Friday, May 18, 2018

Falling in--- down a bank! (Coffee and cake, Puha and stuff!)

Just on a year ago, Perdy was a little hero ... drawing my attention to a lovely lady who had fallen down a bank, and was getting close to being in a perilous condition, probably hyperthermia. That all ended well. As many of us know, 'falling' is a major cause of injury and sometimes death for the elderly. I am NOT immune from that action, especially when I decide to climb down banks for various reasons.

    Why would someone my age (I'm not far off 68) go gallivanting down banks?! Hey ... I need to put food on the table, or ground, for my hens. They LOVE Puha. (Milkweed, for my overseas readers)  I like it too, especially the young tender leaves. I love the peppery flavour. It cuts through fat. My hens almost kill one another, when I throw it over the fence.

    Today, I noticed lots of it. This time of the year it grows in abundance, conveniently close to the pathways where I walk my Jack Russell, Perdy. I espied some beautiful, huge examples of Puha on my walk this morning. It was growing in the long grass on a gentle bank, facing the mangroves. How could I ignore it?

    I didn't. I very carefully clambered down the bank, filling my bag with the luxuriant foliage. It took only a few minutes to gather enough for a good feed for my chooks. I do not take any more than I need, leaving some of the bigger flowering ones to seed for future gatherings, both for myself and others. I guess you could say, I am conserving it.

    I felt most content, as I neared the top of the bank with my bag full of beautiful Puha. Just as I reached the top of the bank (I'm sure you will be laughing at my description when you see the picture of very modest BANK!) I stumbled. As I plunged to the grassy slope, I saw people coming towards me. Crazy thoughts went through my head. I thought ... Miranda loves that word, plunge. 

    I landed safely in the verdant grass, my feet pointing to heaven and other regions of my body supported by the mass ... I couldn't have chosen a better place to fall if I tried!

    'Are you OK?' a friendly voice called.

    'Sure,' I replied, slightly embarrassed. 'I can see why hospitals have all those warnings about ... falling,' I added. (Actually, I'm not sure if I'm imagining I sad that, now.)

     But the kind lady did say ... 'Tai Chi is very good for balance.'

    My embarrassing moment over, I continued towards my car, where another lady, with her kids, noticed the Puha. She told me where there was more. 'I like to leave it ... I only take what I need ... gotta share it, eh.'

    She smiled.


'Ka kite,'



   she said as she left.

    I returned to my car and headed to the cafe, where I rewarded myself with a coffee and a Fudge-Brownie, not quite what the doctor ordered, but oh so yummy. (Thanks Rex  ... The Kitchen Cafe in Thames.)

    Superhen was most pleased when I threw the Puha over the fence. She gave me the look of course, which said ... 'there better be much more of that tomorrow, if you want breakfast!'

    Perdy replied on my behalf ... 'Careful feathered-one ... come from behind that fence, and you will be BREAKFAST!'

PS: I added a picture of the Kauri Gum in the dunny!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Something a little different.

I watched you … every day! 
            
So, I’ve been up here for months now. No one has painted over me and there are only a few scribblings on my periphery, that sully my visage. Sure … a few kids have tried to whack up some inferior ‘bombs,’ but for the most part, I have been left here, undisturbed.
    Sure, the sun, rain and rubbish have all blasted my shiny surface, but I’m made of quality paints, born out of the passion of an enthusiastic and talented ‘artist.’ She comes by from time to time, reminding me of the hours we spent in my berthing; laughing and even the odd tear or two. I met some of her friends … and family, not always sure of the distinction between the two. It didn’t matter.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the day you finished me … leaving me alone. Would I feel lost? I started noticing people; the ones who passed at the same time every day, on their way to work. Then … there were those who came to the park most weekends. I surmised that they lived nearby and did not have gardens or backyards. Two have earned a place in my heart. I even know their names.
    James, a willowy twenty-something, ‘alternatively-dressed’ guy, with long blond hair, tied up in a 70’s style pony-tail, always stopped and watched the progress of my ‘birthing.’ He never said anything. He just stopped and observed. If someone else came and started a conversation, he quickly moved off, after muttering a brief reply, that did little to encourage more meaningful conversation.
    Then, one day, a slightly younger guy, different in so many ways, came past. He wore torn or was it ripped jeans. I wondered if he had paid an exorbitant price for them, or was he just …poor?  He always seemed to have the same T-shirt. That led me to think he either had many of the same types or he washed them every night because believe me … I tried the ‘smell-test’ on him when he approached to touch my surface, stopping only when the artist glared at him. He smelled fine ... fresh and clean. His name was Jessy. The T-shirt was tight, showing off his muscular chest and well-defined arms.
    That day, James took longer to move on. I noticed him glancing at Jessy and moving off … reluctantly. As he left the park, he looked back. Jessy returned the look. I felt an ‘energy,’ a connection, but neither said anything.
    Two days passed, Jessy coming on the first day, staying a little longer than he did on his first appearance. The next day he didn’t come, but James did. That’s how it was for the next week … Jessy one day, James the next … until James started coming again … every day. He even came when it rained and my ‘creator’ didn’t come.
    Finally, I was finished. I stretched over a wall, a myriad of colours. Jessy and James both came. There was quite a crowd … at least a hundred people, and a TV news crew. Yes, I was on TV that night. Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking me for a ‘Banksie creation!’
    James kept looking towards Jessy. Jessy pretended not to notice … for a while. It was Jessy who moved closer until he was right next to James. Their shoulders almost touched. They were silent. People began to move away, the TV crew packed up after interviewing the artists and gathering a few reactions from the people.
    I ignored the ‘ceremony of my ‘coming out.’ I was way more interested in the two guys. When the last of the crowd had left, Jessy and James remained, still silent. It was James who spoke first.
    “I guess if I said, ‘Do you come here often, you’d throw up.’
    Jessy laughed. ‘I’ve heard that corny pick-up line a few too many times, but I guess it’ll do.’
    My heart missed a beat or two. They left together. I have never seen them again. I often wonder if they are still together. I wonder if I will fade. Love is a bit like a mural … in some ways!

www.authorneilcoleman.com
   


Friday, May 4, 2018

The HILLS are alive with the sound of----

Yes, it's that time of the year. It is not so much the 'sound of music' in the hills; it is the sound of gunfire across the water. If it was in some other countries, one would shiver in fear. Here, in New Zealand, it is the seasonal sound of ducks been shot.

    Every year,  this event draws some negative comments from folk who find the practice abhorrent in some way. Many of their utterances are baseless, ranging from their belief that the 'sport' is cruel, through to being unnecessary.

    OK ... let's look at those claims. The ducks that are being hunted have the potential to reach 'plague-like' proportions, which has ramifications for native wildlife and probably the health of some waterways. The ducks we hunt today are the ones that Europeans introduced. New Zealand a was magic place for them to breed and flourish.

    We quickly realized that there was a need to 'control the numbers of ducks.' They needed to be 'culled,' and the 'duck-hunting-culture' became a popular past-time. Generations of NZers have enjoyed the 'sport.' Many of the hunters became expert shooters and spent much of the duck-hunting-season in their little shelters, on foggy mornings in wetlands and waterways of NZ's provincial regions.

    Not all of the hunters eat their 'prizes.' Perhaps they give them away. I remember living on a farm in my childhood days, and my mother receiving ducks that relatives had shot. I remember being told to be careful when we ate them (probably roasted) because there was always the possibility of the lead-shot still being in the meat, meaning that teeth would come into contact with the little hard pieces of 'shot.' Not a nice experience!

    These days, there are m nay more ways available to cook the ducks. Our more diverse population has introduced us to fabulous new ways to process and cook the duck meat. I am extremely hopeful that I shall be the recipient of some fresh, meaty duck-breasts this season, given that I now live within 'sounding-distance' of the bedlam that is this time of the year. On my morning walk today, I could not miss the sounds from across the water on the Firth of Thames. Bring it on!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Did I say it all wrong?!

A simple request can fall on deaf ears, or maybe the request was a 'yesteryear' one; one that no longer applies. Maybe technology has moved to the point where old-fashioned, proven, and essential services don't work anymore.

I digress: I wanted to post a letter ... you know ... that paper-eclosed item that needs to go via a physical process because the recipient cannot receive an electronic format. I prepared the necessary response to the request for the said item and popped it in the envelope, one for which I had to search high and low, in my home, given my creative storing and sorting mechanisms. Actually, it was not in my home. I had stored the envelopes safely away in the car ... in the glove-box to be exact. Damned if I know why I should have put them there, and even more amazing ... I found them!

I drove to the place where I used to buy stamps ... my local dairy, or as the USA calls them .. the Drug Store. I always wondered at that description, just as they must be slightly perplexed at our Kiwi description of the local store or corner shop.

I arrived at the 'dairy' and approached the counter. I asked the guy for some stamps. He looked at me oddly. I thought ... shit ... have I left food on my face or ... is there a boogie hanging from my nose?
I checked ... nope.

I said ...  'You know ... a stamp for an envelope.'
He looked at me like I was asking the impossible. I swear I had bought some from him in the past. Then I remembered, that he had sold me envelopes with the stamp already on it. I realized that time is rather fluid and what was yesterday is certainly NOT today. I smiled and left the shop.

Oh well, I accepted that I would have to drive into the vast metropolis that is Thames and go to the POSTSHOP. As is often the case, I parked outside and went in. My favourite banker/Postshop person was behind the counter. She kk new all about stamps, warning me about the cost. It seems that fewer people are using the old form of 'Snail Mail, hence the price rise. I happily paid and the mail is now on the way.

I wonder if there will come a time when even that format will go the way of dinosaurs. I hope not!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I thought the Feijoa season was crap .. until...

This year has not been kind to my fruit crops. Firstly the Apricots and cherries came to nothing. Sure, they blossomed, but the rain came and knocked the delicate flowers off, meaning that the season was a wipe-off. My neighbour was a little luckier and eating the occasional juicy apricot from his tree was nought but a promise of undelivered bounty. My plums were only marginally better, after a beautiful crop last year. Oh well, at least I had the apples and grapes, along with new crops of citrus that are coming on now.

I was looking forward to the Feijoa season, but the terrible storm of January 5th put a hold to that. Then there was the possibility of the Guava Moth (The Guavas, the sub-tropical large yellow ones and the smaller purple variety, are being very kind, and I don't even mind sharing them with the Sunderland Bomber ... oops, I meant the Kereru, NZ's huge native pigeon, that one can hear from a great distance as they 'whoop whoop' on their bombing raids, sometimes leaving the trees in an almost drunken manner. Of course, The Feijoas are under the threat from different more sinister attack ... from the Guava Moth. Hort/research have a trap hanging in my Feijoa trees, and last year they found a solitary beastie. DO NOT complain when you come through  NZ Customs
if you are checked. These blighters possibly came in because a fool did not comply with NZ's strict rules about bringing in fruit. Our economy depends on such measures ... to keep us free of unwanted pests.

I was not expecting my Feijoas to give me much more than a paltry few fruits. I noticed a few quite large ones when I was mowing my lawn, and today I went out to pick some off the ground. One does not pick them from the tree. Most Kiwis, where the fruit grows, know that the best Feijoas are the ones that fall to the ground.

Last night nature delivered something unexpected. Wind and rain visited Thames. When I searched under the trees this afternoon, the ground was festooned with large, beautifully ripe feijoas, a few hundred of them. I slipped into harvest mode, raking them gently from under the trees. Then we started out production-line. My mate cut them in half and I scooped out the scented-ice-cream-like pulp. The skins went into one container and the pulp in another, from whence we stuck it into plastic bags and into the freezer for later use.  The skins were then packed into jars, after rinsing, topped with water and a small amount of sugar. You guessed it. The skins are being fermented in two stages. In a few days, I will drain the slightly fermented water from the jars, discard the skins and add a little more sugar, poured the mixture back into the clean jars and leave them on the bench, with tight lids for the second ferment.

In a few days, I will put them in the fridge to stop them attaining an elevated alcohol level. I shall leave one bottle to 'brew' a little longer to see if it reaches a noticeable level so that the 'fizz becomes a buzz"!

 Yes ... the afternoon has been a productive one. AS I have been typing this post, I have been enjoying a Kombucha flavoured with Guavas, with the first batch of my feijoa fizz back-blended into it. I can say it is ... mightily flavoursome!

2700 blogs---new direction imminent!

Watch this space. It will soon become a thing of the past. Quite a few years ago, I 'monetized' my blog. It didn't go well. For various reasons, I got banned (FOR LIFE!) by this platform, re the monetizing aspect. It's a bit of a story, one based on my naivete. I appealed, but they refused my explanation. That was five years ago.

Now, thousands of blogs on, I have decided to try another platform. (Wordpress) For a while, I shall 'parallel post' my blogs, once it is set up. If things go well, I shall make the switch.  The links will be obvious.
  Cheers
  Neil

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Walking and talking ... gems!

A SHORT WALK only happens when measured in distance, How long it takes is another matter entirely. When we leave the house, we never know what we will see, hear and tell. I carry my little green bags for 'doggie purposes and of course for my 'collectables.'

    Bits of driftwood, contorted into fantastic shapes by water, time and sand, find their way home, sometimes just a little too big. I would .love to drag the large trunks, that have witnessed many storms and travelled from the distant hills behind the town, tumbling along flooded streams turned to torrents, before finding a temporary resting spot on a beach. I usually settle for their smaller brothers and sisters. Sometimes, I even find their cousins from the past ... shiny pieces of Kauri Gum tossed upon the high-tide mark or buried amongst the detritus lying in banks on the beach.

    We never go far without meeting people. Some are mirroring our morning activity ... just getting out-and-about. Not all walk with the pace of yester-years, utilizing walking-sticks and shuffling gently along the footpaths. They may not walk on the beach, when the sea has delivered or uncovered large rocks, replacing the smooth sand from the day before, then on the following day spreading a different vista in an ever-changing pattern.

    Sometimes the people we meet are familiar. I may remember their names, but often it takes many meetings before I remember. Perdy has a way of introducing herself, and once met, she always knows. A sniff is all it takes; a pat on her head cements the relationship. Next time it's a stretch up, seeking a more intimate connection.
 
    Conversations flow, with Perdy sitting patiently ... up to a point ... stories are offered and heard. Days gone by are reintroduced, as if they were yesterday, families, friends and events recalled, sad and joyful. Time flows, before moving on, sometimes for minutes, before another memory is painted in words and images. There is a commonality, a union of ideas. The time we take is not important ... on most days we have it in abundance. Perhaps a medical appointment beckons or a visitor is due, but for the most part, there is a rhythm to the day that precludes rushing.

    Sometimes Perdy lets me know that I have reached my allotment of stories for the walk. There will be other walks, more people, another beach ... but now it is time for us to move on. Yes, Perdy wishes us to move down the beach, looking for stones, gems and the flotsam that we have both come to love. There's always plenty of time for 'walking, talking
and gems!