Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meanwhile back at the ranch

A Sparrow Gus gets back from the Boxing Day sales.

The Tabby's viewer stats go through the roof

due to the number of people that Google "abducted by aliens" and "anal probe".

If I cared about these things, I'd slip Michael Jackson into the conversation more often.

Sick as a dog

And being as sick as a dog is not a happy place for a Cat to be! For those that didn't see through the metaphor in the previous post, I spent Christmas in hospital. I had a sudden severe infection which I attributed to indigestion and almost left it too long to seek help. Idiot, but in my favour, I wasn't well. Fortunately medical science and some wonderful people administering it, have patched me up somewhat and I'm back home and much better, thanks. Alas I may need further intervention and I'll be sure to blog a picture of the scar after the surgery (just teasing).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Abducted by Aliens


I found myself in a large brightly-lit place surrounded by smocked and masked creatures speaking unintelligible languages. There were other captive humans in what I assumed to be the alien spaceship hovering over this planet, cloaked from view. The other abductees were lying, like I was, on high bare tables, with tubes and wires connecting us to machines draining and inserting various fluids. The white-clad aliens moved amongst us, standing over us, turning their heads to each other seemingly discussing our strange anatomies. We couldn't really see what they looked like, although some of them were wearing different coloured spacesuits - some were light blue, and some were green, most were white, and I think the ones wearing black were the high status ones who were rarely seen but gave the orders. I can confirm that much of what you've ever heard about being abducted by aliens is actually true: they do have a predilection for anal probes. They also take samples of body tissue, drain off vials of our blood, and experiment on us by injecting various compounds into our systems and observing the reactions. In some cases they remove whole organs or limbs. It seems they were shielded radioactive beings able to look deep inside human bodies to observe our workings. At times I was in very great pain and at other times I was in a dream-like drug-like state. Days passed, I think. It was hard to tell the day from the night.

At times when the aliens weren't around I was able to compare notes with the other captives and many of us had the same story: we were just carrying out our normal lives when suddenly we saw a bright flashing light, heard a loud high-pitched noise, and some sort of swift vehicle or mechanism teleported us to that shiny bright glowing place.

However although I was very afraid for a while, those aliens did turn out to be benevolent, evidently coming from a more highly evolved species than ours, and they quickly taught me an elementary version of their foreign tongue. They identified a medical problem I didn't know I had, and offered me some of their advanced treatments for it.

When they had finished their investigation and documentation, they delivered me back today to near the spot from whence they had suddenly spirited me away. Almost a week had passed. It seems unreal, and now I am wondering if it ever happened at all. But I do know that I missed out on Christmas Dinner!

Also: I feel battered, sore and hungry. I have lost weight. I have bruises and needle marks in strange corners of my body, and there is still what I assume to be an identification tag attached to my arm. I keep finding little sticky pieces of a gum-like compound on my skin.

Recovering at home now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh my godwits

This morning was breathtaking at the bay - not a breath of wind. I was up early to be amazed by the sight of a mirror-calm harbour. The water was more still and glassy than I've ever seen it there, and I do believe this is the first time there has been no wind at all, not even a tiny breeze, in the spot we've come to know as "the wind tunnel". And bonus - there was a flock of godwits just out the front stalking the shore in the gently advancing tide, their reflections shimmering around them. They're looking pretty tubby now, their rotund well-fed shapes contrasting markedly with their thin appearance when they first appeared back from their round-trip to Alaska.

I was inspired to sit out in the sunny calm morning after breakfast and read Janet Hunt's new book E3 Call Home: A true story of godwit migration and misadventure (Random House NZ 2009). What a treat! Ostensibly a children's book (with a charming space to write a name on the "This Book Belongs To" plate inside the front cover) this thin glossy book would also be a good gift for anyone else too. I know my Mum would have loved to leaf through it, in her last bedridden years of failing health. She liked to look at colourful easy books, and they had to be light because she was so weak. For the rest of us bird lovers, this picture book offers a lively and informative text and makes a nice companion to the substantial and authoritative recent publication by Keith Woodley, Godwits: Longhaul Champions (Penguin NZ 2009). I am lucky enough to have both books in the still-expanding bird library, and highly recommend them both.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yuletide Traditions

The movement-sensitive tree that sings "Jingle Bell Rock".

This family heirloom carries with it many wonderful memories of times past.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Viva Whanganui

There was a decision today to allow both names for the town formerly known as "Wanganui".

A compromise that will quickly starve the redneck name to death, one hopes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The middle view

Whites Aviation: Classic Photography of New Zealand From the Air

Alexander Turnbull Library - Godwit (Random House NZ) 2009

This is a very good book. It has clarity, and economy of words and pictures and design.

NZ is captured in a (mostly) 1950s freeze frame at a time of prosperity and blooming growth.

Whether one sees that growth as a cancer or as progress, this book is all about the photos and it provides a suitable conveyance for viewing them.

It's a treat to look at these pictures. All of them - the familiar and the new.

I can see my suburb before I was born, and then I can see a day I remember so well - the day everyone in Auckland except me walked over the new Harbour Bridge. I cried that day because I wasn't allowed to go because I was just out of hospital after major surgery. I watched the ant-size people crawling all over the bridge and here again is that sight!

Ah, nostalgia. On the whole the pictures are from not too close and not too far off. You can't see into back yards and you can't see that NZ was anything but a tidy and perfect society.

It's a middle class view, too, and it's only one part of New Zealand and its reality, but it's a steady, honest middle distance point of view.

The photos were sold to landowners, institutions, business and the government.

What farmer didn't have that proud shot of homestead and farm?

New Zealand was a rich country, on the pig's back.

And what a beautiful country this is.

I'm lucky to have got this for an early Xmas present...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


A great idea for an ethical gift. The good souls at your local Riding for the Disabled scramble for funding and they give such joy to people of all ages with physical and intellectual disabilities, brain damage and learning disorders, and their families.

And they deserve extra support at a time when people who have disabilities are openly mocked by TV announcers who think it is too Politically Correct to believe that all people have equal rights to respect.

Shame on you Paul Henry and TV New Zealand for enabling your poison!

The mystery of the triumph of the mediocre

"It's not what you know, it's who you know" is one of those proverbs that gets bandied about sagely and if you're in the right mood or miffed enough with some situation or another you grunt and huff and say "I'll say!"

Somebody got an easy ride for some reason or other - be it nepotism, or doing their time on the casting couch, marrying into fortune, or just generally sucking up or sucking off, as required.

Never mind the rest of us who could do a better job if we just had the right contacts.

I don't think the mediocre do triumph, though, in the long run. Inflated reputations may not pop like a pricked balloon, but they will gradually deflate and become saggy, if they have not been earned for any more than hail-fellow-well-met qualities.

We might hear certain tedious names praised interminably but eventually, if the expert schmoozers, the relatives of the famous, and the best friends of the high and mighty don't have some contribution of their own to make, we won't remember why their name is attached to this or that monument, plaque on the side of a building, or arts fellowship. Good connections can only take you so far. You have to come up with the goods , or it'll all come out in the wash...

Who you know helps, but what you know is more important.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I try not to be pedantic about language and pronunciation, but sometimes I can't help being irritated by a language variant, even though I know that this is the nature of language, to change.

For instance I shudder when I hear the word 'pronunciation' pronounced "pronounciation", even though I understand the perfectly natural regulatory impulses behind the innovation. The verb is 'pronounce' and it is not rational to pronounce the noun as though it were "pronunce". I have to admire the courage and rationality of the variant that grates to my ear even though I know it to be 'wrong' according to the accepted standards of the recent past. I have to fight my urge to 'correct' this pronunciation, because, it's very likely, given the widespread usage, that it won't be long - in geological time anyway - before 'pronounciation' is the new standard for NZ English.

There's one other little pet linguistic hate I have been nursing, and that's the way some people pronounce the name of that very fine New Zealand white wine sauvignon blanc as sav blanc. And then just sav. And now, increasingly, and affectionately, savvy. As in, "That new sparkling savvy's awesome!"

Aaaargh! But it's such a nice wine, and now there are sparkling varieties of sauvignon blanc, and the other day I shared a bottle of it with a friend, celebrating a joyous triumph, and it was a lovely day too, and the waitperson called the wine we ordered "savvy" and I thought, yeah. Gimme some savvy. Yum. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Surf's up

The only surfing I am capable of these days is here on the net. But there's almost always someone in the sea at St Clair, even when it looks like there is a storm brewing.

Breakfast Meetings

I've done it myself. Sigh. Mea culpa. Had an important meeting in a cafe. Things got heated, or enthusiastic, voices raised, important issues just had to be spelled out... several people spoke at once or vied for the floor. Time was short, somebody had a plane to catch. The fact that there are other patrons in the cafe, and that they might be of the opinion that you're all being over-loud blow-hards, just doesn't enter your head.

But what are the odds - the particular meeting I recently overheard was on a topic dear to my heart, one that I've been making private and public representations about, and devoting considerable time and effort on. (Not here, darlings!) How very useful...

Starfish Cafe & Bar St Clair Beach Dunedin
(Friendly Staff, Great Location)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Laugh of the Day

There is a Comments Section inside this journal, but Comments are Disabled. Lol.

Found this on

An Informal Complaint

Having just surveyed the procedure for making a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the recent offensive behaviour of Paul Henry (in his mocking of people with brain damage and intellectual disability, and his use of derogatory language concerning them) I don't think I have the time or the energy right now to go through all the hoops.

I know that many other people have done so - gone through the formal complaint process - with no sign of any apology let alone any contrition. So I'll register an informal complaint here, and also I resolve to boycott any advertiser that supports TV One, until they demand that Henry apologises and attends some form of remedial education.

(It has just been brought to my attention that there is an actual campaign to this effect going on over at the HAND MIRROR - Bravo!)

The other point that I'd like to make is that the Human Rights Commission has politely explained they cannot action the many complaints they have received, because "the complaints raise issues about the rights of disabled people, but do not fall within the discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Act".

Why not? Don't people with intellectual disabilities have Human Rights?

It seems that there is a convention on those rights, but NZ has not yet implemented it: the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities.




Monday, December 7, 2009

Heron Addict

I started this blog as a cat blog named for the venerable old Tabby and in due course - earlier this year - it was her time to creep into Schroedinger's Box and take on the indeterminate status of someone or something loved but no longer present.

There was no question of replacing her. Not at first, anyway. And the blog? Meanwhile, it has become a bird blog!

And now the cat grief is not so keen and the kittens are starting to bloom all around in time for Christmas, and the cat thoughts come back - what fine friends they make, how elegant they are, what lessons they have for us.

And then there's the thought of the damage one cat can do, in a lifetime, in the kind of area where we now live, near where so many exquisitely beautiful birds breed and feed.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Hark the herald angels sing

Apparently it's Christmas. The cards have started arriving, the carols are playing.

Only 21 days to go!

Here's the classic shot of the Tabby in her seasonal finery.

This is the price our cats have to pay for their otherwise cushy lifestyle. Occasionally the humans will want to dress them up.

Happy Birthday Baby

"I wish you happy birthday baby mine"

There is something to be said in favour of the never forgotten and dearly loved stillborn baby:

they never judge you or reject you,

they don't ever do things like take up glue sniffing
or espouse political views opposite to your own.

Having once broken your heart
they never break it again.

Keeping up with the Australians

That sex-god and financial genius Don Brash has decided that in order to catch up with the standard of living in Australia it would be useful to create a vast poorly paid underclass here in NZ.


But really - how does the hypothetical conversation go, when the right wing reflect on how they might make good on their promise to raise our wages in NZ so they are as high as those in Aussie?

Right-Wing Mover & Shaker: So what is the situation over in Australia?

Right-Wing Flunkie: Well they have strong unions and a Labour Government sir.

Right-Wing Mover & Shaker: (Splutters) That'll never do! What else have they got over us?

Right-Wing Flunkie: Well they have uranium and a host of other valuable minerals.

Right-Wing Mover & Shaker: That's more like it. Have the relevant agencies run around and do the testing for that stuff immediately. We need an audit before we can sell off the family silver!

Right-Wing Flunkie: Unfortunately sir, any significant unexploited mineral wealth is likely to be located in our scenic and nature reserves. It might interfere with our tourism, not to mention the hit to the "clean green" bullshit that goes over so well for our agricultural sector.

Right-Wing Mover & Shaker: Nonsense! Get on to it straight away. Seize the moment while we're still high in the polls! Make sure we get a new pic of John Key grinning his head off plastered over all the news bulletins. Oh and get Tariana on the phone, better square it all up with the Maori Party elite. Give the ruling class bros a bloody mountain back somewhere and shut them up. You can spin this one, surely! Can't believe how well this lark is working so far! What morons New Zealanders are, basically! Hehe! God I love my job!

Right Wing Flunkie: Bob's your uncle! (Exits to carry out his other job as a TV journalist.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking the High Road

The new commute takes us over the spine of the Otago peninsula.
Already looking out for icebergs.