'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, 30 September 2015

Beautiful New Zealand.

I belong to a facebook group whose members daily post images of New Zealand. Most members are not professional photographers, and the images are often from their home areas.
Over the last couple of weeks I have stolen a whole lot to share with you, my readers. They were almost all taken in the last two months as we transition through spring.

The first one is of my local area looking very nice and fresh-green like.
The cherry trees one I took just yesterday in my local village.
The Aurora one was this winter, from the lower South Island. It's been a marvellous year for the southern lights.
The last one wasn't, needless to say, taken by regular means. It's my wee country, from space.
have forgotten where a lot of the rest of them are, so let's just call it a kiwi medley.

One of yours? 
If you took one of these and want to either be attributed or have it removed, please leave a comment (I will not publish your comment unless you desire it) and I will obey your wishes promptly.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

TeaTeaser Post

Fascinating day yesterday! I will write a longer post when I have time, but what an interesting tour, fascinating tea-tasting, and heavenly indulgent 'Tiffin'!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Bay of Plenty Sunset

Only a week until the wedding! It's getting busy around here! Tomorrow is the official Groom's Parents Meet the Bride's Parents to Arrange the Wedding. Of course this is already arranged. We are having instead a colonial-sounding High Tea and a tour of the Zealong Tea Estate instead. It should be rather diverting darhlings. 
I will take a photo or two for you.
In the meantime, here's a sunset from a place near here, up the coast a bit. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

What a Waspy Coincidence

Last night I decided to use up some leftover wool and began to knit a wee waspy-striped singlet in a cream and gold (No, nothing on the horizon in the way of small kiwis to fill it yet. As far as I am aware).
This morning during breakfast there was a Queen wasp bumping on the kitchen light fitting, and when I went out into the day, a young paper wasp queen was sunning herself on the verandah.
They obviously have been hibernating, but were drawn out by the clear invitation of my cosy warm knitting.  I shall card them, scour their fibres and incorporate them into the garment.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Patches of Sunshine Shimmering

One time when I was at Miranda, I spent hours watching these moths sipping nectar from the bottlebrush.  I had seen bees, and wax-eyes loving the cornucopia of sweetness, but these other day-time visitors had escaped my notice.
The first I haven't yet identified but the other species I think is Thysanoplusia orichalcea, the 'Slender Burnished Brass'.  They are thought to be originally from Indonesia and spread to Australia, New Zealand and even Europe. But this might be incorrect. It's an infrequent visitor to the UK.  My investigations have suggested fewer than 100 have made it so far to those green and pleasant shores. There would have been that number just on the one huge Callistemon tree at Miranda.

I love the way the iridescent patches of gold are actually transparent when viewed at a certain angle, and then almost totally golden mirror-like at another.
Interestingly, the constant movement of the brass, combined with the extreme brightness of the flashes of gold which played Bob's-a-dying* with my camera's light meter, meant that out of hundreds of shots I got very few worth keeping.

I hope you enjoy the late summer crickets in my video clip too.
And then, if you have nothing better to do, I challenge you to say the title of this post ten times.

Unknown moth.  Poss. one of the Chrysodeixis spp?

Thysanoplusia orichalcea in the groove

Thysanoplusia orichalcea

Thysanoplusia orichalcea

* the original form of bobsy-die

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

What do Kiwifruit grow into?

Baby Kiwis! *

* New Zealanders call themselves 'Kiwis', in case you are not from downunder and didn't know that.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


If you have had a bit of a gastro bug and feel yukky that your toothbrush might have picked it up too, and decide to put it in a saucepan with some water and boil it a little to sterilise it, don't leave it on while you go away and have tea, watch a short movie and then do some sewing.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sting Pain Index

Justin O. Schmidt's Sting Pain Index 1990. Nicely illustrated by Wayne at his excellent blog:

     Recently I stumbled upon the 'Schmidt Pain Index'.  This was invented by Justin Schmidt and is based on a selection of bitey, stingy little critters and their effect on himself! And enlivened with whimsical descriptions like: "No. 2: Bald-faced hornet : rich, hearty, slightly crunchy.  Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door" - which I love.

     When Wendy C. and I were about 21 we went on our first 'real' bit of traveling.  We flew across the ditch to the big red island of Australia.  We bought little motorbikes in Sydney and with tent and nothing much else but the confidence of naivety, we travelled slowly up to Brisbane over the next two weeks, camping where it looked pretty and having a generally interesting time.  Around Gosford, only a day or two north, I was stung (bitten?) by a bulldog ant.  A bloody huge red thing that was involved in our tent when I wanted to pack it up.  It hurt like hell, and then, to make matters worse, once I'd managed to get it off me, it tried to run after me too!
I don't think it was a bullet ant, however, on the chart at the most excruciating.  Because I have also been stung by number 3, paper wasps, and they are very, very 'hot'!

By far the most painful bite/sting I've ever had was from (I'm fairly sure) a white-tailed spider.  I could do nothing but sit, rock and moan for ten minutes.  After this time, astonishingly, the pain rapidly subsided to nothing and I was left simply slightly embarrassed and wondering if the neighbours had heard me.

Here is an image of my bulldog ants.  I put them around 2.5 on the Schmidt pain index.

Image by Mark Moffett

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Open Letter to Our PM

"You only care about the things you can use, and therefore arrange them in the following order: Money, supremely useful; intellect, rather useful; imagination, of no use at all. … 
It is a vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven. That is not imagination. No. it kills it. "
- E.M Forster, Howard's End.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Just Can't Bring Myself to Use It

Well, the pattern for the Mother-of-the Groom jacket has arrived.

But I just can't cut into this phulkari... I mean, just look at the beauty and amount of hand-stitching! 

I put my diary there so you could see the size. It would cover a single bed, with a backing and a bit of extra fabric for the sides... I have decided to keep it. I will keep it for ever and put it on a wall, or one of the spare beds, or hang it on my wall when I am old and living in one room in a cabbage and urine-smelling retirement home, and brighten up my and my carers' lives... 
I'll go and buy another bit of material. 
Once this nausea is over from this rotton gastro bug.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Marvelous Iridescence

A few years ago when I was doing my PG Dip Arts & Design* I visited the back of house at Te Papa (our New Zealand national) Museum.  I felt very special going through those flush doors reserved for scientist-y types, and being allowed to peek into the wonderful wooden cabinets that used to be how all museums were in the old days before buttons and lights and simple explanations.


One of the main reasons I was there was to investigate iridescence in insects.  Iridescence is that strange, almost magical quality of colouration that appears to change with the angle of light that strikes the surface.
Many tropical insects and birds show iridescence and despite their brilliance, I have a theory that it is a form of cryptic colouration - what we used to call camouflage.
   I think that frequent warm jungle rains followed by sunshine means that often there are puddles of water on leaves, and if a tasty butterfly, bird or beetle can look like the reflection of the sky off water, it is less likely to become lunch for a bird.  However if it happens to become the object of unwanted attention, it merely needs to shift itself and it disconcertingly either 'disappears' into another colour, or, at another more acute angle, grows very dark and blends in with the shadows.
But if it does want to stand out, perhaps to a show off to a prospective mate, then the same colours twitching and vibrating in sunshine are alluring and attractive, as peacock feathers also were to Edwardian milliners, for hats.

These images are the one butterfly, the Green Buddha Swallowtail, or Peacock Swallowtail (Papilio blumei), (native of Sulawesi) that I photographed at different angles with respect to the light. It's hard to believe it's the same species, isn't it?

* One day I want to do my Masters of A&D.  So I can write MAD after my name.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015