'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, 29 April 2015

Down on the Farm for a While

Two dogs, two cats, two goats, two budgies, a number of hens, a number of morepork owls, one rooster, one cow and a lot of quiet. Yep, I must be at the farm again.
I said goodbye to the owners at the airport very early this morning and then watched the sun rise over the Whakatane marina. Lovely.

Friday, 24 April 2015


Autumn is here. It's not particularly cold yet, but I have picked the dried beans I left on the vine (butter and tiger), pulled up the tomato vines, cut back the dalias, and the gone-to-seed heads of the Japanese anemones. It won't be long before the oaks start letting go their leaves and I will have my seasonal dilemna: sweep them regularly or have one huge rake-up when it's all over. What is your philosophy I wonder?
Here are some bright colours on my Dad's ornamental grape. With some autumn rain drops thrown in for free.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

You Can Have the Sun Now ...

5.35pm and we are saying cheerio to the sun today.  It's your turn to have it over there on the other side.
Isn't it a lovely thought that at any moment somewhere in the world it's a sunset?  And sunrise.

From my verandah just five minutes ago…

Closer up.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bearded Irises and Flag Irises

What's the difference between bearded irises and flag irises I hear you* ask?
All irises (named the latin for 'rainbow' because they come in so many colours) have six petals.  Three stand up - the 'Standards', and three point down - the 'Falls'.

Flag irises are types of non-bearded irises.
Most common in gardens are the German bearded Irises (Iris germaninca).  They have a fuzzy 'beard' on top of each of the falls.

Here's a bearded iris in a rich browny plum:

'Granny's' bicolour', 'plicata' bearded iris from Ngaio Street.
('Bicolour' because the falls are a different or darker colour to the standards.
'Plicata' because there are stippled, dotted or stitched lines darker on a lighter ground.)

Granny's bearded iris in my garden.

A 'haft' showing above the beard, between the 'standards'.  It is connected to the top of a 'fall'.
A 'self' coloured bearded iris showing what 'luminata' means - there are no 'plicata' marks.
'Self' coloured is one solid colour.
Bearded irises are catagorised based on size. Varieties of Bearded Iris:
 Miniature Dwarf Bearded Iris
Dwarf Bearded Iris
Intermediate Bearded Iris
Border Bearded Iris
Miniature Tall Bearded Iris
Tall Bearded Iris

The beardless irises have no fuzz. Varieties of Beardless Iris:
Siberian Iris
Japanese Iris
Louisiana Iris
Dutch Iris
Blue Flag Iris
Yellow Flag Iris

Siberian Iris Iris sibirica 'Butter and Sugar'
Like most of the siberian irises,
this has very well-behaved leaves
which form a tidy clump when not in bloom.
Image from here
Japanese Iris - there are three kinds, but outside Japan, I. ensata is usually the one referred to.  Distinctively flat-topped with short standards.

Japanese iris, Iris ensata 'Chitose'
Image by naruo0720

Louisiana Irises (I. hexagonae).  There are five species native to Louisiana.  Most of them like damp feet.
Here is one.
Iris nelsonii.
Image from, and specialist discussion here about this group

 Blue and yellow flags also prefer damp ground.  You can see the standards lie flatter and the hafts are more obvious.

Iris versicolor, or blue flag.
(Origin: North America)
Image from here

Iris pseudocorus or yellow flag.
(Origin: Europe, North Africa, Britain)
Image from here
Finally, two more of the approximately 300 species to be found world-wide.
The stunning Black Iris of Burma:
Iris Chrysographes, or black iris
(Origin: South China and Myanmar)
Photo from here
And a very ruffled Tall Bearded iris:
 Iris Germanica 'Sea Power'
Image from here.

Another view of the bearded iris my daughter bought me a few years ago.

If you want to learn all the iris terminology, here's a good list
And here are some more lovely arty images of irises from all around the world.

* This post is mostly for my benefit, and that of my daughter who has recently moved into a lovely old house and has renewed interest in irises.  But I hope you enjoyed it too!

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Honeysuckle and the Bee

I bought a honeysuckle plant.  I can never see honeysuckle flowers without hearing my Nanna singing the 'Honeysuckle Song'.  She first sang it to me when I was about three, and, like many things learnt from an early age, I have always taken the words without reflection.  But recently I thought about them as I sang, and, well, Nanna, they really are delightful, although rather saucy for my picture of the 1920's!*

She sang only the chorus to me:

You are my honey, honeysuckle, I am the bee,
I'd like to sip the honey sweet from those red lips I see
I love you dearly, dearly, and I hope that you love me
You are my honey, honeysuckle, I am the bee.

Here's the whole song.


On a summer afternoon
Where the honeysuckle bloom
When all nature seemed at rest
‘Neath a little rustic bow'r
‘Mid the perfume of the flow'r
A maiden sat with one she loved the best
As they sang the songs of love
From the arbour just above
Came a bee, which lit upon the vine
As it sipped the honey dew
They both vowed they would be true
Then he whispered to her words she thought divine.

You are my honey, honeysuckle, I am the bee
I'd like to sip the honey sweet from those red lips, you see
I love you dearly, dearly, and I want you to love me
You are my honey, honeysuckle, I am the bee.

So beneath the sky so blue
These two lovers fond and true
With their hearts so filled with bliss
As they sat there side by side
He asked her to be his bride
She answered, “Yes” and sealed it with a kiss
For her heart had yielded soon
'Neath the honeysuckle bloom
And thro' life they'd wander day by day
And he vowed just like the bee
I will build a home for thee
And the bee then seemed to answer them and say...


Here's a small watercolour portrait I recently painted of my Nanna. This was from an old photo taken when she was about 19 and not yet married to my Poppa.

* Actually it was written in 1901 - possibly her mother sang it to her!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Bag

I just spent a whole rainy Sunday pottering. And very nice it's been too. I did this and that in the morning, enjoying getting sidetracked 1,000,000 times, but this afternoon I looked at a very rough bit of harakeke (New Zealand flax) weaving I did when at Tech, and decided I wouldn't hiff it after all.
Using a piece of soft black leather to hide the rough top edge, and some yellow material to line, and a belt I will never wear, as a strap, it has become in interesting shoulder bag, and also happens to just fit my laptop!  It's not perfect, but very little in this world is. I am rather pleased with it!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Calabash - sold

It's always exciting when a painting sells.  It's like a child you created is led by the hand to the door and is out into the world on their own, an orphan.  I think someone said that before me…

Anyway, "Calabash" has gone. That's the painting on the right immediately below.  (In the corner you can see one of my reproduction calabash gourds in its special basket.)

The painting is about some of the methods the Maori used to capture and preserve godwits.  This began with the growing of the pumpkin-like gourds (the bigger the better) that were dried and used as containers.  (Maori did not make pottery and had no metal.)  The wooden frames were decorated with exquisite basketry and the gourds containing the roasted birds sealed with their own fat, were placed inside the basket stand when entertaining guests.  Each guest was given his or her own gourd.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Trip to Hawkes Bay

Last Monday I attended a dear friend's mother's funeral.
Every weekday morning throughout high school, I would bike around to their place and stand in the kitchen, often chatting to Irene if she wasn't on a shift, as I waited for Wendy to be ready. Then the two and a half mile bike to school. Never mind the rain, frost, orchard spray, or baking Hawkes Bay afternoon sun. 
From that house I remember: the Escher print they had on the wall, a cuckoo clock, the beehives in the garden, and rows of seedling trees to supplement those supplied to the council by nurseries, the occasional Indonesian meal, a scornful look at my mentioning curry powder, clothes always being made on a sewing machine, Irene telling us to use a little power on our lids to stop eyeshadow going into the crease, Nick telling me about the century plants of Havelock North, that flower only once, and die once they have flowered ...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Little Lesson

Yesterday I bumped against the wardrobe doors I had recently repainted. It was remarkable how little effort was required to continue the scratch.
So I have learnt not to try and short-cut by painting over a really good paint job, without a good sand to roughen it up.
It also takes a lot longer when one has to sand off the bad top coat.
It's quite interesting to see how the gold pattern has held hands with both the lower and upper coats, however. As I sand, it is very happy to stay affixed.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


I had to rush off down to Hawkes Bay for my old school friend's mum's funeral straight after the garage sale, but here's what's left. Some of it will be going to the thrift / opportunity shop this afternoon, but if you see anything you like, come around and it could be a bargain. Or send the postage.

Tiny model ship? Lampshade? A book of science experiments? Oilskin drover's hat? Electric loppers? Wool for felting? Pale lemon chiffon ball dress? Monopoly set, all pieces there? We got it all. Special price just for you, Guv.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Garage Sale

Tomorrow morning early, we hope for hoards through the gate, running in up the drive, pushing each other to be there first, to pick excitedly over our personal belongings, rejecting scornfully things we have held dear for decades and part with reluctantly, delighting in everything and offering us more than we asked for them.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Ohope Beach Friday

Weather : warm, overcast and humid
Dogs : sandy, salty and delightful.
Cat : smoochy
Bedding : in the washing machine
Jersey started four years ago : finished
House/Pet sitting : nearly over.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ohope Beach Collage

A grey drizzly day on the beach today, so we just threw and retrieved* a tennis ball that we found, and I took photos of little bits and pieces on the edge of the water.

* The dogs retrieved sometimes and I threw and sometimes retrieved.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Wednesday on the Beach

I really tried to post a little video today.  So Monica would hear the sound of the waves.  I tried twice but maybe the internet here is too slow.  I am also concerned not to use too much of it up, as I don't know what plan my dear house-owners have, and don't want to use it all up.
    "Quick Dear, let's have a lovely catch-up on all the blogs we missed while we were away"
    "Oh.  There's no internet".
So you just get the tee-shirt still images instead.

Flashback to my younger days.  Except my board was much bigger and full of dings.

I love those clouds