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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

  • I’m writing this as rain is falling on the skylight just a couple of feet above my head, and there’s something lovely about that.
  • It is starting to get dark outside already, around 5 pm, and by the time it is 7.30 pm it feels like the middle of the night. Whilst I have been quite liking the cosy nature of this, I am quite pleased that it is almost the shortest day, and whilst the colder weather will hit, at least it won’t be dark so early!
  • Combine a lot of rainy or misty dull days, very short days and long nights, and the fact I’ve been sick (cold/cough) for the past two weeks, I’ve been getting cabin fever.
  • I have been binge-watching the final season of The Good Wife, when really during this gloomy period there was no excuse for not reading. I have only read 12 books this year, and I’m one behind schedule on my self-imposed Goodreads Reading Challenge.
  • The crappy weather has also put paid to any exciting photography options, and now there are no leaves left on our oak tree, photographic opportunities are more limited. Though I bought some tulips the other day, so played with my camera this afternoon when it was still light.

P1080869 tulips blk ed

 

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Yesterday we got up early (for a Saturday), filled the car with essentials, and headed off, out of the city and up the valley where the Hutt River skirts the highway, its willows rapidly losing all their leaves, into the countryside. It was a gloomy, dark morning, and the rain that was forecast later in the day seemed to have arrived early – it was light, almost misty, and we hoped it would be different at our destination.

We passed the tempting $10 Breakfast sign at the café at the bottom of the hill, tempted to stop for bacon and eggs and a decent coffee, thinking about texting our friends to say we might just be half an hour late. But we didn’t, and we drove up into the winding Rimutakas, up into the cloud, and then dropped back into the Wairarapa beyond, a bit perturbed to find that the weather was no better, and maybe even worse.

We arrived at Alders, site of previous adventures in better weather, where we were due to help our friends harvest their olives. The sight of Peony and her bedraggled sister, both soaked through, supported my decision to bring my bought-for-Iceland-and-previously-only-ever-worn-there rain pants, grateful for my bought-for-Iceland-but-perfect-in many-places fleece and rain jacket, and pleased that my husband had thought to bring our gumboots (and later even more pleased he unwittingly gave me the pair without the hole in the sole).

Our hosts/overseers had thoughtfully provided gloves and plenty of purpose-bought rakes that easily strip the olives from the branches, and we stuck into the work, getting wet not so much from the rain which eased off and just turned to mist, but from the very wet olive trees, and only slightly hampered by steamed-up glasses. With a very efficient crew of workers this year, and even though the trees are so much bigger than when we first went about seven or eight years ago, it was only a few quick hours later that we were told they had enough olives (8-900 kgs or a ton), and sodden, we retreated back to the house to dry off, grateful for the wine, hearty lunch of Indian dahls and curries, and cheerful conversation after a job well done.

Previous olive harvest posts here and here.

 

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May is Food month on my 2018 a post a day blog over on Take Two x365, and on one of the other x365 blogs someone mentioned buying 10 cabbages for $1; I wondered aloud (silly me!) what you might do with ten cabbages, and joked that it might be a good blog post.

  1. Take a cabbage, make a hole in it, and turn it into a candlestick (or is that a cabbagestick?), or better, take three of different sizes and you’ve got yourself a nice arrangement, keeping it natural, or spray painted in gold or silver for a glam look.
  2. Use a cabbage as a ready-made, biodegradable knife block, and stress reliever.
  3. Cut a groove in it, and you’ve got a stand for your iPad or smartphone to watch or listen to when cooking dinner.
  4. Choose the largest heaviest cabbage, and use it instead of a medicine ball from the gym, for an at-home workout.
  5. Two cabbages (one for each foot) would work as footrests under my office table, so I don’t sit with my feet twisted back as they are right now.
  6. A cabbage would be a useful doorstop.
  7. Use the last cabbage for soup or sauerkraut, or stir-fry with garlic and a tiny sprinkling of sugar as a side dish, and one of my 5-8 a day.

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When I was 17 and left home to live with a host family in a country that was about as foreign to us at the time as it was possible to be, my parents had to trust – in me, in the host family, in the school I was attending, and the AFS exchange programme that had arranged it all.

In 1980, Vietnam had invaded Cambodia a year or two earlier, had ousted the Khmer Rouge from power in Phnom Penh, but there were still regular battles as the Khmer Rouge fiercely fought for their territory along the Thai-Cambodian border. Removed from English-language media, I knew there was fighting, but felt safe in Thailand – even when I visited villages close to the border – which just proves ignorance truly is bliss! It turned out that several times during my year away, my parents received updates from AFS reassuring them that I was safe, given the inevitable media reports of the fighting. I wonder if those updates were, in fact, reassuring to my parents, or whether they were alarmist.

I’m thinking of this because, as you may know by now, one of the students killed in the Texas school shooting was an exchange student, looking forward to getting home after what was surely a fascinating year, and I think about the trust that was placed in that school and community by her and her family. I think about how that community (and the state and federal governments) in particular failed this family, and I weep for her, her siblings and her family back home, and for her host family who were also betrayed, as well as for the others who suffered loss and trauma in this and other similar incidents.

I simply don’t understand how a nation can be so wilfully, criminally, negligent on behalf of their children …  and, it seems, other people’s children … spurning, almost mocking, the trust that has been so sadly, it seems now, misplaced.

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She doesn’t really belong on this Friends-I-have-not-yet-met list, because, you see, I have met her. She’s Slovenian, and truly puts the LOVE in Slovenia, reaching out to give and receive love. She taught me to love Slovenia too, as I would never have gone there if she hadn’t been, at the time, a Friend-Not-Yet-Met (so, clearly, she does belong on this list after all).

A beloved wife, friend, aunt, and dog’s best friend. A true linguist, for more than three months, she wonderfully commented on my Lemons to Limoncello blog in Italian to help me practice mine.

She loves her summer garden and cooked us lunch using her home-grown produce. She and her husband recommended driving a mountain pass that, she casually mentioned, she had cycled once (or even twice?). As we wound around sharp, steep corners up, up, and further up again, I thought she must be crazy, though, in truth, she enjoys exercise and appreciates being out in nature.

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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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It’s the last day of April today, and it feels like it. It is cooler, and I pulled out some winter clothes this morning to venture out. A cup of hot tea at breakfast is very welcome now, instead of the simple glass of water I’ve had for months.

Mist has hung about our hills all day, obscuring the view, hiding other parts of the city across the gorge, including even the streetlights I can normally see from my window. The streets are lined with fallen orange leaves, which surprised me given that our city is very green, dominated by the evergreen natives, with few flashes of autumn colour. Time to change my blog header.

It’s dark already, only just after 6 pm, and the idea of curling up in bed later under a warm duvet with a book or my iPad is appealing. Yes, the seasons have changed, and winter is almost here.

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