Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Passion for Roses

Oh how I love roses. Today was a BIG day because I tackled the roses in the front garden. Yes, pruning time. This afternoon I managed to prune 21 of my roses, with a bit of man power from Johnny. He sharpened my secateurs and bought me some new gloves, optimistically called "Ninja Flex" gloves. It wasn't long after I started, that a few bad words sullied the peace in the garden, and I realised that the Ninja Flexes were better suited to assassinating people (in ninja fashion) than dealing with vicious rose thorns. I've been known to prune in bare hands, so it didn't slow me down. 

So now I've got some dramatically reduced rose bushes. I had some that will need to be moved because they are too big for their boots. I hope to do that next weekend. As always, pruning time makes me dream of new additions to the garden, so I popped over to David Austin's website where I found these divine roses. I'm thinking they would make beautiful friends for my current collection. 

Boscobel which is a new release, and I am sure will not be available in New Zealand for some time, if ever.
 Claire Austin - so elegant. I don't have many white roses.
 Darcy Bussell - aptly named after the ballerina. I love the crimson colour. This photo is not as beautiful as others I have seen of her.
 Heathcliff - I love plummy and rich purple roses. They always smell so delicious and look dramatic.
 Munstead Wood.
Falstaff- absolutely delicious. 
Port Sunlight- I am sure this would be very pretty. The colour glows. I have Pat Austin, which is a deeper shade, sort of coppery, but she grows so badly in my garden, with flimsy stems that can't support the blooms. I wonder if it is just my particular plant, or whether she is a temperamental performer in general. I had trouble with Heritage too, which was a great disappointment to me because that was the rose that got me hooked on English Roses. 
 Princess Alexandra of Kent- I can imagine this one paired with blue and lavender flowers. I'm planning to evict some of my gaudier plants so that I can get the lovely soft cottage garden effect with more blues to complement my roses.
 Strawberry Hill- the name makes me think it will smell like strawberries, but a lovely rose scent would be just as pleasing.
 Tea Clipper- I am fond of the colour. It does have a slight tea coloured overtone.
 Tranquility- so, so beautiful.
  I must credit the David Austin Roses website for all of these photos. Pop over and have a look if you love roses.
Zanny and I had a lovely ride today. Frank and Viv came too. Zanny was a bit grouchy when we had to go very close together on a narrow bit because she was huffy about Frank being in her personal space. Funny girl. She flicked her head and swished her tail at him. Her coat was shining in the sun, and her tummy looked bigger than ever. I spoiled her with lots of carrot pieces.

Mr Mousie is proving to be possibly gifted. He is incredibly intelligent, and seems to learn new things so quickly. Maybe I'm just a proud mother. He does have his faults. Quite frankly, he produces the most unbelievably smelly kitten poo, and he isn't too good at washing the fur around his neck and behind his ears. He sometimes gets food in his sprouting ear hair. Dear little man!

I hope you have a good week. I am going to take it easy, because I have been so tired on school days, and enjoy as much Olympics coverage as possible. Spring is definitely coming soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori

Haere mai ki te wiki o te reo Maori. Ko Poppy toku ingoa. Ko wai koe? Kei te pehea koe? Kei te ngenge.

This week is Maori Language Week. I love it because we have lots of fun with Te Reo Maori in my classroom. We are learning basic greetings, whika (numbers), nga tae (colours) and simple commands, plus whatever else comes along. We always have a song in Maori in the morning, and participate in any cultural activities that come along. 

Tomorrow some of my boys will be part of a group performing a Haka as a part of the celebration of the arrival of our taonga (treasure), which is a carving designed by one of our senior students and created by carving experts with participation by lots of our students. I'm looking forward to seeing my boys in action as I'm sure they will give it their best effort. All of the (approximately) 135 students in our school have intellectual disabilities, and to see them performing is a huge pleasure of mine. They make me so proud when they show off their skills to the best of their abilities, with no embarrassment or worry about what people think of them. 

I don't usually chat about my job on this blog as respecting the privacy of my staff and students is essential. I'm happy to share the news about our participation in Maori Language Week. Some people wonder why we would bother teaching another language to students who have such difficulty with basic literacy. It is actually surprising how my students respond to learning Maori words and phrases. They are engaged and motivated, and will happily join in with waiata (songs) and listen to stories. Those that can talk will have a go at saying words, and some know the meaning of quite a lot of the Maori words we use routinely. We even programme greetings in Maori into the communication devices that three of my students use. 

I'm pleased to be a part of keeping a language alive. Indigenous languages are at such high risk of disappearing, and there was a recent National Geographic article (which I can't find to reference) that reported that indigenous languages around the world are dying out at an incredible rate. I certainly won't change the world with my little bunch of enthusiastic learners, but we're all having fun. 

Have a go at saying "hi" in Maori this week - "kia ora." 

You could see if you can learn a few colours in Maori. 

Ma - white
Pango- black
Kahurangi - blue
Whero - red 
Kowhai - yellow
Mawhero - pink
Tawa - purple
Parauri - brown
Kiwikiwi - grey 
Kikorangi - green 
Karaka - orange 

For pronunciation (very important), you will need to go for a wee internet hunt for a Maori pronunciation guide, which will not be hard to find. When I was training to be a teacher we had special tests on our pronunciation and some people were utterly hopeless, no matter how much drilling they got. I had a real talent for it and found it easy, fortunately. 

I wish I could share a video of my boys giving it heaps doing the Haka tomorrow. You won't even be able to imagine how fabulous, funny and moving it will be. 

Ka kite ano! 

Back to the usual stuff next time, I'm sure. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Motherly pride

I apologise, but I must feature my new child once again. I adore him! He is the dearest wee man who is funny, loving, gentle, busy, nosy and full of life. This morning he was playing with Miss Dog. 
 At first he wasn't too sure, and presented his dramatic, "threatening" persona.
 Then he thought poking her with his paws might be fun.

 Wild eyes. In some photos he has such crazy colouring in his eyes that they look like zombie eyes.
 This looks like an orca about to take a seal off an iceberg. Miss Dog thinks he is very sweet, but she doesn't touch him yet. Mr Mouse will give her a wee dabble with his paw, and she wags her tail merrily.
 This little man is just starting to get his adult teeth, so can now be officially aged at 16 weeks, according to his Auntie Ems. We can work out a birthday for him now! He is most likely going to be a small cat when he is grown up, as he is still little for his age.
 I figure once he gets outside he is going to be a nimble and adventurous hunter. I'm not sure if I like that idea! We love birds in our garden.
 Well, I did manage to tear myself away from the fascinating new addition to the family. Yesterday we had to do some jobs and I found this:
I'm a huge Babette Cole fan, and I have the first installment in the "Dr. Dog" series, which is very funny. This is also wonderful, so it is now part of my library. I should really collect all of her books. I love the illustrations and humor in the stories.

Today the weather was dreary, but I risked it and headed out to see Zanny. The weather was a little brighter out at the farm. I was very surprised to find that her ladyship has started shedding her winter coat already. Apparently she is always first. I think the time has come for us to start shortening our rides as she was telling me that she didn't feel all that excited about an outing today. Her tummy is very rotund, and the weight of me and the foal must be quite a load. We will take it quietly. She's a big, tall lady, and rides are good for her, but I will listen to her and see how we go.

Mr. Mouse has discovered the joy of lying by the fire. He is rolling around in ecstasy, showing off his spotty tummy. I think I might join him (but I'll keep my tummy to myself). 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to school

The holidays are over and we are back to school. So far I have had two great days as the weather has been beautiful, and the days are getting longer already. We spotted some blossom out at the weekend, and that is always special. The spring bulbs are peeping through the soil. 

We had a wonderful weekend with our dear wee nephew staying with us with his mummy and daddy. Two year olds are hard work. They are beginning to want independence, but are not ready for it, so need watching every second. Henry says such funny things now that he is talking much more. He is a determined little lad with a huge, gorgeous smile. He was very excited to meet our new family member. Yes, Mr Mouse is making himself at home. As you can see, he is extremely nosy and likes to involve himself in everything. 
 Once Mr Mouse was distracted by attacking me from under the bed, I fiddled with the camera flash and got a reasonable photo of Mollie Makes, which I bought yesterday. I had one digital copy, but thought I'd get a "real" one to take a look at.
 I love the buttons on the cover. I'm not sure what I will do with them, but I am enjoying looking at them. There are lots of lovely things to read about and make.
 I recently got this book from The Book Depository. It has some simple techniques I didn't know about, and some fun quilts to make. Plus the author, Tula Pink, is a fabric designer, and writes about her creative process, which I found very interesting.
 Mr Mouse discovered that this towel is not ours. I wonder who left it behind after their weekend visit?   I guess it will need to be packaged up with the two vehicles lurking in the living room for delivery home.
Actually Mr Mouse is deciding whether to give Miss Dog a bit of cheek from under the chair in this photo. He is getting very brave around her, and I think it won't be long before he is chasing her tail and swinging off her ears. After a good play, a bit of dinner and a visit to his bathroom (with disgusting results as usual), he has now tucked himself under my arm as I type and is fast asleep.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Welcome to the family!

We were allowed to pick up Mr Mouse a day early! Yay!!!! He has been playing ever since he got home, and has now settled down for a wee nap. Considering he had his little man purses emptied today, he has been incredibly happy and lively. He loves Johnny already, has used my jodhpurs (with me in them) as a scratching pole, and he plays with anything he finds. He isn't too impressed with Miss Dog, and perched on my shoulder in full fluff mode and gave her a thorough telling off. She hasn't gone near him yet. I'm hoping she thinks he is Jasper reincarnated, because she feared the power of Mr J's claws.

Zanny got her hooves re-shod today. Brent, the farrier, wondered why we were bothering to put shoes back on her (I think he thinks we've got her dates wrong with that tummy), but she's still enjoying a sedate wander on a regular basis, so she needed to have a trim and refit. Shadow, Zanny and I went out for a ride. There was a plump rubbish bag waiting outside a house and Zanny decided it was SCARY, and made me laugh with her dramatics. She snorted and huffed, tried to spin around and head home, and then reluctantly sidled past it on the other side of the road. Once we negotiated that obstacle (which wasn't too tricky because she is actually a very obliging lady, even when alarmed) we went up the road and a lycra clad cyclist appeared unexpectedly as we went around a corner, and she got a big fright. No problem. Let's just hope she doesn't get a fright and shoot the foal out! 

I must confess, I'm loving The Glee Project. I am a huge Glee fan. Mock me at your peril. I'm training an attack kitten and will ride my plump bellied steed into battle.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Perfect timing

So soon after we lost our dear friend Jasper another pusskin needs a home. I would like you to meet Mr Mouse:
 He is the offspring of a Birman mummy and an unidentified gentleman caller. His mother was handed into the SPCA with her litter of kittens, apparently lost/stray after the earthquakes.
 Mr Mouse is a soft grey agouti tabby, according to official colour charts. He has the tabby "M" on his forehead and dear wee lightly striped legs, but the rest of him is sort of blended tones of grey and extremely soft and fluffy. He has a mane around his face like a wee lion.
 He is very sweet and gentle, cautious, a little timid upon first meeting, and super playful.
 He came for a visit today, and will be moving in on Thursday. I am so excited and thrilled. He seemed very pleased to meet me too. He and I spent time bonding, and he is person oriented and seems very intelligent and responsive. I'm used to the Siamese qualities of being chatty and loyal, and I think Mr Mouse will be like that. He followed me around and when I lay on the couch he came and sat on me purring. When I went through the house he ran slightly ahead of me through the door and did a wee spin out on the hard floor, stopped suddenly, hissed and turned into a ball of fuzz with a wee fluffed up tail. I think he gave himself a fright. He is going to be so cute and funny.
 Look how tiny he is. That is why he is called Mr Mouse. He had a very rough start because he was half the size of his siblings, but has been looked after with such care by my lovely cousin, who is a vet, and is now looking fantastic and is full of beans.
 Time for a rest.
I think he is going to be the most delightful wee friend, and just what we need to brighten things up around here. It is so soon after saying goodbye to our special Jasper, but because Mr Mouse is completely different it doesn't feel like he is a replacement. Even after a short time together I can tell he is very special. There is something about him that is incredibly special.