Te Kouka Kindling

Did you know that the trunk of the cabbage tree Te Kouka is so fire-resistant that early Pakeha settlers used it to make chimneys for their huts?  They also brewed beer from the root.  Our cabbage tree continually drops leaves, and until recently I put these in our red bin, from whence they go to landfill.  (We’re not allowed to put them in the green bin because they take so long to break down.)

Recently a friend told me that she uses bundles of them as kindling for her log burner.  So now I carefully collect them, and tie them into bundles for her.  I use one of the greener leaves to tie the bundle with.  By the time they’re burned all the leaves will have dried.

Cabbage tree leaves

Cabbage tree leaves

Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The root, stem and top are all edible, a good source of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by long cooking or by breaking up before cooking. The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.  Handy to know if one is afflicted with such problems.

“This tree has leaves so versatile
they could cure you of problems vile.”


Partaking of a Platter

On Saturday three of us met late afternoon at Regatta on Avon.  Prior to the earthquakes this was Tiffany’s Restaurant, expensive, and kept for special occasions.

Its new manifestation is more of a bar/cafe.  They have a beautiful riverside situation, across a busy road from the Re-start Mall.  We’d hoped to sit outside, but a strong wind and the threat of rain meant we were glad to be indoors. As we entered we were greeted by a bucket and mop.  It looked as though they were barely open, but apparently the cleaning apparatus was due to a malfunction of the dehumidifier.

We were shown to a table with stools, and had to ask to be given the only two available chairs with backs.  Luckily Stephen was happy sitting on a stool.  I’d bought an online voucher for a shared platter, and when I rang to book I was told these were served only on the half hour.  When the platter came it was attractive and generous – certainly would have been plenty for four.   It was mainly deep fried items, but there was also bread, with a tasty cheese and apricot spread and cute tiny hamburgers.  The small squid rolls were rubbery, but everything else was fine.  The platter doesn’t show on their online menu, so maybe it’s a special idea to woo new customers.  Or maybe it’s just that their website needs some maintenance.  It shows their Google Maps location with the narration ‘Tiffany’s Restaurant CLOSED’ in red, and what appears to be a Facebook link doesn’t work.

Their dinner menu looks reasonable, and we might try again on an evening with better weather.  I did like the heraldic Rs on glassware and shirts – seemed just meant for Ruth – but it definitely seemed more a bar than a restaurant.

“Regatta don’t quite make the grade.
Their edges are a little frayed.”



School Spree

I’m a (long) past pupil of St Albans School, so when they advertised a Monster Fair, I was bound to go and support them.  It was obvious a tremendous amount of work had gone into preparation, and there were volunteers everywhere assisting at a myriad of stalls and activities.

Queues at stalls

Queues at stalls

I was fascinated to see a bubble machine, and many small children were likewise fascinated.

Bubble machine

Bubble machine

As the wheel turned, small bubbles continually floated out.

I bought some vegetable plants, then inspected the well-stockedcake stall.

Cakes (Small)

I suspect many of them had been made and/or decorated by school pupils.   I bought chocolate fudge cakes, with raspberry icing.  They proved to be somewhat on the sweet side – probably because of the heavy icing.

I also bought a number of raffle tickets, but, alas, no-one has phoned to say I’ve won.   Never mind, I’m sure the school will have raised lots of money from the hundreds of people who were there.

“They must have done well at the fair
judging from all the people there.”

Love those Lurkers!

At the supermarket checkout this morning an unfamiliar woman asked “Are you Ruth?”  When I said I was, she said she was a regular reader of my blog.  I asked whether she ever comments (thinking I might then recognise her name) but she said no, she’s a lurker.  I was amazed that she recognised me.  I guess I must look just like my photo (hmm) and I may have let slip somewhere the fact that I tend to shop at South City New World early on Friday mornings.  It’s always lovely to meet a regular reader, so Warm Greetings, whoever you are.

This year I’ve not blogged nearly as much and my daily average visit number is down to 53.  (Last year it was 72.)  I very much appreciate those who comment, and I’m also delighted to have those who simply lurk – and read.

“As well as commenters I need
the ones who simply lurk and read.”

Hope for Humanity?

The most terrifying disaster impacting on our work in the not-for-profit sector is the human-made loss of the visibility of human beings. This was the message given by Margaret J Wheatley at the Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference “Resilience and Change” yesterday. Policy decisions and bureaucracy are often based on a distrust of people.

Margaret asked that we be Warriors for the Human Spirit, brave enough to believe in human goodness, and to avoid using fear or aggression to accomplish our purposes. She suggested that the culture prevents people in government from acting individually on their values, and it changes them. Margaret advocates acting locally and says there is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.

She quoted a prophecy from the Hopi Nation Elders:

“To my fellow swimmers:
here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift,
that there are those who will be afraid,
who will try to hold on to the shore,
they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
and keep our heads above water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally,
least of all ourselves, for the moment we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
For we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

“Inspiring words to keep us true
as we work difficulties through.”





Airport Animals

It’s exciting each time I spy a new giraffe.

Giraffe no. 46

Giraffe no. 46

This one is at Christchurch Airport.  It’s Monarch by Kay Joyce, and is surrounded by a bevy of baby giraffes which have been painted by students from Harewood, Redwood, Breens Intermediate, Cotswold, Casebrook, and New Windsor (Auckland) Schools.  When the exhibition is over each school will get its giraffe back for permanent display.

“The students made these works of art
to play their exhibition part.”

Zest for Zealandia

In Wellington I had the opportunity to visit Zealandia.  This wonderful reserve, formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, abounds with native birds and bush.    We had lunch in the cafe looking out over the sanctuary, then enjoyed the exhibition hall which depicts 80 million years of Aotearoa’s natural history, and even has a full-size moving moa.

Our walk up the valley was escorted by an extremely knowledgeable volunteer guide. We saw birds, tuatara (they have 200 in a natural setting), weta, and more.  The sanctuary is close to central Wellington, and protected by a predator-free fence.

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The Water organ plays the sound of the kokako when you pull the pipes (not sure what happened to that caption).

“Zealandia’s the place to go
for native birds and plants on show.”




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