Category Archives: Inspiration

Oh Richter, you Rotter! An update from Alison Dormaar.

Guest post from Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

Okay, I believe I can safely speak for everyone here in Canterbury when I say that I am sick to the back teeth of earthquakes. You can tell visitors from the locals by their reactions even to the smallest tremors. Outsiders leap to their feet and wildly look around while locals yawn and go “oh yeah”, as well they might, being veterans of over 10,000 aftershocks and still counting. GeoTech for many of we budding seismologists inCanterburyhas become an old and familiar friend (did anyone send them a Christmas card?)

Mind you, the events of December 23 served as a sharp reminder that however much we all like to forget it in New Zealand, we live on the Ring of Fire and that no matter where you live, there will be some level of risk. A few nights later we were treated to a regular smorgasbord of quakes, starting at 1.30 am and continuing until 5.45 am where we were farewelled with a grand finale measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale – but most people do agree, that swarm of over 19 shocks was out of the ordinary. I do know that come daylight, I for one who had borne the past year with as much stoic passivity as possible, snapped, brewed the most potent cuppa imaginable and committed fearful ravages on a box of scorched almonds (one great thing about the festive time of year, there’s plenty of scope for comfort eating!)

The experts tell us we can expect tremors for the next 30 years. After that comforting statement appeared on the six o’clock news, I heard from a string of panicked people, all convinced that the world was about to end, that Christchurch was cursed, that it was Judgement Day etc etc, and the overall impression they all had from the media was that we would be plagued with continuous swarms of earth shattering tremors 24/7. In this the media could have been a tad more responsible and eliminated the scaremongering hype. I’m not exactly happy with the news myself, but upon a little further thought, remember that the so-called experts said “could” and “might” and that over time the tremors will noticeably become much less and of a far less violent magnitude – and that we will most certainly not have to wait the full 30 years to see much of this happen. In fact, from June 2011 until that fateful day in December, a significant reduction in tremors had already occurred.

Running away does not help anything in the long term. An acquaintance told me the other day she is seriously considering moving to Nelson, whereupon it was pointed out to her that Nelson is virtually on top of the great Alpine fault. Other people have fled to the likes of Wellington and Auckland– two main centres with an even higher risk of catastrophic chaos than Christchurch, and in the case ofAucklandwe have several active volcanoes thrown into the equation. Personally I believe the greatest fear and anxiety begins after the event itself, when the Hydra that is Insurance rears its monstrous and countless heads. I know I for one would find the prospect of dealing with a niggling insurance agent or officious EQC officer the worst horror scenario of all. Heaven knows, far too many of us have had to deal with that nightmare this past year.

So goodbye to 2011, and good riddance. My resolution for 2012 is not to make resolutions but to take life as it comes and to reflect on what truly matters in my life rather than what values others may dictate to me. As a Taurus, I have been emboldened by my horoscope for the coming year which states that I am in for a major career breakthrough and a huge boost for confidence and self esteem – as I am a budding writer, I say bring it on! Perhaps the shake up of 2011 in some ways is what many of us, stuck in our old conventional rut, needed. And on that vein, Christchurch, like the phoenix, will indeed rise from its smouldering Victorian ashes and truly emerge resplendent into the twenty first century a better, brighter, safer world class city we can all be proud of.

Comment from Pegasus:
Despite all the thousands of earthquakes in Christchurch since September 2010, there has been no damage at all at Pegasus.

The views, opinions or positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Pegasus Town Ltd.

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An inspirational food trip to Wanaka

Guest Post by Ben Carpenter, Executive Chef, Pegasus Golf & Sports Club

Well here I go again, giving you all an insight into the wonderful , evocative and highly inspirational world of Pegasus Sports and Golf Club, from a Chef’s perspective.

Talking of perspectives, wow…. did Brett, Clare and I get a new one on our visit down to Wanaka for the Infinity Group staff party!

We had the chance to explore Wanaka and what an amazing set up down there; the work that Bob and his team have done in  helping to shape what Wanaka is now, blew us all away. Jen Robertson gave us the full guided tour, with refuelling stops included; Jen thank you so much for being the perfect hostess.

We managed to take in the awesome view, on what we up here in blown-to-the-wind Canterbury could only describe as a perfect day (27 degrees no wind, not a cloud in the sky!)  Great accommodation at the Wyndham Vacation Resorts and on it goes.

Anyway it was all good and helped us all to appreciate what our employer, Infinity Group, is about, how a dream can really happen, and that a good team around a motivated thinker like Bob Robertson means all dreams are possible. So what’s next and count me in Bob ???!!!!

Food.. yes there are some nice cafes in Wanaka, pretty sure Jen took us to them all. The one that impressed the most was the first place we went to, Ritual Café, run by an opera singer from Wellington; great service, hotcakes and excellent coffee. Tables on the street but unfortunately no view of the lake.

Oh yes Christmas is here …. functions, functions and more b…. functions. What I’ve done with the ham this year is served it with a maple glaze and fresh new season cherries. I cook the cherries in a large pan (stalk and all) with equal amounts of red wine vinegar, red wine, a dash of balsamic vinegar, a little brown sugar and a cinnamon quill or two, reduce till the cherries are starting to glaze, but do not cook to a pulp: we like to see the cherries lovely whole and shiny. Simply place with ham when serving, yum yum! Must run got more b… functions to do!

Oh by the way, how was the staff party? Great!! The theme was The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and there were some really strange costumes… takes all to make the world. I hear tell there may be some photos floating around somewhere in cyberspace… oh well to busy to look ####

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Tinsellitis! Our Pegasus blogger gets ready for Christmas.

Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

It’s funny what seasonal fever will do – and I’m not talking about the flu or some other physical malady. No, I’m talking about the Christmas fever, that feverish feel-good madness that translates into overspending, overeating, back-slapping, manic laughing behaviour that is sharply cured when the bank visa statement arrives in January. After a year of being usually solid and responsible, for a few weeks at the end of the year we succumb to the rabid infection that is the Silly Season.

It’s also funny that when one trolls the malls like one does at this time of year, that one is witness to the spectacle of owl eyed youngsters, trussed up in their best garb, being hauled up to Santa on his gilt throne like sacrificial victims to the Glorious Cause. Some little ones accept their fate with shy resignation while others scream blue murder – and let’s face it, after a year of being sternly told by Mum and Dad about stranger danger, they are now confronted with the terrifying spectre of a big, bearded chap in a fire-red suit and tasseled cap who is as strange as they come – and the grinning Mum and Dad are there to capture their moments of terror on camera, the sadists! Well, that is how I remember my early years anyway, and it was not until I was about five that I realised that Santa was not going to carry me off in his black sack or that the reindeer were not about to eat me.

There is something distinctly pagan in our enjoyment of Christmas – and that is not surprising, if you know anything about history. After all, December 25 used to be the original festival of the Persian god Mithras, a deity very popular with the Roman army. The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia also coincides with this time of year, where mad partying, feasting and practical jokes marked the end of the old calendar year. And that most hallowed of yuletide traditions, the Christmas tree, had its origins among the ancient fierce tribes of northern Europe – Germany, to be more precise – who used to sacrifice youths of noble birth to sacred trees in order to appease the forest spirits. Early Christian missionaries – running a very high risk of being seized by the enraged locals and burned alive in wicker cages, I may add – managed to convince the pagans that decorating trees achieved the same purpose without the need for shedding blood.

So, taking all this into account, it is no surprise that many fundamentalist Christians over the years have frowned upon the excesses at this time of year. Around 1650 the Puritan Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell (the ultimate party pooper, long before Scrooge) even banned celebrations over the yuletide season. However, over the centuries ancient ritual and religious belief has merged to create a worldwide phenomenon. Even in the far reaches of India and Africa, gurus and witchdoctors acknowledge Christmas, not just as the birthday of Christ, but as the one time of year where good prevails over evil and when everyone stops and becomes just that bit nicer and happier to everyone else around them. It’s just sad that that giddy infection of peace and goodwill does not run its course throughout the rest of the year.

So, pagan origins or not, let us succumb to the festive disease. Our purses may be poorer and our waistlines may be thicker, but our spirits will be all the richer for it.

God bless us, everyone!

The views, opinions or positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Pegasus Town Ltd.

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The year in retrospect – Pegasus resident reflects on 2011

Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

There is something manic in the air at the moment. No, I do not mean the looming General Election. Most of us regard that as a passing duty, an obligatory chore that must be performed every three years as we endure once again the merry go around of “VOTE FOR ME” antics by those mad or idealistic enough who fancy themselves as our leaders for the next three years. No, I am referring to the Silly Season, known fondly to one and all as Christmas.

Christmas has taken on a somewhat poignant if not desperate feel this year. After mine cave-ins, quakes, economic turmoil, snowstorms, volcanic ash clouds and all manner of other nasties, there is a real mood that we all just want to run away and enjoy ourselves. We are now faced with the most fattening time of the year – you could easily replace the words from the title of the well known Christmas song ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of The Year’ with these! But excess pounds and calories aside, many of us feel like a further outbreak of self indulgence – and let’s face it, after the last twelve months, why not? Compared to chocolate liqueurs, baked ham and roast turkey, carrot sticks and lettuce leaves somehow don’t have that feel good factor, do they?

2011 has been one of those remarkable landmark years in my books. We have certainly had our fair share of assorted disasters, but overseas we have seen massive change as well, and not all of it bad. We have seen the long awaited downfall of the likes of Bin Laden and Gaddafi, and the global rise of a sense of outrage against this style of tyranny that should have died out in the Dark Ages. We have also seen voices raised in anger against a world economic system run mad, and although it will be a long and painful process, the winds of change are here to stay. I for one do not fully believe the doomsayer reports about 2012 (the Mayan Calendar, Nostradamus etc), but I do believe that 2012 will certainly be another landmark year of significant economic and social challenge as well as change, and that this is what the ancients may well have meant by their predictions instead of the Hollywood style fire and brimstone scenarios we have been led to believe in.

So, to all my many readers out there and to all the many other potential readers out there – go ahead! Love your families, pet your pooches, cuddle your cats and fraternize with your friends – years such as 2011 serve to remind us all of the positives as well as negatives in our lives. Break open the wine and a big box of your favourite chocs and lose yourself in the happy, tinseled world of frantic Christmastime shopping malls, because you certainly deserve it, and 2012 is not shaping up to be any easier.

The views, opinions or positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Pegasus Town Ltd.

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Where has all the fun gone?

Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

Hmmm, reality TV. Survivor, Wife Swap, Top Model, the Next Pop Idol, not to mention the next Master Chef. And then of course you have all the shows lambasting obese people, insecure people, disadvantaged people, people being stupid and clumsy, people behaving badly on camera.

Notice a trend anyone? I know I certainly have. Instead of seeking a happier escape into the realm of make believe, it would seem that the powers that be have decided that we can forget our own woes by finding fault with everyone else around us. Oh yes, what a smug lot we are sitting back in our armchairs, taking a perverted pleasure from ogling the misfortunes of others while basking in a measure of self congratulation that for the main part it does not apply to YOU. If you are a TV producer, I suppose it is much cheaper to stick a live camera into some poor sod’s living room to broadcast their frailties around the globe to a slavering audience of millions than, Heaven forbid, pay some decent scriptwriters to come up with quality entertainment that does not come at the spiteful expense of someone else. The media needs the Extreme Makeover, not our houses.

I have often wanted to ask these dupes on reality TV where their pride has gone. I daresay most of them will have been offered money for their very public crucifixion, but at what personal cost? I want to know how they can face their friends and neighbours each time they poke their nose around the door at the local shopping mall without being aware of the silent finger pointing and sniggering. It goes to show what some people will do for those thirty pieces of media silver.

Apart from the deplorable standards that now rules our screens, I have often wondered about the many great unemployed writers and TV directors roaming aimlessly about without a studio to call home. Then of course you have all the wardrobe staff, the dressers, makeup artists, set builders, technicians etc etc. Gods, what a waste of creative talent in a time of global recession.

It all comes down to money of course. After all, why pay decent people to produce decent shows when you can get ratings and advertising dollars at a much cheaper expense? But what they cannot or will not realize is that the cost to society is huge.

I am sick of children aping hideously drawn, freakish creations from cheap and nasty Asian-made cartoons (whatever happened to Disney, Hanna Barbara, Warner Bros?) who all seem to have big mouths and bigger attitudes. Is it any wonder so many of our kids now have behaviour and depression problems that will persist well into adulthood? Don’t we all have enough to worry about these days without being forcibly educated, informed and lectured all day and every day? A massive blow has been dealt to the sheer healing power of imagination.

Imagination is what has made humanity stand out from every other creature on the planet. The power of creative, positive thought has driven our greatest scientists, artists and leaders, and it is that great force that is now under attack. Especially in light of recent times, people need to have light relief and fun, and lots of it. Okay, maybe I’m old fashioned, but whatever happened to those laugh out loud English comedies that used to grace our screens? Whatever happened to the mini series, the fabulous period dramas, the family variety shows like the Generation Game whose sole purpose was to give everyone a good time? Whatever happened to such wonderful children’s shows like the Muppets and the Smurfs? Where has the laughter gone?

It is no small coincidence that mankind’s myths and legends endure long after their buildings and monuments fall. It goes to show that what we wish to remember is what truly endures, not what is foisted upon us by the politically correct dogma of the day.

I am a writer. I create, and I like to think I create to a good purpose. The powers that be ignore such recent phenomena as Harry Potter and the Lord Of The Rings at their peril. These are indicators that there is a real desperate social hunger out there that is not being filled. In my own small way, I am hoping to help fill that void.

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It’s a dog’s life!

Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

Ever since moving away from the main hustle and bustle of the city, I’ve been noticing the local dogs more. It’s funny how much we take them for granted in our busy city lives, but the other week with several centimetres of snow piled up on the lawn outside, to watch them ecstatically lolloping around in the white stuff with apparent ease was a real pleasure, and it made me sit back and think.

Dogs make me happy. I like to think I could make them happy. There are many life lessons we can learn from dogs, not least of which is the gift of sheer enjoyment of the simple things such as a snowfall while we of the gens humana live in a constant state of self-dissatisfaction. It is said that we have made dogs honorary humans, and I strongly suspect it is because we see many aspects of dogs that we wish were more apparent in our own somewhat flawed character.

Who among us would not want the life of a dog? Seriously? Most pet dogs in our society live in warm, comfortable homes without worrying about footing the mortgage or the power bill. Unlike the forever starved masses in the Third World (sorry folks, Africa is a bottomless pit of often misappropriated aid), dogs are guaranteed at least one square meal a day and they have learned that if you give the right wistful look at their owners at the right time they can capitalize with tasty snacks in between. You have willing servants on hand to plump up your pillows, buff up your beanbags, walk you, bathe you, brush you and rush about the house fulfilling your every whim without you having to raise a paw. Balls, frisbees, sticks and squeaky toys are laid on for your entertainment while your personal chauffeur whisks you away on numerous trips in the country, windows preferably rolled down. No-one is nagging you to tidy the house, mow the lawns, cook the dinner or go to work, and what’s more everyone you know likes you. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone if you’re a dog. You just have to be…well, a dog!

We humans tend to age not very gracefully. After a certain age we become victims of gravity. Everything on our body starts to sag south and we start to shrivel up and stoop, unsightly blotches appear where we never had them before and the key subject of conversation at social functions is the latest round of medical procedures. We slather ourselves with potions and lotions to restore some semblance of health and youthful looks and ingest other substances to improve our memory and keep ourselves regular.

Compare that with your dog. Okay, Blondie may be getting fat with age, but somehow it just makes her all the more lovable. She may have a few gray hairs around the muzzle, but that thick furry coat remains the same and those liver spots are marks of distinction rather than blemishes. When she trots out for her daily walk she is still the subject of smiles and admiration (how many aging people yearn for a return to that kind of attention!) Yup, in old age your dog remains respected and loved. No old age home for Blondie, no being shut up in a pastel painted dormitory with drooling open mouthed zombies staring mindlessly at television sets while their life savings trickle into someone else’s bank account. Unlike many elderly humans, your dog is guaranteed constant support and does not have to wait until weekends for a possible family visit. And at the end of your life, unlike humans who are often forcibly kept alive by all manner of nauseating drugs and machines in the supposed name of humanity (or is it medical research? No, maybe the retirement home is still owed the balance of the remaining quarter), your dog if need be is allowed to slip away peacefully and painlessly to avoid unnecessary suffering.

If only we treated each other the same way that we treat our family dogs…

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Why do we make life so complicated?

Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author

Perhaps I’m aging prematurely. I’d like to think not as I am still only in my early 40’s and besides, many people as they age will tell you that life seems to become a lot faster and more complex. I just never expected it would become so cluttered in a matter of months, not years!

I’d best explain myself. Like far too many I know out there at the moment, my employment situation over the past few years has been somewhat precarious at best. So what? I hear you all say. Go out there and get a job. Ahhhh yes, there’s the Catch 22 of the entire matter. Over past decades this was done as easily as going down to the local store for Pick N’Mix (remember those?) If you hated what you did or had a cruddy boss, no big deal. You’d just walk down the road and chances were you’d land something else within a week, provided you could provide solid evidence of a good character and a reliable work history. The rest didn’t matter, right?

Unfortunately nowadays the Rest is Everything!

A year ago I had to go to one of the recruitment agencies for skill testing. Okay, no big deal and fair enough. I sat both tests with good grace and that, along with my provided referees, was considered enough to work with at the time. But within the space of one year how tings have changed. I have been to several other agencies in that time, and for some reason they now want to know everything, not just your rank, name and serial number. Apart from the computer tests there is a raft of fact finding papers you have to fill out that would make a government Census envious. There are motivational tests, personality tests, reasoning tests, psychometrical tests, etc etc.  Apparently the powers that be want to know if people “think correctly”. Hmmm. This is the kind of terminology once used by the Hitler Youth and Khmer Rouge, not to mention the Soviet Young Pioneer Movement under Stalin. All Hail Big Brother, and woe betide you if you fail to conform to the ideal “vision” and are over 30.

This is just one indication of the system that people today must submit themselves to. Is it any wonder that so many of us feel depressed, underachieving, undesirable and substandard? As it is, we sentence our children to a bare minimum twelve years’ hard labour in an ever increasing stressed school system to learn how to cope with the bare basics, and upon leaving there are no guarantees their hard-earned straight A’s will deliver the career results parents so hope for. We live in a modern society where your best is never good enough and the pressure is always on to improve, where winning is everything and there is no acceptable alternative. With the workplace situation, you may score well on the tests, but there is no guarantee you may reach the hallowed interview stage. Then there may be a second interview, even possibly a third, and you never know what each member on the interview panel is looking for. As someone mentioned to me a while ago, they feel like a Lotto ball, forever spinning around in the wheel but never coming out on top. We strive relentlessly throughout our lives, only to become highly educated pieces of dirt in the local cemetery when all is said and done.

Many people want change in social values. I certainly do. Is it any wonder that so many people now are seeking to escape from the cities, looking for that life-giving gasp of clean, uncluttered air in places such as Pegasus? In the meantime I am assured that the recruitment agencies do not want your blood type.

Yet…

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