Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Winter Weekend

The last few days have been spent looking at motorbikes, as Mac wants to upgrade. I had to go along too, so that we could see what each bike was like when carrying a pillion passenger - even though my enthusiasm is considerably less than his. It turned out that this bike hunting led to a really enjoyable weekend.

On Saturday we looked at a bike in Morrinsville. Prior to buying his current bike, we made a trip to Auckland, and when we stopped in a mall somewhere on the other side of the harbour bridge, I ended up buying some boots in a sale. So when we stopped in the main street of Morrinsville, right outside a shoe shop having a 40% off sale, it seemed like there was a tradition, or perhaps a ritual, to follow, and I bought another pair of boots!

Afterwards we visited our friends Eileen and Colin for a cuppa and a chat. Always good to spend time with one of my oldest friends.

On Sunday Mac wanted to look at another bike in Franklin. I wasn't going to go but hadn't been to Port Waikato for years. The drive up through  Naike and Tuakau to Waiuku was glorious.It had been raining and was still slightly misty but the sun shone through, and every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, sparkled, turning the countryside into a magical fairy land. The sun, the sight of new lambs, and the flocks of turkeys spreading their tail feathers wide and turning slowly in mating displays all signaled 'spring is coming'!

After looking at the bike, we had lunch at Tuakau, then crossed back over the Tuakau bridge to head for Port Waikato.

This area always brings back memories, for Mac, of the summer following School Certificate (Year 11) when he and his friend adventured from Hamilton to Port Waikato in a dinghy with a small outboard motor, camping on the edge of the river at nights.

Port Waikato is typical kiwi batch town, complete with old tractors used for taking boats down to the ramp for launching.

At Port Waikato the rain smashed down and the wind rocked our car as we watched the huge seas. The rain stopped for a few minutes and once I managed to force the door open and get out, the air was wonderful. I do so love our wild west coast beaches. As at Raglan, the seas are eating into the land - this car park area is now fenced off as half of in has broken away and fallen into the sea.

Heading home, we went down through the back country on the Port Waikato - Waikaretu Road. It is how I think of farm country: there is a sense of wildness, of hard work, isolation, and I love the feeling of returning to childhood journeys to visit relatives out the back of Ohura, Whanganui, and the East Cape and Gisborne.

I love the rock formations which give such character to the area.

Too many photos of rocks? Never! I love them!

Even the valleys are pretty rugged, the stream edges cut down into the ground, and the cabbage trees dragged inland by the wind.

An abandoned tractor and trailer disappears under the kikuyu grass.

Out here they still have the 'mail' boxes we had when I was growing up in the country. We had our groceries, bread, meat, chook food, everything we needed, delivered by the same vehicle that brought the mail, so a large box was required - almost a small shed, really.

This dilapidated shed had some kind of machinery rusting away inside - an old sawmill perhaps.

Eventually we came to the 'Nikau Cave and Cafe' and stopped for coffee. We did not feel inclined, now or ever, to visit the caves which involved making your way along a stream bed and crawling through narrow places, but the cafe was lovely, and had a little art gallery upstairs.

Further along the road there was a stretch of road lined with trees with lichen dangling from their branches like a scary forest scene in a fantasy story.

And then there were the flock of about 50 cockatoos - most flew off screaming angrily as I got out of the car to take photos.

 Signs warned 'No Trespassers - No Hunting' but we saw so many wild goats that the bush must be under serious threat.

Then around another corner and Mt Karioi welcomed us home.

Home: where Mac lit the fire, while I made vegetable soup for dinner, and sliced up grapefruit and lemons to soak ready to make marmalade tomorrow. Not a dramatically exciting weekend, but interesting, peaceful and somehow very satisfying.

Friday, July 22, 2016

There Are Quietly Good Days

It seems like I have spent the last few months obsessing about my miseries - diabetes, depression, and other emotional issues, and although I enjoyed our holiday in Nelson and Golden Bay, these things have been my focus. To remind myself of how those things are not the totality of my existence, I decided to write a 'what I did today' blog. So often the ordinary good gets forgotten in the midst of the misery.

After a broken night's sleep, I got up late and breakfasted on blueberries (picked by me at Blueberry Country in summer), homemade sprouted and dried buckwheat, sunflower seed, almond, coconut cereal, homemade probiotic yogurt, raw cacao powder and cinnamon: satisfying to eat homemade food. Plus a glass of doctor-prescribed protein powder mixed with probiotic yogurt.

Food has become part of my ill-health / health obsession, but it feels good to make the food that is helping me heal. Lunch was a large salad of mixed greens, seeds, dried tomatoes, olives, gifted beetroot, homegrown bean and seed sprouts, homemade sauerkraut, and cheese. Dinner has become a small meal here, so tonight it is homeproduced eggs on Venerdi SuperSeeded Paleo bread.

The usual morning round of feeding and watering the cat, dog, ducks and chooks resulted in 7 eggs. The chooks are coming back on lay and soon I'll be looking for new customers to buy them, now that Mac isn't working at the council regularly any more.
I was going to help Mac with firewood, but while feeding the ducks, I noticed that my garlic and shallots were lying all over the mulch, pulled out by marauding pukeko! The fierce winds had ripped down some of the windbreak, allowing the wretched birds in. Just as a toddler will try every identical biscuit on the plate, discarding each after one bite because they don't like that kind, so the pukeko had pulled each bulb out, pecked a bit, and thrown the disliked plant away. So once again I planted and mulched them, hoping they will survive, and mended the windbreak fence.

Next it was time to get back to helping Mac by 'stacking' the wood he had chainsawed up. (Stacking = chucking in a heap in the old water tank he converted into a woodshed.) After lunch we headed down to the pinenut tree which broke in half and landed on the boundary fence in the big storm. It's the first year the tree had produced cones but the tree was dropped before the cones developed, which is very disappointing. However, there is quite a lot of wood to fuel our fire next year - and quite a lot of work to do still! We have cleared the fence though, and it only needs 4 new batons to fix it.

At the end of this day, I am tired and have a sore back (a soak in a bath with epsom salt helped), a basketful of forgotten wet washing, and a pleasant sense of satisfaction and of being in my right place in this world.