Archive for the ‘Things I like’ Category

I am currently visiting Charlie and her parents and Jeff and Cloud (the dog and cat respectively) and have been exposed to her unique 8-year-old thought processes.

  • “Donald Trump is an idiot, because he is.”
  • Answering questions from your aunt AMA mother is not nearly as interesting as dancing like a cat to “I’m sexy and you know it.”
  • Pets are to be loved, played with, and ignored at your pleasure.
  • Art galleries are worth visiting
  • Virtual reality is awesome because “you don’t have to use controls you just use your head.”
  • A good library is a great discovery.
  • Delayed gratification is a terrible idea.

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I’m enjoying the photography challenge that I do in between Microblog Mondays posts, but I think I’ve realised that one of the things I like best about it is that I get to explore things that are important to me, and to then write about them here (however briefly), taking as much or more pleasure in that than I do the photography.

I found my old camera!

The grilled chicken sandwich I made for lunch, with leftover chicken from dinner last night (marinated in coriander – cilantro for you North Americans – and mint and lime juice and red curry paste) and the spicy banana chutney that goes with it.

Remembering that friends and relatives are so important to our well-being, and should be celebrated. The last few days have been especially good – I got to see two friends on Friday, a niece and her partner on Saturday (and it was fine enough to have drinks on the deck), and other friends for dinner last night, a friend who spends half her life in France will be visiting in a few weeks, and I’m anticipating the arrival home of another friend after four years in Europe.

That we manage to balance our interests by happily driving an old, increasingly beat-up car (we bought it new 19 years ago), not owning diamonds or fancy clothes or expensive shoes etc, so that we can travel.

After waking up (at 5 am) to a gale that was shaking the house and rattling the roof, with mists that shrouded the house at the same time, followed by heavy rain, now it is bright and sunny (though still reasonably windy). Three seasons in one day, but there’s still time for a fourth, so here’s a Crowded House treat for you:

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I have a sweet tooth, but for chocolate and ice-cream and desserts rather than for confectionary (lollies/sweets/candy). So I wasn’t wildly thrilled at the photo challenge for candy this week. As I’m doing both last year’s challenge and this year’s, the Candy challenge required both photos of candy, and photos that implied candy. The first photo speaks for itself.

The chocolate is just asking to be made into a chocolate mousse, in the very glass I’ve used to serve chocolate mousse. I can’t remember the last time I made chocolate mousse. Yet it was one of the first ever fancy desserts I would make for guests. At least one person reading this will remember how I used to make chocolate mousse, and decorate it with chocolate palm trees. I need to try that again, and show you, although it has been years since I made chocolate mousse. Just talking about chocolate mousse makes me want to make chocolate mousse. I love chocolate mousse.


The second photo is really about my opinion that tomatoes are the candy of the vegetable world. I’ve written about tomatoes before. When I was in the Middle East, I adored the cherry tomatoes that I ate in Israel and Jordan. In our hotel in Amman, we were served a small bowl of cherry tomatoes, along with a small bowl of olives, with our drinks. Perfect!


Photographically speaking, this challenge taught me a number of things. I played with light, and with different backgrounds. I realised that I should have done this challenge with traditional round cherry tomatoes, as the oval ones look as if I distorted the photo. I learned that I should not always go for a very wide aperture, as it can blur too much of the photo. And I learned that I should take more time for my challenges, and not try to sneak in five or ten minutes of photography when I’m waiting for my husband to get home with the takeaways for dinner.

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Chatting with my AFS friends on social media, whether it is about politics or travel or recipes. We said goodbye when we were still teenagers, but we’re forever bonded by our common experiences in Thailand, and I love that.

An email from Helen, a regular commenter and former blogger, who even when she says she has lost her writing mojo, comes up with a phrase like this (and I am sure she won’t mind me quoting her):

“… b) After trying on the leggings at home (I bought them at a craft show where there wasn’t a change room), I have vowed never to wear them outside the house, even in the event of a fire where I’m wearing them and don’t have time to change my clothes.”

This is also a wonderful Helenism (and no, Grammarly, I don’t mean  Hellenism):

“… shouldn’t the word to refer to a “palindrome” be itself a palindrome? Somebody completely missed the boat (probably a kayak) on that one.”

I love seeing the variety of people who might comment or like a post or photo of mine on social media. A recent post’s first responses came from my cousin’s cousin, my SIL’s (and our) university friend in Malaysia, an AFS friend from Thailand I haven’t seen for 35+ years, my American niece I haven’t seen (except for Skype) for over seven years, my AFS sister from Thailand, and a British blogger living in California whom I have never met. That just makes me smile.

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I frequently wax lyrical (or not so lyrical if I’m honest) about my love of the red splashes I see throughout our city at this time of year. I love the brilliant red blooms, and the promise they bring that summer is here and should stay awhile, and so always feel sad when I see the blooms fade and disappear, or drive past roads that have turned crimson as the flowers fall.

I think I’m appreciating them even more this year, simply as summer seems to have forgotten us, I’ll take whichever features of the season I can get.

So when my photo challenge for this week was “red,” I knew that I should take some photos of pohutukawa. I wanted something a little different, and I knew that taking a typical, close-up photo of the flowers wasn’t going to be possible, not with the winds that have been buffeting us all “summer” so far.

The view I’ve chosen is far from perfect. It’s not the perfect composition, or clarity, or light, or focus (it was very windy). I’m predominantly a travel photographer taking photos when I see them (or regretting it when I don’t) because it is very rare that I can (or will) return when the light is just right. (The only time I’ve done this is in Rome when we had the time to choose an evening to go back to the Colosseum just as the late sun hit it perfectly, causing it to glow.)

So I snapped this photo, as it is very representative of Wellington, showing pohutukawa blooms nestled among other buildings, rather than lining a northern beach. The fact that it was on the marae grounds (over the road from a shop I’d just been visiting) made it better, with the carving at the head of the wharenui, or meeting house, in the traditional red.


I liked the combination of the Maori tradition and the pohutukawa (even though pohutukawa are not native to Wellington, they flourish here) for another reason too. The other challenge for the week was “land.” Maori have a very deep relationship to the land, and it is extremely important in their culture. The land I have a strong connection to is the land where first my parents and then my sisters and I grew up. It was flat, green and fertile, edging the ocean. As much as I love Wellington, I don’t have the same relationship here with the land. But the Maori do.

And for a bonus, third dose of kiwiness, I leave you with Split Enz singing “I see red.”

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  1. Knowing that the major bookings for our trip later in the year have now been made, and feeling the resultant reduction in stress.
  2. AND I found a rain jacket (necessary for above-mentioned trip), with a removable fleece lining, on sale in the weekend, in a shop we just happened to walk past.
  3. My new passport arrived in record time, so I had no time to feel trapped down here at the ends of the earth.
  4. There’s some homemade fresh strawberry ice-cream in the freezer, and some fresh berries in the fridge, ready to go with it.
  5. Thinking about playing around with my camera (even though attempts last night to photograph the moon were disastrous).
  6. I’ve been able to write and bank (for future) some blog posts.
  7. I’m finally trying a recipe I’ve drooled over since first seeing it on The Great British Bake-off, and I have hopes it will be yummy (and yes, I will report on it if it is any good).
  8. Summer made a flying visit today (even though it seems to have gone back into hiding, where it has been all season, this evening).

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I bought myself a new camera in October. For some years I had coveted the idea of having more control than my superzoom camera gave me, although I still dearly love the photos it has given me. So I bought the camera and tried it out on our trip south. (And yes, I still plan on writing about that … soon!) I’ve realised though that to become accomplished with my new camera, I need to use it more often. So I am going to try a weekly photography challenge. Actually, I am going to do two weekly photography challenges. (Yes, I’m a sucker for punishment, but time is short.) I’m going to do last year’s challenge, because I need the discipline. But then I saw that this year’s challenge is all about telling stories, and I love to tell stories, whether here or with my camera.

I was a little horrified, though, to see that the first week required a selfie. You may know how much I love selfies! Well, I reasoned, I don’t need to post the result of every week’s challenge, do I? After all, I don’t pretend to be a good photographer, just a keen one. So I played around, trying to ensure that the light wasn’t hideous, or that I wasn’t hideous. I used my little tripod, and also my wifi app that allows my phone to take over remote control of my camera, so I didn’t have to jump up and down to adjust the camera. It was all good practice for me. The results weren’t brilliant, and even as I write this, I’m still not sure if I’ll actually attach the photo, but I do want to document that I actually did the challenge. Week 1 half-completed.

The second task was both easier and harder. I had to tell a story using the rule of thirds, which is, apparently, an important feature of photography. I’m not sure I’ve approached it correctly, but there is a story, and the timing is appropriate, as I took the photo just before taking my Christmas tree down for another year.

My fat angels (I have three) have been amongst my favourite decorations for over 20 years. I first found them in Thailand, that most Buddhist of countries that embraces the idea of Christmas celebrations and lights and carols.

They were, I think, the first of many decorations I bought there. I loved their angelic faces, and the sheer humour of their shape, their faces, and their instruments. I love their wings, though they are quite delicate. I’m very careful with them. They survived 17 years of living with two cats, who were thankfully remarkably well behaved around the tree, and they’re still doing well.

More robust were the felt decorations that I found in Thailand. I bought dozens, red, green and white reindeer and stars and camels, and even a squirrel or two. All very (northern) Christmassy. But my favourites that are uniquely Thai, are my felt elephants. Not Christmassy at all, but they represent such an important part of my life, and so they hold an important place on my tree.

So I chose this photo because completely unintentionally, I had hung these two decorations – so different but forever linked – so close together on my tree. I didn’t move them (although I realise now I probably should have), so they’re not perfectly balanced, and it would have been nice if the elephant had been facing the angel. But the angel’s uplifted eyes are in one of the intersections of thirds, and the elephant peaks at another intersection of the thirds, and this is where they were on the tree. So I took the photo. That’s what I do, essentially. I take the photos that are there, rather than design and plan my photos. Just as I learned to write back in 2006 with 44 words a day, I now need to start thinking like a photographer. I guess that’s a good lesson to learn at the beginning of the challenge.

But in the meantime, Week One was completed. Getting started is often the hardest part.


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