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Category: Family

Chew It, Chew It, Chew It

CHEW IT, CHEW IT, CHEW IT

Cycling the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

Written and illustrated by Brent Ruru.

 

Finished the manuscript to the next book, illustrations in progress. Thought I would give you a glimpse as to the story captured, weaved and hopefully, not to long before ready to share.

INTRODUCTION

“Bite off more than you can chew and then, chew it”

There were two details I remember.

Cameron our son stating the sentence and, what was said.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to cycle the length of New Zealand.”

It was 2004. He was fourteen at the time.

I had just finished reading No Opportunity Wasted written by Phil Keoghan and was working on identifying my eight steps to getting the most out of life, as challenged by Phil. Thanks to Cameron, the Test Your Limits step now had a purpose. And meaning.

Cycle the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

That’s it.

Decided.

Writing it down made it official. It gave it substance. More so, a focus.

Naturally, the voice on one of the shoulders was having a great time playing on the thoughts that we were biting off more than we could chew.

However, the other voice on the other shoulder was equally whispering, “chew it, chew it, chew it!”

When instinct pushes us to explore, we push boundaries outside ourselves; when we test personal limits, we push boundaries within us.

And so, we did.

Chew it.

All the other details are captured as follows.

Whatever your boundary, push beyond it.

The chew is worth it.

 

17/11/17 West Coast Wilderness Trail – Impromptu Encounters … Priceless

To Greymouth we drove to participate in the West Coast Wilderness Trail mountain biking event.

Whether in a one day or over three or four days … take the journey.

You will be not be disatisfied with the road ridden … Ross to Hokitika to Cowboy Paradise to Kumara to Greymouth.

Or just the bits in-between.

The impromptu encounters – priceless.

And, certainly memorable …

 

… “Are you there?” was the question asked as we sat in the room of our B&B.

“Yes, come in”

It was the B&B operator’s daughter.

“Just wanted to know if you are any relation of a Sonny Ruru?”

“He was my Dad” the reply given.

“What a small world.  My Mum went out with him when Sonny used to live in Reefton.  Her name is Gladys and she would love to meet you”

And so we did.

Meet and greet and then had the most awesome conversation about my Dad when he lived in Reefton.  He worked in the mines and both him and Gladys were an item for the time he lived there.  The year, 1948 or there abouts.  Gladys was a Nurse Aid and she confirmed Dad’s story about the mining accident where Dad and one other made it out alive – Morris Skilton.  Another was unfortunate and was killed. Dad lived with a family by the name of the Lawrences during his time there; and when Dad returned to Christchurch, their relationship ended.

Shortly after our face to face, Gladys had found a black and white photo of her and Dad.

This was an impromptu encounter of the most amazing type. And ironically, it happened on the 17/11/17 (Friday) … which was Sonny’s birthday.

Leaving Greymouth, we back tracked to Ross (the start of my ride) to do touristy thing as the township had pioneer history worthy of a re-visit.  Calling into friends Tane, Rachel, Ruby, Ava and Tilly in-between for a nose rub and bounce on the tramp was fun.

Just as priceless as the impromptu encounter.

‘It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you’ – Rumi

30/4/17 Becoming an Orphan

On the 31st March 2017, my father passed.

I became an ‘orphan’.

It’s been a long tough year and a bit.

We had been at peace with him closing his eyes for a wee while as the quality of his life had degenerated to being bed ridden most days or on a good day, propped up-right in a lounger with head hung down toward his chest, asleep.  Sadly, dementia is a terrible existence to have to bare witness to.

The heartfelt gratefulness toward the nurses, doctors and more so my Step-Mum Margaret whom provided for my Dad in the most exemplary manner right up till the shut eye is solace to know that they would have helped with his happily ever after, where ever that may be.

Actually, I do know.  It’s on a hillside overlooking the Koukourarata (Port Levy) harbour on Banks Peninsula.  I helped dig the grave.  I also helped my older brother David with getting out when he couldn’t from the depths after his turn at digging!  Hah, I had his back.  Or more like a foot hold!

The spot is tranquil, serene and my Dad’s Tūrangawaewae – his place to stand.  Or now, his place to rest.

The beauty of such an event was the coming together of family to celebrate his life.  Especially those young nephew and niece family members that were just face book relationships and whom I never knew personally.  A dysfunctional family does that.  So too a sibling with issues who carries a pet rock, unfortunately.

Nonetheless, stories of yesteryear flowed.  Bad and good.  Whether a tear of sadness or a tear of laughter.  Reflective and re-framing.  Noses rubbed.  Some rubbed off!  Certainly, a transitional experience.

My extraordinary memory will forever be the fortunate experience of sharing a tandem with my Dad.  Watching him hobble (he had had five hip replacements so was lop-sided) down to the ebbing waves on the shores of Sumner Beach on the east coast of the South Island; to then rotate the pedals across the flatlands of the Canterbury Plains; to free wheel the down-hill sections of the South Island Alps backbone to the shores of Greymouth with the might of the Tasman Sea on the West Coast.

Made priceless with him telling one and all that he had cycled the ‘Coast to Coast’ when in fact, he rode what he pushed himself to do and then we threw the bike on the back of the van to drive some way’s up the road to then have another session of staying upright.  Probably only 30 kms all up!

My Dad once gave me a ‘pounamu’ pennant that had an imprint of an Owl inscribed into the greenstone.  In Maori our name ‘Ruru’ means Morepork which is a native New Zealand Owl.  Before I gave the same pennant to my daughter Claire on her 21st birthday, I had the exact imprint tattooed on my right arm.

Being a minimalist, the tattoo has more personal depth to remember him by as our adventures to explore the planet will continue, eventually.  Better than anything materialistic such as a medal or a wooden stick.

And, made extra significant when my son Cameron, daughter Claire, older brother David and his wife Janice, nephew Morgan Moa and niece Rebecca Moa too followed suit and had a similar tattoo inked on their person.  Dad was so proud of them.

My half-brother John once gave me a piece of wisdom that become a mantra I’ve carried with me and lived by since all those summers ago.  “Once your Dad is gone, it doesn’t matter what you want to say or what you don’t say, it’s too late.”  Sure, I banged heads with me ole man, who doesn’t?  But at the end of his days, we had a close relationship as any true son would have with his Dad.  I just didn’t need to keep feathering an ego every day with face book postings that was more about ‘look at me with Dad, I’m the favourite’ to solicit ‘likes’ or smiley face images.

Everything that needed to be said to him, was said.  Everything that was said by him to me, was said.

That’s the lesson I want to share with you.  Own what you want to say; own what you don’t want to say.  Do both before you become an orphan.  And when you do become an orphan, let go and move on to leave the departed at peace versus continuing to use their name for further vanity purposes.

Except for when brother David returns to New Zealand of course and we play our golf game like we used to do as father and sons.  Dad will no doubt be listening for the bullshit banter and get mentioned in there amongst it!

I’ll miss my Dad but don’t stress.  The step-side of the family have adopted me.  Yay!  Something lost was something gained.

Let the arguments begin as to who the favourite step-sister is.  Will come down to the best present on Christmas Day.  As family.

Cheers Dad, you tough old bugger.  Now may you R.I.P.

21-24/10/16 Rangataua Part 1: Igniting 50 Candles

No sooner had we landed back onto Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) god’s own before we were heading back toward the airport to catch a domestic flight north to Wellington, our nations Capital.

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Cousin Barry was going to be igniting 50 candles to celebrate the turning half a century and being close, we were keen to share the experience of witnessing him having the puff to blow out soo many wicks.

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However, this was not a usual party to be had at a pub, local hall or at ones residence.  After touching down we then by car traveled north to a lodge called ‘Harrods’ situated in a small village Rangataua located at the southern ends of both the Tongariro National Park and Rangataua State Forest.

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dsc08414-1280x853It adjacents the Southwestern slope of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu, right up the guts of the North Island and here we were amongst the landscape splendure – what a way to get over jet lag!

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Other friends soon arrived and it didn’t take long before the scene was set with a blazing log fire, glass of plonk and intermingled conversations.  We just spoke louder as hypo kids echoed the sound of play and contributed to the atmosphere in readiness to give Barry a birthday bash worth remembering.

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Finding the chocolate cake hidden in the cupboard was by accident.  Sticking my finger in wasn’t.  If anyone questioned who the culprit was, point to any kid was my strategy.

No-one noticed in the long run.

It was great to be able to play with kids like a big kid.

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The Blue Feathered Angel

It’s been a long time since we were able to put up a Xmas tree due to living in the caravan.

DSC03533Opening up a box with some decorations resulted in a little juicing of the eyes! These are older than me as they were my Mum’s.

She’s been gone for some 26 years … however, I remember the Angel in it’s original form placed upon the tree when I was just a minor … some 45 years ago.

Speaking with my brother David Ruru about the decorations, he told me the diorama was one he gave to Mum when he was five years of age.

The beauty about treasures like these are that they remind us of those who aren’t here to share a day where the best present anyone could ever ask for, is to have them with us in their presence.

Accepting it’s not possible, just having the Angel back up in it’s rightful place some how makes it better. Gone, but not forgotten.

And next year bro, you will be able to place the scene on a shelf in your home.

I know it’s a little early, but, Merry Christmas Mum where ever you are.

Love Brent, BClaire, Cameron & LClaire
xx

THE DOOR SHOULD ALWAYS BE OPEN FOR YOUR KIDS

Daughter Claire 1Turning 21 years of age here in New Zealand is significant and is commonly referred to as the ‘coming of age’.

Society recognises it as the final transition into adulthood, the apron strings are handed over, and they now get to own their own key to the door to come and go as they please – officially.

Celebration festivities are more buoyant than the norm compared to other birthdays and generally includes a coming together of family clans and friends to share in reflective conversation, beverage, folly and joy to mark the milestone. The ritual for the male to consume a yard glass of ale or the female to down 21 shots of fire water to then empty gut contents where ever its spewed does a lot to bridge friendship expectations and cement bond closeness. Let alone raise eyebrows from elders secretly grinning internally that we have all been there and done that.

Daughter Claire’s (LC) moment arrived on 28 June 2014 (although her birthday was actually on the 30th).

Purple was her colour growing up and it was the colour of balloons, lights, hanging lanterns and dress up toys for the photo booth. I’m sure I heard Princes’ rendition of ‘Purple Rain’ echo out from the speakers during the course of the evening, or was I swooped up in the atmosphere buzz and only imagined it!

Daughter Claire's 21st Birthday CakeThe circular cake with icing shaped into a map of the world and decorated with memento’s of LC’s footprint travels on the planet was just beautiful. A pinnacle of experiences to symbolize the characteristics of the person she has become. It was amplified by speech givers contributing yarns of personal affiliation as to how LC has impacted on their lives, interrupted with embarrassing stories that rounded out the importance to have a sense of fun living life.

And then as quickly as it had arrived, it left through the last party goers vacating the premise and the lights being flicked off. You wondered whether you too had consumed the equal amount to a yard glass or knocked back 21 shots and that tomorrow was going to be a seedy day of body harm and hangover.

I guess we never come of age do we, no matter how aged we grow?

Never did get to give LC the key to the caravan door neither.

Daughter Claire2But hey, I believe the door should always be open for your kids. More importantly, never locked.

And then perhaps, that is the key.

CAMP CHIT CHAT AT THE CAMP URINAL … NO DICKING AROUND!

Christmas day is always a day that for some reason lets the disciplines evaporate and allow for binge consumption of food and beverage to be entertained.  This one was no exception.  Hydration too was paramount under the blazing yellow ball up in the sky as the mercury started to rise and being given a carton of Stella Artois stubbies as a gift didn’t help matters neither!

What happened to handkerchiefs and ‘Blue Stratus’ after shave lotion as presents from your local pharmacy like yesteryear?

Cameron and LClaire arrived for brunch mid-morning to kick start the festivities and the juice of choice to wash down the ham and cheese filled croissant was a beer.  Everyone was conscious that not pacing oneself would result in some kind of drunk and disorderly behaviour quicker than planned, however, the temptation to say, “oh bugger it, it’s Christmas Day and I’ve earnt it” led into a second ale, then another.

DSC09009BClaire’s clan arrived for the main course of the day, bar-b-q chicken and potato salad; coleslaw and shaved ham on a bone.  Dessert was just as easy with strawberries and ice cream.  Beers took a back seat position as bubbles were corked, poured and glasses raised to salute peace on earth and goodwill to mankind.  By now the weather had done a complete one eighty with grey clouds shedding tears of joy.  The sides of the gazebo were affixed to protect from the elements and one by one, the party of revellers dispersed leaving four of us to continue on … or drink more if you didn’t get the gist of it.  I would also imagine that the same story would have played out across the lands not too dissimilar to ours.

Beer turned to red wine and red wine turned to Jamaican Rum interrupted by a cup of tea before positioning the body into the sleep position.  With two extra’s in the caravan staying over, it didn’t take long for the air to become stale and the feeling of uneasiness from a gut full of liquids to remind me of how weak I was not to keep the discipline of drinking in moderation versus binge.

At some ungodly hour, BClaire successfully navigated her way over to the toilet ablutions to be sick, why she just didn’t stick her head out of the awning door to chuck and let the bird life feast on it in the morning, who knows!  I too contemplated such when I went looking for her but didn’t and that was the mistake I made.  Like a barrel being tossed around in an ocean storm, my barrel was getting swirled around from the tossing and turning at trying to get comfortable so as not to puke.

Before I knew it, birds started singing and I had wondered if at all I had been to sleep.  I wasn’t hung over as such, more the soak pit sloth feeling, life around the camp on this new day would be a long one I was thinking.  Venturing wearily over to the ablutions again and standing at the urinals just minding my own business, doing my business – this three year old stepped up onto the step and went about his, business.

Catching him looking up at me, I returned the smile to hear him say, “I spewed last night.”

Shit, how much alcohol did he drink?

Camp chit chat at the camp urinals … no dicking around!