Today’s sound effects

  1. Right now, I am listening to National Radio, the source of much interesting information, and the prompt for many posts.
  2. But if I turn that off, I can hear my husband coughing downstairs.
  3. The wind is blowing, gently enough for Wellington, but enough to hear it rustling the leaves and branches of the trees outside my windows.
  4. A bus just stopped at the bus-stop across the street from our driveway, and now I can hear it accelerating away, though we’re very lucky that we get virtually no road noise in this house.
  5. The dog from down the valley is barking again, which seems to be a relatively new development, and he sounds quite distressed, or is that how barking dogs sound anyway?
  6. The washing machine is finishing its spin cycle, ensuring I’ll have some gear to wear on my walk or, perhaps more accurately, for yoga tomorrow (as I think rain is forecast).
  7. A plane just flew overhead, on its way in (or out) of our airport, on the other side of our city, perched on land that rose as a result of an earthquake in the 19th century – oh, and here comes another one (aeroplane, not earthquake).
  8. I can hear the clicks of the keyboard, as I speedily write this post.

Right Now … (#4)

Reading: Poetry, as this month on our daily blogging group is Experimenting with Form month, and they are all much better poets than I am, so rather than direct you to my blog, I will commend Helen’s villanelle to you, and I guarantee the third line (at least) will make you laugh.

Watching: After finishing the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which was brutal but compulsory viewing, and after bingeing all seasons of the Game of Thrones, I caught up with Designated Survivor’s two seasons, and now I’m watching Counterpart, which is set in two parallel worlds, and really makes you think.

Following: The New Zealand Women’s Softball Team, aka The White Sox, is playing at the World Championships in Japan this week, and my 18-year-old niece is in the team (I think she must be the youngest there), and although they’ll struggle against bigger countries, they’re a team with a lot of heart; and I kind of wish I was there, but it’s been really hot, and so I’m glad I’m not.

Drinking: A lot of tea to keep me warm; maybe Earl Grey at breakfast, green tea at lunch or in the afternoon, and after dinner it’s chamomile tea, though I also throw in the occasional glass of wine, because I wouldn’t want to go cold turkey.

Eating: We’ve been going overboard with soup this winter, in an effort to avoid buying takeaways (eg fish and chips or pizza), and though I used to make a lot of pumpkin/butternut soup, and I’ve a recipe for a spicy carrot soup I want to try, this year I’ve been cheating and making tasty tomato soup from canned tomatoes, and eating freshly baked bread (sometimes homemade too) with it.

Anticipating: I’m looking forward to a week away in early September, thanks to some frequent flyer points I needed to use, and so I booked at the end of June (they expired 1 July), and we’re heading off to Aussie, and one of the great wine regions of the world, which will be fun, and make up for the lack of drinking we’re doing at the moment.

Contemplating: When underestimating your abilities is just an excuse for fear, and when overestimating your abilities is arrogance, and relating it to studies that have just come out

Loving: The winter, as although we haven’t had many really cold days, it’s always very cosy to hunker down inside when it’s raining, as it has been a lot the last few days (hence the binge-watching I’ve been doing this last month), and it is just starting to rain again (though fortunately it was fine this morning so I managed to go for a nice long walk), which is perfect timing for a lazy evening and a comfort food curry for dinner.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series.

Over the Hill Again

After an invitation had been impulsively given and accepted on Friday, Saturday saw us venture over the hill for the first time in months. We spent the morning at home, while I baked a cake for dinner; though if I’m honest it wasn’t the baking that took several hours, it was having to make multiple trips to the supermarket twice to get ingredients I kept forgetting!

We usually drive over “the hill” (the Remutaka Range) in the morning or early afternoon, and it was a treat to drive over in the late afternoon, enjoying the different light on the distant Wairarapa plains as we wound our way down from the summit. We tracked cloud formations being caught by the setting sun in a halo effect but, of course, just as we drove through the little town (which uncannily reminded me of my hometown on a wintry Saturday night in the 1970s) and out the other side, and turned into their driveway lined with promising daffodils, that gorgeous light disappeared.


An early sign of spring

The man of the house was busy cooking up a curry storm in the kitchen, so pre-dinner champagne and olive oil from the trees outside (accompanied by a stunning sunset) flowed into a delicious dinner (curries, and very successful orange almond cake), lively conversation, and even the rugby result was easier to take when we commiserated together.


The next morning, after a late but yummy breakfast at the little wine town’s stylish hotel, we said goodbye and, with an hour or two to fill before a busy afternoon scheduled back in Wellington, drove down to the coast, through vibrant green farmland under sunny skies, reminiscent of the land where I grew up, though newborn lambs were the only thing missing from the winter scene, still a few weeks too early for them to arrive. We drove to the end of the road, and – along with others basking in the sunny morning – mucked around on the beach, enjoying just being out in nature, and I, of course, played around with my camera and tripod.

It was tempting to stay, but duty called, so we packed up, drove back along the country roads through the flat green fields, slowing to pass dairy cows and calves wandering along the road (such a New Zealand scene) and their Filipino farm workers, before we headed back over the hill that seems to separate everyday life from freedom, friendship, and leisure.

My iPad and phone are both full of library loans, but I have no time to read them all. My phone has audiobooks – The Looming Tower, and the Year of No Clutter – so I can listen when I am walking. My iPad has a range of books I’ve downloaded based on recommendations from fellow bloggers and x365 bloggers, books I’ve heard reviewed or discussed on the radio, etc, but they’re all on a three-week loan, and need to be either requested again, or returned. I am just not keeping up with my reading this year, perhaps due to blogging, ironically on books this month on my x365 blog.

I recently mentioned going flatting, and – as I must admit I had expected – someone commented about the use of “flat” as a verb. It’s common in New Zealand, as we talk about flats and flatmates, with whom we go flatting; in contrast, a “room-mate” implies a more intimate arrangement.

There was an earthquake yesterday that rattled the house and cupboards for a little longer than usual, just reminding us – in case we were getting complacent – that we live in very shaky isles.

Right now, there are at least FIVE kaka in the macrocarpa tree out my window, all squawking away, flying at each other, and entertaining me. Unfortunately, the light isn’t good enough to get some photos or video of them, but here’s a photo of a kaka visiting us on the other side of the house some time ago.

P1060365 kaka cr

  • Our house is really beautiful on a sunny day, flooded with light and shadows and gorgeous views from most windows, and especially in winter when we can embrace the warmth the sun provides.
  • Book month on my x365 blog, because I don’t just get to remember books that I love, but I get to read about books that my fellow bloggers love too, and I’m adding a lot of them to my already ridiculously long To-Read list.
  • Finding some of my favourite books as a child online when I had forgotten their titles, has reminded me of the joy and magic of these books that has stayed with me for almost 50 years.
  • My daily blog project has meant that almost every day this year I get to read Helen again, whose posts and comments always make me smile, and who I missed in the years when she wasn’t writing.
  • Planning dinner this evening, with an old favourite Thai dish that I haven’t eaten in years, thanks to discovering it in my very first Thai food cookbook.
  • Watching amazing tennis at Wimbledon, and having the flexibility to be able to stay up all night and sleep most of the day to do so.
  • Continuing to learn and improve my photography, although to be fair last night I had to get my husband to remind me of one of the controls on my … cough … easy-to-use tripod!
  • Writing my blog posts with rain on the skylight above me.



View from my desk

I wasn’t feeling well on the weekend, and it was raining and gloomy, so I curled up on the couch and indulged in my latest addiction, The Game of Thrones, as our cable TV supplier has been running a new season every Saturday. Late last night I finished Season Five, which I had already seen, but it makes so much more sense running it all together this way, as I can remember the characters and what happened to them from episode to episode, and I can pick up on subtleties that I didn’t notice on the first time I watched.

We have recently discovered the delights of The Crown, long lauded by friends here and online, enjoying both the acting and the history, pausing repeatedly as I sit with my iPad, looking up all sorts of historical facts and family relationships for clarification and verification.

Just as I followed the Chilean miners’ escape some years ago, though perhaps with rather more intensity this time, I have been following the story of the Thai boys and their coach who have been trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. I’m a bit claustrophobic, and cannot imagine much worse than having to squeeze through rock channels underwater in the darkness, let alone as a child who can’t swim. So far four of the boys have been freed, and some incredibly brave people, including one who has already lost his life, have been helping them.

What I haven’t seen, sadly, is the rare southern right whale that has entranced Wellington this last week, causing the cancellation of the Matariki fireworks in the harbour planned for Saturday evening, out of fears for its safety. I might go looking for it tomorrow if it is still around.

* when in doubt, go for trivia.

I was chatting to Lori on her blog about my confusion that she was Canadian but referred to Fahrenheit temperatures; I am of course accustomed to reading about Fahrenheit and other imperial measurements on US blogs (and usually manage to refrain from teasing Americans about using imperial measurements, and in doing that, enjoying the good company of only Liberia and Myanmar), and my UK friends just confuse the hell out of me, because they seem to use miles, and pints, and stones, but are supposed to have adopted the metric system.

It made me think about when we switched, which started when I was 10 with road distances and temperatures, and was completed by the time I was 14.

So I am, as a result, far more comfortable with Celsius than Fahrenheit, and although I remember my father declaring, “unless it is 80F, it is too cold to swim,” I didn’t really understand how hot that was until I figured out in recent years that it was almost 27 C. I still use references to “a few miles down the road” or to “yards” in a very general way, rather than referring to a specific distance, but otherwise distances are in kilometres or metres, speeds in kilometres per hour, weights in kgs and tonnes, height in metres and centimetres, though I do understand a person’s height in feet and inches (I’m 5’9”), etc. I can vaguely understand stones when it comes to a person’s weight, and funnily enough know baby weights in pounds and ounces, but otherwise it’s all about the kgs and grams. I always have to convert US recipes before I start cooking, and I’m completely lost when Americans talk about 8-ounces in terms of volume instead of helpful litres and millilitres, though I do remember a pint of milk (or beer).

I was however completely confused in Iceland last year, when I was trying to figure out how strong the winds were going to be on a drive across the sandur, but found that they quoted airspeeds in kilometres per second, not kms per hour!

P1030926 panorama mtns glaciers plains ed

For wading through that post, you deserve a photo of the sandur on the southern coast of Iceland, and the glacier beyond.