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.
I feel like I've taken most of these frames before.
But it's midwinter and not even the wind can be bothered.
There is a personal as well as meteorological lacuna involved. Novelty is unwelcome. Commentary suffers.
When you live near the ocean, you notice that the water is almost always hungry for the sky.
As though it is a younger sibling; vigilant and imitative.
Except when it is busy
rejoicing in its own turmoil.
I would usually crop people out of the shot and I've only just noticed that tendency.
We are such ugly animals, by and large. Grass is more beautiful than the average human unit.
Which is sad, really.
This lovely old boat and its shag-shedding burqa.
Looks so bridal. She is a
These geese survived the shabby, heartless cull that extirpated their more trusting compatriots.
We're far more in favour of a reduction of the demographic that demanded their deaths.
But no one listens to us.
A while ago someone made these chairs and put them in the picnic area at Back Beach.
I like them well enough. They're silly.
I keep expecting to find them busted or tagged or thrown into the sea, but neoliberal economic policy + gentrification banishes of the sort of people who didn't understand that they are worth less than things now to parts unknown. Or South Dunedin. It's not that people who can negotiate this kind of sociopathic capitalism in the midterm aren't responsible for social harm; they do it with their money rather than smashing public shit. In a housing crisis it must be very gratifying for a certain cohort to buy three properties and hike the rents by 20%.
But that's not considered vandalism.
These chairs have more friends and prospects than the people priced out of places like Port Chalmers, which used to be so ghetto it was actually called Dogtown. If we had rented instead of buying a little shitbox here, we'd be fucked and priced out too. I think about that every time we walk past this spot.
So don't be put off getting things started if you don't have some sort of grand baronial vision.
Just let what's there remain and add some more stuff as you go. This is the best way to
maintain a love relationship with a large bit of ground and not come to resent the slavish
efforts that whack notions of perfection will require from you.
That's not to say that our garden is a disgusting place to be; on the contrary, it has the sort of faineant, deshabille charm that can only come from a genuine lack of consideration, experience and forethought. I am never as bonelessly relaxed in a neat, deliberate garden as I am in our own shambolic tract of half-arsed wilderness. Hopefully the other inhabitants are similarly contented.
The only horticultural talents I can claim are the ability to spot the half-priced gold buried
amongst the shrivelled dross at nursery sales (an acquired skill) and to instinctively know which shit's worth getting out of bed for as far as species and variety are concerned.
But we don't have a lot of undue concern for vistas or harmonies. My rose collection looks
like it was sharted out of a My Little Pony- if it's vulgar or stripy or pink and stinky you'll
probably find it clashing violently with a neighbour at our place. It's safe to say that
Winchester Cathedral, posing so demurely directly below, is not completely representative.
If you're starting your own garden with few to no clues under your belt, or if, like me, you have been blessed with vulgar sensibilities but would like to present a more cultivated face to the world, my first and most important advice would be to stick with the older plant varieties.
I wish someone had told me that twenty bloody years ago.
I was going to start a rose review series this summer but the weather was so foul we barely
had any bloody material. Hopefully I'll have time over winter to cook up some notes with
the few decent shots we did manage and kick that shit off, because I've personally had it up to
my tits with being duped by shady breeder and nursery descriptions.
Thanks again to the Lovely R for his lovely pics.
Young New Zealand Fur Seal Arctocephalus forsteri chillaxing by the 30 sign around Back Beach.
She was a wee bit skinny and this isn't a regular haul out spot so we called DOC in case she was harassed by dogs etc. They said she seemed okay and we didn't see her again. NZ Fur Seal populations are recovering which is fantastic and it's great to know they are returning to old haunts like Otago Harbour.
The best way to tell the difference between a Fur Seal and the local Sea Lion is the former's pointy dog face as opposed to the latter's stouter bear schnoz.
Mushroom season. These are Parasol Ink caps, I think.
Unidentified Amanita shrooms, possibly.
The sort of stranger who will gratuitously knee-check your fleeing arse and then stomp your hands into the concrete if I catch you ganking my spray-free business because the justice system is just a hostile farrago of flatulent, exiguous platitudes to me. Furthermore I will absolutely exploit the highly ironic misogyny of its attitude toward feminal violence and totes get away with that shit. You will lose your crap retail gig because a lack of viable phalangeal cartilage means you can no longer fold clothing and you'll be forced to move back in with that guy who gave you herpes and sniffs your friends' bike seats when he thinks no one's looking. He'll sell your painkillers to people you hate for half their reasonable value and spend the proceeds on ratchet MILF cam porn.
So buy your own fucking garlic next time.
The Tuis visit the Banksia but seem more enthusiastic about the Pohutukawas (Metrosideros) coming into flower in our upper garden, along with every bee and wing'd insect for a mile in all directions. On a warm, still day during its luminous scarlet declamation the whole tree hums and shivers with a host of nectar-seeking visitants. Pohutukawa honey is bloody delicious- pale, thickly gloopy and almost salty, loathsome in its deliciousness. Try it if you ever come across it.
* More Photoessays * Port Chalmers, New Zealand * R's Blog *
Ha ha! Juuust kidding. I could punt it out over the drop from my bedroom window, no problem.
We're going with a a passive house concept made from SIP panels which are fabbed down the road from us in Cromwell. The company is Climate House and no, I'm not getting any kickbacks because begging comps and discounts from everyone you blog about is tacky as shit. Goodwill and word of mouth need to be liberated from the stinky taint of paid-for praise; that's one small thing we can all do to make shit better. I think so, anyway.
We've been enjoying the details of the munted trump (doesn't warrant shift key) inauguration. Cake appropriation. Logistical tantrums. Melania K-holes. CIA rage fumes (sometimes karma smells like bubbling hairpiece glue and sweaty pubes): it had it all, really. A cursory if somewhat jaundiced armchair diagnosis of his behaviour, with all that limited vocab, paranoia, acting out, disordered circadian stuff and cheese-holed memory etc certainly looks like early-stage dementia, doesn't it? Fun times ahead. My only black-hearted comfort is that at least his stunted, oinking family will wear some of the fallout. Wait til he starts spitefully shitting his pants whenever someone tries to take his phone away.
Don't feel bad for not wanting to understand his supporters. They say everything they're thinking so there's nothing to discover. It's not like we haven't spent the last fifty years trying to bring them up to speed on some very simple concepts, many of which we grasped in our first years in primary school, for fuck's sake. Come on now. No one alive and cognisant today in the western world can reject social and environmental justice informed by intellectual endeavour out of ignorance.
They just don't care. As R just observed, they've been tricked into publicly wearing the uniform. Now we can see who they are.