Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

We noticed it first on our drive to the northeast of our country – I was shocked to suddenly see poplars turning yellow, even though everything else still felt summery.

By the time we got home, we’d seen lots of poplars and willow trees starting to turn, which is not something we see here, surrounded by largely native, evergreen trees. Then we noticed how much darker it is in the evenings, the sun suddenly setting around 7.30 pm, about half an hour earlier (it seemed) than when we had left, and it seems shocking that daylight saving will end in a couple of weeks.

The agapanthus have finished flowering, as have the hydrangeas and other flowers, though a few hardy blooms of other varieties still bring colour to our lives.

But it was still hot on my walk this morning, and at a spot a few hundred metres down the street, I was greeted again by a large monarch butterfly, a sign of summer still lingering. They’ve been prolific this summer – a friend even nurtured one to adulthood in her garden – and I’ve taken enormous pleasure at seeing them swoop and fly around our hills, and especially at the ones near our mailbox.

As much as I complained about the hot nights, I do feel sad that summer is drawing to an end. But then, I felt that way at the end of winter too.


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Last year, summer did not turn up here in Wellington, but it must have had a guilty conscience as a result, because this year it arrived about a month earlier than usual, and in November we were already having our first barbecue, and eating outside, which in itself is a bit of a novelty in Wellington, hitting the combination of warm enough temperatures and lack of wind to be able to eat outside in the evening.

I have already received mockery from various unsympathetic friends on Fb when I have complained that these high (for us) temperatures overheat our house and that sleeping becomes difficult, so I’m not going to give you the numbers, and I will point out that everything is relative. We don’t have air-conditioning, and our house is built to catch the sun, not to hide it (for most of the year this is a good thing), but right now, we spend all afternoon and early evening trying to find the perfect combination of ventilation, directed air-flow, and closed curtains to keep out the sun. Of course, my husband and I have endless arguments on how this should be done, and when the heat makes us (okay, me) cranky, we do not agree to disagree on this matter.

Last night was cool, and I slept well (after the Australian Open Final finished about 1 am), but today the cloud from yesterday has lifted, the sky is blue, the heat pumping into the house and bedroom, with the forecast remaining warm for the next few days, and so we have a zoo trip and a barbecue for visiting relatives planned on Wednesday. Whilst this ability to plan in summer may be normal for many of you, it isn’t for me, or for most Wellingtonians, as usually, the one thing we can rely on is that our weather is changeable, and that just when the heat seems to be unbearable and lasting way too long, the winds will change and we will get some much-needed respite. I see lower temperatures and rain is forecast for Friday – a good day for the museum, I think.

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January Projects

I seem to be collecting new projects this January, but not the ones I should be focusing on.

  1. I’m now a week into my year of blogging daily, using word limits each month, over here at x365 Take Two.
  2. I’ve just signed up for a photography course, as recommended by a friend. The first lesson has blown me away, and I hope the rest are as easy to understand.
  3. I’ve copied the lovely Indigo Bunting who did this last year, and I’ve started a project to declutter 2018 things from my house in 2018. So far, I’ve thrown away five things, which means I’m already 39 things behind schedule, but I figure there’s time. Do you think discarding a project would count towards the 2018 total, and would a x365 project count as 365 things?
  4. Theoretically, I’m also going to try to delete 2018 emails, but that seems futile, because they just keep coming.

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Scattered families

Well, I couldn’t get organised enough to write my Microblog Mondays post in advance, so I’m writing it now on Tuesday morning in NZ, which is also known as Boxing Day.

The season this year has been special, because of the return of the Californian branch of the family, for the first time in eight years, and the first time ever for Christmas, and so I am relishing the time with them, as the girls go to college next year and who knows when we’ll see them again.

One of my nieces is a talented (and hard-working) softball player, with a scholarship to a good college, and – through her father – has NZ citizenship and has been included in the squad for the New Zealand women’s team. So it was a real pleasure for us to take a four-hour drive last week to a provincial town where the team was playing, and see her in action wearing the fern and the flag and the New Zealand black uniform.

There have been inevitable discussions about life and politics in the US and NZ, about college aspirations and travel plans, and many other topics, trying to squeeze years of casual conversation into a few days, which is the sad thing about having family living so far away.

I was  also honoured (and intimidated – I’m very much an untrained amateur) to be asked to take the twins’ senior pictures. The weather didn’t cooperate, as I’d hoped we could do it after Christmas Day when I was more relaxed, so I had to squeeze in mince pie and meringue baking with the photo shoots, and leave my husband to organise the pre-Christmas cleaning (inside and out), which he managed admirably. We got some beautiful shots in farmland, under native tree ferns, and on the beach, and I’m going to have fun going through them all and doing some editing, and will wait to see if they use my photographs or have to revert to other options back home!

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It’s that time of year again, and my brain is preoccupied with questions around planning:

  1. When should I make my next batch of mince pies, so that I can give to a friend and to elderly relatives near Christmas Day, but don’t leave it too late so I am panicking?
  2. I can’t buy the ham until I clean out the refrigerator and have most of the top shelf clear, but I don’t want to leave it to the weekend when my favourite gourmet food store will be packed with all the last minute buying, so should I be clearing out the fridge now rather than blogging?
  3. Planning the vegetable/fruit components for Christmas lunch for ten people (which fortunately is a very manageable size), as this year it looks like the asparagus might be done by Christmas, and my sister told me she’s even worrying that her raspberries might be finished before the big day, due to our abnormally warm spring and early summer.
  4. I haven’t even looked at the wine requirements, perhaps because I am partially relying on the news that the Californian relatives have brought some Californian wine (albeit made by other, more distant NZ relatives), but I know I need to consider rosé and pinot noir options, as well as the non-alcoholic drinks.
  5. The perennial issue of Christmas cards is upon me, and at least this year I’ve sent some off to relatives with their gifts, and to some elderly relatives here in the city, but forever have a quandary about sending them overseas to friends because of a) the cost, b) the environmental impact, and c) most of my friends are on Facebook and so know all my news. Time usually makes the decision for me, though I will admit that I miss the long missives my friends and I used to write each other, or the philosophical debates and book/movie recommendations we’d have on email, when Fb seems to have killed that more lengthy, intimate discourse.
  6. I had my own card printed again this year – complete with original, homemade mince pies photo – with only a few cards for mostly those non-Fb people, so know that if you don’t get a card from me, it’s nothing personal.nfd
  7. I wish you all the best for the rest of the year, and for all of 2018!


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A week ago, we packed our bags and the car, and headed over the hill – this one – to stay overnight with friends at their charming cottage amidst an olive grove.

They welcomed us with a lovely late lunch of delicious dark, seedy bread and cheese and tomatoes and asparagus and pâté and salami, and of course, being in a wine town we had to indulge in some local rosé, which is always perfect for a summery lunch and for nibbling with fresh berries from the garden.

Then came the business end of the day, as the croquet lawn was calling to us, and the game of the day was Croquet Golf – or was it Golf Croquet? My husband and I have only ever played once, some years ago, but beginner’s luck must have been upon us, as we took the first game 7-4. The second game didn’t go so well, with my husband wondering aloud, after further fortification from the rosé, just why the ball wasn’t going straight anymore! By that time it was close to 5 pm, and we figured that it must be time for some champagne – of course!

After a delicious biryani dinner and more berries from their garden, we took to the lawn for the deciding game, although by this time, our croquet brains had decided that attack was the best form of defence, and we all aimed at each others’ balls as often as we aimed at the hoops to score points. Appropriately, our hosts’ years of practice paid off and they trounced us soundly, so we retired to the campfire, and as the sun set and the almost-super moon rose, we chatted and sipped some more; a perfect end to a perfect day.




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I’m writing this at my desk, with the wide open large skylight above me, and the window behind me – creaked open after a winter closed tight against the cold, wet and wild southerlies – is poised to bring in a cooler breeze, though so far without luck. The sky is blue, and the sun is heating the house, and outside I can see butterflies and hear the tui and other birds chattering away.

After I renewed my driver’s licence (a quick and efficient process, though one that, annoyingly, doesn’t allow me to approve the photo they take for the licence) in town this morning, my husband and I decided, for a change, to drive around the harbour for lunch. The water was blue and calm, and the temperatures warm, and we wound our way around the bays, amazed at this uncharacteristically balmy November weather. Even the pohutukawa are all coming out weeks earlier than usual – I’m hoping they’ll still be in fierce, red bloom when the overseas family arrive in a few weeks.

We stopped at a café that has a lovely view back across the harbour to the city. We found seats under an umbrella to shade us from New Zealand’s fierce UV rays, and enjoyed a delicious lunch of decidedly summer vegetables and flavours.

An elderly couple sat near us with their glasses of chilled white wine, and we looked at each other in disgust, wondering why on earth we didn’t think of that!

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