Lou Stella is one of my best good friends. I met her when I started training in aikido, or rather, Annette met her and they became good friends. Then I met her, and we became good friends. So, now we're all good friends. Isn't that nice. In spite of all this good friendliness, I don't have a single decent photograph of her, so I drew this nice picture instead.

Lou has two dogs, Lupa and Ripley. Ripley, the younger dog, is a pedigree German Short-haired Pointer, and has all the brains of a rock, while Lupa is a mongrel of indeterminate breed and has the intellect of a nuclear physicist (though in a doggie manner, of course). Ripley is, and always has been, annoying in a puppyish sort of a way, and though she seems to be calming down as she gets older, she doesn't seem to be growing any brains at all. In fact, she seems to be turning into a ruthless predator in the "Cujo" mould, alert to the entertainment possibilities of any wandering cats or wild fowl. Lupa (the clever one) is getting to be rather old and cranky now, but in her day she was a force to be reckoned with. She chased a mean stick and caught a mean frisbee, did our Lupa.

When I first knew her, Lou was an apprentice plumber, and at that time the only female apprentice plumber in the country. As time went by, she passed all her exams and got her ticket, winning prizes for getting the highest marks and generally being as clever as a clever thing. One would think that a company would like to have the country's top apprentice working for them once she came out of her time, but the ways of master plumbers are not as those of other men, and they fired her instead. Hey-ho. Lou went out into the big bad world to work for herself, and discovered that even if you work all the hours of the day, it does you no bloody good if no-one pays their bloody bills (which they didn't). Since she was too much of a softy to sic the bailiffs onto the deadbeats who weren't paying her, she spent most of her time doing a balancing act between the taxman, the landlord, and the vet (those dogs again!). A very stressful time for our poor Louie.

She moved back up to Auckland (where her father lives) and got a job as a postie, which she seemed to be enjoying just fine. She was still poor as a churchmouse though, so now she's moved back down to Christchurch. Hurrah! She's studying geography or something out at the University of Canterbury, so soon she'll be able to tell us how long we've got before New Zealand crashes into somebody else's continental shelf.