Wednesday, September 8, 2010

fathers' day faux pas, etc...

Tonight's post is a hodgepodge, starting with the earthquake in Christchurch. We've had a number of email and Facebook queries about our proximity to the quake and we are thankful to be able to assure all that not only were we quite far away from it, but that there were no deaths at all in Christchurch, which is a great good, especially considering the strength of the quake. There are ongoing aftershocks and extensive damage continues to accrue, so prayers for the people of Christchurch are well-directed.

That weekend we were in Rotorua, on retreat with Lighthouse. It was the first retreat we have had to pull off alone (literally alone - Richard was the only adult present from dinner time on Saturday until departure Sunday afternoon) and there were some of the minor glitches that will inevitably flow from the chaos of that kind of adult-teen ratio....$55 worth of meat and milk forgotten at baking pans destroyed in grass-sledding paddocks left open during manhunt....the Eucharist almost left behind in Rotorua....those sorts of things. All stressful, none catastrophic.
There was also an awkward cultural glitch. We arrived here at the end of May. June followed - and in June, Fathers' Day. I could not find a Fathers' Day card for Richard in any store. Puzzled, I asked someone, "Do you celebrate Fathers' Day here in New Zealand?" I was told that the holiday was observed, but minimally. Case closed. We moved on. It never occurred to us that perhaps it was observed on a different date. It never occurred to us that perhaps we had planned the Lighthouse retreat to fall on Fathers' Day. It was only when we were calling parents, days prior to the retreat, seeking help with cooking and transport, that we learned our misstep. Suffice it to say that there were many lessons learned for next time. Still, the retreat was far from a total disaster and we're sure that the Lord will bring good fruit from it.

Actually, this whole week brought on a new burst of observations of further cultural differences between the US and NZ. The lady in the deli department gave me precise instructions on how to make a proper sandwich: 2 slices of buttered bread, 2 slices of luncheon "sausage" (what we would call lunchmeat or coldcuts) and a generous squirt of "tomato sauce" (imagine sort of a very thin and sweet ketchup substitute) in between the "sausage".

That same afternoon the man at the laser tag facility phoned and asked me for my email address. Sounded easy enough: "KellydotSealyatGmaildotCom" - but I was met with puzzled silence. "Dot?" he asked, uncertainly. "Um, yeah - dot. Like period. You the end of a sentence?" He did NOT know. He tried to clarify, "You mean like a dash? or an underscore?" I tried to clarify, " a little tiny dot that you put at the end of your sentence..." Suddenly, he got it, "OH! You mean FULL-STOP!"  I guess I meant "full-stop" - but I've only heard that phrase in black and white movies about telegrams. KellyFULLSTOPSealyatGmailFULLSTOPcom is just a real mouthful. But, when in Rome....

And then, lastly, today, two antenatal appointments. I had an 11:25 appointment for a "scan". I arrived at 11:20, was fetched by the tech herself at 11:23 and at precisely 11:25, my scan began. At 11:33, it was over. I was handed a DVD compilation of multiple shots of my wriggling two and a half inch baby whose perfectly human profile and insanely tiny feet captivated his eldest sister. (Maria had a front row seat for the ultrasound and sagely informed the tech that the baby was a boy and she was going to name him "Freckle").

Immediately after the scan, I popped across the hall for blood work. The nurse was really friendly and efficient and nothing seemed at all unusual until afterwards. I was sitting there holding a little ball of gauze to the puncture site. I checked to see if I was still bleeding - when I saw that I wasn't, I got up to dispose of the gauze. The nurse offered to take it from me - and it was at that moment that I noticed that she was NOT wearing gloves. A nurse had taken my blood without any gloves. Without Universal Precautions. And now she offered to touch my blood-spotted gauze, still without gloves. I said lightly, "Oh, I don't want you to have to touch this - I'll just throw it out myself." In the back of my head I was remembering every poster I've seen in US labs and doctor offices reminding me of my American RIGHT to tell my health care professional to don gloves. As if reading my mind, the nurse cheerfully said, "It's not like in the States, eh? We don't have to wear gloves like I reckon you're used to." But I really wasn't thinking of ME - I was truly thinking of HER. She told me that although she doesn't like wearing gloves, she does at the hospital and that actually there is currently a movement in NZ for Universal Precautions - but that patients are offended if the nurse puts on gloves because it might imply that they "have something". This was not my first time noticing how much more hygiene-obsessed Americans are, but it was perhaps the most powerful example. It occurred to me how crazed we must seem to those less preoccupied with such matters. But I can't dwell on it too much here - I've only got a few minutes to squeeze in my second shower before I collapse into bed. Goodnight to all! Until next time.


  1. The email address story had me laughing out loud, literally! (And seeing as how I absolutely refuse to ever shorten that phrase to the text-friendly abbreviation, be honored I took the time to write out Laughing (full stop) Out (full stop) Loud (full stop).) Also, it happily explains the age old mystery to me as to why those old 40's movies that featured telegrams always said "Stop". I always thought the telegram writer needed a break. ("Really? He only typed a sentence??") I never got it until now, so I can rest happily.