'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, 22 February 2009

Hip Hip Hooray

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday dear Me-ee
Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Saturday Morning on the Beach

I went over to the beach this morning to watch the sun come up.  The front that went over yesterday has left quite a good swell.

The sun brings out creatures of various species for morning constitutionals. 

 That's 'The Mount' (Mount Manganui) visible through the spindrift.

New Zealand law means that private houses in New Zealand are not to be built too close to the beach, nor too high.  The beach belongs to everyone.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Tauranga live webcam

My local area has a number of live webcams.  You can even zoom and move the cameras yourself on some of them.  
Sometimes you have to take turns if there's someone else looking at the girls in their bikinis seeing if the waves are big enough for surfing.
You can see the waves and people on the Main beach, and another cam sited at the Powerboat and Yacht Clubrooms gives you nice views over the Bridge Marina,  Mount Manganui ('The Mount'), the harbour entrance and the port where you can see if there's any cruise ships in.  I checked a few minutes ago and a big ship was just leaving.  

Anyway, here's the link  Enjoy!

Don't forget if you are from the rest of the world you won't see much in our nighttime.  Perhaps something to do if you're up in the middle of the night, while you drink your cocoa. Or some-such.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Lichen grows on a column outside a 'Grecian Temple' - a folly, in the grounds of the grand English Palladian mansion "Stourhead".

Lichens are tolerant of a wide range of ecological conditions, but, perhaps surprisingly, very sensitive to atmospheric pollution.  Lichens are actually a fungi that has evolved to live symbiotically with a partner that photosynthesises.  Perhaps an algae or a bacterium, and sometimes both.  This partnership is very delicate, and easily broken and so lichens are sometimes used by scientists as biomonitors of environmental health.   And as bioindicators of environmental change.
So, where you see lichen growing well, you can be pleased that the air is very clean.

I like the surprising colours and shapes, and the crinkled textures.  They please me that they tenaciously cling on in such dry, hot and bright places.  They seem to say to me "Don't give up!  Look what you can achieve when you persist!"

Thursday, 12 February 2009

One of me Poems

I was cleaning out my filing cabinet today and I came across a poem I wrote.  I could say that it was written when I was nobbut a child, and hence have an excuse for the wobbly meter and shaking rhymes, but I can't.  I wrote it only a few years ago.  But I've decided it's going to be exposed to the world anyway.  So I dusted it down, changed a line or two and  typed it out.

So, Here, Today, for the First Time Ever in Print, Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, for your Reading Pleasure is:

The Chocolate Cake.

When I was eleven my mum, my dad and my sister Jane

Sailed to England and back again

By day travelled around

castle, museum and mound, 

And at night parked our 'van in a lane.

One day we went on a double-decker bus

To a teashop in Piccadilly Cir-cuss.

(There're no animals there -

It's a roundabout where

You can go to the movies or have lunch like us).

I was sitting giving my biscuit some bites

And watching the people and all of the sights.

A man bought a whole cake,

It was placed on a plate,

- A creamy chocolate monster, feathery light.

I watched as weaving through the shop he went

Around customers, children, a white-haired old gent.

A waitress bustled about

I shouted "Look out!"

But she bumped him.  And the cake began its descent.

Now the waitress was short, perhaps not well-fed

I expect her toes would be half way down her bed.

The man was right above

She'd given him a shove, and

All that cream, all that chocolate, all right on her head!

By K. De Chevalle.

PS.  This truly happened.  I should mention we had been saving for three years for the trip, and in that time I think I had had two single chocolates.  I nearly died of fascinated horrified regret to see them shoveling up and binning the remains of this monstrous rich, chocolate-black glistening cake!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A, I'm adorable...

Actually It's Jay that thinks I'm fabulous.  Well, my blog anyway.  Thanks Jay.  You already know what I think of you.  However it's quite rough being over at Jay and Yellow's Deppland at the moment what with her shoulder, and their darling greyhounds... 

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Reflections Painting - stage 3

Progress is slow on this painting; working title 'Reflections'.  It's complex.  I hope I can get it right, to my satisfaction.

1. The birches are some in shadow, and some in sunlight.

2. The leaves on the bottom of the still pond only show up in the 'shade' of the dark trunks.  They are richer, because they are wet, yet darker, because of the depth of the water.  There also is some tannin staining of the water, making them tending to the brown.

3. The leaves floating on the water are lighter and brighter, but reflecting the sky, so somewhat bluer.

4. In addition, the sky is a deeper blue at the zenith, ie, at the bottom of the painting, than it is at the top.

5. And the trunks of the trees are thicker at the top of the painting, where they are closer to their own reflection, than at the bottom of the painting, where they reach up into the sky, away from the viewer.

6. If you are still with me at this point, add to this the leaves at the bottom of the painting are closer to us, so larger, and more flat-on to us, than the leaves at the top of the painting, near the edge of the pond, which are smaller, and foreshortened.

7.  Let's not even start to investigate the minute reflections of each of the menisci around each floating leaf!

Phew!  I think that's enough for now.


Monday, 9 February 2009

Beauty in Unexpected Places

This is the underside of a yacht hull.  I think it is a fascinating combination of colours.  The primer orange has been exposed with the sanding and makes a bright eye-catching focus tempered by the plummy greys and lichen green...

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ilan Kroo

I feel I should introduce the author of the poem I damaged in my recent post...
Ilan Kroo is an interesting guy. He built a bamboo and plastic hang-glider in 1974, and managed to survive, has done a lot of research work for Boeing and is now a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. He also has a software company and he teaches pterasaurs how to fly.

And he also writes rather good songs and poetry!

I hereby award him the prestigious Last Visible Dog Award for combining science and art, head and heart, being and doing, Yin and Yang, into his lovely poetry.

And, because, of all people, he should know what he's talking about, here is the proper version of:

Sonnet #747
Pacific waters kilometers below
And waves in clouds a thousand meters high
Stretching between edges of the globe
The oceans of the sea and of the sky.

And I float freely here above it all
Part aerodynamics, part champagne
Keeping me from danger, from the fall
Here it only pours, it doesn't rain.

And when the fuel is low and glasses dry
We sink into the thicker air below
Descending through the turbulent grey sky
The seats go up; the flaps go down; we slow.

We hit the ground, and bounce, spoilers extend,
As waking shocks the dream and brings its end.

It's Going to be Another Scorcher

Sunday morning early down at the park... The dew is soaking into my shoes and I welcome the cool, because all too soon it will be hot again as it's been every day for the last fortnight.

The mist is burning off as quickly as it rises,  and the grass is crisp and dry underfoot by the time we return.  

Back at home at 7.30am, the cicadas have just started up like chainsaws, and the thermometer reads 18.4ºC (65ºF).

We could do with a couple of nice rainy days.  

But this is nothing compared with the situation over the Tasman Sea from us:
There are big bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria.  Last night I had an email from my uncle in Melbourne saying that as he wrote he could smell the smoke from the dreadful bushfires there.  He took a photo over his fence of the billowing huge smoke cloud.   I hope things are more under control.  Unfortunately this is the latest news so it doesn't seen like it.    

I hope he and his family are ok...

Saturday, 7 February 2009


It's been too long since I was last airborne.  I love to fly almost as much as I love to be out on the water...


Pacific waters ridge and spume below
And foam in clouds mound a thousand meters high
Stretching between the edges of the globe
I fly through the oceans of sea and sky.

Adapted by me from  "Sonnet #747" by an unknown poet.

Friday, 6 February 2009


Photo by me

To Summer

...O thou who passest through our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! Thou, O Summer,
Oft pitchest here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.

- William Blake

Painting by Uncle Ted.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Oh Shoot!

This is another part of my garden that I love.  I had to take three photos to get this bamboo in, so the photo makes it look much shorter.  The top photo was looking almost directly up. 
It is about three times a tall as my house, I estimate.  Maybe 30 metres (90 ft)?  
Each cane needs two hands to encircle it.  It's quite slow-growing compared with the smaller variety, but I still periodically kick over most of the shoots, which as you can see would make a substantial addition to any stir-fry.  And would need a really big wok.
I was having a quick tidy-up in this corner yesterday. A few minutes after taking these photos I picked up one of the rocks edging the area and managed to drop it on my ankle.  

Warning! Injury description follows. The screamish should read no further:

Not too painful although I did say 'shoot' or something similar, but it also broke one of the big veins running across the foot and in seconds I had a large scary bulging puddle of aristocratic blue under the skin and getting bigger as I watched, fascinated.
I hobbled inside and grabbed the ice-gel thingy from the freezer, and the box of bandages, and wrapped it up in both, then lay on the couch and phoned my sister who is a nurse.
But who wasn't home...

So I called my doctor but, as is often the case, by the time she had given me instructions to R.I.C.E* it for ten minutes and then come in  so she could have a look, it had stopped bleeding.
So that was good.

It looks really impressive 'though.   I'm to keep off it for another 24 hours.  

All visitors bearing strawberries, ginger beer and Terry Pratchett books are very welcome.  Let yourself in the back door.

*Rest Ice Compression Elevation 

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Passionately Flowering

Look what I found growing in a jungly corner which I have fenced around for the chooks to beat into submission ...

It's an ornamental passionfruit flower.  Prettier than the fruiting variety that I posted about previously, but they are both rather funky and splendiferous, aren't they?  They look a cross between a sea-anemone and a triffid.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A Banana Palm in My Garden

I consider myself very lucky because if I look up when I'm hanging the clothes on the line, this is what I see:

I'm looking forward to, if not actual bananas, the beautiful deep portwine-red flower bract this year.

Miscellaneous fact: I read somewhere that New Zealanders eat more bananas per capita than any other country.

Monday, 2 February 2009


I think one of the most marvelous creatures in New Zealand is the Weta.

I have posted before about the Huhu beetle and its tasty larvae, but I think Weta Rulz!  And not just because of the association with a famous New Zealand company.

At last I have a good photo of one to share. Isn't she beautiful?  Don't be afraid, she is a gentle giant.

Weta* are very special creatures for many reasons.

1.  They are older than the dinosaurs.
2.  They have hardly changed for 100 million years (obviously a good design!)
3.  They are found only in New Zealand.
4.  The largest weta species (there are many) is the Giant Weta (imaginatively named) and one female has been recorded weighing three times heavier than a mouse.
5.  Tree Weta can bite and hiss, but most weta prefer just to raise their spiky back legs when they are threatened.  I made her cross so you can see her doing this in this pic:

7.  Some weta are carnivorous, some herbivorous, and some, like this lovely specimen, eat both plant material and insects.
8.  They are nocturnal, so people don't see them often.
9.  Weta's main predator was the (now rare) Tuatara lizard - a slow-moving reptile.  However with the coming of humans to New Zealand, rats, dogs and cats have found weta easy prey.  
10. Many weta species are endangered, and all are much rarer than they used to be.

So if you are ever lucky enough to see one, appreciate its ancient lineage, and don't step on it!

Added later:  Here are some wonderful pics of the larger members of the family.

* The plural of Weta, is Weta.  Like 'sheep' and 'fish' This is the same for all New Zealand native fauna.