Posts Tagged ‘#Microblog Mondays’

  1. I signed up for emails from a minimalist site, and it cluttered up my inbox, so I unsubscribed.
  2. Travel photos that are over-saturated in editing, and make beautiful places look completely fake. The Cinque Terre villages in Italy are frequent victims of this; compare the different photos here and see what I mean.
  3. Or travel photos and even postcards on sale that are very obviously photoshopped. You can’t believe what you see anymore, and I hate that!
  4. The dog person vs cat person divide (though I have to admit that I’m really a cat person.)
  5. Bloggers who promote their own communities by bringing in new users, but never give back by visiting other blogs, or by paying tribute to others working in the same area.
  6. Struggling to find topics for Microblog Mondays, because it’s hard to keep a post to eight sentences.

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One of the things I love about languages is that they give an insight into the culture and mindset of the people who use those languages. For example, the laid-back Thais’ word for a workaholic translates as “crazy for work.”

I talk about walking around my suburb for exercise (usually approximately 5-6.5 kms/3-4 miles) or going on an afternoon walk in the bush, the hills, or around the coast for an hour or three. Then on a US programme I watched recently, they referred to a 3.4 mile hike, and my response was immediate.

“That’s a walk,” I thought scornfully, “not a hike!”

We usually translate hike –a word we understand but do not tend to use here in NZ except in hitch-hike – to tramp. A tramp is a serious, overnight at least, usually multi-day, walk out in the wild, and many people belong to Tramping clubs.

Calling a walk a hike is like calling McDonald’s a “restaurant.”

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Has anyone noticed? I feel that suddenly, last week (or perhaps on the weekend), my WordPress sites suddenly have extra advertising. I always knew there were one or two ads after my posts, and that was fine because they have to pay for the service somehow, but now they seem to have encroached into the top of the sidebars as well, and the ads are impossible to miss. I do not like it, and yet I do not want to succumb to their obvious pressure to opt into their paid service (though that’s their prerogative, of course), thereby rewarding their strategy, and encouraging them to engage in this activity again in the future.

I’m so sick of having a hot bedroom at night, going to bed with a cold compress, and waking later feeling as if I’m having a constant hot flush, which I’m not, because that’s why I’m on HRT.

The neighbours are subdividing their section, and building their retirement home in the trees that are currently our northern boundary. It will substantially change the character of our house, the privacy in the garden/on the decks, and in our bedroom and reduce the value of our house, and I told them so because we’ve been far too nice and accommodating so far, even though they themselves are trying to take our wishes into consideration in the design of the house – except for the fact that they’re building the damn house in the first place.

More curses, because there was something else I wanted to write about, but I’ve forgotten, so I hate that too.

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It was a birthday with a zero, and though initially reluctant, my eldest sister decided to have a party. “Oh good!” I said as I suggested to my husband that we arrange our loop around the South Island to get to her place on the day in question. Our plan was doomed to fail, though, as work plans changed for him, and these days when work is scarce, it has to take priority, and so we found ourselves driving around the South Island in November rather than December, and calling into my sister’s house about three weeks early. Still, my younger sister who lives further north and I decided we should be there, and wanted to be there, and so on Saturday morning we met at Christchurch airport, sans Charlie (much to Charlie’s disgust, but not to her mother’s) and husbands, and drove south.

We weren’t the only ones who travelled, though, and we didn’t travel the longest distances either – our two nieces who live in Australia easily outstripped our domestic efforts. It was the first time since middle niece’s wedding early in 2015 that we were all together, and the first time there had been a family gathering in the area since our mother’s funeral in February this year, and so we marked it (though we almost forgot) with a photo of two generations of three sisters; a bit of familial symmetry is always nice.

We celebrated on Saturday night, but started early before the official event with whitebait (yum!) and a barbecue and lots of summery salad outside in the sun, then later at the party venue even as the rain came down outside, with a few drinks and lots of good (old) music and dancing and laughter and some good food and a birthday cake about midnight, and then more chatting back at the house before collapsing into bed around 3 am.

The next day was relaxed and happy, filled with much-needed cups of tea and restorative ham and eggs and catching up, and distribution of recently harvested avocados and birthday cards and Christmas presents and personalised cards and well wishes for the coming Australian baby, and even some cross-generational middle-child bonding, before youngest sister and I had to depart, giving hugs even though we’re not really a very huggy family, and fond farewells, with invitations for the southern families to visit us in the north, promises to get together again soon, and some emerging pressure on me to have the next party – though I have to emphasise  it will be a few years yet before my birthday with a zero comes around.



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I am about to write a letter, by hand, with a pen. I don’t do that very often, and it is especially weird, knowing I’m about to write a letter to someone who knows my writing voice, but not my actual voice, and knows my writing style, but not what it looks like. My hand-writing therefore becomes important, part of my identity, how I present myself, and brings up so my questions: what paper shall I use, what does it say about me, will the recipient care, and am I over-thinking* this?

Then when the paper decision has been made, there is the issue of choosing the best pen to write with. It’s not just about the look – though the look is important, and saw the early elimination of the sparkly blue pens – but also how comfortable it is to hold, the way it makes me form the letters, whether I can write more than one sentence using that pen without getting cramp in my hand. Sometimes, the only way to figure this out is to try them all out. The winner however won out of sentiment, ignoring practicality – a fountain pen I’ve had for years, bought in Japan and given to me by my husband over 20 years ago, and not always comfortable to use, or resulting in beautiful letters – but it seemed right for the recipient. Though I may yet change my mind, as the long overdue letter remains unwritten.

*    (Answer: 100% yes!)


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(#1 in the Afternoon Tea series of posts)

Over the last year or so, one of our local cafes has started baking scones in the morning. Their scones (date – my favourite –  or very cheesy cheese) are some of the best I’ve ever had, and they fly off the shelves, meaning that if we go in after 11 am, then we’re likely to be disappointed.

Plain scones, light and fluffy, split and spread with butter and raspberry jam, are ideal for an afternoon tea, and if you’re making them for visitors or a special occasion, then a dollop of whipped cream on top really makes them perfect. The Devonshire clotted cream – which is very hard to get here, and never quite as good – turns scones into one of the world’s great baked products, and is partly why I adore afternoon teas in England. (I confess that when we were in Devon and Cornwall, we often had a Devonshire Cream Tea for lunch!)

I learned to make scones relatively young – probably around 11 years old – but that whole “rub the butter into the flour” thing means that they can be a bit of an effort to make, and so for years I almost forgot about them. Inspired by the local café, I recently attempted some cheese scones to accompany homemade tomato soup for lunch. They’re not (yet) as good as those from the café, but that means I have a very good excuse to practise baking these some more.


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When I was about ten, I received a Beginner’s Cookbook as a present, but was disappointed because the recipe book was from the USA, and I couldn’t make most of the recipes. Actually, they weren’t really recipes; they were just lists of different ways to use box ingredients that we didn’t have here. Until I read that cookbook, I didn’t know that there were people who did not always cook (or bake) from basic raw ingredients. Now of course I know that Americans actually have a term for this, calling it cooking (or baking) “from scratch.”

I thought this might have changed in recent years, given the renewed enthusiasm for cupcakes and elaborate birthday cakes and baking shows, except that recently on Fb I was shocked to see a reference to cooking macaroni and cheese “from scratch.” Macaroni and cheese must be one of the easiest things in the world to make, and was certainly one of the first things I ever learned to cook  – I remember the sense of accomplishment when that roux/white sauce would form perfectly. Recently, as I was searching for a lemon cupcake recipe, I saw a recipe that required a box cake mix and a box pudding* mix. That’s not baking!

Lemon cupcakes for my mother-in-law's 92nd birthday.

Homemade (from scratch) lemon cupcakes for my mother-in-law’s 92nd birthday today.

* Pudding means something completely different here.

Note: The instigator of #MicroblogMondays, Melissa Ford, has written a book called “Life from Scratch” (and a couple of sequels). I couldn’t write this post for #MicroblogMondays without referencing it.

 Click the image to find out more about #Microblog Mondays

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