Sandra’s Take on Life

Nuisance the wee dog

Shortly after the death of our cat, Lugs, last year in early October, a wee dog decided to mosey on up to our house to say “hello”.
This was her very first visit.

She wasn’t a complete stranger as she had spent the past few years visiting Ruby in the Orchard whilst she was thinning or pruning trees, during the months of Winter and Spring.
She rested against a hydralada wheel which made it difficult for Ruby when she had to move to the next tree. Often Ruby had to hop down off the hydralada to physically move the dog from the wheel.

Of course the wee dog would then wander up to the new position of the hydralada and slump down on the wheel. All rather comical but Ruby, who has the patience of a saint, thought it was no big deal.

 As this dog refused to listen to commands, trying to get her to go home was futile.
Sadly this silly little dog loved the road so if she wasn’t visiting Ruby there was every chance she would be on the road and the sound of the vehicles blaring their horns was always the indicator she was on the road.  So many near misses!
We named her Nuisance after her first visit to our home because that is what she became!

Lugs, our territorial cat would have given her the hiding of her life if she had the audacity to enter our home when she was alive.
Many a confident cat, found themselves limping out the gate licking their wounds after an encounter with her.
Furthermore Lugs had no fear of dogs, the bigger the better!  She even took on Pat the Pig Dog….the most kindest dog you could ever imagine. His crime being, sitting on the deck beside his owner.
I can still hear poor Pat yelping!

Nuisance’s first visit was most memorable.
She raced into our sunroom, leapt on the back of the couch directly behind a visitor who naturally assumed she was our dog.
She quickly leapt off, did a lap of the house and was gone.
I assumed this was a one off.
I was so wrong!

The next day she decided Ruby’s pet chook needed a scare so she jumped up and down on her cage, scaring the daylights out of her whilst barking uncontrollably.
I remembered at that precise moment a Policeman friend telling me many years prior, how he cured a nuisance neighbourhood dog of scaring his cats, a good squirt of the hose was all that was required. Of course this very day the hose wasn’t connected and I didn’t dare leave Dixie Chick’s side.
Eventually Nuisance gave up and disappeared.
But a few days later she was back.
It was raining heavily and this muddy dog leapt on my white duvet and velvet quilt.
What a mess!

Belle thought it was funny as Nuisance had leapt on her on the way to my room.  Her artwork was ruined but it didn’t worry her. It was Belle’s smile that made me laugh at how ridiculous the whole situation was and I didn’t mind chucking the bedding into the washing machine.   Worth it to see Belle have such another happy experience, as loosing Lugs was traumatising for me. 

The next day I was folding washing in the sunroom and she raced in, jumped up on the workstation in the kitchen, grabbed the chicken breast thawing under a piece of greaseproof paper and sped out the door.
By the time I got outside to tell her “not to come back” in obviously a polite way, she was well and truly gone, and so was Sam’s dinner!
A few days later, at 4am I found her asleep on the couch on the deck.
She wasn’t there when I closed the curtains at 11pm the previous night!
She looked up at me with a look of “what’s for breakfast?”.
This was probably the only time she listened to me as I yelled, “go home” into the calm of the morning.  She went rather hurriedly.
The neighbours farm dogs actually heard me shriek and started barking…….oops!!

Oh and did I mention when she leapt up onto the kitchen table and drank out of Belle’s cereal bowl….Oh my giddy Aunt….how did we survive this invasion!!
We endured many more fleeting daytime visits….Ruby, Belle and I…..never knew when she would pop in.

She was such a crazy dog with not an ounce of common sense.
One good thing came out of this saga…..Ruby was cured of ever wanting a wee dog as she was definitely leaning towards the idea before the arrival of Nuisance.

Nuisance finally left us alone early November, fairly sure she found another family to temporarily harass as for a couple of weeks after her departure we would hear her being called for, usually late afternoon and often well into the evening.
We always smiled as we knew that little Nuisance wasn’t our problem anymore.
But to be honest I did think it was a bit late for them to worry about their dog after it had wreaked havoc on our lives for many weeks.
Did they ever wonder where she was?

How very lucky they were to have her find us; animal lovers; and not folk who could have been less tolerant.
Her visits to Ruby in the Orchard are ongoing but that’s fine, as long as she never turns up here at the house again.
Just way too exhausting!
But then again if she needs a sanctuary again in life, we are probably the best place to choose as she will come to no harm.

Down Syndrome – A basic brief overview

My Take…Part One

After a recent episode on Shortland Street, a New Zealand TV programme, where some very negative views were expressed about Down Syndrome, my phone was red hot for weeks and emails kept filling my inbox, so I thought maybe it was time for me to write a very brief summary on Down Syndrome.  (For the record, I have never watched Shortland Street.)

Down Syndrome is not an illness or a disease.
Down Syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.

There are varying degrees of intellectual disability associated with Down Syndrome; some mild, some severe.

Many people assume that Down Syndrome folk are all alike; this is not the case.
Each have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses; the same as all other children.
Some have health issues, some mild, some severe; the same as all other children.
Some speak clearly, some will speak with difficulty and some are nonverbal with one or two word phrases, often spoken out of context but as long as their family or caregivers understand them, there is no issue.

Some have a limited ability to comprehend the world around them and require 24/7 care, however this doesn’t interfere with their love of life and there are some who can work/live in an assisted environment.

Many folk believe nonverbal Down Syndrome adults weren’t given opportunities to engage and learn language skills when they were young.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth and this misinformation has put many families under horrendous stress. 
Sadly there are many textbook cowboys who have and are still devastating folk with this misinformation.
Being at the coalface, and being involved with hundreds of families throughout the years has given me the licence to speak on this subject.   

Nonverbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, and body language; I know this for a fact as my Down Syndrome daughter is nonverbal and we have absolutely no issues with understanding her needs.

I remember when she was a wee toddler, I allowed a Psychologist into my home. 
She came to assess her which was common practice in the late 1970’s.
I was about twenty-four, the same age as this woman.
Puffing herself up like a rooster, she informed me this was her first job after receiving her Degree.
I thought she wanted me to bow at her feet.
She proceeded to lay out some educational toys on the lounge floor & then fired instructions at my daughter as to what she wanted her to do.
She became annoyed as Belle didn’t understand what she meant, and for that matter nor did I!

This young expert was going by text book theories and was unaware that each child was different; she had lumped them all into one category.
When I saw my daughter become distressed, I reached over to her and this little upstart smacked my hand.
Yep….I picked up her bag of gizmos and told her to leave my house and not come back.  She huffed and puffed and left.
I wasn’t very assertive back in those days so I was rather proud of myself.
These days I often wonder how many lives she has ruined with her self righteous attitude.
And while on the subject of professionals.

Ensure you have a Doctor you can trust.
You know your child best so a good working relationship is needed.

If you disapprove of the way your Doctor treats you and your child, find a new Doctor, one who is kindhearted.
Even in our ‘modern enlightened world’ there are still some Doctors who aren’t very tolerant of our gorgeous kids.

Never allow yourself to be downtrodden, your Down Syndrome child/adult is depending on your strength of character.  

If you feel worn out, contact me and I will ring around and find a Doctor for you.  I don’t care if you live in the Northern Hemisphere; I will find the best care for you and your child as I have acted as a support person/advocate for many over the past forty years. Confidentiality guaranteed.

My younger children, who are now adults, love their big sister dearly and vice versa.   
Their patience, kindness, compassion and love for her brings tears to my eyes.
I know I have raised three fine human beings.
As for me my life has been greatly enriched by having Belle as my daughter.
We start and end every day with a kiss and a hug.
I am so grateful she came into my life.

Always remember, our Down Syndrome family members deserve to live in an environment where they are loved and feel safe and it is up to us to make sure this happens.
Furthermore there will always be some folk who strongly believe our Down Syndrome children have no right to life; this we have to accept but opportunities will present themselves from time to time where we can educate the ill-informed.

                                             Peace and love always.


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Garden photos – Spring of 2017

During the winter months I had grandiose plans of completing many of my unfinished projects which included the pile of decoupage artwork sitting on my desk gathering dust, editing hundreds of Aunty S letters for public posting, and of course writing my blog, which had to be put on the back burner due to other commitments.

Life just got in the way!
Anyhow I am back and here are some photos of my garden taken taken over the past couple of months.
We live in paradise here on the Orchard. Some folk love an ocean or lake view from their home…..not us……it’s all about a having a home in a garden setting.
And by the way I enjoy receiving my Aunty S correspondence and even though I have been negligent in editing and posting online, I have and always will reply personally.
Editing ensures your privacy is kept intact.



























































12 August

My stance on bullying is well known so imagine my surprise when I received the following.

After checking the validity, I decided to post it but understand before you read it; it is a very raw condensed account of a bully’s life so if you have been a victim/target of a bully you may find it a bit distressing.


Dear Sandra

I was a Sophomore when I became a bully and thirty-nine when I quit, after an epiphany when my son, a Senior, targeted another student and bullied him mercilessly to the brink of suicide.

Fortunately another boy, who had been off school for a month, on his first day back, challenged my son in front of the class as common sense told him it was a pack of lies.

This boy took the matter to the Principal, Head Teacher and the School Counselor and within minutes of them talking to my son later that day, he crumpled and tearfully admitted what he had done.

Due to the severity of the bullying, the Police were brought in and before charges were laid, he was expelled from school.

My son was very fortunate to have been challenged and to his credit, his tears were genuine, as the reality of what he had done had sunk in.


My tears were only ever crocodile ones, always at the ready to manipulate a situation.

My years of bullying began when one evening I decided to skip my homework so the next day when I was asked to produce it, I burst into tears and blubbered how an older boy had thrown my homework out the school bus window, while telling me I would get a hiding if I told on him.

The Teacher was outraged and hauled the boy out of his class, and marched him into ours, demanding he apologized to me.

He refused and tried to tell how I was lying but it fell on deaf ears. The Teacher then sent him to the Principal.


This incident started me on the road to becoming a bully; a gullible teacher believing me without checking facts and as I had always sat behind the driver, a quick check with him would have seen my story fall apart.


By the time I left High School I was an accomplished bully, I was well skilled in choosing the most gullible to manipulate; they were my lackeys ready to spread whatever I told them.

Isolating my victims with lies and innuendo was how I would gain the control.

There is a misconception that victims of bullies are weak, none of mine were.

Throughout the years I manipulated the firing of co-workers, destroyed marriages, destroyed my own brother’s marriage by telling him a story how his wife had come on to me, the list goes on for miles.

Shortly after my son was expelled, we moved to another State as our town was not forgiving of what my son had done.

It’s been eight years since my life changed for the better but I will live with the shame of my actions and that of my son’s for the rest of my life.

Keep exposing bullies Sandra, you may save a life or lives.





Heat Wave

This recent heat wave reminds me of when the kids were little and their paddle pool sat just a couple of feet from the Fruit Stall side door so I could keep a close eye on them.

Of course their shadow, Aunty Belle, sat bedside the pool watching them attentively, sticking her toe occasionally into the pool but for the most part she was content to watch their every move from the safety of the sideline.

The role of Aunty was and is still taken very seriously.

One day when I couldn’t stand the heat a minute longer, I plonked myself down, fully clothed, beside them in the pool.

They laughed with delight, as did Aunty.

Then after a few minutes, we heard the sound of a car coming up the driveway.

I leapt out of the pool, stumbled into the Fruit Stall and there I stood to greet the customers in full knowledge they would not be able to see my soaking wet bottom half!

After a few minutes of sales and banter, I was asked whether there was a tap running, as the sound of water dripping was becoming louder and louder with each minute passing.

At that exact moment Alex walked in and responded, “Oh that’s just Sandra.”

Their horrified looks made me aware that Alex’s response was rather inappropriate so I shot around the corner of the counter in double quick time so they could see a ‘dripping wet me’, which I hoped would be self explanatory after I mentioned one word and that being ‘paddle pool.’

They laughed, then laughed some more and tootled on their merry way with fruit in hand a good hour later.

Since then, every year without failure, we reminisce of days gone by and ‘that’ moment in time, which we hilariously shared.

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Ask Aunty S


Dear Aunty S

My eighty something year old father has bought himself a new car which is far too big for him to drive safely and now my mother is too frightened to go anywhere with him as he has already dented it a few times from minor mishaps. The Panel beater told me he shouldn’t be driving at all as he bumped into another car when he took it into his shop.

He was diagnosed with early dementia a few months ago.

I am frustrated as I am the only family member who can assist. He has told me he will go to his Lawyer and withdraw the Power of Attorney he gave me if I stick my nose in.

What do I do?


Aunty S responds

I am of the opinion that anyone diagnosed with dementia must stop driving.

Even though we have all this patient confidentiality nonsense these days, please talk to your father’s Doctor and tell him of your father’s purchase and the minor mishaps that have occurred so far. Also talk to your fathers Lawyer and tell him of your father’s irrational behaviour and how he has threatened to cancel the Power Of Attorney.

I am only a click away so you are not alone my dear.

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Ask Aunty S



Dear Aunty S

My children won’t accept my boyfriend so will not be coming home for Xmas nor will my sisters be visiting on the day.

My boyfriend is a widower with no children whom I have known for many years.

It’s ten years since their father died so I feel they are being unreasonable as I have never looked at another man until now.

What do you think?


Aunty S responds

Your children and sisters are being silly and cruel and need to grow up.
They may come round in time; the best thing you can do is try not to worry about their rejection hence don’t sit at home on Xmas day, pack a picnic hamper and head off to his beach bach.
Enjoy your life my darling.

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Ask Aunty S


Dear Aunty S 

My husband wants our eldest son to take over the family farm but he insists he doesn’t want a farming career.

Now my husband wants to pay for him to have a work free OE with the hope he will come home and settle down.

My son doesn’t want to go and is getting fed up with my husbands attempts as he just wants a simple life growing vegetables for a Farmers Market in an off grid house which he intends to build himself.

Our younger son would like to take over the farm so it would stay in the family but my husband disagrees.
He isn’t hurt by his older brother being the preferred one, as he is easy going.

How do I make my husband see sense?


Aunty S responds

You have a very stubborn husband my dear but all is not lost.
The solution is simple.
Your son must sit down with his Dad and in a kind loving way explain that nothing will make him change his mind; he doesn’t want to be a Farmer so his generous offer of an OE trip would be a total waste of money and assure him of how happy he is that his younger brother wants to take over the farm.
Sadly a lot of old fashioned views still rear their ugly head from time to time.
You are so fortunate to have such sensible sons, probably a lot to do with how they were brought up.

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Tongue and Cheek Tale

Affidavit by Sandra Hobbs, Hercules Flat Roxburgh.
Witnessed by Bill & Pete at the Roxburgh Courthouse.
On the 10th Day of December 2015.


To the:

General Manager
Kuala Lumpur International Airport


Dear Sir/Madam

I, Sandra Hobbs, do declare that two of the Jumbo Jets sitting at Kuala Lumpur International Airport are mine and I wish to claim them.


There is a bit of a story as to how I mislaid them so please bear with me.


Apparently on my 60th birthday a year ago I had a wee bit too much of the wildwood weed after my good friend Sheik Ali flew in from the Emirate Empire.

I was simply overwhelmed and burst into tears when he gifted me a Boeing Co. 747-200F plane.

After a bit more wildwood weed, a yummy chocolate cookie and a YouTube tutorial on ‘How to fly a Plane’, I drove to the Roxburgh International Airport where my Birthday gift was awaiting me.

Let me tell you I made quick work of pulling the many black bows off it.

When I eventually took off, unbeknown to me, obviously because of my wildwood weed state of mind, (oh the night colours were so bright) there was a frost just starting to settle on the ground and local boys Syd and Mark were patrolling that remarkable Orchard adjacent to the International Airport.

I really don’t know what the fuss was all about as I missed them by about a foot and maybe I did clip a tree or two but I got that sucker off the ground!

Yes boys, the new trees were an anonymous gift from me.

My memory has only just returned which is a defence I would swear to in a Court of Law.


I digress…..

Imagine my surprise when I woke up with a shocking headache a few hours later.

Airplane crisps are so full of salt and really I shouldn’t have eaten so many but by golly all that flying gave me the munchies.

I engaged the emergency shoot and departed the plane looking for food, drink and the Ladies lavatory.

I woke up a few hours later perched on a toilet seat in the Gents lavatory with a huge amount of men watching me.

I could see they all wanted to take me home as I looked so distressed.

Chivalry is not dead!

I declined their kind offers of assistance and after a quick feed of some exotic foreign food from a wonderful friendly little café at the back of the Airport, it came to me.

How was I going to explain this situation I have found myself in and more importantly how was I going to get home???

I decided after a minute of careful reflection that the best thing to do was to just ‘wing it’.

A quick phone call to Sheik Ali allayed his concerns as he had noticed me missing when the cake was about to be cut and was so relieved to hear from me. Quick as a flash he was jetting through the sky on his way to rescue me, like a knight in shining armour.

When he arrived he had the cheek to ask me where my birthday gift was!

I engaged quick thinking (winging it) and told him how I had been mugged in downtown Roxburgh outside the Super Value Grocery Store where I was perusing the weeks specials which Ian had posted in the front window beside the ‘Santa Claus Colouring In Competition’. (Well done Julian for getting Mum to colour in for you. You deserved to win First Prize) and the next thing I knew, I was flying through the sky with a heavily disguised man at the wheel.

Sheik Ali believed my story and kindly offered me another plane, which I reluctantly accepted.

Probably by now you will see where this story is going!

Yes… another wildwood weed flight to Kuala Lumpur so I can categorically state two of the planes are mine but I swear I have absolutely no idea as to who owns the third.

I am thoroughly ashamed of my behaviour and hope my honesty will allow you to PLEASE give me my planes back.

My address is Hobbs Orchard, Hercules Flat, Roxburgh, New Zealand and furthermore I was just wondering if anyone found a large packet of my herbal tea in one of the planes.

Many thanks for your understanding and co-operation.

realist quote


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