Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

Best Beds

My childhood bed was made of iron.  My parents ran a Convalescent Home, and all our beds were hospital issue, high, and painted lettuce green.  I could hang upside down off the end of my bed, as though it was monkey bars.  I never worried about something being under my bed because it was so high up you could see clearly beneath it.   If a friend came to stay a mattress would be put on the floor underneath for them to sleep on.

From the age of five, when my father died, I shared a bedroom with my mother.  She used to come to bed late when I was asleep.  I don’t remember being read to at night, but I do my mother telling me stories she’d made up.  These often featured Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor.

When Stephen and I moved to our small Christchurch cottage in 1987 we had a double bed which seemed enough for a small bedroom.  Later we got cupboards built in so we no longer needed free standing dressing tables.  After the earthquakes we decided we could fit in a queen size bed and relished the extra sleeping space.  Around this time we adopted a cat who was an earthquake refugee, and his previous owner used to joke that we’d bought a bigger bed to accommodate the cat.

We now have a different cat who has white hair with silver streaks.  When he sleeps on the pillow next to my head Stephen has been known to suggest that it’s hard to tell us apart.  I’m often awake in the wee small hours, so always have a radio beside the bed.  I listen with headphones so as not to disturb Stephen, and especially enjoy programmes from BBC World Service.

I used to think I would like to have a four-poster bed with drapes – not really practical in a small cottage.  In 2013 I finally slept in a four-poster.  This was in Bridport in the U.K.  The reality was fun, but I realised I no longer hankered for a four-poster.  The bed we have now suits us well and I don’t expect to change it.  It’s likely it will always be shared with a cat. 

I’ve sometimes thought it might be good to have a television on the bedroom wall so I could watch programmes in bed.  We once stayed in a luxurious hotel where there was a television in the bathroom, but I think that’s a bit much!  All I really need is a good bed light so I can read a book before I go to sleep.

Ruth in a four-poster bed at Bridport

I’m quite contented with my bed
a cosy place to lay my head

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Feline Fluctuations

Ziggy went to The Cat Vet for his regular vaccination and check-up. At this clinic they have signs on tables to indicate where you can put your cat carrier. Apparently cats prefer to be raised up off the floor.

Cat parking spot

We met a new vet, Delwyn, and were impressed that she was wearing a top with cats printed on it. After a thorough check Delwyn told us she had found that Ziggy had heart arrhythmia and a heart murmur. She advised that if we wanted to understand the cause of these heart abnormalities we should arrange for Ziggy to have an ultrasound of the heart. After careful consideration we decided to go ahead with this, because Ziggy is an important member of our family. We are aware that Stephen has had the necessary treatment for his heart problems, and thought Ziggy should too (at least up to a financial point).

There is only one place in Christchurch where cat ultrasounds are done, and that is at McMaster & Heap in Hoon Hay, where the specialist is Dr Richard Lucy. We dropped Ziggy there in the morning, and signed a consent form for the procedure.

In the afternoon Richard phoned and said that Ziggy was a star! There had been no need for sedation (which saved us $150) and his cardiac parameters were within normal limits. Richard had observed a period of bigeminy/arrhythmia, but this was not associated with cardiac disease, and could be due to thyroid or high blood pressure. Concerning the heart murmur he had observed a small leak, but this was not something to worry about in a cat of Ziggy’s age (ten years).

Once Delwyn got Richard’s report she phoned us, and we’ve arranged to take Ziggy in next month to get his blood pressure checked. If this is not the cause of the problem he will need to have a blood test to check his thyroid. We’re just pleased to have him home and know his heart is in good shape. He was beautifully brushed by the vet nurses, who obviously have more grooming skills than I do.

We’re glad to know his heart’s okay
although the rhythm’s gone astray

Ziggy – the star!

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Tables turned?

“The rimu dining table has been in George’s family for more than 30 years” said the article in the Weekend. I wondered why this fact was considered noteworthy. Our rimu dining table has also been in our family for over 30 years as we bought it soon after we moved here in 1986. By then the family living “at home” was reduced to just the two of us, but we considered a good-sized table essential for entertaining.

Our dining table in Auckland was a rectangular oak one, with extensions, useful for the larger gatherings that are inevitable when there are teenagers in the family. It had been given to us by a family friend, together with a matching oak sideboard and china cabinet. I’d never been fond of any of these and was happy to bid them farewell when we moved south. My longing had always been for an oval table, and I was delighted to find one in rimu, with six upholstered dining chairs. With no awkward corners or legs a couple of extra chairs can always be squeezed in if required.

Our rimu dining table

As there are just two of us we usually dine at one end of the table, and the other end provides a useful space for Stephen’s laptop. I use a p.c. and am lucky enough to have a proper desk in a separate room. Our current dining table, having served us well for 36 years, will probably outlast us. Do other people change their dining tables frequently?

When everything is said and done
for dining table – need just one

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Somehow this week’s heatwave seems harder to take than the previous one.

is for more
than thirty degrees
I put on a loose cotton frock
and retreat out the back to our shady patio
at these times we are warned not to exert ourselves and to be sure to stay hydrated
I sit beside the garden pool with a long cool drink. conserving all my energy
and feeling grateful
I don’t need
to go

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A bright shiny white button lying on the road outside caught my eye as I came home yesterday. When I picked it up it sang to me, and as I turned it over I saw it had an Apple logo. Tiny writing identified it as an Air Tag.

Orphan Air Tag

I’ve read that these are now permitted to be used by air travellers to trace where their luggage is, and guessed someone must have dropped it near our cottage. My first instinct was to simply toss it in the red rubbish bin, but investigation told me it cost $59 and I thought someone may be motivated to come looking for it. Knowing that it’s able to send its owner information about its location I was wary of taking it inside, and left it on the patio overnight.

A digital daughter warned me it was likely the owner might come knocking on our door, so today I took the Tag over the road and placed it on top of a lonely road cone. From our windows I can see it’s still sitting there shining in the sunlight.

Will someone claim their lost Air Tag
that’s meant to be inside their bag?

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streets are quiet
everyone at home
or gone away
Solstice passed
Christmas over
presents exchanged
Zoom brings contact
with family far away

path mowed
through no-mow lawn
jungle tamed
cherries harvested
just seventeen
rescued from the birds

thirty degrees
too hot for exertion
sit beneath a shady tree
read another novel

a fortnight free
of obligations
relax with friends
walk on the beach
crossword puzzles and Wordle
feast on Horotane apricots
chocolate treats
visit cafés
take afternoon naps

without leaving home
or deserting the cat
I have a summer holiday

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Shady Spaces

Visiting green spaces can improve a range of health problems, especially for those on low incomes. An article in this week’s Guardian reported on Finnish research which confirms this. As we are superannuitants we are a low income household, and we both take a variety of medications. Stephen pointed this article out to me, and my immediate response was to ask whether it meant he would now want to walk across the road and revel in the trees on the riverbank. But, no! He said the research supported the importance of our spending time in the green space on our patio.

Our personal green space

We do spend many hours there. On warm days we have all our meals outside under the shady walnut tree and we often sit there to read or do word puzzles. I’m confident that time spent in our own green space is good for us, and will continue to visit other green spaces as well. Do you visit a green space regularly?

We’re fond of our back garden space
our very own green leafy place

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I’ve bought my eggs from PIKO for the past 36 years. I appreciate that they come from free range hens and egg boxes are recycled. Deliveries are made Monday and Thursday mornings, and I usually get half a dozen at a time, occasionally a dozen.

With the nationwide shortages lately PIKO have limited sales to two dozen per customer, and deliveries sell out quickly. Yesterday we had only three eggs left, so I went across at 10.30am hoping to buy a dozen, as I knew I’d be out on Thursday morning and not able to stock up then.

To my surprise there were no eggs on display, they were all stacked behind the counter where a staff member was busily packing them into boxes. When I inquired I was told eggs now need to be pre-ordered, and that when they’d filled the prior orders they would phone me to let me know when mine were available. I was relieved to get my dozen and have placed a standing order for every Monday.

Egg rack re-stocked

I haven’t checked the egg shelves at the supermarket but have heard of friends who’ve missed out on getting eggs. It’s especially hard for vegetarians and those who like to bake. There are lots of hints around as to what you can substitute for eggs. One friend told me she made a Christmas cake using golden syrup instead of eggs, which turned out fine.

The egg shortage is likely to last for another six months until more young hens come into lay. The upside is that no hens will now be confined to battery cages. The price of eggs and of some baked goods will go up, sad when the cost of living is making life hard for many, but we need to remember that previously it was the hens who were paying.

Have you changed your ways with eggs?

Support for moves to free range hens
means liberation from cruel pens

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Floral Friday

My oriental lilies, planted in 1998, have opened their buds:

Oriental lilies

The lilies of the field are well-known because they toil not, neither do they spin. In my “field” they also require no maintenance, except the occasional stake to ensure they face the path. They are watered only occasionally, but every year they re-appear with a beautiful scent that assails us as we walk past.

Another newcomer this week is a tiny viola which has appeared between the bricks on the patio.

Volunteer Viola

I regularly weed between the bricks, but if I recognise a volunteer viola I leave it, and am delighted if it produces a flower.

These Friday flowers large and small
give pleasure whether short or tall

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Floral Friday

A clump of pretty pink penstemons is flowering in our garden today.

They are a long-blooming perennial that is drought and heat tolerant – ideal for a climate crisis – and they are attractive to bees and other pollinators. The common name beardtongue comes from the long and hairy stamen which looks like a tongue located in the center of the lip-shaped flowers.

Penstemons have been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans as one of their medicinal plants. They treated toothaches by chewing the root pulp of this plant and then placing it in the cavity. They also used penstemon to prevent inflammation and accelerate healing of the open wounds.

This flower represents courage and spiritual knowledge.

Ideal for drought times is this flower
with toothache-healing secret power

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