Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

Floral Friday

This bulb is Portuguese Squill, and it’s one of the very few flowers that have been in our cottage garden longer than we have. Its botanical name is Scilla Peruviana, and although that sounds as though it should come from South America it actually originates in the western Mediterranean. It likes sandy soil, so no wonder it thrives in our area, and reappears every spring. I’ve never seen it anyone else’s garden, have you?

A strange plant is Portuguese Squill
with no connection to Brazil

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Floral Friday

Our cherry tree is in full bloom today and seems to have benefitted from the arborist’s attention.

We’ll be hoping for a bumper harvest, and hoping that we’ll be able to cover plenty of fruit. The rest we’ll leave for those foraging birds who can reach higher than we can.

Cherry blossoms symbolise spring and the fleeting nature of life because they last only a short time. After about two weeks the blossoms start to fall.

The cherry blossom looks just great
for cherries we will have to wait

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Zoom is wonderful as a way of catching up with family and friends in distant places. However, I personally find it difficult to use as a medium for learning. Last year I was enrolled in a Te Reo class, but when lockdown struck and classes moved online I found it hard to manage, and dropped out.

I later enrolled in a Zoom seminar, but I found it difficult to understand the tutor for whom English was a second language and left before the end. Even with people I know well I find an hour of a Zoom group is all I can take before my concentration goes, and I wonder how on earth do school students manage? I guess they are younger and more adaptable, and possibly more accustomed to concentrating on screens.

I recently took part in a workshop where the tutor and students were all masked, and found it hard to hear what was being said. Earlier this week I was at a meeting with ten socially distanced people, and very relieved when all but one removed their masks. I appreciate that in Level Two masks are required in any public venue, but that just makes me more inclined to avoid public venues. I’m relieved to know that masks are not mandatory in schools because it seems to me they would hinder students’ ability to learn. Let’s hope that Covid vaccinations can soon be made available for children under 12. How are you coping with learning in this Covid environment?

I’m relieved that the W.E.A. is making mask use optional during classes under Level Two, and the same applies to a another course I’ve enrolled in. Perhaps there’s hope for my lifelong learning after all.

I do not like to wear a mask
when I’m absorbing some new task

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My garden has many annual flowers. They’re inclined to self-seed (volunteer) and I’m happy to let them do this wherever they want. There are often alyssums and others growing in the gutter outside, but this is the first time I can remember seeing an aquilegia/granny bonnet there.

Council workers swept the gutter earlier this week, but they didn’t remove any growth as they sometimes do. There’s a volunteer hollyhock close by this granny bonnet and I’ll be interested to see if that survives long enough to flower.

She settles into any cranny
persistent, never-daunted Granny

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I’ve “activated” my verandah as part of this week’s global Porch Placemaking project. The idea appeals to me, especially as I have a suitable porch on a busy street. Last year I took part with an effigy that showed a woman waiting for her Book Group. This year my theme is playing patience/solitaire while masked and waiting for Level One.

A friend kindly provided the orange wig, which made constructing the head much easier. It seemed appropriate that my woman, whom I’ve named Patience, should be playing round-the-clock solitaire. The sign reads: Solitaire – how to pass time while waiting for Level One. The writing could have been darker but the only markers I have are fine-tipped.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for passersby. The first few I saw didn’t even notice Patience. They were intent on the path or on their phone. However I’ve since seen a number stop and look, and hopefully be entertained.

Some people stop to have a gander
at this strange sight on my verandah

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Floral Friday

The lavender I planted a year ago is finally showing signs of growth. Checking the label I see it is a compact bush likely to reach just 40cm (16 inches for those of us who haven’t gone fully metric). That should be high enough to poke through the front fence and greet passersby.

It’s name is Joyful Cherub and it was bred in Australia to perform in hot dry conditions. The label said it would continue to show good colour when other lavenders have burnt off with the heat, so sounds ideal in a climate crisis. Interestingly the first three Aotearoa nurseries who mention it on their websites have no stock at present. Maybe because the Tasman bubble is paused?

Cleopatra is said to have worn lavender scent to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, and some claim that the asp that delivered the fatal bite was hidden among her lavender bushes. Perhaps I need to take care when weeding.

A year’s gone on the calendar
since I put in this lavender

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Water Woes

Today started badly. When I got up at 6.30am I heard a gushing noise from the cupboard where our hot water cylinder resides.. There’s a board in front of this and shelves where we keep pots and pans, etc. I turned off the electrical switch for the water cylinder, and Stephen went out and turned the water off outside the gate. This stopped most of the flow, but the cupboard was wet and there was still a drip. Just before 7am I phoned and left a message on the plumber’s answerphone. He phoned back at 8 and said he’d be here within an hour. Luckily I’d filled the kettle before Stephen turned the water off. Being without water is a challenge. We were glad to think we could always flush the toilet with a bucket of pool water and we have twelve 1.5 litre containers of drinking water in the shed, all regularly replaced and none more than six months old.

I suspected that the chlorine currently in our local water had damaged the cylinder as has happened to many households in Christchurch, but Stephen thought it was just a leaking pipe. When the plumber arrived he also suspected chlorine and the need for a new cylinder, but when he pulled out the cupboard lining he agreed it was just an old polybutylene pipe that needed replacing. However this proved difficult to access and meant not just the back of the pot cupboard, but also the side needed dismantling, which involved disconnecting the washing machine and removing the laundry tub.

I left them to it and walked into town to do some errands. At Turanga I took the opportunity to use their loo just in case, and it was a relief to be able to wash my hands properly.

The plumber was here for two and a half hours, and the water system is now functioning correctly. Our pots and pans are sitting on the dining table while the cupboard dries out, and tomorrow Stephen will restore the cupboard’s back and shelves. After the morning’s disruption we decided to drive to the Club for lunch – forgetting that today is World Car Free Day.

Life’s hard when water is not there
each drop is precious – must take care

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Painstaking Printing

It was serendipitous that my writing course finished the same day it was announced that we were to go into Level Four Lockdown. The final draft of my memoir chapbook, titled Ruth’s Reminiscences, had been printed out at Warehouse Stationery. When I inquired about using card for the cover they said that was something they couldn’t provide, but if I brought the covers along they could print out the inners and then staple the whole booklet together manually on their special stapling device.

Luckily I had some card in stock, and during the first week of lockdown I carefully printed out twenty covers. Once we moved to Level Two and Warehouse Stationery re-opened I went in confidently expecting to get my inners printed out and the stapling done. To my dismay I found their printing department was restricted to files that had been sent by email and there would be no way I could have them manually covered and stapled. I presumed I’d have to wait until we reach Level One.

It was now just three weeks until the birthday of my niece in Australia and I wanted to send her a copy, so I decided to print one out on my home printer. This is an old basic machine for which I now pay more for cartridges than I originally did for the printer. My booklet is 40 A5 pages, which meant I needed to print 10 A4 pages, double sided, and then fold them in half. The next problem was how to attach the pages to the cover. I don’t have a suitable sewing machine, and did consider making holes and tying the whole thing together. A friend suggested it might be possible to use an open domestic stapler into carpet, and then bend the staples back by hand. My desk stapler wasn’t strong enough for ten pages plus the card cover. We do have another heavy duty stapler, but it didn’t open up to allow for the booklet until Stephen unscrewed part of it and found it could work. I just hope no-one injures themselves on the strangely folded staples. My booklet definitely has a handcrafted look, and the first copy is now winging its way to Australia.

When I realised we are likely to spend at least a third week in Level Two I decided to print more copies at home. This is a laborious time-consuming task, but I like the idea that the whole thing has been produced at home – truly A Corner Cottage Publication, with Stephen in charge of the stapling. For each copy I have to change the printing format to Manually Print on Both Sides, and then reload the paper when prompted, to print the second side. With double-sided printing there’s no way I can see to print individual pages if something goes wrong. My printer is notorious for grabbing more than one sheet of paper at a time, so I need to carefully fan the ten sheets before I start.

Printing in progress

I wondered what would happen if/when my cartridge ran out and was pleased when I got a warning screen to say ink was low after I’d printed the seventh copy. The final photo in this one has not printed clearly, but the copy is otherwise okay, and will do for the National Library, who surely won’t care about the last photo. I think seven copies is enough for today. Tomorrow I’ll change the cartridge and start again.

I’ve started a production line
for copies of this book of mine

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Pregnant Plant

At spring Equinox two years ago I was given a baby spider plant. I’d had one of these in Auckland a long time ago and looked forward to this one growing and producing more “spiders”. I nurtured it carefully and waited, but nothing happened. I’d almost given up hope. Then yesterday, when I gave it its fortnightly dose of Baby Bio, I noticed two shoots. At last!

I’ve since read that spider plants need to mature for one to two years before they can have babies, so maybe I was too optimistic expecting this to happen earlier. I also see they prefer indirect light so perhaps my plant has had too much direct sunlight. I might move it, which means shuffling my three large indoor plants around, as there are only three suitable spots for them to live. I also think it might be time for a bigger pot. With garden centres open under Delta Level Two maybe it’s time to go shopping.

With babies on my spider plant
will I become a spider aunt?

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Level Three

Traffic’s back today, with lots of trucks. Construction workers have again taken over our local parking area. I hope Williams Brothers paid them fully during lockdown.

Construction workers’ vehicles are back

There’s concern that construction materials may run out within a few days. Much is stored in Auckland warehouses, and they are still in Level Four.

Level Three doesn’t make much difference for us, except that we could now have takeaways if we wanted them. Our local Club is offering takeaway meals, e.g. roast dinners or fish and chips, and we may take advantage of this if Stephen tires of cooking. The packaging is a worry, though.

Yesterday I walked along Bealey Avenue and noted this car’s window sticker:

It’s different, and I hope useful, although I wonder about the split infinitive. We’re currently re-watching Star Trek the Next Generation, and their mission to boldly go makes me flinch.

It’s disturbing to hear that in New South Wales Covid patients in Intensive Care are being sedated because there aren’t enough nurses to care for them. I’m just so relieved we’ve had our first vaccination.

The first day of the month brings optimism. I turned the page on my calendar of Australian Wildflowers and this month’s picture is of a Cat’s Paw – must be meant for Ziggy. As it’s the first of the month I shall do my usual voluntary tasks of financial report and invoicing. It’s good to have something “normal” to do.

I’ve just been for my daily walk and see that Little Pom’s are serving takeaways. Tomorrow I might take my credit card and get one of their delicious cheese scones.

It doesn’t mean that much to me
for us to be on Level Three

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