 2 bedroom bungalow, which was home for the last 5 years, has been sold.  This past weekend, we emptied it in preparation for its next occupants.

While this clear-out wasn’t on the scale of his move from the family home, it was somehow more significant because all his possessions were dispersed except for a few photos, a television, dvd player, some personal effects and a small selection of clothing.  Favourite decorative pieces, furniture, tools, china – all passed to family, charities or set aside to sell.  I know it’s just “stuff” and we aren’t supposed to become attached to things, but it must be difficult to part with loved objects, some of which have been part of daily life for, in his case, almost 93 years.

It made me sad to think that this is what will become of all the wonderful things we have accumulated in our travels.  Will the next owner appreciate the hours spent drinking tea and haggling in a shop in Tunisia before “closing the deal” on our stunning handmade carpets?  Or, realize the delight in finding an outlet for that beautiful blue and white mosaic tableware in Fez?

I came away with a renewed appreciation of the resilience of older family members.  I’m not sure I could see my belongings disappear so abruptly, my neighbours become just “people that I used to know” and my independence vanish within a day of entering a nursing home.  Surely there is a better option for these last years of our lives……..

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

High tea in Boomer Life Today

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Palm Court

High tea at Auckland’s Langham Hotel

Mr. Boomerlifetoday and I celebrated our wedding anniversary late last year and instead of the traditional lunch or dinner out, we opted for high tea at Auckland’s Langham Hotel.  The idea first presented itself after watching Hotel Secrets with Richard E. Grant. If you haven’t watched this television series, we recommend it – it gives you an insider’s look at some of the most expensive hotels in the world. In one episode, Richard visited the Langham Hotel in London where he sampled their high tea and since Auckland’s Langham is part of the same hotel group, we thought we’d give it a try.

And, we were so glad we did! High tea was held in the hotel’s Palm Court – a central bar and restaurant just off the hotel’s lobby. Our celebration began with flutes of champagne and amuse bouches.  This was followed by three tiers of savoury and sweet deliciousness and pots of specialty teas (of our choice).  Among the savouries were tiny open-faced sandwiches of rare, finely shaved roast beef with horseradish cream, ham with dijon mustard, egg salad with chive, cream cheese with watercress, a double-decker of fish/seafood and a mini cube of fritatta. For the sweets, truffles, macaroons, mince tarts, creme brulees, chocolate dipped strawberries, spice muffins and raspberry friands. The third tier – mini scones, clotted cream and a choice of jams.

The Langham has a large selection of teas, including their very own blend. Since we have both toured Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, we started with:

Dombagastalawa Estate A medium bodied tea with a noble personality enhanced by its brightness and rich character complemented by a light malt note. Broken Orange Pekoe Special.
and finished with Rilhena Estate Ceylon Souchong

This low elevation tea has been produced by being smoked gently over the embers of cinnamon wood leaving a hint of spicy sweetness. A
rare tea that ranks as an equivalent to a fine Islay Malt Whisky.

After two hours of relaxed indulgence, our waiter, who had asked if we were celebrating anything, brought us a small box of handmade chocolates.  A perfect ending to a perfect afternoon!

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Disclosure: Mention of hotels in this Boomer Life Today blog post were not solicited or paid for by corporations or persons in New Zealand or abroad.

Island time in Boomer Life Today

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Waiheke view

Waiheke view

Although New Zealand is an island, its larger centres don’t offer that “island time” experience.  Our remedy? Spend the weekend just off the coast of Auckland on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

This past weekend, Mr. Boomerlifetoday and I headed there – a return visit for him, a first for me.  As soon as we left the ferry, I knew we were in for a great time because the first sign said “Slow down, you’re here” and how right they were.  Waiheke is magical – you can do a lot or a little and never feel rushed.

Since it was my first visit, I wanted to see as much of the island as possible, so our first stop was the Saturday market in Ostend.  It’s wasn’t what I expected – less farm produce and more flea market.  However, among the stalls selling secondhand goods were some selling splendid artisan products (the best French pastries I’ve tasted since my arrival in New Zealand), beautiful chunky costume jewellery, aromatic essential oils, and much more.

Gun emplacements

Gun emplacements

Next on our itinerary, a drive through stunning countryside to visit the WWII gun emplacements.  New Zealand feared being invaded by the Japanese in WWII, so they had these built as well as tunnels for equipment and munitions. History not your thing? Go anyway – the views are amazing!

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Time for lunch and where better than one of Waiheke Island’s many wineries.  We chose Poderi Crisci, famous for it’s pinot grigio, olive oil and lemon digestif. Lunch in their restaurant was a relaxed al fresco affair  and the food was absolutely delicious.

Restaurant terrace- Poderi Crisci

Restaurant terrace- Poderi Crisci

Alas, it was time to return to Oneroa (the main centre) and check into our accommodation. We stayed in one of Waiheke’s dog friendly places, so our wheaton terrier could come too. After check in, we headed to a nearby beach for an evening stroll (dog friendly after 6:00 pm).

Track through native bush

Track through native bush

Day 2 we explored more of the countryside by car and then headed out on one of Waiheke’s many walking tracks.  We chose the track which follows the coast between Rocky Bay and Te Whau – absolutely stunning! The track wound its way through native bush and fields, down to secluded beaches and up along the cliff tops.  It didn’t require a high level of fitness and took just 2 hours round trip.  Even dogs were allowed, which isn’t the case with some of the other tracks on the island. To end the day we explored the Church Bay area of the island with its magnificent estates and wineries. Our day ended at Dragon Fired Artisan Wood Fired Food - delicious!

Church Bay area with one of the beautiful homes there in the distance

Church Bay area with one of the beautiful homes there in the distance

Day 3 and the weather began to deteriorate, but in the morning we took ourselves on an artisan food tour to Waiheke Fruit & Veg for Putiki Cheese from the Waiheke Island Cheese Company, Waiheke Island Herb Spread, and some oil from award winning Rangihoua Estate. From there we, headed to Ringawera bakery for their famous ciabatta and lavash.  When we arrived, a photographer from Cuisine magazine was doing a photo shoot for their next issue - Ringawera’s herb lavash has been nominated for an award. We stayed for coffee and a chat before heading back into Oneroa. Once back in town, we stopped at Humble Pie Butchery for their sausages and pork pies (sadly the latter were sold out).

Since Waiheke is a haven for artists and craftsmen, it seemed only fitting to spend the afternoon visiting some of Waiheke’s galleries and artists’ studios.  There are so many talented people on the island, but my favourite artist has to be Zoe Leeb-du Toit.  She has a very unique style, best described as quilting with paints. I urge you to visit her Barrel Room Gallery at 52A Korora Rd, Oneroa. You won’t regret it!

Zoe Leeb-du Toit

Zoe with one of her paintings

Having spent a very enjoyable long weekend it was time to make our way to the ferry for our return trip to the mainland.  But, we hope to return some day – I’ve definitely been bitten with Waiheke fever!

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Disclosure: Mention of places, products or people in this Boomer Life Today blog post were not solicited or paid for by companies/persons in New Zealand or abroad.

Country drives in Boomer Life Today

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Trilliums – harbingers of spring in Ontario, Canada

When I was young, drives in the countryside were a frequent occurrence.  My Dad knew great places to go and fantastic places to stop. In spring, he’d take us to see the first trilliums of the year (trilliums grow wild and are Ontario, Canada’s provincial flower) in summer, the best and most accessible elderberry bushes (the berries make delicious pies and wine!) in early autumn, the woods where we might find puffball (an edible fungi which can grow to football size) and mid-fall the best autumn colours. He also knew where the most picturesque villages and small towns were and inevitably, where you could buy the largest ice cream cones!

This past weekend, Mr. Boomerlifetoday and I revived the tradition and headed out into the countryside here in New Zealand. The scenery was beautiful as we made our way along country roads where cows, horses and sheep grazed on pastures of green grass and buttercups. Along the roadside, Queen Anne’s Lace was in full bloom. It always amazes me that the same wild flowers which populate the landscape in Canada, also grow here in New Zealand!

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Victoria St in Cambridge, New Zealand

We even ended up in the quaint, small town of Cambridge (Cambridge, Canada is next to my hometown of Guelph in Ontario).  We had passed through Cambridge before, but this time we stopped and walked around.  It’s lovely!  I especially liked the fact that it still has a large, independent bookstore (Wright’s), a beautiful looking kitchen store (Simply Divine, although sadly it had closed just minutes before we found it), a lovely boutique featuring New Zealand-designer, Bettie Monroe‘s collection of vintage-inspired clothing, MyStyle NZ stockist of Cath Kidston products, and of course, some very cute cafes like Panache French Bakery (pictured here).

Photo: A little bit of French in Cambridge!

Cambridge has maintained and restored many of its downtown buildings instead of replacing them with more modern architecture and in some places they have laid brick sidewalks, which really adds to the atmosphere. This is horse country and where else to have an Equine Stars Walk of Fame than the sidewalks of this pretty town – mosaics of champion horses bred in the area, decorate main street sidewalks.

On our way home, we even stopped for ice cream cones in Pokeno, home of the largest cones we have found so far in New Zealand.  There are two shops side by side (Johnson’s and Pokeno Takeaways).  They both serve up huge scoops of delicious flavours like boysenberry, apricot, and passion fruit (just some of our favourites).

What a beautiful way to while away a lazy summer afternoon!

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners

Disclosure: Mention of businesses in this Boomer Life Today blog post were not solicited or paid for by persons/companies in New Zealand or abroad.

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