Thursday, 1 December 2022

Brave little cosmos

For days I've been watching a brave little cosmos battle with the elements in the garden.  It's my first flower of the season and I wasn't expecting to see any of its kind come into bloom for a few more weeks.  It's not fully grown, probably not even half grown but it's decided to do its own thing regardless.

Today it was once again being beaten badly by the wind and I just had to rescue it and bring it inside.  I think the Cabin Fever is getting at me, I've been talking to it every time I go to the kitchen and see it on the window sill.  You will have to take my word for it that it is smiling and telling me to be brave, I will be better soon. 

I read somewhere that about 40% of the population experience vertigo at some point in their lifetime so I can't pretend I'm Robinson Crusoe.  But it's a first for me and an experience I'm not enjoying.  I'm a bit of a homebody most of the time but now that I can't drive I think of lots of things I'd like to be doing that require a car trip, places I'd like to visit. 

On the bright side I've been overcome with kindness from strangers, I must get a "help me" look on my face when my world goes for a spin.  And I'm grateful that my family are so caring and helpful.  

And I'm lucky I have a brave little cosmos to inspire me.

On another topic, Blogger doesn't like me at the moment.  It's being choosy about on which blogs it will allow me to leave comments.  And sometimes it will let me comment but refuse to acknowledge who I am, insisting that I am Anonymous.   

Thursday, 17 November 2022

When on the wrong track

I don't know what started me off on the wrong track this morning, it could have been the dithering about what to sew today, which length of fabric to start with.  I've been sewing every day with left over scraps of material and a bunch of off cuts given to me by a friend, so I guess I've been relaxed about it.  My eyesight isn't what it used to be, neither is my brain.  Nothing I make bears close inspection but I've been doing OK.

It hasn't mattered if I stuffed something up but this morning I had two brand new lengths of material in front of me.  I must have got dizzy with excitement because from the moment I decided which piece to cut into everything went wrong.  I could probably write a thousand words on the various mistakes I made.  Suffice to say I am practically cross-eyed from so much unpicking of seams where they should not have been.

I should have known to stop after the second or third stuff up but no, muggins kept on keeping on until I realized that scream I'd uttered could have frightened the neighbours.

So I'm putting off preparing my dinner until I feel a bit more self assured and am going to sit and watch the cats.  It's a sad day when all I have to show for my day are pics of the cats.

The couch is covered with a sheet, there is a little towel in place where she usually sits but today she decides she needs all the pillows as well. Wish I felt as relaxed as Ally looks.

When one pillow won't do!

Don't ask me what Korbi finds so fascinating about my feet!

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Cracker night

While other fire brigades around the country were busy last night responding to fires caused by fireworks, our local brigade members were entertaining the community with a well supervised fireworks display which they provide free to all comers each year.  I can see why so many people want Guy Fawkes night celebrations and the accompanying fireworks banned.  There have been two major fires caused by fireworks.  One at Hawke's Bay Te Mata Peak overnight needed 10 fire trucks to extinguish it and the big one which started on Wednesday night involved four helicopters and two planes and about 50 firefighters and forced the evacuation of 130 people from a holiday park just north of Christchurch. 

Our fire brigade is run by unpaid volunteers, a great asset to a community which is located some distance from the nearest fire station.  Minutes are important in emergencies, aren't they?  I was happy to see community service flourishing  in our community with so many young volunteers amongst the members last nights. 

Ready for the bonfire.

This morning all is quiet again except for the occasional shout of "Howzat" from the cricketers at the sports oval off to the left of the bonfire site.

And in my home the toys look lonely after the little girl who played with them has gone.

Nights like that are so much more fun when shared with a little one.  I just love it when a little one comes into my house and knows where the toy box is, that gives me the warm fuzzies.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Ag Day

I last posted about Ag Day back in 2010 when my grandchildren were at school.  This annual event in rural schools has different titles depending on the location of the school - Calf Club, Country, Pet, Agriculture, Community Day.  The tiny school (I think there are fewer than 30 students) my g-g-daughter, Lexis, attends simply call it Ag Day.  It's like the Calf Club days when my children went to school.  Whereas some schools encourage children to take an active interest in the welfare and presentation of an animal of their choice, here it is about calves and lambs only, just like in the old days.

Ag Day was on Saturday.  It was a wonderful community gathering, we weren't the only family amongst the spectators that included uncles, aunts, grandparents, g-g-parents like me, family friends. With community support like that, it's easy to see why kids love going to school.

Little Lexis had a pet lamb and there was much consternation during the week when the lamb had a sore foot.  The cause of the limp was diagnosed and it was decided it wouldn't do any harm to allow it to take part.

The four children in the Junior Section waiting patiently and watching the Junior Calf entrants in the competition ring. Lexis in the black raincoat.  There was drizzly rain but it wasn't heavy enough to halt proceedings.  Look at that little boy with a calf almost as tall as he is, and a lot heavier.  His dad is standing by in case he is needed but the lad was well and truly in charge and a competent handler.


Looking a wee bit worried.  It's not easy in the judging ring when you know all eyes are on you.  Prizes aren't won just by animals that are well bred, although there is a section for just that.  They are also judged on the grooming of their pet and how it walks beside its human on a lead. The lamb on the lead, that is. Winning a prize is invariably about the hours the child has put in feeding, caring for and training their animal. 

A young aunt of another student offered to get closer to the action for a photo for me.  

Big smiles once it was all over.  They both did really well.
Students who aren't able to enter a calf or lamb are expected to participate by planting and tending a small contained garden such as a bee garden, fruit/vege garden or a herb garden.  There was some very creative thinking behind some of the containers on display.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Crazy cats

While chatting with my daughter about the entertaining behaviour of my cats, she remarked what a perfect pairing they were.  Considering how they came to be living together, I agree.

My Alleycat was a replacement for a little black kitten, one of my grand-daughter's Georgia's cat's first litter which she begged me to take.  She had been told that she should allow her cat to have one litter before having her neutered.  I think that idea has been debunked now and took no risk of letting the same fate befall the little black cat.  I was heartbroken when she died.

When my grandchildren felt I needed to replace her, I took two of them with me to the SPCA to help me choose but one glimpse of one kitten in particular and they had no say. When I'd visited Istanbul in 2015 I'd taken a photo of a stray kitten in an alley near a restaurant where I was having lunch and there, in my local SPCA was its doubleganger.  So Alleycat came home with us.  The staff at the SPCA didn't know her back story, only that she was scared of adults, particularly men.  Oh, how true!  Thankfully, she loves children.  While not at all keen on being stroked she likes to rub up against those she knows and recently even had a quick rub against my son's legs.  With children she's entirely different, will come running when she hears my g-g-daughter's voice and allows herself to be lifted and carted around in the most unbecoming fashion.

She avoids people.  The first time my neighbour fed the cats while I was away, she didn't lay eyes on Alley until the 14th day.  She's skittish and nervous.  Even after 6 years of gentle handling she will still scoot away from me if she hears a loud noise or there is a sudden movement.  But at other times she stretches out and is totally relaxed.

She will choose a favourite sleeping spot and stick to it religiously for a few weeks, then choose somewhere else.  Sometimes it's a place where she can hide herself, other times it's very public.  She avoided the spot in the photo above for weeks after I put a small towel down there to protect the couch cover.  Took her a while to come back to it.

She sometimes visits me during the night, jumps on to the bedside table and reaches over to touch my face with her nose.  If I move, she takes off like a rocket.  A couple of times when I've been asleep she's woken me by rubbing her face against my hand and has allowed me to very, very slowly lift my hand and tickle under her chin.  It has taken six years to get that far.   Any progress is progress, right?

When I was sick last year she'd sit on my bedroom dressing table for hours on end just looking at me.

She's a talker.  The loudest, most talkative cat I've ever come across.  If she hears my voice she assumes it's her I'm talking to and usually she is right but when I'm on the phone it is a proper nuisance.  When I'm talking to my oldest daughter she hears her voice and really goes bananas.  Leone has probably come closer than anyone to actually stroking her.

So, she sleeps a lot, she talks a lot - and she likes to open doors or drawers.  She knows which doors she can bat with her paws and eventually they will open a little and then there's no stopping her. 

This drawer in the bathroom often doesn't close completely and is proving an ongoing challenge.  I always have a laugh when she gives up and walks away, I swear she shoulders are slumped because once again there was nothing to see.

Her crazy companion is Korbi who came into Leone's family as her daughter, Jami's cat.  When Jami went to Wellington to university and Leone couldn't keep him he came to me "for the time being".  That was about 3 years ago.  He had been a city cat and settling into life on the farm was difficult for him.  I think he's much happier now we are living in the village.  On the other hand Alley has taken a long time to adjust to life here.

For the most part they ignore each other but have a little social time together around 7 pm each night when they have a little play fight and chase each other around for 5 - 10 minutes.  Alley always tires of it before Korbi does.  Korbi often tries a bit of male dominance although he should know by now that idea doesn't go down well with Alley. 
He's a handsome, very friendly fellow known to all the neighbours.   He walks like he owns the world, a real confident strut.  But he runs like an old plodder, if there is such a thing.  You can hear him coming when he's running, my hearing is not the sharpest but I can hear him coming up the steps.  And he's clumbsy, almost uncoordinated.  He gives the impression of being a thinker.  You can see what he's going to do next because he seems to be assessing the situation before he acts.  He'll look at the table, then look at me to see if I'm watching, I never catch him jumping up there but many times I come into the room and there he is.  
When he wants affection or brushing he stands beside my chair and looks steadily at me and the minute my hand moves to pat my knee he is there.  My g-g-daughter has learnt to pick up his brush and he will come to her.  He loves to be brushed which is just as well because that long hair can get untamed in no time.  He doesn't like to be picked up or carried by little ones like Alley does but will tolerate hours of gentle handling and stroking.

He sleeps on the floor at the foot of my bed - or in the bath or bathroom handbasin, depending on the weather.  He likes to be up high, keeping a look out. I don't think he has many other cat instincts. He's a hopeless hunter.  I've seen him with a mouse that Alley caught and honestly, he had no idea what to do with it.
Recently he has taken to jumping out windows.  The first time he did it I thought he had lost his balance while sitting on the window frame watching the world go by and I was very concerned as, like I said before, he is clumsy.  He doesn't like using the cat flap in the door, will stand beside it and scratch the door to get my attention to let him in or out.  I put that down to him making sure I know who is the servant around here.  I know my place, thank you, Mr Korbi.  

Lately, even with two doors wide open he has been using an open window to go out.  It just must be something he enjoys doing.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022


I think I've mentioned before that my son, Danny and his wife, Heather are converting an old cowshed (dairy) on the farm to a new home for themselves.  They are doing the work themselves with the help of a young carpenter at the weekends.    Wherever possible they are using materials from the farm, there's a lot of recycling happening. I think the only way to describe the style of the building is rustic.

When I called in last Saturday they were hanging the bedroom doors.  About 100 metres  away stands the source of the timber, a very old shed, now even worse for wear than previously.  If those wall boards had not been requisitioned they would eventually be in the same state of repair as the weather beaten end wall.  Goodness knows how long that little shed has stood there, now its missing parts will survive much longer.  Many of the internal walls come from an even older shed out the back of the farm.  Both were erected in the days when farmers used trees growing on the farm for their buildings.  Both are built from totara, a New Zealand native tree.  It is relatively slow growing, can live for 1,000 years, reaching 30 metres high and 2-3 metres in diameter.  One of my favourite trees.

In the bathroom the steel framing that once housed the milking machine motors, now holds the hand basin. 

On another wall of the bathroom the vat wash switch remains.  Along with note to milk tanker drivers to turn it on when they leave.  The bathroom was formerly the room that housed the milk vat.

 Here's Farmer Dan working on his side hustle.  Danny and Heather are known to enjoy entertaining, hence the party lights.  Their bbq area has already been decided.  Priorities - right?

We plan to have our Christmas family gathering at the shed house.  My other son, Bernie who lives in Brasil, his partner, Roberta and little daughter, Emilia will be with us.  I can't wait to hold and hug that child.  Take this as advance warning - there will be a deluge of little Emilia photos appearing here in 11 weeks or so.  But who's counting?

Friday, 7 October 2022


There must be something about early October that makes me more impatient and intolerant with newsreaders.

I first vented my spleen about the mis-use of our language by newsreaders in October, 2009 and even then I noted that every day I understand it less.  I was first told I had antiquated views on the use of English over 30 years ago and nothing has changed. 

What pulled my chain this time?  It was a few nights ago, on the sports section of The News.  I might not have shouted at the TV had it been on a sports programme, although that is doubtful to be honest.  The newsreader in her star struck admiration for the Black Ferns (New Zealand's women's rugby team) informed the public that they had been "kicking arse" around the world.  I kid you not.  Have we no standards at all left in this country?  I suppose I should be thankful that at least she had expressed herself clearly.

I don't know what riles me the most.  That sort of reporting on the news or how I have trouble understanding what is being said in general. 

I have a file on my laptop titled "Gobblygook by Pollyanna" where I take note of our prime minister's often used expressions.

My favourite (meaning I like it least) is "I reject the premise of that question/subject/theory"  Somehow that also means subject closed.

 Never, ever do I understand what follows any of these -

"What I would say is ...    

We're working on that.

We're looking at that.

We are looking at the options

There is more to come in that space.

It's complex. 

We've been very clear."

I really am starting to think it's just me.  I can't believe the words I long to hear are just a simple "yes" or "no".  I just want people to say what they mean and mean what they say.  How hard can it be?

Pretty hard by the look of it.  I would expect that government departments would have people who can communicate clearly.  Yet the top finalists for poor communication at 2022 Plain Language Awards went to public services. (

People’s Choice — Worst Brainstrain Communication

  • Finalist: Internal Affairs | Births, Deaths, and Marriages (BDM) — Application to register a name change webpage and application form
  • Finalist: Work and Income — Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme: who can get it webpage

There is hope. There are the good people from the Plain Language Awards who care about these things.  They want to see plain language as the norm in government and business communication. 

Long may they prosper.

Friday, 16 September 2022


At least I think they are bluebells.

Last time Leone was here weeding my garden we wondered what some little shoots were, thought about pulling them out thinking they were weeds but decided to wait and see.

This is my third spring here and I haven't had them before so they have made their own way into my garden to brighten my days.  Thank you, whichever neighbour planted them in the first place.  I hope they are flourishing in your garden, too.

 A comment yesterday by Margaret reminded me about the legend of Mt Taranaki.

In Māori legend, Taranaki is a mountain being that lived peacefully for many centuries in the centre of New Zealand's North Island with three other mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
Nearby stood Mount Pihanga. Covered in a cloak of deep green forest she presented a stunning sight and all the mountain gods were in love with her.
Taranaki dared to make advances to Pihanga and was reproached by Tongariro and a mighty battle ensued between them. The earth shook and the sky became dark as the mountains belched forth their anger. When the battle ended the lovely Pihanga stood close by Tongariro's side. Taranaki, wild with grief and jealously, angrily wrenched his roots from the ground and left the other mountains.
Weeping, he plunged towards the setting sun, gouging out a deep wide trench. When he reached the sea he turned north and stumbled up the coast. As he slept that night the Pouakai Ranges snared and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.
The next day a stream of clear water sprang from the side of Tongariro. It flowed down the deep scar Taranaki had left on his journey to the coast to form the Whanganui River.
There are those who say that Taranaki is silently brooding and will one day try to return inland again to fight Tongariro. Consequently many Māori were wary of living in the area between the mountains.
Love that legend and personally think little Mount Pihanga needed her head read, she should have just run off with Taranaki, he was much more handsome anyway, rather than causing all that trouble.  Then again, maybe she enjoyed the attention.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Back to some warmth

If it weren't so cold in winter, I'd like to live in or near New Plymouth in Taranaki.  I visit my daughter and her family there often and never tire of the place.

Of all Taranaki's attractive features, Mt Taranaki takes pride of place and he was out in all his glory the day I arrived for this visit.  I'm lucky to have an obliging daughter who doesn't mind stopping the car on the way to her place for me to get a photo.  Not everyone, of course, gets that view on their way home but it is one of the reasons she and her husband wanted to build their home where they did. 

New Plymouth is proud of its art galleries and picturesque parks.  I had lunch with an old work mate one day last week in Pukekura Park which covers 52ha (128 acres) right in the heart of the city. 

In 2021 New Plymouth was awarded the most liveable city (for a population between 75,000-150,000) by the International Awards for Liveable Communities, an award they also received in 2008.  I'm not a natural city person, I don't like crowds but I do love New Plymouth.

I couldn't count the number of photos I've taken of Mt Taranaki in the years my daughter has lived there. 

From my bedroom window the mountain is out of sight behind the trees on the left of the shot below but I have a clear view of the mountain ranges.  I like to draw the curtains as soon as I wake and lay in bed looking at the many moods of the ranges.  Believe me, it has many moods.  In this shot the clouds have taken possession of the hightest peaks.


At other times the clouds take over everything.  That's when I shiver and stay in bed a little longer.  

There was a fresh dump on snow on mountain while I was there.  I was very late getting out of bed that morning.

Right now I'm happy to be home in the north warming up a bit, enjoying the colours of spring.

Friday, 9 September 2022

Piano practise

I wonder ...

What will today's seven year olds remember of this historic day?  This morning my eleven year old grandson, a very bright boy, looked a little lost when he heard his father and I talking about the death of the queen.  We elaborated the Queen of England had died.  He didn't look any the wiser.  A reminder of how much times have changed.  I'm looking forward to hearing from him what impact that news had on today's lessons. 

This aged person (I nearly called myself an aged queen but resisted) recalls so clearly walking to school and hearing the girl next door playing God Save the King, slowly and solemnly on the piano.  Usually Angela would be practising the piano when I walked past their house, so I was accustomed to hearing music.  But this was so unusual, such a change from the usual tunes, and we had been drilled to stand to attention when we heard what was then our national anthem, that I stopped and stood tall, listening, staring towards the open window of the Carroll home.  The piano stood beside a window on the front of the house.  Someone came out the front door and told me the King had died.  

I can't remember who it was that gave me the news.  Probably Mary who was my age, heading off to school as I was.  But I can remember being confused, not knowing what I should do, what was the appropriate behaviour.

No doubt in the future I will remember just as clearly listening to the midnight news in bed last night, hearing that the royal family was gathering at Balmoral and then hearing the sad news in bed this morning.  That makes it easy, doesn't it?  If anyone asks, in the future, where were you when ... my explanation will be simple...

It's just dawned on me that when the deaths of the great/famous have interrupted my mundane life I've heard the news in different places.  Never twice in the same place.  John F Kennedy - on holiday in Maroochydore, a boyfriend who had walked the shops to pick up some milk came back with the news (The boyfriend is long forgotten - Ivan someone), in Mt Isa, North West Queensland on the radio while preparing dinner (Martin Luther King), I was breastfeeding the daughter I am now visiting when I saw on the TV News that Elvis Presley had died, doing the ironing on a Sunday afternoon in Proserpine, North Queensland (Princess Diana) and now in bed in Taranaki.

RIP Queen Elizabeth



Saturday, 20 August 2022

Seven day difference

What a difference a week makes.

The seven days since these two photos were taken have been nothing like that day, last Sunday.  For me staying warm and dry at home listening to the rain on the roof and not looking outside much, it's just been a bit cold and dreary.  But for thousands of Kiwis in the Far North and south of the North Island and the west and north of the South Island it's been a time of nightmares with thousands forced to evacuate their homes to escape floods and the associated dangers of landslides, fallen trees, etc.

 Early morning

 Just around the corner, a bit further up the Whangarei Harbour at One Tree Point

I've spent the week preparing for Christmas, hand making gifts.  Yes, you heard me correctly, I'm fired up for the festive season.   My creative juices were ignited (can you ignite a juice?) the minute I heard my little Brazilian grand-daughter will be here for Christmas.  Well, not immediately, I spent days in a happy daze first.  Children and Christmas are inextricably linked. Christmas without little children is like the night sky without the stars.  Still lovely but with less twinkle.

Monday, 8 August 2022

Whare Tapu Taonga

On Friday I went to town to have a look at the Whare Tapu Taonga exhibitiion which I'd read about in the local paper.  Even with my limited knowledge of the Maori language I know Whare means house, Tapu is sacred and Taonga is treasure or anything highly prized, a pretty good description of a church. 

Anyone who has known me for a while knows that for years I've had a love affair with the small, old wooden churches of the north where I live.  So it was a thrill to see an exhibition of black and white photos of these churches by Laurence Aberhart, using an antique Korona view camera, last commercially manufactured in the 1930s.  I was particularly pleased to notice that some of my favourite churches have been lovingly restored and cared for since Mr Aberhart's visit. 

An example of that is the Ripeka Tapu Church, sitting right beside the Hokianga Harbour at Rangi Point, Waiparera on its northern edge. It was the first Anglican church to be built in the Hokianga in the 1870s. 

 photo by Laurence Aberhart
When GB and I visited it had just had a fresh coat of paint and was a very welcome sight after a long drive on a rough road.
It was badly in need of attention inside but it's humble wooden walls and ceilings really appealed to me.  Perhaps it was the light from the lovely windows that added a special glow.









Monday, 1 August 2022

Psalm of Life

You know how something gets into your head and just won't go away?  It's so annoying.  I sometimes think it's worse if it's a tune.  No, I used to think it was worse if it was a tune.  Now I know there is nothing as annoying as a few words which keep repeating when you know they aren't right but that they mean something.  Or would mean something if you could just get it right.

It started after I'd had a very late night watching the cycling at the Commonwealth Games.  After laying in bed for a few minutes after I woke the following morning, not really wanting to get out of bed, telling myself I couldn't stay there all, then arguing with myself that I could if I so chose but probably shouldn't.  And who would care anyway?  Whose business was it but my own?  I finally said to myself, "OK, then, let's be up and doing."  Then thought, "No, that's not right.  But what should it be?"  Those few words annoyed me for two days.  Every time I went to do anything I'd tell myself to "Let's be up and doing."

Finally I handed the question over to Mr Google who, it turns out, can be quite reluctant to provide you with good information when you feed him  rubbish to start with.  Or rubbish with which to start, I'm not feeling argumentative.

I finally found it as a line in Wordsworth's 'Psalm of Life', but am unconvinced that's where I got it from because I swear I've never heard of that poem, let alone read it.  The only work I associate with Wordsworth is the 'Wreck of the Hesperus' and then only because that is something we used to say as children about ourselves or someone else who looked a bit dishevelled.  The nuns must have reasoned that if were going to use that term, then we should know where it came from.  That totally took away any satisfaction we had in using such a descriptive phrase.  I'm pretty sure we didn't study Wordsworth in any depth.

So, I read the poem and have re-read it many time over the past couple of days and have fallen in love with the correct words.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.
And in particular, this verse.

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time.
Footprints on the sands of time.  Love that.