'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Summer evening

Music for the end of a hot summer day in the Bay.  Sitting on the verandah with a glass of cold cider and a plate of butter chicken on saffron rice with lime cheese-cake to follow, and watching the lowering sun strike the golden flowers of the abutilon.  A blackbird sings his evensong high in the top of the oak and everything is golden-coloured...

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Tramping the Abel Tasman.

My younger son and three friends have just completed the Abel Tasman walk.  They tramped (or hiked, depending on your nationality) for four days.
They walked from from Marahau to Anchorage the first day.
Anchorage to Onetahuti the second day, crossing the Araroa River estuary:

Third day: Onetahuti to Anapai Bay.
Forth day: Anapai Bay to the end.  What a wonderful walk.

I love the pristine beauty of the South Island.  If it weren't so lovely and warm up here in the north, I might seriously consider living down there again.  As it is, I will continue to visit every now and then, or do it vicariously through J. (and Vendr).

Below are J. and his friends on Tunnel Beach, near Dunedin.  You access it through a long, hand-carved tunnel.  It was dug in the 1870's through a sandstone cliff so that politician John Cargill and his family could get to the beach which was near their home.

Thank you Raphael for permission to post these photos.

Why Dogs Bite People #2

Friday, 28 November 2008


We are very good at seeing faces in things.  There are even blog sites devoted to it.  However, it's a lot more complicated than that. A new-born baby with no visual knowledge of life, will fixate on a face for much longer than other shapes, indicating it must be innate.  Babies will even attend  to a round card with felt-pen dots for eyes, and an 'O' mouth.  We can measure the point at which the 'face' becomes 'not-face-appearing-enough' to hold a baby's attention.   There are some interesting studies that attempt to measure the 'interest' a baby has in looking at a face.  It seems we are extremely good at seeing tiny differences in faces when we are born, but it is thought that our baby brains become less discerning over the first year, due to limited exposure to variety of facial types.  Here's more.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Purple to gladden the heart


A close second to blue is my love of purple in the garden.  The gladioli I planted in winter are up and showing their colours.  They are in a large pot just by the steps up to the house so they give me huge pleasure every time I go in and out.  Delicious!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A cure for boredom

“Blessed is he who has learned 
to laugh at himself,
for he shall 
never cease to be entertained.”

-Josh Billings

Monday, 24 November 2008

What is Art? Suggestion #3.

Art is a need for, or expression of, our creativity, but one that is not reached or required or appreciated until almost all other needs are met.  It is an indication of an advanced society.

An example of this way of looking at art is using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which if you are interested is discussed here.  
Maslow puts the arts under 'creativity', at the top of his pyramid.  

(Later on in his life he added a further level which he called  'self-transcendence', when he observed in himself that the achievements and success of his offspring were more satisfying than his own.)

Abraham Maslow,  A Theory of Human Motivation 1943.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

What is Art? Suggestion #2.

Leon Battista Alberti wrote 'Della Pittura' ('On Painting') in 1435.
He thought that art is the perfect combination of three things; 
The humanistic-based means and aims - istoria, 
the sensory detection of the play of light on a surface  ie, the visible reality - la piu grassa Minerva,
with mathematics - la mathematica - as the means of controlling this  visible reality.

Alberti does not present the painter with a rigid set of formulae, but puts the final outcome of the work of art in the hands of the artist.  He would say that the end result of the exhaustive decisions that strive to achieve the elusive mean, is well worth the pains.

Addressing the patron/purchaser as well as the painter, he says:
'The istoria which merits both praise and admiration will be so agreeably and pleasantly attractive that it will capture the eye of whatever learned or unlearned person is looking at it and it will move his soul'.

Thus, the art will not only please the beholder but also touch him or her.  It is to be effective, making a direct link between itself and the beholder. It is to affect both the art-educated and the uneducated.   Alberti believed art is addressed not just to an elite; it is to reach everyone by the universality of its appeal.  And should not be 'reserved for the bedroom of a merchant prince or petty tyrant' but is to be made public where all can see it.

It will make the painter's contemporaries 'judge him another god and will give him perpetual fame'; it will give the dead life, aid religion, and by its example raise the humane level of all men.
At the same time it is a profoundly humanist art, capable of expressing and satisfying the intellectual aims of both the princely patron and the artist.

Saturday, 22 November 2008


Art Museum

"So what is it?"
"I haven't a clue.  But it's by 'De Chevalle'."
"Oh!  It must be brilliant then!"

Thursday, 20 November 2008

You say Sanatorium, I say Sanitarium.

To go with my breakfast post yesterday, here's That Man playing 'The Sanitarium Shuffle".  He introduces it with a sly smile and says '..it's supposed to sound crazy... is that ok?'
I've eaten Sanitarium cereals since I was born, (and probably Tommy Emmanuel has too, being an Aussie), and never thought twice about the name. Perhaps that's why we're so healthy and strong Downunder.  The Sanitarium company has been producing cereals in Australia and New Zealand for one hundred years this year.  Pretty impressive!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

My favourite breakfast

Bear with me, visitors from offshore, for the breakfast mix to follow will possibly be of limited interest to you as the packet muesli brands may be unknown.  Either way, after about five years of exhaustive tests, I now bring to you:

My Favourite Breakfast.
Mix together the three different mueslis, extra raisins, lots of cashews (roasted but unsalted), linseeds,  and a goodly amount of freshly popped pumpkin kernels.  To a serving, add yoghurt, strawberries (or gold kiwifruit) and milk. 
Yum.  It's so good  that sometimes I have it for supper as well as for breakfast.  


T. had his operation yesterday afternoon, was on crutches by lunchtime today, and is home at his flat tonight.  Five screws attach a plate to his tibia as the plafond fracture would not align otherwise.  And of course he's in a cast too.  I'm amazed he's home already, he must be very determined.  Or is thoroughly sick of hospital food and beds!

And finally ...


Tuesday, 18 November 2008


T4 Team Kit With Xbr Brushless System

I have a pretty good shape team t4 for sale. It has an XBR brushless esc and a 13.5 motor. Does not come with a servo or receiver. Has a new pair of goosbumps and a used pair of hole shots. Has one older body. 

I spotted this wonderful advert the other day.  What on earth is it?  I wish I could do cartoons.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Them's the breaks

Oldest son T. lives in Hamilton, about 90 minutes away.  He's broken his ankle.   On Friday morning he came off his skateboard  (a special long one)  which he uses to get to and from work.  The story from the horse's mouth is that he saw that his ankle looked wonky and, after deliberation, decided to make it a better shape.  Then, finding he still couldn't walk very well, texted a friend who took him to a nearby A&E, from whence he was taken by ambulance to the main Waikato hospital A&E.  The ambulance officer who picked him up said 
"What's a guy your age doing on a skateboard anyway?"  
"I'm 23" replied T.  
"Oh" said the ambulance officer sheepishly.  (T does look a lot older due to his full bushy beard.)
At A&E they told him he had missed his calling.  Generally when people put their broken ankles 'back' they can pinch nerves or sever arteries, but T. did neither, luckily.  

He was given the usual X-ray and the ankle plastered, but later in the afternoon they cut that cast off and re-plastered the ankle in a slightly different position.  This is only temporary too, however, as he needs a plate screwed in when the swelling has gone down a bit.  Estimated day of general anesthetic and surgery is tomorrow Monday, so I'll go over to Hamilton again then.  This is his first time in hospital, ever.   (I think it will be the longest time he's been without a computer in nearly twenty years too).
Daughter N. has her first NCEA3 exam (biology) Monday morning too, and I'm supposed to be exhibiting paintings Thursday to Sunday, so it's shaping up to be another busy week!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Population of New Zealand...

...equals that of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield.  Only.  But think of all those funny-accented people coming down here scousing and eh-oupping all over the place.  

Liverpool dawn image courtesy of wiki.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Clip 2; Charlie Bit Me.

This has been around a while and if you haven't seen it you may be in the minority.  I post it here because it is just lovely.  What a gentle, kind lad Harry is, and what awesome parenting from Richard and Judy to have raised these two children, one of whom at least, solves his problems with talk! 

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Clip 1 Dramatic Tarsier.

Over the years my offspring have sent me some wonderful YouTube clips.  They've uplifted me when I was fed up, shocked me when I was complacent, informed me when I was ignorant, entertained me when I was relaxed (I'm never bored), and made me laugh so hard I've cried and my face has hurt.

This week as I'm flat out at school, painting and giving art ed presentations, I've decided to share some of the best and/or funniest with you.  Already done Tommy Emmanuel,  Matt Koval Matt Harding and Jimmy Nail/ Mark Knopfler.

Here is a tarsier seeing a butterfly for the first time.  For the best impact, have your sound on before you play it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

New! Now with sound at no extra cost!

Thanks to Helen, I've now sussed out how to bring to you sounds. Unfortunately the source for the MP3 of 'Minor Swing' is not longer available so here is the YouTube version instead.
A little pleasant listening...

Enjoy, Jay! (Visit Jay.)

Happy skies are coming!

One month after Halloween, Venus, the Moon, and Jupiter will converge on a tiny patch of sky no bigger than the end of your thumb held at arm's length.  December 1st is the best night to look, in the early evening, in the west. They should together look like a smiley face, as the moon will be a crescent. 

I found the picture at this Southern Hemisphere astroevents diary here.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

More dog

Shelly is a Pekinese crossed with a Japanese Chin.  Very funny, affectionate, loyal, kind, and a little insecure. 

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fireworks night.

We were in the middle of our usual Friday movie night qv, and a series of explosions shook the house - no, not John Key celebrating early, it was during a lull in the rain, and being near enough to Guy Fawkes'  night, someone nearby was letting off those really expensive big fireworks.  We pressed the pause button and exited out the front door and there it all was!  We had a grandstand view from the verandah, and I snapped these pics in literally the last twenty seconds of the display, not expecting them to turn out at all and not having the time to check them until it was all over.  I'm quite chuffed with them!  Much credit due to my camera - a Canon EOS 400D.  Ta dah!  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.  They should be clickable.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Painting: Sheep in morning mist DONE

The sheep are done.  More detailed but bluer in the foreground, and just indicated with warm cream blobs in the distance.  A  few highlights of ochre and burnt siena for textures on the edges of the hills here and there, a dab of richer prussian blue in the shadows and slap a bit of appropriately-hued paint on the edges of the boxed canvas, signature, and Bob's your uncle.

Painting: Sheep in morning mist 3

I've warmed up the hills and done the mist... I think it will stay like this; the atmosphere is coming along nicely.  Next the sheep.  However before I tackle them I'm off to vote.