Archives for posts with tag: nature

Lou waiting

The Dedes are currently discussing love. I am sure, we all agree, love is the most wonderful thing that can happen to someone. However, when there is an imbalance in affection it can also become scary. Lou, the young puppy, is infatuated with Skeleton Edeltraut. Who can blame him? Any young puppy will fall in love with a pile of bones. Whenever she shows up, he gets all excited, jumps up and down, tries to lick her and basically follows her around sniffing and worshipping the ground she walks on. Skeleton Edeltraut is outright scared, but no-one offers support. Everyone believes she should be able to cope with it. After all, she is in the scaring business herself. When she comes out of her closet, a lot of people are very frightened. It doesn’t help that she is generally a bit distant and cold and not as cute as Lou. No one takes her cry for help seriously. They put Lou’s behaviour down to his nature and advise her to harden up. Mhm. That is such a classic dede conundrum. How can this be resolved?


The Dedes were told chicken manure is very beneficial for the soil in their new garden. Luckily they have a chook amongst them and Loudmouth was more than happy to do her share and produce the dung. She is very good at it too. However, in the meantime the weather has turned to spring and nature told Loudmouth it is time to brood. One day she plucked all her beautiful feathers from her tummy and sat down in the laying box, making herself comfortable for the next thirty days. The other Dedes tried to talk her out of it, telling her she would need a rooster to be successful. It didn’t help. Then they cooked a beautiful meal for her  – food was always her thing and she eats pretty much everything – but no, she didn’t move. They even stole the eggs from under her. Now, she is sitting on nothing but hay. She still isn’t moving. Nature is simply stronger than all reasoning and coaxing. Unfortunately she isn’t very sociable when she is in this mood and she won’t produce much manure or any eggs either.

I am currently making new Lil’Dedes to sell at the Christmas market in three weeks. Mouse, the keen gardener was desperate for some more chicken dung, and asked me to make a fledgling. This worked a breeze. When Loudmouth  saw the little one she jumped up and called: “Can I keep this, can I keep this? Pleeeeease!”

“But it isn’t finished yet” I said.

“Don’t worry” she answered “I will see to that” and she shuffled it under her tummy and sat back down.

chook house

I did this puppet show last week. My first ever public one  (I had done one before, at the launch of my Hermit’s Web book, but I believe I must have known pretty much every single person of the hundred people who were attending the launch and I can’t really call this public.) I am not a performer. My intention with puppets is for people to participate in the play and tapping into their own creativity, rather than just producing a show for others to watch. Coming up with a storyline for puppets is an invaluable cathartic process.

Anyway, when my friend asked me to do a puppet show at her book launch I happily agreed. The subject of the book is something I strongly believe in. Now my friend has come up with another scheme I can’t say no to either. It is an arrangement that suits the Dedes to a T. You might know that we have just renovated our house and our backyard is a total shambles with heaps of rubble and mountains of dirt dug out from under the house. We will have to redesign our garden and now that I am working from home I am extremely keen to turn it into a producing vege patch.  My friend offered me her chickens for a few months to clear up and fertilise my backyard, so we can start planting in spring. Over Queen’s Birthday weekend we scavenged around our property to find material to build a chook house with. The old fence we took down did just fine. We even salvaged the nails that held it together and reused them. As it is with such things, what should have taken a day, took us three (two of them mainly scratching our heads), but we are now proud owners of a ramshackle chook mansion and are looking forward to receiving the lodgers.

Today was the big day of the inaugural scarecrow competition at the Beach Haven Community Garden. All I can say: it was such a wonderful event. We had 15 scarecrows in the running, many of them created by groups, rather than individuals. And yes, I thought, judging scarecrows would be easy peasy… No it wasn’t. In the end I had a list of points they had to fulfill, such as being scary, withstanding weather, making noise… Looking great, wasn’t good enough, as they all did.

We were totally overwhelmed by the participation. We had 290 votes by the end of the day and I got a bit nervous, as the one I had selected for my Artist’s Choice Award, was also looking to be winning the People’s Choice Award. In the end a different one turned out to be the people’s darling. One I wouldn’t have chosen, even though it looked scary, it was made of cardboard and the first big deluge (not uncommon in Auckland) would see to it.

Here some impressions of the day.

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Tomorrow we will take down the exhibition. I had hoped our treehouse would be finished by then so the puppets could move into their new studio space. But no, we are still not there… Today the plasterers sanded down the walls and hopefully the floor will be sanded in the next couple of days as well. The picture above shows the view from our first floor addition. Unfortunately a balustrade, that is still to come, will block much of the view of the beautiful trees. I absolutely love the treehouse and I think living for 5 months on a building site will be worth it in the end. Never mind that we won’t be able to go on holiday for a long time to come.

The trees in front of the house are full of native birds and I captured one of our feathered neighbours yesterday. It is a Tui. These birds have the most beautiful song to wake up to.

tui bird close up

philosopher cleaning

This morning we received another story for the competition. This time from our longstanding friend Arindam in India. He had exams and only got round to writing the story yesterday. He tells us how the image came about on a lovely spring day.

Unfortunately the Dedes are still missing and I can’t share my excitement with them. But I hope you all have a look. Don’t forget you can still write something about the image. The deadline is tomorrow (the rules are here).

I received a concerned question from Leopoldine asking what the skull in yesterday’s post was. It is nothing malicious, just a cow’s head I found when I rambled through the woods. The cow certainly died of old age. We don’t have predators in New Zealand that could be dangerous for animals the size of a cow. We don’t have venomous snakes and only one rare type of venomous spider. So life is pretty safe here. (Though I should add there was a fatal shark attack on Auckland’s West Coast last week. The first one in 37 years.)

This morning I finally made my way to the bottom of the garden and found Philosopher doing chores on his boat.

“Where are all the others?” I asked.

“With the builders in the house it was too noisy. We were only fighting and everybody got more and more agitated. No way we could have made any decisions. So Harvey invited all of us to his new burrow on the mountain top!”

“And why are you here and not with the rest?”

“I can’t stand decisions by committee. When you try to please everybody you will always end up in the middle of the road!”

“Tell me, what are they trying to do anyway?”

“I can’t reveal that. I have no mandate for it. You will have to wait!”

“When are they coming back then?”

“Who knows… When they are ready!” Philosopher looked at me and added “Didn’t you say earlier in the week we will quickly find out who needs whom more?”

sunny artwork-1

I have to eat humble pie again. I had underestimated Sunny big time. He was working very hard yesterday and really surprised me by finishing his work the same day. In the evening he very proudly called me to the front door and presented his finished sculpture to me.

Oh gosh…! I was speechless.  You have to excuse me, but I am not impressed by what he has done. Yes, it is a cute little figure, but it is a total rip-off and he obviously didn’t understand the original art he copied at all. I’ll tell you where he got the idea from:

A while back we came across the blog  ArtistatExit0 by Albertus Gorman. I knew that Sunny loves the figures and the stories of the blog, but I would never have thought he stoops so low and copies the art. My sincere apologies to the artist for Sunny’s naughty behaviour. I admire Al’s concept and I well and truly love his artworks.

I take my hat off to Albertus and so should Sunny. For ten years now the artist has been visiting the same spot at the Ohio Falls and collects rubbish to turn into new works of art. Sometimes he arranges the rubbish by type  (eg rubber ducks, or signs, or tail lights) and photographs the items. But what I enjoy the most are the river-polished Styrofoam figures  he creates, then photographs and posts with wonderful environmental stories on his blog. He makes the figures in a makeshift outdoor studio (a place that might be destroyed by natural forces or humans by the next time he visits). The figures are often left in situ and he watches what happens to them over time. But what am I telling you? Here is the link, have a look for yourself. You need a bit of time, though. There is heaps to see and read, and I hope you are as excited about it as I am.

Thanks Albertus for your great blog (hope I got everything right here) and I am looking forward to your next post :)

Focus on the difference! This is another contender for Silent Week.

The image shows Ninepin Rock at the entrance of the Manukau Harbour and at the south end of the Waitakere Ranges. We used to take the students there on a three day excursion at the end of the summer semester. They had a landscape assignment during their stay, while I had nothing to do and  just tagged along to wind down. I always had a great time running up and down the mountains right next to the beach. It only takes around 35 minutes from our Tech to the haunted 1870s Lodge where we stayed. It is an entirely different world.  First of all no cell phone reception! Except when you hike up the nearest mountain for half an hour (or take your car back to Auckland, but that would be cheating!).

It is a rough and spectacular place and every year the landscape looked somewhat different. It was always interesting to see what had changed from the previous year. There was a beautiful lagoon one year, the next year it was entirely gone. The storm just shifts vast amounts of black sand and reshapes the profile of the land. Just like God is playing in an over sized sand pit. Six square kilometers of land, or should I say sand, have been added at this corner of the country since the 1940s.

The shifting sand make the entrance to the harbour extremely treacherous. And it was here where New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster occurred. In 1863 a British Royal Naval corvette, the HMS Orpheus came to grief: 189 men out of 270 people on board remained unaccounted for. The ship was involved in the British preparations for the Maori Land war. Two years later another war ship the HMS Eclipse with nearly 300 men on board was temporarily grounded on a sand bank in the harbour entrance.

Mmhm, I wonder who God supported in that war.

Yesterday I read a blog on how to increase traffic on your site. I came across it accidentally, I was not looking for it.  Can somebody explain to me, what is achieved, when I increase traffic on my blog? It sounds to me like how to improve the bottom line of your business. Is creating a blog a business or a matter of self-expression? Am I a better person when I have five-thousand visitors a day?

Of course I am excited when people like my images or my puppets or what I have to say, but when I read an About page where 1350 entries start with: “Thank you for visiting my blog”, doesn’t that mean that the blog owner is just good at pushing the Like button on other people’s blogs? For me personally it is a real deterrent!

Don’t get me wrong, it is a truly innocent question and I don’t want to offend anyone.  I have seen blogs with thousands of followers and they deserve every single one of them for their quirky and/or informative content – I myself follow a few of those – but then I also have seen a blog with a total of seven posts of average everyday babble and more than 2000 followers. So, what is the motivation?