Sunday, November 25, 2012


I was at a dinner last night - work colleagues and an assemblage of their partners. The food was good and conversation flowed. At one stage I was sitting with a group whose small talk turned to lawns. By a process of elimination, I deduced that the lawn guru to whom the others had turned to for sage advice was the golf course green keeper partner of another staff member. He talked of saturation depths and run-off, while others spoke proudly of their own pristine, weed-free efforts. There was agreement as to the folly of cutting too low and the importance of grass seed selection.

I decided not to share my own lawn stories, but when out in my sunny backyard this morning I gazed upon its beauty, and remain quite sure my lawn is what a lawn should be. A bumble bee was buzzing around the clover flowers. Little white daisies were sprinkled here and there. Defiant dandelions were enjoying a quick flowering before the next mow.

I also have an impressive patch of cape daisy. This tenacious plant links me to fond memories of childhood. My parents waged an ongoing war against this invader,  spending considerable time and effort digging out every plant they could see. Every year the cape daisy, with its strong, long tap roots, remained the ultimate victor and dominated the lawn. But for the daisy chain enthusiast, there is no better material to work with. The stems are sufficiently thick to allow easy slitting with a thumb nail for on-going linking of one daisy to another.  Some possibly record-breaking lengths of chain were produced over long, lazy summer days. 

On the way home, I called in on friends. I was bustled into the garden to view their latest discovery. All through the lawn self-seeded poppy plants have appeared. Anticipation of the colour to come delights them - they know the elements of a real lawn. Their garden will look far nicer than any bowling green or golf course. I'm calling back today to dig out a few plants for myself - a nice contrast against the cape daisy.

So, I am happy with my lawn, and every weed within. But when I mow, I want it to know it's been mowed - I force the mower blade down below the manufacturers sadly inadequate 'low' setting (this interferes with the easy attaching of the catcher, but well worth the effort) and scalp it. Try the scalped weed lawn method - you'll never regret it!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Weekend ...

Best served with a side salad of catnip.
... comes swiftly to an end. It's been a pleasant one. Friday night's 50th birthday of a friend was fun - a little wine, a little dancing and the chance for a catch-up with some lovely people. I think Millie must have taken the opportunity of having me out of the house for the evening to invite a few friends around in my absence. To give her her due, by the time I got home close to midnight she had cleared out all signs of feline frolics, apart from one cooked chicken wing on the dining room rug. Heavens knows how she arranged the catering, but there you go - she's a very enterprising cat.

Avoiding eye contact the best policy when questions awkward questions are asked.
All the signs are good for a long, hot summer - the cabbage trees and pohutakawa don't lie. But it would be foolish to assume it will last forever, and so the first two trailer loads of firewood have been stacked this weekend. Quite apart from the visual joy, the garage now has that delicious firewood smell.  

I've been using Google Chrome as my browser at school, and this weekend have made it the default at home, too. Safari just wasn't cutting it in the frenzied world of high graphics farming and Chrome has some great features and extensions, including a very easy YouTube downloader. I know, I was dubious too, but try it - it's great.
No, of course I'm not addicted, why I'm hardly ever on Facebook at all!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I've always been a bit of a collector, and a fan of the kitsch. As a child I collected the usual stamps, and also Easter egg foils, cigarette cards, coins and postcards. In later years I have amassed an impressive amount of duck related stuff, the major focus being retro flying ducks. In more recent times, I started on snow globes. I had always loved them, and long ago a traveller heading to France asked what I would like her to bring back. I immediately, from deep within, knew an Eiffel Tower snow globe was what I needed. She returned with a postcard featuring pictures of Eiffel Tower snow globes, but not the real thing. And so I started collecting snow globes on my infrequent travels, slowly building my collection but always knowing the catalyst for the collection was glaringly missing.

Note the snow globe on the far right - I'm hoping this Christchurch Cathedral, pre-quake globe will be a sought after collectors item!
Last night the void in my collection was finally filled. A returning traveller, though weighed down with extensive shoe and handbag purchases from far-flung corners of Europe, had brought back a very special bit of Paris just for me.
Perfection in a shimmery, kitsch-filled orb. Just shake to activate.
Sometimes collections pick you, and not the other way around. I have decorated my bathroom with a few rubber duckies. Ernie would approve I'm sure. But recently their numbers are growing. Well-heeled friends are now returning from places afar, and the kitsch of choice is rubber duckies. And so my 'rubber ducks of the world' collection takes off.
The United Nations of Rubber Ducks looks forward to the arrival of more delegates.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


It really would be nice if time would just stop moving on. Weeks rocket by, whether reports are being attended to or not, and every week or two another fond memory is now tinged in sadness. Some snobby sorts claim not to watch television. They are the same snobby sorts who had the first televisions in New Zealand, but once they were affordable for the masses it was far trendier to say one didn't watch. I'm happy to admit I love watching TV. I tend to watch a lot of it 'on demand' or via YouTube these days, and avoiding all the crime scene, grizzly murder focussed programmes drives me away from the main channels, but my weeks lately wouldn't be complete without a dose of Coronation Street, Downton Abbey, Survivor, One Foot in the Grave (thank you, UKTV - what a welcome return) and anything from the Living Channel. So, it was with sadness this morning I heard Bill Tarmey has died.

I was raised on Coronation Street, and though I no longer watch Television NZ's outdated supply, I keep up to date with news on the street. What a great character Jack Duckworth was. It was tear-jerking when the character died on the street, but that Bill Tarmey outlives him by only two years is especially sad.

Earlier in the week Clive Dunn died. How lucky we are that we can re-visit all the classic British comedies from the 60s and 70s via YouTube. Dad's Army was always stellar. So, though the years flash by I suppose we should savour the memories and take Corporal Jones' good advice - don't panic!