On the farm

Tom’s family place sits on a pretty but relatively rugged stretch of coastline.

The family is engaged in a long process of subdivision by which each sibling will get a chunk to build on while the bulk of the land is going into a preservation trust.

Apparently it’s never been great farmland… currently it supports some cattle and a bunch of pine trees, now being harvested after 25 years of growing. All the land will be restored to native bush plantings, which means an aggressive anti-predator campaign.

Tom’s brother Guy runs the Tawapou native plant nursery on the property, which is a lovely place. They are very active in conservation of native species and there are some interesting stories about the rare/important plants.

Tom is building his holiday home on a bluff overlooking the sea. It has a unique semi-circular design, completely off the grid, and it will be stunning.

It was cloudy and windy, which spoiled our plans to go out to the Poor Knights Islands, but we had a fun day anyway… touring the farm, taking a couple of swims, tasting wines at the neighborhood winery.

And of course finishing with sausages on the grill.

The Maul of Auckland

Construction continues on the big mall overhaul in Newmarket. This is the view from my office window… at least the new, taller, building will block the view of the freeway…

Supposedly the mall be open this year. Seems impossible but I don’t know… they have a lot of guys working on it.

Stop Buggin’ Me

Two encased insects, two different stories…

The Venus flytrap totally does its job, but only after I stunned the fly with a flyswatter and placed it in the pouch. Not a scalable insect control strategy but very cool anyway.

And here, one of our last monarchs about to eclose… which is lepidopterist-speak for when they come out of the chrysalis.

Happy New Year

Happy Year of the Earth-Pig!

(In an early recognition of the impending Chinese global takeover, I’m just calling it “New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year”)

Pay Attention

Warnings and disclaimers have become so ubiquitous and so wordy that it’s all too easy to ignore most of them… stuff they’ll use to deny your insurance claim rather than stuff that actually keeps you safe.

But we paid attention to this sign at Browns Bay yesterday after some tourists were caught in a land slip over Christmas.


Friend Brian in town for work last week. We couldn’t get a table at our first choice restaurant so went to Gerome’s where we’d had a good experience one other time. Not so great this time but the conversation more than made up for it!!

Shoo flies

It’s great to live where it’s a nice temperature to leave the house open all summer. And even better a place with surprisingly few biting bugs.

But we do get flies in the summer, and they’re annoying. So we went to the store and bought all the methods to kill them.


One of our regular vegetable sellers was absent from the farmers market this morning but phoned in with a pretty good excuse.

The need for speed

I walk by this plaque most mornings on the way to and from the pool but I’d never stopped to read it until now.

Pip Gould’s record in the 200 only held for a few months, and the time has dropped steadily since then. The current record is 2:04.06, set by Missy Franklin in the 2012 Olympics.

Pip is 78 now and still lives in Auckland according to Wikipedia. Maybe she’s one of the ladies I see knocking out laps in the next lane over.

We support the monarchy

This was our first butterfly shortly before she came out of her chrysalis.

And a couple hours later, although we missed the actual event.

Because the caterpillars were being eaten very effectively by wasps and other predators, we took steps to bring some inside. The upstairs shower is now a caterpillar nursery with an expected crop of up to 20 butterflies over the next few weeks.

Caterpillars poop a lot.

We did get to watch one wriggle into its sleeping bag, though.

I haven’t really thought about the whole butterfly life cycle thing since learning about it in elementary school. But now that we’ve taken this little step to plant a couple of milkweed plants… it’s amazing!!

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