Fir is a crazy little unit with rolling sanpaku eyes and a joyous love of virtually everything. He's a year old now, which we cannot believe. Like Felix, he's topped out his miniature designation and gone over 35cm at the shoulder but is still small enough to sit comfortably in your lap. He throws up on long car rides. He treasures little pieces of fabric for hours, flipping them around and carrying them in his mouth like the little pica freak he is. Neutering didn't take the edge off his inexhaustible mania so I think we're stuck with all that dragon energy.
In what seems to something of an emerging pattern, late winter was warm and clement, easing into a nice early spring that then shit itself badly, turning into a month and a half of clammy sunless rain late in the season as Antartica started its seasonal thaw and threw front after front at us. Not fun. But the roses are gigantic. I'll post some pics soon.
Despite all the good intentions bestowed on their creation, fire areas are rarely entirely successful and I'm glad I noticed that in advance. We're happy with ours after a couple of test drives but we already had a terraced hillside to work with. We can hear and see the ocean. We're not overlooked by a thousand unsavoury neighbours. The moon is usually visible. So we can't snatch all the credit for our atmospherics.
Here's a few things to consider. There's a mysterious seclusion-to-convenience ratio that will make or break your fire area. Don't put it a mile away from the toilet/fridge/woodpile, or you won't use it. Conversely, setting it too close to the house will kill its secret sexiness. Also, you need it to be somehow surrounded in order to define the space; not necessarily walled, but meaningful physical demarcation is important. A line of fancy pebbles will not achieve this. The seating has to be slightly tight so the privilege of a decent berth around the flames is appreciated. Nocturnal airflow at our place means the initial smoke is reliably ushered away downhill, but you need to think about that too- don't put yours in a dead air zone. And last but not least... if your fire pit still looks and feels fucked despite your best efforts, it's because you cheaped out on the brazier, to within a 99% probability. That central element is crucial. I'm a stingey bitch who abhors those stupid overbuilt pizza oven/crematorium/half a fucking house-type installations beloved by sad outdoorsy wankers, but nothing looks cheesier than a shitty, budget, flimsy-arse brazier in an otherwise nice setting. Stop looking for vintage bunting and artisanal tealight ephemeral bullshit. Spend that extra hundy on something proper steel and handmade.
And thusly our scant wisdom hath been imparteth.
Fir tried to lie right under the damn fire so we brought his bed out. A guy in Christchurch makes these awesome corten braziers- I forget his name but you can look him up on TradeMe.
In virtually every culture that has encountered them you will hear stories about how herons were historically duped out of their previously mellifluous voices.
Fledglings are easy to identify: generally, their proportions are a wee bit stumpy, their feathers retain that vaguely downy look, their beaks are shorter and their behaviour is distinctly teenage. Though they're fairly common, this is the first pair of chicks we've noticed in our time here so it's nice to know they're breeding successfully in this urban-ish area.
It's officially Spring down here from Sept. 1, but really we've been in the latter season for at least a month now after a fucking balmy, frost-less winter that seems like several worlds away from the brutal ones we experienced upon arrival in Dunedin 20 years ago. The climates, they are a changing. Thanks Shell, BP et al.
I'm going to post a few things about the building process because I feel there's stuff I wish we had known before we began; it's like having kids- no one tells you about the bad shit until you're stuck in the middle of it. We've learned a lot and really sort of know what the hell we're doing now that the process is almost over. Just like life. You finally get a few things sorted and then poof, you're back to level one: microbial sludge.
On that note I will leave you and go the fuck to bed before the paint fumes induce me to produce lewd couplets. There'll be another lipstick review this week because I have a backlog to document before offloading some. Reasons- I have them. Shut up.
Just in case some of you constant readers are skeptical as to the actual existence of any project that might be dragging me away from this blog rather than just, oh I don't know, massive fucking laziness or inappropriate drug use, behold- the Idlehouse is nearly a thing. It's not quite this whack-looking shade of blue; extreme afternoon sunlight is not letting my superior paint selection be great and I couldn't be bothered colour-correcting the pic. Note random piece of trellis waiting to be painted black just like 4635542894 other of the motherfucking things.
No steps or roof gutter as yet, which is trying my patience. We're currently whitewashing the ply walls in the bathroom with a product that behaves like Satan's jizz (streaky, fume-y, splatters unpredictably and sticks to your eyeballs, will not come off your fucking hands) so, not in the best of moods but as you can now see, we are getting there.
R was trimming the weedy vines coming through the ivy in the front yard, and an hour or so later noticed this fucking monstrous stick insect hanging from one of my tree aloes. Stick insect doesn't really cut it- it's more of a log beast. It's the biggest one we've seen and after consulting the literature, about as big as these things actually get. They are utterly harmless, but life in the tropics has left me with a lasting reluctance to tangle with anything larger than my hand possessing more than four legs.
It's a lady Argosarchus, because the males are far less impressive and, in some populations, entirely absent; parthenogenesis renders them obsolete. Lady Argosarchus have it sorted- if a male tried any shit with this big bitch, she'd just stamp him into a paste and go back to munching leaves. Sounds awesome, doesn't it?
The detail and accuracy of their mimicry is astonishing. This is just one of the rewards of going spray-free, so please consider it in your own horticultural practise. We returned her to the remaining vines, and found another species wandering the yard a wee while later, so perhaps we should all be a bit more circumspect when we're hacking away at something.
I personally burn to crayfish red in about five minutes in this kind of UV, so Felix gets the best of it.
R's not really a beach guy. He won't take his shoes off, which I find both pitiable and disturbing.
Brilliant silver Mullet, like shards of lustre glass, surf the glossy little breakers about 5m from shore.
The dunes manage to both erode and stubbornly persist, but no one knows for how much longer, realistically.
They are clothed in spiky grass and feral flowers.
Millions of snails gave their lives for this pointless tableau. The fine sand buffs the pastel crust from their outer whorls, revealing their flayed, roseate nacre. I could shoot them all day.
This sort of stuff is xmas for us down here. Northern tourists seem to forget the season and slide back into summer sloth, which must be nice. Cooking a full roast on a day that might have fallen out of Satan's arsecrack, complete with fully-operational blowflies and beer bloat isn't my idea of festive. Lots of people just chuck formality and get pissed at the beach with some ham and salad.
Yes, I know we haven't posted much recently- we've been super-busy trying to get shit sorted in the garden and developing new areas before building of the new studio finally gets underway for real. That, and houseguests have kept us from blogular greatness but we have a lot of images to share and that will be happening some time this week.
Personally, I'm wishing this year would jump into a tyre fire and spare us all the xmas horror.
At least Felix is still with us. He's back to being a 24 hour party person, so that's positive for now.
This lovely ginger felid didn't like our selection of dog, but is otherwise one of those largely smoochie but slightly conflicted creatures who likes to miaow at you to join it underneath the hedge.
We're keeping it small and cosy as opposed to enormous and tacky because we're not believers in trashing what makes a site appealing in the first place in order to install something which is supposed to take advantage of those amenities. Call us crazy. The Idlehouse will be cute, contextual and relaxing with relatable human scale and lots of soothing outdoor goodness because this seaside site is all about the garden and the view.
Here's some able units from DS Building, a local outfit, stringing up the foundations. I chose them because they had worked with SIP panels before: believe it or not, this methodology is still somewhat novel here in New Zealand. It's fast, pre-cut, structurally efficient, super-insulated and relatively eco-friendly, on balance. I don't know about you, but I am massively over crappy traditional stick construction. The glazing will be low-E double. No, I am not getting any kickbacks for saying any of this stuff. Sigh.
Now we have to go and dig some big fucking holes which I am not looking forward to. Talk to you soon.
Supermarkets sell out of bread. The reality is we still have soggy daisies on the shortest day.
And good blues. Luminous and saturated at the same time. I think we have some of the best blue on the planet.
Our daily walk alongside the harbour isn't the worst thing that can happen to someone. I'll trade getting rained on for these clouds and their reflections.
The big Larus Kelp/Blackbacked Gulls are starting to pair up again, loitering idly together, running through random phrases of their courting routines and ducking for crabs in the sea lettuce. You can see one floating in the lower third of the image below. A lot of people dislike them, reviling their intelligence, persistence, resourcefulness and courage. It's because Blackbacks refuse to go quietly. They are a totem and consolation, reminding us implicitly that axial tilt is a real thing and that this internal drab is in remission; I will take their word for it.
Sometimes bands of rain out of the south are split by the snaking length of the harbour and will cling to the line of the peninsula rather than dumping their shit indiscriminately. The sun rides low toward the north, so we end up with these freakish split-frame meteorological vistas. This is the first time I've caught one with a camera.
R is always impressed by the sight of these boats at Back Beach and insists that I take this shot when there is any sort of light. It might be a male thing. So blame him for this same frame as last time bullshit. Boats are just cars on water to me- sort of ugly, barely fit for purpose and vaguely transgressive. But then I can swim really well and don't fancy a propellor slicing into my backfat.
The clinker dinghy.
So here are a few pictures of our having drinks at the Union Cafe, Port Chalmers. Nice pastries, good hot chocolates and Rog says their coffees are decent (I refuse to drink such base stuff).
I've been reading about the worldwide promotion of feijoas lately, which have been a popular fruit here in NZ for ages. No one seems to know what they are, so here's a feijoa flower. We have a small tree in our yard. They're edible themselves and taste slightly honey-ish.
I will be posting this week, just not sure what.