'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.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Babies and mother doing well


Well, yesterday the half-dead thrush baby began to move more, and by yesterday evening the two of them were feeding voraciously. This has been a delightful experience. I'm feeding them every hour or so with a smidgeon of dog food (about 1/4 teaspoon) mashed in a little milk and warmed to blood heat.
They are such a hoot, because when they hear my voice and see me coming, they wiggle their little bottoms as if to say 'here it comes, Mum!', and then lift them up as far as possible to do a little deposit over the side of the 'nest'. If I was a good mother thrush, I'd pick the little gooey bundle up in my beak and drop it over the side. But as I am human, (or, according to one person, a Toblerone), I just lift them out and replace their rag.
Then the feeding frenzy begins, and they strain their scrawny necks and hold up their immense orange mouths and I squirt the mixture in with a little plastic eye-dropper. They finally subside into little squeeks and churrips through their closed beaks, as if they have a mouthful, then fluff up again and their eyes close and they fall asleep again. All in about 20 seconds. In a weird way, the routine 'babyness' of them all is like feeding my own little ones.
Another interesting thing, if you can handle it, is that even their poos smells sweet too, just like breast-fed baby.
And I even feel quite chuffed that they slept for 5 hours last night!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Thrush babies

A morning story.


I woke up in my little house to the sound of the rain stopped. Perhaps you know how it is, when it's been noisy all night on the tin roof, and the silence is odd. The chooks were grizzling and wanted to be let out so, out of respect for the guests in the house, I did that. Then they grizzled because they've run out of bugs, they've turned the piece of ground over so thoroughly, so I pointed to the full feeder and the dumb clucks said "Oh! Great!" as if they'd never seen it before, and rushed over with that loose-bloomered run they have.

On the way past the palm, I noticed the wind and rain had blown the baby thrush out onto the ground. It was completely wet and lifeless, so I picked it up and was morbidly fascinated to feel it move in my palm and open its eyes. Quite cold 'though. Not a good sign. Still, as usual, I had a vision of it revived and eagerly receiving egg-and-bread from my maternal hand, so brought it inside, dried it with the hair-dryer and wrapped it in a flannel and set it on a hot water bottle. You never know. I've always done this since I was able to walk. I never seem to be discouraged by about a 0.1% success rate.

Shelly was leaping around like a loony waiting for her walk, so I took the lead and camera and headed off through the mist and air so thick and warm you could drink it and call it Horlicks.

The Park was damp and soggy, the dawn redwoods and willows bent down to the ground with droplets, and every blade of grass be-dropped to capacity - not a breath of wind stirring a leaf.


The willows dripped into the river that swirled brownly beneath them.

Futher on I was amazed to see patches of dull white in the grass. Surely not mushrooms this time of year, but yes! It was. I collected a nice number and put them in my jacket.


And then, as if this cornucopia weren't enough, I spotted a red onion plant that someone had randomly thrown over their fence. Nothing wrong with it, so I picked it up. It will go nicely with my mushers for breakfast!


So now I sit typing and they are all sizzling and smelling buttery and delicious with some added slices of the Christmas ham. Enough for a good breakfast for me and a guest if one gets up before I polish them all off.

Update: I found another thrush baby under the oak, warm, dry and very keen to eat. It has had half an egg yolk already.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Fruit

This first fruit is in the garden, the second and third fruits are on the way to the park. Can you guess them?


Sunday, 28 December 2008

My bedroom

...while we have visitors.  I think the best sleeping quarters in the house.  I might move out there permanently.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Scenes of Christmas Day II



For those with glasses, here it is again, and clickable this time, hopefully.   And no, the bandana does not conceal curlers!  It's for a NZ CanTeen (teenagers with cancer) annual fundraiser.  And no, Toblerone does not come out this time of year in boxes with OH OH OH, it's just upside down.  But unless you've been into the port already, I expect you knew that.  
Perhaps it's a mystical Ghost-of-Christmas-future's response to the game they are playing on the X-box.  I understand it's 'Bomberman'.  

Scenes of Christmas Day



Just up the road is this house.  People stop and the children jump out.  The Santa Claus moves and waves and says "Ho ho hooo!" in a tinny voice.  The stars flicker epileptically from red to green, and I can't believe the trouble they have gone to.   My son tells me the local electricity supplier have sponsored half of a Hamilton street's electricity bill over Christmas.  What next?  KFC?  'Sex in the City?'  Oh, that's right, NZ already has them.

We, on the other hand, have a decorated Bedhead this year because I was too stingy to buy a Christmas tree, and it was discovered while de-cluttering the spare room.  

You can see it in the background in this typically relaxed Christmas Day scene in our lounge:


In the meantime the darling Shaver Brown end-of lay girls that I picked up yesterday are hard at work outside, and excepting one, have already laid an egg each today.  



Well, time to go and stuff a duck.  

My Nanna's stuffing:  Mix all together soft breadcrumbs, finely chopped bacon, softly cooked chopped onions, chopped fresh sage, salt and pepper.  Add beaten egg and milk enough to moisten mixture and make sure you make enough to bake some separately in an oven-proof dish as it is very popular.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

A Christmas Song

I regret that the link below no longer works.  You'll have to hum "Let it Snow' to yourself instead, if you want to feel Christmassy...

Happy Christmas everyone!



Sunday, 21 December 2008

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Special day



Exactly twenty-four years ago today my life changed marvelously and forever.  

Because, at about 8.30 am, my first child was born.  Here he is at about ten months.  
He's still cute now.  
But in a different way, obviously.  

Taller, for a start.

And hairier.

But possibly no more mobile, what with the plaster cast and all.

Happy Birthday darling!

(Almost) the longest day of the year begins.


I took these just a short time ago, between 5.30 and 6.15 am...




Another golden day in the Bay.  This last one was from sitting here in my seat in front of the computer.  The dark fuzzy band on the right is the edge of the screen.

I must get going doing things before it gets too hot.


Friday, 19 December 2008

The Amazing Huhu




As I work in my studio after dark, (in itself quite a challenge as the days are very long in December), I often hear a 'bang' on the window.  It's this fellow above, the huhu beetle.
This one was about 2 and a half cm long, not counting the antennae.  
They are attracted to the light and sometimes come inside on summer evenings, whirling and bumbling and banging around the light bulbs.  They are quite harmless, but, as my young nephew once found out, if you tease them enough, they can bite you quite hard!

The huhu beetle is the adult of the huhu grub which lives for about two years inside fallen wood in the forest, eating, well, wood, and moulting until it is large, fat and pale cream, and, according to those who have tried, one of the most delicious sources of protein in New Zealand, tasting a little of almonds.

I'll stick with cow or sheep thanks, but if you'd like to gross out yourself or a sensitive child, see this man about to eat one.



Thanks to Geoff and Jan of the marvellous Millstream Gardens for the clearer photo of the beetle.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Rupert



I was cleaning up the children's bookcase the other day and came across my old Rupert annuals. Some of the cartoons I haven't looked at for 48 years, egad, and a strange, soft, upwelling of little-girl memories quite overcame me.  As I looked at the pictures, especially the backgrounds, I realised why I always feel so 'at home' in Europe.  It is the soft rounded hills, the little lanes, the shape and size of the houses, the snow-at-Christmas, the copses and oaks and robins and larks, the urban streets sandwiched with semi-detached houses and so on.  I met these daily through my formative years in Rupert, Enid Blyton, Giles magazines, Punch cartoons, Ronald Searle, Andy Capp, Beatrix Potter, I Spy, Twizzle, The Bobsey Twins, Black Beauty, Peter Pan and Wendy, the Amelia Anne stories, and my favourite: Milly Mollie Mandy, (because she always had a map in the front of her books).  

Tony was posting today about his memories of growing up with Charlie Brown and Snoopy and how kids today want superheroes, aliens and Hellboy, whoever he is.  

Something's lost, I think.  Innocence?  Childhoodedness?  Or am I just getting old and everything in the past is getting rosier and rosier.  

Go away and play your Grand Theft Auto IV, son and leave me here in the hammock reading old Rupert annuals.


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Touched



I've been given a lovely award.  Profoundly Inarticulate has popped across and considers I meet the criteria.  Thank you! 
 
Now, time restraints* at the moment preclude me passing this on, but I will.  Sometime in the new year.
In the meantime, here's the reason for the award:

"This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this text into the body of their award."


* Haven't done all the Christmas cards yet.  Yes I know, only private jets will get them in time for Christmas.  Look, people know me, ok?  

Monday, 15 December 2008

Up on the Roof

I've cleaned out the gutters and installed gutter guard over the last month.  Things are nice up there at the top of the ladder.  There's lots of sky.  And a new perspective - a new view of things below.



Sunday, 14 December 2008

No post today -it's Sunday...


...and I really, really must write my Christmas cards!  
Instead, just a nice photo or three, taken yesterday in the garden.  They should be clickable.




Saturday, 13 December 2008

My cuppith overflows



Thank you YP!  From the grimy Midlands a nice part of England, comes a special and brand new blogger award!  The inimitable Yorkshire Pudding has presented it jointly to me and another blogger - I am sharing it with the well-known former Leeds musician  David.
Although the award itself might be considered by some artistic and sensitive people as a little tacky, or perhaps garish, I personally am delighted to be the recipient of this recognition, and will not be looking this gift in the mouth.  So to speak.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Sundown and moonup


A nice sunset tonight.  The flax bush silhouetted against the western sky at 8.50 tonight:


But when I turned around to go inside I spotted this:


And a few minutes later, with the telephoto lens, it looked like this:

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Approved



Belatedly, on my blogging anniversary last week, I applied to the World Blog Council for the formal sanctioning of my blog.  I was approved!  

If you like my site, please visit theirs by clicking HERE and voting for me, remembering that I have never come top of any poll nor won anything in my life*, and you would be doing a Good Deed and earn my Undying Appreciation  if you assisted me to be top even for two milliseconds.


* Except an LP and two seats to see Rita Coolidge and Kris Krisofferson back in 1974,
and second in the flower-arranging, multiple blooms, when I was 9. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tui through my studio window.


(Ignoring the indifferent visual quality, just listen to this clip while you're reading the rest of this post.)



The last couple of months a Tui has been visiting our house once or twice a day to check out the cobwebby windows of my studio and eves.  

Above is a photo I took a month ago just as he was leaving.  You can see the wonderful blue-green sheen to his feathers.

And finally today I got two more better photos of him (or her)...  What a thrill.

Tui is a unique New Zealand bird, not found anywhere else.  A bit larger than a blackbird, he is a good flyer (unlike many other NZ birds),  adaptable so quite common, has a distinctive singing voice, replete with clicks and squawks, and is  a consummate mimic.  He belongs to the honeyeater family.


You can see the white tuft of feathers at his throat (the reason why Tui was called the Parson Bird by the first European New Zealand settlers), and the lacy white feather collar over his shoulders.  He's looking up at the eaves for spiders and small insects, but in vain because unfortunately I cleaned the windows yesterday.  
And if you look very closely you can see a tiny touch of orange on the top of his head.  This will be the orange pollen from the few flax flowers that are just coming out.  He's been popping his beak in to get the sweet nectar, and the pollen has accumulated on his head.  There aren't many out just yet, so he's still supplementing with insects.  Tui are one of the few birds in the world that have long feathery tongues so they can collect nectar better. 

And now, for the LVD Awards!




The first LVD Award ever awarded goes today to Silverback for the zaniness of this post.  It involves a stationary white bird, a giraffe, McDonalds, and a bicycle.  Congratulations Ian!


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Fridge Stuff


I always look at people's fridges.  I think they are as individual as fingerprints.  Over the years mine has reflected the changing nature of the house's inhabitants.  When we were homeschooling there was a constantly changing display of Piaget-like developmental art.  Then followed writing and projects which later of course moved to other locations like the bookcases as they become too heavy to stick with even a heavy-duty magnet.   On the farm, there were always fertiliser agent or stock agent phone numbers, and I've always been big on Sayings That Improve You.  "Boost Your Self Esteem!" or "What have you done for yourself today?" etc etc.  Good to have those little reminders that your yang (or is it yin?) hasn't been seen for five years, when you have 3 under 5 and live out in the country.  Mine was probably hiding under some bed chatting to a dust bunny as big as a plastic inflatable Death Star.
At times the fridge has become like an archeological dig in the Rift Valley, to the point that one browsing visitor, waiting for the kettle to boil (regulars make their own tea here - it's a sign that my usual anal obsessions for Being the Perfect Hostess have been replaced by my relaxed regard for you) has commented "I can't keep up with all the reading on your fridge!"

These days it's a bit tidier and elegant.  I'm especially fond of the piggy 'Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm' magnet.  If you're ever near Salisbury I highly recommend a visit.  A marvelous place - not just for the animals, but for the people who run the place.  In a four-month holiday brightly lit by strangers'  friendship and kindnesses to my daughter and me, they shone the brightest.




So, what does your fridge say about you?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday, 7 December 2008

On Christmas


Oldest son, aged about three:

"What is the nex' big thing coming up Mummy?"

Me: "Christmas, love."

Son: "What do we do at Crissmiss?"

Me: "We give people presents because it reminds us that people gave the baby Jesus presents when he was born"

Son: "And...?"

"We have a big holiday because it's summer and we can go to the beach and camp and swim every day."

"Anything else?"

"We get a conifer tree and decorate it, because we copy England and Christmas is in winter there and the all the leaves are off the other trees.  Conifers smell nice and look bright and green".

"And...?"

"We get holly and bring that inside too, and hang pieces up around the house, and put a sprig on top of the Christmas pudding."

"Why?"

"Um, because holly has bright red berries in winter and the red and green look nice together."

Pause. Then, very adamantly: "No.  That's not why."  

"It isn't?"

"No, it's because it 'members us that it's a holly - day."


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Our garden


From our garden I can see the Sun rise...


It's a place where Creatures lurk.





There are lots of pretty corners:






...and at the end of the long hot days, the sun sets over the river,



and the stars come out one by one.