Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year has flown so fast

Another year older today (yes a day after my sister-in-law).  I looked at my post this time last year and I commented on yet more rain with high temperatures.  It has been the same today.  97% humidity was forecast and I awoke to heavy rain.

I had been going to join my friend, Doug, walking his dog but decided against it and had an extra hour in bed.  I had asked Doug to come around tonight for a meal but he called in this morning and announced that he was going to bring sandwiches and fruit etc. to save me having to do the preparation - now how nice is that.

Anyway, at 10 a.m. my friend Lynn arrived and we went to Mokaba at the Town Basin for a coffee and I had a delicious frittata.  The rain had stopped but it was quite muggy.  By the time we got back it was a bit cooler so I finally got around to doing some vacuuming (yes on my birthday).  I spent the rest of the day taking it easy, reading and having nice long chats on the phone.  One call was from a cousin in England who has friends that visit the north of New Zealand each year.  After talking to him I phoned them and they are passing through Whangarei on Wednesday so will call in.

At about 5.30 Doug arrived complete with delicious gluten free sandwiches (some ham and some salmon) and some nectarines and peaches and we sat outside chatting and eating - he has just gone home and shortly at 7.30 Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey is on television so we will both sit and watch that in our respective homes.

I have been thoroughly spoiled and given some lovely presents.

Only a year till I get free parking in Whangarei and if the last year is anything to go by that year will fly.

I see my hydrangeas are not nearly as advanced as they were in my post a year ago.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Possums and Tuis

Angry possum. Photo: Animal Health Board. Possum
In its native land the possum is up against dingoes, bush fires and less palatable vegetation. In New Zealand there are no predators and lots of very palatable vegetation. As a result, possums have a huge impact on New Zealand ecosystems.

I have had a possum trap set for a few days under my plum tree with no success.  I use a piece of carrot with Chinese Five Spice as the attractant.  Yesterday afternoon I put more of the spice on the carrot.  Last night I went to bed at about 10.15 and shortly afterwards I heard the trap go off.  (It is a Timms Trap that kills them).

This morning just after 6 a.m. I managed, with some difficulty, to remove the possum from the trap and, as the carrot had not been touched I re-set it leaving it covered during the day.

This afternoon I was sitting on the middle terrace with a friend eating an ice cream when a Tui came down to my "home-made" bird  bath.  It had a great bath throwing water everywhere and wasn't worried about us sitting talking a few feet away.  It flew up into the Puriri tree for a few minutes then back down for another bath.

I then got my camera but before it came back Roger arrived to mow the lawns so I got the washing in and we went indoors.  Hopefully, I will get a chance to take a video some other day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The good and the bad of people

This morning I joined my friend again walking Sophie, a Labrador/Golden Retriever cross.  On the way back to my place we came upon a queue of traffic just before the railway crossing.  It seemed odd as the traffic was coming the other way.

We then realised that the people in the front car were on the road trying to catch a dog.  Everyone waited patiently and the dog was finally caught but they put it at the side of the road and proceeded on their way.

The dog then went out under the following car.  The occupants of about three cars then got out and after several minutes the dog was finally caught.  In the meantime several cars went on and we pulled in to the left of the road behind yet another car that had stopped.

My friend went to see what was happening and to offer to take the dog to the SPCA if needed.  When he returned he said that a young man in one of the cars had seen someone throw the dog out of a car.  It looked from a distance like a spaniel cross in a very poor condition and was shaking, most likely in shock.

The people in the front car  (who already had one dog in their car) were going to take it to the SPCA.  I was disgusted at the person who threw the dog out  - why not take it to the SPCA?  I was also pleasantly surprised by how many people stopped to help and the fact that everyone waited patiently (or not patiently) while all this went on.  Everyone was courteous even when they went past.

Although the forecast is for a high of 22 degrees today it is sweltering with 30 degrees on the thermometer in our front porch.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas is over for another year

I had a pleasant Christmas Day - much better than last year.

Every year I receive a pewter ornament from my cousin in Canada (they come from Nova Scotia).  This year it was a polar bear which her cubs.

I started the day by attending a service at Christ Church in the Regent.  I must admit I have not been to church for a long time and the service had changed a lot.  It was, however, most enjoyable.  

Following the service I went straight to the Rest Home and found my hubby being fed some "Rocky road" and wearing a Santa tie that was in his Christmas present from the home.  There seemed to be extra staff but I think it could have been the usual number but just that a lot of the residents had gone home for the day (or an hour or so).  As it is a hospital rather than the previous dementia unit he was in a lot are able to go home.  His lunch was going to be turkey, ham and lamb with all the trimmings.

I gave him his present (a red shirt in a brand he has always liked) and another toy for him to fiddle with.  I spent about an hour with him and he was quite happy when I left to go to lunch with my friend/hairdresser who lives around the corner.  She had two elderly widows for lunch as well as they would have been on their own.  In the afternoon I was pleased to get phone calls from both my stepchildren.

Boxing Day was quiet.  The weather has been miserable over the whole holiday period mainly drizzle with some heavy showers but very muggy - I see the humidity has gone down to 82% although it doesn't feel like it.

Today (it is now just after 5 p.m. on the 27th) I went with a friend on a dog walk and then went to visit M and help him with his lunch before going to the shops to change a couple of items.  The carparks and the shops were full - I thought having left it until after Boxing Day that it would have been a little easier.  Still I sorted everything that I needed.  The sun has finally come out.  I see that on Saturday we finally have a fine day forecast (although only the one day).

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2013.

I have been busy today delivering plates of fruit and bunches of the Christmas coloured Alstroemeria to friends and people who have helped me over the past year.

The weather is a little cooler and it has been raining most of the day.  The forecast for tomorrow is for rain and on Christmas Day "a chance of a storm" .  This is the remains of the cyclone that hit Samoa and Fiji a week or so ago.

I went to the New World Supermarket to get a couple of items that I missed in yesterday's shop and when I got to the car park wished I had got them earlier as it was practically full.  I managed to find a park and quickly got the items I needed.  Amazingly as I came out of the last aisle there was a teller in front of me that became free and I was through in no time at all.

I came home and have finally made my small Christmas cake (or loaf) - it is in the oven right now and smells delicious.  I usually add whiskey but had forgotten that I used it all up in some whiskey macs over winter so have used brandy today.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lamb Roast

I can't remember the last time I had a roast of lamb.  In the late '60's lamb was very cheap in New Zealand.  In fact we bought a deep freezer as it did not cost much more to buy a whole side of lamb compared to just a leg.  It was the poor man's food.

Not sure when everything changed but things have been reversed and lamb has been expensive and chicken which used to be a special meal is now much cheaper.

So I was thrilled when I saw legs of lamb on special for $10.00 a kg.  I asked the kind man in the butchery department whether he would be willing to cut one in half for me which he did giving me two small roasts - one about a kilogram and the shank part slightly larger.

I roasted the smaller joint earlier in the week and last night roasted the shank end and shared it with a friend.  It was delicious.  The photo comes via  Cro (who co-incidentally posted on lamb recently) as I completely forgot to take a photo.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Green Soup

As usual at this time of year I was out in the garden by 6.15 and did a couple of hours' work before coming in for some breakfast and a shower.  Then checked for emails and went out to visit a friend for coffee before going to the Rest Home to feed my lovely man and then cut his fingernails.

Home for a late lunch - I had some chicken stock in the fridge from a couple of free range, corn fed chicken I jointed at the weekend, I also had large amounts of silver beet (Chard) and some brocolli in the garden.  I have never made green soup before - soup is always a favourite but for some reason I hadn't made the green version.

I sauteed an onion and potatoe cut up finely and then added the stock.  While this was happening I washed and cut up a large bowl of greens and then added them to the pot.  Cooked it for a short time and then used my wonderful Breville Wizz Stick that I bought for a couple of dollars in a garage sale.

The photo doesn't do it justice.  The white lumps are some New Zealand Creamy Blue Cheese that I crumbled and added at the last minute.  It was so good I ate two bowls.

The Sallies

Every year the Sallies travel around the city streets playing carols and collecting funds and food items.  They are very thorough and even come up our little cul-de-sac.

Last night I first heard them behind our neighbours who are on another street.  There was then a quiet period while they came around and up another cul-de-sac before arriving here.

Although I didn't get a photo of them most of the neighbours were outside listening and making donations.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Leaf veined native slug

I have never seen one of these before - looking it up it is a leaf veined native slug.  I was removing the leaves? of the yukka and they are on the underside of one of the leaves.

The coin is a New Zealand dollar - 2 cm across.  In the second photo one of them has gone to the underside of the leaf (there were three in the top photo.  I will take the leaf down to the gully and they can roam there.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Trip Home

It was a lovely day coming home from my break and I took these few photos from the bus window when we stopped at Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

When I got home the man who built our house (way back in 1973) had delivered me another load of firewood  for the pot-belly stove (I had just bought a load for the wood burner).  Doug who came and watered my garden for me while I was away also stacked the firewood.  Lynn, my hairdresser gave me the lily head, the Amaryllis, which now has two flowers out, was a bargain pack I bought just before going away.  The seedlings are nine bundles from Awapuni.  In spite of the 28 degrees C today I have managed to plant half of them.  I see 30 degrees forecast for Tuesday.  Way too hot for me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My break away continued

 On Saturday I walked down from Whatuwhiwhi to Tokerau Beach.  I had two people to visit there.  First was the husband of the couple I boarded with in Auckland when I arrived in New Zealand in 1965.  I lost touch with them for over thirty years until he moved up here.  He lives on the beach but she finds it too isolated and lives in Auckland.  Next was the sister of a former neighbour.  The last photo is as Leona and I walked back together through some bush.

In the afternoon I went to the Whatuwhiwhi Peninsula to visit another friend.  As you can see it is a marvellous beach and nearly deserted.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My break away

While I was away I stayed with my friends Maureen and Ross - they are keen gardeners and, apart from their flower garden they have a great vegetable garden and we were eating their home grown beetroot, radish, lettuce, silver beet (chard), spring onions and even tomatoes.

The photos I took were all of their flower garden.

While there I also visited our old property and was pleased that I did.  The people we sold to removed most of the old trees and, for some weird reason broke up the concrete in front of the garage)  but it was looking neat and tidy even though some of the fruit trees need some T.L.C.

The macrocarpa tree stumps were huge  and Jacqui has started planting around them.  We planted the two olive trees in the seventies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm back home

I have been away for a much needed break with some wonderful friends at Whatuwhiwhi.  Maureen had an appointment at Whangarei Hospital last Wednesday and I went back up with them.  I hadn't realised how exhausted I was and on Thursday we just stayed there and did nothing.

On Friday Maureen drove me to Kaitaia and I was able to catch up with fourteen friends - some I visited and others I met in the street or shops.  I also visited the new Te Ahu Centre which has been built around the old Community centre that we helped  raise funds for not long after we moved to Kaitaia.

The Te Ahu Centre incorporates the Museum, Library, Community Centre, Cinema, Information Centre, Council Offices and a cafe.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flowers for Sale

My friend and hairdresser Lynn has a lot of alstroemerias and started putting bunches of 20 flowers for sale outside her property for just $3.00 each.

Doug had made a sign for her hair cutting business and she asked him to make her a wheelbarrow to put the bucket/s of flowers in.

This is the finished result.  He thought of a more rustic wheel but settled on a pneumatic one as it is easier for Lynn to push.  Isn't it great.

Both Lynn and Doug came around for a meal last night - we all enjoyed ourselves.