Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Mental soundtracks

A few days ago I was up at the lodge in the early evening after the last school to use the lodge this year had departed.  I walked around to the confidence course and was struck by the silence and a haunting sense of loneliness.  In my imagination I could hear the shrieks of excited children and picture them unleashing their inner monkey on the different challenges. 

Is it just me or does a place designed for youngsters always look desolate when all is quiet and we are just left with our mental soundtracks.

The next evening I was out by the dam, another place  where my mental soundtrack has splashing and laughter playing.  The blue raft in the middle of the shot looks wrong sitting there amongst the rushes. 

Bring on Christmas I say.   Then what plays in my head will be matched with what I see.  Bring back the children.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sights of summer

For Kiwis nothing says Christmas like the pohutukawa tree.  Its blazing red flowers have earned it the title of New Zealand's Christmas tree.  It starts to flower in November and usually stops by Christmas and New Year, with its peak in mid to late December.  This is a great time of year to find myself with time to kill.  It's a joy to wander looking for flowering pohutukawa.  I found them blooming right on time along Princes Road, Ruakaka earlier last week.

 Providing a beautiful canopy over the road down to the beach

Framing the view out to The Hen and Chickens (that's Taranga, the Hen, pictured.  I think.) 

 Looking across to Whangarei Heads

Legend has it that if the pohutukawa flowers early it will be a long hot summer.  I've noticed the cabbage trees flowering.  That has always been my go to for a predictor of summer.  And, yes, I thought they were early.

The only blight on my time at the beach was this oystercatcher.  I think it was injured, it didn't fly off as I approached as I expected it to and didn't move in the time I watched it.  I think it was keeping a wary eye on me.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Make hay while the sun shines

or before that rain in the mountain comes down here.

How different hay making is from my introduction to it in the early 70s.  Back then the sight of that rain so close by would have caused great consternation. Back in the day hay making was a lengthy process.  The grass had to be mowed, turned and aerated, turned again and combed into tidy rows before the baling.  With delays in between each activity for drying to take place.   And much discussion between everyone involved about the timing and the weather.  The whole business took days with the 'haymakers' needing to be fed and watered on a regular basis.  It seemed like the more people involved in the picking up of the bales the better.  A baled paddock would be swarming with people. I kid you not.  The bales had to be lined up so the truck coming along with an attachment to pick them up and load them on to a truck could do so without much manoeuvring.  If you were lucky enough to possess such a device.  Otherwise, brawn was required to throw each bale up on to the deck of a truck for transporting to a haybarn where it all had to be unloaded and stacked.  My younger son paid for a good proportion of his university study by haymaking during his summer holidays.  For the farmer's wife who had to feed the masses it would be hard to get an accurate headcount to know how many to expect for dinner which often had to be served at 9 or 10 o'clock at night when all the hay was finally stacked in the hayshed. 

This morning Campbell, the young farm manager, mowed the grass in the paddock opposite my house somewhere around 8 am.  (I think. I should have looked at the clock.)  He moved on to the paddock behind the house and before he had finished there the baler and the tedder had arrived.   I used to think 'the tedder' was my ex's nickname for the machine, I have no idea where the name originated because it doesn't say 'machine that turns and aerates the grass' to me. 

Anyway, it looked like these two were chasing each other around the paddock.

By around 10 am they had finished baling the two paddocks near my house and now, not yet lunch time, I can hear the machinery working away on the hills on the other side of the farm.  Nearly finished.  No rain.  There were three men involved and three machines.  Sometime soon these monster bales can be easily lifted by a tractor and moved elsewhere for storage. 

Neatly wrapped baleage, or silage in a bag, sitting in the paddock.

I'd noticed a neighbour's new bales neatly stacked on the far side of this paddock earlier in the week.

We are seeing the typical sights of summer a little earlier than usual this year.  La Niña is doing her thing.  It seems ridiculous that after all the moaning I did about the wet, wet winter to say it is now quite dry.  Alarmingly dry.  Cracks are starting to appear in the ground.  I'm becoming even more weather obsessed than usual!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Little niggle

Something is niggling at me and I don't know if I should worry about it or not.  I'm not a born worrier, it's my nature to not sweat the small stuff.  And I don't see any point in thinking about something too much if there's no solution to be found.  

I know I've always talked in my sleep.  I think it was at its worst when I was a teenager.  If my younger sister wanted to find out anything that I would not tell her about, she would wait until I was asleep, then ask me.  And I'd spill the beans.  I can remember having stern words with myself to NOT tell her,  to keep my secrets to myself, that which boy I liked was none of her business, to not give her ammunition to tease me.  

To this day I sometimes wake myself from a good sleep when I hear someone talking and I wake up to find out who it is.   Sometimes it is a shout that disturbs me.  I go straight back to sleep when I discover it is just me. 

One of my younger brothers not only talked up a storm in his sleep but also walked (and on one occasion went outside and rode his bike down the street) in his sleep.   I don't think I experienced sleep walking until I was a very sleep deprived mother of two and woke one morning to discover that the bottle I'd prepared for the baby the night before wasn't in the fridge.   It was empty in the baby's cot and I never just left it with her in the cot, I always picked her up to feed her.  My husband was at work on night shift and if it was the good fairy who had let me sleep that night, she never made a return appearance.   The other possibility was that her barely two year old brother had taken it and given it to her but there's no way that child would have accepted cold milk.  So it had to have been me. 

All my children talked in their sleep and the youngest, for a few years, also walked around the house quite often.  The sliding door that lead outside was very heavy and noisy and I remember the panic the night we heard it open and found her wandering up the path.  On one occasion we found her standing under a cold shower in her winter pajamas!  

So my situation is not really serious!   I'm just more puzzled as to why, now, in my 70s I should suddenly start sleep walking.  I'm not sleep deprived, far from it, very few people sleep as well as I do.  I don't have any ill health, there has been no change to my medications.  Trouble is, I don't know how often I do it.  I've only caught myself out twice.  One night last week I can remember dreaming my daughter was coming to visit, that she had  sent me a text saying she would arrive shortly after midnight and that I got up and put on a light on the front porch and unlocked the front door for her.   The next morning I was puzzled when she wasn't in the spare bedroom and checked my phone to re-read her text message.  I shrugged and realized it had been part of a dream but was startled when I found the porch light on and the door unlocked.  

On the other occasion I woke up to find myself sitting in the dark in the lounge room at 2 am with my glasses on and a book in my lap.  I had no idea why I was there and I was shivering with the cold.  My nightgown was on the floor beside my bed.  What the hell had I been doing and why?  

I know I should not have gone near Dr Google.  If I were a man I'd be really worried as I read that middle-aged men who physically act out their dreams while asleep are five time more likely to develop dementia.  No, even that wouldn't apply to me as I'm past what is commonly known as middle age.  And anyway, the link is not as strong in women.

Image result for cartoon sleep walking

Sunday, 22 October 2017

And so to Langs

I could really feel the fresh breeze from up on the hill above Langs Beach and it appeared to be keeping people off the beach, too.

But down on the beach it wasn't as cold as I expected.  Although I did think that young fisherman was a bit hardy being out in his shorts and teeshirt.  They hadn't caught anything but had that laid back attitude shared by a lot of other fishermen - "not yet" - as if they expected to do so at any moment.

The shadows were lengthening, the tide was going out, the surf was flat, it was a lovely, gentle evening.

I realized that if I wanted to get home before dark I couldn't linger for long as I still had an hour or so to drive.

What a lovely day out.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Another long way home

Coming home from Matakana last Thursday I decided the day was too lovely to waste coping with all the traffic on the highway, so I came home 'over the hill' to Leigh and then carried on the long way home coming via Mangawhai and Langs Beach.  

Mangawhai was in sparkling form making it easy to understand the 'Magical Mangawhai' marketing.   All was quiet down by the estuary.  The tide was running out and the late afternoon lengthening shadows reaching out over the sand.  Although it was school holiday time, the holiday makers had mostly gone for the day. 

Around near the parking lot at the surf beach,  there was a stiff breeze so I didn't linger on any of the seats to enjoy the view, either down the estuary or along the beach.


I hoped to get to Langs Cove before the sun was lost for the day.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A clean sweep

I didn't get to see the finished Catwalk Art entry as it appeared on the stage.  I know the results, though.  My daughter-in-law, Heather and her friend Pam made a clean sweep of the prizes.  They won the Open Section, the Supreme Award and Peoples' Choice.  I'm not at all surprised.  This is the top and skirt put together but the skirt, made from dried and dyed New Zealand Flax (phormium tenax) is still rolled up.  When the pegs are removed the flax curls bounce and dance to resemble ocean waves. 

On her arms Heather has a nearly completed boat.

 and Pam works on a way to secure the sides at the back.

When she opens her arms she is transformed into a glorious bird.  I can't imagine how her arms and shoulders must have ached after holding her arms out like that for hours.  Once those arms were in place she was inside the wings/boat until the end of the show.  For three shows. 

And, of course, to crown it off, there is a crown.  It's nearly finished in the photo below.

I hope to see some catwalk photos soon.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The creatives

Yesterday, quite unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to see my creative daughter-in-law, Heather and her equally creative friend, Pam at work finalising their entry into a Wearable Arts Competition.  These two blow my mind.  The ideas just flow from them, they feed off each others.  One suggests something, the other comes up with how to do it.  Some aspects of their costumes are very structural, all aspects require a lot of work.  Not to mention inspiration and adaptation.

I have to keep details of this competitions entry to myself until after the event, of course.  But here are a few shots I got yesterday.

 Bits and pieces on the work table

To give you an idea of the attention to detail and thought that goes into their costumes, this is the headgear from an earlier entry into a Wearable Arts Competition.

 The shoes.  I immediately thought, "Cinderella shall go to the ball."

And before the ball, there are hours with hair in rollers.

Good luck, girls.  I know the hours of work that have gone into your entry and luck will have little to do with it.  

Monday, 9 October 2017

Flame trees

I'm waiting for the flame trees to flower in the hilly paddocks beside the road to the 'other' farm.  I've often wondered why they are considered a weed and finally asked Mr Google.  Apparantly any branch that touches the ground will take root (I've never seen that happen) and they can form a tall, spreading canopy, preventing native plants from establishing.  I've always thought they were good to have on a stock farm as when the flowers are out the weather is cool and they have no leaves, so the ground below them can dry out.  And in summer, when you need some shade, they are in leaf.   I don't know if 'in leaf' in the correct expression but I'm sure you know what I mean.  

Saturday, 7 October 2017


Georgia and I had a taste of summer yesterday.  It was warm enough for her to have a little lay down in the sun  at the lake.  She was looking for tadpoles, didn't see any.  I was more interested in this spring's ducklings but they were too cunning for me, kept out of reach of my camera.  They are quite well grown, will be leaving the lake soon.


Earlier she had been doing a few back bending jobs for me at the lodge.   How I envy her young back!  We also enjoyed a walk in the bush.  It's not every day you see a plank over a stream secured with a pink rope.  The plank is for those who don't like to get their feet wet.  I don't mind mine getting wet but like the plank - there is less chance of slipping on the wet stones.  The rope is to stop the plank being washed away every time there is heavy rain in the mountain.  Even little streams like this can turn into torrents with enough rain.  And, as I am constantly harping on, there has been a lot of rain this winter.  Oh, and there aren't planks on any other streams in the forest.  This track is the most frequently used by visiting school groups as it leads to the confidence course. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Young males

The sights of spring are many.  Things that usually go un-noticed suddenly grab my attention.  A little stand of trees a short distance into a paddock beside the road looked so lovely yesterday as they shimmered in the sunshine that I had to stop and gaze.

We're lucky to have kowhai growing right beside the road.  I would have liked a few more sheep in the shot or to have been able to safely pull off the road at a place where they were more visible.  But a narrow country road has its restrictions. 

I thought if I got out of the car and walked to get a better shot of these young guys I would have disturbed them and they looked so fat and contented I couldn't do that to them. 

Fat and happy

I was lucky to enjoy the drive yesterday between heavy showers.  Today it's extremely blustery, the showers very heavy.  Hail on the roof last night was so loud I opened the front door to check on the size of the hailstones.  Nothing too alarming and it was over quickly.  I often remember that the girl next door when I was growing up used to tell me my letters during the school holidays (when I visited my grandparents' farm), were like weather reports.   I guess nothing has changed, Mary except now I live on a farm and am more weather obsessed than ever. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


There's no denying spring has sprung.  Not that I want to deny it, after all I've been waiting for it.  To be precise I'm waiting for summer but spring has to be endured first.  The wet weather continues just a little more unpredictably than the constancy of winter rain.  The road side kowhai distract from the puddles.

The little calves are learning about the outside world in the paddock opposite my house.  They still have a bit to learn.  Knowing which human is the one who feeds you is an important lesson and they haven't yet learned to distinguish me from the pretty blonde who rides the bike towing their feeder.  They hear my front door open and come to the fence hoping this time it will be me. 

The lambs don't let their feeder too far from sight despite having to dirty their knees to get down low enough to dine.  They will be learning how to survive without their mums soon enough.

I'm accumulating a collection of very bad bird photos.  Usually the kereru (bush pigeons) attract attention with the loud swoosh of their wings in flight.  But I now know an area beside the road into the Tangihua Forest where there is an active pair and keep an eye out.  They don't fly away from me but manage to stay far enough away to be safe from my camera.  I guess they are feasting on spring berries. 

Linking to Gosia's Fences around the World for the first time in ages.