Above, Tutukaka’s Paradise Bay, where I went for a swim on Sunday morning that featured a sea cave and a fur seal.

Below, Auckland’s Rothesay Bay, where I went for a run yesterday afternoon.

Tawapou Farm Community Planting Day

Tawapou Farm is my ex-boss Tom’s family place. A few years ago they decided to put the land into a conservation trust and (over a decade or more) restore the native plants that had been destroyed by 100 years of cattle and pine tree farming.

Now, they have a community planting day every year to further that cause. Tom’s brother, who runs a large plant nursery on the property, does all the prep work (including killing off all the existing grasses), and they put out the call for volunteers. We were replanting between a pretty little stream and a new road they’ve put in to get to the children’s homes on the coastal ridge.

The Orca Research lady had first world conservationist problems… she had to arrange special permission to park down by the work site because there had been an orca sighting in the bay and she was on call to rush off and document any repeats.

Tom’s partner Isabella’s daughter with her beau… is this a pose they might repeat some day???

I don’t know how many people actually showed up today… maybe 80-100? But many hands certainly lightened the work. We planted over 5,000 shrubs and trees in under three hours.

After, we were treated to a great lunch and a long talk about bird habitat management (which mostly means killing rodents by any means necessary).

Kiwis feel about their gumboots the way many Americans feel about cowboy boots, and there many on display. And as with cowboy boots, some looked more authentic than others.

We are sore and that will get worse tomorrow. But it was a fun morning of community and I think it will be a long-term memory of doing something that feels unequivocally “right.”

And then, the long walk from the hotel to the bar… life is good.

Warkin’ It

We are in Tutukaka this weekend planting trees. En route yesterday, we stopped in Warkworth for some fried chicken. Walking around we found this clock tower, presented by the local Jaycees in 1967.

And we got to witness the free market in action at a local op shop. Supply of cricket books outpaces demand, resulting in depressed prices…

Get a job

I saw this tableau on my way home last night… nobody around it.

I believe it is now widely accepted that telling a homeless person to “get a job” is unhelpful and inappropriate.

Is it more or less hateful to throw down a textbook on multivariate data analysis?

Putting down roots

After almost two years we thought it might be time to repot the star jasmine plants on the deck. We were right, they were totally root bound.

It was a shame to have to bash the pots, but also kinda fun.

Happy 29th

We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary this month, which is apparently the year to give furniture. This old wardrobe will help keep Lee’s sewing and crafts supplies safe from curious marauders…

Far, far away

In one of those random coincidences that happen all the time,

• we got something shipped to us wrapped in newspaper

• which had a recipe for a clafoutis, a dessert popular in France and particularly the Northern part

• which reminded me of the “far Breton”, a denser cousin of clafoutis and a favorite of mine from my time in Brest all those years ago

• so Lee made one!

It’s every bit as good as I remember, and just the thing to keep you warm for a day of backbreaking work hauling lines, mending nets, and wrestling a meager living from the cold and treacherous seas. Or mind numbing meetings, answering your email and fleshing out your cloud migration strategy. Whatevs.

Puzzling but cool

Street art in Mairangi Bay. Some might question placing this outside the loading dock of the grocery store, but probably that kind of question would show a lack of artistic sensibility.

A glass act

We returned to the glass studio for a half-day jewelry making workshop. The class was pretty disorganized but we got to play with fusible glass which was fun.

Ours are the two bottom left and the green teardrops on the right.

Bay 2 Bay Ocean Swimming Club

I’ve been three times now so I guess I’m a member. It’s still cold but I can say that I felt much more confident by the third swim. If you look carefully you’ll see a few hardy souls not wearing wetsuits. Yikes.

Elementally, my dear

A couple of weeks ago we headed down the road to the Parnell appearance of some lighted sculptures we first saw down by the Harbour a few months back.

But wait, there’s more. The exhibit is themed around the four elements: earth water fire and air. The first week was earth, and so – obviously – there were four dancers in white thrift store ensembles with lighted accessories doing a slow-motion dance in complete silence. We lasted about five minutes because we felt like maybe there would be more. But no.

Owl Aboard

This bookish owl appeared recently on a utility box we walk by every day. Cute that it’s right across from the library.

The reading list includes a few punny titles, some of them are a real hoot!

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