Monday 13 December 2021

Drinking summer

Recipe instructions revised December 2022 :-)

Pohutakawa flowers are such an icon of New Zealand summer :-)

Over the past few weeks, more and more have come into flower around here.


I love the way they turn the footpaths red. 


But I had no idea they had culinary uses until I heard about pohutakawa cordial on National Radio the other week.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

A satisfying achievement :-)

Last summer I was regularly swimming at Blockhouse Bay Beach.  I would take the bus, walk down the hill and then swim.  I built up to 8 'widths' of the bay, which is about 1.2km and took me about an hour.

Then the weather got colder, and by June/July I was only staying in for about half an hour and swimming 600m.  I'd expected to be biking there (rather than busing) for these shorter swims, but I ended up going with a neighbour in her car instead.  I would swim while she walked her dogs at Craigavon Park.

Then Covid arrived in New Zealand for real.  At level 4 we weren't allowed to swim.  At level 3 we could swim in open water, but I was no longer keen to catch the bus and share everyone's germs.  So I started biking to the beach: initially swimming 4 widths, then 6, until today when I made it to 8 widths - 1.2km again :-)  I was super-pleased with myself.  Last week I swum 900m in 44 minutes; today I did 1.2km in 61 minutes.  I even kept to the same pace for the last two widths :-)

A happy Heather at the end of the swim.  It's been a gorgeous day today :-)

Tuesday 9 November 2021

A very local holiday

This past weekend Martin and I had a 4-day holiday.  We'd been hoping to go camping and tramping in the Waitakere Ranges but, with overnight stays away from home not allowed at the current Covid restrictions, we hatched a new plan.  On the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday we slept in, had a late-ish breakfast then biked to Coyle Park for the day; on the Friday we still had the slow morning, but then we drove to the Waitakeres for a day walk.

Martin's bike, loaded with a surprising amount of stuff for the day:

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Monday 4 October 2021

Back at Oakley Creek :-)

I've been avoiding Oakley Creek/Te Auaunga since we went into lockdown back in August.  The paths are narrow and it's super-popular - I found it impossible to stay 2 metres away from people there.  But today, on a somewhat grey day, I decided to take the risk and head down right as the 4pm levels adjustment announcement started.  I hoped that most people would be glued to their radios and TVs and I'd have the place to myself.  I was right :-)  And it was so good to be back!

A bend in the Creek right near the entrance from our street.  The water was running high and cloudy after all the rain last night.

A cabbage tree/tī kōuka in flower up near Harbutt Reserve

New growth on a young tōtara - coming in a much greyer colour than the more brownish/yellowish established leaves.

I loved all the cheerful clumps of daisies in the grassy area on the other side of the creek from us.

A tiny mānuka (or kānuka?) flowering its wee heart out :-)

I love the vivid golden yellow of kōwhai at this time of year :-)

Another stretch of creek as I headed back towards home - so lush with all the spring growth around.

It's such a treasure having the Creek so close, and it was a delight to spend time there today :-)

Monday 20 September 2021

Escaping the fear machine

At the moment, I feel a bit like I'm surrounded by voices that urge me to be afraid.  The New Zealand media is the main voice, with stories about our current Covid outbreak dominating everything, and this voice is reinforced by many people I speak to, by social media, even, to an extent, by my church prayer meetings.  It feels like there is one key issue in the whole world, and that subject is scary.

I often buy into it.  I miss the Covid-free-paradise that we had only a month or so ago.   I tend towards the anxious anyway.

All of which makes my 'Sabbath Mondays' particularly precious right now.  I'm so appreciating having a day to just 'be' and a day to fix my eyes on Jesus.

Sunday 29 August 2021

Holiday in Te Aroha and Auckland

On August 12th I had my first Covid vaccination.  At the time it was scheduled, my most local vaccination sites were the CBD and Henderson.  I decided to have it in town and to schedule it on a Thursday (Martin's regular day off) so we could spend some time exploring the waterfront together first.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Unexpectedly 'visiting' the Philippines

Today we went on a household excursion to Rizal Reserve.  It turns out to be named in honour of José Rizal: a Philippine nationalist who seems to have been quite the polymath!  There's a monument to him there, put up by the local Philippine community.

I'm not sure what the Philippine connection to the area is, but there's a Corregidor Place running more-or-less parallel to the park, too.

Friday 18 June 2021

Still figuring things out

It's two and half years since I got better, but I still feel like I've got a lot to figure out about this new life.  When I first got sick, I think it took around that long to move from being scared through to a place of contentment - and it took periodic reviews of my activities to keep me there.  I guess I shouldn't be too surprised it's taking a long time this time around, too.  It's a big change!

I think one trouble is that I still don't have a good idea how much energy a lot of things will take.  Recently I went to visit a friend in Takapuna.  I spent about two hours with her, maybe an hour or so each way in travel time, and I rested for about an hour at her place before coming home.  I'd expected it to take basically the whole day, so wasn't unduly distressed at the two hour visit taking five hours - and we had a really good time together :-)  What I hadn't expected was being incredibly wiped out almost the whole following day as well, so suddenly my fun two hours had cost me almost two entire days...

And then I felt stink, and lonely - if visiting one friend 'costs' so much, how can I ever get around to visiting all the people I miss?  Time already feels so tight.

That was probably mostly because my expectations are still all a bit all over the place.  After all, no one else gets to do things that take two whole days all that often, either!  But I hadn't realised that was what this would take.

That's kind-of prompted a bit of a review of my time, though.  If things that matter so much to me take so long, I really do need to take steps to make sure they can happen at least sometimes!

Thursday 3 June 2021

Two favourite psalms

For our home group last week, we each had to pick a psalm of significance to us and talk a little about what it meant to us.  We then spent some time as a group, praying the sorts of things the psalmist was praying in the psalm, before doing the same with the next person's psalm.

Two psalms immediately came to mind for me (or rather, phrases from two psalms - I couldn't have told you the numbers of either, let alone quoted them in their entirety), and I was struck by how similar they were.

Thursday 29 April 2021

Camping on Waiheke

Over ANZAC weekend, Martin and I headed off for our second ever bike camping adventure: four nights camping on Waiheke :-)

Here we are at the local train station, about to start our adventure.

Sunday 11 April 2021

Fun at Oakley Creek

Today has been my 'sabbath' (something I usually take on a Monday), where I take the whole day to rest, relax and 'be'.  My only 'have-to' on such days is generally to take a time of reflection, and ideally I also do something fun.

For reflection, today I took myself, my Bible (aka my phone with a Bible app) and my journal down to Oakley Creek.  As well as reading and praying, I spent some time wandering around on the grass barefoot, noticing what was around me.  There was a strong smell of onionweed and also, puzzlingly, a salty smell like the sea.  I heard two kereru flying high overhead, various song birds I couldn't identify and, I think, a riroriro.  I nibbled on the leaves of some kind of radishy weed.  And here is some of what I saw.

A clump of some kind of mushrooms.  I took a couple home to see if I could figure out what they were (and if they were edible!), but still have no idea what they are.

Friday 12 March 2021

Lockdown 4.0

The other week Auckland spent a week at Covid Alert Level 3 - which, from my point of view, mostly means no buses, infrequent grocery shopping (with everything getting washed or put in quarantine) and Martin and Sarah working from home.  This time it also meant really not leaving the property for a couple of days, as I had a bit of a sniffle so had a Covid test on the Monday and we were told to not even go out for a walk till the result was back.

Still, I had quite a fun week.

A house on our street was knocked down that week to make way for 6 townhouses.  On the weekend (before my sniffle) Martin and I went scavenging and came back with these glorious flowers.

Monday 8 March 2021

The story of Naaman's healing

Today I read the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19.  I won't write it out here as it's long, but what I say below might not make sense without reading it.

I was really struck by two things:

  1.  Naaman, the king of Aram (where Naaman lived) and the king of Israel (where he went to get help) all assumed that anyone powerful enough to heal Naaman of leprosy would be, at least, known to the king.  Presumably, they would be someone in the control of the king - so that asking the king for help was the way to get their help.  But Elisha wasn't anything to do with the government hierarchy.  Perhaps he was somewhere close to it (as he knew that the king had gotten super-upset at receiving the king of Aram's letter), but maybe not - that could have been widespread knowledge, after all.  And the king certainly didn't know enough about Elisha to know to send Naaman to him.
  2. the servant girl (who was Jewish), knew that her God would help her master, if he just got to the person God worked through.

I find the second point particularly interesting.  We often act like God provides specific material help to Christians, but that non-Christians only get the generic help of 'the rain falls on the just and the unjust'.  Which means I'm often uncertain how to pray for non-Christians in need of actual help.  This story encourages me to pray for them in the same way I pray for Christians.

But the first point is also interesting, too, in terms of how God's agents are primarily in His control, and may or may not otherwise occupy the positions we expect.

I'm also fascinated that Naaman asks for a large quantity of earth to take back with him.  I presume this is to do with the idea that gods are associated with particular locations.  Now that Naaman wants to worship the God of Israel, he wants to take a bit of Israel back home with him to enable him to do that!

Saturday 27 February 2021

Fun with foraging!

Over January and February I've been reading Hiakai (which means desiring kai, i.e. hungry).  The first half of the book is an exploration of pre-European foods in New Zealand and the second half is a recipe book, using some of those ingredients in pretty fancy ways.  Many of the recipes are too fussy for me, but I still gleaned heaps of good ideas, plus the book has inspired me to learn to identify and use more New Zealand native herbs!


Sunday 24 January 2021

Visit to Ōtaki and Wellington

Straight after Christmas, Martin and I headed off with his parents to Ōtaki, a bit north of Wellington (where his sister lives) then on to visit some university friends in Wellington itself.  We were away for two weeks, getting back two weeks ago.  It was a bit of an exhausting time, as we don't get down that way very often and there were a lot of people we wanted to see, but it was fun, too :-)

Us celebrating a belated Christmas with Martin's parents, his sister Sandra and her grown-up kids Michaela and Nathan (our brother-in-law, Chris, is taking the photo)