Books Read 2020

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Whitebaiting

 

Whitebait season has begun!  It is the time of year for delicious whitebait fritters (basically fried fish and egg patties) – if you have access to this fishy delicacy!


Whitebait Fritter served with salad

New Zealand whitebait are the immature young of five different species of fish that make their way from the ocean and up the rivers in springtime.  They are caught with nets and popular fishing spots are often claimed by the same people each year.


Permanent whitebaiters' huts dotted along a riverbank in Southland

Patient whitebaiters can be found sitting alongside riverbanks or working the river mouths with their nets.

Catches are smaller than of old, and restrictions are now in place to regulate the health and abundance of the whitebait.


Netting whitebait at the mouth of the Kiritehere River


I was sent a gorgeous photo of a Royal Spoonbill feasting on whitebait on the edge of Waimakariri River in Canterbury, but unfortunately was denied permission to post it here.

This spoonbill photo was taken by Rebecca Bowater and sourced from www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz



Have an enjoyable week everyone 😊

Margaret.


Sunday, 27 September 2020

Daylight Saving

 

The clock on my car dashboard is finally reading the right time again!  At 2am this morning Daylight Saving kicked in and our clocks all went forward an hour.

It is difficult for me to alter the car clock, so all winter it has been reading incorrectly!  Computers and phones all switch over automatically and this morning we went round the house and manually corrected the Chiming Clock, the Kitchen Clock, and the Little Clock.

It usually takes me a few days to adjust my routines to Daylight Saving, but nature continues on regardless.  The bellbird still starts singing when the skies begin to lighten, the blackbirds still declare their boundaries at dawn, and this morning we had a thrush join in as well.




We have had some heavy rain here this morning, for the first time in a long time, and son has taken the opportunity to check all the gutterings (roof spouting) are working (he found one faulty join) and seeing where run-off from the new lawns is heading.




As the saying goes, it is a good day for ducks!



The rain is meant to clear after lunch and I will be heading over to my brothers.  Four of us are planning a road trip away near the end of October and we need to sort some of the details out.

Enjoy your weekend 😊

Margaret.

  

Friday, 25 September 2020

A Busy Morning

 

It rained most of the day yesterday and I never felt like doing a thing – so curled up in an armchair and read Georgette Heyer’s “A Quiet Gentleman.”   Sometimes it does wonders to have a day off doing things.

This morning has been very different.  The washing and handwashing has been done and hung out to dry – it is mostly sunny today, with a stiff westerly that should dry things well (as long as they don’t all end up wrapped around the clothesline!).




The house has been dusted and vacuumed, and the tiled floors all washed.  Surfaces in the kitchen and laundry have been scrubbed (not that that they were very dirty).  I’ve even found time to catch up on the phone with my youngest son, so am feeling like I have had a good morning.




I would like to end this post by wishing my daughter a happy wedding anniversary (today here, but our tomorrow when she celebrates in the US) – ten years together with her wonderful man.  I hope they have many more happy years together 😊

Have an awesome day everyone,

Margaret xx


Rock emits an awesome energy field that always makes me want to touch it – I think that is partly why I enjoy collecting stones around the place. 

These beauties were photographed in Zion National Park, Utah, in 2010 when I was there.

 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Spring Tonic

 

At 1.30am today we were at our Spring Equinox, and what better way to celebrate than admiring the brilliant green spring foliage of this lovely English Oak (Quercis robur)?

English Oaks are one of my favourite trees and this one was alive with the humming and buzzing of bees and insects.




Traditionally, springtime was a time of food shortage.  The winter stores were almost exhausted and the new crops were still growing.  It was a time of eating the herbs of the field, with their bitterness acting as a detoxifying tonic after the dullness of winter.

Not many people are fond of bitter foods, but they do help the digestive system work better.  This year I have decided to do a Spring Tonic using Swedish Bitters (I have done it before, but not for a long time).




I have 5ml mixed with a little warm water, both before breakfast and again before my evening meal, and continue until the bottle is finished.

This brand of Swedish Bitters follows the traditional recipe very closely.




I actually enjoyed my visit to the cemetery yesterday (and thank-you everybody for all your lovely comments).  The sun was shining while I was there and it was so peaceful to simply sit on one of the provided seats and contemplate life for a while.

On my way home I called at a little charity shop that I know, and bought these two books for $1.  “The Book of the Year” explains how modern customs arose from the different Special Days found throughout the year, and “Salads” is, of course, all about making different salads.




I hope everyone has a great week 😊

Margaret.



Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Blue Cheese and Crackers

 

I never used to like sharp-tasting cheese, and especially disliked Blue Cheese.  An elderly family member used to love her Blue Cheese and it would smell out the whole room!  Put me off trying it for years.

Then, a couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to Creamy Blue Cheese and I loved it.  I don’t believe it is quite as sharp as true Blue Cheese (which I have still not tried!), but it goes really well with crackers for morning tea or as a pre-dinner nibble.




We continue to have typical spring weather here, with cool mornings and warmer days, the odd shower of rain, and a good covering of clouds in the sky.  The forecast is for us to reach a high of 18 degrees Celsius today after a 4 degree start.

This photo is from yesterday.




Today would have been our 47th wedding anniversary, so I am about to drive over to the cemetery (it takes about an hour) for some Quiet Time.  My parents, grandmother, and one of my brothers are also buried there.




Until next time,

Margaret 😊



Monday, 21 September 2020

Exempt From The Rules?

 

Our country is currently in electioneering mode.  I am your classic fence-sitter when it comes to politics and usually avoid any political discussions that happen around me.

But this weekend I have been disgusted by the behaviour of our current prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand is under Level Two restrictions because of a cluster in Auckland of people with Covid.  Businesses, especially small ones and those in the hospitality industry, are really struggling financially because of the limits being placed on them, even though there have been no cases throughout the rest of the country.

On the whole, I don’t think people mind the sacrifice they are making if it can be shown it helps protect others, but Jacinda’s show of hypocrisy hurts.


(photo retrieved online from stuff.co.nz)


Since when did the covid regulations apply to everybody except the person who should really be setting the highest example?  The students she had crowded around her are not even wearing masks, and the incident was apparently not an isolated one.

The government is expected to announce this afternoon what level of restrictions Auckland and the rest of the country will be facing for the next week.  I hope they decide that things can return to a more normal state again.




At least these two, Mittens and Millie, have no worries or concerns about Covid or elections!

Have a great day 😊

Margaret.


Sunday, 20 September 2020

Clean Gumboots

 

I have worn rubber gumboots for farm work, wading through shallow flood waters, working in a muddy garden, and for washing cars, but nowadays I use them for hanging out the washing on the clothesline when the grass is wet!

Gumboots, sometimes known as Rain Boots or Wellies, should be a staple wardrobe item for anyone who ventures outdoors in wet and muddy conditions.

New Zealand’s leading brand of rubber gumboots are hand-made Skellerup Red Bands, and every year or so I give my ones a good clean.


Not too dirty, but caring for them gives them a longer life

I start by washing them in the laundry tub with lukewarm water and a little dishwashing detergent, making sure to never let any water enter the inside of the gumboot.  Usually a cloth is adequate for this, but sometimes a stiff brush is needed to clean the cleats of the sole.


Cleaning the Gumboots

The gumboots are then rubbed down with a dry cloth and left to air dry (rubber boots should never be exposed to artificial heat or prolonged direct sunlight, as it can cause them to perish).

As a child, our gumboots used to fill up with gunk which we cheerfully called Toe Jam!  Today, thankfully, I am no longer so messy and the inside lining of my boots remains clean and smellie-free.

Take the nice clean dry gumboots and polish with a little olive oil on a rag or kitchen paper towel.  Start at the top and work down, doing a small area at a time, and NEVER put any on the soles (unless you want to try skating in them!).


Feeling loved, and ready for another year

After a few minutes, I dry them off with a clean paper towel before storing them in their cupboard at the back door.

I always tuck them away in the car if I am going on a long trip anywhere.  One never knows when my tootsies may need some extra protection!

Have a great day 😊

Margaret.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Covid Hugs


There is a new generation growing up who are learning that living with Covid-19 is a way of life.  I happened to be at the City Transport Station when local girls’ high school pupils arrived to catch their buses home, and found it intriguing to watch how they said goodbye to each other.

Teenage girls are well-known for walking arm in arm and giving each other hugs.  Not any more though, with all the emphasis on staying apart from each other.

These girls were hugging without touching, with the head turned away from each other and the bodies coming in towards each other to be very close but never touching.  The whole lot is achieved in mere seconds (it happens so fast) and is apparently known as a Shadow Hug. 



I met up with one of my brothers-in-law and his wife for lunch today, but we gave each other “proper” hugs. 
We met at one of the city’s garden centres and enjoyed a cafΓ© lunch together.




We wandered around the plants afterwards but I never bought anything – except for a bandeau (made of polyester) which looks to have many uses, so hopefully will be handy to have around.   

A large part of the actual inside-shop is devoted to gifts as well as seeds, fertilizers etc.  There were some lovely things for sale but at the sort of prices where one only looks and drools!




We still have the wind today, but much more cloud and even a few light showers of rain. 

Time now for a nice hot cup of tea 😊

Margaret.


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

A Blustery Wednesday

 

Today we are experiencing a strong blustery south-westerly wind.  The sort of wind that blows your hair all over your face, makes bits of paper rubbish fly up and down the street, and slams car doors when you are trying to load your groceries into the said vehicle.

It is playing havoc with our garden, tearing off petals and knocking over flowers.  Even the pets have gone a bit silly, spooking at each other and jumping at their shadows.




Thankfully the skies are mostly blue, although there are quite a few clouds around as well.  I felt sorry for the hawk who was trying to fly overhead, as he was quite obviously being buffeted around in the wind (sorry, I couldn’t get him into the photo).




Yesterday was rather wet, so I put off my shopping until this morning.  On a whim, I visited a garden centre and found a fancy-leaf pelargonium (commonly called geraniums) that I have been wanting for one of my pots.  

This one is called Mrs Pollock, an heirloom variety that dates back to 1858,  and has scarlet flowers to go with its multi-coloured leaves.



Driving down the main road, I noticed that all the trees are covered with a coating of vibrant green, as new growth bursts forth from the bare branches.  

Spring has definitely arrived 😊

Margaret.


 
 

Monday, 14 September 2020

A Safe Place

 

All my life I have put special things away “in a safe place” and promptly forgotten where they were put.  It got so bad that I have been training myself not to do this, not to put things away safely but to leave them in the normal place where I would expect them to be.




This morning I discovered I had regressed – an important paper had been put away in that Safe Place and I spent more than an hour looking for it.  

Thankfully I did find it, but it reminded me that it is not a good thing for me to do.  I have a drawer where I keep all my papers and it would have been easy to simply drop it in there and then I would have been able to find it!




Twice I have had major issues with this bad habit of mine, and both times I had given up on ever finding the items again.

I lost two of my rings once and after searching high and low for months I came to the conclusion that perhaps we had had a thief enter the house.  Then, several months later again, I found them slipped into a book that I hadn’t finished reading and it had been sitting in my bedside drawer all that time.  (I know, I should clean that drawer out more often!).




The other occasion was a substantial amount of cash.  Of course, that had to be hidden in the safest of places – never to be found again!  At least, not for nearly three years.  We even moved house in the interim but all the searching under the sun never found it.  

The flat pile of notes was tucked down inside the inner pocket of a backpack (a good reason why everything should be well searched before it is disposed of).  I was very happy to find the money!




Do you ever have trouble finding things that are hiding in Safe Places?

Margaret 😊

 

The cacti here are some that I saw on a visit to the Sonora Desert in Arizona in 2010.  I don’t think I will hide anything among them!


Saturday, 12 September 2020

Spoilt Rotten

 

The sign says it all

I am looking after a couple of little adorable spoilt-rotten rascals while their humans go the beach for a couple of days.  Let me introduce them.

This is Rusty.  He is only a small dog (I think he is a long-haired dachshund?) but full of personality.  He likes to sit on the top of the sofa so he can look out the window and keep guard against any strangers approaching the house – or any other dog walking down the street. 

He also does a great job chasing off stray cats but most certainly does not like hot air balloons flying overhead!


Rusty


And this is Merlin.  His arthritis keeps him housebound a lot these days, and his greatest joy seems to be going to sleep in Rusty’s bed, or sitting in the doorway so Rusty cannot get through, or anything else he can do to make Rusty’s life miserable! 

Today he has been quite content to hog some of the sofa before heading outdoors and rolling around on the warm sunny tiles.


Merlin


The weather today is gorgeous sunshine and blue skies, although there is also a cool breeze blowing at times.  I was thrilled when I arrived yesterday to be welcomed by a lone tui singing away in the tree behind the house, and this morning I was serenaded by a thrush in the same tree.

This area has many well-established trees and gardens and I love seeing all the bird-life that lives here – so far I have seen tuis, fantails, blackbirds, a thrush, doves, sparrows and a monarch butterfly (not quite a bird, but still lovely).


A quiet spot in the garden


Apart from a chainsaw and a lawnmower operating down the street somewhere, it is a very pleasant day 😊

Margaret.



Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Loving Trees

 

There is always beauty to be found in nature, wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing.  There is always something to see.

I happen to love trees and they can be found everywhere.




The diversity of trees is amazing, even if you only look at their trunks and bark.  These American Aspens have white bark marked with black,




Whereas these New Zealand Southern Beech have black trunks.




The bark of our native Kanuka is loose and flakey,




But this oak has solid deeply-furrowed bark.




However, it is the American Ponderosa Pine that is one of my favourites – chiefly because I love to sniff it!!  To me, the smell is one of sweet butterscotch and I simply adore it.




Let’s all go hug a tree today 😊




Margaret xx



Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Country of Origin

 

This is the view behind our house

It has been a gorgeous spring day today, with the sun being quite warm when out of the wind. 

I bought my usual groceries this morning and thought it would be interesting to see where they came from, what their country of origin was.


An average week of groceries for myself


All of my items, except four, were manufactured or grown in New Zealand.  The four exceptions were canned salmon (from Alaska), canned pineapple (from the Philippines), Lady Grey teabags (from England), and condensed milk (from Spain).  I expected the first three, but not the one from Spain.


The non-NZ sourced items

I also treated myself to a magazine, the September/October issue of ‘NZ Life & Leisure.’  I have not had this magazine before but it looks interesting and I intend to sit and read some of it this afternoon.

My mother used to always buy at least one magazine a week, for perusing and doing the crossword puzzles, and it has occurred to me that perhaps I should begin doing the same.


One of the magazine articles I am looking forward to reading

I wonder, does anyone these days buy a magazine on a regular basis?

Until next time,

Margaret 😊


Sunday, 6 September 2020

Breakfast Patience

 

When I was growing up in the 1960s I often spent much of my holiday time with Nana.  She lived in town and life was very different to what we experienced on the farm.

One of my enduring memories is of the burnt toast she always had at breakfast, followed by an apple and a game of Patience.


Playing the card game of Patience (I lost!)

Nana was the one who taught me to play this one-person card game and I have never forgotten how.  Recently I unearthed our little box containing two packs of cards and I remembered that hubby and I often used to play the game after a weekend brunch (this was around twenty years ago).

So now, after eating breakfast, I sit at the table and play a game – or two, or three!  It stops me from rushing my meal and suits the slower pace of life that I now lead.


The back corner of a friend's garden

We have typical spring weather today – a blustery wind, a sun that alternates between shining and hiding, and a threat of rain in the air.  At least it is not cold!

I have been filling my time this weekend doing little odd jobs around the home – things like cleaning the back-porch and polishing the living room furniture. 

It must be spring-cleaning time 😊

Margaret.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Blissful Peace

 

Once a week I am making an effort to escape the city and head out into the surrounding countryside, weather permitting.  Yesterday I drove an hour to Bulmers Landing on Lake Arapuni and drank in the peace and quiet. 



Apart from a couple of lunchtime visitors I had the place to myself and the only noise was the wind whispering in the trees, a chattering group of sparrows, and the haunting call of a lone kingfisher looking for a mate.  It was bliss!




There were lots of birds to see and hear around the place – sparrows, kingfisher, tui, grey warbler, magpie, cormorant, mallard ducks, black swans, goldfinch, chaffinch, hawk, mynah, and blue herons.




I spent a couple of hours enjoying the peace and sunshine while exercising my very rusty sketching skills and making a pen sketch of the bluffs opposite me.




These dairy cows were grazing beside the road on my way home again.  Pastoral scenes like this are certainly not seen in the city!




Until next time 😊

Margaret.