Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rose Time!

Oh how I love roses! This year's first rose is this sweet yellow climber - part of my English Rose collection, but its name is long lost. Could it be Teasing Georgia? I bought several roses at the same time about five years ago, and planted them in my old garden. I bought them here with me, and I am very glad I did, given the state of my former garden now. This lovely rose is just outside the dining room window, in the same garden bed as last year's winner, Kathryn Morley.
The good news is that I'm sure there's lots more room around here for more roses in my collection. This garden seems to be very encouraging and kind to my roses. The aphids are rather too welcoming, but I intend to have some strong words with them asap!
A little friend bought me a bunch of flowers from her grandmother's garden. Strangely, I gave another friend a bunch of flowers today, then received my own gift. I love giving bunches of my own flowers. In fact I'd love a cutting garden just for that purpose.
Look, the bearded iris' are coming out. My first yellow one is out, but I couldn't get through the thicket of rose bushes to take a photo. There are some spots in my garden (not many) that require a certain element of "suck it up and take the pain" when I want to weed. Some of my rose bushes are a unhappy about intruders in their territory.
I've had a couple of people say these are their favourite flowers in my garden at the moment. Ranunculas. Does anyone know if they have a pretty common name?
The Dutch iris' are spectacular. My favourite ones are the blues. I have clumps of mixed ones, and they go through a succession of colours- white, yellow then blue.
Blue is my favourite colour in the garden. These corydalis make me very happy. My lovely friend, Lulu, gave me another clump on Friday.
Not the best of photos, but the artichokes are tall and fabulous, surrounded by a rampant forest of flat-leafed parsley.

Today I had my ride. I'm a bit sad that I am now more frightened when riding my big boy. He didn't do anything alarming today, but Celine had to push me to challenge myself. I did work on cantering today, and did get some lovely transitions, but I had trouble getting him working for me today, and when he isn't paying attention, I worry about what he might do. I did have a lovely time, but I hate being frightened because it makes me feel weak, and reminds me of the anxiety disorder I have under control. On the very happy side, I spent some time grooming Jake. Poor Jake has a huge, ugly scar under his mane, and currently has a healing wound on his back leg, which is making progress, but is still covered in a large, protruding scab. He obviously has a less than happy past, but is a smoochy, cuddly big boy. He is an unpredictable ride, and will be going along nicely, then suddenly shoot backwards until he hits something. Alarming even for Celine. He is going to see the horsey chiropractor as the farrier thinks his hips are not aligned. Anyway, he and I had some lovely time together, and he enjoyed a good brush and stroke. He even let me do his hooves. I might make time to give him some extra attention when I visit.

The roses will be very happy with my huge bags of horse poo that I brought home today. There's plenty more where that came from.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Three Sisters

Today I planted a "Three Sisters" garden. Sorry no photo, as the light is going and I've just come inside. I went to the doctor this week and I have a diagnosis of a lumbar sprain. Ouch! The best medicine for my injury is to keep moving, so I've been doing the right thing trying to carry on. I've managed OK with bursts of increasing activity, interspersed by sedentary activities. Today I biked with Johnny for about five kms. I was ready to stop on the approach to home, but did better than I thought.

Anyway, back to "The Three Sisters" garden. In Native American traditional gardens, some tribes relied heavily on maize, beans and squash as the basis of their diets. These three vegetable friends (or sisters) can be planted together in a very clever way. Traditionally a mound was made and planted with a group of maize or corn. When this was about 15cm high, corn and squash were planted around the corn. The beans scrambled up the corn, feeding the soil with nitrogen, and the squash plants crept along the ground, limiting weed growth, and helping to shade the soil, keeping moisture in. Of course the Native Americans had some sweet legends about "The Three Sisters" explaining that although different, the sisters loved each other dearly, and worked together to the benefit of all.

To make my "Three Sisters" garden I used one of my small raised beds, popped two baby bear pumpkins in, planted the corn I grew earlier from seed, and surrounded these with assorted climbing bean seeds (some a bit out of date, so I'm crossing my fingers for action). Plenty of moisture, and some upcoming liquid feeds, and my "Three Sisters" garden is hopefully going to be a successful experiment. Actually, I've got a fourth sister, a rogue potato has come up in the raised bed as well, and I'm sure that shouldn't present too many problems.

I've got a riding lesson tomorrow, plus LOTS more gardening, and some more work on my bigger fabric collage. I'd better take some photos too!

Monday, October 24, 2011


We've had a fantastic weekend! Meg, Ryan and Henry came to stay. I love to spend time with my sister and her family and we made the most of our time together. Before they arrived, I spent the morning horsing. First I went to visit Southern Ben to spend some time grooming him and giving him a good scratch. He was so pleased, and I laughed so much at his facial expressions when I hit the good spots as I scratched him. He poked his top lip out and quivered it. I took Johnny Horse out to eat some grass too, as he is restricted to his loose box while his stifle fracture gets better. He was thrilled to be out, and while he was munching I found a four leafed clover, so I gave it to him to eat to help give him luck to get better.

After visiting Ben, I went and had my riding lesson. This week I had Erika as my coach for the first time, and she was fantastic. She took me through all of the things Celine usually does, and we worked hard on getting Sam into a good outline (body shape) and to ride around the dressage arena correctly. I got a big fright when he got spooked by a naughty horse in the jumping arena, and it took a bit of time for my heart to stop beating like mad. He is a drama queen and always makes the most of a fright. He shot forward with a huge scrabble and his head flailing. Anyway, I took a moment to walk around, then carried on. Erika was so sweet and called me a "good girl" several times, which was lovely considering I am at least 15 years older than her. Celine had Kate Cavanagh training two of her young horses in the jumping arena. Kate is another of Canterbury's top riders. She was really friendly.

It is great fun hanging out with our little nephew Henry. He is just two, and is chatty and busy, mostly super well behaved and really interested in everything. It was amazing to see how pleased he was to see us. Huge smiles. On Saturday we went shopping. I got a tunic with horses on it (yes, you can roll your eyes, everyone else did), a skirt and spotty leggings. Henry got some little cars to add to his collection, plus a bike helmet now he is a daring speedster on his trike. Johnny and Ryan both got sneakers, and poor Meg got nothing. We watched two movies, which resulted in my vivid imagination giving me nightmares.

On Sunday the weather was perfect, and as Henry loves animals, we visited Orana Park. His favourite animals were in the farmyard. He was running around everywhere. The adults loved the tigers, especially seeing one of them being fed. He had to jump up onto big upright logs to get his chunk of rather sinister looking hairy meat. The giraffes were divine, as always, but the huge line of families waiting to feed them caused us to walk on past. We had a great day. Then we watched the All Blacks battling with the French rugby team. Thank goodness we won! I was in bed as I was so tired, plus my nerves couldn't take the trauma of the second half. Yay for the All Blacks, world champions!!!!! It feels a bit like all New Zealanders are world champions.

It was so sad when the visitors left this morning. They left a little gift behind- Johnny is miserably coughing and sinking into a mire of misery with a cold. Thanks Henry. We still love you! Hope I don't catch it.

I did a bit of weeding today, but am incapacitated again by my riding injury. I've got pain in my hip, backside, and thigh when I weight bear, and the more moving and bending I do, the worse it gets. So I gave up on the moving and tried something new in my workroom. I am inspired by Bari J. Ackerman's fabric collage techniques, so had a little go today. Firstly I got into some scraps (thanks Fenella :) ).
Then I cut and put together some pieces. I layered it like a quilt, although I don't think Bari does for all of her work. She doesn't always add a batting layer. I like the puffy effect. Hmm, not particularly promising.
Meandering with my embroidery foot. I used cerise and leaf green threads.
I zipped around the outside with satin stitch then trimmed.

I think it looks better in real life. I'm not sure what it is. Possibly a coaster. Mostly an experiment. Anyway, as soon as I had made this one I got stuck into making a much bigger creation. You'll have to wait to see that one.

School starts again tomorrow. I have to go to the doctor so I'll see what she thinks about my pelvis. Annoying. Have a lovely week!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Loving life

Today I headed out to do one of my most favourite things. I visited Stitch Playroom. Check out the Stitch website by linking from the shopping sidebar. But just visiting the website is not enough. You HAVE to go and see all of the fabulous fabrics, yarns, haberdashery items and creative books, plus the inspirational class samples. I absolutely love Fenella, who owns Stitch with her mum. I'm sure I've told you many times before how much fun I have when I visit her in the shop. Before I knew it today I had a cup of tea and was thinking of a million possible projects. I can't show all of the goodies I got because some may or may not end up appearing as Christmas presents. Henry won't mind if I show you this absolutely awesome wild animal panel that I am currently cutting out to make him his own zoo. He hasn't got a present from us yet and when I saw this I thought if I did a bit of frantic sewing, he would have a little set of animals to play with. They have a bit of a vintage toy feel to them. I'll show you when I'm done. So far I've only cut out Mr. Cobra.
I have plans to make an advent calender this year, and I found this wee bundle of modern, but pretty, Christmas fabrics. There are lots of gorgeous Christmas fabrics to choose from. I love the divine owl fat quarter, which will become this year's Christmas cushion. I think I will make it a tradition to make one new one each year. I made a sweet one last year that I never put away because I loved it so much.
I could spend hours at Stitch as I have so much fun chatting with Fenella, planning new projects, trying to keep breathing when I'm looking at all of the glorious fabrics. I've decided that next year I will focus hard on learning lots of new quilting skills. Right now I've got to get the Christmas present projects finished.

This afternoon my lovely teacher assistants came over for afternoon tea. That was fun and I was pleased that my front garden is looking so pretty at the moment. When they left The Crafty Neighbour came over and bought me a new friend:
Meet Molly! The newest Crafty Neighbour family member.
Actually, she is weeing in this picture (just continuing the theme from yesterday). Good little lady! She fell asleep wrapped around the back of my neck. She has a lovely gentle feel about her, and hopefully she will be a super sweet dog when she grows up. She has the most gorgeous tiny wee nose and bright little eyes, with whiskery eyebrows.

Johnny has been very busy building spaceships. He found this fab (yes - just the right word) cardboard spaceship kit at another great shop The Toy Tree over in Papanui. A fair bit of fiddly but fun gluing and he had five brilliant creations to hang in his office.
Space robot 1.
Space robot 2.

I think they are a great project and I know Johnny had fun making them. He has had them outside to take portraits.

Tomorrow is another exciting day because Meg, Ryan and Henry are coming to stay! Apart from some minor child-proofing, we don't have much to do to get ready for their arrival. That means I've planned a busy morning. First thing I'll be going to visit my dear horsey friend, Ben, to give him a good groom and lots to cuddles and scratches. Then I've got a date with Sam for a riding lesson. I'll be cantering tomorrow, I think. Once I have sorted him out after our ride I'll head home to work on the zoo for Henry. It won't be long before I head for bed. XXX

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Horrid weather

Rain, rain and wind. Lots of wind. In fact my only foray outside today has been to fix a panel on my greenhouse. The wind seems to have turned southerly, which will hopefully put an end to panels popping out. Most of them are glued in, apart from the end ones. Johnny has headed into school to do some statistical stuff, so I'm hoping nothing blows apart while he is out. It is blowing so hard. I do feel snug inside, and so do my darling companions, Miss Dog and Mr Ginger Jasper. Poor Miss Dog has an ear infection again. She hates having it attended to, and as soon as she hears me getting the baby wipes out, or medicine ready, she tries to skulk away. Fortunately she is extremely compliant and cannot resist co-operating once I've called her firmly. Her right ear is hairy inside, which causes it to trap gunk and get infections every now and then. I clean out the yucky stuff (very satisfying) and apply antibiotic drops. She has already stopped shaking her head and scratching so much.

It was supposed to be a lovely horsey day today, but I'm sure Sam will prefer to be left in his paddock with his best mate, wearing his nice warm "dressing gown" and munching hay. I was also going to visit Ben to give him a good grooming, and hopefully Zanny would be delivered home today, and I was planning to have a good girly chat to her about how to attract her handsome suitor, so that she can get down to business and come home again soon. She is travelling to the West Coast to meet her husband. He is the father of Lucy and Frazer. I'm hoping to be able to have regular rides once she returns, until her tummy gets too round.

Exciting news on the book front. I love my books so much, and yesterday got two new ones. I've been waiting for Cath Kidston's Patch from the Book Depository for a wee while. Much cheaper to import it than buy it here. I also found Jamie's new book Jamie's Great Britain and I couldn't resist, when it was on special. It is awesome. I love reading his recipe books because they are very interesting and conversational in style. I've got almost all of his books, although I haven't seen Jamie's Italy since moving here, and I can't think what happened to it. Did I lend it to someone?
Oooh, I think my crocheted turtle is lifting his leg to wee on Jamie! Oops!

Today I have been working hard on a top-secret Christmas present. When I got bored with that I chopped out some squares from the off-cuts of my blue quilt-as-you-go quilt. I have an idea how to join them, although all of the seams will need to be covered. On the blue quilt I used wide rik-rak, but these squares are much smaller, so I am going to have to have a think about it.

The Crafty Neighbour has just called and says she is putting the jug on for a cup of tea. Hope I don't get too wet running over. XXX

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not much

Today was a not much happening day. Actually I did plant dill, mixed basil, delphinium, lemongrass, lobelia, radish, spring onion, spinach and bush bean seeds. After that my sore upper backside wasn't too pleased about all of the bending, so I did something very lazy. I read a James Herriot book, then skulked back to bed and napped, getting up in time to get ready to go into town for my 'cello lesson. These holidays have not quite gone as I hoped due to the unforeseen parting of ways from Sam's saddle. I had virtuous plans to ride my bike every day, to sort out the unsorted areas of the garden, to complete several quilt projects and to get the house spring-cleaned. Guess what? I am sure my groaning sacrum will soon be hunky dory, so I won't be subjecting you to updates on the state of my nether regions for much longer! Then I hope to have full days with much achieved.

By the way, my 'cello lesson went surprisingly well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back in the saddle

Today I'm awarding myself a whole lot of rosettes!

Today was just perfect for riding, and Sam was in a lovely chilled out mood. He had just heard the news that he is now going to be kept as a dressage horse and for beginners, rather than as a jumping horse. Celine has realised that the behaviour he has been showing has been a reaction to being forced to do things he is not comfortable with, and he gets really stiff and sore after jumping. He won't have the racy riders on him, and I'm so relieved. He felt like my boy again. It took a bit of time for me to build up my trust in him, and when his head came up, I was initially anxious. But he really looked after me, and we did some work on sitting trot, leg yields (I realised that I haven't been using my inside leg to hold him in line) and I did my first extended trot. Yay! We had lots of cuddles and kisses. I'm so happy!!!!

The strange thing about my fall injury is that the only time when moving that I don't have any pain in my pelvis is when I'm riding. I thought it would be terrible with the rising trot, sitting correctly, and sitting trot, but I was super comfortable. Johnny thought it was probably because I was focusing so hard on riding, but I think that position didn't put pressure on the damaged bits. I haven't been to the doctor, as I think I just need time to heal up. While I was getting ready poor Erika had a horrible fall off one of the young horses, who, in protest at going slowly, reared super high and she went whump down on her back like I did. We didn't see the rear, but looked over as the horse headed back to the yards, and she was flat on her back over in the dressage arena. She is such a sweetie. She looked as stiff as me after she got up.

Johnny is looking forward to the rugby, with some trepidation. For those not at all interested in New Zealand's national sport, our All Blacks are coming up against the Australian Wallabies (one of our most hated opponents) in the semifinals of the Rugby World Cup. I have to say it- GO ALL BLACKS!!!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Today we went for a drive out to visit my horsey friends at the Butcher farm. It was so lovely to see dear Johnny (horse) feeling a bit better and looking a little fed up with box rest. Frazer, the 1 year old colt was keeping him company, and he is still fuzzy and baby-like, but getting solider and taller. I think he has the Z in Frazer because his mum is Zanny. I'm hoping to be able to ride Zanny when she comes back from visiting her handsome beau over on the West Coast. I had big cuddles with Lucy, another of Zanny's babies, now in training, but built like a cob due to her voracious appetite (I can relate to that). She is super cuddly and has a lovely warm air about her. I'm always careful to gauge mood and level of dominance or stress a horse is feeling when having pats, and never completely trust that something won't upset them. After all, horses are hugely strong and heavy and could do serious damage. Today my friend Ben was desperate for scratches due to his heavily molting coat. Here he is competing in dressage at Hororata a few months ago.

I think he is doing a rein-back. He can do a wonderful dressage test because he was a 4**** eventer (Badminton) before he retired due to illness. He is such a personality and loves lots of attention, so Viv suggested that I come out as much as I like to fuss over him and groom him. I guess you know my feelings about that idea! Today he has a very sore stone bruise on one of his front hooves. The hoof is all enclosed and if something causes a bit of bacteria to get in, then it heals over, infection builds up causing and abscess and intense pain. Emily got a hoof knife and I scratched Ben while she tried to open it up a bit. It looked like it had already burst so not much came out. She will put a poultice on. I'll go and spend some time helping Em with grooming etc and give Johnny some attention, and Ben lots of grooming and cuddles. Fantastic.

I'm having try number two to get back on Sam for a whirl around the arena tomorrow. We are going up the hill to watch rugby (or whatever) tonight. Mrs CT wants more Curly Wurly bars - I must try one as she knows a good chocolate bar when she sees one. And sad thoughts about dear Andi cat who was dearly loved by Mr and Mrs CT and family. No one hissed like her, yet was so tolerant and gentle. Goodbye Miss White Whisker. XXX

Friday, October 14, 2011


Last night I played with my camera, trying out taking black and white photos. The light was very low and Miss Dog was impossible to focus on. Mr Ginger Jasper was gorgeous as usual. I love him with a passion.
He is curled up on our bed at the moment. He has to ask to be lifted up. He has a dear little expressive voice and loves to have conversations with me.

He is perfection.

I didn't ride today, but I was all geared up to (literally). I went over to Celine's and Sam and I got ready. Then the hay truck arrived. With big loader following. Then a man came over from next door and said he was about to start chopping a tree down near the boundary and didn't want to alarm the horses. He got his chainsaw out. Sam and I were all ready, and while Celine moved the horses away from chainsaw man, I walked him around the arena for about 5 minutes on foot. When Celine came over we both looked at each other and said "not a good idea" because Sam was fizzing again and the noise was horrible from everywhere. So we undressed Sam and put him in his paddock. I said to myself that at least I got to spend ages grooming him. I am feeling pretty frustrated. Celine is hoping everything will be perfect for my lesson on Sunday. Johnny says I have to be patient. I'm a bit scared that Sam is developing some bad habits because being a riding school horse doesn't suit him. Then I won't be able to ride him anymore.

I heard that darling Johnny (horse), who hurt his stifle at the event last weekend has actually chipped the bone in his stifle. Apparently it is like a knee on a human. He has to be on box rest for a while. It is not good news, but he can recover fully, all going well. Poor man. I am dying to visit him. Plus I want to see some of my other horsey friends that live with him.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lots of colour!

I stuck to life on the ground today- no adventures. Fortunately my body is repairing itself rapidly, although there are still some groans when I go from sitting to standing, and I've discovered that there are unhappy muscles in my upper back and neck as well as my backside. Johnny has stopped sniggering, so that is good. I'm determined to mount up again tomorrow, so am really hoping the weather will co-operate.

We planned to visit Mrs CT today, so I had to get her bag finished. Not a very good photo, but here it is posing as a knitting bag, with my favourite magazine peeping out of the top. I'm imagining it will make a great companion for expeditions into the garden, filled with activities and tasty treats. Not that Mrs CT is heading down the stairs into her pretty garden at the moment, with a recently replaced knee. We got a couple of her favourite Curly Wurly bars to put inside, and judging by the enthusiastic munching, I'm thinking they have some magical joint repair qualities. They seem to be caramel covered in milk chocolate, although I was reluctant to get too close in case Mrs CT accidentally ate me as well. Damn hard being stuck at home recovering from a major surgical procedure with no access to chocolate. Anyway, the bag is made from two patched then machine quilted panels, lined with a matching cotton print, and has a rather large pocket inside.
I had a prowl around the garden today, and as usual, was thrilled with all of the gorgeous colours. The first soldier poppies are out.
And the first miniature irises.
I love these divine bluey purple ones.
The tulips are looking their best at the moment.
There is a sea of pansies under all of the plants. They come in masses of different colours and sizes.
Bluebells are just appearing too. These are the Spanish bluebells that were present in big clumps in my old garden. I bought some with me to add to my new garden.
Our beautiful flowering cherry is out too. It is later than the ones along the road, and is eagerly anticipated each year. The buds are like pretty pink rosebuds, and they open to pink tinged white tutus, hanging in huge clusters. It gives me the best of both worlds- white and pink!
There are still plenty of daffodils around the garden. Little narcissi- these are so sweet.
Also some big ones. This one is one of Mum's seedlings. I love the rings of colour in the cup, which are more beautiful in real life.
What are you up to, Miss Dog? Hmm- caught eating dirt. Yuck.
Ahh, a lovely sunny spot.

It is now 5.38pm and I'm not sure what we are having for tea. Maybe FYO- Find Your Own. Mr Ginger Jasper is peeping around the door hoping for some movement towards the kitchen. He knows what he is having for tea! Wish me luck for getting back in the saddle tomorrow. XXX

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One down, six to go

Did you know that it takes seven falls to make a horse rider? Well, I can count one down today. This was the view, but I wasn't on top, I was lying on my back on the ground. I probably had a much more pained expression on my face (although this one isn't too good either!).

I went out to McLean's Island to the National Equestrian Centre for a hack with Celine and Erica. Another two riders joined us. Sam was "hot" right from the start. He was jig jogging around, throwing his head all around, and generally being scary. I was really scared and when he threw himself to the side at one point, with me clinging on desperately by his mane, I started to think that this riding lark was not such a good idea after all. He has done that before with me. I was quietly cursing myself for being such a wimp and trying hard to relax. We were just walking along quietly, and the other riders were being careful not to do anything alarming. He has been to McLean's Island lots of times with no problems, so Celine wasn't worried about him doing anything unexpected. Suddenly he did a mega head thrash down and up, then threw himself sideways, dropping his back end until he almost sat, then jerking upwards to throw me off. It happened so quickly I didn't have a chance to grab on, and I was thrown over the side landing hard on my upper pelvis, (below back, above backside). Everyone said "Don't get up!" so I lay there having a damn good cry, as I'm inclined to do under stress. Actually it did hurt a bit, but I got up and tried to ride one of the other horses back, but she was stressed by Sam's antics, so I got off and walked. I blubbed for quite a while, mainly out of frustration at being scared before I fell off. Everyone was so lovely and said there was no way they could have stayed on as Sam was determined to throw me. They were scared he was going to fall on me. Celine was really upset because Sam is supposed to be her safest horse, and it was pretty obviously a deliberately nasty action.

I have to admit that the 40 year old body does not appreciate a fall from the height of a large horse onto hard ground. My pelvis is very unhappy, but I'm sure it is just bruising and muscular pain because it came on about half an hour after the fall, rather than straight away like bone damage would do. I am hobbling around at the moment, but am determined to ride again on Friday as I'm not letting today's crash stop me. After all, real horse riders fall off lots.

Apart from the dramas of the day, I've been having a very quiet day. Basically because I'm not able to bend over, move quickly or do much at all. Luckily the latest Country Living came in today. And some chocolate. Essential healing food.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Absolutely filthy

The wind raged overnight. Poor Mr Jasper was frightened because the cat flap kept banging, so he didn't want to go out. I woke to the sounds of furious grumbling and frantic spraying as Johnny cleaned up a huge wee on some of his clothing in the bathroom. Jasper will be thankful the wind has settled, although it is still quite breezy. I am supposed to be riding at McLean's Island tomorrow - hacking out around the cross country course. If it is horribly windy I won't be keen, and I'm sure Sam with be in a skittish mood.

This afternoon I got outside for some gardening in what remains of dirt mountain. It has been Miss Dog's domain, rampant with weeds, too stubborn to pull. We've had plenty of rain so I got stuck in today. My hands are so dirty I don't think they'll ever be clean again. I needed to clear some space for some sweet wee plum coloured poppies, some sky blue corydalis, a rose bush, some tiny wee woodland anemones and some delightful sky blue miniature iris, most of which were given to me by friends. I also found room for a rosemary bush that I grew from a cutting, and Mr Ginger Jasper's catnip plant (he now has two). I had thrown a few things in among the weeds previously, but it all got away on me, so I did some shifting around. Once everything looks settled I'll take a photo. I've only cleared about 1/3 of the dog domain. I was thinking of having a tiny wee path half way along which takes you to a bench under the cherry tree, tucked in among the fragrant plants. I was considering a hammock, but a bench would look pretty all year round. Useful too, as I love to sit out in my garden and just contemplate all of my territory. I just told Johnny and he likes the idea. Excellent.

Johnny has been working on a project for his university studies. I declare myself an exam and assignment free zone. I no longer wish to participate in academic study, preferring to dedicate myself to learning new creative and interesting skills. Let's be honest, Johnny's studies into linguistics and relationships are going to have very little bearing on his ability to teach English as a Second Language (which is what the scholarship he has is funding). I can't even figure out what the point of his latest assignment is in the context of the human race. He has just been out for a bike ride on his lovely new bike to get some fresh air. I can't remember if I told you that he has a new bike as his old one was declared to be dangerous by a bike mechanic. Anyway, it is a flash black shiny specimen which he seems to riding with great enthusiasm. He will be a svelte shadow of his former self before we know it.

Oh and a huge Happy Birthday to our dearest wee man Henry!!!!! It is quite perfect having a nephew and a niece. Just one of each at this stage. Lucy is our darling wee poppet of a niece who looks more and more beautiful every time I see a photo of her. She is a sharp wee cookie who knows her own mind. Henry is so cute, and is super funny and sociable. When we first saw him his head was the size of an orange as he was 7 weeks early. Scary times, but he hasn't looked back. I loved holding him when he was just a tiny wee thing. So precious. Lucy had a considerably less dramatic start to life (although her mummy, Mandy, might disagree). Henry came out of the sunroof, but Lucy headed out the regular way after considerable effort. Birth is an amazing thing. I won't be having children so I can just imagine any babies of mine would have slipped merrily out after a bit of grunting and effortless pushing, and there would be smiles all round. Anyway, into the Terrible Twos goes Henry, and I bet there will be lots of boundary testing, mischief, tantrums and enthusiastic explorations over the next year. Hopefully he'll be coming to visit at Labour Weekend. Exciting!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Windy wind

Today is very windy. It is an awful easterly wind, cold and strong. Apart from a short time outside helping Johnny repair a panel on my greenhouse, which blew out in the wind, I lurked inside all day. I spotted this wee poppet a few days ago.
I'm glad it wasn't windy yesterday because it was a horse day. The Eventing Canterbury ODE at McLean's Island, and I was doing grooming for the Butcher team again. I wasn't sure which horses Emily would be riding, or if Frank would be there with Viv, as he hasn't been 100%. It turned out that all of the same boys were there as last time- Johnny, Frank, Chippie, Storm and Lewis. I didn't want to let my cold hold me back, and I did pretty well.

Lewis looked gorgeous anticipating his dressage.
I was studying Emily intently. See how she sits with her body tilted back so far. Apparently she rode for one of the American Olympic eventers for a year and came back with this position. It shifts her weight back and means she supports herself more, plus encourages impulsion from the hind-quarters. Complicated business, riding.
In the jumping she has her body tilted more forward, but shifts her weight back to slow her horse between jumps. This is Storm in action. He is quite little, and just right for lovely cuddles. He is absolutely sweet to handle.
He got a pat for doing a good round. Emily always stops her horses after each round and leaves the arena with dignity, unlike some.
This is Chippie jumping. He's rather an anxious creature. He apparently didn't have the most auspicious arrival as an unbroken youngster. The truck driver parked too close to the hedge and opened up the side of the truck. Chippie didn't know what to do and tried to launch himself off the side of the truck and over the hedge. He knocked out the truck driver in the process and headed off down the road at high speed. I haven't had any problems handling him, which Emily says is because I move slowly and quietly around him. Apparently he goes berserk if he gets a fright, and does a full-on bucking bronco routine when he gets upset with Emily when she is riding him. She says it is terrifying, which is amazing coming from her!
Finally, here's Lewis jumping. Gosh he is such a big boy, but lovely to handle.
The jumps looked really big to me, but I haven't been to a showjumping event where they jump much higher yet. Must look into that. I am so pleased that I have discovered the world of horse events because I absolutely love going, even when Johnny doesn't want to go. Yesterday, when I wasn't grooming, I decided to take Em's dog, Mack, for a walk so he could watch his mummy ride. She was so pleased to see him out and about as he was waiting in the truck. I took all of the jumping photos with him watching at my feet.
The only sad note of the day was darling Johnny (horse, not husband) caught his stifle on a cross country jump and was injured. The stifle is at the front of what you could say is the horse's thigh. He skinned it and was very lame. Poor man. I gave him lots of cuddles. Emily was very upset but didn't cry like I would have done because she is pretty tough in the face of adversity. He got vet treatment immediately and is expected to be back in action in a couple of weeks.

As I said, I lay low today, just trying to get rid of my cold. Don't worry Nanny- no sign of a nasty cough. I did a bit of work on this project, which is a present for someone. I'll show you the finished article before long, I hope.

I've got masses of things to go on with, but I hope this wind stops soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Holidays, and guess what? Yes, I'm sick again. Just a bit of a cold, but believe me, I was cursing on Thursday when it became apparent that I would have another miserable few days at the start of the holidays. Tomorrow I'm supposed to go and groom for Emily Butcher again, which I was super excited about, but now am not so sure if I'll have the energy I had last time I went. She is competing in another ODE at McLean's Island. Poor Celine had a crash last weekend on Dresden doing showjumping. I haven't had a good chat with her to hear the details, but Dresden went right down apparently. She won't be competing tomorrow, which is a shame. Sam and I are getting together on Wednesday for a trip to McLean's Island hopefully, although Celine has plans to take two of the new horses and leave Dresden at home. Sam is totally in love with Dresden and he gets the serious lip quiver on if he can't see his boyfriend, then starts throwing himself around and whinnying madly. I don't fancy being on board a lovesick thoroughbred. Of all the things he could do I'm most scared of him bolting as an out-of-control horse cornering would no doubt launch me into space. I remember flying off Toby when he took off down the paddock across the creek and cornered at the bottom by the creek- well, I think it was Toby, although that seems a little hard to believe given his aptitude for plodding. I do remember landing on my back and skidding along. Mum rushed over with her usual question after a fall "Can you move your legs?" which I could, although I'm not sure I could breathe. Knowing my riding skill, he was probably slowly cantering, and I was probably having a mad panic.

It was pouring on and off this morning. Good for my garden. I am absolutely enthralled with a little daffodil called Tripartite - I think that is how you spell it. It is a wee jonquil split corona in a pretty lemon shade. Gorgeous! The small division daffodils I have in the garden have really lengthened the season. The ranunculas are coming out now. They are so pretty and bright. I'd love to get some of the florist's ones with the interesting colourings.

Well, I'm very very excited about the holidays and intend to make the most of them, cold bugs or not. Mmmm- sewing, horses, gardening, riding my bike, taking photos and doing embroidery. And a few other things thrown in. Keep checking in as I'll be blogging a bit more too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The hottest day this spring

Short sleeves and sunblock out today. We exceeded 20 degrees C. and I did a bit of weed control after going out for brunch with Mrs CT and family. We went to Sevantis, which I can recommend for good quality food and a typical cafe environment. The courtyard outside was lovely as you could hear people along the table. Apparently it can be noisy inside. I dislike noisy restaurants. I had eggs benedict with salmon, on corn fritters. Very tasty.

My front garden is getting plenty of positive comments currently. I've got the roses trained on wires, and they are looking great.
The blossoms have actually just finished along our street, but they were gorgeous clouds of white while they lasted.
The daffodils have been flowering for a long time, and more are coming all the time. The first poets are out, and these seedlings that Mum bred have just appeared. Yesterday I looked at the label and was filled with doubt about the 2WR (Division 2 white petals, red cup) classification as they were so pale and yellow. As you can see, they are darkening up.
It is tulip season. Lovely. They are quite uniform and reliable in form compared to daffodils.
I like these pink ones with the yellow background.
Double primulas. So pretty. A bargain bin find.
Flowering currant- exquisite flowers in a divine pink shade. I think this cost about $3. I love a bargain.
What do we have here? A very relaxed pussycat with no bad language. Miss Dog has made constant friendly overtures to Mr Jasper, and he has now decided that she is harmless as long as she doesn't try to sniff him.
They hang out together in the garden.
The greenhouse - my pride and joy!
Look who's here! Mr Ginger Jasper following up on a catnip sighting in the greenhouse. He found some evidence, which required thorough investigation- a dry leaf.
Ahh yes. Life is good.