Sunday, 30 December 2012

Recollecting ...

I am in an internet place in Queenstown being driven crazy by a French-speaking individual in opposite booth who is skype-ing. It occurs to me that a new noise-annoyance these days could well be skype-ers - in libraries, airports, internet cafes ... they can be very loud and intrusive. However, I myself have been guilty of skype-ing loudly in a public place, so I can't very well judge others now can I?

I am trying to blog. I want to catch up with the last few days and write some sort of record - post some photos. I don't want to use up all of my father-in-laws internet allocation for the month, so thought an internet place in down-town Queenstown would be fine. There have been hitches however. It is not ideal, but I shall plough on and see how far I get.

We spent Christmas Day at my brother's with another brother and sister and their families. The weather was perfect (maybe a bit too hot, but I daren't complain about that) the food plenteous and the company a lot of fun.

A picnic table under trees by the town's swimming pool was where we decided to set up Christmas Dinner.

... one hot dog ...

Late afternoon we went back to the house to open the presents and have dessert.

Boxing Day, some of us went for a short bush walk on a track that led us into a black birch forest with a history of gold-mining and forestry.

And my time in the internet place is up. I will log off now. There is a smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from outside. Not pleasant. I am off to meet Robert, at the Rees statue. Time to take in the mountain backdrop and some lake freshness.
It has been a frustrating morning so far, but even so, good to recollect a hot Christmas Day with family and a cool walk in the forest.

Monday, 24 December 2012

On the Eve

Christmas Eve we will go to church, for after all that is what it is all about.  Though it was more likely that the end of September is when Jesus was born. 

Summer mornings are made for waking up early.  One morning I sat out in the stillness of a half-woken world and watched the sun come up.

My granddaughter helping me to make waffles. These are the most important times.  I value each one.

Christmas Eve - getting ready to go off in our son's van - for Christmas this year, he's with his girlfriend Jenny in her homeland, Germany. Last year he was on top of a mountain - with his girlfriend Jenny - in South America. Next year we trust they will be here with us.  Meanwhile, we're babysitting his van and thought we'd take advantage of that fact and use it for the camping leg of our Christmas break.

I'm looking forward to family fun, good food and wine, meaningful moments and relaxing reads over the Christmas- New Year break.

Merry Christmas to you and yours for 2013.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

'Tis the Season

After some attendance, the grape-vine is looking healthier this year than it has for a while. There is a cucumber plant slowly doing its thing as well as tomoat plants.

A garden on a bank is not the easiest thing to weed.

Much easier to grow what you can in a pot (of some description).

The garden's Novembver splurge has died down. Like me, it is taking a breather before its December splash.

Strawberries beside the rhubarb, which is telling me it likes its new space.

The strawberries have been netted up, stalling any birds eyeing up the ripening strawberries.

Of course when I am attending to the garden, it means I am not writing. One cannot do both. At the moment the garden is winning. For a season.

Amazing what a woman with a pick-axe can do - the split stone-steps are now together after I levered one of them closer to the other. About fifteen years ago, after much effort - read brute strength and many hands - and help from my extended  family, they were rescued from my childhood home that is now long gone. My father's collection of Orepuki gemstones went into these steps.

 A rare sight these days, the two cats sharing the same sleeping space. Aggie doesn't usually tolerate her big bro. Grommet in such close proximity.

Monday, 10 December 2012


One day I looked out to see this web catching the light.

A few days later I looked out to see what was left of a butterfly that had flown into the trap.

I've been throwing the ends of our bread out on to the lawn for the birds. Mostly it's the local blackbird family that comes to partake, but one day a whole flock of starlings (a murmuration) landed on the lawn like a scene  from Hitchcock's horror, The Birds.

I'm pretty sure the dowdier-feathered birds are young starling - there seemed to be about three or four families of them gathered at the feast.

 A sparrow made sure of his share.

As did a chaffinch.

The visitation only ocurred that one time, every other time since, the bread has only attracted the blackbird family and sparrows, chaffinches and wax-eyes, but not the starlings.

Neko Case is a singer I like and one of her songs (Power Nettles) has a line thats mentions starlings. It occurs to me that they are slightly repungnant (even their latin name sturnus vulgaris seems to hint at this) yet at the same time, they could bea bird of myth or poetry - a little like crows or ravens in other countries (New Zealand does not have crows or ravens). Note: My b-in-law tells me that there are intorduced crows in New Zealand but haven't thrived. He wonders why ... so do I. Very curious. (Maybe not enough oaks or elms in the mist to caw from?!)

I looked up some information  at the Te Ara (NZ Encyclopedia) site found HERE.  I found out that starlings were introduced to NZ in the early 1860's, that farmers find them useful for getting rid of ticks on sheep (they are the birds you will see sometimes riding a sheep's back, picking up ticks in the wool). Starlings are also useful for getting rid of the pest, the common grass grub. However, these days grape-growers (vintners) are not so keen on starlings because they are a bird that likes to eat grapes.

The other day on my walk,  just as I was just wondering why I bothered to lug my camera,  right in front of me a mama duck clambered up the bank,  her babies clamouring around her, almost lost in the grass.

I stood stock still and clicked as the story unfolded, literally at my feet.

She had so many babies! And on her own too (often you see the drake helping out in these scenarios - where was Papa Duck I wondered?).  Also quite a late brood, because after all, it is summer now. Spring is over.  The ducklings went crazy when they hit the grass and seemed to scatter in all directions. With soft, calm quacks, Mama Duck tried to get them going in one direction.

I counted them - eleven ducklings

 enjoying the grass and the daisies.

Mama was counting them too.

Proud and anxious all at the same time. A familiar mix of parental emotions.

 And off  they went.  Such little bits of fluff in a large, large world. I hope they all survive.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Cool Start

Christmas decorations; Queenstown, New Zealand.

A weekend in Queenstown and a new page on the calendar. Bring it on Summer! (Alas, Summer doesn't seem to be lisening).

Queenstown, like everywhere else, is decked out in its Christmas decorations; the red, green and gold standing out against the grey, schist-rock buildings Queenstown is known for.

Robert doing a Ministry of Funny Walks impersonation; Queenstown  Mall

... high winds; David Eggleton's poem-on-the -wall making a big splash  

... teal (or scaup) ducks at the jetty;  Lake Wakatipu

... a type of mandarin duck ... ? (Later: Two people have informed since I posted this, that the bird is a crested grebe.)

old wagon ... I wonder if this is the same one (it was painted red and blue back then) that our sons used to clamber up on to when we were here for Queenstown holidays? They wouldn't be allowed to do that now that it is a formal display.

... the large Wellingtonia on the Poat Office corner used to be Queenstown's Christmas Tree - decked out in lights it was an amzing sight to see.

We are back home again now and still waiting for summer to arrive.

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...