Books Read 2020

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.



Thursday, 18 February 2021

Patience is a Virtue

 

Patience is something many of us need to have more of, especially when out driving on the road. 

Every day, we see too many drivers picking the fastest moving lane and then pushing their way into the lane they actually need to be in.  They seem to think that just by turning their indicator on, they have automatic right to pull over.  


I saw these wind-swept clouds yesterday morning

In the last couple of days, I’ve been caught up in some awkward traffic situations, and it still surprises me how grumpy and impatient people can get when they can’t speed along as usual.

Faulty traffic lights that let through 1-2 cars before turning red again have resulted in long long queues of vehicles sitting in the hot sun.  And so, what happens?

One car runs an orange light and another car takes off from a green without looking – with the end result being one nasty crash.  As we negotiated our way through all the police cars and ambulance, there were people who were stopping to ‘rubber-neck’ and others who seemed to think there was no reason why they should try and slow down a bit.


Sitting beneath this tree would've been nicer than sitting in traffic

I collected grand-daughter from school this afternoon and we ended up in another queue.  We were still moving, and it was quite comfortable until we suddenly realised there was a car right beside us trying to sneak through (and I mean, RIGHT beside us – we could easily have touched him out the window).  He pulled in behind us again when he realised there was a car parked up ahead. 

Actually, there were several cars parked up ahead and a schoolboy was sitting on the grass beside his mangled bicycle, so obviously that had been an accident as well.

Our weather has been quite summery but the other day we had light drizzle all day.  I’m aware of light rain on dry roads causing slippery situations, but got an awful fright when I went to take off from a round-about (just a normal take-off, I wasn’t speeding) and I suddenly was sitting in the one place with this awful noise and lots of smoke.  I think it would have made a boy-racer happy, but all I could think about was my poor tyres!

Be patient everyone 😊

Margaret.





Friday, 12 February 2021

A Morning Walk

 

I dropped granddaughter off at school this morning and stopped by at the Lake on my way home.

There were already several vehicles parked up, with lots of people out walking and jogging – we don’t need to social distance, but there was more than enough space for everyone to be apart.




I decided to take the top path this morning.  It was cool and pleasant beneath the trees and I enjoyed my solitary walk.




There are always ducks and pukeko around the lake, but I also got to see coots, doves, sparrows, a couple of shy blackbirds (they may be moulting), and a single fantail.

These ducks and pukeko were enjoying the sun and totally ignoring all the people going past them.




It is Friday today, the end of another working week and we are almost half way through February already.  The year seems to be going by quite quickly.

Time now for a mid-morning cup of tea 😊

Margaret.



Wednesday, 10 February 2021

A Wedding Dress

 

The rain finally arrived mid-afternoon.  We have been waiting for it to come, all day, and it is cooling things down nicely.  The ground will welcome some moisture for a change.

This photo is of the land behind our home.  It is designated to become a road, but at the moment is being left to simply grow.




I’ve been doing some genealogy research today, and discovered a newspaper article about my mother-in-law’s wedding.  Wow, they really knew how to describe things back then (it was 1939).  She wore “a graceful gown of ivory chenille marquisette over taffeta, cut on slim-fitting classical lines.  The skirt, which was edged with narrow pleated tulle, merged into a court train.  The bodice, which was fashioned with a heart-shaped neckline trimmed by a sprig of orange blossom on either side, was softly shirred, and long sleeves, slightly gathered on the shoulders, finished in points at the wrists.  Her beautifully embroidered tulle veil, worn over the face on entering the church, was held in place with a high coronet of orange blossom, and fell to form a second train.  A trailing bouquet of pink and white roses, arranged with maidenhair fern, was carried.  The Church was beautifully arranged with pale pink camellias, jonquils, and fern.”

I have a photo of her in her wedding gown, and I think she looks absolutely stunning.




This convolvulus was seen one day when out walking.  It is a terribly invasive weed, but I do like the intense blue of its flowers.




Have a great day 😊

Margaret.



Monday, 8 February 2021

Enjoying Twilight

 

I sat outside last night and watched the skies as dusk fell.  As the pale blue sky gradually turned grey, the clouds were lit up with a delicate shade of blush pink – a perfect way to kiss the old day goodbye.

As the light lowered still more, the clouds faded back into a grey oblivion and the odd bright star could be picked out. 

The solar lights around the garden all came on, one at a time.  I especially love the coloured ones, and a favourite one of mine is the light that changes colours.

The fairy lights hung up around the carport are also solar powered and they flicked on as well, creating a soft colourful glow.




Here in the city, there is always light pollution, but I remember once sitting on the beach, with absolutely no electrical lighting around, and watching as dusk fell.  The results were truly magical and it was amazing how well the eyes adapted to the fading light. 




Son went for an evening walk down through our gully and came home to say there were so many cicadas singing in the trees that they made his ears hurt!

It is still too hot at nights to sleep properly, so the fan remains on for most of the time.  If I dare open the windows (I won’t sleep with them open) I get inundated with moths and beetles.

They aren’t too bad, I suppose, but I always feel sad when one gets fried to a crisp in the bedside light (it smells awful too).

I miss the fly screens we had on all our windows when we lived in the caravan.




Be happy 😊

Margaret.



Saturday, 6 February 2021

Summer Fruit

 

One thing I adore about summer is the abundance of summer fruit available in the shops.  Plentiful at the moment are peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, blueberries, cherries, watermelon, and even some new-season apples.

This year there seems to be more fruit around than ever, and a lot of it is at very reasonable prices.  I am wondering if this is because the export market has been slowed down, with Covid causing disruptions to shipping and cargo flights, and so growers are leaving their product on the domestic market.


There are some avocadoes in this bowl as well


One of my cousins owns an apple orchard and they recently suffered a severe hail storm in their district that damaged a lot of fruit.  I’ve heard of this happening in other areas as well, and it means the fruit is not suitable for export but is often still perfectly edible.  Perhaps this is another reason for this year’s abundance.

Whatever the reason, I am making the most of it!


The delicious juicy taste of summer


We have had another warm day today but it has come with lots of cloud cover so it hasn’t been too bad.  The lawns are starting to dry out, mostly because they are new and the grass is not yet fully established.  Next year will be better.

Mittens has been sitting outside a lot, in the shade on the grass, trying to keep cool with all her fluffy black fur.  I had to photograph her though when she did this sphinx impersonation for me.


Mitten's version of a sphinx


Stay happy and smile at someone you love 😊

Margaret.


Thursday, 4 February 2021

A Dizzy Spell

 

It is another hot summer’s day today – it makes for perfect early morning weather for hot air balloons!


As you can see, the balloon was at quite a distance from me


The garden is also enjoying the warmth, although it needs watering every night at the moment.  We are under water restrictions, so all watering is being done with a hand-held hose.


I love the colour of these Asters


A couple of years ago, I slipped over and ended up with a doozy of a concussion and a very sore big toe.  I recovered from the concussion and the toe was x-rayed but showed nothing wrong.

However, it still gives me pain and I cannot bend it at all so the doctor sent me for a further x-ray, which I had this morning.

I went to a different place today, and I must say their methods were much more professional than the place I originally went to.  They even had me in their records, as I went there 25 years ago after having a car accident!

The big problem was that after the x-ray I had a severe dizzy spell, which is not normal for me at all.  The lady sat me down and gave me a biscuit and a frothy milky hot chocolate until I felt better. 

She was so nice, and thought it may have come about because of the strange twisting and turning required for the x-ray.  I have been feeling fine since, so I hope that is all it was.


Ice-cold smoothie is a crystal beer mug!


Lunch today was a sandwich, and a banana and boysenberry smoothie with lots of ice in it.  Then we have salad on the menu for dinner tonight – simple easy meals are the order of the day at the moment.

Whatever your plans for today, stay happy and stay safe 😊

Margaret.



Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Watermelon Weather

 

It looks like we are having a week of hot weather, with temperatures up in the late 20s Celsius.  It is perfect weather for eating watermelon!

I’m really fussy about pips and I remove each one before I eat.  Hubby used to stand out on the lawn and spit his pips over into the paddock, and I have a friend who crunches away on every seed (which annoys me no end!).




Tonight I watched my currently favourite TV programme again – Modern Dinosaurs.  This week they were looking at gigantism (with a lot of talk about evolution, which I don’t really believe in). 

On Little Barrier Island we saw snails as big as a man’s fist – cruel creatures which devour live earthworms by grinding them down as they slowly swallow them whole.




We also looked at giant wetas known as wetapunga by Maori, meaning God Of The Ugly Ones.  This huge insect (a female can weigh more than a sparrow) may look fierce but it is actually very gentle.

Originally, they were widespread throughout the mainland, but man’s arrival 800 years ago introduced rats and now they are only found on protected islands.




Throughout New Zealand’s waterways are found long-fin freshwater eels.  These nocturnal-feeding fish are believed to be the largest fresh water fish in the world and have been known to grow to over 2 metres long (which takes about 200 years!).

When the time is right these fish will swim off for the tropics to breed, after which they will die.



I may not ever see any of these creatures in real life, but I do enjoy watching documentaries about them.

Nature is certainly wonderful in all its aspects 😊

Margaret.


(Apart from the watermelon, photos were taken from the television programme mentioned above).