Books Read 2020

Monday, 10 May 2021

All Aboard

 

Hello there – it’s Mittens here.  I’ve sneaked in and taken over Grandma’s blog so I can show you my latest exploit.

My mum and her friend have been zooming around on this board all weekend, so I thought I would give it a try.  They stand on it and it takes off at great speed, so I thought I would give it a go.




Well, I stood on it and I sat on it but it never moved at all.  And then I tried to get off and it started to move.  I must say I didn’t like that at all and jumped off as fast as I could.  I don’t think I will take up skateboarding any time soon!

Sending everyone lots of cuddly purrs,

Mittens 😻



Friday, 7 May 2021

Busy Days

 

Sometimes it feels like I am never home!  The week seems to have been filled with outings and one day has merged into another, and now here we are at the end of another working week.

I visited Te Awamutu, a neighbouring town, and went on a bit of a shopping spree.  I came home with some winter tops, new underwear, pyjamas, a couple of warm jackets, slippers and a pair of shoes. 

I seem to be one of those people who never wear out their clothes, and, quite frankly, I get a bit bored with wearing the same things over and over so some new ones are most welcome.

(It’s not like I have a lot of clothes, but I am not a minimalist either!).


New clothes ready to be washed before wearing


A visit to see my brother filled in a few hours.  His eye has healed quite well but the actual wound split open after the stitches were removed.  His specialist has said he will need to recut it and restitch it, especially as it is so visible on his face.

Yesterday I was invited out to lunch at Gordonton, a small village near Hamilton.  It was good catching up again with this couple, whom I have not seen for a while.

Of course, it was mandatory to visit The Farm Shop while in Gordonton, with their wonderful array of gifts and organic produce.  I bought a jar of raw honey sourced from Hamilton Gardens and the Zoo grounds, as well as a couple of pieces of homemade coconut ice that I was unable to resist.

I hope everyone is keeping well – I don’t seem to have had the time to visit anyone lately, so I hope you will all forgive me.

Happiness is keeping busy 😊

Margaret.



Monday, 3 May 2021

Excellent Customer Service

 

My cracked windscreen was replaced this morning and I now have a lovely new (very clean) windscreen.

I approached Smith & Smith to do the work and have nothing but praise for their friendliness, helpfulness and professionalism. 

They took care of all the insurance claim side of things, and I didn’t even have to go to the workshop as they came round to the house to do the job.




We had our first frost this morning – and I know some of you will snigger at what we call frost!  It was barely visible on the grass, but there was definitely a tinge of the white stuff there.

NIWA (the National Institute of Weather and Atmospheric Research) are forecasting a dry and warmish winter ahead for most of the country, but, if we get the chance, we are actually looking forward to being able to light the fire again and snuggle up by its warmth.




Smile and be happy 😊

Margaret.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Hunters and Gatherers?

 

I’ve had the most interesting conversation with my son this afternoon.  He had been speaking with a man who strongly believes that European ‘colonists’ should leave our country and let the indigenous peoples return to living off the land, hunting, growing and gathering food, and caring for each other.

Living and working in a “white man’s world” and having to pay their taxes and obey their laws was total anathema to this man.

I wonder how he would get on if we took away his home, his car, his television, his sports games, and all the other trappings of us “colonists” so that he didn’t have to go to work and pay taxes?




It seems to son and myself that this man is only looking at what he perceives as the good side of his culture.  He has forgotten that cannibalism and starvation and slavery were all a part of life before Europeans arrived.

I find people like this very disturbing with the way they think.  I know many bad things happened when these lands were settled, and it is always good to redress a wrong, but surely that is in the past when it comes to how we live our lives today.

The things this man says he seeks are all good, and are freely available to him and anyone else who desires to follow that path.  Does he really need to bring the ugliness of racism and prejudice into it? 

Sorry about the rant, but people like this upset me.

Hope your day is going well,

Margaret 😊


Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Making New Friends

 

I’ve had a really lovely day today.  First up I spent most of the morning with Chris from diet-coke-rocks.blogspot.com – pop over and visit her if you are not already a follower. 

I’m always a bit nervous when I meet a new person but she was so easy to talk to – we laughed and yakked and laughed some more.  It was great and I hope we can repeat it again soon.


A random picture from my archives


After leaving Chris I visited my brother and his wife.  He had an operation yesterday to remove a large cyst from his eyebrow and is now looking like he has been in a fight with someone!

Have a happy day 😊

Margaret.


Sunday, 25 April 2021

ANZAC Day 2021

 

Anzac Day, 25 April, is our national day to remember those who have fought and died for our country and for Australia (ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). 

The name originated in 1915 when our combined troops set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsular in Turkey.  Their attempt was futile, and many men lost their lives.


I watched the National Commemoration services on TV

This was the Dawn Service at Wellington


The 11am Wreath Laying Ceremony, also in Wellington


Two of the many wreaths that were laid


After being placed on the stand, the wreaths were moved to the steps


A lone trumpeter playing the Last Post (Dawn Service)


It is sobering to think of how many good men and women have died in the name of freedom.

We shall remember them.

Margaret.


Friday, 23 April 2021

A Cracked Windscreen

 

I was on the road fairly early this morning so I could take grand-daughter down to Taupo to stay with friends for the weekend.  It took us about two hours to get there – it could have taken longer if my windscreen had shattered instead of simply cracking.

Something, perhaps a piece of metal, hit us soon after leaving Hamilton.  It left a deep indentation and a small crack that continued to grow throughout my journey.   Thank goodness I have insurance cover for windscreens, as I can see a new one being needed.




As we entered Taupo we decided to stop off at Huka Falls on the Waikato River.  

I am glad we did as there seemed to be more water than usual, and the colour of the water was a gorgeous deep aqua mingled with the white foam.




There were a lot of people there, almost as many as we had when tourism was in full swing. 

This weekend is a long one, with Monday being a holiday to celebrate ANZAC Day (our national day for remembering those who have fought for our country), so that may have contributed to the number of people out and about.




It took me a lot longer to come home again, as traffic was beginning to build up.  Thankfully, most of it was going in the opposite direction.

There were a few idiots making bad driving decisions, but on the whole the traffic was well behaved and flowed reasonably well.

I was still happy to get home safely again 😊

Margaret.



Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Maize Silage

 

Agriculture is a great way of watching the seasons change.  It is currently time to harvest maize silage (for cattle feed) – heading for the end of autumn but before winter wetness arrives.




Driving on country roads at this time of year means almost inevitably that you will meet a harvester and/or trucks with high sides and tractors with trailers. 

The whole plant (cob, leaf and stalk) is chopped up finely together and loaded into a vehicle to be carried away to a silage stack.  Often the stack will be on a different farm, the farmer having purchased the crop for his own use.




Once the silage has been dropped off at its storage place, it is rolled firmly and shaped into a stack before being covered with tarpaulins and tyres until it is required for use as highly nutritious winter feed.




The sun is shining this morning, but we have a slight possibility of thunder later on.  Time to get the washing hung out so it can dry before any rain comes 😊

Margaret.


Sunday, 18 April 2021

R.I.P. Prince Philip

 

A good part of today has been spent watching the replay of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in London.  It played here live in the wee hours of this morning, so I was happy that it was replayed during the day.




I think Prince Philip would have approved of his funeral service (he planned most of it himself, although it had to be scaled down because of Covid regulations).  It was simple, dignified, and honoured a man who had devoted his life to serving his Queen and country.




Only 30 people were allowed to be present at the funeral, but in a way that made it more private and family-like instead of a huge state affair with hundreds of people present.

For me, it made it more personal and I found I could sympathize more with The Queen and her family in their time of sorrow.




Losing a loved one, whatever the circumstances, is always difficult.

Margaret.


Thursday, 15 April 2021

Tis the Season for Flu Jabs

 

With winter approaching, the season for having a Flu Jab has come around again.  I had mine last evening, for protection against the three main influenza strains that are currently circulating.

I never even left my car!  All I had to do was turn up at my appointment time, check in with the attendant at the entrance, drive up to the nurses’ station (set up in the carpark) and hey presto, all done.  Park up and wait for twenty minutes, then head home.  All very straight forward.

We had an incredible thunderstorm early afternoon yesterday.  There was a lot more lightning than we usually get and the thunder was almost continuous.  I like to count between the flash and the sound to estimate how far away it is (a remnant of my childhood, no idea if it works or not!), but it was too much on top of us to do that. 

We had a short very heavy shower of rain with the storm but that was all – not nearly as much rain as I expected.

Our cats are usually fine with storms but this time they both were upset.  Millie hid in a dark corner, and Mittens raced around trying to find a way to escape.  It must be difficult for animals, not understanding the cause of frighteningly loud noises and flashes of light.  Humans have the logic process to help us deal with them.


A different thunderstorm, but you get the idea


Wishing everyone an enjoyable day 😊

Margaret.


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Kakahi Falls

 

Tikitere, named Hell’s Gate after a comment made by the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, is an area of violent geothermal activity located close to Rotorua City.

Being privately owned, an entrance fee is charged to visitors – in my view, it is money well spent to experience this amazing place where “myth and legend come to life, where the earth boils, mud heals, and steam disappears into the clouds above.”

One of the quieter gems of Tikitere is Kakahi Falls, the largest natural hot water falls in the Southern Hemisphere.




The waterfall is a constant 40 degrees Celcius (about the temperature of a hot shower), and was a sacred place where local Maori warriors came to bathe to help heal their battle-weary wounded bodies.

It was here they could wash away the lingering spirits of war before they returned to normal life in their village.




This healing tradition continues today, with the spa opportunities offered at the site.  I found the scenery awe-inspiring enough, without covering myself in thick mud!

Have a happy day 😊

Margaret.


Saturday, 10 April 2021

Weekend House Sit

 

The weather today is dull and dreary, with occasional rain showers and not a spot of blue sky to be seen.

One of my brothers has a milestone birthday this weekend, so he and his wife and a couple of friends have gone to New Plymouth for the weekend to celebrate.

I am happy to be able to housesit for them and take care of Rusty and Merlin. 

Rusty is a bit of a coward when it comes to noise, and last night when it began to rain he shivered and shook so much that he made the whole bed wobble like a jelly.  In the end I put his day bed into the bathroom and shut him in there (he is used to that). 

He was fine this morning, and is now curled up on top of the sofa – trying to make up for all the sleep he missed out on last night!




Merlin, on the other hand, curled up in a living room chair and stayed sound asleep all night.  Today he has been outside glaring at the wet grass (funny how cats don’t like to get wet), before curling up on one of the porch chairs and watching the birds.

We have doves, sparrows and blackbirds all feeding out on the lawn, and Merlin just sits and watches them.  Birds seem to have an inbuilt instinct as to whether a cat is being a threat to them or not.




I was sorry to hear this morning that Prince Philip had passed on – he came so close to reaching his century.  Knowing what it is like to lose a beloved husband and long-time companion, I feel for the Queen at this time as I know it will not be an easy adjustment for her after being so long together.

Share a smile and a hug today, with someone you love 😊

Margaret.

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

All Is Good

 

Thanks everybody for all the birthday wishes.  My appointment went well yesterday and life is looking good.

Son and I had a good drive up to Auckland and home again.  The traffic was heavy at times but most of our trip was an enjoyable drive.

The Weather Gods smiled down upon us, and even gave us some amazing cloud formations to look at.




My appointment was on the northern side of Auckland, across the Harbour Bridge.  As we came home again, I was able to take this shot of the city’s harbour skyline.  

Normally, when driving, I don’t have this opportunity – there is nowhere to safely stop and it is far too unsafe to try and take a photo when I’m behind the steering wheel.




Most of today I spent with a sister-in-law – we even managed to do some family history research together – but I was a little late coming home and got caught up in the evening rush hour.  I should be getting used to traffic now!

Nothing to worry about though, and I arrived home to find son had cooked up some chili mince and we were able to have nachos for dinner.  Nice for a change.

Have a happy day 😊

Margaret.


Monday, 5 April 2021

Time Goes On

 

Hard to believe we are already into April, time seems to be going by so fast lately.  Is it really that many years (decades!) since this photo was taken?




Another birthday has rolled around and made me another year older.  I had a really great day, and was invited to dinner by my dear brother and his wife.  We had lamb roast and it was delicious.




Autumn is slowly advancing and our nights are getting cool enough now for a blanket.  Morning fogs are becoming more frequent.

Won’t be long before I’ll have to fish out the hot water bottle again!




Tomorrow, son and I are off to Auckland again.  I had to drive up there for an appointment on the day before Good Friday – it took me two hours to drive up there and three and a quarter hours to drive home again because of all the traffic leaving the city for the long weekend.

Traffic tomorrow should be much better, and I will enjoy being a passenger for a change.  Might even get a chance to take some photos!

Have a great day,

Margaret 😊

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Making The Bed

 

I know several people who don’t, but I like to make my bed in the morning so that the bedroom looks neat and tidy for the rest of the day.

This morning I had to put the bed-making on hold.  I mean, how can you disturb one wet Mittens trying to dry off and warm up?




Our weather today is bleak, with rain and the occasional roll of thunder – the sort of day all self-respecting cats stay indoors as much as possible.  

Millie likes to sit near something open (a window or door) and peer frowningly out at the rain.




I was intending a supermarket visit today, but it is not urgent and can wait for another day.  I have things that need attending to on my computer, so it is a good day for that.

Be happy 😊

Margaret.


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Grumpy Old Men

 

People who are grumpy must make themselves so miserable, as well as those around them.

Yesterday, on my way home from a visit to my brother, I stopped at an orange traffic light.  The man behind me sat on his horn and threw his arms up in the air – he obviously intended to have run the red light.

I could observe him in my rear-vision mirror and his face was so grumpy – it looked habitual, not just a momentary annoyance, and I felt sorry for him and the unhappy life he must lead.


Godwits taking to the wing at Omokoroa.


I believe we all have a choice in how we lead our lives.  We can be miserable and grumpy or we can choose to be happy and mindful of the good things in our life.

Happiness does not depend on what we have, or what activities we participate in, or how much money is sitting in our bank.  Happiness is a choice we make that comes from within ourselves, whatever our situation is.

Would you agree?

Margaret 😊


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

One Of Those Weeks

 

It looks like I have taken a totally unscheduled break from blogging.  It wasn’t really my purpose to do so, but things have been happening in the family this last week and I never felt much like writing a blog.

We are all okay, and the issues are all things that can be sorted out and worked through.  Every family seems to have rough patches at times – I mean, look at England’s royal family, even they are not exempt!




It was a lovely morning today, weather wise, so I made a spur of the moment decision and headed over the Kaimai Range to Mt Maunganui and Papamoa.  I miss the beach, with its white sand and blue ocean, but there seemed to be so many people around that it was difficult to sit and enjoy nature.



 

I did take a walk along the harbour beach though, paddling in the clear water until I saw the dark shadow of a stingray glide past about two metres away from me.  I know they are plentiful in the harbour but I haven’t seen one so close to shore before.

It was nice to be able to get out for the day – something I really appreciate that we can still do, unlike so many places around the world.

I hope everyone is keeping well,

Margaret 😊



Monday, 15 March 2021

Yesterday was a Good Day

 

We are having some lovely autumn weather at the moment.  Yesterday we reached the mid-20s (degrees C), but without the fierce heat of summer.

I spent most of the day with my brother J and his wife, catching up on things and doing a bit of family history research.  We had hot cross buns for lunch!

Easter holidays are approaching fast.  In fact, the year seems to be going by quite quickly – it will soon be winter with its dull dreary days.  Doesn’t bear thinking about.

The milk chocolate in hollow Easter eggs is something I rather enjoy, but when I looked in the supermarket they wanted $7.50 for the cheapest (hollow) one and I’m not prepared to spend that much!  Perhaps they will come on special once Easter has passed.

I captured this shot of Millie and Mittens as they sat out on our deck last evening.




Wishing everybody a happy and safe weekend,

Margaret 😊


Wednesday, 10 March 2021

A Carpet Of Acorns

 

We received notice that workmen would be shutting off the water supply to our street today, so I thought I would go for a drive instead.

The weather was a bit dull, but it is always nice to get out into farmland away from the main roads.




I found a lovely old oak tree to park beneath and watch the world go by for an hour or so, but it was a little hair-raising when a couple of acorns landed on the top of the car.

What a noise! 

There were still quite a few acorns up in the tree and they were dropping at regular intervals, along with a few leaves. 




The whole area beneath this tree was covered with acorns – it would be squirrel heaven, if we had them here!  They were like a brown carpet and rolled and crunched under the feet when walked upon.




Autumn would have to be my favourite season of the year.  I love the mellowness of the weather, harvest is in full swing, and it is always interesting to observe the changes in nature as it prepares for cooler weather.

Stay safe and have a happy day 😊

Margaret.


Friday, 5 March 2021

Thunderstorms, Figs, and Earthquakes

 

The first autumn leaves are beginning to trickle off a few trees, and last night I needed to find a blanket for the bed.  The seasons are beginning to change.

Yesterday we had a couple of big thunderstorms come through with torrential rain but no hail (at least, not here).  I met up with friends at a nearby village for lunch and it rained most of the way home.  At one stage it was like driving into a white wall of fog, except it was rain.

It wasn’t quite heavy enough to force me to stop, but the surface flooding on the road certainly gave the underneath of my car a good wash!




A couple of hours later and the thunder, rain and wind had all gone, and we had blue skies, sunshine, and a few wispy clouds showing that the wind was still ‘up there.’  

It is a bit different today, with a few clouds and a bit of sunshine and a cool breeze.




My friends gave me some fresh figs yesterday and, as I am about to have lunch, I think I will sample a couple.  We seldom see fresh figs in the shops (they grew these themselves) so they are a bit of a luxury to savour and enjoy.




Early this morning the East Cape experienced a large earthquake, followed by three big quakes at the Kermadec Islands that have now resulted in several coastal places being evacuated because of a tsunami threat.  I hope everyone manages to stay safe.

Take care everyone,

Margaret 😊


Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The Days Are Going By

 

Oh dear, where have the days been going?  I am ashamed to say it is nearly a week since I visited Blogland.  Sorry everyone.

Today my youngest son turns 42 – why worry about the days sliding by, where did the years go????  He is in Auckland and I was going to visit him but with all of Auckland in lock-down that isn’t possible.  The same happened to us last year, but maybe next year we can get together (fingers crossed).


My Youngest, when he was still at his Cute Stage


Our hot days are slowly starting to get a cooler edge on some of them.  Autumn is coming!

Today we have extensive cloud cover with the threat of thunderstorms over the next few days. 

I woke this morning to some very heavy rain.  It is so cozy to be able to snuggle back down into the bed and enjoy the sound of the rain, without worrying about leaks or flooding or having to get up and go to work.

Mittens is curled up on the chair beside me and busy snoring.  I never knew cats could snore!!




Have a happy day everyone 😊

Margaret.




Thursday, 25 February 2021

Contemplation

 

I visited Hamilton Lake again this morning, not for a walk this time but simply to sit, enjoy my surroundings, and do a bit of thinking.




There were a lot of people out and about – mothers with pushchairs, old couples walking hand in hand, men in suits deep in conversation, runners with sweat pouring off them, dogs dragging their humans along the path – for a people-watcher like myself it was certainly interesting!




I spent some time considering my lifestyle.  I am still adjusting to being single and not entirely sure what my role in life is anymore.

There have been a couple of retirement-planning programmes on lately, and, although they were aimed mainly at couples, they certainly gave me something to think about.

One thing that really struck me was how important it was to have routines.  Going through a life change often means that we need to re-set our habits, to redesign the things we do without thinking (like getting up at a certain time) so that they better reflect our new lifestyle.




Apart from my household chores, I have really had no set routines in my life lately.  Unless there is something on, like an appointment, the day can easily be spent fluffing around doing nothing in particular but always seeming to be busy. 

What if I am going to live for another thirty years (possible with my long-life family genes)?  I would be really old LOL, but I don’t want to look back then and see a long line of wasted years.

It has certainly got me thinking 😊

Margaret.



Monday, 22 February 2021

Cicadas Mean Summer

 

I am not sure how I did it, but this morning I managed to spill a whole lot of milk down the front of my dressing gown.  Yuk!

Thankfully it was another hot sunny day, so the dressing gown is now all washed, dried, and hanging back up on its bedroom hook.




I had occasion to drive across town this morning and revelled in the smell of the eucalyptus gums down the road.  Because of the heat, they are releasing their scent in overload and it is an aroma that I adore.

Nature’s music was in overload too, with cicadas singing their hearts out in the trees.  They seem to prefer London Planes and English Oaks, but maybe that is because that is what most of our big city trees are.

I love seeing their empty shells sitting on the bark – as children we used to collect bucketsful of them.  I don’t really know why, as I don’t recall doing anything with them.  I think they just intrigued us.




It is the male cicadas that make all the noise, hoping to attract a female.  They only live 3-4 weeks, but that is long enough to mate and start the life cycle again. 

Grubs will burrow into the earth beneath the tree, and not re-emerge until several years later.  There are 42 species of cicada found in New Zealand, and there is still a lot that science does not know about them.




To us normal people, the loud cicadas mean late summer when the weather is hottest.  When they stop singing, then we can expect our weather to cool down.

Smile, and be happy 😊

Margaret.