Monthly Archives: March 2012

Enjoy the moment, cease the rush

I am having an “at home” day today with a list of chores to attend to. It is so easy to let my busy “monkey mind” take control and push me along to “get on” with things.

But then a useful check to all this happened as I was having a cup of coffee and answering emails. Jazz, our cat, came inside and promptly claimed my knee. It would have been easy to move him on as my mind was reminding me of the next chore but I chose to sit quietly with him and to enjoy his purring and relaxation on my knee.
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Research shows that patting a cat reduces blood pressure and has other wonderfully calming effects on we “busy” humans. I decided all that was worth capturing and maybe cats get great benefits from human love and attention. Who knows?

In true cat style he suddenly decided to move onto a chair next to me. He groomed a little and then curled up to sleep.

But moments had been enjoyed and the “rush” slowed

Earthshine, moonlight, stars and planets

We have been enjoying some warm, clear Indian summer days this week and with it has come clear nights. This past summer has been one of cloud, cloud and more cloud so viewing the night sky has not been an option.

The nights are drawing in here and daylight saving finishes this weekend so pulling the curtains is happening earlier. As I have been shutting the curtains I look into the western sky and I have spotted the crescent moon and with it two very bright objects.
I’ve checked and they are the planets Venus and Jupiter. The latter is fading fast and last night was not as shiny as it had been earlier in the week.

Jupiter from Voyager 1

When we came home from singing on Tuesday night I was able to gaze up at the sky at 9pm and see the familiar Southern Cross and all the other stars of our Milky Way. It is a comforting sight.

A fellow blogger Jo posted a very interesting piece earlier this week about Earthshine and that piqued my curiosity. The new moon has had this phenomenon occurring in our sky too this week and I have learnt a new word. Sunshine, moonlight, starlight are all old familiar terms but “Earthshine” has an enchanting ring to it.

Here is what Jo wrote about Earthshine and I would encourage you all to pop on over to her online magazine The Hazel Tree and read the interesting posts she writes as well we viewing the stunning photos she and her family take on their patch of earth.

“Earthshine is the faintly illuminated ‘dark’ part of the Moon, which is not lit directly by sunlight. Instead, it’s lit by reflected sunlight from the Earth.
The best time to observe Earthshine is when the Moon is a thin crescent, either while it’s new in the evening, or an old waning Moon at sunrise. For some reason that isn’t yet properly understood, it is much more noticeable during the months of April and May.
The phenomenon was first explained by Leonardo da Vinci in the first decade of the 16th century. Cloud cover on the Earth reflects more sunlight than land or sea, although snow and ice reflect up to 90% of sunlight back into space.
Earthshine is also known as ‘the Moon’s ashen glow’ or ‘the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms’.”

Frenzied feeding on a foggy day

It is not often that we experience foggy weather here. Mostly this is because I live in a part of New Zealand that is very famous for its windy climate. But today we awoke to a muffled day of thick fog and low cloud.

I wanted to capture a photo of this foggy day down by one of our lakes. The birdlife was hopeful that I might have bread to feed them but I didn’t today.

Fortunately for the birds a grandfather and his wee granddaughter did have a bag of bread to share in that time honoured tradition of “feeding the ducks”.

A feeding frenzy began with the 4 resident geese leading the charge. The sea gulls skirmished with the ducks and the two pukekos sprinted over to join in the melee. It was chaotic with squawks, honks, and quacks.

The wee one sat wide-eyed but quiet as she ate the piece of bread her grandfather had given her to toss to the starving wildlife!

It was fun to watch and enjoy in the misty, foggy rain.

The magic of rain drops

I love going to sleep at night with the sound of rain falling on the roof. It goes back to my childhood when safe and sound in a warm dry house and snuggled up in a warm comfortable bed the beat of drops soothed me off to sleep.

We’ve had really stormy weather these past 4 days and the wind has howled and buffeted at us. There had been some rain but mostly it was skiffy, drizzly stuff which did not penetrate the dry soil and any moisture was quickly sucked out by the gales.

So last night’s steady rain was a welcome sound. It means I don’t have to water my plants today and I know they will have had a good soaking.

But I caught sight of some other magic rain drops as I went out to hang out some washing this morning. The sun was glinting off the big fat round rain drops that had caught on this lacy leaf down amongst the other leaves that had blown into this spot on the path. The intense sparkling was eye catching and reminded me that there are always gems to be found in nature and in life, despite storms and crazy happenings.

Technically it is road

When we looked to purchase this home over 20 years ago, our lawyer alerted us to the fact that on one boundary there was strip of city council reserve land.

The city council maintained the reserve and someone had planted a selection of native trees on it. Contract changes some 10 years ago saw this maintenance cease and the grass grew to knee high length despite my repeated calls to the council. Their argument was that it was our problem.

Luckily a neighbour knew an official in the council and rang this chap on our behalf. This resulted in a couple of managers coming to view the reserve to determine who owned it and who was responsible for it.

To our surprise one of the managers was the head of the Roading department and he quickly put things to right by announcing that it is technically “road” and the council’s responsibility.

When the road had been marked out on the original plans it was to be a cul-de-sac and there was to be a bus turning area which had quickly become the reserve once the road was extended further up the hill.

Whoever planted the native trees chose two Golden Totara, a Kowhai, a Kauri, a Karaka, some Taupatas and a Kahikatea. They were all planted with a lot of space between them.

Several Kauri have failed despite our care and concern but this one is looking happier.

The Golden Totara need to be trimmed to maintain visibility on the intersection.

The Kowhai is looking aged and gnarly but survives and flowers well.

Kowhai

The Karaka has fruited heavily this year but lacks any vigour and height and the Kahitakea is thriving. It is gaining height (it is now taller than our two storey house) it is a lovely shape and now has an epiphyte clinging to it as it would in the bush.

Kahikatea

Epiphyte on Kahikatea tree

The Taupatas are huge and need trimming at times. The tougher the conditions the better they like it. And they seed prolifically.

I wonder who decided way back in the 1970s that planting giant native trees on a section of “road” reserve in an urban area was a wise thing? I fear for the stately, beautiful Kahikatea as it can attain great height.

Likewise the Kauri, although they grow very slowly and struggle in our clay soils. Kauri like wet feet and being surrounded by other trees as they grow.

For now I really enjoy the little patch of native specimens on our boundary but I do worry about the future as they grow ever taller.
I hope something sustainable will be the plan for the future.

Maths problems

Do you remember those pesky “Problems” that we were given in school to apply mathematical concepts to apparently “real” problems or questions?

I remember trains leaving stations and traveling at different speeds and being asked about how long it would take for a particular train to make its journey to a certain destination. There were infuriating questions about filling baths and men digging holes.

My brain never ever “got” these problems in a way that provided any sort of correct mathematical answer. My brain liked to problem solve by thinking outside the box and coming up with answers that were not relevant to maths.

So if trains were proving maddening in terms of time and distance then my answer would have been “take the bus instead”. Likewise problems filling a bath – take a shower and as for men digging holes – well use a digger.

This photo shows a chap outside my house on Monday perhaps solving a maths problem but with my answer staring him in the face!

We have had fibre optic cable installed underground and hole digging has been a big part of that operation. I watched this chap busily dig for a bit and then the digger was used to make the hole as large as they needed. I suspect caution was required around hitting other underground services which meant manual labour was the best way to carefully check what lay beneath.

Oh and while I failed the solving of maths “Problems” my rather creative and lateral thinking brain has held me in good stead to solve many, many a real problem.

Sunset photos minutes apart

Last night I saw some really interesting cloud formations in the evening and took this photo.

Within minutes the light in the room changed dramatically and I took this photo – yes the same one I put on my earlier post today.

The contrast was incredible. I’ll be on watch tonight too. The cloud formations and sunsets this summer have been fascinating but puzzling. The sky has provided much to wonder over this summer and early autumn.