Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

A beautiful native

In a nature reserve on the way to a beautiful waterfall yesterday, I passed numerous tree ferns. They are a major feature of New Zealand native bush, and I love them. This one is a particularly large specimen, and I had to stop and take a quick snap, before hurrying to catch up with the others.

A New Zealand tree fern

Another Thursday Tree Love post.


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Monday Miscellany

Today is, National Radio informed me this morning, the spring equinox, with day and night exactly the same length. Appropriately, it is windy. And may get windier later tonight. When you live in an already windy city, that’s windy. Although it is preferable that the house shakes from the wind than from, as it did last night, an earthquake.

Daylight saving starts this weekend. Summer is on its way. I’m not sure how I feel about that this year. Winter hasn’t been long enough or cold enough.

I’m feeling kinda proud of myself. I met a friend for lunch today, but as it was a day when I’m keeping my calorie count down, I drank only green tea as she ate her meal. Her plate of food looked delicious, and ironically, incredibly healthy. My husband and I have been following this pattern of eating for the last year. We’ve skipped weeks, even months at a time, when his mother was dying, when we’ve travelled (domestically and internationally), or when we’ve had social events or visitors. But otherwise, we’ve stuck to it. For a whole year! And I haven’t cheated at all.

The Rugby World Cup started last weekend. Let’s just say we’re watching. At least the time zone is in our favour for once, with Japan sitting only three hours behind us, though it will be four hours behind next week.

Do you ever read books that you are ashamed to admit you’re reading? Spare a thought for me, as I make my way through a 17-book series. They are junk food books. I don’t like that I’m reading them. But I can’t stop.

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I heard the other day that 10% of the world’s carbon emissions come from the fashion industry. The figure astounded me.  “Fast fashion” – the rapid production of low-cost items to meet the latest trends – is a major contributor, because people buy an item, wear it for a short time, then throw it away, only to buy further items the next season. Yet the cloth has been manufactured, then the item has been produced in a factory (that most likely pays its workers very low wages and provides few if no benefits all the while ignoring health and safety concerns) that is probably offshore to keep the prices as low as possible, or to keep the profits for the wholesaler/retailers as high as possible. Factories in developing countries almost always have lower environmental standards than those in the developed world. (And I’m not going into the complex issues questions around slave labour, poor conditions, and exploitation versus the need to provide people with jobs when they have no safety-net welfare systems, and the need for productive industries to pull nations up out of poverty.)

Fashion in itself is incredibly wasteful. The whole concept centres around the idea that something is “out of fashion” and should no longer be used or worn, but replaced by something more socially acceptable. Talk about socially imposed conformist rules! And that is incredibly wasteful.

Yet I enjoy fashion – I like to try new styles, and I feel good when wearing something new or a bit different. I try not to buy only the latest trends, but to wear things that will last – perhaps because they are quirky and a bit different, and so don’t scream Winter 2016 or Summer 2018.  These days, with a more limited budget, I focus more on classics. And this winter, after an expensive seven-week trip, I haven’t bought anything new. I stuck to my classics – black tops under wrap jerseys or jackets. I know it is easier to do this because I don’t work in an office.  I don’t need an extensive wardrobe. But clothes give you confidence too, and without a job, I sometimes need that. So it helps, knowing that my more restrained wardrobe helps the planet too.

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After my (very legitimate) rant of last week, I thought I’d write about things that made me happy today:

  • The huge wasp (the biggest I’ve ever seen) that I discovered in the house this afternoon obediently flew out the door when I opened it.
  • I managed to get to my favourite supermarket this morning before the lunch rush.
  • I received a package from some printers. After years of printing my own greeting cards with my own photos, always customised to suit the recipient, I can’t find any stockists of blank printable cards any more. And the ones I could find on the internet cost an absolute fortune. I’ve used an online printing company to make my Christmas cards previously, but I didn’t want a run of 10 or 20 cards all the same. But I discovered a printer that allows you to mix and match, for the same price. So in a print run of 50 cards, I could use 25 different designs. Yay! They arrived today, and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. So if you want something similar, I recommend Moo Print (http://www.moo.com).
  • It’s a lovely winter day, and I enjoyed a good walk this morning.
  • The house is clean, and (or because) I have friends coming for dinner tonight.
  • There is wine in the fridge!

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Right Now (#7)

Reading: I seemed to rediscover my reading mojo in Japan. In the last two and a half months, I’ve read a total of thirteen books, which is a huge number for me in the last ten or so years. One was even an actual, hold-in-your-hand paper book that my sister loaned me last week! I read it yesterday, all day. I’m reading books that just appeal, or hold my attention, rather than trying for “worthy” books, and I’ve been really enjoying the process of reading.

There’s been a real variety, set in Italy, England, Australia and the US, and ranging from Tudor times to the 1920s to the present day. They were largely three and four-star reads. These were probably my favourites:

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri
Different Class by Joanne Harris
Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Watching: I’ve been through a crime phase. My husband and I binge-watched Line of Duty from Netflix, and when that was finished, I finally succumbed to his exhortations, and watched Shetland. I raced through it, and loved it. Netflix NZ only has three series, but there have been more made, so I’m looking forward to that. The first series (only six-eight episodes per series) was more like a classic crime series, essentially introducing all the characters. The second series though follows through one main case, and was gripping. I loved the scenery, and the accents.

Listening: I’m currently listening to Radio NZ National as I usually do. I went walking today, and listened again to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie which is brilliantly told. It’s his autobiography, and I am thoroughly enjoying it, but as it is a library book, I can see it’s going to expire before I can finish it.

Following: I’m trying not to follow global politics because it is frustrating. There are a few very interesting issues going through our Parliament at the moment, both of which will be conscience votes (rather than along party lines). I’m interested in the progress of both. The first updates to our abortion laws since the 1970s are being addressed, which is about time, if you ask me! A Bill looking at voluntary euthanasia is also being addressed. Having watched my parents and my in-laws, and thinking about my own circumstances, I have some strong opinions on this.

Drinking: I’ve been enjoying wine again, after seven weeks in Asia when we didn’t drink any at all. It was strictly beer and cocktails. I found myself surveying our hotels’ Mai Tais in Vietnam. The Hanoi hotel won, because the drinks were delicious, the air-conditioning was strong (it was 39C outside), and the lobby bar was elegant. But happy hour at the beach pool was good too.

Eating: Healthily, in bursts. It’s the middle of winter, so I’m enjoying hearty Thai curries once a week, and noodle soup occasionally for lunch. Now that I write this, I’m feeling the urge for a roast lamb dinner sometime soon.

Anticipating: Getting together with some friends tomorrow night. We haven’t seen them since we went to Asia, so it will be fun to catch up. Wellington restaurants are in the middle of August’s Wellington on a Plate, so we’re going to try one of the “Festival Dishes.” Then in the last half of August, the Burger Wellington competition will be in full swing. I love burgers, but hardly ever eat them, so I’m determined to get out and try a few of the offerings. There are lots of interesting versions with Asian flavours that sound fun.

Contemplating: The next few years, as the relative freedom I had expected to return to – and which I was looking forward to enjoying – after our trip has disappeared, and so I’ll need to refocus my plans.

Loving: The winter! Believe it or not, I’m relishing the cooler weather after the hot weather on our trip. Last week I was down in the cold south and loved the zero degree temperatures they get at night, and continually exclaimed over the snowy mountains I saw on the seven-hour road trip I took with my sister and niece.  Winter is great if I’m warm and cosy inside.


Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months.

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Life is short

From the fun of remembering our trip last week, I’ve been brought down to earth with a thud. I was given a harsh reminder that life is short, losing one of the cousins who was closest to my age. She was, reportedly, cheerful to the end, truly herself. Although sadly, the end came months sooner than expected, and years before it should have. For all the wonders of medical science, for all the other efforts that people think helps, nothing could be done for her.

So I’m flying south tomorrow for her funeral. It will be cold and wintry – they’ve just had a southerly blast come through, with snowfall down to sea level (unusual in NZ). But it will be a chance to remember J, and to reconnect with her brothers and their families, and with another favourite cousin who lives in the region, as well as with my sister and her family on the drive into the deep south. Human connection is important, and this has reminded me of that in the unkindest way.

So I’m hoping too to catch up with some other friends soon. There’s a food festival on this month to brighten up the winter, and what better time to break bread with good friends, enjoy good food and wine and laughter. Appreciate what we have. We never know when it /they/us will be gone.


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I’ve been watching Wimbledon the last week. An 11-hour time difference means that I suffer severe “jet-lag” for about a week. It didn’t help that there have been the semis and final of the World Cup Cricket, also being played in the UK. (I only watch cricket when NZ is playing, and against the odds, we got into the final). So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to reset my body clock again this week.

Apart from our first few days back, winter hasn’t been very wintry, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I like to wrap up in coats and scarves. It has been several years since I’ve needed to wear a hat and gloves during our winter, and I don’t even know if I could find them now. Maybe I need to move further south?

I found my reading mojo again somewhere in Japan, after losing it some years ago. That has continued since I came home. After being well behind my Goodreads target this year (which was dramatically reduced to only 20 books after failing badly last year), I’m now several books ahead of schedule. I’m loving it; I have no idea why it has been so difficult these last few years.

Our oak tree that is just outside our dining room window is, of course, now bare of leaves for the next few months. So we have been able to see the tui flitting around in its branches or settling in for a long and loud choral session. It feels like they’re singing “welcome home.”




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