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

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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

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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!

 

 

 

Best Memoir I’ve Read This Year!!

The plastic bag sat in the parcel tray of my mailbox, the raining pouring down just millimetres away.  Once inside and dried off the package was opened revealing my copy of Geoff Le Pard’s much anticipated memoir ‘Apprenticed to My Mother’.

I flicked the book open, reading title, sub-title, flick again, copyright, published by….  flick, Introduction,  I begin reading this.  I read on.  Chapter one, chapter two, three, four.  The chapters are short, pithy, poignant, honest, vulnerable, loving.  Tears welled in my eyes but I am completely unable to stop reading, until I am interrupted first by the door bell and then the pets needs to be fed.  I tend to the interruptions quickly and return to reading until the gathering gloom of this wintery day’s mid-afternoon makes it too dark to see.

I attend to my life, but am keen to finish my day early and,as the rain continues to batter the ground, to take myself off to my cosy bed, book in hand and settle in for a couple or three uninterrupted hours.

Over the past year or two Geoff had posted little bits and pieces of this story on his blog and I felt quite familiar with much of what I was reading.  But still, the unfolding story ontinued to capture my attention.  Here is the mutual love story of two people.  She builds him up, she cares for his every need, ensures he feels like the man he aspires to be.  He writes her love poems.  They clash, they work it out, they raise two boys.  She ensures her boys will go out into the world more able to care for themselves than her husband ever could.

As Geoff tells us in the introduction, the book is necessarily also about his father.  It is about his parents relationship, but also about his relationship with them – separately and together.  It’s not detailed, it’s snippets that we pick up as the final years of his mother are told through their interactions.

It’s a peek into a way of life, a family that functions and revolves around the mother.  A real person, a woman who loves, who cares, who rules with a fist of iron,  A woman who, having put herself second all her married life, on becoming a widow firmly and sweetly gets life the way she wants it after all.

It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s tender and kind and heart-wrenchingly honest at times.

I laughed, smiled, and blinked away tears as I made my way through this memoir.

As someone who grew up outside of a functioning family it was a healing balm and quite honestly I loved it,  I hope you might too.

*Here’s a link to the Amazon kindle copy

**Here’s a link to Geoff’s blog

A Time to Remember

I know many of you have followed along with my recent adventures courtesy of those more organised bloggers, Laurie over at Life on The Bike and Alys at Gardening Nirvana who put up posts of such loveliness all I could do was hit the ‘Re-Blog’ button and call it done.

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We had talked about a reunion ever since our first meet up in 2015 and seriously planned this adventure for a year.  It seemed a comfortable way off, but fortunately, at the six month mark I had chosen the holiday stay venue, booked the house and settled in to start making ‘welcome to New Zealand gifts’.  Two months later of course various accidents pulled me up short and curtailed my arty crafty activities and then time curled itself into a ball and hurtled past me into the future.

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And suddenly there I was standing early one evening at an airport gate searching the exiting passengers for a tiny Canuck who was arriving via Australia.   The following afternoon there I was again, searching through another lot of exiting travellers for the weary Americans who had missed their connecting flight in Auckland – due to some doggie treats that some surly, inhospitable customs officer had decided to study in minute detail.

Feb 26

Just like that, there we were, feeling as if absolutely no time had passed since we last threw ourselves into each others arms in warm and elongated hugs.  Friends of the heart – nothing to do with proximity or commonality or any of the other usual ways of making friends.  Just four women who started off reading each others blog posts, liking, commenting, following each other around other blogs, sharing stories, deepening this growing, random connection over a period of months, morphing into years.

Feb 26 Dinner

Back then, in those early days, someone suggested a face to face meeting on Skype.  It turned into a voice to voice meeting, as Skype was uncooperative on that particular day.   But there were other group video calls and individual calls and letters and cards……  All interspersed with blog posts and comments which built into a long, ongoing conversation and burgeoning friendship.

It’s a modern form of pen-pals really isn’t it.  Blogging and video calls make it easier to reach beyond the old pairing of pen-pals to include a small group.  Reading blog posts soon informs how you relate to the writer.  One of us was told surely you can’t trust what people write, they could be pretending to be anybody.    Not so – we are women of some life experience – it’s pretty easy to pick up when there are inconsistencies, falsities or pretense.  Our intuitive alarm bells will ring when something jars.  There was no ringing of alarm bells – well not for me anyway.

So I went off to America in 2015 to spend a couple of weeks with these gals.

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When it was their turn to come to me on what they all referred to as ‘a once in a life time trip’ I wanted them to meet my small family, see something of the beauty of my country and also get to do what we all wanted to do, which was spend time together.

If we had some fun while doing so, so much the better!

My eldest daughter and her partner Steven arrived via a drive down the West Coast with his E-Bikes attached to the car and his shortwave radio gear stowed in the skybox.  My youngest daughter Danella opened her home to the travellers as mine is too small to accommodate any more than it already has.

JO and Dan LB

I gave them all a couple of days in Dunedin to get their feet on the ground and heads on relatively straight and then whisked them off to a spacious rented holiday house in Wanaka, four hours away from the coast, up in the mountain plateau, near to The Adventure Capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.

We had another eight fabulous days together and were joined by Alys’ husband Mike for the last four days.    My daughter remarked that the group felt complete when he arrived.

Alys and Mike at gondola March 4

We had endless fun

After dinner dancing

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and then, all too soon it was done.

Alys and Mike flew off for a brief visit to Auckland before returning to their home in San Jose.  Laurie stayed another two days in Queenstown before flying to Melbourne for a week in Australia.  Joanna and Steven drove back to Picton and the ferry to Wellington to return to their home and Kelly hopped a plane back to Canada after a month away from her home and kitties.  Danella returned to full time work – still sometimes on crutches, still with two metal plates and two screws in her leg, but getting stronger all the time and I returned home to Orlando who was in complete meltdown over being abandoned into a cattery for ten days and who is determined to never let me out of his sight ever again.

And Siddy went to bed.

Though the reunion is over, the warmth, the love, the friendship, all lives on.

Which all goes to show, we never know what might happen when we start to blog.  These friends, and all of you who gather around this blog, are dear to me and enrich my life in so many ways – thank you all, I am so very glad you are here!

*Photo credits belong to various members of the group.

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

Siddy Goes On Holiday

Hello friends!  We are home, settled back into normal life and Siddy has pretty much slept for the past few days.  He wakes up with me for first breakfast, followed soon after by morning walk and second breakfast.  He snoozes until it’s time for elevenses.  He takes a wee nap until time for twoses rolls around, which is followed by another little snooze  until first dinner.  A short game of fetch follows second dinner and then he takes himself off to bed for the night.

You may well ask why is this busy little pup so very tired?  Well, you all know we went on holiday yes?  The previous twelve posts have all dealt with this momentous event in some form or other – Gosh, I hope you aren’t bored with all this just yet……  for right now it’s Siddy’s turn to share his adventures.

Because yes, of course, Siddy came on holiday too!

Every day there was greeting and companioning duty to be done

Feb 26 Dinner

And breakfasts to be had.  Here he is offering assistance to Kelly with her breakfast

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He rode in the car – a lot!   Here he is tapping on the window because, don’t you know,  tapping makes the window roll down

March1 AM Siddy

He had lunch at a pub in Alexandra

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Helped Steven with barbecuing the evening feast at the holiday house

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Siddy loved the holiday house.  It had many doors and a garden that wrapped right around the house.  He could often be seen trotting out one door, trotting through the garden, past windows and other doors until he chose which door to enter back in by to greet everyone again.   It was such fun!!

He went out almost daily for coffee, but preferred to wait for the snacks to come

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He went for early morning walks with his mumma when the moon was still up and nearly everyone else snoozed on

Early morning walk March 4

He was first assistant to Laurie when she sorted her photos and wrote her blog posts – it is very doubtful that she could have put up so many great posts without his assistance

March 7 LB

He lunched at Speights Ale House, where he patiently waited for the food to come and his good manners were remarked upon by other diners

Siddy at Speights Alehouse March 8

He enjoyed his final lunch in Queenstown at the Frankton Arms – after enjoying a fortifying glass of chardonnay

Final lunch Frankton Arms March 9 LB

He companioned everybody in turn.  Here he is with Laurie, keeping her out of trouble

S and Laurie March 9

And he rode in the car every day.  This is the best part of car riding, wind and smells and the joy of speed……..

He’s one worn out little pup – but he sure did have a great holiday with all his family and new friends, he didn’t want to say ‘Goodbye’

First Farewell March 8

But he did, so it’s goodnight to all,  and thanks for the great memories ❤

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

*There’s one more Blogging Reunion post to come from me and then it is back to the art room.

** Photos are courtesy of the holiday makers whose cameras were constantly clicking away when mine wasn’t.  Thanks darlings!

Counting Down

Blogging is a wonderful thing isn’t it folks?   We all start our blogs off with  a certain outcome in mind, a certain reason for putting up those first posts and I wonder how many find those initial thoughts and intentions are changed or widened and deepened quite soon after that innocent and hopeful  beginning.  I bet none of us thought when we started out that what would really happen is we would build a community around our blogs, make new friends and sometimes even get to have real adventures with them.

In just two weeks two bloggers from the USA and one blogger from Canada will make their travel worn and weary ways to my little home in New Zealand for a celebratory reunion.

We all met through our blogs here on WordPress.

Alys from Gardening Nirvana

Born To Organize

Kelly from Boomdeadda

Laurie from Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

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Three years ago we all gathered in Washington DC and met up for the first time in the flesh.  There was a core group, which included Julia from Defeat Despair, but we also got to meet and spend some time with other bloggers albeit briefly and of course there was Lisa from Arlingwords who toured us enthusiastically and knowledgeably around Washington DC – it was a fabulous time filled with amazing women!

You know, I got to see many amazing things on that trip – my first to the States – but the memories that stay most strongly with me are of the people.  My friends of course, and on one memorable afternoon, the many friends of one of those friends, but also left deeply etched into my impressions are of all the folk I encountered incidentally and accidentally and in passing.  Everyone was so NICE –  friendly, interested, well spoken, polite.  They all happily posed for photographs, took photos of us, for us and seemed genuinely pleased to meet someone with a strange accent from a little known place near (or in one case IN)  Australia.   Everyone said ‘Thank you!’ so convincingly I arrived back home saying ‘THANKyew!’ too.

Now it’s my turn to return the hospitality.  It’s a smaller group sadly, but still it is set to be great fun.  We will spend just two full days in Dunedin before travelling ‘up Central’ to the mountain plateau town of Wanaka which will be our base for nine days and from which we will explore the beautiful places all around the area.  While there’s an unending choice of things to do and see I believe there will also be some crafting time and jigsaw puzzling time and crocheting time.  We are having a very hot summer this year and currently the temperatures are the highest that have ever been recorded in that area  (I’m hoping that by the end of February they may have dropped a little)  so sitting quietly creating things might be all some of us can aspire to.

There will be more than just the four of us going on this little adventure.  My ED, Joanna and her partner Steven are driving down from Wellington to be part of the convoy that heads west into the high plateau.  My YD, Danella, recovering well with her mangled leg will also be coming, but not driving.  Siddy won’t be driving either, though his head will be out the front passenger window and his backside on someone’s knee at all times…….

An added extra will be the arrival of Alys’ husband Mike flying in from California for a couple of days as we wind down our time together.

It is going to be FABULOUS!

Before we go up country there will be a couple of days to explore Dunedin City.

There’s this fun trike/ motorbike that takes four people at a time up and around the hills of Dunedin to admire the views with ‘Experience Dunedin Tours’ This photo from their website experiencedunedin.com

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There’s a chance to check out the model for this proposal at the museum – this is my favourite plan ever for a city in this country  (Yes, there is no sound)  It has already progressed from being a thirty year plan to being possible in just six!  I may yet live to see it soaring majestically at the head of our beautiful harbour

On March 1st  we head up and west to the Lakes District and the heart of Tourism Capital  We are hoping to fit in a few fun adventures between exploring gold mining towns and tourist towns and wine and cheese tasting;  There will be barbecues preceded by margaritas and lake paddling accompanied by Siddy.  There might be gondola rides up the sides of a mountain, kayaking, bungy jumping or a more sedate visit to a lavender farm.  There might even be some adventure cycling for some fit folk………..  There WILL be wineries and cheeseries and lots of food.  There may even be some shopping.  Mostly there will simply be the chance to enjoy each other’s company – how fabulous is that?

We’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

On Light Catchers and Other Things

I found the ensuing post in my drafts folder.  It was written in October 2017, just before I fell over my own feet and the legs of my easel and started the ball rolling on three months of ‘failure to stay upright’ events for myself and my family which you mostly know about and suffered through with us.

Now safely on the other side and having been uplifted by the wonderful community that gathers about this blog throughout, I want to share this news, aged as it is, with you and introduce you to some great folk, whom I do hope you will wander off to say hello to – tell them I sent you and you’ll be in like Flynn  😀

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Some months back, deep in the heart of my winter, Susanne and I got into a bit of a discussion on her blog about patios and light catchers and weathering and as a result of that conversation I sent a light catcher off to Canada.   Susanne was going to hang it in her little summer garden and we were going to undertake an experiment, observing how the components behaved in an outdoor situation.   It never arrived.   Please do go here to read her beautifully written and wickedly funny piece on time and tides and missing light catchers and what eventually happened…………

While waiting to hear from Susanne – and expecting the worst – I made more light catchers.  This is the only one that made it into the gift shop.  It’s called ‘Summer Garden’ and I love the colour mix…….

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The others were given away.  And eventually I even received a commission from Luanne to make a coral one – you read about that in the previous post.

Also included in the long forgotten draft was a little story about the inspiration for she who is variously known as YD or the Official Photographer or even by her own lovely name of Danella – the inspiration for her living-room do-up.  An event that some of you may recall from last year.   It’s important to still post this as I promised Derrick I would and life got terribly in the way of me keeping my promises for the past four months…….   

Any hoo – the inspiration came from a photograph my friend Derrick sent me of his beautiful garden.  (I say ‘his’, but the garden designer and curator is really his wife, the lovely Jackie, and Derrick’s role is, I am led to believe, chiefly that of flower dead-header and chief photographer and eater of lovingly prepared evening meals.)  I requested a copy of one particular shot that had captivated me and Derrick kindly and generously sent me three different prints.  At first sight of a particular one, YD’s eyes lit up and per-ping it was off to live at her place.  Here it is seen on the wall in this previously unrevealed view of her living room, taken from the sofa

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And a closer up shot, in case your eyes are as poor as mine……

Ds room detail

Which, on reflection, I see doesn’t help at all – the light being on as it was a dull morning when I requested the photo be taken STAT!  Any how,  that lovely pink and green photographic print was the inspiration for all this

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Which I’m sure you recall…….    Various comments about the state of depletion of the wine rack not withstanding, this lovely room has been almost entirely her only venue of residence since breaking her leg and fracturing her ankle on that unfortunate night at the end of last November.  And said wine rack has been variously refilled and emptied and refilled again  – so it’s just as well we had made it pretty for her.  All thanks to Jackie and Derrick’s fabulous garden inspiration at the Old Post House in the UK.  Please, allow  me to urge you to pop in and say hello to these two charmers, Jackie’s already begun planting up her spring garden and the first daffodil has shyly bloomed and Derrick has his camera ready to capture whatever comes next.

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Now we are back to the present day.  We’ve had a largish fire, whipped up by a violent wind that preceded the arrival of a weather conflagration that was somewhat alarming as a tropical storm moving south through the country met an elongated east-west weather system originating from Antarctica right over the South Island and dumped an extreme amount of water in a relatively small area over a 24 hour period…..  It put the fire out (yay!) and flooded the usual places (boo!) and cooled the air down (yay!).  It went from 35C to 16C in 36 hours.  So, this is the new look Summer here in the Riviera of Antarctica folks.

Now that it is summer here and winter there, my friends in Alberta, Canada and Virginia, USA and San Jose, USA are busy rifling through their wardrobes to find some appropriate clothing to pack into their suitcases …………..  Come prepared for anything I say!  Three weeks to go and we’ll have kicked off our little bloggers reunion gathering!

And that my friends is a very big “YAY!!”

Here’s Siddy, before the storm,  wondering what that delicious aroma is floating through the air, from somewhere not here ………..  Mmmmmm B-B-Q!

Siddy smells barbecue

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Back On-Line Again

Surely there’s a song in that title – the closest my in-head song repertoire is coming up with is Willie Nelson et al being ‘Back on the Road Again’  – can you do any better?  Share a link in the comments if you can.

It’s been an interesting few months – regular readers and friends on Facebook have the gist of it, with a lot of falling over that began at the end of October (me) and continued on at the end of November (YD) dealing with the results of those, Deep Vein Thrombosis (me) and breaks and fractures (YD) –  interspersed with losses and Christmas and slow healing and excessive and unusual heat, plus thunderstorms and downpours more suited to the tropics than the Riviera of Antarctica…….  and let’s not forget a laptop that completely gave up the ghost on Christmas Day followed soon after by a mobile that went out in sympathy leaving me briefly but entirely devoid of any contact with the outside world.

When life goes south on you it is always a wonderful opportunity to become mindful of how many ways you are loved and supported.  We have had many opportunities to be mindful and grateful.  At the top of my list is my eldest daughter who dropped her life and flew in to care for her sister for the first week she was home from hospital.  And when my phone was declared deceased immediately funded a new one.  Second is the phenomenal rallying around and support offered to YD by her friends and work place as she recovers and after 50 days at home begins to take her first tentative steps back into the world in a moon-boot.

Next comes my phenomenally generous and kind ‘friend who blogs’ the amazing Alys over at Gardening Nirvana who sent a note that left me speechless along with the money for a new lap top.   I was left silent and humbled in the face of such powerful generosity of spirit!

I’m also grateful for an understanding of therapies and foods that feed the body and soul and hasten healing.  I’m grateful for the ability to look at incidents like this and see a bigger picture.  I’m happy that YD and I can laugh at ourselves and support each other even if it is like a couple of old crocks.

But my goodness after almost three months of on and off trauma I was tired out and so was poor Siddy – he has been so busy with visiting and caring and helping out, his little eyes just droop as soon as we get to a ‘sitting’ or ‘waiting’ part of the day.  We were both longing for a day at home in cooler temperatures.  And today we got our wish at last.  Good things ALWAYS arrive if you are patient enough!

So here we are – to say ‘Happy New Year’ even if it is three weeks late and to thank you all for those comments, emails and messages that have kept me buoyed up and forward looking even on days when I wasn’t.

The tiny courtyard garden has thrived this summer and in a few quiet moments we have enjoyed visiting it no matter the weather or time of day.  This was us taking a short break one evening just before getting the hose out ……..

Siddy Jan 18

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garden 3 Jan 18

Siddy’s new safety gate arrived and was quickly assembled so we can have the kitchen door open and enjoy any passing breeze (and passing people won’t get mobbed and harassed by an over enthusiastic puppy who is convinced they are there just to see him).  Orlando doesn’t think much of it however

O at door Jan 18

I also found time to gather, combine and make up a light catcher and sent it off on its journey to its new home – a delicious combinations of pinks and oranges and coppery hues; sea jasper beads, tiny coral beads, seashell pieces and masses of crystals

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And as days return slowly to a normal rhythm I have even begun to work once more in my art room, stay tuned for anything coming out of there.  And my mind turns also to the upcoming reunion of friends who first met up in Washington DC almost three years ago and who first met through reading each others blog posts here on WordPress.  Stay tuned for more on that…….

Thanks for coming by today and catching up with us here, I love that you do!