Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

  • 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


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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.

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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.

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I’ve had a post half-written for a while inviting you to come for a walk with me, using words alone. But today I’m going to be lazy, and will take you on a very short part of that walk with my camera. This morning was bright and sunny, I felt like getting out of the house, and so I grabbed my camera, and decided to do one of the exercises from my photography course that is meant to help me become more creative. Essentially, I was to go for a walk, and take a picture every 15 steps or so, forcing me to focus on the plants, flowers, weeds and fences! Here are the results starting in my driveway and – my phone tells me – walking about 800 steps down the street, and back.

We start in my driveway, with the concrete blocks we dug up some years ago, and plan to use for a steps in the garden, before walking up to the street,

P1080912 concrete blocks cr

and the neighbours’ plants.

We then cross the road and see a sign,

P1080942 sign bw

encounter plants I can’t name, and a few weeds,

a protea

P1080961 protea

some flowers even in the depths of winter,

and a few fences.

The final fence, and the bare tree behind it, remind me that it is winter,

P1080989 fence tree

but the green cabbage tree welcoming me home is always lush and vibrant.

P1080996 cabbage tree



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Saying good-bye

What a difference a week makes. Instead of writing of a happy, if bedraggled, group of family and friends on the olive grove, today I am writing of some of the same people, on a similarly gloomy day, gathering at a local cemetery chapel, farewelling my olive-owning friend’s father.

The mood was sombre, but the service was intimate, personal, full of love and loss. I had pulled myself out of bed, drugged up, and rugged up against the cold, to support my friend, and if I had not been feeling so ill (and had been much less infectious), I would have attended the wake to support her there too.

Whilst a funeral service is the formal part of the farewell, the wake is where the mood usually* lifts, when people relax after the formalities, and chat about their relationships with the person who has gone. In doing so, they fortify the family and friends who are left grieving, and remind them of the good memories, the ones – in my experience so far – that last the longest.

I have to say that I enjoyed the wakes of both my parents – seeing all the people who came to pay their respects and to support us, the people who helped make my parents’ lives what they were, and who helped make my life what it has been too. I hope our friends found this today too.


*  at least, this is the case when it is not unexpected, and when the person has gone peacefully, perhaps after a long illness

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  • Secret projects #1, #2 and #3, and many more boring things like putting away summer clothes and pulling out the autumn/winter ones.
  • In an effort to stop eating quite so much meat, I want to get into eating more pulses but need to find appealing recipes, especially for my deeply-lentil-suspicious husband, so any suggestions will be gratefully received.
  • Catch up on my photography course homework, preferably not at home, as there are only so many of the tree fern or cabbage trees or oak tree that I can take (and the oak tree leaves are falling).
  • Find a new hairdresser, as the other one – as much as I quite liked her and the salon – has persisted in making a mistake that I have asked her not to do every time I’ve visited her. I really hate finding new hairdressers, and having wavy hair with a mind of its own doesn’t help.
  • A couple of minor medical/dental things that aren’t urgent, but I should get around to doing.
  • Getting back into the decluttering 2018 in 2018 project, which I’ve neglected the last couple of months.
  • Making sure I see friends more often, including one who is intending to travel for six months, another who needs to have champagne for her birthday, and a theatre date we’ve been talking about but not got around to planning.

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  • The busiest time on my blog is 3 am, which I suppose makes sense since most of my readers are overseas.
  • I could count the number of posts written here that aren’t for Microblog Mondays on the fingers of one hand. That means my posts are very short, limited in scope, and so probably pretty boring.
  • People who are mildly depressed are better able to guess what other people think about them, whereas the happy are truly in blissful ignorance.
  • People with mild anxiety have better recall of events than those who either do not suffer anxiety or those who suffer severe anxiety.
  • Sleeping in a lighter room leads to greater rates of depression, so darken those windows, and turn off any blinking lights. Maybe that’s why I like autumn, when the mornings are darker?
  • If we sleep 24 minutes (no more) during our day, we are much more productive, so it must be time for a nap!

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