Friday, 25 February 2011

FSO - From the Hip

I thought this would be a lot of fun when I saw this topic.  I even started practising last weekend.  But then disaster hit New Zealand and sad news reached my family (not from Christchurch).  During the week I lost all enthusiasm for getting out and about and was going to flag participating this week.  But when I got home from work I gave myself a bit of a talking to, not so successful that I went out looking with my camera but enough to get me to lift the camera and wander around the house.

I took 168 photos and managed to find a few passable shots amongst them.  Shooting from the hip is a fun (if a bit hit and miss) thing to do, I will try it again when I'm feeling a bit more perky.

So, here we go.  A couple of bags sitting on the table after I'd unloaded the groceries.

This one made me laugh.

 It was meant to be this.  Got it eventually!

The hot weather fan:

A basket of toys awaiting visits from my new grandson.  (Apologies to the red rabbit for the unflattering angle but worse things will no doubt happen to it before it moves to the other basket of much loved toys the of the older grandchildren.)

I even took a photo of the 'inner sanctum'.  I really don't like plastic flowers.  Those who know me well know this.  I often think of a role playing exercise where I worked years ago.  Can't remember what the topic was but it was something about listening to others' ideas and valuing the input of the team.  During the exercise a girl I worked with suggested we put some plastic flowers on the reception desk, then sat back with a bit smirk on her face while I did my best to pretend that was a valuable suggestion.   To her delight, I was not very successful!  Anyway, these flowers that I keep by my bed were given to me by my twin granddaughters for my 60th birthday.   They were 6 years old and so proud of their gift that I now think of them as my treasures.

I'm looking forward to what the rest of the team has found 'from the hip' this week.  Just pop over here to have a look.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The day the earth roared

Today is a very sad day for New Zealand.  Everyone knows someone who has been effected by the earthquake that hit Christchurch yesterday.  A work colleague’s husband has gone to counsel the families of the dead and survivors. 

Skilled rescue services are arriving from around the world, there is a feeling that the world is with us.  My thoughts are too scattered to write but this is an account of a survivor on

With no warning the earth roared and shook us ferociously. Like my colleagues in the features department of Christchurch newspaper The Press, I dived under my desk. 

I'm a music critic and as we shook and my mind's eye flashed images of my four children I was pelted with CDs including, ironically, an Underworld album. 

The same thing happened to me on September 4, I was even hit by the exact same CD, but this was completely different and a much more visceral and potently deadly quake. 

Halfway through the 6.3 quake I wanted to see if my colleagues were OK so stupidly stuck my head out from under my desk only to be hit by a piece of roof. I said "F**k!" at the top of my lungs and it was drowned out by the sound of our building falling down around us. 

Across the room from under their desk someone was yelling "yahoo" like it was a fun ride.
I was certain we were all going to die. Things seemed to be happening slowly but quickly at the same time. 

I had a fight over something stupid with my partner before I left for work.  Just a few short hours later all I hoped was that I would have the opportunity to see him and hold him again. Running late, I had given my children a quick peck before leaving. I wondered if it would be my last memory of them. 

After what seemed like forever the shaking stopped and my colleagues emerged and checked each other. 

"Get out," screamed one, "stay where you are," said another. 

Somehow I had the presence of shaken mind to dig out my handbag and cellphone from the rubble. 

We walked down the back stairs which were OK, as we left I looked to my right. All I could see of the busy newsroom was the roof of the three-storied building. No people in sight. I had just walked through there 10 minutes prior. 

A split second decision to answer an email instead of having a cigarette break probably saved my life. 

Outside the inner CBD looked like a war zone. Outside on the street strangers were holding each other and crying and gazing bewildered at the gutted ghetto surrounding us. 

The Press' incredible fashion editor, Kate Fraser, 70, and I linked arms. I tried to tell myself it was for her benefit but she was steadying me. 

I saw colleagues crying, people covered in blood. We congregated in a spot left empty by the September 4 quake. 

The editor, Andrew Holden, a strong and stoic man, kissed me on the cheek and as he did so I saw he had tears in his eyes. 

His usually immaculate suit bore a smudge of dust on one shoulder. 

He wanted me to sit with his partner and their small baby while she breastfed, so I did so while simultaneously trying to txt my partner and parents with no luck. 

A male colleague who is always immaculately dressed and who speaks like a BBC newsreader had clearly been so frightened that he had wet himself. 

For some inexplicable reason it was this sight that made me realise the enormity of what we had experienced. 

The naked desperation and fear we all felt was manifest on his pants. 

Phone systems were overloaded so I couldn't reach my loved ones. 

It was the same for everyone, people compared phones, shared phones, chainsmoked, stood on rubble with heads at funny angles hoping for reception. 

Telecom - no, Vodafone - sometimes and 2 degrees most successful. Sometimes it would ring once and my hopes would shoot sky high before overloading would cut me off and my heart would start to beat like there were 1000 hummingbirds trapped in my chest. 

In the 17-storey PriceWaterhouse Coopers building across from us people appeared to be trying to escape by throwing makeshift ropes out the windows and shimmying down them. 

All the while enormous aftershocks hit us every five minutes. Each time they were accompanied by mournful screaming and sirens. 

After standing together for an hour it suddenly dawned on me through a traumatised fog that the blue blankets on the street opposite us were covering bodies. 

A gas leak in the street behind us meant a move to Hagley Park. 

Standing on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets and seeing the Cathedral crumpled like a toy was a heart in mouth moment. 

Around me people hungrily snapped photographs mindless of the blanket-covered bodies. I felt physically sick at the sight of these voyeurs and vowed not to take a single picture myself. 

A tourist wheeling a luggage bag said that she was in the Cathedral at 12.30. Her hotel has split in two, she doesn't know what to do and neither do we so we walk, dodging blood-covered bricks and weird liquefaction. 

We walk en masse down the middle of the glass-strewn street, strangers united by fear accompanied by dust swirling, sirens wailing and military helicopters circling. I felt like I was on a movie set and that Bruce Willis would surely appear around the next corner. 

With each aftershock strangers clung to each other, some prayed. Others, like me, blasphemed and swore at the ground. 

I found myself hoping that international musicians Amanda Palmer and the Melvins were OK.
Thank goodness the council spent all that money on the Ellerslie Flower Show, for greeting us at Hagley Park is a giant marquee perfect for the frightened and displaced. 

Hagley Golf Course looks like Rotorua with its liquefaction. A group of Japanese golfers were laughing, pointing and smoking around it. 

On Riccarton Road we enter a darkened dairy. We buy essentials - chocolate, water and cigarettes - while the dairy owner argues with a  passing structural engineer as to the soundness of the building, half of which is lying on the road. 

In one street students have pulled their couches and TV into the middle of the street and are cracking open stubbies and sharing marijuana with their shaking neighbours. 

At 9am my footwear choice of leopard print stilettos seemed fun, by 3pm I was in a stranger's house begging for jandals. 

Between 1pm and 4.30pm I tried to call my partner nearly 500 times but couldn't get through.
Unbelievably the only txt I got was from someone in Auckland telling me the show by Michael Jackson impersonator Kenny Whizz had been cancelled because of the earthquake. 

That txt made me cry. 

Then, after three and a half hours of fear, a txt arrived from my partner Matt saying: "We OK xxx".
Turns out he had been driving with my three small children - twins Travis and Finn, 3, and Hollie, 2 - on the way to Lyttelton when the quake hit. Lurching across the road their car had ended up in a hole in the road. 

The car's electrics failed so they were trapped inside until he crawled out a half-open window and a passing truckie helped get the car out and Matt was able to drive them all to his mum's house in Beckenham. 

My immense relief turned to horror, however, when a text at 4.30pm from Matt revealed that my eldest daughter, Lily, 11, was not with them. 

Having tried the South New Brighton school for some hours I texted neighbours and friends for clues as to her whereabouts. 

With the bridge to South New Brighton out and no car I had no way of getting to her. 

My best friend texted that her husband had tried to collect Lily with their son but the teacher wouldn't let her go with him. 

She says Lily was shaking and hysterical with fear. 

For the first time I howl like a baby. My work colleagues Dave and Christine Armstrong, their inner city apartment destroyed by the quake leaving them with just the clothes on their backs, hugged and reassured me. 

Five minutes later I am whooping with joy when my friend and neighbour Pennie says she has Lily with her. 

She is there now and my heart aches that I can't hold and comfort her through these terrifying aftershocks. 

I managed to be reunited with my partner and small children around six and a half hours after the disaster struck. 

My house is uninhabitable but I don't give a toss about the material crap it holds. My children are alive. They're alive!! 

On Facebook my friends advise they are OK but there are many I can't contact and I am fearful for their lives. 

The list of the missing on the Stuff website contains a number of people I know. I couldn't read all the way through that list, however, because I am struck numb by the base humanity and palpable fear the list silently offers alongside the names. 

With the power cut off, my extended family - eight in a two-bedroom unit in the suburbs - were unaware of just how bad the city had been hit. 

I couldn't tell them what I had seen and what I feared for my colleagues and fellow Cantabrians trapped in the rubble. 

My heart hurt too much. When the power came on I watched their faces as they saw the carnage on the news and, one by one, they hugged me solemnly. 

To just hear the numbers you would assume a 6.3 would be nothing compared to a 7.1 but as newly-schooled geologists, Canterbury residents know the difference proximity to the city and the shallowness of the quake can make is vast. 

On the news stupid journalists asked people freed from death's clutches "how they were feeling" and seemed more interested in having an accurate body count than sensitively and respectfully telling the stories of those affected by what may well be New Zealand's darkest and most destructive minute. 

The toll-counters say 69 people have died but I saw easily 30 bodies in the streets, and believe it is more likely that hundreds have been killed. 

If you have lost a soul you loved and treasured, I send you my love for I know that turgid feeling in the pit of your stomach and how the pain burns. 

Tears are rolling down my face as I write this. 

This disaster seems unspeakably cruel coming as it does just when we felt slightly more secure and positive about our city's future. 

When the earthquake hit I had just started writing something on Lyttelton for The Press' 150 Reasons to Love Canterbury series and now the historic and tight-knit small community of Lyttelton, my favourite place in Christchurch, is all but flattened according to friends there. 

I feel traumatised and I haven't experienced a tenth of the pain of some in this city.
I can't sleep tonight, I am just too frightened. I have survived two major earthquakes in six months. Third time unlucky? I don't want to find out. 

And while my children sleep I am on the couch writing this by the light of a miner's headlamp belonging to my sister-in-law. I'm wearing my mother-in-law's dressing gown and my leopard heels. 

Every few minutes an aftershock hits and the adrenalin and fear rise in my throat, my heart races and the house rocks like a dingy adrift on a mysterious geological storm. 

I don't know how we're going to be able to pick ourselves up from this. When it started to rain it seemed like the final straw. The sky is crying for Christchurch, a friend posted on Facebook. 

Here we all cry, make pleas with unknown forces, and sit wide-eyed and fully clothed huddled in darkness waiting for the reassuring dawn when the turbulence somehow seems less menacing. 

February 22, today, is my mother's birthday. Yesterday morning I had grand designs for her gift, now I would simply like to see her face. And I don't know how I'm going to do it but I am going to get my daughter Lily to me. 

Fumbling around for a book to read before writing this I found a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, tripping over the corner of the couch it fell open to this quote: "With hue like that when some great painter dips his pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse." 

New Zealand, we need you to have our back on this one. We don't need insensitive journalism and voyeuristic pictures of our dead. 

We do need decisive leadership - on the radio at 3pm Mayor Bob Parker's comment that he couldn't declare a state of emergency was met with jeers of derision from the affected. That said I don't want to give Bob a hard time, kudos to him for stepping up again. Maybe, though, it's too much for one man to be expected to lead us through another disaster like this? 

New Zealand we need you to have our backs. Aside from practical support which we thank you for, we need you to understand how draining and anxiety-causing these aftershocks are. We need you to give us your strength, kindness and support to help us get through this anxiety-ridden time. 

Wherever you live, whatever you do, hold your loved ones close, tell the people you care about what they mean to you, and please, no matter where you are in New Zealand, pack your survival kit - I used to watch those ads and think they didn't apply to me too. 

Life is fragile. I stood on the edge of the abyss and peered into the darkness today. 

People of New Zealand, let your love be our light now. 

And, Lily, if you can read this I will cuddle away your fears today no matter what honey, mummy will come get you and keep you safe. Be brave my darling... I love you. 

Thank you to the many blogging friends who have send kind, loving thoughts to our country.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

More horror for Christchurch

I am totally unequipped to express my horror as I sit and listen to the tragedy unfolding in Christchurch right now.

Just before one pm  this afternoon the city was hit by a major aftershock (6.3 magnitude). This was centred at Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

It was followed less than 15 minutes later by a 5.7 magnitude aftershock, depth of 6km, 10km south of Christchurch.

Since then there have been another shock of 5.5. It was also recorded within 5km of Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

Imagine! I've never felt a earthquake so I don't think I can possibly imagine the horror.

Photo / Blake Harlton 
photo courtesy of from NZ Herald, Blake Harlton

Fatalities have been reported at several locations and two buses have been crushed by falling buildings.  Power is cut to 80% of the city.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch. 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Just practising

I was woken this morning by The Boys giving throat to some perceived threat.  I love the deep, deep rumble the bulls make, it seems to come from so deep within them and often sounds so mournful. 

I looked out my bedroom window to see what was going on and one of The Boys all but had his head in my garden.   He was standing about three paces from my window, no wonder he sounded so loud.  I decided, after a quick look around that there was no-one in sight, so grabbed the camera and crept outside in my bedclothes.

I’ve never tried ‘shooting from the hip’ before.  I have enough trouble producing decent photos putting some thought into it.  But that is the topic of this Fridays My Town Shoot Out so I decided to put in some practise. 

With the camera at hip height I fired off a few shots.  He just stood there and gazed at me.  

bull feb 2011

I really enjoy having these guys as neighbours. 

Another of my grand-daughters has decided she wants a blog.  I’m pretty sure her only motivation is that her twin sister has one, and neither of them has any idea what blogging is all about, I doubt if either of them will stick at it.  Shayde might as she is developing an interest in photography but is having a few difficulties understanding the technology.
Anyway, we set up Krystal’s blog yesterday.  She couldn’t think of a title so I just put in the word verification, singstrel.   She likes music and singing (like most 12 year olds, I guess), so that will do for now. 

Friday, 18 February 2011

FSO - Twisted. Curly. Contorted. Wound Spirally.

A regular sight around the farm are electric fence standards.  Take a bunch of standards, push the staked ends into the ground, repeat every few yards until you have a fence line,  attached one end of a length of wire to an existing fence, thread the other end through the curly ends, attach it to a power source and wallah, an instant fence, which is well respected by animals.   So well respected that sometimes the fence does not even have to be ‘alive’ and the animals will stay away from it.

elec fence

My passionfruit vine is really thriving, producing loads of scrumptious fruit at the moment.  But it still has plenty of energy for producing little tendrils in search of something else to attach themselves to:

As they unwind, they reach out to find a host.

It doesn't seem that long ago that where there is now fruit, there were these beautiful flowers:

Yap, I pretty well love everything about my passionfruit vine.

During the week I thought I had lost my camera.  I went through several days in a state of mild panic trying, trying, trying to remember when I had last used it.  Today I found it.  Hanging in a bag behind the door in my office at work. 

Anyway, the point is, I haven't been out looking for subjects for this topic.   I've been looking for my camera.
So this afternoon I've been looking around for things to fit the bill.

I stumbled on the vacuum cleaner hose. 


Sitting in the paddock beside my house is an unsightly power pole with some serious attachments.  Or maybe that a serious power pole with some unsightly attachments.  Plenty of twisted, curly bits there.

Finally, I thought, that is it, I don't have all day to do this.  I sat down to post this and in doing so noticed, just above eye level, right in front of me, a little container I use to hold pens and pencils.  There's also a paint brush, a nail file and a small  pair of scissors.

And when I looked to see what else might be in there, I found a little sewing thimble that I've been looking for for ages.  Yes, I am having trouble with my memory lately!

I wonder how the rest of the team got on?  Just pop over here to find out.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Just a moth

Inspired by Doreen’s quote at My Reflections as I shutter along, yesterday I paused before catching a moth that was sitting on the window and throwing it outside, and had a careful look at it.

"For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it.
For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it."
~ Ivan Panin ~

I believe there is beauty everywhere but sometimes we have to stop and really look before we will find it.  But sometimes I forget. 

I’m so glad that yesterday I remembered and caught it and placed it under a glass on the bench to have a good look at it.  It was just an ordinary little moth and for a little while I thought it was dead.  But I think it was just ‘playing possum’.  I asked Georgia to get my camera and pass it to me before removing the glass. 

And look how lovely it is, this ordinary little moth.  Thanks for reminding me, Doreen.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Lucy at the Paddock

Yesterday afternoon my friend Chris brought her niece Lucy to visit the Paddock.  Lucy is daughter of Aussie blogger, Bev at Kainga Happenings.   It was Bev who piqued my interest in blogging after Chris directed me to her blog and she helped me across some early hurdles.  And now, I’ve met Lucy and had her to visit before I’ve met Bev.  One day, huh, Bev?

Lucy didn’t have her camera with her but here’s the proof, Bev.

lucy in paddock

Before we headed off for a walk to the creek we called at the cow shed to watch my daughter-in-law milking the cows.  Yes, would you believe it, this gem milks the cows while my son plays golf!!  Sorry Lucy looks so pale, it was very glarey and I don't think she wanted to move closer to those 'smelly cows'.  

It was a lovely afternoon for a walk, the worst of the heat was gone from the day but it was still lovely and sunny.  Georgia came with us and we met up with Krystal and Shayde having a swim in the creek.  Georgia's little dog Sammy attacking a possum in the bank of the creek was a bit of a distraction and as we returned we saw Jack, the big farm dog, polishing off the fruits of Sammy's courage - not something you want to see a photo of, believe me!

Georgia led us off around the bends of a creek to show us where the hedgehogs are but we didn't venture that far.   Tramping through long, long grass over uneven ground wasn't really the order of the day in our inappropriate footwear.  

It saddened me to see the flood damage along the creek.  A light moment was seeing a round green object in the distance that isn't usually there and asking Georgia what it was, to be informed it was a water trough that had been washed down from the neighbours in the flood and her adding "It's ours now!"  Not much of a bargain considering my son's bridge had been knocked over and washed away by  the  thoughtless actions of the same neighbour who had cut down trees along the creek bank and left them there.  When the flood came it picked them all up and washed them downstream, taking out the bridge. 

I was shocked by the alligator weed clogging up parts of the creek.  This plant is such a pest!  Because it can grow in water, alligator weed threatens our creeks by clogging them, increasing sedimentation and the risk of further flooding.  It is one of the world’s worst weeds. Native to South America, alligator weed was accidentally introduced to New Zealand in the 1880s from ballast water discarded from ships. Since then it has spread through much of Northland.

My dog Lewey thought is was quite a playground.  He went in to investigate and all but dissapeared before finally emergering unscathed from his adventure.

He's looking quite old, isn't he?  Probably because he's 14-15 years old, but he still enjoys his farm walks. 

Here are a few other shots I took during our walk:
 The dairy herd after milking

And, finally, a shot of Chris and Lucy walking along the farm race.  I'm amused by how Chris is striding along, quite used to farm tracks, and Lucy is looking very carefully at the ground in front of her, watchful for fresh cow pats and other such objectionables.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

It’s not cricket.

Depending on the season we rural dwellers are visited by various insects each summer.  Where I live, this year the flies are bad during the day and night time brings even more unwelcome little visitors. 

When my English visitors were here a couple of weeks ago, we had an invasion of little click beetles.  They are tiny, between 7.1 and 9 mm long and only about 2 mm wide.   If one lands on its back, it is able to use a click mechanism between the two parts of its shell to jump up to 30 cm, thus righting itself, making an audible, and very annoying, click.   (Another name for them is Skipjacks.) I’d rather have the windows and doors open than turn on a fan but am learning to close them before dark.  These beetles are so tiny they seem to get into the house wherever there is a light on.   So if you don’t want any of their antics in your bedroom as you sleep, it pays to close the windows, draw the curtains and close the door before dark, then prepare for bed without turning on the bedroom light.

I think my niece would not be at all a happy camper if she were here now.   This has recently turned into a bumper year for crickets as well.   Actually,  I don’t mind the click beetles too much, as long as I can keep them out of my bedroom.  

But the crickets are a different story altogether. 

I don’t know why but I like my bedroom door to be open when I’m asleep.  Probably comes from the days of needing to hear if a child woke in the night, or if my youngest was up and at her sleep walking tricks.
And for the past three nights I been woken by the chirp of crickets coming from the kitchen.  

When I first arrived in NZ , I saw first hand the damage they do to grasslands.  These are black field crickets and they are a problem to farmers in Northland, Auckland, parts of Taranaki, and Hawke’s Bay. Eggs are laid in moist soil from February to May, and nymphs (immature adults) emerge from November to January. Adults appear from February and live for two or three months. They inhabit cracks in the soil and eat surrounding crowns of grasses, which usually die. During long drought periods the growing crowns of grasses are attacked; this often kills the plants and leaves the soil open to weed invasion.   When they invade, they can leave a paddock of what was lovely pasture totally denuded.  

So I don’t like them.  And anything that interrupts my sleep automatically goes on my enemy list.  For the past few nights I’ve stalked the noisemakers.  The minute I turn on a light they stop but if I leave it on and go back to bed, they must get accustomed to it and start up again.   I creep down the hall in the dark and listen carefully but always, when I get two steps from the fridge, they stop.  They must have extremely sharp hearing because my creep has been getting slower and slower, almost to the point where I drop off back to sleep between steps.  But still they hear me!

Today I decided I’d had enough, the crickets had to go.  Not wanting to disturb them, every ten minutes or so I moved the fridge out from the wall by about an inch.  So that I wouldn’t forget my vendetta I defrosted the fridge at the same time.  The deep freeze part at the bottom of the fridge really did need doing!  I thought if there was constant movement in the kitchen they would get used to it and may not get any hint of their impending doom. 

I had the fridge almost  completely away from it’s usual position before I spotted them.  Only two of them!  I thought there were a whole colony or whatever it is that crickets come in.  

Let me assure you, I had intended to be humane.  But they were too far apart, if I’d caught one the other would have escaped.  They may not be outside now cheeping away but their end was quick.  

They looked just like this – only flatter!
Black Field Cricket
Photo courtesy of Kiwicare website.

Friday, 11 February 2011

FSO–Frame your Photo

Back in December Rebecca, who shares her photography genius with us occasionally, hinted that we could add interest to your photos by framing them before we take them.  She suggested we could use the environment to create a frame for our subjects.

I’ve been practising and occasionally “get” it.

The beach framed by the path that leads to it.  I was aiming to frame the small figure at the water edge but I think the frame is a little out of proportion for that.

Here are a few others:




framed in sand
 And one more that didn’t really work.  I wanted to frame the fishermen with the children playing.  I crouched as low as I could but to do it successfully would have had to lay on my stomach on the wet sand.  Whales have been stranded on this beach and I didn’t want to alarm the locals!

2 kids feb 11

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the FSO team got on this week.  Just go here if you'd like to see, too.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


You know I have a one week old grandson, right?

I swear I till try not to be one of those grandmothers who goes on ... and on ... and on about their grandchild BUT...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The passionfruit are ripe!  I've been watching the vine get more and more loaded and wondering when the fruit would ripen. 

First came the flowers - lots and lots of them, a sign of a good crop to come.

And then the promise was delivered - lots of fruit:
But, to me, they seemed slow to ripen.  I wondered if perhaps the recent storms and heavy rain had knocked them around too much.
But today we spotted the first ripe fruit:

Absolutely delicious!  Nothing better on a hot summer's day than a few passionfruit! 

It was cooler this morning with a heavy fog down along the road and I was thinking summer may be drawing to a close.  But my daughter posted on Facebook some wonderful summer fun photos, proof that summer is still here.

Oh, oh, that may not have ended well:

Great shots, Leone.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Begone, you sniffles

My friend Chris remarked this morning when she asked would I like to come over to her place for lunch and a beach walk, that I always seem to get the sniffles at this time of year.  I hadn’t really noticed it before but it’s true I do.  I usually brush it off like I did this morning with, “I have a bit of the sniffles” and think no more about it.  But, thanks to Chris, I now realize that something in the air at this time of year turns me into a sniffler.   And I’ve now decided it’s something here on the farm.  I was a sniffling mess all morning but decided to join Chris and her niece Lucy for lunch anyway and go for a beach walk. 

It’s amazing what I notice once my attention has been drawn to something.  I gave my nose a good working out before leaving home and had to stop once down the road a bit for another blow out.  To hell with being delicate, these sniffles are the full on runny nose my aunt used to talk about when I was a child.  (My Aunty Jo once told me she didn’t want to name her son Brian because the only Brian in her class at school always had a runny nose.)

The reason for my sniffles must be very local to the farm.  I suspect it’s something up in the forest.  And it’s worse in the mornings.  Once I had travelled about 10 kms from home, the sniffles were gone. 

So I’ve had a wonderful sniffle free afternoon.  The beach was quite crowded.  For this beach, that is.

6 feb 2011

It was low tide and there were a few fishermen:
and families out gathering tuatuas.   My batteries went flat before I got the actual shot of them leaning over in the unusually small waves and digging with their hands for their idea of a delicay.  Not mine, I’m afraid, nor Chris’, so we didn’t join in.  

families feb 2011

I’m sure, if this oyster catcher had a blog, it would post that it was a wonderful Waitangi Day.
oyster catcher

Saturday, 5 February 2011

An Award

Today I remembered that back on 22 January my blog received an award. At the time I had visitors and was anxiously awaiting the birth of my grandson.   I was so surprised and felt so honoured, how could I have forgotten? 
Thank you, Doreen at My Reflections as I Shutter Along, I feel like I’ve been acknowledged by blogging royalty.   It gives me a little tingle to be chosen by such a fantastic blogger. 

There are four steps to follow that go along with the award.

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you. 
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award. (will do)

So here we go.  I will do my best to share 7 things about myself.  Although I don’t promise that they are interesting – no-one said they had to be, did they? 

1.  My most recent news first – last Monday morning, not long after mid-night my second grandson, Aiden was born.  So now I had half a dozen grandchildren.

2.  My family is all important to me.  I am the oldest of an even dozen children and have two dozen nieces and nephews and more than a dozen great nieces and nephews (I think it is 15)

3.  I am not comfortable in cities or crowds.  I prefer peaceful, remote places and when time permits always choose the road less travelled.

4.  My passion for writing has been superseded by my passion for photography – and I WILL get better at it.

5.  I’ve just learned that supersede is not spelt supercede.  Once upon a time I prided myself on being good at spelling.   I am nit-picky about grammar.  

6.  Creating a garden from a bare block of land has given me a pleasure I didn’t know existed.  I call it my Barely Contained Wilderness. 

7.  After a lifetime working on being more patient, more tolerant, I realize I have been totally unsuccessful.  Just recently I amused my brother by swearing at a machine that talked at me.    

I haven’t been in blogland all that much lately so don’t have 15 recently discovered bloggers, so I choose 15 of my favourites.  I won’t list the ones Doreen chose, as we have a couple in common.   

I’m going to put my grand-daughter Shayde at the top of the list.  I gave Shayde a little camera for Christmas and she is becoming an avid photographer and we are currently setting up a blog for her to post her efforts.  There’s nothing there yet but if anyone would like to come back in a week or so and give her a little word of encouragement, that would be great.  

Charlotte – this is my journalist niece Charlotte who has recently visited me.

And, in alphabetical order, because there’s no way I could prioritise them.  Some I follow for their writing, some for their photography, some because they amuse me, others because I feel a connection with how they express themselves:

And one more favourite who I am pretty sure does not accept awards – Adrian’s Images

Now I’m going to sit with my knitting (for Aiden, of course) and watch the Wellington Rugby Sevens, a spectacular party in a football stadium – oh, and there is football, too. 

Friday, 4 February 2011


I’m not a collector.  No, not of anything.  A dear friend reminds me of a bowerbird, forever picking up bright, shiny objects to take home to decorate herself and her nest.   

Me, I’m more like the thrush that builds her nest in the passionfruit vine outside my kitchen window.  Our nests are neat and practical, using basic materials.   

And there aren’t any real collectors in my family either.  One of my grand-daughter collects bangles:


Another picks up rocks and stones and carts them back to me for my garden.   Occasionally she finds a real treasure like this piece of kauri gum.  The gum is the resin that leaks from the bark of the kauri tree and then hardens as it is exposed to air.

kauri gum

Occasionally I collect sea shells as I walk along the beach and make them into …. how to describe them …. sort of hanging ornaments.  This one is on my front deck (where it collects spider’s webs).


But I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the FSO team collects.  Just go here to check them out.
I do enjoy looking at the collections of others, have just never felt the urge to do it myself.