Monthly Archives: February 2012

Owls do cry in my urban environment

Sunday night was one of the first crystal-clear, cloudless nights we have had in a long time this summer. While it was cool outdoors there was no wind and the suburb quietens earlier on a Sunday night as people prepare for the week of work ahead.

I needed to go in search of our cat who was also enjoying this special night outside. As I left the house I could hear the welcome calling of our little native owl, Ruru or perhaps more commonly known as the Morepork owl.

Source: doc.govt.nz

The name “morepork” was given to it by European settlers who rightly thought its call sounded like “more pork”, “more pork”. Maori described its call as “Ru, ru.”

Hearing the cry of New Zealand’s only remaining native owl reminds me of my childhood. Summer holidays at beaches that were once remote spots would mean I would often fall asleep listening to the call of this small, sharp eyed, sharp eared owl.

It is special to hear it in such a busy urban environment but once again it is testament to all the effort that has gone into predator control, the establishment of nearby wildlife sanctuaries and the retention of large stands of trees. I hope we hear more owls calling in the night.

Cicada beats

A fellow blogger at Ruth’s reflections was wondering what triggers the sudden appearance of our noisy, New Zealand summer companions, the cicada. It seems that the cicadas in Christchurch had come out en masse about the same time I noticed an upsurge in numbers here in Porirua. They are late this year but in the past two or three weeks the air has been crackling with the songs of the males.

I did a little investigating and found that soil temperatures around 22C certainly spur on their growth but the interesting information that captured my imagination was this piece:

“Maori and native Americans share an interesting link with cicadas.
Both identify the insects with the Dog Star, Sirius, which is at meridian in the summer sky when the nymphs emerge.
While many people do not realise that New Zealand has more than one type of cicada, Maori recognised 12 types based on their song and identified their arrival with the Dog Star, named Rehua after a forest deity. Cicadas are considered to be his protégés.
Various native American tribes have names for the insects that can be translated as Dog Star cicadas.”
Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=174350

Is there a star gazer out there who can tell me when Sirius appeared in the sky above New Zealand this year….perhaps the powerful light of a star is the tipping point for masses of cicadas to emerge from the ground and begin their short but noisy lives?

Shakespeare at the beach

Some time ago there was a local newspaper article about Russell Plume, a local Plimmerton resident and former geologist who was picking up pieces of brick off the coast near Plimmerton beach.

He gradually collected a lot of bricks. Some were whole and others simply odd shapes and pieces. All had been weathered by the sea or by the streams and it was thought that they were washing up from an old quarry.

A friend commented that he had enough to spell out the works of Shakespeare and this spurred Russell on to producing 9 panels of quotes from Shakespeare using the bricks just as he found them. None have been altered in any way.

Here is one I captured yesterday on a sea wall at Plimmerton Beach. My timing was not in tune with the tides yesterday which meant I could not walk along and take photos of the other panels. I will do that another day.

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The linked article gives you more details but I also hope the panel he made as a gift for Christchurch will reach that destination and bring hope to its residents.

“What is the city but the people” (from Coriolanus), is a fitting quote.

That old tease, the sun

We seem to have been shrouded in clouds here for so many days this month. A month in which we should be experiencing sunny, summer weather.

Currently the sun often shows itself with great beauty as it sets. The sky last night was very dramatic.

And today, later in the afternoon, there was clear blue sky a way off to sea towards the northwest. But no sun has shone down on us at all despite the tempting teases.

Perhaps tomorrow…….

Industrious neighbours

I live next to two very industrious neighbours. Both men are semi-retired and are skilful with hammers (except they use nail guns nowadays) and constructing things.

Just in the past two weeks one has reclad the lower section of his two-storey house where old timber was rotting and the other has erected a glass house (except nowadays plastic is used in lieu of glass) and built a made to measure garden shed.

Both men installed windows which looks to be tricky work and both worked from early morning until late afternoon in order to complete their projects.

Life is not a competition so I have stood by and admired their skills and the results of their hard work. But I thought I would show you some of the ways in which I have been industrious these past few weeks.

I have made 6 full length aprons – two were “man aprons” and four were for women. I also made a pre-school sized apron for our grandson so that he would match Daddy and be able to wear his apron when he helps Daddy cook.

Woman's full length apron

Woman’s full length apron

I’ve made a strong tote to carry our singing folders in and I am busy making some light- weight pyjamas for our grandson in an electric guitar print. He is crazy about music and his Daddy plays “big guitars”.

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On the knitting front I have been busy knitting these wee tunics for our new granddaughter and wrestling with crochet flower embellishments and I am also using yummy soft, non-prickly alpaca yarn to knit a hoodie for our grandson for the colder weather ahead.

Alpaca hoodie on the needles

Alpaca hoodie on the needles

I suspect there has been productive hum emanating from our little patch on the earth

Hieroglyphics at home

Yesterday I heard strange beeping noises, followed closely by the sound of a spray can. Now normally my neighbourhood is pretty quiet at 9.30am on a Friday and we are fortunate that spray cans are not widely used for graffiti purposes.

However hieroglyphic graffiti had appeared on the grass, the footpath and the road. There was an official looking chap wielding the spray can and sporting high viz safety gear (I’m not sure why he needed a hard hat because the only thing that could fall on him was the sky!).

Being a “concerned citizen” and having had problems with people digging up the ground and disrupting our water supply in the past because of its unlikely location, I headed out to quiz this chap.

It seems that we are to have fibre optic cables laid outside our property as part of the nationwide high speed fibre optic initiative and he was there with his special gizmo to establish the whereabouts of the underground electricity cables. When the gizmo located its target it would emit beeping noises and the chap would mark out his findings.

So here are the patterns near my house. I wonder if there will be more such hieroglyphics added soon as other gizmos search out and locate sewage pipes, waste water, water supply, telephone, gas and long redundant cable television connections. There is lot going on underground here and adding yet another cable sounds pretty tricky.
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