Thursday, July 18, 2013

Little Eyes in the Sky

Matariki (photo from New Zealand Tourism Website, 100% Pure New Zealand)
Matariki, or 'little eyes' in Māori, refers to the cluster of stars known as Pleiades which rise in mid-winter each year.  When Matariki rises in the skies of New Zealand, it marks the start of a new year for Māori. Traditionally, Matariki marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the planting season.  Today it seems to incorporate the themes of remembering those who have departed and a celebration of new beginnings.

According to the New Zealand Tourism Website, this weekend will mark the end of the month-long celebration of Māori New Year.   Apparently, there have been celebration events around the country, none of which I've attended, oddly enough.  I suppose I've had my own personal remembrance though as I've been thinking a lot about family and those most important to me in the last month.  I think this is one of those things that happen when you move your life to the other side of the world with no family or close friends around you.  They may be far away, but at least we're all under the same sky.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's All Relative


Yesterday there was a story on the national 6pm television news about a new 24-hour cable network for dogs.  No, I didn't make a typo.  Yes, you did read correctly.  Dogs.  Canines.  Man's (and woman's) best friends.

Apparently, the TV station is meant to provide dog owners with a means of babysitting, or shall I say, dog-sitting.  Who is this for?  It's meant to be for dog owners who need to keep their dogs occupied when they are busy or away.  Interesting idea, as I know many of us have witnessed dogs watching TV.  Having not had a canine companion since I was a little girl, I haven't had to concern myself with this for years.  But I have heard many stories about dog owners coming home to messy homes due to their beloved dog who got bored during the day.

As a side note, this doesn't seem to happen as frequently with cats.  Cats seem to be given more freedom than dogs.  My evidence of this is what is becoming ever more and more frequent - daily visits from my neighbor's cat, who just spent all afternoon with me laying in the sun.  But back to the dogs ...

The video footage that accompanied this news feature was amusing, adorable even, especially if you're a dog lover.  But the question did come up while watching this ... where the hell is this?  To which my Kiwi mate answered, it has to be in America.   "You know there are only two places in the world that would create a television station for dogs.  Those two places are America and Japan."

Now I've been known to get my back up to such an inference about America.  (Sensitive though I may sometimes be about my homeland, I do have good reason which I won't go into now.  Have no fear though.  I'm sure to blog about this in the near future.  I can feel it coming.)  But I couldn't really debate my mate's comment.  All I could muster was ... "But what about Britain?  I understand they are very keen about their dogs."

The conversation continued ... "Yes, but only in America and Japan do they seem to dress up  their dogs in silly outfits and colour their fur."  Again, I couldn't debate.  It didn't help matters that only weeks earlier, we had seen another news feature about a 'trend' in America (California, no less ... ugh!).  The trend they were talking about was people 'decorating' their white poodles with ornaments and dieing their fur multiple colours ... day-glo colours even.  Needless to say, I was quiet when we watched that story and actually felt myself sinking in my seat.

I think feeling that a boundary may have been crossed, my mate started to backpedal.  (At least, that's the way I chose to see it.)  "Well, the numbers are probably the same.  What is the population of America?  The ratio of how many people dress-up their dogs is probably the same in Britain as it is in America.  It's just that America is so big that the numbers are bigger.  It's really all relative, isn't it?"

Okay, I'll take that, I thought to myself.  I mean, what else could I say?  How could I argue with that?  Remembering that I've been reminded by Kiwi mates that America does seem to be the only nation in the world that can make a TV programme out of anything, I came up with the following ... "Oh well, I guess America really is the land of opportunity."  No comeback from the Kiwi mate.