Monthly Archives: November 2012

Small words on long journeys

Long before there were Facebook friends and Blog Followers, there were pen friends. Remember them? We chose a name from the penpal section of the newspaper and wrote, in our best possible script, quaint , little words on paper and sent them across the oceans, by boat or plane, to people we had never met  face to face ,and weren’t likely to. Sometimes, the letters criss-crossed the globe for a few months and ,sometimes, longer.  My mother and her pen friend wrote to each other for about forty years. In a sense, they are still writing because, after her friend’s death, my mother continued, and continues, to write to her daughter.

I thought about my mother’s pen friend this morning when I picked a beautiful Iceberg rose and placed it in a much treasured, and much travelled, tiny, green glass jug.  The jug was given to me, filled with violets, for my 23rd birthday. It was a gift from my mother’s pen friend on my first visit to her home in the Netherlands.

It never ceases to amaze me that a few small words, such as Dear Friend, can take us on such long journeys. From here to there and back again, over and over, and every which way, through time and space.

Questions: Will our internet friends last the distance? What is the distance?  Will our internet life bring treasured memories?  Will there be tangible outcomes from our word paths across the world? Upon what journeys are we sending our words when we press Publish?


Lovely, leafy St James Park

St James Park is an old fashioned kind of park, with tree canopied pathways and a large central area of grass. It is leafy. It is lovely. That’s all there is to it ….almost.

All the trees survived the earthquakes, as most other trees did throughout the city. They remained upright, unlike many of our buildings. There must be lessons to be learned in their leafy loveliness.  (Oops, that’s a lot of unintended alliteration but I am not going to delete it because alliteration is ridiculously good fun.)  Lessons about foundations, natural and harmonious proportions and resilient building materials, to mention a few.

The  lovely treesThe leafy shadeThe pathThe canopySigns of age and timesFinally, a bit of treeckery
The horizontal branches of this tree were so long and straight that from a certain angle I could make them look like individual, upright trees. Fun.

A Bowlful of Jelly

A bowlful of rhubarb jelly and a handful of my own, freshly picked, blackcurrants —-

What more could you want ?  Teeny thyme flowers and bay leaves apparently —–

And some rhubarb on the side.

I don’t know if I will like eating the thyme flowers and the bay leaves; on their own, maybe, but not with a spoonful of jelly.  Ice cream is more likely to be the accompaniment. However, I do know that I will like the rhubarb jelly. It is one of my all time favourite desserts, particularly if the rhubarb is slightly tart.

When I make a red jelly, I am immediately taken back, in my head, to my paternal grandmother’s kitchen. I am standing next to her at the kitchen bench watching her turn a packet of jelly crystals into a small bowl of jelly. No fruit, just jelly. It seems to me that she leaves it to set on the bench top.  ( Were our houses really so cold back then? )  In the evening, we will have it with custard, sometimes a baked custard, cream and ice cream. It’s all delicious.

The bay leaves remind me of the custards she prepared. In her younger days she used to put laurel leaves in the custard. Not in my time, but I have heard the stories.

And, before I indulge in jelly, a special note to my parents, who do not share my taste for jelly, but love blackcurrants; I only have a handful of blackcurrants to decorate the jelly because I ate another handful whilst I was picking them. They are sweet and juicy enough to eat straight off the bush. No sugar required! You would be pleased.

Ponder this…..

Ponder this whilst you nibble……

I made Fruit and Nut Balls this morning. The recipe for these treats is my favourite from Cooking for Older People, Easy Recipes for One or Two, produced by the Canterbury District Health Board, 2011 Edition. They don’t require cooking, so are super easy to make!As usual, I play around  with the printed recipe. Sometimes I add crystalised ginger and chocolate chips, as I did today. This is the result.Now here is the part to ponder. In the foreward to the recipe book the following statements are made:

Eating well in old age is essential to enjoying life to the full;

Undernutrition in older people is a growing concern in our community;

Age Concern community workers often work with older people who show signs of malnutrition;

A survey of older people, admitted for fractured hips at Christchurch Hospital, found 42% were significantly malnourished;

Despite the need, nutritional information for older people has not been readily available.

My ponderings ….undernutrition and malnutrition of our elderly affects all socio economic groups. The elderly are often unaware that it is happening. Do we need a Jamie Oliver or  MasterChef series to raise awareness of this nutritional problem? Do we need a return to the culture exemplified by Selwyn Muru in the excellent interview on Waka Huia on Sunday, November 25th on TV One. If my memory  is correct, he said that, as youngsters, they were taught to fish by their parents and then to gift the fish to the elders in the community. Were the elders malnourished?  I don’t know, but family concern for their well being was paramount, so,perhaps, with such attention all manner of pitfalls were avoided.

Going to have a fruit and nut ball and ponder that some more. 🙂

Moments of whimsy

When my house flowers are past their use-by date, I usually put them in the compost bin. Last week, I decided they were still too pretty to compost so I set them floating in the bird bath. The water bath revitalised the flowers and the floating flowers revitalised my spirits. Not sure what they did to the birds; created consternation and confusion most likely. The cat, who sometimes likes to drink from the bird bath, probably doesn’t appreciate the flavoured water either. Poor creatures; what they have to put up with because of my moments of whimsy.

Rose and Peony Water


What do Eels think of us?

File:NZ eel.jpg

According to Wiki, this is a photo of the New Zealand Longfin Eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii). It is our only endemic freshwater eel.

Their amazing life story can be read on and

The female of the species can live up to 100 years, and sometimes longer.  She breeds only once, at the end of her lifecycle, and to do this she migrates from her freshwater New Zealand home to Tonga, in the tropical Pacific 5000 kilometres away. She dies after spawning so only her offspring find their way back to New Zealand.

I have seen longfin eels at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. As far as I am concerned, their appearance leaves a lot to be desired in the cute and cuddly stakes. I daresay these remarkable creatures would say the same about me. And what they would say about my inability to find my way to Tonga without a map or plane or boat, plus supporting crew, doesn’t bear thinking about.

A few days ago, some of the eels had more reason than ever to wonder about human incompetence and stupidity. According to our daily newspaper, a couple of young men, feeling bored and wanting some easy entertainment, purportedly broke in to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and killed at least two and possibly more of the longfin eels. The eels were about 70 years old.

A great many sad things happened in the world last week but, for me the untimely and undignified deaths of these precious eels was the saddest happening of all.  Sad for the young men, sad for our community but, most of all, sad for the eels. Imagine, if they were 70 years old, they made their way to New Zealand when the Pacific was embroiled in World War 2. They defied the odds to live at all. Yet live and thrive they did, in peace and harmony in a less than perfect, person-messed, environment, until a moment of  thoughtless idleness ended their magnificence.

Let the Sunshine Out

Quite a few days ago, Miss Marzipan nominated me for The Sunshine Award. I was surprised and delighted. Before I could respond, I received another Sunshine nomination from Sofia Ängsved Photos & Art

I am not sure if I am supposed to accept two Sunshine awards at once, but I am going to because I want to acknowledge the support, kindness and encouragement given to me by  Miss Marzipan and Creative Garden. I am looking forward to reading about Miss Marzipan’s Blessingway and Advent preparations. They are bound to be special events. I am equally looking forward to more beautiful photos and creative posts from Sofia/Creative Garden.

The Sunshine Award is symbolised by a flower that one blogger can give to other “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

As with most awards the Sunshine Award comes with a few simple rules:

  1. Acknowledge the person who gave this award in a blog post.
  2. Do the Q&A below.
  3. Pass on the award to 10 deserving and inspiring bloggers, inform them and link to their blogs.

Questions and Answers

Who is your favorite philosopher?

I don’t have one.  I do like the Dalai Lama’s words of wisdom.

What is your favorite number?

It changes all the time. At the moment, I favour combinations of 5 and 6 e.g.  65 or 565 or 655

What is your favorite animal?

My miniature schnauzer 🙂 , then hedgehogs; both are cute and prickly.

What is your favorite time of day?

Twilight in the summer.

What are your Facebook and Twitter?

I don’t have a Twitter account and my Facebook is private for now.

What is your favorite holiday?

Lately, it’s been Diwali because it brings back some wonderful childhood memories.

What is your physical favorite activity?

Walking, walking and walking.

What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Cranberry juice.

What is your passion?

Kindness and the practice thereof

What is your favorite flower?


My nominees:


The world according to a 20-something, op-shop loving, dumpling eating, finger nail biting, bracelet making maniac.

The blog that introduced me to the blog world.

If today is Tuesday, this must be . .

 Although this Travelling Kiwi is temporarily grounded, I can’t wait till she takes off again and writes about libraries and churches she encounters on her travels.


 A poet and reader of poetry and a translator.  I love her translations of Psyche and Cupid.


 I enjoy her accounts of life in a different part of our lovely New Zealand.


Beautiful photographs and an inspirational look at “loving kindness”

Emily Cooks Vegan

I enjoy her fresh and vibrant approach to cooking.


I admire the creative activities that Mtetar shares with her grandchild.


The photos on this blog are truly delightful.


My musical education is being revitalised by Leaping Tracks wonderful posts on music.


Sufey’s brings a smile to my face and like all my other nominees brings plenty of warm sunshine.

Any time is Granola time.

In my long ago life in New York, I was introduced to the deliciousness of home made granola. I made a lot of it and ate a lot of it.  And then, probably because I was in places where the ingredients were hard to come by, I stopped making granola. Recently, a friend, with a passion for a  good granola breakfast, inspired me to revisit my old granola habits. I fished out my tatty, tatty granola recipe, taken from  Waldbaum’s Quick Oats packaging, in the late 1980s, and made a batch of granola. I scorched it, slightly, but granola is forgiving so it was still scrummy, especially with its deficiencies smothered with yogurt and chunky cooked apple.

Today I made some more granola and this time I toasted it perfectly. Not 14 cups of granola though. I halved the recipe to suit my little household.

Granola, anyone? Good for breakfast, good for any and all times.

Questions: Does Waldbaum continue to put a granola recipe on its Quick Oats packets? Is it the same one? Or is granola so 1980s that the modern consumer no longer makes it?

Miracles do happen.

To my great delight and utter amazement I discovered a flower on our kiwifruit vine this afternoon. I planted a male vine and a female vine about 3 years ago and this is the first flower ever. I had almost given up hope of anything but lush green foliage strangling the fence.  I think it is a male flower so it remains to be seen if we get any kiwifruit this year. But, just to have a single beautiful flower seems like a miracle and I am content with that.

Other updates, along the fence line: The blackcurrants are beginning to swell. Looks like we will have a bucket harvest this year instead of the usual handful.

The miniature Ballerina apple trees are healthy and fruitful too. It makes me happy to see them so bountiful this year, but I am not counting my apples before they ripen!  They still have to survive  heat and wild, dry nor’westers before harvest time. More miracles required methinks.