The Birds and the Butterflies

Humming along now, “let me tell you about the birds and the bees/butterflies…”. I can’t tell you how ridiculously pleased I am about the news from Hobsonville Point re the dotterels moving in there. They don’t seem to mind the construction going on around them, it’s a sign, it’s a sign!


And they aren’t the only ones starting nesting in serious fashion. I feel a bit of a fraud claiming to live simply when I have been hoarding for six months now- new towels, sheets, kitchen utensils, pillows you name it. I started buying pillows after I read that after two years 20% of the pillow is made up of dust mites (or something like that)!

I like to think I have a glory box or bottom drawer, I didn’t think I could get excited about cloths that are labelled kitchen, stove top etc. but you would be surprised. No doubt the novelty will wear off very quickly when I have three toilets to clean.


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Move in date is hopefully sometime before the 20th but there still seems a lot to do. I was gratified to see men at work yesterday (Sunday) and so hopefully also over the next two holiday Mondays. Holidays? pah, who needs them, get concreting you lot.

Not sure about the “privacy strips”. I hope I don’t have to wear pjs with arrows on them and peer out the window looking for a glimpse of sky on my long stretch inside.


Still each day another little job is ticked off so here’s hoping it will be soon. Mind you life is VERY tough where I am. I mean the other day I restricted myself to just the one swim. (Thanks Deb xx)


Deb has also taught me the importance of sheet folding, plastic bag folding, how indispensable a Dynamo labeller is, and the necessity of folding towels in a particular fashion. I should be able to keep it up for the first few days at least. I’m an ardent follower of Janey Godley and I m a slave to her instructions on how to fold  fitted sheet.

Regarding the butterflies by some strange coincidence the book I bought for a dollar at the market the other week is the book club book for this month and I’m really enjoying it. It is Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour. Suffice to say it involves butterflies and more specifically, monarchs. It is set in Tennessee and while I do struggle to relate to the US, I prefer Canadian novelists, I really like her style of writing.


She wrote the epic Poisonwood Bible, which for me is right up there with Midnight’s Children and The Bone People so I thought I had read everything of hers so it was great to find a book I hadn’t read. How crazy that it only costs a dollar to escape to another world entirely.

The other place I have taken fright and flight from is the unreasonably expensive car parking in the city. If you arrive after 9 am it is 40 dollars a day. So the other day I drove to HP, parked for free and jumped on the ferry. I hadn’t realised the tedium of driving in had taken its toll as I sat relaxed and happy on the ferry, then cruised up Queen Street to work. I hope as the  population increases there will be lots more going to and fro. The other evening I took a late one and joined a friend at the night markets in town. What a great way to wind down on a Friday.

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I felt as though I was on holiday.

The silos all dressed up. This is where the free movies are shown.
The mix and match jandal shop -choose the bottom the top and the charm to go with it.
Fancy hennaed hands?



Also in the last week I went to an art/craft fun workshop where we spent the morning contemplating 2016 and collaging to our hearts’ content. I decided to tizzy up my journal. I haven’t done a lot of writing in recent weeks as I prepare to shift as there seems to be quite a bit to do and then I have visitors though to the end of March but I hope 2016 will see me doing more.


Well we have reach the end of Jan and I have noticed the days are getting shorter. I would like to hear of any plans you have for this year, mine are very home-based as I look forward to a new chapter, beginning with my 60th birthday in April. As Deb said the other day, just 11 months until Christmas….FG


Eat, Write and Be Merry

Let’s start with the eat part. A friend received a double voucher for Christmas to attend a cooking class called Fins and Feathers and I was the lucky recipient of the other ticket. We duly arrived at the fish market in downtown Auckland and began with our complimentary drink. We then proceeded through to the demonstration kitchen where Mark Dronjak, our chef showed us how to cook a delicious king fish entree with an Asian salad followed by a tasty duck main. We then had to prepare it ourselves.

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We worked in groups of four and it was surprisingly easy to do. The duck was especially simple as it was cooked to perfection in black Doris plums and wine in a pressure cooker. I had had no previous experience with a pressure cooker but the duck was meltingly delicious after just 30 minutes cooked in one.

It is a great gift idea as you learn a few skills, have some fun and then sit down and eat it all. Excellent!

Next comes the writing part. A friend asked me to stay over in her lovely bungalow at Port Waikato and join in a writing class she was running the next day. Clearly the Art in the Port group is a strong community force as 12 people turned up on the day. We had to write very quickly after a warm up intro on our childhoods or some aspect thereof. We then shared our writing. It was held in Windsong studio, an idyllic spot high on the hill overlooking the sea.

The Be Merry part was easy, eating at the market, writing and sharing stories with a few tears but more laughter and then a treat- my friend and I dined out at Sylvia’s. Call me skeptical, I didn’t imagine the Port would have fine dining  but it was delicious. We began with fresh figs and shared mains plates of snapper and duck and topped it all off with a homemade custard square. They also do breakfast and lunch. I’ll be back.

So here we are nearly at the end of January and book club starts again tomorrow night. Don’t mention the house move in date! They keep us dangling with promises of a firm date but nothing yet. It is supposed to be early February but I can’t see it myself. I’m just trying not to let it get to me and instead, looking forward to our whole family being together for my niece’s wedding even if they can’t stay with me.

Did I mention another mini project? When a friend was going through some family things he found a rusty yellow biscuit time with an image of Paris on it. More specifically a sketch of the rue Mouftard. He knew this was the gorgeous street I stayed in two Christmases ago and so he donated it to me. My slight obsession with duck egg blue took over and I painted the rusty yellow base.  I’m not sure what it will hold yet, it might be shortbread or it might be cottons and the like but whatever it is it will remind me of the Paris winter of 2013.

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Have a good week as I wait impatiently for the house to be finished. FG

Alpacas-it’s amore

Welcome to the new year. Lucy and Charlie Brown seemed to have it sussed. I’m more Lucy than Charlie unfortunately.

I was lucky to be invited to my friend’s place for a couple of days in the countryside near Waipu. What bliss, rustic accommodation, some wild weather, books, wine and a black dog. We marched the boundary, checked out the heifers, visited the local township where I actually resisted the temptation to buy an old ship’s clock for my kitchen and generally ate, drank and were merry.

Great sign, “Merry Xmas, back sometime. Trevor”

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How quickly city life recedes when all you have to do is watch the changing view outside the window. I often think about living more remotely but think I would miss the movies and cafes. I guess I could adapt though. I’d like to build an eco home, something small and simple. Maybe it will be my next project.

One afternoon we visited the local alpaca farm. Pav and Mark were very welcoming and I had the chance to touch and admire the beautiful carded wool although Pav didn’t have yarn to sell. I used to have a spinning wheel and did quite a lot of wool for jerseys that were kind of in vogue in the late seventies. The lustrous, silky wool made me want to have another go. Pav breeds Suri alpacas. I had no idea there were two types.

There are two types of alpaca: Huacaya (which produce a dense, soft, crimpy sheep-like fiber), and the Suri (with silky pencil-like locks, resembling dreadlocks but without matted fibers). Suris, prized for their longer and silkier fibers, are estimated to make up 19–20% of the North American alpaca population.
Apparently Suris are much more rare in NZ as well and they really do have the cutest dreadlocks. Pav felts her alpaca wool into the most exquisite scarves. In addition, they take alpaca walks along the beach and have self-contained accommodation. As it is just an hour and a half from Auckland, the idea of spending a few days in the peace and quiet with the alpacas is very appealing.
Even though the alpacas had been fed, Pav and Mark indulged us and them by allowing us to go and feed them again. It was quite lovely being surrounded by these sweet, doe-eyed creatures.
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Pav with her scarves.

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Back to work from Sunday and maybe a month away from moving into my house. We still haven’t taken the Christmas decorations down but it is planned for the weekend. it is a strange in-between time at the moment in that some things are not quite at an end and others are yet to begin.
I haven’t put much thought into the new year and what I aim to do but I am going to get together with a few friends for an art workshop next week. Apparently you don’t need to be any good at art thank goodness!
I haven’t achieved much of the living -more -simply -goal and seem to spend far too much time wanting stuff for my house. I have become a little better at breathing… and try to keep up the mindfulness meditating.
I am reading Christiane Northrup’s book at the moment called Goddesses Never Age. I don’t know what I think yet. I am not convinced that cancer is caused by “an extreme need to grow” or that health issues are all emotionally related, but I am getting some inspiration from it so will continue.
So no real resolutions but to enjoy each day and appreciate what I have. What about you? After all, the one sure thing is that we can’t be sure what the new year will bring. I hope you have a happy year.


Rainy days and movies

As we have had shocking weather I have slipped off in my raincoat to a few movies. I have to admit to my shame that I thought Suffragette might be a bit earnest and tedious. In reality it was powerful and  uplifting and I could only admire the bravery and fortitude of the Suffragettes. The scenes of women in jail being force fed, seeing their husbands take lawful custody of their children, the contempt and brutality with which they were treated was a salutary reminder of how lucky we are to have had those committed women. How quickly we forget and take for granted what we have. The credits were a real eye opener and there was a proud cheer when NZ came up as the first place in the world to give women the vote. It was shocking to see the Scandinavian countries didn’t get the vote until 1972. And in the Arab world, women are still struggling to have a voice.

I have encouraged Sam to go along as it is a great herstory lesson as well as being compelling viewing. The real black and white footage at the end was very moving.

Continuing the them of strong women I went along to the movie Joy tonight.

Most reviewers only gave it three stars but I enjoyed it because it was based on the  true story of Joy Mangano and was again highlighting true grit, courage and persistence.

Read more about the real Joy here.

American inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano attends the 'Joy' New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 13, 2015 in New York City.

I had a buying binge today on calendars for friends and a calendar diary for myself. I already have dates in it for March which is a bit scary. I am also going to a workshop with a small group of friends run by another friend who is an art therapy major. We hope to have some visual plans and visions for the year, not to mention a lot of laughter and shared food.  

I haven’t made any resolutions but in my mind my new house is always very tidy and clean…and there is no sugar around as I whip up incredibly healthy food after going for a long, brisk walk. I do yoga and mindfulness meditation everyday and if I don’t have something nice to say then I zip it.  Possibly a bit of fantasy land in there.

Liz Gilbert has this happiness jar idea and I wonder if I could manage it even once a week.

She writes: About a year ago, when I first launched this Facebook page, I posted the photo above— a picture of my HAPPINESS JAR.

The HAPPINESS JAR is a project I started in my own life many years ago, and it has remained a practice that I’ve tried to keep up with regularity ever since. (Though I do slip and forget, because I get lazy and overwhelmed sometimes by life, as we all do.) But in its essence, the HAPPINESS JAR is an almost absurdly simple idea — every single day, at the end of the day, I grab a scrap of paper (the corner of a telephone bill, or a bit of an old to-do list) and I write down upon it the happiest moment of that day. And I put the date on it. And then I fold up the note and stick it in the jar. And that’s the whole practice.

It takes about 35 seconds to do, but what it brings me is enormous — not only the pleasure of finding a good moment in each day (for even the horrible days have one least-bad moment) but the lasting benefits of recording that moment forever.

Read the rest of this here. I would love to hear of any of you actually doing this on a regular basis. Am I the only one who lacks stickability? I have a nice new notebook though and I will try to write most days. It would be good to hear of other people’s resolutions or at least lists.

I had a nice time doing colouring in this evening (Christmas present from Sam)  waiting for the computer to update. It was much better than sighing and feeling irritable.

I live in such a small world away from poverty, war, refugees and so on it goes, and I think how one random event can destroy whole lives and families so drive carefully out there. It was very sad to see two young climbers were killed on Mt Cook this week. I hope no-one is stupid enough to say they died doing what they loved.

I also hope 2016 brings you more ups than downs and I look forward to making the most of whatever comes my way. I must go and check that Lotto ticket. Happy New Year! FG