About thecontentedcrafter

Hello from New Zealand! The Contented Crafter is my blog containing random thoughts on every thing from the weather to the meaning of life, occasional mixed media creations, bead work, handwork and tales about a cat named Orlando and a puppy called Siddy. Swing by and say 'Hi' ......... I love to make new friends!

A Green Room

Hello there my lovely friends!  I thought I’d pop in briefly to say ‘Hi!’ before I disappear for a summer break – like I haven’t been taking a break from blogging already.   But you know, I’ve been busy making stuff, and keeping up with all of you regular bloggers and getting on with life and of course coping with the most dismal spring weather EVER!!

The really good news though is I finally managed to get my green room made.  What you may ask is a green room – no, it’s not the place I keep all my celebrity friends waiting.  I don’t have any celebrity friends……  maybe its a ‘garden room’ but that’s not quite right either.  If you get to the end and have a suggestion feel free to let me know what it should be called.

Here’s the back story:

My tiny house has the most inconveniently placed and useless ‘conservatory’ attached to it that you can imagine.  I have no clue what anyone was thinking when someone thought it would be a really good idea to attach a single thickness glass and metal corridor to the side of this tiny house.  But they did and I have inherited it.   It scorches in the summer and freezes in the winter and, at 150cm wide by 200cm long, is good for nothing much more than hanging coats and storing containers of tools, dog gear and shoes and that’s about it.  It also serves as an entry foyer when you enter by the front door.   It is fully visible from the sofa in my sitting room and from the dining table as the long wall of the living space is all ranch slider.  Talk about living in a gold fish bowl!  As said ‘conservatory’ looks directly at a 2m high corrugated iron fence and the white stucco wall of the cottage next door I have always kept it curtained.  The curtains take up space visually and are difficult to keep clean and tidy.  It may be a utilitarian area, but it is visible and I needed for it to look vaguely attractive.

You all know by now I don’t have a garden to speak of here, and what I do have can’t be viewed from inside.  I miss trees terribly, so an idea starting fermenting a year ago from conversations with my friend Alys.  Then my daughter Danella added her ideas and it took shape and form and eventually all the necessary bits were gathered and voila – just in time for Christmas we have a fabulous green room.

Have a look, and then I’ll tell you how I made it.

dav

I applied an opaque window film to the glass wall.  Over that two bamboo garden trellises were stretched and wired together.  The existing curtain rod was handy for attaching and tying and hanging all the separate components.   Fabric ivy in three different varieties was threaded through the trellis and the back wall was ready to go.

The open shelving unit that holds my box of tools, another of gardening equipment, Siddy’s not unextensive wardrobe and shoes for walking in all weathers was given a fabric curtain in keeping with the green theme and various faux plants tastefully scattered about.   The green cat has been a friend for at least 20 years and now has a lovely new resting place

dav

As it is Christmas, a small tree and lights were gifted to me by Danella and suddenly it is magical

dav

That’s a gnome resting on top of that tree.  I don’t have a star of the right size and he had been made and had nothing to do so I popped him on top and he seems quite happy.  Christmas gnomes are a bit of a theme here at the moment.   Maybe I’ll tell you more about that in my next post………

Here’s Siddy posing for you in his lovely new collar and kerchief all the way from Le Belle France and the very kind and lovely Tialys who also made me a rather fabulous pinny for my art room…….

dav

He’s really rather be having his dinner……

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

October Went By In a Blur ……

Time is shooting past isn’t it.  Danella, aka The Official Photographer, went back into hospital and finally, almost eleven months after the initial accident had all the screws,  broken and entire, removed from her leg.  The steel plates however are left in.

Due to the extraordinarily long wait period, Danella was booked into a private hospital.  We reported to Mercy Hospital  at 9 am on the 21st and she was  checked in and ready to go off with her handsome American surgeon within the hour.

I received a call from said handsome American surgeon an hour and a half later, immediately following the surgery and given full details of what had been done.  We had a prolonged and congenial discussion about whether he was a surgeon or a car mechanic after he described having difficulty getting one of the screws out from behind the metal plate and having to use his screwdriver to ‘ping it up’.

It was an almost shocking juxtaposition from the event a year earlier when the Dunedin Hospital had lost my daughter for two hours and no-one could tell me where she was or what was happening to her, followed by the lack of communication over what had been done to her in surgery.

I was incredibly impressed with the quality of care and attention given by the nursing staff at Mercy and by the calm, serene ambience of the reception and the ward.   She was well tended to by her nurse throughout the day and I was encouraged to be there, and  be fully  informed throughout the process.  By 4 pm that day I was driving Danella back home and tucking her in.  Within two days she was up and about and caring totally for herself and was back at work a week later, having been at my place the day before cleaning my hard to reach windows.  🙂  It was, all in all, a really great experience.  I do love it when life serves us up the very best possible outcome and puts bells on it too.

We’ve been enjoying some lovely weather.   Siddy and I took it into out heads to take an extra walk in the evenings as dusk was falling and the streets were a bit quieter so he could practise his off leash walking.  Orlando took it into his head to come with us, each night coming a little further.  So there we were last night, all three of us, heading off for a stroll round the block.

I say ‘stroll’, but the thing that got me was that the puppy became quite serious when he saw that the cat stayed with him.  He didn’t stop to pick up or leave messages as usual, but trotted along, not deviating from the path as is his usual style, as if he needed to get his kitty back home safely as soon as possible.  The kitty trotted along just behind Siddy, tail held high and clearly not bothered.  I was quite puffed as we completed the block in record time.   I’m kind of hoping it doesn’t become a regular occurrence and I kind of wished The Official Photographer could have accompanied us, it must have been quite a sight.

I’m still managing to create at least one card every day and a series gets completed in about three days.  Here’s a few of them.  I do love my owlsimg_20181011_163128.jpgThese are fun and will appeal to certain people in my circle of friends and familydavThis one isn’t a card, I made it for me to put on the fridge just to remind me I don’t need to buy any more crafting supplies – I gave myself an intervention  🙂   I’m not sure if it’s worked…..davI designed a Christmas card and blinged them up with an increasing amount of diamantes and glitter, which you can’t see here, but believe me they sparkle and shine  – these are just the first two, there’s several more….davThen, with the next series, the pets got in on the actimg_20181022_091111.jpgSomewhere along the line I found some unused inky splatter backgrounds and added these gnomes to them  – this made me happy!  They are so useless and cute and I must make moredavdavdavdavAnd to finish a design still in process davThat’s it, that’s October almost done and dusted.  Is it seven weeks til Christmas?

Here’s Siddy getting his aunty Jo’s bed ready for her Christmas visit.  If you look closely you might catch a glimpse of his ‘Superdog’ harness.  He’s looking a little porky on account of too many treats, so not really capable of flying ……… davThanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

Out now: Song of Paper

For all the friends of Cynthia Jobin, new and old – here at last is the news we have been waiting for. The second collection of her work is now available.

Bennison Books

CJ social mediaCynthia Jobin’s poetry is honest, piercingly intelligent and intensely moving. Her posthumous collection, Song of Paper, showcases the poems she was writing at the height of her powers.

View original post 257 more words

I Decided to Make Some Cards

On a grey day there is time to do a quick catch up of the latest makings from the craft room – I just thought you might have missed the playing about with inks and stamps and doodles ………  I do hope I’m not being presumptuous, but you know it’s all been about Kakapo’s and free books in recent weeks…….  I haven’t been at all idle.  In between the doing up of the conservatory to make me a forest like feel in the middle of the city and much yarn work, there are  at least 60 – yes SIXTY – new hand made greeting cards packed away.  Christmas is all but taken care of  😀

First up is a pile of new inkies, neatly packed up into assorted colour packs of six cards, no envelopes. There’s about 40 of these, ready for anything that comes my way – this is a small selection of colours.  For some reason I did not photograph any of the mauve, yellow or green combos of colours …….. but you get the idea and, anyway, you’ve seen these before

 

When I got tired of those I went on to playing with Distress Inks and die-cut silhouettes, also all neatly and individually packed up, complete with envelopes – this is a small selection

dav dav

dav

dav

Then I discovered some old serviettes that required something doing with, so they got made into cards too – complete with their own hand made envelopes because the finished size of the cards was inconsiderate of mass produced envelopes

dav

dav

davand my personal favourite

dav Next, I went here.  Here is playing with pens and pencils and inks and stamps and doodles and seeing what comes out in the end – again a very small selectiondavAnd just in case you missed him here is Siddy in his new bandanna, looking rather coy ….

dav

Finally, I’ve been watching Jacinda via YouTube make her way through the UN and American talk shows.  It’s so nice to feel proud of the person who represents our little country.  I don’t believe I’ve ever felt that before from preceding Prime Ministers – not even the two women who previously held the position.  Her maiden address to the UN ended with this:

 “Perhaps then it is time to step back from the chaos and ask what we want. It is in that space that we’ll find simplicity. The simplicity of peace, of prosperity, of fairness. If I could distil it down into one concept that we are pursuing in New Zealand it is simple and it is this.  Kindness.  In the face of isolationism, protectionism, racism – the simple concept of looking outwardly and beyond ourselves, of kindness and collectivism, might just be as good a starting point as any. So let’s start here with the institutions that have served us well in times of need, and will do so again……….. “

Pretty cool intro to the world huh!

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

Free! Free! Free!

Hi there guys – a little something to share today from English author Geoff Le Pard. If you are a long time reader here you’ll know I’m quite fond of the quirky writing fella. It’s my considered opinion he’s trying for the world record in writing successfully in all possible genres and then inventing some new ones. Geoff’s often on WordPress contributing to different short story blogathons (or whatever they are called) I read his posts every morning over first coffee and I laugh, I cry, I spit coffee, he makes me pause, or say “Gah!” out loud and very often ask Siddy (or Orlando), ‘How did he come up with that?’ His blog is well worth a follow! I think I’ve read all his published books and can attest to the fact that they are all different, you never quite know what you are going to get. One thing I’m sure of he is just like a good wine and is getting better and better at his craft. So go on, become a LePard-ite and jump on the wagon………. Free Kindle books folks!!

TanGental

Yep it’s time to get free and all oozy and generous.

There have been some whispers, little rumours sussurating slowly, hissing in the background like a sack of snakes mainlining salt and vinegar crisps but now, here they are…

Free Books

I’m offering my first three books (Kindle version) for free, nothing, zip, nada… as follows

DEAD FLIES AND SHERRY TRIFLE

From 1st October 2018 to 3rd October 2018

Here is a review

In the summer of 1976 Harry Spittle aged nineteen, heads home for the summer after his first year at university. Harry seems prone to crisis from the beginning – bullying from fellow student Stephen Mc Noble who soon befriends Harry’s ex girlfriend, working in the local hotel with a diverse group of characters, and facing a bullying chef, entering a world of drug dealing, diamond smuggling and petty village gardening competitiveness…
However, Harry’s main focus in life…

View original post 669 more words

Sirocco the Kakapo

If you missed the last post that introduced my friends to Sirocco the world famous Kakapo, here is the video again that brought him such renown and infamy – and a two year rehabilitation programme that involved a large stuffed owl and produced a more socially adept kakapo ambassador…..

***********************

The evening after Winter returned to the southern hemisphere, hurling rain, wind and bone chilling temperatures at us as a reminder that he wasn’t quite done with us yet we, Danella and I, donned our jackets, boots and scarves and headed off to meet our Kakapo Ambassador.  I’d like you to know straight off that Spring hurried to our aid that day and returned clear skies and milder temperatures in a briefly won battle with the grouchy old man.  In short, we had a narrow window of perfect weather to attend the meet and greet with our little celebrity.

We drove in the evening gloom, via Port Chalmers, on windy roads over the hills to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary

map

I’m a little ashamed to admit it was my first visit.  I don’t have a big budget to live on and had never chosen to spend any of it visiting this place.  After this experience, that is about to change!

From the moment we entered the Visitors Centre we were greeted by friendly and efficient staff and volunteers.  Our group was about 25 strong.  It included two children, a number of tourists and several folk of the more elderly persuasion 🙂

We gathered in a small viewing room where we met our guides and saw a short introductory video on the history of the Kakapo and the conservation efforts made to save them over the past 50 years.  I felt like cheering when we heard that high hopes are held for the breeding season of 2019 as all the interminable variables are lining up in nice neat rows.

A lanyard bearing a large round numbered disc was issued to each of us with the request we wear it and don’t lose it.  If our number was not returned at the end of the expedition it would be assumed we were still out in the forest somewhere and a search would be mounted.  The tourists looked alarmed!  The locals nodded knowingly.

The centre of the Milky Way swirled in the night sky against the back drop of the crescent moon.   We walked quietly to the double gated entrance to the park.  We shuffled into the cage, getting up close and personal quite quickly with our fellow adventurers, while the first gate was closed and the second opened – and we were off on our 15 minute walk to Sirocco’s enclosure.  Less of a walk and more of an amble the crunch of feet on gravel pathways quietened the calls of the nocturnal singers.  But when we stopped moving they quickly resumed their warbling and calling.

About halfway through our slow amble we gathered on a platform beside a well grown Rimu tree and heard how the female Kakapo climbs up through the densely packed branches to feed on the tiny berries and then slips, slides and tumbles her way back to the ground.  She then makes the journey back to her nesting burrow – which could be as much as a kilometre away – to regurgitate the fruits for her youngster.  She can make this trip eight times each day for each chick she is raising.  And we think we have it hard!

Image result for rimu tree and kakapo

I love to see how the camouflage is apparent in the above photo – both these photos are courtesy of Google.

Image result for rimu tree and kakapo

While Mama Kakapo gets on with the job of laying, hatching, feeding and rearing her one or two chicks, Papa Kakapo is nowhere in sight.  His only contribution to the next generation is to build his elaborate booming bowl and fashion the tracks that lead towards it, for the ease of access of the ladies you understand, and then to commence booming every night for up to seven hours.  His goal is to entertain as many ladies as find him acceptable as possible.   Then I assume he goes off for a bit of rest and recovery …..

Sirocco has no interest in other Kakapo at all, being imprinted on humans as he is.  So, despite being the son of the last living female kakapo found on Stewart Island in the 70’s, his is not the destiny to further the recovery rate.  His is the inestimable task of ensuring we all fall in love with and want to save the Kakapo.  And he does it very well!

As we lined up along the perimeter of his enclosure looking at him and oohing and aahing and trying really hard not to tap on the glass and perturb him, Sirocco made a slow and stately perambulation on his side of the glass looking intently at each of us.  He stopped at the children and eyed a couple of bearded blokes for a few minutes before reversing his steps to do it all again.  He seemed to enjoy looking at us as much as we enjoyed looking at him.  I wondered if he thought his handlers trotted out little groups of people for his amusement every evening.

As well as not tapping on the glass we were asked not to use the flashes on our cameras for obvious reasons.  (One poor ill equipped gentleman took a photo and his red flash screamed through the dim light, causing him intense embarrassment and as much consternation as it did to us and the poor parrot.)  My camera lay in my jacket pocket forgotten as I watched, observed, listened and entered into a conversation with one of the two handlers.

When one of his handlers entered the enclosure then we really saw something happen!  Sirocco, it turns out, really is the dog of the bird world.  The young woman entered the enclosure when Sirocco was on the ground ogling at a bearded man.  On seeing her appear he turned and put out his right foot, raising it up and stroking her booted foot as she moved past him.  He then trotted after her, just like Siddy trots after me when we are off to do something exciting – like get treats.

As she moved about the enclosure talking to the group he followed, climbing up tree trunks and through bushes with speedy agility using his taloned feet and curved beak like a third foot.  The only time he opened his wings was to either use them for balance or to show off.  Climbing was a thing of cleverness and agility and beauty.  Coming down was usually a slipshod happenstance of small leaps, accidental slips and fearless tumbles.  He sat on her hand, her arm, her shoulder.  He nibbled at her affectionately and looked at us proudly as she whispered back to him.

I could feel tears prick my eyes and a lump in my throat as I watched and thought how close we had come to losing this amazing bird forever.  Once they were common, they were everywhere in this land.  People kept them as pets and some people captured and ate them.  When I was quite young, maybe around ten or so, I was bewildered when on showing an adult a picture of my favourite bird, he told me there were none left.  I had no concept of ‘none left’.

Soon after that Sirocco’s mother was discovered.  The last surviving Kakapo hen found after an exhaustive search on the island at the bottom of the country.  Thank heaven for those early conservationists!

Danella took these two shots of Sirocco.  They are terribly indistinct, but given the circumstances a nice little reminder of the event.  He posed most proudly for her and peered benignly at us afterwards before turning and making his way off to find some more folks to charm.

His feathers in the light look like velvet.

I hope one day to meet Sirocco again.  Just to be near him is quite special.  He has character and humour and represents a conservation miracle.  From a low point of an estimated nine extant kakapo in the late 70’s to today’s 148 survivors the committed work to preserve the species goes on.

It’s the only time I have ever wished I was young again – I’d be off to be a volunteer on one of the predator free islands where those dedicated conservationists watch over and monitor the birds.  Wouldn’t that be something!

Thanks so much for sticking with this post.  I put in a few links for those of you who may be interested in some of the more special aspects of my wonderful country – I hope you enjoyed following along and learning about this amazing bird and the efforts made to save the species from sure and certain extinction.  So much hope, such a great birthday present!!

Love that you came by today, thank you!

 

 

 

On Blankets, Birthdays and Endangered Parrots

It’s been a whole month since my last post , time keeps on zipping by me and although I’m not wasting any of it I have very little to show you currently.

I did get my Seaside Stash Busting Blanket finished – and absolutely love it!   Here is a pic of it spread out on my bed complete with the obligatory poser

dav

If you have a good sized stash of yarn – and even if you don’t – head on over to Eleonora’s place and follow her weekly installments, available on her blog under the header picture.

I did have an almost significant birthday a few days back and amongst the lovely cards and gifts was a most wonderful surprise from my youngest.   We will head off in a few more days to trek through the evening bush to visit with Sirocco, the world famous kakapo.

What?  You haven’t heard of Sirocco?  Where have you been for the past decade?  Come on, you are about to meet a pretty hilarious and amazing parrot!

Kakapos are another of our almost endless supply of nocturnal, flightless birds under attack from the almost endless supply of introduced  rodents and predators who have ravaged the population.   Here he is in a pic I pinched off Google, looking perkily ambassadorial

sirocco

Kakapos are the only flightless parrots in the world.  They are big, heavy birds who climb trees using their claws and beaks.  They mate irregularly and have a prolonged and unusual mating ritual that involves ‘booming’.  They were almost extinct and are being clawed back from the brink by dint of human determination.

Sirocco’s behaviour on Stephen Fry’s series of ‘Last Chance to See’ some ten years ago resulted in world wide fame and instant You Tube infamy and as a result he became New Zealand’s official spokes-bird for conservation and most importantly the conservation of our native flightless bird population – and even more importantly the kakapo of which there are now 149 up from their lowest point of just 25.  This short clip kind of sums it all up

If you are interested in learning more, the link below will take you to some relevant pages on Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand.  I’ve started it with the male Kakapo sitting in his bowl ‘booming’ his mating call out in the hopes some wandering female will pop by …….  He’ll do it for hours and days and it becomes pretty obvious predators aren’t the only reason why these quirky birds are endangered!

https://teara.govt.nz/en/video/10577/male-kakapo-booming

Kakapo generally have a reputation of being fearless, inquisitive and friendly birds.  An early Governor of New Zealand, back in the day when kakapo were still plentiful, was said to have been given one as a pet and compared it favourably to a dog.  Sirocco’s ill health as a chick meant he was taken from his mother and hand raised.  He imprinted on humans and, it seems, specifically the male of our species and as a result has no interest in ‘booming’ for kakapo hens.  He will boom for humans though.  Despite a couple of years in therapy and some training in acceptable behaviour (some of which you can see on YouTube if you do a search) he is not likely to assist in the increasing of the kakapo population, so Sirocco happily takes himself off round the country from time to time, sets up digs in a suitable outdoor hotel, is waited on hand and foot by his adoring servants and accepts brief visits from small groups of his adoring public  – of which I shall  happily be one.

Not many of us get to see a real live kakapo.  They now live only on two small islands that are kept scrupulously pest free – no rodents,  no predators of any kind.  The only humans allowed are those entrusted with their care and scientific research into their lifestyles.  Given those living conditions and the fact that they sleep all day we are really fortunate to have a bird who likes people and who enjoys looking at them as much as they like looking at him.

Any how, I’m really looking forward to it,  I just hope I don’t get lost in the bush on my way to my date with Sirocco   🙂  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!