'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, 29 March 2009

Feathers, cobwebs and dew

I feel I received the most marvelous gift this morning.  I got up early and went down to the park.  The sun was low still and caught the soft fluffy plumes of the toitoi in its warm glow as I went down the path.  But the special gift was the on the grass - the sun's rays were at just the right angle, and the whole sports ground looked like it had been covered with silver from the dew on each blade, and caught on a million spiderwebs.  Breath-taking!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Early signs that winter is on its way...

Went to the park today and noticed a couple of autumn features...  The first picture needs no explanation, and probably the second too, but I've added some dialogue because I'm feeling in a silly mood:

"Ok, guys, I know it's been about six months and you lost a lot of brain cells over Christmas, but I'll go over it again...  Now, this is the ball...  Yes I know it doesn't bounce straight because it's egg-shaped... it's to make the game harder.  What's that John?  Those H's?  They are goals... no, there are no nets, you kick the ball over them...  it's to make it harder.   No Henry, no padding, this is rugby, and we are hard men.  Now, put on your tape and bandages, and let's show our mate ol' Loosehead Len over there in the wheelchair a really good hard practice session, ok?"

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


It is clear to me this cartoon was drawn by someone other-than-a-New Zealander, but I'm going to post it anyway... 'cos it made me smile.

PS. why do I know it wasn't done by a New Zealander?  
Because a New Zealander would never call a kiwifrut a 'kiwi'.  A Kiwi is the bird, or a New Zealander (either by birth or adoption, we don't mind).  One or the other.  But never a fruit.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tonal drawing exercises - graphite

I thought it was about time I posted about this course of study to which I've recently committed myself.
We have started with drawing - charcoal and pencil, with the odd day of ink.  Tonal drawings - a classical start to a art degree.  I'm loving every minute.  But I've never produced so many drawings in one five-week period, in my whole life!

Amongst them the old exercise, a sphere showing at least 5 tones:

And I did a basket of eggs, courtesy of my darling chooks:

Monday, 23 March 2009

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Sometimes I spend so long at the beach looking at distant veiws, the breaking waves and clouds, I forget to look down at my feet.  And here I see them; sturdy little plants of soft bleached colours, eking out an existence in a hostile, dry and salty environment.  Clinging on, holding the sand together, and starting the soil-building process, and providing a tiny, more hospitable micro-climate for insects.   Good on them, I say!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Poem for Pudding

In my quest to find interesting photos of Wellington last week, I came across this plaque, and after reading it a dozen times and still not really understanding it, I decided to take it home and ask that clever blogger Yorkshire Pudding.  So.  What's it all about, YP?  

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Global Warming is Happening!

For your perusing.  And ACTION.
I know I've posted it before, under the title of saving (money) but it's a great little mind-map poster and worth posting again.

I heard on the radio yesterday (I don't watch TV) that there has been an update, based on the rate of melting of the Antarctic ice sheet...  expected sea level rise of .9 to 1.3 metres (or even 'meters', dear friend-in-other-parts-of-the-world) within the next 100 years.  

This is significant.  And is based on the present rate of global warming.  It could be 3 metres.

Don't think waves lapping the doorsteps of houses or apartments.  
Don't think 'oh we can just move the little huts on the beach-front up a bit more'.  
Don't even go near 'let's buy inland now and it will be beach-front and we can make lots of $$€€££ darling'

Think storm surges over present low-lying land.  Deltas.  Tidal flats.  River mouths.  Islands.  Shell-banks.  Sand dunes.  Spits.  It is irrelevant if there are people or buildings or cities there.  The sea won't care.

New York
the Netherlands
New Orleans
Can Tho
The Suez Canal
the Chilean coast
Hong Kong
The Panama Canal
Tai Binh
The Mekong delta
many Pacific islands

To check your area go here.
You can also plug in a different sea-level rise and click for the new scenario.

Now please look at the poster again.  You can click on it to make it bigger.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Yesterday I discovered records on the internet about a branch of my family going back to the early 1500's.  I now have information about my great( x 11) grandfather... and all the fathers between him and my own grandfather Eddie who died before I was born.  

With the exception of my own grandfather, they all lived out their lives within a few miles of Bristol, marrying women within a few miles of their own homes.  Yeomen, tenant farmers, publicans, cobblers, and coal miners.  Eleven generations, until along came the industrial revolution, and England grew wealthy and built ships and trained armies and  my Grandfather Eddie ended up far from Bristol in a military hospital in China where he fell in love with and married a White Russian emigré and took her back to England with him.

Their first child was my mother.  Her first daughter was me.  My first daughter turns eighteen tomorrow.

Somehow this seems very momentous.  And in another way, it's just another day.  

Life, if we are lucky, goes on.  

But if any one of those eleven men and their wives, and all the people living in Russia that were required to create my Baboushka, and all the people in London that had to live long enough to marry and breed and produce the line leading to my Nanna and Poppa on my father's side, hadn't survived long enough to have the next child down the chain, I wouldn't exist.  

And likewise for my children's father...

Makes you think, don't it?

Happy Birthday for tomorrow darling girl!  You are the amazingly special product of a long line of lucky chances.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

My Dog Likes to eat up Boxes.

When the kids were little, one of our favourite books was this one:  "My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes".  Fun, simple rhymes and introducing cats from all around the world and what they like to do ... 

These days we just have a real-life dog.  Who likes to sit in boxes.  Once she has had a good growling and frenetic tear and chew session of the box - to make it more habitable, perhaps?  

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Miranda Shorebird Centre and the astonishing Godwit

Today, with three friends, I drove up to base of the Firth of Thames - the big bite out of New Zealand that has the beautiful pristine Coromandel Peninsula on the east, and the huge city of Auckland on the west (more or less - let's not get too picky) to the Miranda Shorebird Centre. 

Here on the shell banks the special and rare Wrybill Plover overwinters.  
There are only about 5300 of these lovely birds left in the world and about 40% are here.
At Miranda, enthusiasts also can see lots of other birds too.  

There today, back from their long journey to Alaska where they nest and raise their young, were Bar-tailed Godwits.    We listened to a great talk by Keith Woodley who is the manager at the centre, about his months in Alaska checking out the Godwits' tundra nesting sites.  He told us about E7 - a female Godwit that has been tagged with a satellite tracking device.  She has proven what scientists have suspected - that, unlike seabirds which rest and feed on their migratory journeys, Godwits just keep going.  She flew non-stop for 10,200km (6,340 miles) from New Zealand to Yalu Jiang in China.  She then flew a further 5,000km (3,000 miles) to the Godwit breeding grounds in Alaska.  And on the way back to NZ, her tag was still working, and we know she flew even further - a record at an amazing 11,500km (7,150 miles) in one hop, without stopping!  She took just over 8 days to come back to New Zealand from Alaska.  
This is a little bird smaller than a Mallard duck.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Going to the mattresses in Wellington.

I've had a mad, full on three days in the capital  city Wellington this week.  My art class plus the first year music students took the bus down and back which was in itself a mission, as the trip takes over nine hours.

We stayed on the Waiwhetu Marae - sleeping all together on the floor of the wharenui (meeting house) on mattresses, and spent our day time visiting Te Papa - the national museum, and being 'culture vultures' in the CBD.

We were honoured to be allowed out the back of the museum, where are stored tens of thousands of artifacts, especially those relating to Māori history.  It was fascinating and almost overwhelming there, and the whole three days has given me material and knowledge that I will need months to assimilate and examine.

"Waharoa" - Te Papa, first floor.

This is the lower part of a lovely example of a traditional waharoa, a gateway or entranceway.  

The work was carried out by master carver Neke Kapua and his sons Tene and Eramiha, of Ngāti Tarawhai, a subtribe of Te Arawa of Rotorua. It is carved from a 22-metre single slab of tōtara that came from the central North Island.

Early-morning joggers along the waterfront, Wellington.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Ted Bracey

Memorial exhibition and tribute by Campbell Smith.

Living in the Waikato is like living a long rich evening- generous on the one hand yet sheltered and intimate on the other-  A sort of friendly twilight.
- Ted Bracey.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Uncle Ted

Image removed at the request of Ted Bracey's estate. 
Hamilton Museum tribute exhibition information

Sunday, 8 March 2009

After the Rain...

I had a dream last night that the river came right up to the house and for some weird reason I had the fridge and freezer out on the verandah, and the piles were eroded away and the doors opened and all the food fell off the shelves into the flood.  You know how it is with dreams...  There's no way the river would ever flood that far, but I was still relieved to wake up.  

When I went for my walk this morning the rugby grounds were still flooded and the lake had attracted a gazillion arguing gulls.  The poor worms were huddled together in great knots to avoid drowning so I rescued a few, but there's plenty of them - tasty pickings for the birds -and lots of black grass grub beetles too, flailing ineffectually around in the water.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Here today, for your viewing pleasure; a random choice from the archives, posted in haste before I trudge through the rain across the park and over the footbridge to the educational institution where I spend my days now...

Taken in a church yard somewhere in Sussex.

Monday, 2 March 2009


I feel naked.  I went down to Hawkes Bay over the weekend and drove back here to the Bay of Plenty, leaving my cameras (SLR and Point and Click) in my father's living-room.   They had been employed there taking photos of photos from the album he put together when he was fifteen.  The idea was to 'do' all the old photos and memories ... ha!  we got through one album in the weekend.  But it was great, and I know we are both very much looking forward to continuing the journey...
Anyway, back to the camera.  

I can't believe how attached I am to that thing.  And I must have seen 20 wonderful shots on the way home - the sky was bruised and dramatic with banks of towering cumuliform clouds, and the sunshine kept breaking through and highlighting a grove of trees or a barn, or the side of a hill...  

Never mind.  He's has kindly offered to post the point and click.

In the meantime here's a pic from the album.  Another 'beauty in unexpected places'.  The pretty pattern on the chest on one of 'my' thrushes.  Who incidentally visit very rarely now, and are very shy when they do, but are healthy and obviously thriving out there in the Wild World.

Coming soon:  My Big News  -  Why I Haven't Been Blogging So Much Lately.