Cherished Cherries

Today I harvested our cherries.  Our “dwarf” Stella tree is tall and has abundant fruit, but the birds eat most of them.  I managed to put nets over a couple of low branches to save some fruit for us.

Covered branches

Covered branches

Today I removed the nets and counted 99 cherries as I carefully harvested them.  They are absolutely delicious, sweet and juicy.

99 cherries

99 cherries

Eight years ago I managed to get just twelve cherries, so things are improving.  I know the birds have had hundreds, if not thousands.  They leave the stones all over the ground, and even have the cheek to deposit pink guano on the patio.

“Our cherry harvest’s good this year
but birds have had the bulk, I fear.”

Hazards in the ‘Hood

After nearly four years CERA have put up signs pointing out hazards in our area.  Apparently there are holes in the road surface, the surface is slippery when wet, and there are tripping hazards.  Did they think we hadn’t already noticed these?

The grass on the riverbank is freshly mowed (except where the ground is too uneven), and in-river works are underway to improve water quality so the Otakaro/Avon River can support a more diverse natural habitat.  In the red zone, vegetation has been removed and the land levelled.  Grass has been sown, and there are sprinklers to keep the dust down and water the grass seed.  Fence posts are in and fences should be up by Christmas.  The slide show gives you an idea of current progress.

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“The Loop has drastically changed
with red zone land now re-arranged.”

Coffee Cup Creation

Coffee Cup Giraffe

Coffee Cup Giraffe

This giraffe is different!  Made from coffee cups, it stands by Mac’s Coffee Cart, next door to Arts Central in Peterborough Street.

“Some clever person made this critter
from cups that might have just been litter.”

Summer Solstice

Tomorrow will be the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.  In Aotearoa the Solstice, when the sun is at its strongest, comes at the beginning of summer holidays.  Today’s been beautifully warm, and at 8.30pm the temperature is still 25 degrees, with a warm nor-wester blowing.  It certainly feels as though summer’s here.

The solstice is traditionally the time to look back over the year, and give thanks for all we’ve been able to achieve.  A “Press” column this week from Bevan Eyles suggests that at this time of year, when so many lists are being published, there’s an opportunity for each of us to reflect on the year we’ve experienced.  He suggests we make a list of our top ten experiences/achievements of 2014.   Tonight mine might be (in alphabetical order):

Companionship and support from my significant other
Giraffes providing smiles all over town
Having a “Rant” published in the “Press”
Joining two new groups, a book discussion group and a story collective
Maintaining friendships despite everyone’s busyness
Overseeing the successful move to our “forever” office
Playing a part in maintaining my geographical community
Realising and admitting my mid-year exhaustion, which led to a week’s pampering at The Monastery
The promise of a new dairy and the return of Piko to our neighbourhood next year
Unexpected recognition of my work by my employing Trust Board

What would be on your Top Ten list for 2014?

“What’s happened in your life this year
that could be celebrated here?”


Activist Angela

Do you remember Angela Davis?  In the 1960s and 70s she was a member of the Black Panthers, and a terrorist suspect on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.  She spent 18 months in prison and people such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and J Edgar Hoover were determined she should receive the death penalty.  People all over the world protested against this and she was eventually acquitted.

Free angela


Currently she features in an exhibition of 100 Coolest Americans at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and I heard her interviewed on the BBC Women’s Hour for 3 December.  Unfortunately the podcast is no longer available, but I found it inspiring and delightful.  Delightful because she speaks so beautifully, in a voice that reminds me of Maya Angelou.  Inspiring because Angela is now an academic professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and still active in the Civil Rights movement.  When asked about current unrest in the U.S. over the failure to prosecute policemen for killing unarmed black men, she talked of the long history of racial violence in the U.S., and how we may now be starting to see the framework of a movement.  No longer a member of the Communist Party, Angela is still a committed socialist, and sees that the way to bring about change in a capitalist, racist, mysogynist society is to build a movement.  Because we live in a capitalist world, we need to  radically remake the system in order to overcome inequality.  She believes it could be done through bringing struggles and communities together, helping them to see the connections.  This has happened to some extent with the merging of the women’s movement with the anti-racist movement, and Angela is heartened to see the emergence of young scholar activists.

While Angela was in England she spoke at the Oxford Union debating ‘This House Believes Extremism in the Defence of Liberty is No Vice’, in an event that marked fifty years since Malcolm X spoke at the Oxford Union.

“To civil rights she has stayed true,
devotedly her whole life through.”


Pursuit of Peace

A friend is writing a book about inner peace and has asked a number of us to write down for her what inner peace means to us.

I find inner peace when I move into an altered/grounded state. This may be within a ritual, with chanting, music, and/or dancing.  It also happens when I have an opportunity to connect with the natural elements – e.g. walking through a leafy square, beside a river, in the bush, at the beach, or in my own garden.  I just need to be in the open air where there are trees or plants growing.  Warm sunshine and flowing water are an added bonus.

Where do you find inner peace?  At this busy time of year it’s even more essential.

“We all need time to reconnect
to meditate and to reflect.”

Additional Artworks

Here are three more of our attractive giraffes:

no. 3 Rifraff by Hairy Lemon

No. 3 Rifraff by Hairy Lemon

No. 1 The Mosaic by Clare van der Plas

No. 1 The Mosaic by Clare van der Plas

No. 49 Whatever's clever by Jacob Yikes

No. 49 Whatever’s clever by Jacob Yikes

Te Aroha  Mutunga Kore. the one I can see from my window, is the only one so far that I’ve noticed has eyelashes.

“There are still more I’ve not yet seen.
So far I’ve photographed fifteen.”


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