'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.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Local Poly on a Saturday Morning

Brrr, a crisp bright morning.  A good day for a walk.  No-one around but a few other plumpish, middle-aged, walking women.  Unlike them I carried my camera and left my gloves behind.
First, past the rugby fields and over the footbridge...

(These look much better enlarged with Mr clicky)

Tide's almost full low.

Frost still on the phormium (New Zealand flax)

Toitoi plumes for contrast.
Coming in the back gate of the Polytechnic:
This tree would hide the boiler chimney nicely in summer.
Not so useful in this role in winter.

Fat buds already nearly bursting and it's only June.
Don't they know the coldest is yet to come?

A sparra watches me.  The birds around the tech are tamer than usual.
Perhaps because there's a lower than usual density of cats.

Rhodos.  They'll be frosted for coming out so early.

One of my favourite lunchtime seats when I was a student here.

Wisteria gets itself in a knot.

Palms outside the library.
 Lots of lovely back-lighting with the early morning sun....

I know this freckled branch of camellia leaves isn't healthy, but it looks interesting.


Sophora (New Zealand Kowhai)
 A lovely dainty apple blossom camellia sasanqua standing like a bride in its own confetti.

Liquid Amber

I remember that this is a lovely magnolia.

A wax eye takes refuge from me as I pass too near its nectar source.
They are feeding almost all daylight hours this time of year.
It's hard being a little bird in winter.

The last leaf of summer.
Was that a song title? 
 I can't decide which is the best image of the new house the carpentry class is framing up.

Pittosporum (Tarata, or Lemonwood)

Another dainty, fine-leaved pittosporum.
 I don't know the name of this shrub below, but I love the rich purple berries.  I wonder if it would make a good dye or paintable pigment?  I may have trouble picking some, as this image was taken from the bridge, and it's very boggy down there on the bank.

When I got home I was definately ready for my muesli!

Friday, 29 June 2012

I Remember.

To continue the 'Back in My day theme begun by my last post, here are the best words written on the subject, if not the most oft quoted.*
The following extract has been lovingly and reverently copied from 'Reaper Man' by Terry Pratchett.

Acknowledgement: http://ecotime.blogspot.co.nz/ 

The sun was near the horizon.
The shortest-lived creatures on the Disc were mayflies, which barely make it through twenty-four hours. Two of the oldest zigzagged aimlessly over the waters of a trout stream, discussing history with some younger members of the evening hatching.
“You don’t get the kind of sun now that you used to get,” said one of them.
“You’re right there. We had proper sun in the good old hours. It were all yellow. None of this red stuff.”
“It were higher, too.”
“It was. You’re right.”
“And nymphs and larvae showed you a bit of respect.”
“They did. They did,” said the other mayfly vehemently.
“I reckon, if mayflies these hours behaved a bit better, we’d still be having proper sun.”
The younger mayflies listened politely.
“I remember,” said one of the oldest mayflies, “when all this was fields, as far as you could see.”
The younger mayflies looked around.
“It’s still fields,” one of them ventured, after a polite interval.
“I remember when it was better fields,” said the old mayfly sharply.
“Yeah,” said his colleague.” And there was a cow.”
That’s right! You’re right! I remember that cow! Stood right over there for, oh, forty, fifty minutes. It was brown, as I recall.”
“You don’t get cows like that these hours.”
“You don’t get cows at all.”
“What’s a cow?” said one of the hatchlings.
“See?” said the oldest mayfly triumphantly. “That’s modern Ephemeroptera for you.” It paused.” What were we doing before we were talking about the sun?”
“Zigzagging aimlessly over the water,” said one of the young flies; This was a fair bet in any case.
“No, before that.”
“Er... you were telling us about the Great Trout.”
“Ah. Yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly –”
“– taking heed of your elders and betters –”
“– yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout –”
Yes?” said one of the younger mayflies.
There was no reply.
“The Great Trout what?” said another mayfly, nervously.
They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water.
“The holy sign!” said a mayfly. “I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!”
The oldest of the young mayflies watched the water thoughtfully. It was beginning to realise that, as the most senior fly present, it now had the privilege of hovering closest to the surface.
“They say,” said the mayfly at the top of the zigzagging crowd, “that when the Great Trout comes for you, you go to a land flowing with... flowing with...”
Mayflies don’t eat. It was at a loss. “Flowing with water,” it finished lamely.
“I wonder,” said the oldest mayfly.
“It must be really good there,” said the youngest.
“Oh? Why?”
“ ’Cos no-one ever wants to come back.”

* most oft quoted being, of course, the 'When I was Young' Yorkshiremen skit from Monty Python.  Here.**

** Dutch subtitles may be useful or distracting, but it's a better version than the other on youtube.

Monday, 25 June 2012


I'm a GA!   And I've only just met my dear little great niece. She and her parents are living in Ibiza at the moment, but she and her mother were back here in New Zealand briefly two weekends ago, so we nipped down to Hawkes Bay to see them. Audrey is about 19 months old, and has only recently started to walk.  She is smart and beautiful.  In my absolutely unbiased opinion, of course.

GA Kate and Audrey.  A challenging step about to be dealt with.

A first taste of marshmallow

Intently watching Nanna Jane.  Hat hair.

I wonder what that GA looks like.  She's always hiding behind that camera.

Haven't you clicked at me enough with that thing?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Going to the Museum with Granny

In Rotorua  there is a fabulous building...

... with the kind of twiddly bits we don't see much in New Zealand.

Although these days it's an art gallery and cafe and museum, 100 years ago, it was the pride of the New Zealand Government Tourist Board, the 'South Sea Island Spa'.

Of course, at that time, the whole of New Zealand was touted as a wondrous and healthy country with: 

Magnificent Scenery, Mild and Equable Climate.
No extremes of Heat or Cold, no Droughts, no Blizzards.



Abundant Hot Mineral Springs possessing marvellous curative powers
Resident Government Medical Officers at the various Spas.
Delightful routes of travel everywhere by rail, steamer, and coach.
Ice-clad Alps.  Magnificent Sea Fiords.
Angling and Deer-stalking for the Sportsman.  Beautiful Lakes and Rivers.

there is no better country than

Back in those days people were very keen to discover quick ways to get healthy.  They could see what was inside them by opening a special stomach flap, so were always able to monitor themselves.

If you had 'racking pain and dread', New Zealand was the answer.  After a trip to CURELAND you would return home to the USA, Canada or Britain pain-free and dreadless.

You could have a variety of treatments.  The mineral water could be drunk or bathed in, electrified (undercurrent, overhead current or overhead douche), or, presumably, non electrified.

You could bathe in mud, be wrapped in hot mineral towels, and, if the fumes made you feel faint, well, that wasn't uncommon.  Just think what a nice rest your brain was having, and the how much good the hydrogen sulphide was doing for your system. 

Granny points to where an old mud bath used to be situated

There were sit-in baths, lie-in baths, and a huge variety of other 'special'  treatments.  Some of these involved nurses, doctors, glass instruments and alarm clocks.  "Ding-aling-aling-aling!  Your time is up Mr Pudding.  You have inhaled enough toxic fumes for the day."

Afterwards you sat in the 'cooling room' surrounded by others recovering from passing out during their treatments cooling down after their treatments.

The Cooling Room.

White marble pseudo-Renaissance statues of naked ladies and children promoted the body beautiful and showed you what a really long treatment at the Rotorua Bathhouse would eventually result in.

Later you might feel pain- or dread-less enough for a push in your bath chair or a stroll around the grounds.  Or maybe even a game of croquet?