Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas story .. spread it!

    ‘Come on MUM … there’s heaps of cars in the car park. All those people are gonna get the best stuff!’  Cindy rolled the window up of the aging Holden. ‘Why can’t we have a car with those automatic winders,’ she added in that whining tone her brother Tim hated, and usually responded in his uniquely enigmatic manner. This time, he was ‘otherwise-engaged,’ his headphones blasting out Rap music his mum, June, would rather not hear.
    June manoeuvred the car into a space, avoiding the eyes of a man driving a late model Nissan. ‘Looks like he might have to drive around for looking,’ she said, a bit guiltily. ‘Come on … let’s get this over and done with. Remember … I only have $150 in the Christmas Club, so only a few treats. Are you joining us, Tim?’
    Tim muttered a reply, just quietly enough for June not to hear. She had long since given up trying to interpret his adolescent brooding. The sun was sending the temperature into the mid-twenties, adding a layer of discomfort to her already stressed demeanour. The reality of the meagre $150 and what it could purchase hung heavily on her.
    A few minutes later, they were trudging down the veggie aisle, Tim heading towards the snacks around the corner. He didn’t hear June telling him to wait.
    ‘Oh well … better get the essentials,’ she said, forlornly, lifting a 10kg bag of potatoes into the trolley, which Cindy insisted was her job to propel through the crowded supermarket. June had to return several items to the shelves that Tim had carelessly shoved into the trolley. ‘When will that boy learn that ‘essential’ does not include expensive Turkish dried apricots … or whatever he is getting now?’
    Her fears were validated, as they rounded the corner. Tim dumped about twelve different packets of ‘munchies,’ as he liked to call them, into the trolley. June shrugged her shoulders, then faced her daughter, who was less inclined to hold back. “Why does he always get to choose … ‘‘Don’t … just don’t,’ June pleaded, as other shoppers sent various ‘judgments’ her way.
     They continued, collecting meat, bread, cleaning products, a small Christmas cake and a bottle of cheap wine. June began to feel anxious.  ‘The $150 was beginning to look totally inadequate.  As they approached the checkouts, June searched for the shortest line. They waited in line. June started the process of quietly deciding which items were going to ‘return’ to the shelves. She braced herself for the glances, the pitying looks, the unspoken comments.
    Tim walked through and waited by the sliding doors, totally unconcerned, while Cindy helped to stack the purchases on to the counter. June watched as the total passed her target. She rummaged around in her purse, finding about $20 in coins. She was forty dollars short.
    Her face reddened as she asked the operator to take out items. June returned the larger packets of munchies, the bottle of wine, and asked for the new total. She was still $5 short
June was close to tears. She searched for another item that would lower the total. As she picked up a large bag of frozen veggies, a hand gently reached across from behind.
    ‘How about you put them all back in. I’ll pay for them.’ His eyes seemed to say … ‘please let me. It’s OK … I’ve been there. I KNOW what it’s like.’
    ‘But … I don’t know you … why … ‘June burst into tears. There was no doubt that people were looking now … intensely … but without the judgment she feared. ‘I can …n’t … except … your generosity.’
    ‘You can. Call it, paying forward. If you knew my story you would KNOW. It’s OK.’
    June was overwhelmed. For once, Tim showed a side she hadn’t seen for years … well not since he was launched in to the ‘difficult years.’ He came forward and put his arms around his mother. ‘Mum … let him. He’s a good one.’
    June watched, as the man paid for ALL her groceries; dumbfounded, unable to respond in words … for a while. ‘How can I repay you?’ Then it hit her. He was the man in the car park … the one she had pushed into the empty car park in front of … the only empty car park! ‘I’m so sorry about my behaviour in the car park.’
    ‘I wouldn’t be concerned about that,’ he replied. I could see you had a handful. I know what kids are like. He smiled at Tim and Cindy. ‘You two … look after your mum. Show her you care.’
    He walked away. As June left the store, she felt every eye on her, some of them moist. Maybe Christmas was going to be a little different this year. People do care … sometimes.
Neil Coleman


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

'Please pull over, Sir!'

I took the 'High Road to my job today, or maybe I should call it the 'long road!' About halfway to my destination, I received a phone call, telling me that my first two clients were attending a Powhiri. OK ... time to kill. The gentle hills, painted by a mix of pasture, dotted with ruminating beasts, and trees, watching over The Firth of Thames, with mussel farms, holiday homes and Regional parks on both sides of the winding road.
I drove past the oyster shop ... once again promising to 'stop, next time,' almost tasting the fat creamy morsels, as they slid down my throat. A few more kilometres and Clevedon appeared. I slowed down.
Just past the pub, I espied lots of orange cones on the road outside the school, attended by their very own collection of constables. As I approached, I was flagged down and asked to drive into the left lane. I'm not sure what the other lane was for.
Oh no ... was I driving too fast? I remembered passing the flashing warning about a school. Bugger ... the fines for speeding near a school are not your run-of-the-mill parking fine. Not a good look!
The officer asked me to wind down my window. Here it comes ... I may as well admit it and get it over with and never tell a soul! But he was smiling. One of those ... the nasty, power-freak, sort.
'Sir ... could you please wind down your window, so the girls can talk to you?'
What ... he was gonna get the kids to rub it in?! Bastard! Of course ... I didn't say that. I did as he asked.
'Good morning sir. We are doing a project about keeping us safe. We would like to thank you for driving safely.'
One of her friends stepped closer to the car. 'We would like to give you a little present for caring about us,' she said as she passed a lovely card and a pen through the window.
I was flabbergasted. I thought I was speeding and only vaguely remembered the sign and although I wasn't going flat-tick, I did not consciously aim at the required 40PH. I guess I was 'doing the right thing ... by habit. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. They had their guns ... the ones that have caught me out a few years ago ... nothing more than about 4 above the limit, but enough to cop a fine!
'Thanks, girls. What a nice surprise. Keep up the good work. Ka kite,' I said and drove off, with a warm fuzzy feeling and a sense of wonderment.
What a good way to get the message across. Something similar had happened in Thames a few moons ago, but it involved Jack Russell and a Dog Ranger! That's another sotry.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Finally, our little book, NUGGETS FROM THAMES WRITERS, is available. We are having a low key launch tomorrow, Saturday, 10th of November, at The Carson's Gallery Bookshop Cafe. They will then be available in the bookshop next door. For $5.95. You can purchase this little gem, from the THAMES Writers Group.                                                          
The book is a collection of short stories, the perfect gift to round up the Christmas Stocking. It's perfect to take to the beach to read after the picnic and walk.             
The stories are an eclectic collection, reflecting the different styles of our authors, some funny, other mysterious ... even 'challenging.' This is our first effort. There will be more. 
Come along tomorrow, and while you have a coffee, maybe a slice, a piece of cake or a tasty sandwich, browse the artwork that Rex has on display. (More Christmas presents!)        
To my dear Auckland friends: I'm sure you want a copy. Let me know, and I can post or leave some at James Cook High. Happy reading. 
Don't forget ... tomorrow there will be a huge parade  ... The famous Steam Punk Parade. Come and have a crazy time. The parade is at 10.30, and our books will be on sale FROM around that time. 
Feel free to contact me on

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Driving through 'YESTER-YEAR.'

I took the long road to Auckland today ... the eastern approach; the one that kisses the Firth of Thames and sneaks through hills and valleys, dances alongside sparkling streams, before entering the gates of the sprawling city at Howick.
One can just make out the distant Sky Tower, casting false promises to desperate punters, while acting as a pointer to travellers to the heart of the city.     I was embraced by the Eastern suburbs, realizing that two years had passed since I had ventured that way, trying to get a glimpse of my sister's first home, before the 'village' reminded me of the way Howick 'used to be.'                                           The Eastern route continued until I came to the bridge controlled by traffic lights, changing according to traffic flow, relying on good observation as to the traffic flow. Get it wrong at your peril!                                 A few tears threatened as I approached Ellerslie ... The home of Pat ... now gone, but not forgotten.  I veered west, passing my one and only experience of apartment living. There was no pull ... no regrets ... but the Onehunga township was a nostalgic slap. I felt it ... a glow ... a sense of a good friend greeting me. Then ... down at my beloved Bay ... the fulcrum of many memories, usually including PERDY, my Jack Russell and the friends I met because if her ... they were not at the Bay. I could hardly blame them on this bleak day. I miss them. But I needed to be elsewhere.
Time constraints: They get in the way of connecting with people I miss. Next time, I promise myself. I note the beautiful 'improvements' at the Bay, before continuing to my 'appointment,' for lunch with 'R' on that most gastronomic of roads ... Dominion Rd. I am where I feel so content ... with a person so part of me. Sure, we are no longer in Auckland. I saw not one familiar face ... but despite the changes ... I know that this crazy city will always be part of me.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hey Brits! How about reading my blogs and books!

I don't do this very often, but hey ... every so often I see that my blogs are read by punters in 'The Olde Country ... Mother England, old Blimey .. you choose the handle!

Go back five generations and that's where I can claim 'heritage,' along with a bit of Scottish blood. I am told that the Colemans (Coulman) may have originated from Ireland. Maybe the Ancestry kit that looks at my DNA will throw further light on the matter. Apparently a few of the latter left Ireland and settled in Kent and from there ...not sure, but my forebears came from the Midlands, and my dear mum had some contact with them.

If any of my English 'family have anything to tell me about 'that family that left England, then give us a yell out!

In the meantime, keep reading blogs, but better still ... go to my web page and follow the links from 'Neil's Books' and download them to your devices. My books are on many platforms, so it's not hard to access them. Please share this post with your mates and my 'extended ... very extended,' family. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A message from 'Outer space!'

It seems my blogs are read in many countries. I think that about 40 plus countries have people reading my stories, theories and other 'utterances.'  Imagine my delight, when I see a new country ... oops ... backtrack! I thought I had a pretty good handle on geographic locations. Hell, I'm not like those educationally deficient Americans who can not recognise countries other than thier own, on a map, when interviewed by various Youtube or other media outlets.
Today, I had a rather unusual new reader. I have never heard of a country called 'Unknown region!' I welcome this new reader ... I think! Could be a bit dicey, don't ya reckon?! Wherefore art thou, dear reader?

A 'BLOG too Far.'

What do I do with nearly 3000 blogs? Yes, over the last 6 years, I have published nearly 3000 blogs. At first, people hardly read them and I was lucky if a dozen or so people actually stumbled upon them. I considered a hit rate of 30 a well-supported blog.
Then about six months ago, I noticed a change. It became unusual for a blog to have less than 100 hits and not unusual for 500 people to read one. I observed a trend, with some subject matters, achieving a better rate. Everyone writes about TRUMP and yes, so did I. Politics, in general, is a genre that I entered and whilst I achieved a fair number of hits, I never made a major breakthrough (within my particular 'blog-world')
Then, there was my Bariatric Surgery journey. I wrote about my experience. I suspect it was a way of me making sense of that dramatic time. I even started a Bariatric Surgery Support group on Facebook, reaching nearly 14,000 members, worldwide. LIke my other blogs, I linked them all to my webpage and FB.
There are other 'themes' running through my blogs, including my move from the big city (Auckland, NZ) and semi-retiring to a more gentle life in a small town (Thames), and all changes that entailed.
I used my blogs to 'push' my books. Firs,t there was 'Coastal Yarns,' followed by 'Roskill,' and 'Talk To Me.' I encouraged people to download or buy hard-copy. Being a self-published author is hard work. Even though one of my books (Talk To me) reached the finals of The Ngaio Crime Writers Awards, getting sales was difficult, so I persisted with my blogs in the hope that things would change.
Once again I entered another competition and reached the final ten for a Publishing deal for the first book in a three-part series. (Sorry---I can't say the title until the results are finalized I'm not sure where that will go.
I have decided to publish my blogs in themes. The first one will be 'PERDY ... Somebody to love! Yes, I shall gather the best blogs together about my crazy, loveable Jack Russell ... with pictures. I shall rework them and have them proofread and edited. I shall add a commentary to bring the stories together. My aim is to have it our within a month .. on Amazon. Watch this space for the release date. It won't be expensive ... probably only a dollar per download. The length ... about 120 pages with pictures.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I've been thinking!

I had this idea while sipping my second coffee for the day. I have posted several thousand blogs over the last 5 years. Perhaps I should take the more 'read' ones and put them into a single publication. Of course, they would need editing, due to my 'style' that is random, hit-and-miss and often lacking in 'correctness'
There are 'themes,' ideas, serious, 'off-the-wall,' and some, deeply personal.  I shall think about this idea and sample opinion!
The bottom line is that I love to write. It is for me, that I do this, but if others wish to partake of my ramblings, thoughts and 'stories,' then so be it!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Seize the moment ... a lesson most of us fail to learn!

Last year, just before Christmas, we said goodbye to my brother, Jim. He died way too early. At his funeral, I heard many touching stories about how he lived life to the full, always seeking new adventures with his wife Alison. He left behind his beautiful lady and his three children. As one of the six Coleman siblings, it was so hard to send him on his way.

Today we met again, in the same church, the one in which I attended his wedding, 44 years ago. This time we farewelled Alison, surrounding her with the love of family and friends. Alison finally lost her battle, one she fought to the end. I heard of so many incredibly touching moments, about how this couple lived their lives. There was one in particular that made me think about how many chances we let slide by, so many opportunities to live to the full, escape our clutches.

I am sure that I was not alone in feeling that the example Jim and Alison represented, should be held as the gold standard. Grab life with both hands and anything else you can employ to live, breath and enjoy this brief time we have.

Jim and Alison loved to dance. They were experts, attending numerous functions, 'dressing to the nines' and having fun. They ran a nursery in New Plymouth, spending countless hours in the 'potting shed,' pricking out tiny seedlings, preparing them for the markets. There was a radio in that shed, which was probably tuned to a station that played 'their sort of music' ... dancing music! When a song took their fancy, they would down tools and DANCE. Yes ... they seized the moment, never letting an opportunity to move to the tunes ... no audience, other than the critters that scattered and ran as Jim and Alson strutted their stuff. I never knew!

Farewell Alsion. You are with Jim, dancing in the 'Great Beyond.'

Monday, July 16, 2018

Time warp!

    I didn't know the bar was there; down that side-alleyway, way too narrow for cars. Foot traffic ruled, or the occasional bicycle, ridden by an anxious cyclist looking for a short-cut. Even the cyclist would have missed the entrance, a door that had seen numerous coats of paint, covered in scratches, from God-knows-who.

    It was raining when I headed down the alleyway. I had left my umbrella in the car, along with my jacket ... and now I was regretting it. My shirt clung to my body, hardly a flattering look. To make me feel even more desperate, I was cold. it was a heavy bass sound that attracted my attention. Someone was either playing music very loudly, or I was close to a studio of some sort.

    The door opened and a blast of warm air enveloped me, along with the acrid smell of cigarette smoking. A dishevelled man, frantically trying to put up an even less fortunate umbrella, burst into the alleyway.
    "Bloody good jam goin' on there, mate,' he muttered, before disappearing towards the main street.
    "What the hell," I said to myself. Anything had to be better than continuing in the rain. My car was at least ten minutes away and I wanted warmth.

    The door slapped shut as I entered as if it was on a strong spring. The music ... Blues from a distant past, but still remembered from my many hours of listening to RNZ. There was a band playing: a drummer, bass player, piano ... a real one ... not an electronic keyboard in sight, and two vocalists; a guy and a woman ... both in their late twenties ... possibly.

    The lighting was subdued, made even less penetrable by the smoke from a crowd that clearly didn't give a hoot about the smoking laws. Every table in the bar was taken and patrons were hanging out at the bar, leaving little room for me as I approached. A drink wouldn't go amiss. I managed to squeeze through, totally ignored by the couple I had separated. I caught the eye of the barman.

    "A glass of Pinot Gris, please," I said.
    He looked at me ... or was it through me? "And what the ... we don't serve cocktails here, mate"
    "It's wine, you ..." I stopped. "OK ... how about a Reisling?"
    " There's bear, gin and yeah ... top-shelf....' His voice cut out as the band ramped up. The guy who had been singing, began a haunting melody on a harmonica while the woman took over the vocals. The crowd seemed to be drawn in by them. It was then I noticed their dress-code.

    Had I walked into a 'themed party? Art-Deco ruled. I recalled countless black and white movies: the hairstyles, cigarettes held by the female patrons with long elegant Bakelite cigarette holders. Jean Harlow would have fitted right in. Some party I thought.

    "Right ... I'll have a bear then ... tap will do," I said to the barman.
    " Comin; right up,' he replied. "Not sure where you got your duds ... hell ... this isn't costume night."
    "Could have fooled me," I retorted. "You lot are dressed up like Art Deco Week in Napier. That chick singing looks hot!"
    He looked at me, before glancing at the heavily muscled guy, standing by the low stage. The latter approached.
    "You got trouble, Trev?" he said while putting a thick fist on my shoulder.
    The Barman leaned over, his breath pungent with garlic. "This gentleman is leaving," he said. "Drain ya glass and leave quietly. Something tells me, you don't belong."
    "What the f---. What have I done? I only came in to escape the rain."
    The music stopped ... mostly. Eyes turned in our direction; a mixture of curiosity and something more sinister. The guy playing the harmonica played on. He moved off the stage, coming towards me. His face had a distant look, framed by the swirling smoke from the 'illegal' ciggies. He stopped.
    "I don't think you are from ... here," he said, his voice barely audible. He turned to the barman whilst gently removing the heavy guy's fist from my shoulder. "I'll take it from here, Trev."

    "Best you come with me, Alex."
    "What ... you know my name?" I shuddered. Then, I noticed a poster above the door by the toilet signs. Jean Harlow again. "OK ... I'm leaving. Guess I don't fit here, eh."
    "That's kind of what I was thinking. Best you go ... back to where ever you came from. I hope you enjoyed my harmonica," he added as we neared the door.
    I turned my head, looking at him closely. "You look like someone I know ... Yeah ... like Kurt Mueller."
    His face turned ashen. "My name is Mueller ... you're freaking me out."

    He pushed the door open and before I had a chance to reply, it shut hard. I looked along the alleyway, trying to get my bearings. When I looked back at the door ... it was gone. A shop window, displaying old books was where it had been, just a few seconds ago. No sounds of music or the smell of cigarettes ... just the rhythmic pattering rain. I headed back to the main street. I remembered where I had left my car, back in the underground carpark.

    As I descended to the lower levels I saw a poster, advertising 'An evening with Kurt Meuller and his beloved harmonica.' The face in the poster was disturbingly similar to the harmonica player in the bar, yet an older version. I almost stumbled to my car, opening the door and slumping into the seat.

    My cell phone rang.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

My first ever 'presentation to the local Community Board. An exercise in democracy.

I have never participated in a Local Body Council Meeting. Today I presented an issue at the Community Board for Thames. I was made welcome and I felt that I was listened to. As to whether my proposal goes forward successfully ... time will tell.

Here is my 'presentation.'


Currently there is no off leash fenced dog park in Thames. Those areas off-leash (for certain times of the year) are near bird colonies and roads.
Sure, that is fine for many dogs, but even with strict oversite from responsible owners, many dogs tend to take off, venturing onto neighbouring properties and roads, endangering themselves and drivers who try to avoid them.
We need a safe area where dogs can ‘stretch their legs,’ and run safely. Examples of this exist in Te Kauwhata and Cambridge.
Two areas come to mind. The area that is already off-leash, just behind Seagull’s or part of Kurannui Bay. It would be relatively easy to fence off a section, with double gates to ensure safe and easy access. Doggie dumping facilities with bags already exist at the entry to both areas.
There seemed to be good support on the Facebook post I put up recently. I suggest that community contribution re ‘keeping a watch’ and reporting any issues, would be strong. Fund raising could also be undertaken, which would help to give ‘ownership and maintenance’ of the area.

With thanks

Neil Coleman

This is a very provocative, rude and opinionated post ... I DARE YOU..... CLICK AND FOLLOW!


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sometimes we get to do 'homework in our Writers' Group.' Here's mine.

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!

My clients at BLENNZ Homai got up to some mischief ... probably a daily event! Love them.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Don't go to the shop ... open the cupboard and cook up a healthy and cheaper treat.

I am a 'treat-lover.' I like to go to my 'cookie-jar' when I have a cup of tea or a coffee. There is something comforting about being able to do so. Howwwwever, I know that the 'store-bought' ones are not the best option. Now ... I am the first to admit, that one needs a bit of time to make the choices that I do ... but then again, the following recipe or variations on it, are not exactly time-consuming.

I had to really think before I wrote this little number up because it is so random. I never make it the same way, and results most certainly vary according to how you apply it. It IS QUITE HARD TO STUFF IT UP if you stick reasonably close to my 'suggestions.' Let's call it THE WHATEVER IN THE CUPBOARD MUFFIN/COOKIE. Yes, ... is it a cookie or a muffin ... or is it a bun? I guess the answer to that is how long you cook it and at what temperature and the moisture level.

1) Go and turn the oven to bake at 160C.
2) Get a big bowl.
3) Have a few trays of large (or smaller) muffin trays. Non-stick is best.
4) Chuck two cups of rolled oats into your bowl.
5) Biff some butter (Maybe two tablespoons.You can use a light oil if you wish)
USE A PLASTIC BOWL< because, at this stage, I microwaved the mixture on high for about 40 seconds, then mixed it all up.
6) Slide a cup of desiccated coconut in.
7) Use half a cup of sugar and/or some molasses (half a cup)
8) Throw in about 2/3 cup of ANY mixed dried fruit ... I used the cheapest, which even had peel in it.
Mix in a generous amount of powdered ginger/cinnamon or mixed spice ... whatever is in the cupboard.
9) chuck in one or two eggs.

NOW---get ya hands in or if you are a wimp ... use a spoon to mix it up. For a 'wetter' mixture, add a little milk When it all feels and looks mixed, spoon it into the muffin pans, press it down evenly. If there is heaps over, just freeze it in plastic bags until the next batch, or use it as a topping for an apple/feijoa/ rhubarb crumble.

Bake it in the preheated oven for about 25-40 minutes, but keep a watch. Don't burn it.
When ready, leave to cool, then gently loosen them from the pan and leave to cool, unless you really can't wait to try one.

I love them as an anytime snack-food.

I'm still not sure what to call them, but  I guess, Harry will do!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sitting on the 'SEAT' in the Bay, just tumbling my thoughts away:

From time to time, I like to sit and contemplate the last two years.
Two years since I left the city over the GULF.
Sometimes I can almost see it,
over the water as an imagined glow at night.
I know it's there, hiding behind one of the many islands.
It casts its influence wide and far,
sending its children, scattering them in new directions.
Some come here, to my new 'hometown,'
seeking solace, relief from pain, debt and NOISE.
They find the time that's kind, a pace that is more gentle,
a time that was.
They reach out, meet people, connect and live.
As I sit on the green seat at TararuBbay, I look in a different direction,
Towards the old town, the 'City of Gold,'
or is it?
You can still find treasures, but they are defined anew:
Peace, tranquillity and a life that makes sense.
That is what I see, what I feel, as I contemplate my two years.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Egg-Art! The ultimate expression of 'oneself.'

Art is a personal journey of discovery, be it as a participant or an admirer. It can also be an investment, sometimes owing little to the actual 'love of the object.' There are other variations, using a huge range of 'material, some extreme in the least.

Today I unwittingly expressed myself, using an egg. As usual, I went to the hen-house this morning and gathered the eggs. At this time of the year, my girls are taking a rest, giving me about half their normal production rate. I appreciate their efforts and reward them with little bits and pieces from my walks, the table and from contributions of friends and family.

I picked up the singular warm egg and lovingly carried it inside. I opened a can of NZ's iconic 'go-to' food ... a can of baked beans, and spooned enough to cover the bottom of a mini casserole dish ... I mean really small, here. I cracked the ... BACKTRACK! What on earth has this to do with 'art?' Patience, dear readers.

The baked beans are merely the base, the nest if you like, for my ONE egg. Once the egg was cuddled up to the baked beans, I sprinkled a little bit of pepper and then pricked the egg yolk. There is a reason for the action just described. I crowned the egg and beans ... yes, a somewhat simple breakfast ... with a piece of plastic-wrapped-processed cheese. I know ... my standards are slipping, but hey ... I like my rustic breakfasts.

I placed the lid on the dish put it in the microwave. Now, you know the reason for pricking the egg. Well, maybe you don't. The art is about to be revealed, expressed in a dramatic manner. Some of you will be way ahead by now. Shush ... don't spoil the punchline!

I set the microwave on about 50% and gave it three minutes. I checked it after the allotted time came to an end. The egg was still opaque and need another minute. I took off the lid and pushed the 'quick start' button.

At this point, Perdy, my often described and quite famous Jack Russell, started an almighty, but very common manic barking. She usually ensconces herself on the top of the couch facing the window looking out on the main road. She regularly informs me of the 'goings on and passing by' of traffic; foot, wheeled and other mediums. If a dog wanders past with its mum or dad, all hell usually breaks loose. This time, her barking was at a level that the entire neighbourhood would be aware that something as dramatic as Moses alighting from the Arc ... yes, I know he didn't, but imagine if he did?!

So, Perdy was rewriting the Old Testament and more to the point ... I was distracted. I returned to reality when there was a BANG ... yes, an explosion. It was not originating from Perdy's imagined imagery of the 'view from the couch.' No ... it was from the kitchen.

I wobbled down the corridor and quickly turned off the microwave. Those of you who already guessed the scene that confronted me will be amassing a range of viewpoints. The word ..STUPID ... probably features, Others will be keen to have my report on the 'art-work.'

Pretty would be somewhat lacking and possibly inaccurate, but who am I to assume how you see creativity? I tentatively opened the microwave door. STUFF was overflowing, splattered in a yellow concoction, mixed with white and red ... on the door, the top, the side, bottom, beneath the tray. It was incredible. Eat your heart out DaVinci et al! Food art, micro-art ... cal it what you wish. Ugly? Only if you are the person doing the scraping, rinsing of countless paper towels. I suppose some of you would see the artistic side.

Did I have breakfast? Of course I did! There was a residual portion of the mixture in the dish. My breakfast was tiny, but the cleaning efforts, resulting in a pristine microwave, finished with a cup of lemon-infused water, steaming in the oven to remove those stubbon bits that refused to leave, still went ahead.

My experience with the exploding egg is only about the third time in my lengthening life that I have had an 'egg-full' artistic experience.' Hindsight is a wonderful stance. I could have stuck the arty microwave on the floor, opened the door and let THE PERDY in to lick it all clean! But no ... many paper-towels later and a cup of lemon-infused water, steaming away for three minutes helped to return the microwave to its pristine condition.

Time for my walk, methinks. Come on Perdy!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dear Mr Putin ... it's about 'Russian Roulette!'

Kia ora, Mr Putin ... I am asking in a most respectful, something quite difficult for me to do, a special favour. I was going to ask President Trump, but sadly, he is incapable of writing a letter never-lone reading one. So ... it really is up to you to come to my aid!

Now ... the issue. I have an unusually active life form living with me. This 'person' for want of a better word, has a very high energy level, demanding constant activity and 'stimulation.' Thankfully, her needs do not extend to jewellery, 'high-end clothing or top-of-the-range Teslas. No ... she is quite content as long as I do not insist on keeping her permanently 'leashed.' She loves her freedom, and let's face it ... we are both better if she is well exercised. She places fewer demands upon me!

Today began as most days do. She woke me with a lick, after performing some of her usual morning tasks ... in the bed. Yes, she likes to wash, before arising. Being an accommodating sort of guy, I give in and do not challenge these slightly 'alternate' behaviours. One has to give a little in order to keep the peace. I am sure, as ruler of one of the most powerful Kingdoms on earth, you understand such matters.
 So the morning was proceeding as per normal. I was about to make my first coffee for the day and being a cold morning (That's relative, of course, in Thames, New Zealand. Cold here is a morning where the temperature is nudging 3C, not the minus 20c, you are used to!) I decided to keep the fire going. We have some dry firewood stacked by the front door, where it is easily accessible, should the box of wood beside the fire run out.

I made sure that my 'girl,' who had not completed her morning rituals, was safely inside She loves to run outside, naked, onto the road. It's in her blood. Perhaps she has a few Gypsy genes ... who knows! So I take precautions. I always make sure that I know her whereabouts if I open the front door to access the woodpile. I looked to my left (being a good Socialist!) then to my right. My girl KNOWS me so well. She darted left when I looked right and was off in a flash.

I saw this blur of whiteness (yes she is predominantly a blond) as she 'streaked' towards and then along the road. Of course, the traffic swerved to avoid her or was it so they could get a better look. She is, after all, quite a sight, first thing in the morning.

Here we go, I thought. I hope my Afibrulation doesn't kick in. That's all I needed. I yelled ... no ... pleaded for her to return to the fold. No way. She wanted to play Russian Roulette with the cars, trucks and other traffic. Yes, the traffic slowed down. They could see my predicament, and for the most part, were well acquainted with the rules of Russian Roulette. They seemed to understand that 'my girl was just 'doing her thing.'

It's at times like these, that I take a view of life where one just has to accept that some people need to be left to do their thing and trust that fate does not intervene in a tragic manner, but at some stage, after the driving force has run for a while, there is a need to take a firm hand and reign in such exuberant behaviours ... for the good of the person.

This may sound  like it is from the barnyard, but I had the help of someone else who loved this 'girl,' and together we managed to corral her in a neighbour's front yard, then when she was about to once again 'pull the trigger' in her 'Roulette,' we grabbed her and returned home, with the toots of cars and drivers, resounding in our ears.

Being the leader of a vast nation, with a long history: you have given us music, art Stalin and of course ... vodka ... perhaps you can suggest a way in which one can easily CATCH A JACK RUSSELL when she insists on playing Russian Roulette. There is no point in asking President Trump because he is way too busy with his own endless dramas!

I eagerly await your response.

PS:  My girl's name is Perdy. Here is a picture of her.

And another ... a more innocent one!

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!

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.

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!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A cure for all 'ills.'

Last night was a difficult one. Yes ... I was visited by my nasty AFIB 'friend.' Who needs friends who make sleep difficult and send your mood to places you'd rather not go?!
    I tried some of the 'strategies,' I had read about on Google: Breathing, visualizing, bearing down,' and drinking a glass of icy water; none of them seemed to make any difference. AFIB was here for a long visit. At least it never got to the point where ambulances or visiting A&E were needed, but it resulted in me needing to sleep in, wasting the day and delaying Perdy's walk. I managed to feed the chooks and the neighbour's ducks, but then it was back to rest. That's the way things go when AFIB visits.
     About 11am, I felt ready to face the world. I called Perdy, stuck her leash on, whilst she jumped about, excited to be finally heading out. "We're only going for about ten minutes, girl," I said. "We can go again this afternoon."
    Ten minutes is never a 'target' on my walks with the girl. Time is a relative quality, to be extended, moulded and adapted to fit one's mood and circumstances. Circumstances feel simpler and the ebb and flow measured in natural opportunity.
    We met people: three individuals and couples. The first was Edward (Names changed for all encounters) I had met Edward on several of my walks. Last time, it was at the far entrance to the retirement village. He was sitting on his walker, watching the traffic. Sometimes he moves to the other end of the village, closer to my home. He loves to say, "You met my twin last week."
    I got in first this time. "Hey ... had a good chat with your twin last time. How is he today?" He laughed. It wasn't long before we were talking about the 'old days.' He told me of the 'war-time rationing,' when sugar, meat and other essentials had to be strictly eked out. He knew that NZ sent a great deal of food the 'Old Country.' I told him that even here, on the farm in Taranaki, my parent farmers had to abide by NZ's rationing ... "so we could feed you lot," I added. We parted, and I'm sure he was making his way to the other gate, to surprise me with his 'twin.' He didn't realize that I was going the other way. Edward is at least 90!
    Perdy pulled me towards the beach. The tide was in, dancing on the sand, trying to breach the defences, but without a storm or a Full-moon, failure was on the cards. Perdy sniffed her way along the beach, unearthing 'stuff' with no name and snapping at the occasional insect. I sat for a while on a log, that if I had the strength and a means to transport, would grace my front yard, adorned with various succulents and other flotsam.
    As we left the sand and started walking along the path, a couple approached us. "Perdy!" the lady called. It was the lady Perdy had rescued when she fell about a year ago, alerting me to the fact that she had disappeared over the sea wall. A beautiful reunion and a long chat followed. We solved a few national and local issues, all in the space of about ten minutes My 'short' walk was stretching further than a frayed rubber band.
    Just before we left the pathway in front of the retirement village, we came upon a guy fishing. he was about my age. Of course, I sauntered over. I was curious to see if he had caught anything. I was thinking of finally having a go, to collect some fat Kahawai to smoke and to feed to my chooks. He too was from Auckland, travelling back a few days a week. He was also the proud daddy of a Jack Russell. We chatted about the recent floods. It seemed he had been badly hit, but the experience did nothing to change his mind about living in our 'nature-challenged' slice of Paradise. We will have a go at fishing together soon.
    I need to acknowledge Perdy's patience. She lets me chat, sitting watching, yes, even listening. We arrived home about an hour and a bit after leaving. I had found a way to alleviate the worst of the AFIB. Yes ... I'm alive and well, and if AFIB wants to visit ... I have my walks and talks ... my TWALKS!'

Friday, April 20, 2018

A snake in the grass.

LIFE is not always a walk in the park. Often the light teases, tricks and distorts from reality. The pathway that seems straight usually has a few subtle bends, leading us in directions not intended. Before we realize, we are off in new directions, beginning in questions, ending in places unintended.
    A slight turn to the left ... or right, may be the difference between experiencing a fulfilling day, and another resulting in bedlam, bad choices and sadness. It is the power of choice that determines the outcome. It is the gift of choice that either takes away or adds to our lives, in ways not expected.

    Our thoughts inform and play with the future. Our decisions and choices are fed by our perception or what we feel, see, hear, smell and fear. Joy is the culmination of ... everything ... that has been ... or could be.

    Take care on that pathway, my friends: The are many shades of truth, whether they be yours or those of someone else.

    Much love:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stairway to Heaven.

ANOTHER pothole reminded us that small cars should slow down on metal roads. Hell ... I was crawling along and if I slowed down anymore, I'd be going backwards.
    'Where's the sign? ' I said to my mate. 'The APP said the pathway is by the bridge ... oh, there's the carpark.'
    I pulled off the road. 'Car park,' was pushing it. There was barely room for my car and the car that was already there. Perdy, our ebullient Jack Russell was busting to get out of the car. Her whimpering hadn't stopped since we turned down the side-road. I attached her lead and she jumped out, trying to haul me towards the bush. She wanted off, but that was a no-go. Dogs, particularly Jack Russells are not welcome in the bush ... for good reason. 'There be critters ... endangered ones,  them there hills, girl.'
    Out of nowhere, a couple appeared. They approached. Perdy pulled me in their direction. 'Hi ... did you just come from the tree ... the Square Kauri?'
    The lady answered with an English accent, one very familiar to me. A friend up the road in Tararu spoke in exactly the same variant. 'Yes ... the steps are steep but well built.'
    'But where's the track?'

    'Just past the bridge. It's well worth the short tramp,' she replied, looking at me like she doubted my ability to manage the steps. The birdsong is beautiful too.'
    We chatted for a few minutes, then after they left, we headed towards the hidden track. I had an immediate sense that we were entering another world. The trees and ferns enclosed us, dripping their moisture on exposed skin, dropping the temperature a few degrees and casting an eerie light on the narrow pathway. A distant Tui called to us, interrupted by a more raucous call from an unidentified source. A large drop found its way down the back of my neck causing me to shiver.
    We continued, Perdy leading the way, stopping every few seconds to sniff out unseen life-forms and to leave her 'special 'mark. About ten metres into the bush, the stairs appeared. They were well built, with metal stones filling the step-line, but a lack of handrails made for a somewhat precarious journey, given that  I was being pulled, released and pulled again by a Jack Russell that understood nothing of a steady pressure and a gentle walk.
     'Jeeze, how many steps are there?' I asked, after a few seconds. I turned around. Where was my mate? Wispy tendrils of mist swirled from the canopy of ferns framing the path. My mate appeared, camera in hand. He had been taking pictures of fungi. 'Go ahead ... I'm still feeling car sick, from your driving,' he said accusingly.
    I ignored the barb and continued up the next flight of steps, puffing and hoping that the tree was up ahead. We had seen it standing majestically in the bush, from the road, but the path wound its way in a manner that made me feel like it didn't want us to encroach on its special world. I took a few more steps. I seemed to be stopping every ten steps or so. 'Bugger ... I hate steps,' I muttered to the ferns. One slapped my face, punishing me for my trash-talk.
    Something unnerved me. The bords had gone silent. I heard a rustling sound. So did Prdy. She pulled to the left of the path. I yanked her back. 'I ain't chasing you, girl. You get lost here and I'll have more than the Doc officers pissed off.'
    I carried on, trying to ignore the growing feeling. Looking up, I noticed the patterns formed by the canopy. I heard a heavy flapping sound and a dark shadow passed overhead. Must be a Kereru, I thought, but a bloody big one, I took a few more steps. I was down to five at a time now, before taking a breath. Yet another steep section presented itself. 'Damn ... that tree better be worth it.'
    I looked back. I couldn't see my mate. I felt very alone. Jack Russells don't count. 'Just a bit further.'
    Perdy started barking as the shadow passed overhead. It let out a cry ... a  guttural visceral screech like nothing I had heard before. I considered turning back, to find my mate. I could just about hear him saying that we were in Jurassic Park. 'Nah ... we're nearly there.'
    The steps stopped and we reached a flat section of the boardwalk, this one with railings. A view openned up, revealing distant hills covered in bush, some towering above the tree-ferns and smaller trees. Perdy tried to speed up, dragging me forwards ... to a sight that suggested a past long gone. A square Kauri tree, huge, timeless. I stood, transfixed by a vision. History teaches us that human greed is the main ingredient in our story. Even Perdy knew that we were in a special place. We just stood looking, until my mate came, camera in hand and look of disbelief at the heavenly life-form at the end of the boardwalk.
    The sun broke through the mist and the birds sang again.


Who let the ducks out?!

Life in the 'small smoke' is not without excitement. When you add 'semi-retirement' to the mix, it should not be assumed that life follows a certain pathway, bereft of anything that absolutely challenges.
    Today started like most days ... the usual morning stuff, before taking the four-legged beast for her walk. I fed the Jack Russell, made sure the chooks had their feed and water and collected any early morning eggs because one of them seems to like eating one a day. I have yet to find out which one!
    After breakfast, I decided to process the rhubarb and apples I had left in the slow-cooker all night. My intention was to put the sloppy mix into little bags and freeze them. I had cooked them with home-grown Stevia, to avoid issues with too much sugar in my diet. As I was pouring the mix into the bags, my cell phone rang. The caller was my neighbour, one removed.
    "Neil ... one of the ducks is wandering around Robert Street."
    OK ... the near neighbour was out. "Bring some food," she said.
    I grabbed some Vogel's Bread and walked around to the street. There she was, standing looking at another house. My neighbour appeared with a net on a stick. 'Ah ... that should do it," I said.
    I threw some bread on the ground in the hope that ducky would stay still long enough for us to enclose her/him. Ducky poked at the bread and then discarded it. The bread was obviously way too healthy.
    "This is going to be a bit of a problem," I offered, as Ducky waddled off. We employed our very best rural skills, herding Ducky towards the driveway at the back of our houses. She seemed quite content to let us follow her. We had difficulty getting her to stop long enough to ensnare in the net. Each time one of us got close enough, Ducky employed a burst of wing-flapping speed. You see, she/he has had one wing clipped ... we thought. At least we had Ducky off the road, so there was little risk of 'duck-splatter!'
    My neighbour managed to get in front of Ducky and opened a gate at the back of Ducky's section. Surely, we had solved the problem. NOPE! Ducky took off. Yes ... she flew, above shoulder height and I fell over in a most undignified manner. I almost swore, but the presence of a nice lady, prevented any untoward utterences. Hell ... I thought them, though!
    I got up and we continued to herd Ducky towards the gate. We quickly learned that any fast move would work against our ultimate ain. I thought we mirrored the actions of a dog trial. We hardly moved, spread our arms and ... viola! ... Ducky waddled back into the yard.
    We followed her, where she joined her duck family and ate the food I chucked on the ground.
'These ducks may have had their wings clipped ... but when?" I asked. "If they can fly that high, then I'm a bit worried that they may fly to my yard. You know who is awaiting there ... a crazy rat-hunting, add in Ducks ... little hunter."
    Yes, Perdy is well aware of the ducks next door. She is ready to help, but the results may not be quite the one I or Ducky could live with ... or maybe she just wants to make friends!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The 'bowl story.'

"I have seen much, heard more and I show a few chips. Life has taught me to be resilient, shown me much. Sure, I no longer look like the day I emerged from the kiln, back in the 1950's, in New Lynn. I was part of a gift, a member of a set ... my family.
I watched my new family grow. I observed their lives, as they grew. I saw their tears when sadness or anger ruled. I watched them laugh, play and yes, disagree with one another. 
Sometimes they took me on picnics or gatherings of other families. I saw a mountain, rivers, lakes and black-sand beaches. I heard laughter, as little ones hopped on one foot, then the other as the sand made it's sun-heated warmth just a little too much. I watched the children fall asleep, finally giving my human parents a break from the constant noises of youth.
I cried when I was taken from the green fields of Taranaki, away from my Maunga, the snow-capped perfect peak that is Taranaki/Egmont. I was bound for the city of my birth ... Auckland.
My life became no less hectic. The children grew and some moved away. Still, I was a crucible for the same old and tried foods: Mashed potatoes, puddings, fruit salad; nothing unusual ... just nourishing basic fare.
I travelled to Hastings, Hamilton and twice back to New Plymouth. Then, I was given to the fourth child. My brothers and sisters from the set had died, broken and discarded. I SURVIVED, with a little discolouration and a chip.
I became the focus of experimentation, new foods, weird and exotic: Spices, herbs and dinner parties. Wine stood by my side along with the laughter and tears of those around me. My new owner never left me for long in the cupboards. There was always something new to hold and give to new friends. I survived several moves.
Now ... I live in Thames. I live a quieter life. I am often licked by a hungry Jack Russell, who loves to clean me before I swim in the sink. Whilst other dishes in the cupboard crack and are discarded, my owner keeps me, chip and all. I am part of a smaller family. I shall not be cast away. I am Crown Lynn. My story goes on ... and on ...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Story Time. Believe it ... or NOT!

 A ‘dogs tail.’
   “Stop pulling, Perdy! Damn … I can’t see where we’re going.”
    Cheeky birdsong faded as we pushed deeper into the mine, a cloistered shaft full of faded dreams and songs sung by the dead and desperate. Maybe they were laughing at me, presuming that I too desired the wealth of times gone.
    I stumbled as my foot hit a rock, sitting dead-centre in the narrowing tunnel. ‘Bugger … that hurt!”
    Perdy looked at me, her eyes barely visible in the diminishing light. My torch held precariously in one hand, and the leash in the other, flickered, casting dancing shadows on the walls.
    I shuddered. Should I turn back? “Nothing broken, girl. Kinda creepy in here though.”
    Perdy’s tail was hiding between her hind-legs, a sure sign that she wasn’t happy. Her little face was transfixed on something just beyond the reach of the weak torch-light. She sat, refusing to move.
    “Come on … I want to get to the end. There’s nothing to be worried about.”
    Perdy started growling … that low ‘big-dog’ sound she employs when she’s made up her mind that I need to reconsider my plans. Then I felt it. A cloying smell, drifting from the interior of the tunnel … and an eerie half-light, dancing, reflecting off the quartz-studded walls.
    A large rock fell from the low roof of the tunnel, causing me to jump back. I banged my head on the wall. The odour intensified, while the light began to diminish. My heart almost synchronized with the flicker.
    Perdy made the decision to start pulling me … back towards the entrance. I followed, casting my eyes back. The birdsong was gone when we tumbled out of the tunnel.

    “How about a beach-walk, next time, girl! Maybe
the beach can tell us some stories, eh.”