Weekend Wandering

We’d been to Dan’s Produce Market to get the mushrooms I’d forgotten on Friday and some cheap cherries ($5.99 a kilo). It was lunchtime and we thought we’d go to a café, then noticed Erawan Thai Restaurant on the corner of Hills and Shirley Roads. Outside there are two topiary elephants:

Topiary elephant

They offer a $15 lunch special, and I chose Pad Med Ma Muang, stir fried vegetables with cashew nuts and chicken.

Ruth lunching at Erawan Thai

We sat in an attractive outdoor area beside the Dudley Creek and watched people passing by on the walkway to Slater Street. Our meals were generous and tasty, and afterwards we browsed the nearby Salvation Army op shop, which had an inviting array of goods. I was tempted by a large glass punch bowl with cups and ladle for only $25, but where would I store it? It’s been many years since I’ve served punch, and not likely I will do so in the near future.

The Bakery and Cafe next to Erawan Thai has all its seating cordoned off and is operating for takeaways only. I wonder if this is because of fewer customers or because they can’t get sufficient staff?

So good to try new place for lunch
and we don’t have a need for punch

Anticipating Omicron

As the Omicron variant of Covid 19 edges ever closer to our community we are making preparations for when we move into the red traffic light system and/or we need to isolate.

In past lock-downs we were pleased to have supplies delivered by Countdown. Last year they were the only central city supermarket offering this online service, but New World now also provides deliveries. We prefer to deal with New World as they are Aotearoa-owned and this week we decided to test their online order and delivery service, in case we may need it. The procedure was similar to Countdown’s but it might have been wise to read all the online info first. I ended up contacting their digital assistant, and didn’t manage to order the two apples I wanted (not 1 kg), but that’s a minor quibble and possibly my fault for not reading the instructions beforehand. I’ve had a look since and didn’t see how to order smaller amounts of fruit. I also forgot to order my weekend mushrooms, so had poached eggs for breakfast today instead.

We ordered delivery for the 9am-12noon slot, and it arrived at 9.40am. A pleasant young masked man even offered to take the bags through to the kitchen which I declined. Obviously that wouldn’t happen if deliveries needed to be contactless. We’d been warned that because we ordered wine we’d need to show i.d., but when I offered this he said it wasn’t necessary. He could obviously see that I am over 18. The delivery came complete with the usual vouchers and stickers that you get instore.

New World delivery

My one tiny complaint is that I got an email to say “Your delivery from New World Durham Street is on it’s way. ETA 4 minutes”. Their system needs a proof reader who understands apostrophes!

Yesterday’s Press gave a list of what we need to have in stock in preparation for Covid. As well as enough food and medication for 14 days they suggest to cope with Covid symptoms we should have paracetamol, ibuprofen, throat lozenges, ice blocks, electrolytes, and vapour rub. I presume the ice blocks are to soothe a sore throat, and hope the ones we have in our freezer for cool drinks would be suitable. I’ve never sucked an ice block when I’ve had a sore throat, but there’s always a first time. We have paracetamol, throat lozenges, and ice blocks, and think we’ll leave the rest for an online order when we actually need them. I wonder how many people are stocking up on all these things, and whether supplies of electrolytes and vapour rub will run out.

There’s lots for us to think upon
as we prepare for Omicron

Floral Friday

This lupin is flowering outside our front fence, just behind the green box that holds the connections for the local fibre cables. It’s a brave volunteer, self-sewn from plants inside the fence, and has occasionally been nurtured with worm pee. It demonstrates the kind of tenacity that has enabled its relations to colonise the McKenzie Country.

I actually took the photo on Tuesday, and wondered whether some passer-by might abduct the flower, but it’s still there.

It’s grown up through a footpath crack
where recent sealing has been slack

Seeing Red

This red dress is one I bought in Parnell, Auckland in the mid 1980s. The photo was taken in December 1989 in the office of Mrs Pope Ltd, and the occasion was that the office staff had bought me Big Feet slippers for Christmas.

I’m appalled to see that I’m sitting on my desk – something I would never do these days,

I remember wearing the dress one time when I was in Wellington for a meeting. My memory is of walking along The Terrace where everyone else, women and men, was wearing a dark suit, and being aware that I was brightening their day while rebelling against conformity. Have you had an occasion where what you were wearing was different to everyone else?

This dress was really not so loud
but it stood out against the crowd

The Death Rate is 100%

I was moved by an essay in today’s Newsroom by a man who lost his mother to cancer when he was a teenager. He has a diary she wrote for him when she knew she would die, and I thought how wonderful to have those words.

Two close friends of mine have died from cancer, and I have strong memories of them both. It’s true that those who die are always with us in some form. I have personally found a slower death easier to deal with than a sudden unexpected one. My mother declined slowly, had no obvious pain, and accepted death philosophically, aged 83. My expectation is that I will go in a similar fashion, but of course we never know!

My father and brother both died suddenly, aged 43 and 57 respectively, and I am strongly aware of having lived longer than either of them. I have a will, an Enduring Power of Attorney, and an Advance Care Plan.

Now and then I think I could do more to clear the clutter of papers and other personal effects (a file drawer full of genealogical research), but there’s no great urgency for this, and it may just be that everything gets thrown away after I’ve gone.

In the meantime I try to live in the moment, enjoy each day, and keep healthy. Have you made preparations for your inevitable death? Have you written a diary, or multiple blog posts, so those who are left behind know your history and feelings?

This post might seem morbid to some, but to me it is realistic.

Now that I’ve passed three score and ten
my youth will not come back again

What to Write?

I love to blog. It satisfies my need for creative expression and gives me contact with all kinds of people, near and far, who read my blog and make comments. I appreciate and value all of you.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write. Prior to Christmas I went a whole week without blogging, because nothing inspired me to write and I was busy with other activities. For the past 20 days I’ve posted something every day, and the habit becomes addictive. I keep an eye on my visitor statistics and am always pleased to get comments. Sometimes I think that what I’ve written isn’t very engaging, yet it will spark someone’s interest. Topics come from all around me, but some days it’s hard to find anything to write about especially if nothing new seems to be happening.

I have a book with 642 things to write about, but many of these require imagination and my imagination isn’t very active at present. The book did inspire my recent post about ice creams. My preference is to write about actual events and feelings. Because I’ve been blogging for over 15 years there’s a danger I may repeat myself, especially if I’m writing about the garden and/or seasons of the year. It’s unlikely that anyone except me will remember what I’ve written before, and often the only reason I remember is because they show up in my Facebook Memories.

Lately I’ve been purposefully encouraging my mind to drift just before I fall asleep and when I first wake up. This sometimes gives me an idea to write about, as happened for this very post. I always scribble my thoughts on paper, add a title and a final couplet, then go to seek a suitable illustration. How do others find inspiration for regular writing?

I want to write here every day
but sometimes don’t know what to say

Indulging in Ice cream

On these warm sunny days the thought of an ice cream is enticing. What ice creams do you remember from your childhood? I remember Saturday trips to New Brighton where there was a shop just across the road from the pier that sold ice creams in multiple colours and flavours. I particularly recall blue and green ones, but I can’t remember the taste. Childhood favourites were Eskimo Pies and Joy Bars. I understand consideration for indigenous people has led to a name change for Eskimo Pies. Recently I saw a packet of small Joy Bars in the supermarket freezer, and couldn’t resist buying them, but they were nothing like I remembered, and I shan’t bother again.

We enjoy an occasional Kapiti Nelson Boysenberry mini ice cream and keep a packet in the freezer. They’re not available at New World Durham Street, but we can get them at New World Stanmore Road.

Ben and Jerry’s have had a mobile shop sitting on the corner of Armagh and Manchester Streets for some time and last week I saw that they were finally open. That could be tempting, but I prefer to choose an ice cream based in Aotearoa.

Last week we were at the Mediterranean Food Company. Stephen wanted a coffee, but I chose a gelato. This was coffee-flavoured and delicious.

It’s traditional to have an ice cream at the theatre, and Isaac Theatre Royal offers Trumpets. These days I rarely go to the cinema, but when I do I have an ice cream, no matter what the weather.

When do you indulge in an ice cream?

An ice cream is a special treat
on hot days they’re so good to eat

Tragedy in Tonga

There was distressing news from Tonga yesterday, with graphic scenes of a volcanic eruption which was said to be a one-thousand-year event. On the 6pm news we saw tsunami waves flowing over streets and houses, and an intrepid reporter spoke of brushing volcanic ash from her forehead.

Tonga is Aotearoa’s key defence partner in Polynesia, and the Tongan people share genetic and cultural similarities with Māori. The islands are the only constitutional monarchy in the Pacific, and their king has been evacuated to a villa further from the sea.

There is no cause for tsunami alarm here in the South Island, but warning is out for parts of the North Island and the Chatham Islands.

There are large numbers of Tongan-born people and their descendants living in Aotearoa, I don’t know any in Christchurch, but one firm I was employed by in Auckland had a large Tongan workforce. They all had European first names, and I now wonder how that came about. Whenever a new worker was required a cousin or other relative would be introduced. I’m thinking of them now and hoping their families are safe. Communication with the islands has been broken, but Jacinda is due to give us the latest news at 3pm.

No-one expected an eruption
to cause such far-reaching disruption

Discrimination by Device

I never wanted a cellphone, but in 2001 Stephen had a heart attack and spent a number of days in hospital. I needed to work as well as visiting him, and I needed a cellphone so the hospital could call me in case of an emergency. A friend kindly went and bought one for me, carefully choosing a number that was easily memorised, and I carried it everywhere with me at that time.

Once he was home again the need for urgent communication lessened. I had landlines with answerphones at home and work, and that gave sufficient opportunity for anyone to contact me. My cellphone was kept for emergencies and travel. Later I upgraded from the earlier one to a smaller model, again used only for emergencies and travel.

A few years ago a kind friend who’d moved to an iPhone gave me her old Samsung Galaxy S phone, which I still have.

I just turned it on to take the above photo and got three spam texts! This phone is “smart” and can connect to the internet. It’s possible to use it to access email and social media although I almost never do so. Its smartness is limited and it’s not smart enough to download modern apps such as the one to scan Covid QR codes. This means that when I go to a shop or café I need to manually sign in on paper rather than scan.

Because I use my cellphone only for emergencies I rarely turn it on. I’ve sometimes used it as an alarm clock when I want to be sure to get up early for a UK Zoom call. Occasionally I turn it on to receive a text verification, e.g. if I set up a new payee on my bank account. Some internet registrations demand a cellphone number, and a few will accept a landline. Because my phone is used so rarely a charge lasts for weeks, even months, so I’ve never got in the habit of charging it regularly. I’ve never run out of power either, and I do check if I’m planning to use it. Stephen has no cellphone of his own. He shares my number when needed for an internet registration.

The ubiquitous use of text, especially by professionals, and the desirability of some apps is slowly pushing me towards purchasing a smarter phone. As well as Covid QR scanning, medical appointments these days tend to require you to show a QR code, and maybe it would be easier to do this on a cellphone screen than to print it out. I’m hesitant because it seems that once people have a very smart phone they leave it on all the time, just turning the sound off when they want to sleep. It seems to be a case of all or nothing.

I’m also hesitant because of the cost. Not only the possible price of a new phone, but also its continued operating costs. Plus there’s so much I’d need to learn about how to use it. I so rarely receive a call on my current phone that it takes me a moment to remember I need to swipe, not just tap the screen, to answer it. In the past I’ve appreciated the assistance of librarians to digitally educate me, but visiting the library can be a chore these days, with the need to wear a mask and sign in.

I wonder do any of my readers manage without a smartphone? Does anyone have suggestions for a cheap easy-to-use model? Just in case I eventually succumb and upgrade. I’m aware that I may otherwise fall on the wrong side of the digital divide.

I do not need a smarter phone
but could get left out on my own

Floral Friday

Sunflower with bee

Yellow flowers don’t fit my garden colour scheme, so I’m not inclined to ,plant them. These sunflowers were a gift so I had to find a spot for them, and they are flourishing outside the fence in my ground level window boxes.

The last time I grew sunflowers was four years ago, and those were small ones from New World’s Little Garden. This year’s ones are much bigger and, as you can see, the bees are enjoying them.

It’s only the buds and leaves of the sunflower that turn towards the sun. Once the head of the plant comes into bloom it remains facing the east where the sun rises.

Sunflowers have been cultivated for over 4,500 years. Because the whole of the plant, including leaves, stalks, and roots is edible, they were grown as food in North America before other crops such as corn became common.

Each flower head is actually made up of about 2,000 florets. These tiny flowers are packed full of nectar which makes them attractive to bees.

Sunflowers have a remarkable ability to absorb toxins, including radiation, which is why they were planted at Chernobyl and Fukushima after nuclear disasters.

A useful plant the bright sunflower
where bees good nectar can devour